Specialized/Non-specialized: Same Rate?
Thread poster: xxxNathalieVVT
xxxNathalieVVT  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:05
French to English
+ ...
Mar 30, 2005

Hi Everyone,

At present I have a unique rate per word. But according to the type of document I can translate between 1500-4000 words per day.

Should I apply two different rates for Specialized and Non-speciallized documents?

Thanks

Nathalie


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:05
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
It depends Mar 30, 2005

No doubt Marc Prior will tell you that "Guess what, you get to decide" but I can tell you how I look at it.

If you are working with the same client over a period of time, you should always charge the same rate. For example, I have a regular client who always pays me X per page. The pages can sometimes be full of highly specialized text and sometimes there are 3 senteces of a conversation on them. Over the course of our relationship it has evened out.

For a single job, I think you should adapt your pricing (at the end of the day, you want to be making X per hour, not X per word). Certainly, if I were to be bidding on a personal letter here on Proz, I would probably bid a bit less than what I would for a financial report.

My $0,02


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xxxNathalieVVT  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:05
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree but... Mar 30, 2005

Hi Konstantin,

What happens if a single job makes you win a new regular client. Let's say you quoted the client for that first job what you would normally quote for an easy translation. Then a high proportion of texts from that client are technical jobs and you end up loosing money in terms of what you usually charge per hour.

So far I have been lucky but what if?

I totally agree with you that you should be looking at how much you make per hour and not per word. I would be interested to know how much on average translators make per hour even when they charge per word.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:05
French to English
Varying rates Mar 30, 2005

Most people, including me, try to apply rates that vary according to the format and "difficulty" (degree of specialisation" of the text.
However, in practice, it seems to me to be hard to get clients to understand *why* you need to charge slightly more for a tricky PowerPoint presentation than a straightforward Word document, say.
One method I use is to NOT apply volume discounts for repetitive Excel/Powerpoint files whereas I often do for large (and therefore usually repetitive) Word documents (I don't use any CAT tools). That helps a bit

All of which can be summed up by single(*) rates - in theory, no; in practice, yes.

(*)NB: single not unique Unless you mean your rate is 0.08563826493 EUR per word, which probably would be unique...


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:05
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
clients are different Mar 30, 2005

It really depends on the client, some clients will need an explanation to understand why you want more, some clients will actually offer you a better rate for a certain job because they already understand and some clients will ask you what your rate for this job would be and obviously those who just assume that you will accept the same rate as you did last time.

There is no single strategy which would cover all clients, but I would suggest you try to get as much control over rates you are paid as possible, creating a situation when the client asks you for your rates every time you get a different type of work. You may be lucky with some (as I have been with the example I gave) and unlucky with others. Over time we all hope to eliminate the poor clients and have too many good ones knocking on our door to manage.



[Edited at 2005-03-30 19:41]


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xxxNathalieVVT  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:05
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Mar 30, 2005

Thank you both for your very interesting comments. What I can learn from this is that every situation differ and it's up to us translators to decide at the end of the day. I would rather work less and charge the correct rate then be swamped but feel that I'm not getting paid for the services that I provide.

However, I do feel that a translator who is truly specialized in a particular field should find the work almost just as easy as non-specialised items and therefore be able to charge more or less the same rate. I see two benefits he/she can get from this, if it is not to charge more. Being able to secure more work related to his/her specialization and the same rate per hour being good in his/her subject.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:05
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
From an outsourcer's point of view Mar 30, 2005

I'd be surprised if a specialized text costs the same as a general one. I'd be willing to pay for specialization - the specific dictionaries, the background, the experience, the extra care - knowing that all that is being differentiated from just any other type of texts.

By this, I mean, for instance, a legal expert doing my legal translations, a doctor, scientist or the equivalent doing my medical stuff, an aeronautical engineer taking charge of my Boeing manuals. Some of these fields (I've specifically got aeronautics in mind) require very stringent cross-checking, and in some cases may be externally controlled by professional groups (the ISO or a pilots' union breathing down your neck, for instance). This kind of care requires more time than you'd probably be able to give if you're churning out 4,000 words a day. Aeronautics people know it: they regard themselves as an élite, and they'd be suspicious of anyone working in their field at "average" rates.

The experience you accumulate in a specific field that makes you fast enough in it is nothing to belittle. You may right now be in a part of the growth curve where you don't perceive that much of a difference, or tend to regard it only as a bargaining leverage, but specialists can tell. And your attitude is a part of it.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:05
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Addendum Mar 30, 2005

Nathalie Vu-Van-Toan wrote:

Being able to secure more work related to his/her specialization and the same rate per hour being good in his/her subject.


The amount of work we can do is limited to the number of keystrokes humanly possible per unit time. No one is going to get more than 24 hours a day or 365 days a year. When you've hit saturation point and people are still running after you, you'll draw the line somewhere. Rates is one of those "somewhere" points. That's also telling in a specialization.


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xxxNicolette Ri
Local time: 09:05
French to Dutch
+ ...
From a translator's point of view Mar 31, 2005

Each case is different. I think most of you don't quote the same thing in USD and in EUR. Likewise, you should take into account the source language: English as a source language counts 20% words less than French, so takes more time per 100 words (that is, for a big text, one day per week!). Likewise, you really can't charge the same thing for easy texts and for highly specialized texts. I do both, at very different prices, some technical subjects because I'm able to do them and tourism because it's fun, and often for the same clients. So, for each translation you have to take into account the difficulty. My clients wouldn't understand if I charge my tourism price for technical texts and vice versa. Powerpoint slides are a tricky thing but as the client asks for a supplementary service, it should be invoiced as such (if the client doesn't agree, you do the translation in Word and let the client copy and paste). In general, you have to bear in mind what you can do per hour, and after each translation take a while to look if it was realistic: if you spent two hours to translate 100 words, there's something wrong and you should either be more efficient either change your prices, for the next time.

A quotation is always a price for a given translation, not a price for all the jobs a client will offer you later or a kind of mean price. You can always say: "I can do THIS work for THIS price".

[Edited at 2005-03-31 08:09]


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