Donnerstag, 28. Februar 2013

10 Gebote

Neulich las ich auf einem englischen Blog für selbständige Texter von den "10 Geboten für überarbeitete Selbständige", verfasst von Taylor Swift. Wirklich lesenswert, aber für die, die keine Zeit haben oder deren Englisch nicht so doll ist, hier die Kurzfassung der 10 Gebote auf Deutsch:

Du sollst die Termine deiner Kunden ehren.

Du sollst nicht mehr Aufträge annehmen als du ausführen kannst.

Du sollst keine Schritte im Prozess auslassen.

Du sollst dich bedanken.

Du sollst deinen eigenen Standards nicht untreu werden.

Du sollst für Eilprojekte mehr verlangen.

Du sollst weiterempfehlen.
 
Du sollst dem Kunden klar machen was möglich ist.

Du sollst das Wochenende heiligen.

Du sollst mehr Geld verlangen.

Freitag, 22. Februar 2013

5 Ways NOT to Use Twitter for Freelancers

Since I've spent the last two days on the big computer project for this year, i.e. switching from desktop to laptop with all that entails (something I will blog about once it's done), and will be involved with that for a little while longer, I'll only share a great short article today I found over at the excellent FreelanceSwitch on how to use Twitter wisely for business purposes. It certainly helped me get started right with this nifty little tool...

You can read the original article, published by Melanie Brooks on July 14th 2011 here.

Twitter is a great social media resource for any business, freelancing included. It can help you brand yourself, build a network of like-minded users, promote your work, and share news about your business. As the social media manager for three print publications, I spend a fair amount of time on Twitter each day. And I’ve learned a thing or two about Twitter etiquette.
Twitter offers you 140 characters to share information, but there’s much more to it. No matter if you are new to the Twittersphere or you already have a Twitter handle, here are five things that can kill you on Twitter.

A Bad Profile Photo

Your profile photo on Twitter has got to be simple—there is no room for anything complicated. The best idea is to use your logo. If you want to use a photo of yourself, make sure it’s professional. Using a photo of you passed out at someone’s bachelor party is NOT a good idea.
I would also discourage changing your profile pic too often. You want people to recognize you and your brand. Keeping your Twitter profile picture simple and stable is the best way to go.

Sharing too Much Personal Information

It’s OK to post personal information on Twitter; we’re not robots. But if you are building a brand for your freelance business, be careful what you divulge and complain about—you don’t want to alienate potential clients and no one likes to listen to a Debbie Downer.
Some people have a separate professional and a personal Twitter account, which are used to stay in touch with two very different audiences. Your friends might find it funny that your 2-year-old just puked into your favorite pair of loafers or care about how angry it makes you that your husband doesn’t help with the laundry, but your business contacts are not going to care. As a freelancer, you want people to care about what you say and follow you on Twitter for the right reasons.

Following Everyone

Following 1,000 people on Twitter and having just 50 followers of your own doesn’t look great. In fact, it looks desperate. The people I follow for the wedding magazine I work for are chosen deliberately. I follow people in the wedding industry like photographers, event planners, florists, bakers, and reception venues. And since the wedding magazine has a specific geographical target, I try to follow the best vendors and industry experts in that area. It doesn’t make sense for me to follow hospitals, bio tech companies, or a 45-year-old married guy who drives a tractor trailer for a living—that’s not my target audience.
I also follow companies who advertise in the wedding magazine in the hopes that they follow me back. I also try to follow people our sales team targets as potential advertisers. You never know what you are going to learn about potential clients on Twitter. It’s good to show them you’re interested and engaging.

Ignoring Your Competitors

You know the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”? It applies to the world wide web, too. If you are not following your competitors you are shooting yourself in the foot. Instead of snubbing them, follow them! It’s a great way to keep tabs on what other people are doing in your industry and open doors for networking opportunities.

Installing the Twitter Application on Facebook

Facebook and Twitter are different beasts. For marketing purposes, your Facebook status update should be updated a few times a day, max. Tweets should be used more frequently. If you tie them together you run the risk of annoying your Facebook followers with too much information; you don’t want to alienate your followers. Your aunt and your college friends aren’t going to want to be inundated with your business Tweets on their Facebook page.
Think about why you use Twitter and what you want to accomplish before tweeting. Sometimes what you don’t tweet is just as important as what you do.



Donnerstag, 14. Februar 2013

Mehrwert

Ich bin nun schon eine Weile als Dolmetscherin unterwegs, und bis jetzt wurde ich entweder über Agenturen oder Kollegen, die alles organisiert haben, angeheuert (Privatkunden auf dem Standesamt zähle ich jetzt mal nicht dazu). Gestern nun kam meine erste Dolmetschanfrage von einem Direktkunden (dem ich übrigens von Kontakten aus meinem beruflichen Netzwerk empfohlen wurde), und der wollte, dass ich in meinem Angebot auch gleich die Technik mit einbeziehe.

Nun gut, es gibt für alles ein erstes Mal. Also habe ich mich online schlau gemacht und mir bei einer lieben und erfahrenen Kollegin Rat geholt, wie man denn ein solches Angebot am besten macht. 
Nach mehreren Telefonaten und E-Mails mit dem Kunden, der verantwortlichen Person am Veranstaltungsort und verschiedenen Vermietern von Dolmetschtechnik konnte ich also heute morgen mein Angebot abgeben - und habe auch schon den Zuschlag erhalten! Zwar steht noch nicht genau fest, in welchem Umfang nun Technik von außen benötigt wird oder nicht, aber dafür habe ich jetzt drei Angebote und die entsprechenden Kontakte um das bei Bedarf schnell und unkompliziert zu organisieren.

Auch wenn ich für dieses Angebot vielleicht unverhältnismäßig lange gebraucht habe, ich habe dabei viel gelernt, wichtige Kontakte geknüpft, mein Netzwerk genutzt und ganz nebenbei auch einen neuen Kunden gewonnen. Ich finde, das ist gut investierte Zeit, denn nun weiß ich das nächste Mal wie's geht und kann meinen Kunden in Zukunft ein Rundum-Sorglos-Gesamtpaket anbieten. Und das ist doch definitiv ein Mehrwert!

Mein erster Simultan-Einsatz

Freitag, 8. Februar 2013

Agencies



Agencies – for many translators and interpreters, it almost seems to be a dirty word, probably because of the bad experiences they had with them.
I know there are many different types of agencies out there, and so far I’ve had the great fortune to work with mostly those that are worth the name, not what I call “re-bagers” (“Umtüter” in German), meaning someone who simply passes a job on to the translator or interpreter without adding any value, yet pocketing money for it anyway.
True, I’ve encountered some I only worked for once, mostly because of their payment practices, but I put that down as a learning experience and moved on. All of the agencies I work with now are “true” agencies, doing what you would expect from an agency: supplying glossaries, translation memories and reference material, answering questions, and acting as mediators between the end customer and the translator, in addition to acquiring the customers, and of course, paying acceptable prices.
Naturally, I have to do my part, too: I’d rather ask too many questions than do something wrong, inform the project managers of any and all problems, especially when they might affect the deadline, and of course answer e-mails in a timely and courteous manner.
Because the most important component in a successful business relationship (and not only in those) is without a doubt communication. Which has to go both ways, obviously!

I am always happy to find new agencies to work with – if the relationship is a mutually agreeable one! Last week, I was approached by two different ones that both asked me to do some interpreting work for them.

The first one called me, followed by an e-mail exchange containing the pertinent information on them and the proposed job and the request to prepare a quote, the receipt of which was acknowledged. A few days later, I received the confirmation that the agency’s quote to the customer (it involved a total of eight interpreters) was accepted and the job would take place, as well as an e-mail with the first batch of reference material. That is what it should be like, especially when dealing with a new agency: Both ends did their part, supplied the necessary information in writing, so that really not much could go wrong anymore. (Except the usual, but that is just a chance you have to take with any new partner, business or otherwise.)

The other agency contacted me via e-mail on Thursday. The requirement was for an interpreter the following Monday at a place about 130km away. They asked for a quote, which I sent them within the hour, after having asked a few more questions and received answers from them, all via e-mail. I received the confirmation of receipt, which my e-mail program requests automatically, and waited. And waited. And waited.
After I had not heard anything by noon on Friday, I wrote another e-mail asking whether my quote had met their approval or not, and whether they required my services on Monday – after all, I have to be able to plan my week, too.
I received the confirmation that my e-mail had been received (and presumably read) –AND NOTHING MORE! Not a word from the agency at all! If I was too expensive for them (which is altogether possible, especially considering the distance I would have had to drive and charge for), the least they could have done was to tell me so, especially after I wrote them again, asking for that information?! Is that too much to ask? I did them the courtesy to answer their request quickly, particularly since it was such short notice, why could they not do the same for me? Besides being very discourteous, it is also extremely unprofessional.
Even if they had not gotten back to me until several days later – who knows what may have happened: a power outage at the office, a computer failure, sudden illness -, at least they could have let me know. True, there really is no excuse nowadays to be so completely incommunicado, but I’m willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. But they have not written or called, yet.
Needless to say, should they ever approach me again, I will require quite a bit of assurance before I consider working for them!

What about your experiences with agencies? How do you handle the communication issue? I’d be curious to read about it in the comments below.

Freitag, 1. Februar 2013

Überraschung von SDL Trados...

... und zwar eine positive?! Ja, irgendwie kaum zu glauben, v.a. nachdem ich ja schon vor geraumer Zeit zu memoQ gewechselt habe (nachzulesen hier). Ich habe zwei gute Kunden, die mit Trados arbeiten, sonst hätte ich das Programm wohl überhaupt nicht mehr, aber so habe ich sogar die neueste Version, Studio 2011.

Wer mit Trados arbeitet weiß, dass der Support das größte Problem von SDL ist. Wer keinen Support-Vertrag hat (dessen Kosten m.E. in keinem Verhältnis stehen, weshalb ich auch keinen habe), muss sich mühsam durch eine Art Self-Help-Datenbank quälen oder in diversen Foren umsehen und fragen. Mit tatsächlichen Personen Kontakt aufzunehmen ist schier unmöglich. Alles in allem also eher suboptimal und einer der Hauptgründe, warum ich zu einem anderen CAT-Tool gewechselt habe.

Als ich vor ein paar Monaten umgezogen bin, hatte ich meinen Laptop zurück gelassen und mir einen neuen gekauft, allerdings ohne daran zu denken vorher die zweite Lizenz von Studio zurückzugeben. Der Laptop ist nun außerhalb meiner Reichweite, und so hatte ich das Problem, dass ich das Programm zwar auf meinem neuen Laptop installieren konnte, aber nicht lizenzieren, also nicht über den 30-Tage-Testzeitraum hinaus verwenden. Der Laptop als Backup-, Notfall- und Reiserechner war somit also zumindest für Trados keine Option, was wiederum für mich nicht gut war.
Online fand ich natürlich nichts, was geholfen hätte, aber schließlich kam ich irgendwie auf eine Seite, auf der man tatsächlich eine Nachricht schreiben konnte (kaum zu glauben, aber wahr!). Eigentlich hatte ich damit gerechnet mindestens eine Woche auf eine Reaktion warten zu müssen, und dann so etwas in die Richtung "Vielen Dank für Ihre Nachricht, aber da Sie keinen Support-Vertrag haben müssen Sie noch 4-6 Wochen warten bis wir Ihr Problem überhaupt anschauen können". Doch, lo and behold, bereits am nächsten Tag(!!) kam eine Antwort, und zwar nicht nur mit der tollen Kunde, dass meine zweite Lizenz nun wieder für mich aktiviert wurde, sondern auch noch mit einer persönlichen Nachricht! Ich war wirklich baff - und sehr happy!

Also, entweder ist meine Nachricht bei einem wunderbaren Ausnahme-Support-Menschen gelandet, oder der Service bei SDL wird langsam kundenfreundlich(er). Was zu wünschen wäre! ;)