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How to charge hourly rates?
Thread poster: Ioanna Karamitsa

Ioanna Karamitsa  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:21
Member (2005)
English to Greek
+ ...
Jan 21, 2005

Hello everyone!

I am kind of new in the freelance area. I have been working as an inhouse translator and therefore i dont know much about the ways one can charge for his work. Until now I have only been charging per word, and I usually request to have a look at the document prior to my final offer (regarding both dates and delivery time). I have been hearing though about hourly rates. So, ok, lets suppose that within one hour I know I can translate up to 1000 which would, for example be 70 euros. If I undertake a job that is 1000 words, but for one reason or another (maybe not my specialty) it takes me 3 hours to finish it, what should I do? First of all, how do I prove to the client that it DID take me 3 hours to finish it? And besides that, isn't that bad for me, namely to show the client that it is not my specialty and he will therefore be charged more than usual?

PLease give me your opinion.
Thank you in advance


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Daphne b  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 03:21
Member (2003)
Swedish to Greek
+ ...
Per hour only in special circumstances - Never accept a job in a field that is not your specialty Jan 21, 2005

I have been hearing though about hourly rates.

It's not very common practice, but it is sometimes applied when the work you have undertaken needs a lot of research, e.g. terminology, and thus will take you so much time that payment per word is no longer relevant.

So, ok, lets suppose that within one hour I know I can translate up to 1000 which would, for example be 70 euros

Highly unlikely that you can translate 1,000 words per hour (which would make an average of 8,000 words a day!), unless of course you're working with a CAT tool and you have lots of repetitions.

If I undertake a job that is 1000 words, but for one reason or another (maybe not my specialty) it takes me 3 hours to finish it, what should I do?

The obvious answer is do not accept jobs in fields that are not your specialty!!! Why would you do that? You're ruining your reputation, because the result will not be good and you're not likely to get work from that client again; but even if it is good, it will probably have taken you so much time to produce it, that it's not worth it, either for you or your client (if you charge them by the hour). And of course, you're doing your client a disservice if the result is poor.

First of all, how do I prove to the client that it DID take me 3 hours to finish it?

Well, strictly speaking you cannot. Your client has to take your word for it, so that's why translation is usually paid on a per word/character/line/page basis. So it's up to your client to accept payment per hour or not. If they do, then they have to go by it. If you say something exorbitant, of course, then they might either understand that it is not your specialty (so, no good for you) or will question your truthfullness.

And besides that, isn't that bad for me, namely to show the client that it is not my specialty and he will therefore be charged more than usual?

Of course. See above.


[Edited at 2005-01-21 10:53]


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Ioanna Karamitsa  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:21
Member (2005)
English to Greek
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My point exactly! Jan 21, 2005

Thank you so much Daphne for your response!
However, as I have seen here in Greece - at least, translators take up any field of translation (even if it is not their specialty) just to get the job, which, in my opinion, is totaly unprofessional.
I have been trying to avoid that, except in two cases when the client insisted I should undertake the project (I dont know why), however I informed them that it is not my specialty and needs to be proofread (I charged them per word).
I only did that in order to facilitate the client, and because the deadline was long enough for me to work on it. Of course, if I had other pending projects, I wouldn't accept.
I am extremely irritated when I either see of hear that other translators are charging like 0.02 per word of translation??!!!! And I am not talking about 500.000 words projects!

Felakia!


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Claudia Digel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:21
English to German
+ ...
Not for translation Jan 21, 2005

Hi Ioanna,

I have been hearing though about hourly rates.


As Daphne pointed out, there are only very few occasions where translation is paid by the hour. The only one I have come across is translation of term lists or glossaries, for which you have to do a lot of research.

Normally, only other translation-related jobs like proofreading or DTP checks are paid by the hour.

Usually, you will need to discuss with the client beforehand how many hours you can spend on the job. - Some clients will just set a limit, others will ask you for an estimate. - In any case it's vital to have a look at the text first so that there will be no bad surprises.

First of all, how do I prove to the client that it DID take me 3 hours to finish it?


If while working on the job you realize that you cannot do it within the agreed time, you will need to contact the client immediately and hope that the will understand the problem and agree to pay for more hours (obviously, some won't understand and won't be willing to pay more...).

HTH

Regards,
Claudia


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:21
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Per hour rates Jan 21, 2005

are generally used for proofreading, styling, editing, DTP (if you offer that service) and if and when the translator has had sufficient experience to work, for instance, in a newsroom or office that needs him on-line, or physically present, X hours a day (not permanently).

In the latter cases, it is reasonable to expect 500 words/hour. More than that increases error risk, but can be done. Proofreading, styling and editing output will vary: a normal proofing job (not machine-translation proofing or a job with a lot of specialised terms) runs into something like 1,200, but then the rate per word is a percentage of his translation rates (logical would be 500/1,200), or the hour-rate equivalent when translating. In calculating this, bear in mind that well-translated texts are actually proofed at around 1,400 - but that cannot be taken as an average.

These are just ballpark figures that the congress industry works around, taking number of keystrokes per unit time vis-à-vis minimum tested qualifications (+ time pressure) into consideration (i.e., time-and-motion studies). Some large orgs with translation offices (UN, EU, WB, IMF, etc.) actually work with looser margins.

Hope it helps.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:51
English to Tamil
+ ...
Per hour rate will be applicable, if you go to the client's place Jan 21, 2005

That is what I do. Sometimes the client calls me to his office for translating confidential documents. On those occasions I charge by the hour and the hourly rate is a function of the number of words I can translate in an hour. That is your baseline.

Multiply the word rate with the number of words you can translate from a readily available text. If the work involves preparing abstracts, then the word rate is irrelevent. Your time is taken up by activities such as reading through the full document, selecting the paras to be preserved and so on before doing the actual translation. This time has to be compensated and hence the hourly rate.

In addition, I make the client give me car lift/drop or reimburse taxi fare both sides, plus coffee, tea, lunch etc as applicable.

Anything less is not in your interest and you can as well stay at home and do some other translation job and earn your horly rate in the form of word rate.

Regards,
N.Raghavan

[Edited at 2005-01-23 11:04]


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