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How to charge for language consultancy type of assignments
Thread poster: Balasubramaniam L.

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 14:22
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Nov 21, 2008

I was recently called upon to do an unconventional type of assignment that was quite different from routine translation.

This was an onsite language consultancy assignment for an European software company developing a Hindi version of their software and it required me to travel from India to Europe and interact with their programmers. I was reimbursed travel and boarding-lodging expenses and was paid at an hourly rate for the time I actually spend on this job.

But looking back on this experience, I realize that I actually spent quite a lot of time on this project which did not yield any monetary benefit to me. This included travel time (several days of it, as I had to use several modes of transport - Indian trains, international flight, European railway), the weekends, when I did no official work but just stayed put in my hotel or did local sight-seeing (but could not do any financially productive work), the time I spent in getting the visa (weeks of time, as the embassies are in Mumbai and it involved travelling to that distant city for personal interview before the embassy mandarins), etc.

Have you done this type of work, and how did you charge?

Any advise on the best strategy for charging for such assignments is greatly appreciated, as I found myself quite unprepared when I was offered this assignment and I feel that I did not negotiate properly with my clients, but just accepted what was offered.


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QUOI  Identity Verified

Chinese to English
+ ...
Generally your meter starts ticking... Nov 21, 2008

... the moment you leave your usual place of business and it doesn't stop until you return to the same place. Your can either offer your client a fixed $ amount for the whole job or negotiate a per diem rate (travelling and waiting time can then be a % of this rate).

Well, there is always next time.


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Nigel Greenwood  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:52
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm in full agreement Nov 21, 2008

... at large wrote:

... the moment you leave your usual place of business and it doesn't stop until you return to the same place. Your can either offer your client a fixed $ amount for the whole job or negotiate a per diem rate (travelling and waiting time can then be a % of this rate).

Well, there is always next time.


For us freelance professionals, 'Time is Money'; so we have to establish rates; Actual working time - Travelling Time - Non-working Time - Research/Back-up Time, etc. On top of that, any other direct expenses, i.e. Hotels, Per-diem, Visas, etc. I would suggest:
Actual Working Time, based on an 8 hour day = 100% your rate
Non Working Time = 25% your rate
Travelling Time = 25% your rate
Reserach/Back-up Time = 25% your rate
Direct Expenses = Air,Train,Taxi,Bus Tickets = the full amount
Visas, Per-diems, Hotels, etc. = the full amount
Don't forget the Cost of Living differences when travelling to other countries, i.e. for calculating per-diem rates, (if you can it's better to get the client to re-imburse full amount on receipts).

That's how I have always worked.

Nigel


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 14:22
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nov 23, 2008

Thank you ... at large and Nigel. I have filed these valuable suggestions for future use when another such opportunity arises.

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FarkasAndras
Local time: 10:52
English to Hungarian
+ ...
my 0.02 Nov 23, 2008

First of all, all such projects are somewhat unique and are subject to individual negotiations.

My impression is that the "standard" agreement involves an hourly or daily wage plus travel and hotel expenses etc, plus a sort of daily allowance for all the days you spend abroad (usually including weekends), which is there for the reasons you just said: being abroad, not being able to do other work etc.
When I worked abroad for a month this was what we did.
Of course it can be arranged in any number of ways: higher hourly wage and no daily fee etc. If a client agrees to pay me an astronomical fee and no expenses then I am perfectly happy to buy my own plane ticket and hotel room, too... But the three-pronged approach is what reflects the reality best and so it works even if the situation changes along the way (oh, we don't need you on Friday after all... or: could you work on Sunday as well... we're moving to a different hotel which will cost a lot more...)

Personally, I think that invoicing your client for doing research is just wrong. That's part of the job. If there is a too much research to do for your taste, don't take the job.
And... are you seriously saying you want to charge 25% rate for sleeping in the hotel room the client is paying for, or eating the dinner the client is paying for?


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