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full-time freelancer daily word limit
Thread poster: xxxmalmuftah
xxxmalmuftah
Local time: 15:17
Arabic to English
May 8, 2002

Hi, I\'m preparing to start out as a full-time freelance translator and would like some info on the maximum daily word limit that a professional freelancer sets for his/herself. The reason I ask is to get a feel for how fast people work in this industry and the kind of speed I should aim at. For example, If I wanted to do a superb translation complete with linguistic analysis and references for each choice I could work on a short piece for a whole month to make it perfect enough for presenting as a Masters thesis. However, if I was just in it for the cash and had no scruples whatsoever, i might do a quick job at high speed of a large translation and sacrifice quality. Obviously, I need to strike a balance between searching for the hidden meaning of each and every word/phrase and not caring enough to submit a professional piece of work. I\'m hoping that if veterans were to give me an estimate of how much they think is their average workload for a full 8 hour work-day, i could get an impression of how fast/slow people think it is reasonable to work. Also, how much of that time goes into proofreading a finished piece and do agencies understand if you say that you need x number of days to translate a 50,000 word job but also need y number of days to make sure it\'s good quality.



I know that once i get started, experience will teach me, but it would be cool to hear from verteran translators about what they think/their experiences.



Thanks..


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Alison Schwitzgebel
Germany
Local time: 14:17
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
I reckon on about 10 pages per day... May 8, 2002

But then it also depends on subject matter and text complexity.



Sometimes I hit about 20-30 pages per day or more, but that\'s only when I\'m translating something that I really know inside out and back to front. Obviously, if it\'s a subject I don\'t know well then even 10 pages per day can be a lot - and hard work to boot.



I also know from translating the contract one industrial (non-translation) company sends out to its freelance translators that they expect them to translate between 8-10 pages per day.



I reckon that one page is between 1500 and 1650 characters, or about 220 (very roughly) words.



Hope that helps!



Alison


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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
Fully agree with Alison May 8, 2002

Good luck!



J.



This, for instance, looks like a professional setting:



\"Translators usually produce only about 5-8 pages per day. There is no set minimum. Their pay is never based on the volume of work they produce. Translators receive quality bonuses only. [snip]



Our in-house translators and specialists are qualified, to post-graduate level. They only translate from the source language to their mother tongue and their work is always proof-read by a second in-house language specialist. Only one in a hundred prospective professional translators \'makes it\' to our freelance translator list before s/he is finally accepted to be employed in-house. That is why, despite a high demand for our services, we have adopted a rather slow model of expansion. Our translators are specialists in a field and their assignments are related to their specialty. This particularly applies to Medical, Pharmaceutical, Technical, Financial and Legal translations where specialist knowledge is of utmost importance.\"

http://www.eurogreek.com/quality.html









[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-05-08 14:39 ]


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:17
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
My 2 cents May 8, 2002

I´m translating various textes since 12+ years.

Although I agree with Alison according the number of pages one is able to transalte per day, so the words amount per page varies very strong from language to language.

So I would propose to go to characters, as this number is not so language seinsitive.

In average you should be able to translate about 15 - 20 thousand characters per day.

Working on big projects, using CAT-Tools and with a lot of expierience in this particular field it is sometimes possible to reach the level of 75 thousand characters per day, but one can work for a week or so with this tempo, no longer.

Translating is a hard business.



Good luck

Jerzy C.


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Cynthia Brals-Rud  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
In words, that means... May 8, 2002

between 2,300 and 3,000 words a day.

Deadlines set by agencies or direct clients would include the proof-reading period.



Good luck!



Cynthia


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Cynthia Brals-Rud  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Left a question out May 8, 2002

Sorry, always rushing...



About proof-reading, every translator has their own method. Personally, I proof-read as I finish every paragraph; then again once a page is ready. Finally, a comprehensive reading exercise, , will help me spot any mistakes.



This last reading, time allowing, will be done a day of two after completion (so as to forget/take distance from the source text).

Otherwise, immediatly before delivery.



I hope this helps.



Cynthia


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:17
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
PCO standards (Professional Congress Organizers) May 8, 2002

PCOs choose their personnel on a job-to-job language combination/specialization basis, which is rather higher than what normal free-lance translation demands (but bear in mind that they have to deal with relatively flawless open forum translations). The working day is 8 hours, with 6 actually employed at the terminal, producing 3,000 words a day which a proofreader checks. This implies an average speed of 500/hour and breaks totalling some 2 hours. The breaks are necessary to maintain this rhythm without fatigue (this would affect precision). The proofer is expected to do some 1,200/hour to make the team feasible.

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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 14:17
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
300 words/hour on average May 8, 2002

I\'m discussing this topic with an outsourcer (a one man translation agency) right now in another forum (Money matters).



He claims a.o.:



-quote-



Also, some experienced translators are turning out 5k words per 8 hr. day without any quality problems from the proofreaders. I would say EUR 1500 / week is a fair payment for any job.



-unquote-



He offers 0.06 euro/word (and far less for fuzzy matches) for SAP related translations and uses -IMHO- rhetorics in stating that his translators make 1500 euro/week at the above mentioned rate.

As far as I\'m concerned, this could only be the case if his translators would translate 5000 words a day, for 5 days a week.

I simply don\'t buy that, having translated and edited a substantial amount of SAP projects myself.



I would be interested to hear if others feel the same way I do about this, or if I\'m missing out on something here.



Have a look at:



http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&eid_c=2127&topic=1741&forum=8&5



_________________



[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-05-08 11:37 ]


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:17
French to English
Fewer words for beginning freelancers May 8, 2002

Freelancers just starting out will have a lower daily production than more experienced freelancers.



In the beginning, I think 1,000 words a day would be a realistic target. As you gain experience, you\'ll be able to do more words per day.



Nevertheless, a number of things can affect your daily production like subject matter (more technical means more research), the software you use (PowerPoint is slow to work in for example), interruptions (cats, dogs, kids, laundry, etc.) and even your mood (sometimes you just don\'t feel like working)!



Try to stay within your boundaries in the beginning. That means not accepting a job that would require you to do 3,000 words a day to make the deadline.



Good luck,



Erika



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Ursula Peter-Czichi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:17
German to English
+ ...
300 source words / hour sounds about right. May 8, 2002

Evert wrote:

Quote:




As far as I\'m concerned, this could only be the case if his translators would translate 5000 words a day, for 5 days a week.

I simply don\'t buy that, having translated and edited a substantial amount of SAP projects myself.



I would be interested to hear if others feel the same way I do about this, or if I\'m missing out on something here.



Have a look at:



http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&eid_c=2127&topic=1741&forum=8&5



---------

Lately, there are the most interesting proposals from some agencies. Agencies will offer ad-hoc translation services on-line and expect translators to process MT text for US$0.03 to 0.06 (600 words/hour).

I do not accept this type of work. The reasons are:

I will not do low-quality translations.

I believe that translators should be paid decently.

I will only deliver work when I can sign responsible for it.

This last point is something to consider seriously. After all, translators are responsible for their translations. More than 300 words/hour would constitute too much of a risk for me.





_________________



[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-05-08 11:37 ]



[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-05-08 13:01 ]

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-05-09 06:05 ]

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Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 08:17
German to English
+ ...
300 words/hour or approx. 2,500 words/day May 8, 2002

Those are reasonable limits (not just for beginners, but everyone). In order to ensure the quality of your work, you should never exceed those limits.



Allow me to remind everyone of our industry standards (sadly, many have forgotten about them in the process of making ever more unrealistic claims such as 6,000 words a day, etc.):



Normal volume: 1,000 words per day

Express volume: 2,000 words per day



Yes, these are our industry standards, believe it or not.


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Palmyra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:17
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes, 2000 words/day May 8, 2002

This is a general standard I have set up for myself.

I also know that 2000/day is often used by agencies as normal turnaround when producing estimates. everything that goes over this limit means a rush charge will apply. Of course it depends, sometimes the text is really easy, sometimes you get a piece where every third word is something to doubt about In my case it also depends which language pair I work in. For example, in case I translate from Estonian it will take me more time to translate 2000 words because the word structure is so different from English: one Estonian word (the Estonian language is very fond of combining several stems in order to express a concept in one word) may require the whole sentence in English and this is more time-consuming as you have to think more in order to give the precise idea, then the sentence structure is very different - you practically turn the whole sentence inside out to make it English.

But still in general, yes, 2000-2500 words per day.

And I also agree with an opinion that once starting - get real about what you really can and do not be upset or discouraged - if it is 1000 or even 500 words - let it be , speed (as all other things) comes with experience. concentrate on quality first, because this is something that will make your clients come back.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:17
French to English
Depends on the original, your knowledge, how you're feeling May 17, 2002

Of course you need to have some idea of the amount of work you can reasonably produce in a day so that you can organise your workload. It is not always that easy though. It is better to be pessimistic and hand the work back on time than over-estimate and come unstuck. Burning the midnight oil because you choose to is one thing, doing it because you have to if you are to get the piece in on time is quite another!



I have been translating full-time for a number of years now and generally say 3 000 words a day is a nice manageable average. But, there are days when 1 500 will be all you can churn out. Sometimes 5 000 is possible.



Various factors contribute, some of which include problems with the original text which may be badly written, complex, full of lots of tricky terms you need to check, comprise short odds and ends of phrases rather than sentences, often harder to understand without the padding of further text for context.



You may be tired, the phone may not stop ringing, the postman may turn up with something you have to deal with straight away. Any number of factors can reduce your efficiency rating in any given day, not forgetting the physical number of hours you are available. A full day for one person runs to 6 hours, for another it\'s more like 10! I have had big jobs that have taken me through from dusk to dawn, sometimes planned, sometimes not!



Certainly, I have found that I have generally got faster with practice. I have a fair idea of the amount of text I can get through on a particular type of job.



My advice would be to work on returning the best quality work you can and sticking to the time limits you set yourself. Even if that means twiddling your thumbs if you finish ahead of time.



Good luck,



Nikki



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