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Rates: How to decide what to charge?
Thread poster: Sophia Hundt
Sophia Hundt  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:57
Russian to English
+ ...
Sep 1, 2006

I am still in the process of getting established and have no clue what my work is really worth. Sticky as the subject is, I thought that maybe some of you guys could help.
I work in the following pairs on the regular basis:

French to English
German to English
Russian to English

Most of my work is French and German to English translations. I do exclusively humanties, farming, cooking, travel, and literature (but that's humanties too) related materials. I've translated a few books to be published, for authors and a pubishing house. I'll do a very ocasional certificate or CV.

I almost feel like it's not fully informative to see what other people charge at proz.com, since everyone's situation is so different.

Thanks a lot in advance!

[Edited at 2006-09-02 15:07]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not so bad Sep 1, 2006

If you currently charge 11 cents a word and you are getting it, then that is not so bad at all, especially if you have been following this forum for a while.

It may well be worth more, but that also depends on your clients and their idea of quality vs. economy. More than anything I think it depends on having a first-class clientele.


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Sophia Hundt  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:57
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your opinion. Sep 1, 2006

Thank you for your opinion.

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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
go a penny per word higher and see what happens Sep 1, 2006

That would be my suggestion. You will be essentially giving yourself close to a 10% raise. I'm sure many of your clients will not even blink at paying 12 cents per word if the copy you submit is highly polished.

If you do find that your work flow tapers off, you could revert to your current rate, but I don't think that will be necessary. If you still have lots of clients at the beginning of 2007, you could announce another rate increase for that year.

You are saving your clients from having to hire a proofreader to check your work and an editor to polish the prose (and probably a copy editor to make sure everything is ready to go to press). From my own experience, I can tell you that people are willing to pay for that.

Good luck!


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Sophia Hundt  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:57
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you, Patricia Sep 1, 2006

Thank you for the good suggestion, Patricia.

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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:57
Another idea Sep 1, 2006

The ATA (American Translators Association) publishes a survey on rates which might help you get an idea of what the rates are in the market. However, I am not sure if it is available to non members, and for how much. You can look for it at www.atanet.org.
Regards


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Nizamettin Yigit  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:57
Dutch to Turkish
+ ...
Consumer Price Indexes Sep 2, 2006

Hi,
I dont know anything about your language pairs. If I were you I would consider revising/increasing every couple of yeras. What is a good increase can be different from country to country or state to state.

You may make a quick analysis about major consumer goods price differences between today and last year or year before.
My feelings say 5-to-10% will be good and fair.

Good luck,

Nizam


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Balaban Cerit  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 04:57
English to Turkish
+ ...
There is some sample information on the ATA site Sep 2, 2006

Hi Sophia,

As Rosa Maria mentioned above, on ATA's website it writes that the Translation and Interpreting Compensation survey is available to ATA members for $45 and non-members for $60.
The order form is at:
https://www.atanet.org/kiosk/ATA_PubWare.pl

There is also some information on this survey in the ATA Chronicle. Non-members can view a sample copy of the ATA Chronicle, it's downloadable from this web page:
http://www.atanet.org/publications/chronicle.php

The sample information there doesn't mention your language pairs but there is interesting information about rates for a few other language pairs and related issues on page 19-20 of this chronicle sample.

Good luck!


[Edited at 2006-09-03 06:12]


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:57
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Do not apply the same rate across all clients/projects - be variable Sep 2, 2006

Sophia Hundt wrote:
... I currently charge 11 cents a word (USD) ...


In my opinion, you should set project-specific rates since projects (and clients!) are obviously very different from each other.

Some points to consider:

- If source documents are supplied electronically in a "standard" editable format such as Word, apply your standard rate. By contrast, PowerPoint presentations might require additional (re)formatting effort, and should thus command higher than standard rates. A rate markup is also appropriate if you receive source documents as hard copies or PDF files (consider the conversion needed).

- Your rates should vary depending on the degree of difficulty of the source. An agricultural machinery manual is certainly much more demanding than a plain menu or a hotel room description.

- Set your rate depending on the client you work for. In general, direct clients pay more than agencies.

Steffen


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Marian Greenfield  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:57
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
glad to see this thread has moved in a positive direction Sep 2, 2006

One way to guage your rates is to ask what others charge or simply investigate rates in folks with similar profiles residing in the U.S.

One thing to bear in mind is that most folks I know charge a range of rates, with lowest rates for translation companies (to cover their margin) and highest for direct clients and higher rates for shorter deadlines and more technical texts.

Best of luck to you.

Sophia Hundt wrote:

I am still in the process of getting established and have no clue what my work is really worth. Sticky as the subject is, I thought that maybe some of you guys could help.
I work in the following pairs on the regular basis:

French to English
German to English
Russian to English

Most of my work is French and German to English translations. I do exclusively humanties, farming, cooking, travel, and literature (but that's humanties too) related materials. I've translated a few books to be published, for authors and a pubishing house. I'll do a very ocasional certificate or CV.

My work is very clear, elegant, and native English speaker-level, because every single project is proof-read and edited by my husband (his time should be figured in), who's highly educated and an excellent writer (no need to list all the awards and diplomas here), with a good working knowledge of all the source languages I translate from. He does indeed assure a very smooth, elegant American English. I myself have a BA from an American liberal arts college in literature. I won the Outstanding Achievement Award in Literature - an honor awarded to a seniors student in each graduating class.

I was wondering what others would recommed. I currently charge 11 cents a word (USD) but I feel like it's worth more. But I just don't know how high I can go to keep the work coming my way. While I am absolutely confident about the quality of my work, I am not confident about its worth in money terms at all.

Thanks a lot in advance!


[Edited at 2006-09-03 12:49]


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Marian Greenfield  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:57
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
ATA compensation survey Sep 2, 2006

That's very good advice... It is indeed to members and non-members alike... and since Sophia was considering joining ATA anyway... she might as well order when she joins and save some money.



Rosa Maria Duenas Rios wrote:

The ATA (American Translators Association) publishes a survey on rates which might help you get an idea of what the rates are in the market. However, I am not sure if it is available to non members, and for how much. You can look for it at www.atanet.org.
Regards


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:57
Please stop scaring people Sep 2, 2006

Marian Greenfield wrote:

What you're asking is considered price fixing and you and anyone living in the U.S. who responds is just asking for a Federal Trade Commission investigation of you and this site.

You can ask what others charge or simply investigate rates in folks with similar profiles residing in the U.S.



Hello Marian,
This is one thing that I really dislike about the ATA. That they try to discourage members to even mention the word "rate". I know that in the past ATA had to face a lawsuit on the subject of rates, but I do not see how asking: "How to decide what to charge", and my answer to her question can be construed as "price fixing". If it is really so dangerous to answer Sophia's question, why are you doing so.

I wish the ATA was more precise when it comes to this topic, and not just tried to stiffle people's curioisty with scare tactics.

Since Sophia also asked about advantages of being ATA members in another thread, I would like to say that I am a certified member and that what I find most advantageous is being advertised in their directory (it certainly attracts clients), and the networking possibilities that arise from some of the events.


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aswarup
India
Local time: 07:27
English to Hindi
+ ...
How to arrive at some rate to start with. Sep 2, 2006

I feel that everyone should first of all start keeping his/her requirements and possibilities in view to arrive at a rate rather than looking around to find how others are doing. Once you come at some figure, then try to compare it with the rates translators are generally demanding in the international market on like to like basis(level of qualifications, experience, quality of work, etc). If your rates are low you stand better chances of getting a job and even have some cushion to get even higher rates. In case your rates are much higher, then you will have to find out ways to become competitive. To become competitive is in itself a very interesting task and can be discussed at length. Here again one's personal considerations will be of paramount importance.
Let me now give my suggestion to you how you can arrive at a rate to startwith.
You live in USA. You know your qualifications, experience, quality of your work, your speed of work, number of hours you can work, etc. I am sure you have an idea how much you can earn if you take up a regular job. Let us assume that this figure is US $ 4000 per month. I am sure that if you will work as a freelancer you will like to earn atleast 20-30% higher than a regular job keeping in view the uncertainties involved in freelance job. I presume that you will like to earn atleast say US$ 5000 in a month.
I consider that you may not have always job in hand. Let us assume that you have job for only 20 days in a month and remaining days you are either holidaying or searching jobs. I divide 5000 by 20 and get 250 US$ per day of actual work. If I divide this by say 8 hours (actual hours may quite often be much higher as translation is a very serious and tedious job) and arrive at a figure of about 30 US$ per hour of actual working. Now I do not know how many pages you are able to translate in an hour. I personally aim at one page an hour. For you I take 2 pages an hour as you have better facilities, help and technical environment. This means that you will like to earn about 15US$ per page. If I assume that a page will contain about 300 words, your desired quotation rate figure comes to 5 cents per word.
I am delighted to see the above figures. Believe me I had no idea as to what figures I would get. I just moved forward with some logical figures and finally got a figure that is not absurd at all. In fact anyone in the world can follow these steps and come to a figure and then decide what should he do to be competitive and get an assignment.
The rate of 5 cents per word is internationally quite competitive for you but for this you will have to do 2 pages per hour. However, if you will do one page an hour like me, your rate comes out to be about 10 cents per word and compares reasonably well with your 11 cents per word.
The above reasoning opens up picture of all possibilities before you. You can reason out what should you do to be competitive and hope to get an order. I am sure that there are various other considerations you will have to keep in mind to further modify the rates like level of difficulty in translation, urgency, volume of work, etc.


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Marian Greenfield  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:57
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
why the question cannot be asked or answered by anyone living in the U.S. Sep 2, 2006

Hello Rosa María,

I did not answer the question that Sophia originally asked. Rather, I suggested ways she could figure out the answer for herself.

Telling someone what to charge is clearly price fixing and that may be legal in other countries, but not in the U.S.

Anyone is free to quote one's own rates (and I frequently do so for my students), but it is not legal in the U.S. to tell someone else what they should charge.

From: http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/public/div_stats/211491.htm

"Price fixing occurs when two or more competing sellers agree on what prices to charge..."


Many folks don't like the law, but it is still the law, and if you even flirt with breaking it, you risk an FTC investigation.


Rosa Maria Duenas Rios wrote:

Marian Greenfield wrote:

What you're asking is considered price fixing and you and anyone living in the U.S. who responds is just asking for a Federal Trade Commission investigation of you and this site.

You can ask what others charge or simply investigate rates in folks with similar profiles residing in the U.S.



Hello Marian,
This is one thing that I really dislike about the ATA. That they try to discourage members to even mention the word "rate". I know that in the past ATA had to face a lawsuit on the subject of rates, but I do not see how asking: "How to decide what to charge", and my answer to her question can be construed as "price fixing". If it is really so dangerous to answer Sophia's question, why are you doing so.

I wish the ATA was more precise when it comes to this topic, and not just tried to stiffle people's curioisty with scare tactics.

Since Sophia also asked about advantages of being ATA members in another thread, I would like to say that I am a certified member and that what I find most advantageous is being advertised in their directory (it certainly attracts clients), and the networking possibilities that arise from some of the events.



[Edited at 2006-09-03 12:51]


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:57
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
ProZ.com Rate Calculator Sep 2, 2006

Dear Sophia,
You can also use ProZ.com Rate Calculator: http://www.proz.com/?sp=rate_calc

If it is used carefully, taking into consideration several things, such as all living expenses, savings you want to have in your bank account, health insurance, car insurances, disposable income, vacation time, etc., you will get a fair idea of what your rate should be.

Good luck,
Monika



Sophia Hundt wrote:

I am still in the process of getting established and have no clue what my work is really worth.


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