Every translator, interpreter, or language professional is different. We all work with different tools and use different processes to get our work done.
Any language professional that tries to follow the exact same path as some other language freelancer will quickly realize that it won’t work to simply copy someone else.
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from one another and try to understand best practices that others are using so that we can improve in our own freelance work.
That’s what this list is about.
I’ve had plenty of readers to TranslationRules over the years ask me about my own setup and the tools that I use in my own practice.
So if you’re just starting out and wan to know the kinds of tools and programs that I use to get my work done, read below for what I consider the best translator resources.
(Just an FYI that this list is constantly changing as I’m always trying to improve my processes and become more efficient in what I do.)
If you’re looking to get started, here is what I recommend.
Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I may receive a commission. This commission comes at no charge to you. However, remember that I personally use each one of these products that I recommend and while they might be right for me, they might not be right for you.
Best Translator Resources for Getting Online
As a modern-day translator, you need to be online. No list of best translator resources would be complete without info on getting online. There are lots of ways to get there but Bluehost is the absolute best at getting you online. It’s fast, convenient, and cheap. If there was one product I would recommend above all the others, Bluehost would be it.
Bluehost gives you a way to be online. WordPress helps your site looks good and stand out above the rest. Over 1/3 of all websites and blogs on the Internet use WordPress so that alone should tell you how powerful it is. And the best part? It’s free. Once you’ve registered a domain name at Bluehost, all you have to do is install WordPress on your site and you’ll be up and running. It couldn’t be easier.
Pexels & Pixabay
Once you’re up and running, you need content in order to attract visitors to your site.
While content is usually text, studies show that including images throughout your site can be a good way to retain visitors. If you’re like me and are still working on your photography skills, Pexels and Pixabay are lifesavers. They offer free stock photos that you can use for whatever you want.
I’m fairly new to Canva but it’s been around for a while. However, lately I’ve been trying to pay more attention to providing quality images and photos for this site as well as TranslationRules online social media presence. If you want to up your image game on any platform, I would highly recommend you use Canva. It’s super easy to navigate and you can create templates for Instagram stories, Twitter headers, Facebook posts, etc. It is awesome.
Best Translator Resources for Your Laptop Setup – Hardware
Long gone are the days when I had a traditional desktop computer. The last one I had in fact was one that I spent way too much money on in college and had built from a crooked computer dealer.
It lasted through college, though, so I guess I can’t complain too much.
That being said, as soon as I graduated from college, one of the very first purchases I made was a laptop computer. And I went big. An Apple MacBook that I loved. Since then I’ve had a couple of different iterations and currently work on a MacBook Air.
Every translator should be working with a laptop. Desktops are OK if you’re never ever going to travel or work from anywhere except from your office.
But let’s be real.
How many translators do you know that fit into that category?
Apple MacBook Air
If you have ever wanted to travel with your laptop, you know that it can be a pain. A lot of laptops are huge, heavy, and just too bulky to deal with.
Not the Apple MacBook Air. It’s the only laptop I’ve used and I’ve traveled easily with it throughout the U.S. and Latin America multiple times. I can do everything I need on it for all my business ventures (translating, writing, video editing, photography, etc.) and never even feel like I’m carrying it when it’s in my backpack.
Western Digital External Hard Drive
Even with a nice laptop, you need to have an external hard drive. Let me tell you a story about why.
My first laptop was an Apple MacBook. It was kind of hefty and clunky but this was before the MacBook Air came out so it was the smallest one Apple had at the time.
One summer, my wife and I were visiting her parents in Seattle. As I was working at the kitchen table, all of a sudden my laptop started smoking. Grayish-white smoke started billowing out the bottom as I hurried and grabbed it and took it outside. Needless to say, the laptop was ruined and everything on it unrecoverable.
Apple hooked me up with a new laptop within the week but any data that I hadn’t backed up was lost.
Epson Workforce WF-7710
I’ll be honest. I hate buying printers. Printer ink is expensive, it runs out super quickly, and printers don’t tend to last as long as at least I think they should.
That being said, I’ve recently switched from HP printers to Epson and so far I like the brand change. I prefer the Epson Workforce WF-7710 because it can copy, print, scan, and fax (which still seems to be something translators are forced to deal with).
Best Translator Resources for Your Laptop Setup – Software
Not only do you need good hardware for your business, it’s also helpful to have good software that can help you not only do your job specifically but also help you manage those extra things you need to worry about.
This is a huge topic and deserves its own article. Watch this space for a link to an in-depth article on the various free and paid translation software options.
If you’re a US-based freelance translator, one of the most annoy things you have to do is keep track of your tax information. Keeping track of expenses, income, and quarterly tax payments can be a drag. I used to keep track of this information with a Google spreadsheet, but this year I started using Intuit’s QuickBooks Self-Employed software. Needless to say, it is great for freelancers and makes keeping track of your finances a lot easier, more convenient, and way more accurate. Use the TranslationRules special link to get 50% off.
If you travel much, you know that accessing the Internet through public wi-fi networks can be dangerous. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your data is through the use of a VPN. The one I use is Hotspot Shield. I’ve had it for nearly three years now and have used it throughout the world.
Speaking of security, I recently started using a top-notch password application. I used to use a free version but the problem was that it wouldn’t sync between all my devices. My phone had passwords and my computer had passwords, but sometimes they weren’t the same because my password application wasn’t cross-compatible. Throw into the mix the fact that my wife’s computer was running her own password application for passwords that we shared, and it was a big mess. I upgraded to 1Password which has been a life saver. I have it on my computer, my wife’s computer, and our phones, and all our passwords are synced and updated.
Best Translator Resources for Traveling
One of the things that most of us love about the freelance lifestyle is the opportunity to travel. As I’ve traveled, I’ve realized that I don’t like to carry a lot of stuff with me.
I prefer to travel as light as possible so that I have one less thing to worry about (luggage). That being said, there are some essentials that I have to travel with not only for my sanity but so that I can stay productive wherever I’m located. Here’s what I use.
iPhone + Apps
I’ve used both Android phones and iPhones and while I’m not a diehard either way, I’ve lately tended to go with an iPhone as my daily phone. Since I use a MacBook, everything syncs pretty well and I’m able to access everything I need when I’m on the go. Currently I use an iPhone 6s, and while it’s definitely not the latest iteration, it does the job for me.
Now, a smartphone wouldn’t be too useful without apps and here’s a rundown of the current apps I have on my phone (search for the individual apps on iTunes):
- WordPress for access to all my website information.
- 1Password for mobile access to all my password information and login credentials.
- Amazon Music because… music.
- JEFIT because I like to track my workouts.
- Uber works nearly everywhere.
- Otter for those times when I want to transcribe my speech instead of typing something out.
- Netflix because… movies.
DJI Osmo Pocket
I’m a closet photographer and while most smartphones are absolutely capable of taking adequate video and photos, I absolutely love love love my DJI Osmo Pocket. It is the perfect on-the-go camera that nails video. Whether you want to get into YouTube videos or simply documenting the beauty of the world around you, I highly recommend investing in the DJI Osmo Pocket.
Apple Wireless Keyboard
While traveling with my MacBook Air is super easy, sometimes I want to travel even lighter. However, I don’t always want to sacrifice my ability to easily write when I want and we all know that writing on a phone without an external keyboard can be slow at best and frustrating at worst. So if I’m traveling without my laptop but with my phone, I will definitely throw in my Apple Magic Keyboard that makes typing longer documents on the phone a breeze. This keyboard is definitely one of the best translator resources that I use regularly.
Swiss Gear Backpack
I’m admittedly a bag snob and have gone through many iterations over the years of what my ideal travel bag should be. However, for the last couple of years I’ve stuck with the Swiss Gear laptop travel backpack. I actually found this bag in my dad’s closet a few years ago and claimed it for my own. Sorry, dad!