Five useful tools for freelance translators

Conversations about online tools and resources for translators almost always turn to CAT tools. However, I feel that there are some fantastic tools out there that have nothing to do with terminology or translation memories. My aim here is to recommend a range of other resources that I think new translators might want to consider working with. Most of them are free, which is particularly good for those new to freelancing who can't justify spending too much.

1. Wave

Wave is a handy cloud-based tool for invoices. It’s free and I find the whole system very easy to use. Adding your own logo and T&Cs to the invoice is straightforward. Once you’re happy with the invoice that you have created, you can send it off straight away from your desktop or phone (an app is available) and keep track of them in one place. Every client you send an invoice to can also be saved for next time, so it also works as a great tool to organise client information.

2. Xodo

I find Xodo (free) incredibly useful when it comes to annotating PDFs. I tend to make notes and highlight vocabulary away from my desktop computer before I begin translating. For this reason, having an app that is simple and just does the job without any glitches is very important to me. Everyone works differently and there are lots of PDF readers out there, but I stick to Xodo as I like to have something that quickly connects to Google Drive, rearranges pages, and merges files without crashing.

3. OmniPage

OmniPage is essentially an OCR (optical character recognition) tool and file converter. Whilst there are a number of websites that convert PDFs for free, I don't recommend that you use them because there is no guarantee that anything uploaded on these websites is stored securely. Some CAT tools do allow you to convert PDFs, but I don't think that the quality of the conversion feature is any good when you’re dealing with a document that has an unusual layout. It is worth pointing out that many OCR tools and converters are not particularly cheap. However, if you receive lots of lengthy PDFs from clients and are frequently asked to adhere to the original layout, it is something worth investing in.

4. Clockify

I use Clockify (it’s free!) to keep track of how long I am spending on each project and, at times, to estimate how long something similar in future will take. If you struggle with managing your time, you may want to use a time tracker alongside your usual planner. Moreover, for those of you who charge by the hour and want to keep things as transparent as possible, you can divide each project into smaller tasks and use the report generator to show your clients how your time is being spent.

5. Bitrix24

Britrix24 is a project management tool with free and paid versions available. It’s not going to be of any use if you mostly work alone, but it’s very handy when you’re working on a large project as part of a team of translators. It makes it easy to manage calendars, produce checklists, share documents and files, and track time. Rather than clogging up inboxes with documents and chains of emails, using Britrix24 makes collaborating so much easier when the project revolves around lots of different files. This is, of course, a personal preference. There is no single project management tool that will work for everyone, but there is no harm in trying something out when it doesn’t cost a penny!