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40,000 word job. Should I take a deposit?
Thread poster: Suzette Martin-Johnson

Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Jan 4, 2008

Hi all,

A regular and reliable client wants me to translate a 40,000-word document. I told told them (a reputable agency) that it would probably take me about a month.

I normally stick to documents of 15,000 words or less, so this is my first one this size.

My question is: with a document this big, and obviously having to drop everything else, should I ask for a deposit?

What are your thoughts?


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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 03:02
German to English
Regular and reliable probably creditworthy Jan 4, 2008

As Ralf L likes to say, you're being asked to extend credit. I normally don't worry about regular and reliable clients, assuming they have a good payment history. One way of handling a situation like this would be to ask for payment for partial deliveries, that is, divide the project into 4 parts and submit an invoice with each delivery, with short payment terms. The client may reject this proposal, but he/she probably won't be insulted.

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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:02
French to English
+ ...
I would... Jan 4, 2008

If you are a full-time freelancer and will be unable to generate other income for at least a month, then I would ask for a deposit. Or, if the client is unwilling to pay in advance for work not yet completed, you could work out some kind of arrangement where they send payment for every 10,000 words you send. That way you are sure to get paid, and you won't starve before it's all over.

My two cents.

Crystal


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 03:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
No. Jan 4, 2008

islander1974 wrote:

... A regular and reliable client... 40,000-word document ...

... should I ask for a deposit?


Why on Earth would you want a deposit from a regular and reliable client/agency, for a job this size?

It would probably take them 90 days to pay you the deposit anyway!

Deposits are a pointless waste of everyone's time and patience if the job can be done within the normal time it takes the lient to pay the bills (e.g. date of invoice + 60/90 days). In other words, if it's less than 3 or 4 months' work, it's not worth the hassle. And what are you going to do while the client gets around to paying a deposit? - twiddle your thumbs?

On the other hand, if it were 6 months or more of work, then you should negotiate terms so you are getting some income while the job is under way.

MediaMatrix


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 03:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
Handling 'dry' months. Jan 4, 2008

Crystal Samples wrote:

If you are a full-time freelancer and will be unable to generate other income for at least a month, then ...


Frankly, anyone who fits that description would do well to get some training in running a small busines. You cannot expect to run a freelance translation business effectively if you do cannot survive a 'dry' month now and again.

MediaMatrix


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Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:02
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
I haven't so far... Jan 4, 2008

Two examples.

I did a 35,000 word project for a US-based agency that I had worked for only 2 weeks at the time and done a total of 2,000 words. However, the agency had a great Blue Board record (17 'fives') and a Polish translator confirmed they were trustworthy and reliable, so there wasn't much risk involved. And I got paid.

Then I did a 45,000 word project for a completely new agency client. This one has a stellar BB record, almost 30 'fives'. The payment deadline was yesterday and I am still waiting for my money, but I sincerely hope they WILL pay.

If a truly reliable client, as you call them, asked me to do the job you've been asked to do, I think I would give it a try. Besides, I wouldn't think an agency will be willing to pay a deposit. Especially for a document that's relatively big, but far from a giant size project in agency terms. But I may be wrong.

Maciek


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 02:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
You should, yes. Jan 4, 2008

Crystal is right. Us freelancers are used to piggybacking jobs and payments, but in this case you can expect a month without income down the road. Unless you can afford to do this I would definitely work something out with the client.

I have just agreed to a 40,000 word project, too, but with a client I haven't worked with before. They agreed to dividing the job and paying me on delivery of each section. Beats 30 days plus end of month hands down!

Good luck!

Paty


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:02
French to English
I wouldn't (but we are all different) Jan 4, 2008

I am assuming that you feel sure that the agency WILL pay you for the work, and that the real issue is that if you devote one month to this job, then your cash "flow" will in fact no longer be a "flow" at all, but there will be a drought, followed by a flood when they pay you for all 40k words at once?

If keeping a reasonable "flow" in this sense is important then yes, one solution is to invoice in 2 or 3 chunks, with deliveries

Alternatively (or as well) give them a deadline of > 1 month, which will enable you to do some other jobs for other people in between. This not only helps your cash flow, it keeps the other clients happy(ish). I certainly try to do this for any job > 1 week, in fact. Personally, I wouldn't bother with part invoicing, but our financial circumstances are not all the same.


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Saskia Steur  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:02
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not in my opinion Jan 4, 2008

No, I don't think so. I do jobs that size, and substantially larger ones regularly. It's all part of being independent. And it's not even a very large job, really. If you could deliver two parts of your translation, you may be able to negotiate invoicing in two phases, but I think it is not very reasonable.

My two cents...
Saskia


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 09:02
English to German
+ ...
I would do a split variant... Jan 4, 2008

Hi! since you are used to 15000 words and feel 40000 is risky, deliver 15000 set invoice, get an ok and continue with the other 15000 words. It is understandable, that after 15000 words I personally would go out one afternoon and do some stretching. Brandis

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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not sure what I'd do Jan 4, 2008

For jobs over 50,000 words, I usually work out an agreement to deliver the translation in thirds, with each third (after the first one) withheld until payment is received for the previous one.

The job you're discussing is a bit smaller, so it's a judgment call. If it were one of my really major regular clients, I might just do the translation and hope for the best.

[Edited at 2008-01-04 21:15]


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Ivana Zuppa-Baksa
Croatia
Local time: 09:02
German to Croatian
+ ...
You should take a deposit Jan 5, 2008

For such an extensive job in my opinion you should take a deposit, as it will take a month to do it. Although this agency is reliable, you have to stress that you have to do only this job during a month and you cannot wait for another month or two to be paid for such a large project. Perhaps you can deliver your work successively.

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Luca Ruella  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Quote Jan 5, 2008

mediamatrix wrote:

Why on Earth would you want a deposit from a regular and reliable client/agency, for a job this size?
Deposits are a pointless waste of everyone's time and patience if the job can be done within the normal time it takes the lient to pay the bills (e.g. date of invoice + 60/90 days). In other words, if it's less than 3 or 4 months' work, it's not worth the hassle. And what are you going to do while the client gets around to paying a deposit? - twiddle your thumbs?

On the other hand, if it were 6 months or more of work, then you should negotiate terms so you are getting some income while the job is under way.

MediaMatrix


I quote you totally


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:02
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
It is not a large job! Jan 5, 2008

Dear Islander,

First, Happy New Year! I would not ask for a deposit because 1) it is for a regular client who has been trustworthy in the past and 2) It is not really a very big job.

Those are my 2 cents. Of course, if for any reason you don't feel comfortable (your gut feeling is doing a double take) by all means ask for a sizable deposit or refuse the job.

On an average you should have a buffer tucked away somewhere to weather lean months, about 3-4 months worth is what I am comfortable with. Everyone is different, though, some need only two weeks or a month.

Good luck with your job!

Lucinda


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:02
English to French
+ ...
Monthly revenue Jan 5, 2008

No matter how exactly you go about this, my guideline is that I should receive in payment the equivalent of my average monthly income each month. I pay pretty much all my bills monthly, so having a monthly revenue in my pocket is important.

I have had longer assignments with long-time clients (some of them 100K words - these typically take at least two months to process) and even though we trusted each other, the client had no problem admitting that if I could only bill them two months after I started on a project and then had to wait another month for the cheque to be in the mail, I would be out of revenue for three months. So, in my contract, it said that I would get paid such and such amount by such and such date (a month after the beginning of the project) provided that such and such files are delivered by then. Then, they would again pay me such and such amount another month later, again provided I deliver such and such files by then.

The point is not to make sure we eventually do get paid - with established clients, payment issues are a rarity. The point is to make sure you have money to pay your bills. You can also simply suggest to your client to break the big project down into several smaller ones, to be invoiced separately. Put this way, it sometimes makes more sense to the client and they may be more inclined to negotiate deadlines and payment dates. In any case, don't agree to doing all the work and invoice only once the entire project is finished, and then still wait for payment for another month. This would be financial suicide.

All the best!


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