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Transferring money with Wise (formerly Transferwise) March 18, 2022

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips.

There is a great alternative out there for translators and agencies to pay each other in foreign currencies without huge bank transaction fees – and no need for Paypal! I recently had almost $100 in fees deducted when one of my agencies switched to Paypal. I fired them. They had paid me up until then by check and it didn’t cost either of us anything. I’m sorry, but agencies who pay by Paypal are pushing the fees onto us – and we are the ones who are making the least amount of money in the transaction between them and their clients. Most agencies charge their clients double (if not triple) the “best rate” that they pay us, and we are performing the actual tangible work. The least they can do is pay any fees. Any money transfers aren’t that much better. Any time money moves into another currency, it’s still a maze of hidden exchange rate markups, high fees, delays, and small print. Well, with Wise, foreign payments are easy and affordable. Note: I do not work for Wise, nor am I being paid anything for this post. I just really like the service.

TransferWise was established years ago when Taavet and the Wise team set out to fix the inherent problems of international money transfers for all of us who’d been overcharged and underserved by banks. They chose the name ‘TransferWise’ because they knew their early customers were ‘wise’ to know their banks were charging hidden fees in exchange rate markups. Their business idea was to make money work without borders — to make money move instantly, transparently, conveniently, and — eventually — for free. They did this by establishing bank accounts in many different countries and utilizing them to move money for the customers in those countries.

In other words, I transfer money between Germany and the U.S. by setting up a transfer on the website. They calculate what I will be receiving, while stating what fees are involved. It is up to me to then accept or decline the transaction. They also use a very decent exchange rate. I compared the costs with several different transfer sites and Wise always gave me the most bang for my buck (or euro). I then transfer the money from my German bank account to Wise’s bank account in Frankfurt and have the money in my U.S. account on the date they quote in the offer.

It took a little bit of effort to sign up and get verified, but setting up a foreign bank account is almost impossible these days so this is a welcome option. I signed up using an email account, but you can also sign up with your Facebook or Google accounts. I prefer to keep my business out of the monoliths’ reaches, so I prefer using email. I had to prove I was who I was, which took a couple of days, and had to verify a couple small deposits in my bank account, but once the account was set up it runs smoothly every time.

Receive payments like a local in 10 currencies.

Get your own UK account number, Euro IBAN, US routing number, and more.

Convert and hold 54 currencies.

Holding multiple currencies is completely free

Wise is improving every day. They developed an app so you can access your account from anywhere using your smartphone. Get instant notifications for transactions. Freeze and unfreeze your card with a click. If you misplace it, you can use a virtual card instantly.

They have recently launched multi-currency accounts and an associated debit card that can be used in any currency. I first talked about their debit card during my ‘Contingency Planning and Crisis Management 101’ presentation at ATA58. They’ve improved on it since then. These new offerings could easily replace international banking for many of us. You can use the account as a normal bank account when you bill your clients. They pay you in their currency and you can withdraw it in your currency. Order a contactless debit card, and connect to Apple Pay or Google Pay right away. Or pay securely with your Wise digital card online. They are regulated in each country. For example, Wise US Inc. is registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and renews its registration annually. It is licensed as a money transmitter in the states listed here, and supervised by regulatory authorities in each of those states.

By building this infrastructure, they have created a platform that more than a dozen banks use today. Wise bills itself as “a community of 10 million like-minded people and businesses managing money all over the world, saving billions and fighting as hard as ever against hidden fees.”

I have been a happy customer of Wise/TransferWise since 2017. What are you waiting for?


Let’s talk about email signatures March 1, 2022

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

Hey everyone! It’s ya gurl Jill. How has everyone been? Hopefully, most of you are healthy and doing well. This whole pandemic thing has really done a number on my mental health. I love our job and we were ideally suited for working through the pandemic, but living alone and being cut off from friends and family has really affected me. Sure, I have managed to stay COVID-free so far (vaccinated and boostered now), but I am still rather leery of attending large group events. I attended the ATA conference in person this year, and they did a great job with our group. Granted, we were only about 500 people, but it helped us keep some distance between us. I missed the hugs though. And if it hadn’t been for Zoom I would probably be typing this from a mental health facility. I’ve definitely been under a low-grade depression.

I haven’t blogged in a long, long time. It’s been almost a year and a half since my last “comics” post, but even longer since I had something to say. I always said I would still be here and chime in if I had something to say. Well, I would love to hear your opinions about email signatures. I am taking Corinne’s March Marketing Madness course, and the first task is to review our email signatures. I’ve had the same signature for a while, which means I could maybe spruce it up and bring it in line with the times.

What do you all think? Is less more? How many lines should a signature be? Graphics – yay or nay? I know some email clients might not be thrilled with graphics in the signature. Mine tends to pull all graphics out of a mail/signature and attach them as, well, attachments. I have several text-based signatures for my various email accounts.

This is my work email sig:


  • Your feedback is very much appreciated as an essental element of my quality assurance process *

Jill R. Sommer, M.A.

Translation (Ger->Eng) & Net Services
http://www.jill-sommer.com / http://translationmusings.com
Phone: +1-330-421-0057

And my “personal” account:


Jill R. Sommer, MA

No trees were destroyed in the sending of this message, however, a significant number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

And my Ethics Committee signature:


“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.” – Albert Camus (1913 – 1960), French Author, Philosopher, and Journalist

What do you all think? Are they OK as they are? Should I add something critically needed? Share your thoughts in the comments. I’m curious to see if anyone is still following this little blog o’ mine.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday February 6, 2019

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Fun stuff.
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Contingency planning for translators interview January 23, 2018

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings, Tech tips.
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Tess Whitty, Swedish translator and marketing guru, interviewed me recently for her Marketing Tips for Translators podcast. I demonstrate why I am not an interpreter at around minute 17 when I completely blank on the word for accordion. I hope you enjoy it.

As Tess explains on her website:

Many clients depend upon us freelance translators, and it is important to have a plan for worst case scenarios. This year has also been a year of many natural disasters and unfortunately colleagues passing away too soon. I was very happy to see that today’s guest held a presentation on contingency and crisis planning during the last ATA conference. In this episode she is sharing all her best tips.

Important things covered in this episode:

  • What contingency planning and crisis management is

  • Questions to ask ourselves to plan for unforeseen events

  • Things to have in place if we would get sick or pass away

  • How to deal with a crisis

  • How to protect our business

How NOT to use LinkedIn November 13, 2017

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

I just received the following Direct Message in LinkedIn.

I instantly removed the connection. Don’t do this. The ick factor was strong on this one. If you want to connect on Linkedin keep it professional and keep comments about someone’s “nice smile and wonderful presence” to yourself. Otherwise I’m going to assume you are going to try to keep up a conversation and eventually hit me up for money.

What to do when a translator disappears September 19, 2017

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

I’ve been sitting on this post for about three and a half years. I initially was going to write it when one of my colleagues disappeared while working on a portion of a project I was working on. One of the documents was too technical, so I had asked my client to send that file to her. I delivered my files on time. My client and I then went 24 hours waiting for her to respond somehow. She did not respond to e-mails or phone calls. In the end she finally delivered, but really, really late. I have never heard from my client again. This colleague is no longer translating full-time and is in a position that hopefully makes her much happier.

However, this happened again with another colleague today. I woke up this morning to an email from one of my clients begging to me to step up to the plate and deliver the remaining 10 pages of a 27 page PDF of a quote on construction parts. I had initially turned it down two weeks ago because it is not my field at all, and gave her the name of a colleague who works in that field. So this colleague not only had had a fairly long lead time to do the translation, she also then renegotiated the Friday deadline to Monday morning and sent 15 of the 27 pages on Monday afternoon. That helps no one. She was not also responding to the client at all.

So my client ended up contacting me in a panic to see if I could help her deliver the rest asap. I wasn’t happy, but I accepted the rest of the job to placate my client. I worked on it for about an hour and a half and was then told my colleague had finally delivered the translation. I was also told to bill for my work and then told to increase my word rate and the rush rate once she received my invoice. At least this time my client is happy with me and will hopefully keep working with me, so that’s a plus.

That said, I will never be recommending this colleague again. This is the second time she flaked out on one of my clients when I recommended her. There will not be a third time. I kept an open mind after the first time, because she had a pretty good excuse of a death in the family. This time it was supposedly a medical issue. I felt badly for her; however, in light of the other factors I don’t accept the excuse. Each time she had what could be considered a credible excuse, but that is the thing – if there is a pattern you will never be trusted again by the people you burn. At what point do you just admit you screwed up? If she had said last week that she was having trouble making the deadline my client could have found someone else to do it instead of making excuses to her end client.

I know agencies unfortunately deal with this kind of behavior all the time, because it will sometimes come up in casual conversation. I simply don’t understand how anyone who calls themselves a professional translator can work like that. When I had an attack of appendicitis a few years ago I let my clients know to reallocate the translation from my Emergency Room bed. I would never dream of simply dropping out of contact for a day or two. If I ever do, you can be sure that I am unconscious or dead. Those are the only two acceptable excuses.

I would really love to start a dialog here in the comments. Whether you are a project manager or a freelancer, have you ever been bit by a flaky translator? How did you handle it? Have you worked with them again? How did you end up placating the end client? No names or identifying information please. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Change your Skype password November 10, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips.

I flew home from the ATA Conference on Monday and landed at 11:20 PM. Once I arrived at home I unpacked, put my suitcases away, showered and face-planted into bed. I woke up the next morning to 16 messages on Skype and a missed call in Skype and on my cell phone. I had been hacked, and all of my contacts were sent a link to a “baidu.com.” Luckily most of my contacts are savvy enough not to click on a link from me without any introductory text (hence the 16 messages asking if it was legit from me), but I had to go to https://web.skype.com to manually delete the message for every contact. Needless to say it was a pain.

My friend and colleague Roland Grefer was the one who had been trying to call me. In addition to being a great translator he is also a very competent IT support guy. He did a little research and discovered the following:

From what I’ve found, about a month ago, Microsoft started to merge their Live/Hotmail/Outlook/MSN/Xbox account systems into a new “Universality” account management system.

However, in the process, even if your Skype account was already linked to one of the above email accounts, they left Skype also accessible via the old Skype user name and password combination.

If the password for either account was one that was compromised in any of the recent hacks, the Bad Guys (TM) were then able to use the respective account to gain access to Skype and send spam etc. from the affected user’s Skype account.

But since M$ hadn’t made users aware of the parallel existence of the “new” and “old” Skype user name and password combos, they weren’t even aware of this “feature” as the culprit.

Once they logged into their account, and checked their “Activity” at


virtually all of them found successful logins from Asia or South America around the time the incident happened.

A sad state of affairs,

So change your Skype password or you too will be spamming your Skype contacts. And thanks to Roland for researching this!

Clients From Hell post October 1, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Fun stuff.
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This post was posted on clientsfromhell.net on September 23, 2016. It’s too good not to share.

I am a translator who specializes in translating from from English to Croatian and Slovenian. One day I received this message:

Client: Hello, I am in a rush to have my website translated to both Slovenian and Croatian. The site has about 20.000 words; how much you charge for that? Please give me a quote without writing too much.

Me: Hello! I charge between $0.05 to $0.08 per word translated. That would be $1000 for one translation, and $1800 for both languages.

Client: I said you need to quote just your price. And why would I hire you if you haven’t told me how much experience you have?

Me: (trying to be as nice as possible) Ok, let’s make this clear. I have years of experience, and as you can see, a 100% positive feedback from previous clients. As for the price, I told you all about it as concisely as I could.

Client: Gosh you just don’t understand me? Do you understand English at all? TELL ME YOUR PRICE FOR THIS TRANSLATION IN BOTH LANGUAGES.

At this point, I started to wonder if the client was drunk, but tried to remain as polite as possible.

Me: I am so sorry, but you are so confusing. I said that the final price for this project would be $1800 for both translations.

Client: And why didn’t you tell me that at the beginning? The price sounds fair to me.

Me: I am glad that we agree on that. When is the due date for this project?

Client: The deadline is tomorrow.

Me: Tomorrow? You think that is possible to translate 20.000 words in 2 languages in one day? That is just impossible.

Client: Don’t be difficult. I need it by tomorrow at 5 PM.

Me: You know what? I’m going to pass on this one.

The client didn’t respond, except that he wrote me again a week later.

Client: Hello, are you available for that translation we talked about?

Me: Oh sorry, I thought the due date was last week? Did that change?

Client: I was just testing you. You passed! I want to work with you, but on one condition. Your price is way too high for me. Can you do it for $200?

Me: (laughing) Are you for real? $200? Would you accept that pay for that much work?

Client: I know I won’t do it for $200 but that’s me and I want you to do it for $200. If not, I will find someone cheap who will do it and you will lose your money.

Me: Feel free to search for somebody else, because I will not work on that project for $200. I am just warning you, that there are many people willing to work for low price, but in the end, quality matches price. If that happens to you, please don’t ask me to fix their mess.

Client: You wasted my time, goodbye.

A month later:

Client: Hello again. I am so sorry that I need to speak with you again, but I have no other options. It happened exactly like you said it would. I handed this project to a guy from Vietnam and my website was “Google translated. Can you please fix it? I will pay as much as you want.

Me: I think I’m going to have to take a hard pass. You’ve been exceptionally rude to me and I’m not interested in working with you. Sorry.

Client: Why you! How dare you! This is ridiculous, I’ve never met someone so unprofessional! Take this job or I will sue you and make your life a living hell!

Me: Feel free to sue me if you think you have a shot. Have a great day.

He never spoke with me again. And guess what? He never sued me either.

Advanced Skills and Training Day, November 2 August 26, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices, Tools.
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There’s a new change to this year’s ATA conference. You’ve asked for more advanced and in-depth sessions, and ATA has heard you. This is your chance to prove to the ATA that they are welcome and needed. The pre-conference sessions are now a full day of three-hour courses taught by invited presenters. It’s now called the Advanced Skills & Training Day. Come join me and Allison Bryant from 8:30am-12:00pm on November 2 at “Mastering PDFs using OCR and Advanced Formatting Features in Word.” This hands-on session (bring your laptops!!) is limited to 30 participants, so register soon to ensure you will be a part of it. I’ve already had several people reach out to me about it and express their excitement. Through hands-on activities, you will learn how to stop wasting your time and start impressing your clients. By learning OCR technology, advanced formatting techniques in Word, and other tricks for easily manipulating PDFs and other non-editable documents, you too can become a formatting guru.

You can learn more about it here: http://www.atanet.org/conf/2016/astday/

The only caveat is that people *must* register for the conference in order to attend AST day. You cannot register for an AST session alone.

2016 East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit August 1, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.
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I am presenting at the DVTA Summit in September along with several other notable speakers. It should be an informative and entertaining weekend. Please think about joining us.


Saturday, September 10,
2016 East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit

Business Skills * Translation * Interpretation* Transcription

Saturday, September 10 at La Salle University – Philadelphia, PA

Bonus: A Computerized ATA Exam Sitting will be given on Sunday morning, September 11

These top speakers and sessions will be featured:                               

DOROTHEE RACETTE    (Keynote Speaker)

Session I (Keynote Address): Productivity Strategies for Freelance Professionals

Practical strategies to help independent contractors produce high-quality work while promoting their business and staying organized. Practical, hands-on productivity methods and ways to make the most of working hours.

Session II: Principles of Time Management

Best approaches to stay on top of your tasks without stress and hours of overtime through specific techniques to manage time and to make the most of working and leisure hours.


Beyond the Basics: Tips for Better Formatting in Microsoft Word

Practical knowledge and techniques for working with MS Word and negotiating other formats.

Session I: The Voice of Compassion – Interpreting for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse

90-minute workshop focusing on specific techniques, strategies and self-care practices for interpreters who encounter trauma in any setting

Session II:  Here Be Monsters! Intervention Skills for the Gray Zone between Legal and Medical Interpreting

90-minute workshop offering specific techniques that work well when both legal and medical interpreting overlap.

Session I: Transcription/Translation (TT) of Forensic and Other Recordings
This session will present an overview of the specialized practice of transcribing the audio content of recordings and translating the resulting transcript, outlining currently accepted procedures, protocols, ethics and techniques. Handouts containing the PowerPoint and pertinent documents will be provided on a DVD.
Session II:  Transcription/Translation of Audio Files:  Software to make it easier!
The instructor will show how to use software to turn your computer into a transcription machine, rip audio files from video recordings, convert file formats, enhance the sound quality of audio files for more efficient and precise listening, and simplify the translation phase. A DVD with software programs and links will be provided, along with some practice materials.

  • Guest Certified Public Accountant (Patricia L. Keller, CPA, MBA of Independent Tax & Financial Planners itfp.com)
  • Guest Attorney (Stephanie M. Shortall, Esq. of HighSwartz, LLP highswartz.com)

APPROVED FOR 6 ATA CE Points, 6 AOPC CEUs (including 3 for Ethics),
6 Delaware AOC and 6 Maryland AOC CEUs

For more information see:  DVTAECSummit10Sep2016_Flyer