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Getting paid in foreign currencies, part 2: Borderless accounts from TransferWise

Transferwise is now offering the option to create a borderless account. This allows you to have bank accounts in euros, pounds and US dollars, as shown in the infographic below (click to zoom in). More currencies are likely to be added in due course.

TransferWise borderless accounts
Infographic provided by iCompareFX.com

In a sense, this is similar to what you can already do with many more currencies with CurrencyFair (see my previous post), which already lets you store money in different currencies. The difference, though, is that you actually receive your own, personal bank account number in your clients’ countries, so unlike with CurrencyFair, you won’t have to worry about your client entering the correct reference number.

At the time of writing, the new borderless account is available to anyone living in the European Economic Area, except those living in Cyprus (i.e. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). It is also available to residents of Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Switzerland, India, the Philippines, the British Virgin Islands, and some, but not all, states of the United States of America.

Since this is an actual bank account with a bank account number, as I understand it you can even use your account to make payments. Imagine you live in the UK, but you have a client in France, and you attend an annual conference in Germany. In the past, you’d get charged for converting your euros to pounds, and then charged again for converting them back to euros. Now, you can just keep your money in your borderless account in euros and pay the fee for your conference in Germany in euros. Of course, if you do need to move the money to the UK, you can still do an exchange on TransferWise for a much smaller fee than you’d pay with a bank.

Reports suggests that TransferWise will also introduce a payment card in the near future, making it even easier to spend the money you earn in foreign currencies.

To sign up for TransferWise, please use this link, which will give you a free transfer for up to £500 or equivalent, and will earn my £50 for every three sign-ups.

More info on borderless accounts is available here, but please use my referral link if you decide to sign up!


Translator productivity – video 3: Verbatim Google searches

Google used to allow the plus symbol to be used for verbatim searches, forcing Google to search for exactly what we type in, rather than trying to guess what we might mean. When Google introduced Google+, they removed this usage of the plus sign, and informed users that they should use quotation marks instead. Only problem is, as shown in the video, this new method is not reliable.

In the video, I demonstrate how using the plus symbol and the quotation marks don’t work, and show you how to make sure you perform a verbatim search.

Link mentioned in the video for performing verbatim searches: Translator productivity – video 2: https://www.google.com/webhp?tbs=li:1

File to add Google verbatim searches to Intelliwebsearch: IWS Google verbatim.


Translator productivity – video 2: Problems with Microsoft Word comments

This video explains how to deal with two problems translators and editors encounter when working with comments in the latest versions of Microsoft Word. It explains how to prevent comments from running off the side of the screen, and how to print without markup by default.

The macro referred to in the video is as follows.

Sub LegacyPrint()
' LegacyPrint Macro

'This section prints without comments
'Add apostrophes to the start of the lines below if you prefer to print with comments when they are visible.
With ActiveDocument
.ShowRevisions = False
.ShowRevisions = True
End With
'End of section

'This section allows you to print using the legacy print window without removing the comments
'Remove the apostrophes on each line below and add them above if you prefer to print with comments
'With ActiveWindow
'.DisplayHorizontalScrollBar = True
'.DisplayVerticalScrollBar = True
'End With
'End of section

End Sub

Please leave a comment to say whether you managed to get this to work, as it helps me know whether my posts are user-friendly.


Translator productivity – video 1: creating a backup plan

In this video I explain how to create a backup plan and how to implement it using Freefilesync. I explain how to ensure that your drive partitions always use the same drive letter. I also show you how to include software configuration files in your backup. Finally, I explain how to move your backup between your desktop computer and your laptop.

Stay tuned for more translator productivity videos.


Give your clients a local number

In Southern Africa, it is common to hear and read the expression “Local is lekker” in advertisements encouraging people to buy local food. The word “lekker”, borrowed from Afrikaans, is used to say that something is good.

For purchasers of business services, local is very definitely lekker. People prefer to buy their services from someone who is local.

All freelance translators know that the world is their oyster, that they can work for clients anywhere in the world. That’s the theory, anyhow. In practice, however, most translators I’ve spoken to seem to get most of their business from local clients.

There are many reasons for this. Obviously one major factor is that you meet more people in the place where you live, and word of mouth spreads more among the people who know you. However, I noticed that although nearly all my clients were based in Catalonia, not all of them were acquired through word of mouth. Many of my Catalan clients had found my website. So why was I not getting many clients from, say, France through my website?

Foreign phone numbers

I concluded that it was because people in Catalonia could immediately see that I was local, probably due to a combination of having my website in Catalan and having a Barcelona phone number. I already had a French website, but could I get more French clients by obtaining a French phone number?

Foreign SIM cards

I began acquiring phone numbers for various key markets in an attempt to expand my client base. For countries I visited regularly, I picked up SIM cards with good pay-as-you-go (PAYG) rates and as flexible conditions as possible in terms of keeping the SIM card active. In addition to my main smartphone, which is dual SIM, I have a cheap quad-SIM phone (not a smartphone) that sits next to my desk for my other foreign SIM cards. Unfortunately the quad SIM card is no longer sold, but you come always put extra SIM cards in an old dumb phone that is no longer used.

Here are the phone companies I recommend for a few markets (please leave a comment if you can recommend a better service for any of the countries or a service in another country):

  • UK: TalkMobile‘s PAYG phones remain active for 180 days since the last chargeable call, SMS or data usage. Data rates when in the UK are reasonable.
  • Spain: I have a Simyo card that I pay for by direct debit. The card remains active for 10 months since the last outgoing call, SMS, data usage or top-up. You need an address to have a new card delivered to. The card plus delivery costs €7. For data, it is best to activate one of their packages when travelling to Spain. Simyo also has a good roaming package that you can use if visiting an EU country for which you don’t have a local SIM card. If you sign up with SIMYO, when registering, please enter my phone number as the person who invited you, and both you and I will receive €5 credit.
  • France: In France, all SIM cards require payment of a minimum monthly fee to keep them active. However, the minimum fee charged by Réglo Mobile (run by the supermarket E. Leclerc) is just €1.50. This means I must pay at least €1.50 a month even if I don’t use the SIM card at all, so I use this SIM card if I ever have to make a call while in a country where I don’t have a local SIM card, such as when I was recently in India, since anything I spend that is less than €1.50 is already paid for. If visiting France, I take out one of their data packages.
  • Switzerland: Like in France, the best option in Switzerland is also run by a supermarket: Aldi. You can pick up a card from one of their supermarkets. Cards remain active for one year since the last incoming or outgoing call (top-ups, SMS and data don’t keep the card active). Unfortunately the minimum top-up is 30 Swiss francs. When visiting Switzerland, it is best to buy a package for data.

Virtual numbers

It is not always easy or desirable to pick up a SIM card for all our target markets. For instance, I wanted a Quebec phone number, but wasn’t travelling there any time soon. That’s where virtual numbers come in. Ever wondered how companies such as airlines have local phone numbers in so many countries? It’s not because they have a call centre in every country, but because your local call gets forwarded to another country.

The best virtual number service I’ve found is FlyNumber, which provides numbers for almost 60 countries, in some cases allowing you to choose a number in a specific city or region. The call forwarding service costs $2.95 per number per month. You must also pay a small charge per minute for each incoming call. Thanks to the powerful PBX panel you can configure call forwarding to your phone and add pre-recorded messages if you are unable to take a call, with voicemail forwarded to your e-mail address. You can change the forwarding for all your virtual numbers in just a few seconds, so if, for instance, I’m going to be attending a conference in Switzerland, I’ll change my call forwarding to my Swiss mobile number. Similarly, when I was on holiday in India, as soon as I’d bought a local SIM card I changed the call forwarding to my Indian number.

Of course, eventually the client will find out where you are based, probably when they receive your invoice, if not before. But once you’ve reassured them that you can provide just as good a service as a local translator, and that payment will be just as easy, it won’t matter.

Although most of my clients are still in Catalonia, I have acquired several new clients in other countries since getting local phone numbers there. I can’t know for certain that the local phone numbers secured those clients, but I reckon they probably did.

If you decide to use any of these options, please leave a comment below, and please share it on social media!