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Working 9-5 as a freelancer...
Thread poster: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:49
Flemish to English
+ ...
Jun 20, 2009

One of my acquaintances is a freelance IT-person. According to the customer's wishes he works at an hourly rate of about 60 euro/hour either at the customer's offices or in his own office at home. If I see how much is offered for most translations on this site, I wonder whether :

a) The bidding system is useful for getting decent rates? Whenever an offer at 0.05 $ appears many flock to bid. Is there no alternative.

b) Shouldn't we, translators, offer a kind of service at an hourly rate like an employee, but paid as a freelancer, working like my acquaintance. His work is regulated by the stipulations of a framework agreement. When he goes home at the end of the day, the person responsible for his project signs his attendance list. Based upon that list, he makes his monthly invoice: say 128 hours (working week of 4 days) *60 euros = 7860 euros which is paid 30 days later. His "working week" is 4 days because otherwise he would be considered a "real employee".

I am always amazed that so many IT-persons discover translation, but do not stick to their guns, i.e. becoming a freelance IT-er.


[Edited at 2009-06-20 08:33 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My experience with hourly versus per-word rates Jun 20, 2009

Williamson wrote:
According to the customer's wishes he works at an hourly rate of about 60 euro/hour either at the customer's offices or in his own office at home. If I see how much is offered for most translations on this site, I wonder....


A few years ago I had an hourly rate of EUR 50.00 and a per-word rate of EUR 0.075. According to this math, my theoretical speed would have been about 650 words per hour. Now here's the strange thing -- agencies who willingly accepted my per-word rate (or even paid me higher rates) simply baulked at my hourly rate, exclaiming that it is far too high for them. I eventually settled on an hourly rate of EUR 25.00 (and what I do is I refuse all hourly paid jobs unless there is a lull in my work), which seems to be more acceptable, even among agencies who have no problem whatsoever with my current per-word rate of EUR 0.09 (which is, admittedly, in the low-average bracket for my language combination).

Am I just a fast translator? I don't think so... but the impression that people have about the acceptable hourly rate versus the acceptable per-word rate seems a bit skewed, and I don't think you can do anything about perceptions.


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:49
Dutch to English
+ ...
Similar experience Jun 20, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

Williamson wrote:
According to the customer's wishes he works at an hourly rate of about 60 euro/hour either at the customer's offices or in his own office at home. If I see how much is offered for most translations on this site, I wonder....


A few years ago I had an hourly rate of EUR 50.00 and a per-word rate of EUR 0.075. According to this math, my theoretical speed would have been about 650 words per hour. Now here's the strange thing -- agencies who willingly accepted my per-word rate (or even paid me higher rates) simply baulked at my hourly rate, exclaiming that it is far too high for them. I eventually settled on an hourly rate of EUR 25.00 (and what I do is I refuse all hourly paid jobs unless there is a lull in my work), which seems to be more acceptable, even among agencies who have no problem whatsoever with my current per-word rate of EUR 0.09 (which is, admittedly, in the low-average bracket for my language combination).

Am I just a fast translator? I don't think so... but the impression that people have about the acceptable hourly rate versus the acceptable per-word rate seems a bit skewed, and I don't think you can do anything about perceptions.


My hourly rate is 35 euros per hour now but I rarely accept jobs that pay per hour. Why? Because when I translate I make anything between 50 and 150 euros per hour.


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Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:49
English to German
+ ...
Yes Jun 20, 2009

That is true for me, too. If my hourly rate would somehow reflect the money I can earn when I am paid per word my clients would think I am crazy. 35 Euros/hour is the highest rate the clients accept from me. And that's why I don't like to be paid per hour.

If I compare my work as a translator to the work I used to do as an employee (when I was paid "per hour" (i.e. 38,5 hours per week) I see that I work a lot more when I am paid per word. When you work in a company you are constantly distracted, you just don't achieve as much as you do when you are paid for the results.

I like this kind of work. It's up to me to decide how much I want to do, und I (usually) never have to justify my speed. Being paid per word gives me the freedom to work with the intensity & speed I find appropriate.

[Bearbeitet am 2009-06-20 10:25 GMT]


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 18:49
English to Croatian
+ ...
My thoughts Jun 20, 2009

Hi,

You have raised some interesting questions.

For example, since we work in our home office and do not spend the employer's office material, office coffee, toilet paper, electricity, Internet, free meals on Christmas dinners, kids allowance, and indeed don't use any other in-house privileges, I really do not understand why we are constantly offered the rate of $0.05 per word / $15 per hour.

My point is that they are not paying for the benefits they would have to pay to a regular in-house employee, i.e. they are saving on freelancers anyway ( even if we work at 0.60 USD per word), and still want us to work at the cheapest price in the world? Very greedy.

[Edited at 2009-06-20 11:08 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:49
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No thank you! Jun 20, 2009

I don't agree at all. Each of us is able to translate at a different speed. If you happen to translate at a reasonably good speed and decided to offer your services for an hourly rate equivalent to the number of words you usually translate... no customer would ever hire you!

Charging by the word is the only reasonable alternative: if you translate more words than the average, you make more money; if you translate less words than the average, why should a customer pay you the same amount as the average translator?


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 18:49
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Hourly vs. per word Jun 20, 2009

Like several other said, I don't think there is a company in this country that would pay the sort of hourly rate for translations that I would accept.
From the other viewpoint: if you work fast, you would be shooting yourself in the foot by accepting the hourly rate clients are willing to pay.

And then... I prefer being paid for getting work done as opposed to being paid for showing up.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:49
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
The customer should, of course, pay you more Jun 20, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

if you translate less words than the average, why should a customer pay you the same amount as the average translator?


The less words you translate per hour, the higher the quality is likely to be; and higher quality should be paid at a higher rate.


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Didier Caizergues
Local time: 18:49
English to French
+ ...
Do more oral translation/interpreting/"oral escorting"... Jun 20, 2009

Jeez, I hate this expression, "oral escorting"... Makes it sound like something downright dirty...

Anyway, when I do oral translation, I'm usually paid by the hour or the day of work. It usually means working from 7 in the morning until bedtime, though. I agree with those who say that a good translator makes more money with a decent per-word rate than by being paid by the hour, but then, that's only when you translate into your maternal language. I've done translations in IT from English to Spanish, and had I been paid by the hour, I'd be sitting on a pile of money right now...

In fact, the real culprits in this erosion of our fees are the outsourcers, who secure juicy deals with their clients, then open a sweat-shop and hire an underpaid translator to do the job. I know it sounds harsh, but it's true. Otherwise, who in their right mind would agree to quote at 0,05 euro per source word for an IT translation from English to French (in my case) that must be done for yesterday, proof-read and PageMakered...?

I mean, really!


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 18:49
English to Croatian
+ ...
In-house vs. freelancers Jun 20, 2009

FarkasAndras wrote:

I prefer being paid for getting work done as opposed to being paid for showing up.


This is a crucial point, and a very good point.

I have both an extensive in-house experience and freelance experience. Precisely, as freelancers, we are paid for the work results, and every single cent is earned in the full sense of the word.

On the other hand, in-house translators often juggle office gossips, coffee drinking, game playing and translation ( and getting paid for all). Of course, there are times when office work can become highly- intense and stressful, but some days you just don't do anything and still get paid. However, I prefer real work as a freelancer to offending my mind by listening to meaningless office gossips ( ear plugs come handy in such situations), since I'm obliged to be present in the office even if there's nothing productive to do ( those are empty, futile hours gone forever and wasted time).


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 18:49
English to Croatian
+ ...
Quality and speed Jun 20, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

The less words you translate per hour, the higher the quality is likely to be; and higher quality should be paid at a higher rate.


One should believe so. However, theoretically, there is a number of reasons for which a translator may work slowly other than him or her being keen to provide high- quality translation ( for example slow typing, poor technical skills ( CAT), slow translation/ cognitive skills, etc.)


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:49
French to English
Easy (personal) answer Jun 20, 2009

Williamson wrote:
I am always amazed that so many IT-persons discover translation, but do not stick to their guns, i.e. becoming a freelance IT-er.

Because working in IT sucks. It can potentially be the dullest job known to man, and attracts vast numbers of sociopathic individuals. The little interest it holds can usually be successfully drained out of it by bland, talentless and incompetent managers.

And let us make no mistake, while you are on a particular contract, regardless of your legal and contract status, the actual experience of work is just like that of any employee. It has the same frustrations, just more money. There is flexibility, you can (in theory) walk away (to an extent)... but few do. But there is not (usually) the flexibility to, say, go read a book in the garden for a couple of hours and catch up when the sun has gone down. Pity, because that flexibility could easily be on offer in many IT jobs, for permanent employees as well.

So for quality of life, frankly, translation knocks IT into a cocked hat, AFAIAC.
And indeed, after a while, the revenue discrepancy is not a great one.


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Anne-Marie Grant  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:49
French to English
+ ...
I completely agree with Lingua5B Jun 20, 2009

about the infinite preferability of working as a freelancer than an in-house translator. I think the intense concentration required by translation means that you need to take breaks as YOU see fit, not as your employer decrees. I work much more productively as a freelancer than when I was in-house. I actually used to write (really rather bad) poetry when I should have been working, .....Never do that now when it's on MY time!!

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:49
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
As a freelancer, not an employee. Jun 21, 2009

I did mean (IT-) FREELANCER, NOT a person in a relationship employer-employee.

Whether that freelancer ponders an entire day over a problem and writes a couple of lines or a lot, does not make any difference.
At 5 (s)he goes home, counts his/her hours and end of the month writes an invoice based upon the number of hours he/she has been there, not upon the number of lines of code written.
The project has to be finished within a certain time-span say, a year, but if (s)he does not work produce much on a particular day, this has no effect on his income.

Isn't the corporate culture of google flexible?

Btw: Interpreters are paid by the hour/ half a day/day and during the meetings/conferences, there are coffee-brakes. Most interpreters are either freelancers (or staff-members at international organisations).

[Edited at 2009-06-21 07:13 GMT]


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:49
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not true Jun 21, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

if you translate less words than the average, why should a customer pay you the same amount as the average translator?


The less words you translate per hour, the higher the quality is likely to be; and higher quality should be paid at a higher rate.


It just means you are slow(er). I.e. a translator who is just starting. It has nothing to do with quality. Speed does not equate to less quality or cutting corners.


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