Advantages/disadvantages of working for one trans agency with a set no. of words per month.
Thread poster: Phillippa May Bennett

Phillippa May Bennett
Portugal
Local time: 13:09
Member
Portuguese to English
May 2, 2009

Hello!

I'm interested in finding out whether any translators have experience working from home with a monthly contract/number of words to be translated per month with an agency. I'd like to hear about the positive and negative sides of such work and whether this type of arrangement can work.

Thanks in advance.

Phillippa


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:09
German to Serbian
+ ...
No guaranteed workload May 2, 2009

Phillippa Bennett wrote:

a monthly contract/number of words to be translated per month with an agency.


Hi Phillippa,

No agency can guarantee that you will get a set number of words / set workload per month. They usually promise much bigger workload than they actually provide in reality.

However, I can only speak for my language pair. Perhaps other colleagues have brighter experiences.

Good luck to you.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 06:09
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Questions May 3, 2009

I don't have experience with this kind of arrangement. It sounds attractive in the sense that it would give you a guaranteed minimum income, but I would be a bit wary of it. There is a lot more you need to find out:

Are you familiar with the subject matter?
Have you seen a sample?
How much text at a time?
Pdf-files or Word?
Any time-consuming formatting?
On a fixed day of the month or with how much advance notice?
Rush jobs?
Prompt or regular payment?
Reasonable rates?

Those are just a few of the questions I would want answered before going into it and then only for a three-month trial period to see how it works.


 

Louise Souter (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Subject matter May 4, 2009

Are you able to state that there are subject matters of which you do not have enough experience?

 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:09
French to English
Who wants what from whom? May 4, 2009

I draw your attention to this thread:
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/132368-monthly_translation_stipendswhat_to_charge.html
Despite a certain amount of prompting from Henry Hinds, exactly WHAT the end-client was expecting out of this arrangement remained very unclear.

I would advise some caution. Who is asking whom to do what, and why? (Is your question, in fact, directly related to the very same arrangement?icon_smile.gif )
Is the agency just trying to reserve x words/month allocated as it sees fit, or is it x words/month for one end-client?
If the arrangement is similar to the thread above, does that mean that some months you won't get x words to translate, but you will get the same money? If so, then what does the agency/end-client get out of the deal? What happens when you go on holiday?

And if you get an answer full of "I figure" and "probably".... well, draw your own conclusions. I prefer to work with people with a slightly more concrete idea of what is going on, but we are not all the same.

Oh, and I would heartily recommend against volume discounts. You are presumably (because I think most of us are) trying to increase or at least maintain a certain income level. If you enter such a deal you will be ensuring that there is a certain portion of every month where earnings are guaranteed to be below what they are now, in terms of rate earned. This gives much less room for maneouvre (i.e. less time) for higher earnings.
Of course, if you are the sort of person who regularly operates at well under 100%, then that comment applies much less.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:09
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do they pay you for all the set words? May 4, 2009

Some questions I see here:

1. Does the agency pay you the fixed number of words, no matter whether they send them over for translation or not, or do they only pay for the words they actually send you?

2. If you end up doing more words for the agency, what rate will they pay you?

3. What is the rate they will pay you (i.e. contracted number of words / monthly compensation)? Is it more or less your usual rate or is it much lower?

To me an arrangement that would work is:
A. They pay the full monthly compensation, no matter whether they send the work or not, as they will have a right to your time and you cannot sell it to other people.

B. They pay your usual rate for any words done above the agreed monthly volume.

C. The rate you get for the contracted volume is not under 80% of your usual rate.


 

Phillippa May Bennett
Portugal
Local time: 13:09
Member
Portuguese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you May 4, 2009

All your comments have been very useful.

Charlie - that thread is a great help - somebody kindly emailed it to me yesterday as well- I need to search more thoroughly next time (embarrassed smiley!).

Tomás/Tina - at the moment it is an idea that was floated past me last week . I would receive a monthly "salary" for a certain number of words independent of whether I translate that number or not. The nitty gritty has not yet been discussed, so the important questions of rates/holidays/deadlines/rush jobs have not yet been dealt with. What I'm really trying to do is prepare myself for if/when this moment were to arise, so I make sure that I DO NOT end up in a situation where I am actually losing out (either by lowering my rates - which I do not intend to do) and that I have covered all the important grey areas by asking the "right" questions.

One of the ideas behind this proposal was that the agency receives a lot of simliar work from certain clients - so once they have a translator who is familar with the area they like to "reserve" him/her for that client.

My main concern is whether the agency would see this arrangement as a type of "inhouse translator" working from home (if that makes sense) and whether they would expect rates accordingly.

Thanksicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2009-05-04 12:08 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-05-04 13:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-05-04 16:14 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:09
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It can be good May 4, 2009

Phillippa Bennett wrote:
I'm interested in finding out whether any translators have experience working from home with a monthly contract/number of words to be translated per month with an agency.


The client wants (a) you to be available at certain times and (b) you to give his work priority over other work. In exchange, he'll pay you a certain amount even if you end up doing less work than the money would normally cover. This is not a bad thing, but you have to be realistic. If I were you, I would not commmit myself for more than 3 specific hours a day, no more than 5 actual hours' work per day, and no more than 25 hours' work per 5 days.

So the rate you charge him will be for 25 hours' work per week, and you will not be under any obligation to do more than 5 hours' work per day (although you will not charge extra if you happen to accept more than 5 hours' work per day, as long as it is no more than 25 hours' work per week).

So the client gets:

* Your presence at your computer at set times of the day (i.e. he can call you during those hours and you are guaranteed to be there, or he can send a short file during those hours and you are guaranteed to give is file highest priority immediately).
* A certain maximum number of words translated per day, or number of words per week.
* If the clients sends more work than the maximum per week, you charge him a certain per-word rate.

If he sends you a file during other hours (but still during office hours), you still give him priority up to the maximum number of words per day, but you don't necessarily give his file immediate attention, and if his file would require more work than there are office hours left in the day, you reserve the right to deliver at a later date.

An example of such an arrangement would be:

Suppose you determine that LSD 800 is a good pre-tax salary for a fulltime inhouse translator. Suppose you can normally do 500 words in 1 hour. Suppose your freelance rate is LSD 0.05 per word. So for LSD 500, the client is buying your availability from 9:00 to 12:00 (three hours) as well as a maximum of 3500 words per day, or a maximum of 10500 words per week. You'll enforce the item about 3500 words per day only when you have other work. Any number of words over 10500 per week are charged at LSD 0.05 per word.

If the client sends too little work, he still pays LSD 500 per month. If he sends more work, he pays extra and is treated like any other client.

This may sound like a raw deal for the client but it isn't really. He gets a part-time translator without the hassle of employment procedures. You get a good income but retain the flexibility to have other clients.

When you invoice the client, you invoice him every week for 25 hours' work.

Tip: check your country's requirements about how few hours you must work to be classified as non-employed. In my own country, the threshold is 20 hours per week, so if it were me I would not invoice for more than 19 hours per week, to protect myself and my client from employee legislation.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:09
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Find out what is important to the client May 4, 2009

Charlie Bavington wrote:
Oh, and I would heartily recommend against volume discounts. You are presumably ... trying to increase or at least maintain a certain income level.


Charlie has a point (and so does Tomás when he speaks of a 20% discount).

Just to explain, though -- in my post above I assumed that the client's main concern is *availability*, and so my calculations were based on zero discount. I would even suggest that consider asking for slightly more than your normal rate would normally have worked out for the agreed-upon number of hours. What the client is buying, is a place in your day. He want to be at the top of your todo list, and that is what he is paying for.


 

Phillippa May Bennett
Portugal
Local time: 13:09
Member
Portuguese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting May 4, 2009

Thanks, Samuel.

Really interesting to hear your ideas on how to calculate rates according to availability. It's got me thinking. I don't really want to give a "discount" at all, because even though I'd have a guranteed "x" per month, I would most likely have to decline other work (or certainly give priority to this work). Would a higher rate really work? I like the idea of reserving certain times/hours per week for this client. I think that really could work - then I wouldn't miss out on other projects.

Going back to Charlie - one of my reasons for investigating this is that I currently teach as well (very little), but in the long term I'm looking to give up the teaching and go 100 % down the translation route.

Thanks,

Phillippa

P.S I apologise for the delay in my replies - i think as I'm not a full member my postings need to be approved first - time to get my membership sorted!!!


 

Uwe Schwenk (X)
Local time: 07:09
English to German
It can be good but... May 4, 2009

A number of good points were made. However, one thing to keep in mind consists in the fact to make sure that for example the fixed amount of words does not show up one or two days before the end of the month.

So if you go that route, make sure that is is spread out to some extent, because otherwise you will run into issues. Been there, done that...


Uwe

[Edited at 2009-05-04 21:21 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:09
English to Portuguese
+ ...
One viewpoint May 4, 2009

Such a setup would be ideal if they e.g. publish a periodic magazine with a certain preset - but somewhat flexible - proportion of foreign = translated material. They would ensure having a translator ready and available on the specific days needed to get everthing done. If one issue has less than the usual quantity of foreign text to be translated, they'll be paying extra to ensure your availability. If it has more than the usual, they'll be paying you a comparatively premium rate for the surplus work. This should help them meet a very important objective: to have the complete magazine ready in time to be printed.

 

Phillippa May Bennett
Portugal
Local time: 13:09
Member
Portuguese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks May 6, 2009

Thank you to both Uwe and José Henrique. Both interesting points. I think the idea of a publication, as you suggested José Henrique, would work very well - I'd love something like that!

I have to confess I've been completely put off the original proposal after speaking to a student of mine who is an inhouse translator for a big oil firm. I mentioned this proposal to her and she told me how she had a friend who'd had a similar arrangement a few years back and then it had worked out terribly. Her friend had been inundated with translation work, but the agency had paid a pittance (something like R$0.03 per word!!!!!!!!!) which doesn't really even register on the £ or E scale. For that amount of money it's not even worth putting your pen to paper (or switching on your computer!!) We carried on chatting and she later named the translation agency.... of course you all know the answer.... it was the very same agency who'd been in touch with me.......



[Edited at 2009-05-06 11:47 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:09
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The problem with your friend's friend's experience May 6, 2009

Phillippa Bennett wrote:
...she told me how she had a friend who'd had a similar arrangement a few years back and then it had worked out terribly. Her friend had been inundated with translation work, but the agency had paid a pittance...


Yes, well, she obviously did not place limits on the amount of work. If you do this, you should be smart and limit the amount of work, as explained in previous posts.


 


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