I need help with my first potential big client
Thread poster: Ana Ortega

Ana Ortega
Spain
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 30, 2018

Hi,

I am an English-Spanish translator. I have been doing small translation jobs over the years, and just decided to start translating as a freelancer a couple months ago. I am still doing the whole content mill and finding new clients thing.

Through my networking I have found a potential new client I am very interested in. It would be ongoing work and they need me to translate their site and later their social media posts as well.

The client wants to dra
... See more
Hi,

I am an English-Spanish translator. I have been doing small translation jobs over the years, and just decided to start translating as a freelancer a couple months ago. I am still doing the whole content mill and finding new clients thing.

Through my networking I have found a potential new client I am very interested in. It would be ongoing work and they need me to translate their site and later their social media posts as well.

The client wants to draft the content himself and then have me proofread it. His English isn’t the greatest, so I’d rather just do the translation straight away. How can I explain to them that this is the best option to have a well written text and also how much should I charge for proofreading alone instead of translating? Should I do it by the hour or per word as well?

I am assuming I should charge him by the word as usual, but he asked if I could offer them a package deal since he also needs me to translate Instagram and blog posts eventually. How should I organize and price this package? I have no idea what my proposal should be, but it doesn’t sound like a good idea since I don’t know the length of the posts.

He is interviewing other translators for the job as well so I wanna be competitive in order to get it, but not sell myself too cheap. I live in Spain and I am aware there are competitors in other countries charging 0.01€/word versus the 0.08-0.10€/word I’d like to charge him. The job is in the health/lifestyle market if that helps.

Any help would be really appreciated, thanks!
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patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 05:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Same problem Dec 31, 2018

Hi Ana, I have a similar problem with academic papers written in very poor English which I am supposed to revise. It's definitely not proof-reading as I understand it. It entails much more than just looking for spelling and grammatical errors. I have persuaded clients in the past by charging by the hour and tactfully explaining that although the changes I make will improve the text, it may have to be completely rewritten, which, in the end, may be as costly as a translation.

If the
... See more
Hi Ana, I have a similar problem with academic papers written in very poor English which I am supposed to revise. It's definitely not proof-reading as I understand it. It entails much more than just looking for spelling and grammatical errors. I have persuaded clients in the past by charging by the hour and tactfully explaining that although the changes I make will improve the text, it may have to be completely rewritten, which, in the end, may be as costly as a translation.

If the work is going to be regular, you might try offering a monthly package deal in which you translate up to x words for a set fee. You would, of course, renegotiate if the word count was consistently way off base.


Hope this helps. Good luck.
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Tina Vonhof
Wioleta Kwiatkowska
 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:53
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Languages? Dec 31, 2018

Ana Ortega wrote:

I am an English-Spanish translator.
...
The client wants to draft the content himself and then have me proofread it. His English isn’t the greatest, so I’d rather just do the translation straight away.

Did you mean his Spanish isn’t the greatest? The job is from English to Spanish, no? Or did you mean that he is writing the English source and that is not good?
Your post is a bit confusing.

Editing, proofreading and such are best charged by the hour, unless you always get the same type of translations with the same quality, because in that case you may be able to convert your hourly rate to a per word rate (just check - over a period of time - how many words you finish in an hour).

For small jobs, it may make sense to charge a minimum fee to cover overhead, but if the client sends you many small jobs in a month, you may waive that and add up the wordcount and charge based on that. But for that, you need an established work relationship with regular workflow.


Tina Vonhof
Teresa Borges
François LASSERRE DU ROZEL
 

Ana Ortega
Spain
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Dec 31, 2018

That was very helpful advice, thank you! I meant his Spanish isn’t the best and the translation would be from English to Spanish.

How much should I charge on average as a beginner for proofreading? I’ve seen prices all across the board, I don’t wanna charge too much that it scares the client, but also not too little.


 

DarwinE  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:53
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
According to our very own reported rates... Dec 31, 2018

Ana Ortega wrote:

How much should I charge on average as a beginner for proofreading? I’ve seen prices all across the board, I don’t wanna charge too much that it scares the client, but also not too little.


Looking at the average rates offered by your fellow community linguists here: https://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates

The usual rate per hour for tasks from English to Spanish is between $25.88 to $34.34 USD per hour.

Also it's important to highlight your distinction of "average as a beginner" Don't sell yourself short just because you are a beginner. Whether you're a beginner or a veteran, you have a skill that other people are paying for because it is a skill they do not possess. I understand you want to be competitive and you really want to land this client, but don't make it harder for yourself in the future when you realize your true worth and your struggling to convince this client that they should really be paying you a little more. Some clients handle these rate changes professionally, others say "It's okay, not a problem," and hire a new linguist who offers the same low rate and you never hear from them again.


Tina Vonhof
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Gareth Callagy
Wioleta Kwiatkowska
Teresa Borges
Michele Fauble
Morano El-Kholy
 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 04:53
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not proofreading Dec 31, 2018

What the client wants you to do is more than proofreading, it is editing. What would concern me is that the client, knowing some Spanish, may be offended by your changes and start arguing with you. Then you have to go over the text again, accept some of his suggestions but not others, and all this can turn into a big, time-consuming headache. You may want to discuss that, tactfully of course, with him ahead of time: your edits will be final.

As others have suggested, editing is best
... See more
What the client wants you to do is more than proofreading, it is editing. What would concern me is that the client, knowing some Spanish, may be offended by your changes and start arguing with you. Then you have to go over the text again, accept some of his suggestions but not others, and all this can turn into a big, time-consuming headache. You may want to discuss that, tactfully of course, with him ahead of time: your edits will be final.

As others have suggested, editing is best charged by the hour. Once you have finished a number of pages you may have a better idea of how many pages you can do in an hour, so that you can give the client an estimate. If the client wants a charge per word, set it somewhere in the middle between your proofreading and your translation fee.
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Teresa Borges
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Monolingual revision, bilingual revision, or translation? Dec 31, 2018

Ana Ortega wrote:
How much should I charge on average as a beginner for proofreading? I’ve seen prices all across the board, I don’t wanna charge too much that it scares the client, but also not too little.

I'm also very confused about what it is you're negotiating here. But this is what I'd normally suggest:

Monolingual revision: The client writes from scratch, as a non-native speaker, in your native language. You correct all errors of structure, syntax, etc. and improve the style. This can involve anything from a light proofreading for a very high-level speaker to virtually rewriting the text, if indeed you can understand it. The latter has to be done carefully as we aren't mind-readers, and further input from the writer is often required. The fairest way to invoice is per hour of your time. That guarantees you correct payment for your time, every time; and if you're working with just one writer then in theory they'll make fewer repeat errors and so pay less over time. Start by giving a rough idea of expected speed -- the client needs to have an idea of the cost, after all! I find that I can do anything between 750 wph and 3,000+ wph of non-native English revision, depending on the quality, which is why I'd never think of offering a flat rate per word.

Bilingual revision: That doesn't seem to be in anyone's interest. Why get them to translate in the "wrong" direction, and then correct it? It doesn't make sense.

Translation: Just your normal rate seems to be called for -- the amount you need to charge per hour to cover your social contributions, taxes, professional expenses, etc., and that covers your downtime hours too (holidays, sickness, training, admin, book-keeping...), and that provides you with a good standard of living in Spain. You can't expect to compete with every translator on the basis of price as some will be students, retirees, "on the black" workers, or living in lower-cost countries. I never offer agencies "grid discounts" but I do offer a version to one long-term direct client as a form of loyalty programme. I just indicate a negative amount on their monthly invoice, reflecting their share (not 100%!) of the time saved in handling repetitions and 100% matches, without giving any sort of breakdown.


Gareth Callagy
Wioleta Kwiatkowska
Teresa Borges
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:53
French to English
Client education Dec 31, 2018

This type of thing comes up from time to time. Clients often have language skills that are sufficient when talking, particularly when they have the client on the other side of a counter, or a screen. There's the body language, the gestures and all the other stuff (including personal charisma) which helps average language skills be quite sufficient in oral business exchanges. It is a whole different ball-game when it comes to commercial writing skills and in a foreign language, being proficient o... See more
This type of thing comes up from time to time. Clients often have language skills that are sufficient when talking, particularly when they have the client on the other side of a counter, or a screen. There's the body language, the gestures and all the other stuff (including personal charisma) which helps average language skills be quite sufficient in oral business exchanges. It is a whole different ball-game when it comes to commercial writing skills and in a foreign language, being proficient orally will often lead a client to believe that their written skills are sufficient too. However, they are often oceans apart. Understanding the translated text can even be so difficult for a "proofreader" that you will need to contact the client to ask what his intention was, or worse still, not realize that he is not saying what he actually wants to say. This is time you will invoice during a "proofreading" process and time he will lose.

I have found quite a clear way round this. Your client makes a particular product, or sells a particular service. He knows his business. Explain politely that if you were to do a rough job - make a trial version of his product, or do a rough draft of the service he provides - it might not actually help him. It may in fact hinder him. He may even have to redo the whole thing from scratch. You are a linguist and you have linguistic skills. That is your speciality and that is what he is to pay you for.

You can invoice the time spent "proofreading", including time spent asking him what he really means, double-checking a number of things, but also being totally unaware of certain phrases that read correctly but in fact do not say what he actually means to say. The result is that you will produce a corrected version of his text which may not convey the message he thinks he is conveying. From a commercial point of view, this is not a good idea. That's the picture from a qualitative point of view. Now you can add the quantitative argument...

In terms of cost, he has already spent time translating, doing your job instead of his. This is time he could have spent doing whatever it is his clients pay him for. (Conclusion : this is wasted time). Now he has to pay you to correct that, with the strong possibility that in terms of quality, it will fall short here and there, but that in addition to having used his own precious (expensive) time, he will also have to pay you for yours. The cost of what he calls proofreading may actually be very close (or even exceed) the cost of a translation ab initio.

All in all, he would be best to pay you to do the job you have the specialist skills for and he spends time (and money) on his own specialist skills.

[Edited at 2018-12-31 19:34 GMT]
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Sheila Wilson
Teresa Borges
Tina Vonhof
Katalin Horváth McClure
Ana Ortega
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:53
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I think my question about his mother tongue got answered already Jan 1

Ana Ortega wrote:

That was very helpful advice, thank you! I meant his Spanish isn’t the best and the translation would be from English to Spanish.

How much should I charge on average as a beginner for proofreading? I’ve seen prices all across the board, I don’t wanna charge too much that it scares the client, but also not too little.


That's why I have deleted the question in this post.

[Edited at 2019-01-01 15:07 GMT]


 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:53
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
All very worthwhile but....one word of advice Jan 1

Ana Ortega,
The answers you got were all very valid and helpful but do not disregard the fact that this client may one day disappear just as mysteriously as he appeared as he might find someone else to do the rest of the work, not because he is not satisfied with your work but for other reasons -cost, maybe, partnership, no more need a host of reasons-you never know. So, don't put all your eggs in one basket and abandon all your other clients or agencies as it will be difficult building up
... See more
Ana Ortega,
The answers you got were all very valid and helpful but do not disregard the fact that this client may one day disappear just as mysteriously as he appeared as he might find someone else to do the rest of the work, not because he is not satisfied with your work but for other reasons -cost, maybe, partnership, no more need a host of reasons-you never know. So, don't put all your eggs in one basket and abandon all your other clients or agencies as it will be difficult building up a new client base after.
Happy New Year to all and happy translating.
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Tina Vonhof
Gareth Callagy
Ana Ortega
Melanie Meyer
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:53
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Did you mean your job would be proofreading the texts he writes in Spanish? Jan 1

As you mentioned that his Spanish is not that great, you would need to re-write every sentence. That would not cost a lot less time than translating from English to Spanish.

 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:53
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Problems when the client knows some of the target language Jan 1

Tina Vonhof wrote:

What would concern me is that the client, knowing some Spanish, may be offended by your changes and start arguing with you. Then you have to go over the text again, accept some of his suggestions but not others, and all this can turn into a big, time-consuming headache.


This is what I think, too. You have to be very careful about this. There were many posts on these forums over the years about such cases - the “proofreading” job turning into long discussions, debates, language lessons and arguments. Time totally wasted, unpaid. Unhappy client, frustrated translator. You need to convince your client that this is not a good way to practice his language skills.


 

mona elshazly  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 12:53
Member (2016)
Italian to Arabic
+ ...
Regarding the question Jan 2

Ana Ortega wrote:

Hi,

I am an English-Spanish translator. I have been doing small translation jobs over the years, and just decided to start translating as a freelancer a couple months ago. I am still doing the whole content mill and finding new clients thing.

Through my networking I have found a potential new client I am very interested in. It would be ongoing work and they need me to translate their site and later their social media posts as well.

The client wants to draft the content himself and then have me proofread it. His English isn’t the greatest, so I’d rather just do the translation straight away. How can I explain to them that this is the best option to have a well written text and also how much should I charge for proofreading alone instead of translating? Should I do it by the hour or per word as well?

I am assuming I should charge him by the word as usual, but he asked if I could offer them a package deal since he also needs me to translate Instagram and blog posts eventually. How should I organize and price this package? I have no idea what my proposal should be, but it doesn’t sound like a good idea since I don’t know the length of the posts.

He is interviewing other translators for the job as well so I wanna be competitive in order to get it, but not sell myself too cheap. I live in Spain and I am aware there are competitors in other countries charging 0.01€/word versus the 0.08-0.10€/word I’d like to charge him. The job is in the health/lifestyle market if that helps.

Any help would be really appreciated, thanks!

As regards translating straight away; I see that it is the most suitable option for you but he may not accept that as sure he wants to publish the posts in the source language as well. As regards charging, I see that you should charge him by word because it is the most fair way of charging in this case and I see it fair for both parties. As regards rate, I do not know what the fair rates are for Spanish; however, I may suggest 0.04-0.06 euros per word. In Egypt, proofreading is half price of translation.

[Edited at 2019-01-02 09:26 GMT]


 

Ana Ortega
Spain
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks everyone! Jan 4

Your advice was all incredibly helpful!

Especially when it comes to explaining to the client why a direct translation is better than proofreading their translation. Unfortunately, their budget was way too low for my expenses and experience, so we didn´t end up working together. Still, posting here and dealing with them helped me learn how to manage potential long-term clients in the future.


Josephine Cassar
Boris Sanjuán
Melanie Meyer
 

sailingshoes
Local time: 12:53
Spanish to English
Proofreading? Jan 7

The terms used in the applicable European standard are:

Reviewing (monolingual checking)
Revision (bilingual)
Proofreading (correction of galleys for publication).

Often when this is pointed out, the reaction on forums is "Yes, but you know what I meant!" However, these are different disciplines and services and have their own standardised definitions to help with pricing. The important thing is that these services can only be performed on a text that has be
... See more
The terms used in the applicable European standard are:

Reviewing (monolingual checking)
Revision (bilingual)
Proofreading (correction of galleys for publication).

Often when this is pointed out, the reaction on forums is "Yes, but you know what I meant!" However, these are different disciplines and services and have their own standardised definitions to help with pricing. The important thing is that these services can only be performed on a text that has been properly translated by a competent professional translator.

Here you're dealing with something entirely different, so none of the above services can be offered. What you're offering falls under the heading of "Additional value-added services."

I never accept these sorts of jobs sight unseen and always insist on retranslation from scratch or a per-hour rate. The problem is that you can’t really have something “already a little translated” anymore than you can chop your hair with nail scissors and go to the hairdresser looking for a discount!

My advice would be to see how steady the stream of work will be and what the likely volume will be. You can always discount on that basis, specially if you think turnaround doesn’t have to be immediate. It’s handy to have ongoing work to fill up slack hours/days, even if it isn’t being paid at top rates.

Finally make sure they pay. Don’t let too much work accumulate before submitting your first invoices.
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