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Hourly rate
Thread poster: Eleni Makantani

Eleni Makantani
Greece
Local time: 09:14
Partial member
English to Greek
+ ...
Mar 19, 2008

Hello all,

I have been working as a freelancer for five years, and throughout my career, I have always had this question: how are the "hourly rates" applied? I have so far only worked with rate per word, so this rate per hour seems strange to me. Does it apply to translation, or to proofreading/ editing? And how do you keep track of your time and prove to the client that your charge is objective and true?

Thanks!


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:14
English to Dutch
+ ...
My way of dealing with hourly rates Mar 19, 2008

hi Eleni,

I don't think there is a standard answer to your question, but this is how it works for me.

I apply an hourly rate for proofreading and editing, and also if the client asks me to do formatting, lay-out and DTP. For example, a PowerPointPresentation usually needs a little adjustment after translating.

I do keep track of my time using software tools on my PC, but so far no client has ever asked to see the records of my tracking. It's a matter of trust, obviously.
The software tool checks activity on my PC, but it has no way of knowing whether I'm drawing and deleting smileys in Word for two hours or doing some serious work.

I usually keep an eye on the clock as well, and always charge per part hour, not minutes or seconds. Half hours, quarters, whole hours. That's it.

Hope this helps!
Margreet


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:14
Italian to English
+ ...
Trust Mar 19, 2008

Usually the client will have a good idea of how many translation units (words, lines etc.) can be edited in an hour, and often they'll tell you that they've budgeted x hours for revising a certain job. In other cases they just work on trust, in others still the revision rate is set per TU.
I prefer an hourly rate, as we all know that some jobs simply take longer - poor formatting, poor translation, inappropriate style, dense original, etc. If the number of hours has been budgeted beforehand, it's up to you to agree before you start the job, or to say if you think you'll need more time.
In my experience agencies are pretty flexible about negotiating extra editing time but I imagine they'd take a dim view if you came back to them at the end of the allotted time and said you'd only managed to get through half the job.

[Edited at 2008-03-19 13:26]


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:14
Member
French to English
+ ...
Trust and communication Mar 19, 2008

Like Marie-Hélène and Margreet, trust is definitely how I work with my clients when charging by the hour.

I generally give an estimate of how long proofreading or editing will likely take (always look over the text before doing this!). If I encounter a problem that will for an unforeseen reason mean that a job will take longer than predicted, then I let my client know and we renegotiate from there.

I charge by the hour for editing and proofreading, but I generally charge per-word for translation. As my per-word rate and my hourly rate work out to about the same thing, it really makes no difference to me when it comes to charging for translation - the same can not always be said for proofreading or editing, which is why it's safest to charge by the hour.

Best,
Jocelyne


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Evangelia Mouma  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 07:14
English to Greek
+ ...
hourly rates vs per unit rates Mar 19, 2008

Hi Eleni,

I usually apply per unit rates for everything, translation, proofreading, editing, and a per page rate for transcription. Hourly rates are usually for proofreading and editing, though. In some cases in which I was offered a per hour rate for proofreading, it so happened that the rate coincided with my per unit rate; so this might mean that the agencies know more or less how long it will take. Of course, if it had taken me longer, I could have proven it with the Track changes tool and with the amount of corrections.

Hourly rates just get on my nerves because I have to keep track of everything I do: if I answer an urgent email/a phone call, if I need a break etc I have to take that time off. And I have to remember to write down how long my break was. Not for me.

Margreet, are you referring to a particular software tool? Could you please tell me which one?

HTH
E.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:14
English to Dutch
+ ...
Tool Mar 19, 2008

Evangelia Mouma wrote:


Margreet, are you referring to a particular software tool? Could you please tell me which one?

HTH
E.


The one I use is called Time Track Pro, but there are many more available. If you're really interested, I seem to remember there has been some forum thread about this kind of software. I can try to find it for you, if you like.


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Evangelia Mouma  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 07:14
English to Greek
+ ...
Thanks Mar 19, 2008

Thank you Margreet for your prompt answer. I'll give it a try to find the thread, if I don't I'll get back.

All the best


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Cristina Heraud-van Tol  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 02:14
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Calculations... Mar 19, 2008

First of all, try to make a calculation of how many words you can translate per hour.

Let's see, if in an hour you can translate 1.5 pages containing a total of 450 words, and you ask for US$0.07 per word, then you make US$31.50 per hour. If the text is really simple and you don't have to check for no terms, probably you can charge US$30 per hour. If the text is highly technical, then charge US$33 or US$35.

For proofreading, it varies greatly, as the text can be very good or horrible translated. I normally ask about half of my translation rate. In the case above, I would ask for some US$15-20 per hour. But be sure to tell the client that if you find several mistakes and almost have to re-write the whole text, then you will be charging more.

Hope to have helped you with some hints. Good luck!


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:14
Member
English to French
I use my hourly rate for any non-standard translation-related task Mar 19, 2008

TM maintenance, rereading, editing, formatting, reviewing... All those boring tasks that need doing now and again.
I use ExactSpent 2006 (from AIT) and send the time log together with my deliverables. You can stop and reactivate time counting when you go have a break.
It is indeed a question of trust, I could let the timer run and do something else... If I realise the task at hand will take far more time than anticipated, then I tell the customer and ask them whether to carry on or not. This way I don't end up with a hefty bill without them knowing about it.

I match my hourly rate to my hourly output in words (3-400 words ready to deliver) so that whatever I do I earn about the same per hour.

Philippe


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Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:14
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
A comment on Cristina's post Mar 19, 2008

Cristina, you mentioned that you charge half the amount you can earn translating as your hourly rate. I would argue that your hourly rate should equal the amount you earn per hour of translation. Why should you earn less when offering proofreading services? Were that the case, it seems better not to offer proofreading services at all (i.e., you can earn more money translating over the same amount of time).

To calculate my hourly rate, I totaled up the amount of money I invoice in a given month and divided by the number of hours worked over the same period. That simple calculation helped me set the right rate for my services. As my translation rates rise, so does my hourly rate.

Laura


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:14
English to German
+ ...
Cash inflow per time period Mar 19, 2008

You're right, Laura,
I would argue that your hourly rate should equal the amount you earn per hour of translation.

At the very minimum, yes.

Best regards,
Ralf


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MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA
Local time: 02:14
French to English
+ ...
Hourly Rate Mar 19, 2008

Hello, dear Colleagues,

I have enjoyed this discussion about hourly rates. If I may ask, what is the average hourly charge in US dollars?

Thank you.

MaryAnn
Italian > English
French > English
Spanish > English


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 08:14
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
"what is the average hourly charge in US dollars"? Mar 20, 2008

depends (sadly/realistically) on the language pair.

As a full member you can see what the community is charging by selecting jobs/rates.

I hope I am not trespassing, but here's facts about the German-English language pair:

minimum 33.11 USD
target 39.09 USD
max 82.77 USD
# entries 3631


Target probably means median. Note the number of entries: at more than 3600 respondents these numbers do mean something.

PS: if living in Europe, add >30% due to what's been happening to USD lately (sg).

[Edited at 2008-03-20 01:01]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:14
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Hourly rate = minimum rate Mar 20, 2008

Eleni Makantani wrote:
I have always had this question: how are the "hourly rates" applied?


I don't have an hourly rate, but when asked, I simply tell people my minimum rate as if it were my hourly rate... because, in a sense, it is... my minimum rate is the rate I would normally charge for 1 hour's work.

But I sometimes find "hourly" rates to be rather silly, as a client will often tell you beforehand that a job is allocated X number of hours (so that's the same as saying the job was allocated X amount of money).


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:14
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Shouldn't they be the same? Mar 20, 2008

Cristina Heraud-van Tol wrote:
If the text is really simple ... you can charge US$30 per hour. ... For proofreading, ... I would ask for some US$15-20 per hour.


Huh? I can understand that one's per-unit rate for proofreading is less than one's per-unit rate for translation, but why would you charge a lower hourly rate for proofreading than for translation? Surely the hourly rate should be the same for both (and you can do more proofreading work than translation work in that hour).


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