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How much do contractors add to the translator's rate?
Thread poster: Elizabeth Sumner
Elizabeth Sumner
Local time: 16:26
Russian to English
+ ...
Mar 4, 2005

Hi, I couldn't find any mention of this in previous forums (although I can't be the first to wonder).

Could someone let me know how much freelancers charge on top of the translator's fee when contracting out a translation?

Although I'm not an agency, quite a few people have got in touch offering their work as translators. I also have requests for translations out of English or for different language pairs altogether. So far, I've just politely declined these offers but I would like to contract out work to people who have sent me my details. At present I have a links page with other translators and will keep this going alongside.

Is it normal practice to add a percentage commission when doing this or just a flat rate on top? Obviously I will be open with the client and will not mislead him into thinking I am translating the text myself.

Does anyone have experience of this - good or bad?

Many thanks,

Elizabeth Sumner

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Sara Freitas
Local time: 17:26
French to English
You have to cover your costs Mar 4, 2005


You really need to charge enough to cover your costs, which are:

1. Outsourcing to a translator
2. Outsourcing to a proofreader (if it is a language or field you cannot check yourself)
3. Time spent managing the project
4. Any impact the extra income will have on your taxes (in some countries there are business taxes on your gross revenue *not* your should be careful of this when outsourcing work)

I think it is possible to subcontract fairly so that everyone make a profit, you outsource to colleagues at fair rates, and the customer gets guaranteed quality at a reasonable price. *Unlike* some agencies who charge their customers high rates, find the cheapest subcontractors they can find, do no internal quality control, and make a killing. In this all-too-common scenario, everyone loses, except the agency, of course!!

Good luck and, by the way, I like your idea of sharing links, too!


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:26
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Do not underestimate the time you spend Mar 4, 2005

Hello Elizabeth,

Firstly, as we all know, time is money, and you will be surprised how much time you spend on finding and/or chasing suitable translators in order to outsource a translation. Therefore, you will need to take this into account.

You need to find out the average going rate for the type of translation and the language pairs in question, i.e. what is normally charged (e.g. by an agency) to the end customer. You can pay the translator half of this sum, and, if you are not in a position to check/proofread the translation yourself, you will have to pay a proofreader a quarter of the total sum, in addition. Therefore, you will be left with one quarter, which will have to cover the massive amount of time you spent on finding and chasing translators, including the voluminous correspondence that goes with the whole process (e.g. if you advertise the project, you will have to write an answer to everybody who answers you).

Try not to pay yourself too little per hour for your "agency" work.

Best of luck!


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:26
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Quality, and a note on Astrid's letter Mar 4, 2005

[quote]Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
"...if you advertise the project, you will have to write an answer to everybody who answers you."

It is very nice to hear that, but my experience on ProZ for example, that they couldn't care less.
I only applied to a handful of advertisements here, and I am aware, that I can't undercut certain prices, and I don't wish to do so. Nevertheless, I was hoping to get a short acknowledgement or something, as the jobs were fairly special, so not too many people would have applied to make that impossible. Not a sausage.

The other issue, more relevant to the topic, is quality. I have had the opportunity to pass on some work to translators working in languages different from mine, and it was very difficult to ascertain the quality of their work. I have to admit, that was quite a few years ago, and I expect it is easier now, with ProZ and easier networking, but you will have to spend time to get the right people.

Judith Lanyi

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