What rate should I charge as someone starting out
Thread poster: Mike Alizade

Mike Alizade
Local time: 21:41
German to English
+ ...
Jan 18, 2010

Hi All

I'm starting out doing German to English translations and am wondering what rate I should be charging. I've done a fair bit of research into this and all I've managed to discover is that it should be between roughly £0.06 to £0.20 per word. As I have no commercial experience as yet and am obviously trying to get established, I'm thinking that £0.10 per word would be a good place to start. Would you say that this is low enough to attract clients but not too low to scare them away. Also should I be quoting in Euros or pounds?

Many thanks for your help

Mike


 

Ramon Somoza  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:41
Member (2002)
Dutch to Spanish
+ ...
It depends Jan 18, 2010

The very first thing you should know is your market, and how much work you will get in that market. Your specialty is also important, you can charge more if you work on difficult topics (medicine, aerospace, etc.).

For example, in Spain it is quite typical to pay 0.06€/word for that language combination. That is one reason way I avoid that market, even if I am based in Spain - my rates are higher than that, hence that I mainly work for European & US companies.

You should also consider the source of the price range you mention. £0.06 looks reasonably low for the UK, £0.20 per word (0.22€/word) looks far too much for the market. I'd say that anything over £0.15 (0.17€) per word for this language combination is likely to be dismissed as absurd, and this top price would be paid only in exceptional cases.

As a translator without previous experience, £0.10/word seems far too high to me. With 33 years of experience I charge 0.10€/word (£0.09/word). (But if you get a lot of work at that rate & want to subcontract making a benefit, please do not hesitate to contact me).

I would suggest not more than £0.07/word (perhaps even £0.06/word) until you've built up a significant business. This is more or less the average rate, and you do not want to overprice yourself until you have a *LOT* of work.

On the other hand, i also suggest that you try out a rates calculator such as the one in http://www.proz.com/?sp=rate_calc so as to see whether you are going to make a living with your rate. But do NOT be overly optimistic about how much work you will get... or you will not be able to pay the bills.

All the best,

Ramon


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:41
Italian to English
Worry about the product as well as the price Jan 18, 2010

Mike Alizade wrote:

Hi All

I'm starting out doing German to English translations and am wondering what rate I should be charging.

Mike


The answer is "as much as you can get away with"icon_wink.gif

Obviously, you need to know how much your product is worth, though. In what market sectors can you deliver publication-ready English texts? Are those sectors economically viable (I'm talking about the sectors thenselves, not translation: you want the work to keep coming)? What rates are regarded as achievable - and sustainable - for top-quality work in the sectors you have identified?

When you know the answers to these questions, you can get down to some targeted marketing. Just remember that decent clients are attracted by good track records, not marginally lower rates.

In the short term, however, your rates are likely to be client-imposed to a certain extent, particularly if you work for agencies. Regard this as an opportunity to hone your negotiating and client management skills.

Good luck!

Giles


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My thoughts Jan 18, 2010

Mike Alizade wrote:
I'm starting out doing German to English translations and am wondering what rate I should be charging.


There are only two valid reasons why a young translator should charge lower rates than established translators:

1. If you feel guilty about earning as much as established translators.
2. If you intend to deliver sub-standard work.

If you have no intention to deliver sub-standard work, then there is no reason why you should charge less than established translators. If you feel guilty about earning so much money, you can always reduce your income by spending more money on educational expenses (such as hiring a second proofreader for all your jobs -- highly recommended if you're a young translator).

A young translator makes less money not because he charges less, but because he takes longer and because he (should) spend more time/money on ensuring that his work is of the same quality as that of established translators.

As I have no commercial experience as yet and am obviously trying to get established, I'm thinking that £0.10 per word would be a good place to start. Would you say that this is low enough to attract clients but not too low to scare them away.


It is a mistake to believe that there is a direct correlation between your rate and clients' eagerness to buy your services. If you charge *very* low rates, you'll get more clients, but if you charge only slightly low rates, you won't win as much more clients as you would have lost if you charge slightly higher rates. A translator who is used to charging 0.12 per word probably won't see much of a difference in client numbers if he drops his price to 0.10 per word.

Also should I be quoting in Euros or pounds?


For European clients, I'd say euro. It makes life easier for your clients.


 

Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
As usual... completely agree with Samuel Jan 18, 2010

I completely agree with Samuel... as usual!

Samuel Murray wrote:

Mike Alizade wrote:
I'm starting out doing German to English translations and am wondering what rate I should be charging.


There are only two valid reasons why a young translator should charge lower rates than established translators:

1. If you feel guilty about earning as much as established translators.
2. If you intend to deliver sub-standard work.

If you have no intention to deliver sub-standard work, then there is no reason why you should charge less than established translators. If you feel guilty about earning so much money, you can always reduce your income by spending more money on educational expenses (such as hiring a second proofreader for all your jobs -- highly recommended if you're a young translator).

A young translator makes less money not because he charges less, but because he takes longer and because he (should) spend more time/money on ensuring that his work is of the same quality as that of established translators.

As I have no commercial experience as yet and am obviously trying to get established, I'm thinking that £0.10 per word would be a good place to start. Would you say that this is low enough to attract clients but not too low to scare them away.


It is a mistake to believe that there is a direct correlation between your rate and clients' eagerness to buy your services. If you charge *very* low rates, you'll get more clients, but if you charge only slightly low rates, you won't win as much more clients as you would have lost if you charge slightly higher rates. A translator who is used to charging 0.12 per word probably won't see much of a difference in client numbers if he drops his price to 0.10 per word.

Also should I be quoting in Euros or pounds?


For European clients, I'd say euro. It makes life easier for your clients.


 

Kay Barbara
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:41
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Good Advice from Samuel & Giles Jan 18, 2010

Hi Mike!

I think Samuel made an excellent statement and together with Giles' "as much as you can get away with" you are (almost) good to go.

However, these comments refer to what you can charge in case you are in the right position/well-positioned i.e. you have the expertise to back up your demands plus you are in the "right" market. There needs to be an overwhelming demand in your target market so that you will be able to net jobs when just starting out without previous experience (or do you have any previous experience so far? Your profile is not yet populated...).

Since I know nothing about your specialty field(s) and expertise, it is rather hard to give you a figure as to how high you can go. The only thing I can say is that you should not go below £0.06 per word. If you deliver adequate quality, then you will have repeat business and all is well. If not, you will struggle to get job and translation probably isn't for you anyway...

However, speaking of rates: maybe you should not quote based on wordcount when translating DE>EN, go for lines (Normzeilen) instead. With nasties like "Gemeindegrundsteuerveranlagung" (and worse) you might not want to be paid based on the German wordcounticon_wink.gif

Anyway, I wish you all the best, I hope it goes well for you.

Cheers,

Kay


 

madak  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:41
Swedish to English
+ ...
Why should you charge less per word... Jan 18, 2010

...unless you're intending to hand in work of an inferior standard? Regardless of your experience you have to sell a professional service.

Without experience you're likely to work somewhat slower which will automatically result in a smaller income per hour (the only interesting unit of work when calculating work based on time such as translation).

If you're serious about providing a professional service you should also consider paying for a mentor to assist you which will also reduce you per hour income.


 

Andrew Steel  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:41
Spanish to English
CalPro: free spreadsheet to help self-employed translators calculate rates, earnings & productivity Jan 19, 2010

Mike,

There's a UK version of CalPro (a free spreadsheet designed to help self-employed translators calculate costs, earnings, productivity and rates) available for download from the Asetrad website:

http://www.asetrad.org/PDFs/CalPro_v1.3_(EN-GB).xls

It'll help you work out your real costs, projected earnings and target rate.



Regards,

Andrew


 

Mike Alizade
Local time: 21:41
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks Jan 19, 2010

many thanks for all your replies - they have been really helpful as always.

I have to admit I hadnt thought about a word count based on lines. One last question, is there a general consensus in the industry about how many words make up a line? - I seem to remember seeing it somewhere

Mike


 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:41
English to Polish
+ ...
people asking "why charge less" Jan 19, 2010

I think the rationale behind quoting lower prices for quality work is simply selling. Yes, perhaps Mike can deliver the same (or yet better) translation as an experienced translator, but:

- the client may not know this and has limited ways of knowing,
- a translator with a smaller CV may have limited access to clients because some clients may simply love big CVs, tonnes of courses and credentials, etc.

Second thing: a rational translator will consider all the benefits of doing a particular job, including learning. For an experienced translator there may be nothing in doing yet another standard text about this and that. For a beginner, experience is invaluable. The rest is laws of supply - if you "value" your experience from doing a page at 3 cents a word, that's exactly what your're likely to subtract from your minimum rate.

[Edited at 2010-01-19 11:23 GMT]


 

Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:41
Member
German to English
+ ...
Lines vs Words Jan 19, 2010

A line is generally defined as 55 characters, including spaces. However, I wouldn't quote in lines personally. Of about 20 regular customers, I only have one that pays in lines, all the others pay per word, or per thousand words in the UK.

What does make a difference though, is whether you are quoting source or target words. I reckon English uses on average 20 % more words than German, although the character count tends to be similar. So my source text rates are about 20 % higher than my target text ones.

In response to the comments above, charging less per word by no means indicates an intention to deliver substandard work. But if experienced and inexperienced translators are charging the same rate, you'd be a fool to opt for the inexperienced one, surely? Price is sometimes the only USP a new translator can offer to get a foot in the door in the first place.


 

Kay Barbara
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:41
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Translation experience is not the main point... Jan 19, 2010

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

I think the rationale behind quoting lower prices for quality work is simply selling. Yes, perhaps Mike can deliver the same (or yet better) translation as an experienced translator, but:

- the client may not know this and has limited ways of knowing,
- a translator with a smaller CV may have limited access to clients because some clients may simply love big CVs, tonnes of courses and credentials, etc.

Second thing: a rational translator will consider all the benefits of doing a particular job, including learning. For an experienced translator there may be nothing in doing yet another standard text about this and that. For a beginner, experience is invaluable. The rest is laws of supply - if you "value" your experience from doing a page at 3 cents a word, that's exactly what your're likely to subtract from your minimum rate.

[Edited at 2010-01-19 11:23 GMT]


When I started my first business relationship it was, in fact, the agency which offered me the rate. Doing my maths, I realised that this is okay for a start and a sound business relationship was established. Back then I worked for €0.07 per word for most projects (mostly "general texts" such as press releases). For some jobs, however, I was able to negotiate rates of up to €0.10 per word (mind you this was before having graduated and worked for very long) since I am thorough and deliver quality.

However, when I raised my standard rate in the company's profile, I soon seemed to "slip through" the search filters (which was likely based on the word rate) and offers from that particular customer were becoming less frequent (I assume there was a great availability of EN>DE translators at lower prices).

But this did not bother me too much since by then I had found my market (field) in which I stand out due to my expertise. I am not afraid of someone who has been translating in my field for 10 or 20 years and charges €0.05, I wouldn't dream of lowering my rates (in fact, I would rather educate that person to charge twice his rate...)

And if you manage to do exactly that, you have a unique selling point and you can charge as much as you can get away with. Despite all the low rate rants going on in the fora, there are customers around who will pay a little extra if the translator is the right one.

To make a long story short: if you are good at your thing, charge accordingly. Don't bother about what others do or about how much more "experience" they claim to have. If a client realises that you are the right one (if he can make an informed decision, that is), they will be happy to pay a reasonable rate.


 

Mike Alizade
Local time: 21:41
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Jan 19, 2010

thanks again for all your replies - its interesting to read the different viewpoints and there certainly seems to be two camps of keeping rates lower to get the foot in the door and maintaining a higher rate. All the advice has really helped and I think the best way forward is a mix between the two. As I dont have any commercial experience in translation (I am in fact not that youngicon_smile.gif and have been a web developer for 12 years) I think reality commands I lower my rate for an undetermined amount of time, but not too much, until I feel in a position to raise my rates.

Mike


 

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:41
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Client Jan 19, 2010

Lets say that a client sees profiles of two translators with similar education, using same software, charging the same rate, etc. and the only difference is that one of them has 10 years of experience and another one 10 weeks.

What is the chance that this client is going to choose the rookie?

Charged rate reflects not only quality and amount of work required but also likelihood of delivering/receiving good quality translation and it seems rather obvious that such likelihood is greater in case of a company with 10 years of experience in particular field (and translator is a very small company) than in case of a company with 10 weeks of experience.

BR
S


 


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