How to charge a client- minimum/hourly vs. word-based fees, discounts for friends?
Thread poster: Joss Ky

Joss Ky
Australia
Local time: 17:04
Japanese to English
Mar 25, 2009

Hi everyone. I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions for a translation I recently completed, but don't know how to price.

The translation is an official document of a family registry and requires certification with a NAATI stamp (Australian standard). The length is short, about 100 words, and I spent about 2 hours on it, including the formatting, checking addresses, etc. The translation will be printed, stamped and sent via post to my client.

My usual rates for Japanese to English translation are 3000 yen (US $30) for 200 English words, or 2500 yen (US $25) per hour. My client is my friend's friend, and I am also wondering if I should give a discount. I have never set a minimum fee before because I usually work for a translation company and never had a private client before.

Sorry to post something so specific that probably won't help anyone but myself, but I hope to hear some suggestions on what other translators do with certificates and other short translations. If you have any comments/criticisms about my rates, I'd be happy to hear them too.

Thank you.


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
You spent 2 hours, then... Mar 25, 2009

... then charge 2 hours. Period. It seems reasonable.

You have to evaluate which price is best for you. You did the job, did you? So you deserve to get paid for the 2 hours invested. In this case the hourly rate is much better.

I never do discounts "to friends of firiends". If you look around it's quite possible that you and your "customers" have acquaintances in common. Are you willing to work for free for everyone just for that? I don't think so !

If your common friend is willing to pay for the job, that's their decision, not yours

I hope it helps.

Ruth


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:04
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Friendship vs. business Mar 25, 2009

Whether you give a discount is your affair. There's no hard and fast rule, but be aware that your practice provides a precedent for future dealings with your friend and your friend's friend. However, you have clearly met the requirements to obtain NAATI certification and, from what I understand, NAATI does not provide this certification to everyone who asks for it. You have skills that are in demand, and if you let people have them at a discounted rate or free, be aware that this is similar to a lawyer, dentist or other professional providing discounted or no-fee services. Many professionals do provide free or discounted services to people or causes when they consider it appropriate to do so. However, that's up to the professional, not the recipient.

Your fee structure is also up to you, though you are constrained by any Australian legislation or regulations on the subject. (I don't live in Australia, so I have no idea about whether there is any such legislation or regulation.) Many translators charge minimum fees to cover overhead and/or to discourage clients from bringing small jobs to them. You indicate that the translation will be sent via post. Someone needs to pay the postage. It may as well be your client.

Another thing for future reference: It's much less aggravating if the fees are discussed before you start. If your client tells you that other translators charge much less, you can tell him/her/it that he/she/it is welcome to use one of these other translators before you spend much time doing the translation.


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Joss Ky
Australia
Local time: 17:04
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your advice! Mar 27, 2009

Hi Ruth, Hi Paul,

Thank you for your advice. As Ruth said, giving discounts can get out of hand if that friend tells another friend about my discounted rates. So I've decided not to give a discount (or just a few dollars to round the total price). I do have a professional qualification; it took me two years to obtain, and more than 10 years of bilingual studies. Translation work involves investment (time, learning, computer-related tools) and I should not forget them when I think of how to charge my clients. I keep forgetting that, and thinking that for such a short piece of work, my client might find it too expensive. But as you say, lawyers and dentists charge professional prices, and so should translators. Thanks to your advice, I am more confident that I can ask for an amount that I feel is fair, and not feel guilty that it is my friend's friend. And yes! I should have set the price before I started working on it, as Paul suggested. I was never asked the price, and my friend told me it was urgent. Thank you so much for your suggestions. I will be telling my client the total price sometime this coming week, and I plan to charge hourly.

On another note, a minimum fee would be very ideal for my usual translations too. I find myself spending a day on a very short piece, which makes my hourly wage almost nonexistent. I guess working for a translation company makes minimum fees almost impossible, although I never tried to negotiate. I know that translation companies charge very high minimum prices to clients so...that is how they make a profit. If I set a minimum fee, the benefit is that it might discourage them from giving me short translations. The disadvantage is that they might not like me as much.

Regards,
Joss


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:04
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Too short for discounts Mar 27, 2009

Joss Ky wrote:
My client is my friend's friend, and I am also wondering if I should give a discount.


No, the text is too short for a discount. I have no problem with discounts to friends or friends of friends, but the reason you'd give such a person a discount is because the amount may be too high for them to pay otherwise.

Another problem with discounts to friends (that is somewhat off-topic here) is that the discount is seldom appreciated. Translation is a business service, and it is expensive. Even if you give 50% discount to someone who would normally not be able to afford a translation, the discounted amount will still be a lot of money.


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 08:04
English to Croatian
+ ...
With Samuel Mar 27, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

Another problem with discounts to friends (that is somewhat off-topic here) is that the discount is seldom appreciated. Translation is a business service, and it is expensive. Even if you give 50% discount to someone who would normally not be able to afford a translation, the discounted amount will still be a lot of money.


I totally agree Samuel. Seldom appreciated. Hard to explain why, but people don't respect it if it's easily given.



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Joss Ky
Australia
Local time: 17:04
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Hi Samuel and Lingua 5B, Apr 8, 2009

Thank you for your suggestions. Sorry for my very late reply. I take your point that discounts are seldom appreciated. In my case too, I don't think it mattered to the client whether it was slightly more or less, but to me, it was a big difference because I was already charging my minimum rate. Charging a discounted rate would make me feel like I'm being exploited by myself!

I think as a translator, I should decide in advance what kinds of discounts I should give, and not give them easily just because they are friends of friends. It is hard because of the expectations that friends have (they usually say "oh, give my friend a special fee, ok?"). I learned from this lesson, and I will also not start without giving an approximate quote. Though, I had no idea how long it would take me! I first thought I would take a long time because it was a new type of document, but ended up finding a good reference site, and finished it quicker.


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