When to charge a minimum rate
Thread poster: Amy Henrickson

Amy Henrickson  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:46
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Jan 29, 2004


I have a little situation I would like to discuss with other freelance translators. I took on a new client on Friday, and I did a web-site translation for them. Yesterday they came back and asked me to do some more for the same client, and then even more today. In their last batch, they included a couple of paragraphs that were to be returned in a separate document, and they turned out to be from another of their clients. I was assuming that this was a different job, and decided to invoice them my minimum charge for that particular bit(I'm sure my client charged their customers separately, of course). (A PO was never sent, although I asked for it, by the way...) The client came back and said they were surprised that I had applied my minimum charge when I was working for them anyways, and that none of their other translators did this. The only other company that has given me several small jobs like this at a time always asks me to charge my minimum rate for all of their little jobs, so I thought this was normal. I would love to get some feedback on what the practice really is. I would like to be reasonable, but I don't like to be taken advantage of.

Thank you!


Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:46
Italian to English
+ ...
differs from country to country Jan 29, 2004

Hi Amy,
Here in Italy I know of very few people who charge a minimum rate.
Since this seems to be a new but potentially ongoing customer, I'd charge for the actual amount paid and see how it develops. I've gained some very good customers this way. And now when I have to ask for an urgent fee or it comes time to up the rate, I don't encounter any problems.
To deal with this particular customer (since you've already sent in a bill), you can simply say that the minimum rate is common practice in the business, but that since you hope to establish a mutually profitable working relationship with them (blah, blah, blah) you've decided to forgo the minimum.
And see what happens.


Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:46
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Always charge my minimum fee... Jan 29, 2004

I try to make my fees clear before starting, included min. fees. Even if I did not have the opportunity to mention them in advance, I always do it as soon as a new "bit" comes in, advising that I am not charging my usual min fee because I did not mentioned it before, but I will do it next time.

However, presenting my minimum, I also make it clear that I am open for special arrangements to adapt to special needs (e.g. half minimum fee for frequent requests under 40 words or so...)

NB Earlier, for about two years, I was not so strict. And I found my financial position going down without understanding why... Then I realized how many businesses were taking advantage of my ingenuity, and I changed my policy. Since then, I have only lost one (bad) client, but I have fully recovered my financial security.


[Edited at 2004-01-29 20:05]


Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
German to English
+ ...
It depends on the client Jan 29, 2004

There are clients who only give you the odd small job now and again and I think that those clients should be charged a minimum fee, otherwise it's too much work for too little profit.

I would be more flexible, however, when it comes to long-standing clients or any clients who give you lots of work - it's called goodwill and they'll appreciate it and hopefully come back to you.

All the best,



Erika Pavelka (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
French to English
Agree with Sarah Jan 29, 2004

I think it really depends on the situation. I have one client who sends me several smaller jobs throughout the month and I don't charge a minimum for them (most are editing jobs). I bill all the job done in the month at the end of that month.

If, however, an irregular client asked me to do a small job, I'd certainly charge a minimum, especially if there wasn't any more work in sight. My minimum applies to texts under 200 words.



[Edited at 2004-01-29 21:40]


Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:46
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
I agree with Sarah too Jan 29, 2004

Especially because the job was part of a batch. Sending a small job three days later could be another situation.



Amy Henrickson  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:46
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Thank you Jan 29, 2004

I really appreciate all your quick answers. You have helped me handle this situation, and you have given me some guide-lines on how to react faced with similar situations in the future.

Thank you all!


United Kingdom
Local time: 00:46
English to German
+ ...
There is an alternative Jan 30, 2004

I recently increased my minimum fee because I often get very short marketing texts that take me ages to translate. But it can look a bit hefty and may put smaller agencies off. Alternatively you can just charge by the hour for texts of say less than 500 words.


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