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Translations under 100 words and minimum fees
Thread poster: Pro-Trans

Pro-Trans
France
Local time: 18:10
English to French
+ ...
Aug 13, 2007

Hello!

I have been working for a few weeks with a client who has kept on sending me 50-70 word translations...
Today, I received another one and I had enough with it so I told him that I will need to charge a minimum fee for this kind of translations.
When hearing that, he wasn't pleased at all and told me that his company doesn't charge a minimum fee and that he can't accept minimum fees from translators. Do lots of translators not apply a minimum charge?
Moreover, as we are new partners, he told me that he needed to assess my skills before assigning me big jobs. But there is a difference between small jobs and TINY jobs. I wouldn't mind doing a 300 word translation for him every week, but I do mind translating 50 words for him about twice or three times a week and having to invoice him less than $10... it is ridiculous and a complete waste of time for me.
What do you think about that? When I started doing this kind of translation, I was expecting bigger jobs, but no bigger job came from him... When a client gives me big jobs, I agree to translate some sentences for him with no minimum charge from time to time but when a client ONLY sends me sentences to translate, I wonder if this kind of partnership worths it.

What would you do in my shoes? When and who do you charge minimum fee?

Thank you!!


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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Invoice all together.... Aug 13, 2007

If the client is paying for these tiny translations, then even though they might be bothersome, it is still work. Tell the client you will invoice at the end of each month and keep careful track of all the bits and pieces you do. You will have to detail each job on the invoice, so add each one to the invoice as you do it so none gets lost.

I'll keep my fingers crossed that your client finally sends you something more substantial.


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Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:10
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
I apply minimum fees Aug 13, 2007

Hi,

I don't know about others, but I apply minimum fees for those who send just 2 or 3 small documents.

Otherwise, these small things are not really worth one's time.

Of course, it also stands that if someone sends 10 big documents and then something less than 100 words within the same month, then I charge that client at my normal rates.

Just my point of view.

Regards,

Ritu


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Agree with Patyjs Aug 13, 2007

I have a few clients who only need short translations. I keep a running invoice, and rather enjoy that kind of work.

If I'm working on a longer project, a half a page (or less) on an entirely different subject is a welcome change. In the end the bits and pieces add up, the client is happy to have someone reliable, and one client has even referred me to another company.

Invoicing is no problem, as soon as I finish, I just add it on the current invoice, which at the end of the pre-arranged time period the invoice looks like an itemized grocery bill.

Best wishes
Linda

[Edited at 2007-08-13 11:48]


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Christine Schmit  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
German to French
+ ...
monthly invoices Aug 13, 2007

I do apply minimum charges for new clients and for those that only send me a small translation every now and then.

For many of my established regular clients, I have agreed on monthly invoices. It saves a lot of time to write only one invoice each month instead of many small invoices. If the translation is only one sentence, it may take longer to do the invoice than to do the translation ! So for them, there are no minimum charges, I simply add up all the translations and invoice once at the end of the month.

With some established but not so regular clients, I have agreements that if the monthly invoice amount does not add up to my minimum charge, I will invoice my minimum charge anyway. If it is more, then I just invoice the normal word count.

I think such a monthly minimum charge might be a fair solution in your case.

Best regards,

Christine


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:10
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Charge for 20-30 minutes + word count Aug 13, 2007

I charge for 20-30 minutes + the word count for small jobs.

I have a client who regularly wants jobs down to 8 words in Trados, 'cleaned and uncleaned'. I charge this client + 20 minutes each time, as it I have their routine streamlined.
I have to open the TM, set up the files, check the terms and clean up, register job ref and make out an invoice....

You have to go through your usual routine too, whether the job is for 8 words or 8,000. I charge most clients 30 minutes extra for small jobs. (Unless it really is a short sentence I can tap out straight into a return e-mail, or a good client who deserves some goodwill.)

Tell the client you are doing what you can to streamline, like sending a single monthly invoice etc. Explain that certain overheads per job are the same, however large or small the size of the job, and that your rate per word is based on not spending too much time invoicing instead of translating.

Lots of companies do charge for administration or re-tooling or whatever fits their line of business when they get small jobs.

If that kind of firm, business-like approach doesn't work, say you are busy and they will have to wait until you have time to fit them in. (You don't have to tell them what you are busy doing if you are not actually translating.) Insist in advance that you do have to make a minimum charge, and if the client doesn't agree to pay it, then look for other clients.

Good luck!


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:10
French to English
+ ...
Minimum charge Aug 13, 2007

I have a minimum charge of €30 as a general rule. As Christine says, you still have to do your standard admin stuff, whether it's a job of 100 words or 10,000! If the client is worth having, I'm sure they won't quibble. In saying that, if you're not busy, you might prefer to bend the rules, but if you do it once, it's difficult to impose a minimum charge when you're busy. Then again, I'm quite happy to translate the odd sentence for good clients without any charge because it generates good will. I think it really does come down to the relationship between you and your client in the long run. A particular client of mine recently sent me an addition to a file I'd done for them before, although some months previously. As I was extremely busy, I had to say I would charge my minimum charge as it would have taken me a fair bit of time to relocate the original file, reread it for context and translate the new section. They opted not to go ahead, which was fine by me as I really didn't have the time to work for less than a reasonable rate! They have offered me work since then though....

Good luck!

[Edited at 2007-08-13 12:34]

[Edited at 2007-08-13 12:35]


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OlafK
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:10
English to German
+ ...
Minimum charge Aug 13, 2007

If they send you loads of unrelated short texts you have to do your research every time and I also think the wording is even more important in a short text than in one of several 1000s of words. I have a minimum charge equivalent to what I charge for 500 words. As I mainly work in marketing I sometimes get asked to translate slogans of just 3 or 4 words. Of course that's not straightforward translation (what is?) and I charge by the hour.
Sometimes I do editing/proofing jobs for colleagues and I don't mind if I get paid less than my minimum but I expect them to return the favour.


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Mark Cole  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:10
Polish to English
+ ...
Just say it's not worth your while Aug 13, 2007

If something is more trouble than it's worth, and you're not particularly enjoying the work, the best thing is to turn it down. Freedom of choice, after all, is one of the benefits of being freelance. If your client "never" pays minimum charges, let him use the translators who have got the time to do it. If he can't find any, then hopefully his client will decide to give the work to agencies that do pay minimum charges.


As Claire says, you by all means do favours for clients with whom you have a good relationship and whom you trust. But not for clients who promise "big" jobs that don't materialise.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Minimum fees Aug 13, 2007

A short job requires just as much bookkeeping and other administrative work as a long job, so I do charge a minimum to cover that time.

Note, too, that there are different types of short jobs. Translating a five-word advertising slogan can easily take hours, much longer than translating a 20-word sentence for an instruction manual. So you may want to think about the work involved when setting prices and deciding whether you need to charge a minimum.

Also remember that just because a potential client wants you to charge less doesn't mean you have to agree to work for them.

[Edited at 2007-08-13 17:22]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:10
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Definitely, a minimum charge Aug 13, 2007

Steven Capsuto wrote:

A short job requires just as much bookkeeping and other administrative work as a long job, so I do charge a minimum to cover that time.

Note, too, that there are different types of short jobs. Translating a five-word advertising slogan can easily take hours, much longer than translating a 20-word sentence for an instruction manual. So you may want to think about the work involved when setting prices and deciding whether you need to charge a minimum.

Also remember that just because a potential client wants you to charge less doesn't mean you have to agree to work for them.

[Edited at 2007-08-13 17:22]


I agree with Steven and others of like mind. I've levied a minimum charge for many years and no regular client has ever objected. These fiddly jobs are often as much work as a longer oneand more trouble than they're worth. I don't really want them. If the client doesn't want to pay my minimum fee, let him find someone else.
Stick to your guns - a minimum fee is a perfectly normal practice.
Kind regards,
Jenny.


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Nizamettin Yigit  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:10
Dutch to Turkish
+ ...
Charge with min Aug 13, 2007

Hi,

You should charge minnimum.

I can accept not to charge min if;

- I know that this company -final client- has more jobs of this nature coming in progressively.
- If I agreed with the agency initially that I charge no min.
- if I charge a fixed rate regardles of word count

All other cases I charge minnimum.

In one case it happend to be only one word and I charged the same minimum. And client was happy!

Besides min charge, some of the agencies charge processing fee for every incoming order. I have seen that to be €12 per project.

Because invoicing and rutine process are same for 1 word or 1000 words or 10K words.


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 19:10
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
do charge Aug 13, 2007

I applied a simple scheme - for all jobs that are up to 100 words, I charge for half an hour of my hourly rate. Well, these amounts are small, but if they are sending you numerous jobs like that it takes time for you + it distracts from the main work. And if you add those small amounts, at the end of the month you will get quite an amount. Do not be afraid to ask them for a min fee (at least a small one) - I am sure they get a lump amount for even a couple of sentences from their direct client...If they do not agree - why should you waste your time? All is simple - people work for money.

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Pro-Trans
France
Local time: 18:10
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'll charge a minimum fee Aug 14, 2007

Thank you very much for your replies!
They convinced me to charge a minimum fee no matter how many words there are in the file...
Anyway, I think I'll stop working for this client as he doesn't like the fact I want to charge a minimum fee.
You are totally right when you say it is disturbing to get 2 sentences to translate from nowhere while you are translating on another project. I can't be bothered anymore by these ridiculously tiny translations.


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Anik Aminuddin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:10
Member (2007)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Some clients are worth keeping... Aug 14, 2007

This client of yours is definitely not. When I just started a while ago, I used to work for an agency who often sent me tiny jobs here and there. I didn't charge any minimum fee back then, so my invoices often came between $6 to $15. One day, they failed to send me a $15 worth of payment. After many kind reminders, they blamed me for being such a hassle and stopped sending me jobs. That was the best day in my entire career.

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