How does payment generally work?
Thread poster: xxxJanaW
xxxJanaW  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:35
French to English
+ ...
Aug 29, 2014

Hello,
I just did my first translation and am wondering what the payment protocol is. We agreed on a price per word, I sent the document, and no further mention of payment has been made. Do I send them an invoice? And do I need to ask for their address in order to do so? Or does PayPal come into play somehow?
Thank you in advance.


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Liza Chase  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 02:35
Member (2013)
English to German
+ ...
never work without PO.. Aug 29, 2014

Hi Jana,

you should only start to work on a translation once you have received a PO from the client/agency. Agencies normally provide you with all the necessary information: their address, VAT ID, payment terms. Serious clients will normally also have a website and a company email address ( not gmail, yahoo, etc) If you work without having any details of you client, you are taking the risk of being scammed and not being paid. Unfortunately these things do exist in the world of translation....


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Liza Chase  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 02:35
Member (2013)
English to German
+ ...
never work without PO... Aug 29, 2014

Just to add that I use the Proz.com Invoicing tool, create a PDF of the Invoice, which I send to the client and keep in the respective job folder for my own administration. It's also a good idea to keep track of all jobs and invoices in an Excel spreadsheet with the job details, date of job, amount due, date payment due, etc. - at least that's what I do.

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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:35
German to English
+ ...
Invoicing Aug 29, 2014

It's up to you to decide if you want to send the invoice with the translation or at the end of the month, which are probably the two most common practices. I usually bill monthly, but sometimes the agencies or clients have their own preferred procedures or online billing platforms. If in doubt, ask the client what their preferences are. That's generally the safest approach.

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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:35
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Payment policy Aug 29, 2014

Hello JanaW, welcome and good luck for your future jobs. It is absolutely essential that you settle questions about payment terms-when payment is made by the agency and how BEFORE, not after so you are clear about the terms. Look up the agency before taking on any work, and see that either you receive a PO or the go-ahead in an email first, so you are sure the job is confirmed. Some agencies put at the end of their email that this email is NOT yet a confirmation about the job, but see that you get the confirmation by PO or in an email before you start translating. With regards to gmail or yahoo email address, pay extra attention, but it is not always the case that the agency is false or scam etc. I do exactly as Lisa says and find it works fine, as it is organised, and I know where I am.

[Edited at 2014-08-29 07:09 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-08-29 07:10 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Jana Aug 29, 2014

JanaW wrote:
I just did my first translation and am wondering what the payment protocol is.


Wait one week to see if they have any comments or complaints or further edits, and then send an invoice to the person you dealt with.

And do I need to ask for their address in order to do so?


Your country's tax authorities will have legal requirements for what an invoice should look like. This usually includes the name and address of the client. I suggest you find out what your country's invoice requirements are before you continue with your translation business, because this is important for proper office administration.

Or does PayPal come into play somehow?


It is normal to specify, on the invoice, how payment should be made. This means that you should include your PayPal account name and/or banking account details on the invoice. This may even be a legal requirement, depending on your country's invoicing laws.


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:35
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Send invoice Aug 29, 2014

Yes, you need to send an invoice. I use a Word invoice template. I save it as a PDF and attach it to an e-mail. I usually wait a few days after sending the translation before I send the invoice since my clients often send me more work within a day or two and then I can include two or more jobs on the same invoice. The invoice should include the client's name and address, order number, description of job, rate, amount due, due date, etc. If your client is located in the USA, you can receive payment by check and avoid transaction fees. If the client is located outside the USA, payment is usually by wire transfer or Paypal, depending on which results in the lowest transaction fees. You will need to provide your bank account number, account title and Swift address on your invoice to receive payment by wire transfer. (Contact your bank for details.)



[Edited at 2014-08-29 08:57 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:35
Russian to English
+ ...
You have to send your invoice. Aug 29, 2014

Many companies will not pay you at all, if you don't send the invoice. Some may even say they won't pay if you send it too late--which is ridiculous.

Also, specify when you want the payment to be remitted--it is usually somewhere between 10 and 30 days.


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Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:35
Dutch to English
+ ...
Most agencies need an invoice from you Aug 29, 2014

although some pay automatically without.

Mostly you can find all the details you need on the website, otherwise you can just ask them. If you want more information about the payment process, you can just ask your project manager, they'll tell you or otherwise give you someone to contact in their accounting department.

As to 'never start without a PO, we work with agencies who issue POs and those who just issue reference numbers and word counts. Not all agencies work with POs, so don't be alarmed if you don't get one. Some very small ones don't even work with reference numbers, but those are very far between. I'd say never start without a ref, unless you know you can trust them (if they have been a client for a few months/years).

What you should do is not work loads and loads for an entirely new client, unless they have a clear BB record. Say they rack up a bill of €2,000 with you and they don't pay because they took you for a ride like many others, that would be a shame.
Otherwise, Paypal or not is your choice, as well as your payment terms (although I suppose most of them would like it if it were 30 days, though there is something to say for 14 days if you invoice a job you have done at the start of the month at the end).


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:35
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Congratulations! Aug 29, 2014

JanaW wrote:
I just did my first translation

What that effectively means is that you've started up in business as a freelance translator. Luckily for you, there is no prior registration needed in the US (AFAIK), so you haven't yet broken any laws by accepting work for pay (unless you don't have a right to work in the US). In many countries you aren't allowed to work, and certainly not to issue an invoice, until you've completed all sorts of formalities.

But even though there's nothing you have to do, there are things you really need to inform yourself about now.
- You owe it to yourself to thoroughly research new clients to check out their payment record etc
- You need to find out about how to avoid being scammed - some, like the Nigerian scam - are quite easy to spot; others target freelancers by impersonating clients and can even result in YOU being prosecuted for money laundering when you have in effect not only worked for free but also paid for the pleasure!
- You need to have some idea of how to escalate non-payment issues, so that you're prepared if you have to act
- If you're going to be dealing with clients outside your area, which is highly likely, you have to know how to deal with that (currencies, taxes, receipts etc)
- You'd be wise to find out how you can benefit from the various tax incentives that are probably available for small businesses in the US
- You'll need to know how to satisfy the requirements of your own tax authorities (the IRS, I believe).

In short, you need to start thinking as a professional, an entrepreneur, a (very small) business owner. You can't expect your client to play the role of an employer, nor should that be what you want.

You've done the right thing by coming here, IMO, as all the information is here: scam centre, Wiki articles, forum discussions, invoicing subsystem...


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xxxJanaW  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:35
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all! Sep 4, 2014

Thank you for the replies. I am so thrilled to have found this website! Looking forward to learning more about the translation world and becoming more experienced.

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Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:35
Member (2013)
Chinese to English
Post-PO Sep 4, 2014

Good advice above, and if you're anything like me, you'll want to have a system for keeping track of your POs/outstanding payments. This is especially true for any clients you have who do their own invoices. I'd say that for smaller projects (100 dollars and under) these clients who pay without needing invoices from me forget to include/pay for about 1 in 10 projects, and if I didn't have a system for keeping track of what I should be paid, I'd probably forget to remind them as well.

As noted above, proz.com's invoicing tool is a good way to do this, although I usually just use excel.


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xxxJanaW  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:35
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you. Sep 4, 2014

That's a good tip, Preston. I will make sure to get a good system in place from the beginning.

I'm not new to running a (very) small business or being self-employed, so I'm familiar with my local tax laws regarding contract work.

Thanks again everyone.


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