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How to determine the best rate for my language
Thread poster: xxxegyptranslat
xxxegyptranslat
Local time: 03:30
English to Arabic
Nov 28, 2008

Hi all,
I need your help in this issue,

I have about three years experience as an in-house Senior localizer/Translator for Eng Ara
and now I started my own business as a freelance translator,
the problem is I want to know the average word rate for my pair of language for someone in my experience,
whenever I search for rates in other famous websites for translators in my pair of language I found a huge discrepancy in rates between translators all over the world, it varies between 0.01 euro to 0.015 euro per word
those are the rates for Eng Ara translators form Egypt, India, UK, USA etc...
I was lucky to get a contract with a company for 0.09 euro per word, but as I told you I don't know how to know the average world rate for my pair of language and is there a way to know if my rate 0.09 euro is high or little,
Please advice
Thanks in advance.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:30
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Seems reasonable to me Nov 28, 2008

egyptranslator wrote:
I was lucky to get a contract with a company for 0.09 euro per word


0.09 Euro/word is top of the range, as far as I can tell. It's still quite common to quote EURO 0,08 but as costs increase and the end of the year approaches, 0,09 is beginning to look more realistic.

That's for serious, complex, professional work done to the highest standard, delivered on time, by a translator translating into their ****genuine**** native language and therefore totally up to speed with current usage of that language.

Unfortunately there are charlatans out there who charge a great deal less than that amount. I imagine they must be (a) not genuinely native in the target language (b) nobody is checking their work (c) they subcontract it to students etc. (d) they are tax evaders.

I hope this helps!



[Edited at 2008-11-28 19:32 GMT]


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RNAtranslator  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:30
English to Spanish
+ ...
How to determine the best prize for a bottle of wine? Nov 28, 2008

In Spain you can buy one liter of wine for less than one euro or a 0.75 liter bottle for 1790 euros http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Bodegas%20Vega%20Sicilia%20Unico%20Ribera%20Duero%20Castilla%20Y%20Leon%20Spain/1968/Spain/EUR/M/-/35223

The same for translations.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
what do you need/what can you get Nov 28, 2008

I don't think you can ask people to advise you except in a general sense, as so many factors enter the equation.

But the first Q to answer is what do you need to earn to survive personally and professionally.

So you need first to establish your annual basic personal expenses plus an extra (a "salary" to yourself from your business), then add on costs for business expenses (computer, Internet, telephones, software, etc) and for professional development (reading materials like journals+books - and time to read them - and also conferences and training). You should also build in the opportunity costs of some time off. You may decide that you can't afford some of these things (like training or time off) just yet, but in that case, do two calculations: an absolute minimum and an ideal minimum.

Once you've done those basic calculations, you know what you need to earn per year/month/week/day/hour, as a minimum.

After that you can simply rule out the impossible rates and test the market with what you see as your minimum rate. If after 3 or 6 months you find you're awash with work, consider raising the rate. If the reverse, decide whether you can realistically make a living from being a freelancer.

Two things. If you are trying to get established, you have to accept that you will have down-time. And if you are too cheap you will create a bad impression (among the kind of clients we all want, quality ones).

With all respect for Tom, the comment re 9 cents is neither here nor there. He lives in London (apparently) and does different language pairs from you, and both these factors affect a) how you establish an ideal or survival minimum and b) the demand for the translation service you offer and the competition (more demand/less competition = higher price).



[Edited at 2008-11-28 21:49 GMT]


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Mahmoud Rayyan  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 03:30
English to Arabic
Too complicated questions for a beginner Lia Nov 29, 2008

Lia wroter:

So you need first to establish your annual basic personal expenses plus an extra (a "salary" to yourself from your business), then add on costs for business expenses (computer, Internet, telephones, software, etc) and for professional development (reading materials like journals+books - and time to read them - and also conferences and training). You should also build in the opportunity costs of some time off. You may decide that you can't afford some of these things (like training or time off) just yet, but in that case, do two calculations: an absolute minimum and an ideal minimum.

Once you've done those basic calculations, you know what you need to earn per year/month/week/day/hour, as a minimum.

After that you can simply rule out the impossible rates and test the market with what you see as your minimum rate. If after 3 or 6 months you find you're awash with work, consider raising the rate. If the reverse, decide whether you can realistically make a living from being a freelancer.

Two things. If you are trying to get established, you have to accept that you will have down-time. And if you are too cheap you will create a bad impression (among the kind of clients we all want, quality ones).



With all my respect to what you said Lia, but this is really an advanced solution from my own point of view, I don't recall that I am in the begining of my freelance carrer and did what you adviced, though I am not an expert now but to determine all those factors that you mentioned is not an easy calculation.
I believe the best one to answer egyptranslator's question is a colleague who lives in the same country and working in the same pair of language, (which is me) I believe from his name that he also lives in Egypt,
but actually I dont have a fixed answer for him,
for the rates are different from one country to another and it depends both on where you live and where the company you deal with is located, I mean company from India for example won't offer the same rate as a company from UK and also translator from UK won't accept the same rate that an India resident accept
I remember once I was contacted by a colleague from the USA and he offered me a collaboration request in a translation project and I remember that he offered me a 0.03 or 0.02 USD rate per word and said that there are a lot of competition from indian translators and a like and this is a good rate.
another offer was offering ONE cent per word, so consider yourself lucky to get 0.09 Euro,
I am just wondering how a translation company views this issue, I mean whenever a translation company offers a translation project, does it take into consideration the country where the translator lives in, then it determines the minimum rate per word?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:30
English to German
+ ...
Complex maybe - but necessary Nov 29, 2008

Hi Mahmoud,
With all my respect to what you said Lia, but this is really an advanced solution from my own point of view, I don't recall that I am in the begining of my freelance carrer and did what you adviced, though I am not an expert now but to determine all those factors that you mentioned is not an easy calculation.


Many beginners don't - and that's the problem: countless freelancers are looking for someone to tell them what to charge, when they should know themselves. After all, being freelance means running an independent business. If your plumber or electrician next door can do it, a translator should be able to do these calculations.

Cheers,
Ralf


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:30
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Calculating rates Nov 29, 2008

Mahmoud scripsit:
With all my respect to what you said Lia, but this is really an advanced solution from my own point of view


It's no more advanced than knowing what you spend each month on the average and being able to figure out how much you have to earn to cover that and still pay taxes, save a bit for retirement, pay for mistresses and fast cars, etc. If people can't manage that it's just a matter of time until they get into trouble. The math involved is the sort of thing one learns in the third grade more or less.

Ralf Lemster wrote:
Many beginners don't - and that's the problem....


Indeed. Lack of planning and calculation = pre-programmed failure in many cases or at least a fairly stressful life filled with uncertainty. There's enough stress to go around without making things worse by ignorant pricing.

ET, try using the ProZ calculator as a start. Lots of people like to gripe about all the factors it doesn't consider, but if you get to the point where you can join that chorus, then you are headed in the right direction as far as knowledge is concerned. Look at the average for your language pair and then set your price 10 to 20% higher if you are good. If you are bad, set your price 100% higher, as the future is bleak anyway, and you might as well put yourself out of your misery sooner rather than later.


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Mahmoud Rayyan  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 03:30
English to Arabic
It's not what you need Kevin it's what is possible Nov 29, 2008

Thanks Kevin for your comment but from my point of view it's not a matter of calculations to your needs it is all about the Market rate, let me give you this example

In any of the developing countries let's say Indea for example, a translator can live with 200USD monthly and after some calculations he found that he can earn living while translating for 0.02 USD per source word, while another translator from the UK working on the same pair whith the same experience won't accept such a rate at all, then what is the importance of calculations here while there is a fixed average standard rate for every language? and it won't be fair at all to use the Indian translator for just 0.02 USD not for reason but his calculations led him that this is suitable for him.
let me illustrate it from another point of view:
the question is what is the actual cost of this pair of language in the market of translation?

I hope you get my idea.



By the way I like your confirmation about planning and calculations and if you could recommend a book for that subject I will be gratefull

I hope you got my idea too, Ralf and thanks for your comment

B.R

[تم التعديل في 2008-11-29 17:18 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:30
Member (2008)
Italian to English
put it this way Nov 29, 2008

Put it this way, Mahmoud:

(a) Calculate the minimum amount of money you need to earn per month after tax, assuming your only source of income is translating.

(b) Calculate how many hours per week you would be able to work.

(c) Compare the result with current market rates for your language pair and specialisms.

You will soon realise that it's hard work making a living as a translator !


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:30
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Market rates & tough jobs Nov 29, 2008

Mahmoud Rayyan wrote:
... it's not a matter of calculations to your needs it is all about the Market rate...
... the question is what is the actual cost of this pair of language in the market of translation? I hope you get my idea.

By the way I like your confirmation about planning and calculations and if you could recommend a book for that subject I will be gratefull


Are you NOT capable of looking up the "market rate" averages here on ProZ? Then, as I already suggested, you can calculate a premium for your actual rate which depends on your competence as a translator. Maybe as a non-member you don't have access to the simple function under the Jobs->Rates menu option, so for tonight I decided to become an Arabic to English translator. Lo and behold!There are actually average rates listed here as follows:

Average minimum
0.08 USD
(0.05 EUR)

Average target rate
0.11 USD
(0.07 EUR)

Average top rate
0.21 USD
(0.14 EUR)

It looks like your language pair is indeed a bit on the cheap side. I'll leave it to you to look up the rate going in the other direction. Bear in mind that declared rates on ProZ might be low; maybe you should just contact some agencies to get a quotation on what a small job of tem pages or so should cost, then take that as your end customer rate and knock off a reasonable margin to figure out the rate you would charge as a translator? Now what is a reasonable margin? Go figure it out. Research skills and creativity are the characteristics of a good translator, so I'm sure you can do this. Otherwise, just take those top rates from ProZ and mark them up 100%.

As far as books are concerned, go have a look at Oleg's (http://www.proZ.com/books) or the one by Corinne McKay (on Amazon). But you shouldn't need a book to tell you what it costs to pay your bills each month.

Tom wrote:
You will soon realise that it's hard work making a living as a translator!


It is? Compared to what? This is the easiest career I've had yet. And I'm sure it beats the Hell out of what my local supermarket stock clerk puts up with or the guy who shovels the snow on my sidewalk at 6 am. Sure, I have to plan carefully, read carefully, write carefully and talk to interesting people to convince them that we can do something useful, but nobody is threatening me as I make my rounds, stiff fingers are about the limit of my occupational safety hazards (or maybe tripping over the dog toys that litter my office floor). When I was a kid I watched my father work longer hours at two jobs to take care of his family. From time to time the stores he worked in were robbed, and he got to look at guns pointed at him or wrestle with shoplifters who thought they were amateur boxers and all sorts of other bullshit. That seems like much harder work to me or at least more dangerous. I think its quite a blessing to be able to sit and my desk and get paid to do two of the things I love most: reading and writing. But not in Arabic and certainly not at those low rates. Speaking of which, I'd better go delete Arabic from my profile before I start getting job offers for it. The amount of work requested for German is bad enough....


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:30
Member (2008)
Italian to English
ha ha Nov 29, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote: it beats the Hell out of what my local supermarket stock clerk puts up with or the guy who shovels the snow on my sidewalk at 6 am. Sure, I have to plan carefully, read carefully, write carefully and talk to interesting people to convince them that we can do something useful, but nobody is threatening me as I make my rounds, stiff fingers are about the limit of my occupational safety hazards (or maybe tripping over the dog toys that litter my office floor). When I was a kid I watched my father work longer hours at two jobs to take care of his family. From time to time the stores he worked in were robbed, and he got to look at guns pointed at him or wrestle with shoplifters who thought they were amateur boxers and all sorts of other bullshit. That seems like much harder work to me or at least more dangerous. I think its quite a blessing to be able to sit and my desk and get paid to do two of the things I love most: reading and writing. But not in Arabic and certainly not at those low rates. Speaking of which, I'd better go delete Arabic from my profile before I start getting job offers for it. The amount of work requested for German is bad enough....


ha ha, ok ok you're right, I get the message.....



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Mahmoud Rayyan  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 03:30
English to Arabic
I like my career Nov 30, 2008

Tom in London wrote:

You will soon realise that it's hard work making a living as a translator !


Thanks tom for your comment, but actually I am with Kevin in this poimt, I consider myself a lucky to work as a translator and I also dont think of this career as a an inferior one (by the way I make my living from translation only) and I know millions of people that envy me for this career (thank Godness)

kevin first of all welcome in the army of Arabic translators even for just
one day and thanks for the valuable information concerning the average rate
And yes you are right this feature on proz is available only for members
And about your advice about asking for a quote from any translation company I tried once and they
Asked me hundreds of questions (your name company, the nature of the material etc) and I didnt
Like the fact that I am lying on them. Anyways I got what I want thanks to you.
Best of luck


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Salam Alrawi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:30
English to Arabic
+ ...
Kevin is absolutely right Nov 30, 2008

@Mahmoud,

The rate you are talking about is a rate that some (English - Arabic) translators created them, the 0.02 cents are not valid rates, but it is the fact that some agencies are using the freelancers, they get a job at really good rates and ask freelancers to do it for nothing and they earn a lot from your hard work,

Ask yourself if non sleeping the whole night and working during the whole day to deliver a tight deadline job worth those $0.02, cause I believe it isn't,

You have to keep in your mind an important thing: if you start cheap then you stay cheap, (I guess something like that have been said months ago on a forum) and may be even many times,
for example: if you do a work for an agency (as a first job) and you start it with $0.02 then you would live for 50 years and they would still ask you to do their jobs for only $0.02, and guess what? even the next job they would tell you: oh we are sorry but this job has really a limit budget and they would appreciate it if you do it for $0.01 cent !, and God knows what budget they will have for further jobs!,

those rates posted by Kevin are true! and yes they are still little,

Don't let the agency betray you, sometimes those agencies think that since you are a non featured member then you might work for less, and this should not be true, the truth is you should ask for a reasonable rate, and believe me they will pay you, specially if you have some specialization in a field that they are looking for and I am sure you have or they wouldn't contact you,

if you think $0.02 worth the work of all day and night then I am sorry I have nothing more to say here,



@egypttranslator

you are doing well so far, and don't ask for cheap rate like that, cause if you do then you will destroy your career,
in each work field the human should improve him/her self and move from a level to a higher one, so you should always look up because if you look down once then you will never be able to raise your head again,
in other words, you started with a reaonable rate and with time going you will be able to gradually raise it more, but if for once you charge the $0.02 then forget about any more and then you might need to forget about this career forever,

I advice you to take the advice from the featured members who are trying to help you here, cause everything they say is true otherwise they wouldn't be here,

Believe me they have great experience in this field from being here for years,


Best regards,
Salam Alrawi


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:30
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
The joys of translating Arabic Nov 30, 2008

Mahmoud Rayyan wrote:
kevin first of all welcome in the army of Arabic translators even for just one day


Thank you. I found my fellow Arabic translators very hospitable, and I was grateful for their patience that my vocabulary was limited to half a dozen mispronounced words.

And yes you are right this feature on proz is available only for members


Please forgive my impatience then. I did not know that.

As for getting a quote, you can always send an e-mail to a company in say, London, and attach a love letter to a mythical girlfriend in Oxford or some place and ask what it would cost to translate it. I doubt there will be a million questions for that. Or better yet, just approach some of your fellow language pair workers and ask for guidance. Not everyone likes to talk about rates, but I think those tend to be the ones that are less secure and afraid of being undercut. I don't give a damn. People are welcome to underbid me by as much as they like, and if they can deliver better quality, I want to know so I can send my customers to them when I'm too busy, which is almost always. But someone that good probably has no time anyway or is too smart to spend it all on translation!

I'm glad I was able to help a little in any case, and I wish you the best of fortune in establishing a stable, well-paying international clientele. I heard at one point that the US government was looking for people to whom Arabic could be outsourced. (A partner in Cologne called me one day to ask if I could translate his Arabic to German work into English for a contract like this, but nothing ever came of it. It's probably just as well given the politics involved.)


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xxxegyptranslat
Local time: 03:30
English to Arabic
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all Dec 1, 2008

Thank you all for your advice, I am sorry I was travelling and just came yesterday tonight, I believe I got your point and after seeing the rates given by Kevin I believe I am lucky to start with 0.09 Euro, I will think also seriously think of upgrading my membership in proz.com as I believe it will be more profitable.
Thanks again to all of you


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