No, I will not talk about services such as Amazon, virtual fax or flight & train & hotel booking websites. These are all selbstverständlich, as the Germans say, really basic and self-evident, because nowadays people expect everything to be available online. In particular, freelancers who work from home know exactly the value of finding what you need online. That is why I am going to highlight below some internet services that have impressed me for their originality and true money-saving (not to mention time-saving) qualities. Here they are:
Without Lulu.com – and its Brazilian counterpart, Clube de Autores – it would not have been possible to publish my Portuguese-language book about the translation industry and make it available to the whole world. Well, as a matter of fact, it would, but with sizable investment. I have found self-publishing with a print-on-demand internet service to be very rewarding. True, self-published authors must work very hard to market their books, not to mention writing and formatting them and doing all the things you need to do when publishing a book. But Lulu really does make it all seem easy, offering templates, a powerful tool to upload and configure your book’s cover and content, and a wealth of information about marketing. The best part of it: You do not have to pay Lulu anything to publish your book. Of course, you will want to have an ISBN number, so you must register at the local ISBN agency. And you will want your book to be on Amazon and other big retailers, so you must purchase a so-called distribution package from Lulu. Plus, production costs are really reasonable and print quality is very good. It doesn’t have to be a book – how about an information booklet or brochure about your translation services? Or maybe a portfolio of your best legal translations to show off your skills to high profile prospects? Lulu is helping me not only with my book about the translation industry, but also with publishing specialized bilingual glossaries – projects that I want to materialize within the next few years. Here’s a picture of my book’s cover printed by Lulu:
Imagine that you are in a public place, maybe an airport or a café, using your laptop. What people see when they look at you is your computer’s brand. But why should you advertise a commercial brand for nothing? Why not use that space (the back of your computer) to advertise… yourself?! That is where Schtickers.com comes in. I use this service to order custom-tailored laptop skins to cover the back of my laptop with whatever image I want, including my website’s URL and information that will be shown to all who care to look at my laptop’s back when I am using it in a public place. Below is an example of a laptop skin I recently designed myself printed on high quality paper by schtickers.com. The design tool is very intuitive and Schtickers promises to fit the laptop skin to every laptop on earth.
Vistaprint.com & posterxxl.de
Vistaprint.com and its German counterpart, posterxxl.de, are two professional print services offering high quality prints of your business cards, brochures, postcards and all sorts of marketing materials. Most of those can be designed and customized the way you want. Plus there are many formats and paper quality options available. I find Posterxxl offers better quality when it comes to promotional postcards, while Vistaprint is my choice for business cards. Both offer customized calendars, t-shirts, coffee cups and almost anything else you need for your promotional needs (going to a conference? need to spread the word about your blog, your book, your translation services?). Some of my materials are designed by myself with PhotoShop, others are designed with the websites’ intuitive tools. Here you see my business card and a postcard I made to advertise my book:
Vistaprint and Posterxxl constantly send me discount vouchers and “special offers”, and in almost all cases it would really be worth taking them if I needed the materials they were promoting. So stay tuned for those offers and by all means do not buy everything you need from them right in your first purchase – buy one item and wait for a discount coupon to come your way, and then use it to buy the next items you need. For example, I usually buy 100 business cards at a time, but a week later I get an e-mail from Vistaprint with a discount coupon, I then use it to get additional free 150 business cards paying only for shipping costs. Lulu also has occasional promotions giving buyers discount coupons that range usually from 15% to 35% – not to mention that they have permanent volume purchase discounts starting at 5% for 5 books, 10% for 15 books etc. Promotions from Vistaprint, Posterxxl and Lulu can be launched anytime, especially in the summer months. So planning early cannot do you any harm!