How much should I charge?
Thread poster: francesellen

francesellen  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:39
French to English
+ ...
Jun 27, 2009

I've just finished my undergrad degree in French and Italian (and got a 2:1icon_biggrin.gif!) and am just starting a gap year before applying for postgrad translation qualifications with a view to starting in September 2010. As well as working in a pub this year I'm doing some translation work for the family business and I don't know what to charge.

Basically, it's translating some hotel/holiday home booking software that my uncles have developed and the work ranges from words like "yes", "no", "airport transfer" to short sentences like "your deposit may be at risk if you don't pay the balance on time"...that sort of thing. It's all laid out in a .txt file and when I send them over the work they insert it back into their code with the aim of creating software that is fully functional in a variety of languages.

The problem is that I have no idea what to charge - not even a ball park figure. What would you advise per 10 or 100 words, for example?

Thanks in advance.

Frances


 

Irene McClure
Local time: 07:39
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Aggregate rates Jun 27, 2009

Hi Frances - congratulations on your degree and welcome to the world of Proz!

Regarding your inquiry about rates, your best starting point is probably to take a look at the Proz aggregate rates charts, which will give you an idea of average rates that translators working in your pair report.

Just go to the 'jobs' tab and then 'rates'.

This might give you an idea of what to charge per hour and per word.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Savtrad


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
ProZ.com rates calculator and indicators Jun 27, 2009

francesellen wrote:
The problem is that I have no idea what to charge - not even a ball park figure. What would you advise per 10 or 100 words, for example?


Charge what is average in your language combination. Do you have access to the rates on this page? http://www.proz.com/?sp=rates_view


 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:39
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
You must have an idea what you want to earn per hour Jun 27, 2009

You will need to experiment a little bit and see how much work you can do in an hour, and then charge the amount you wish to earn per hour for that amount of work.

 

francesellen  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:39
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A few more questions... Jun 27, 2009

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for the quick replies!

So I have done some calculations and in an hour only managed to translate 282 words of the source language which resulted in 267 words of target language - I have no idea how that compares. Also, should word counts be of the length of the source language document or the end product?

I'm leaning towards charging at the lower end of the scale because obviously I'm not qualified, but I am wary of having varying rates for different languages because this will complicate the rates I can offer to friends who are (were?) students of other languages which I can't provide. I would rather have one rate for all language pairs I think, I don't know how big the difference between them would be because unfortunately I can't access the link that Samuel posted.

With regard to having an idea of how much I'd like to earn per hour, I'm not really sure how useful having an idea would be in this situation given that I have no experience. I also don't want to rip them off because they're family, but I don't want to undersell myself in the hope of having something impressive looking to put of my applications for MAs.


 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:39
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Words achievable per hour Jun 27, 2009

282 words per hour seems to be OK, I think. I have heard several people mention a round figure of 300 words per hour in the past.

As for the word counts, they are usually based on the source language, with the following reservations:

If the source language contains too many long words or word compounds, often either target words are counted, lines are counted instead, or the source words are made proportionately more expensive. However, I think this does not apply to your language pair, so you should charge for source words.

As for the amount you expect to earn per hour, that depends on the locality where you live. It is best to find out what people in your area need to earn to make a living. It does not depend so much on the profession, I think. At least, I find that freelancers and tradespeople of numerous different kinds, in my locality, have similar ideas about what it is necessary to earn per hour.

It is probably easier if you have some idea of expected earnings in your area per month or per year. You should divide your expected annual income by about 46 weeks, to allow for holidays, as well as possible visits to conferences. Once you know what you ought to be earning per week, and how many hours per week it should take to earn it (30, 35 or 40, for example), you can see how much you have to earn per hour.

There are one or two other factors as well, which you mostly start to include in your calculations after a little bit of time in business - saving up for when you are old, etc.

P.S. There do not appear to be any substantial "business expenses" at first, but the impression is deceptive. They do exist (in particular computer wear and tear), and some allowance should ideally be made for them right from the beginning.

[Edited at 2009-06-27 22:04 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:39
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Don't say "only"! :-) Jun 28, 2009

francesellen wrote:
So I have done some calculations and in an hour only managed to translate 282 words of the source language which resulted in 267 words of target language...


Indeed translating 300 words per hour with no experience is a reasonable achievement. With more experience and more vocabulary stored in your mind and a glossary, you will be able to translate some more words per hour, but not many more. There are translators who can translate 2500 words per day (and feel happy), other who do 5000 words per day (and feel happy), and some who do 10000 words a day (and feel happy). A generally accepted standard on your language pair can be something around 3000-3500 words a day in a sustainable manner.

Now, as to how much you want to make per hour: you have to think of how much money you want to make per year as a translator. Of course you should strive to make as much money as possible. You must think that 50% of your income will fly away in taxes, social security, dictionaries, translation software, regular software, computers, telephone, Internet, mobile phone, website fees (like the fees to be a member of proz.com if you decide to do so), travel to visit your main customers, etc. etc. So think of how much NET money you'd like to make, multiply it by 2, and divide that by the number of regular hours you'd work in a year (freelancers don't have a timetable and generally work a lot longer than employees, but employees in Europe work some 1900 hours a year).

This calculation is for your GOAL of income. Of course, as you don't have experience and still have training ahead, so even if you make the calculation as explained above you won't make that money at first. But it is good that you set yourself a long-term income goal for your career. It will help you plan your rates and manage your customers better.

AND having said all this.... I would not charge for the job you describe. Comm'on! It's your family and they are giving you the opportunity to practice with them! Instead of money, I'd ask for a free special dinner for you and your closest friends, as well as a certificate showing that you have done this job to their complete satisfaction.icon_smile.gif


 

francesellen  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:39
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks again. Jun 29, 2009

Your comments have all been really helpful although I'm still not really any closer to knowing what to charge. This isn't a full time job and isn't my sole source of income, I'm also lucky enough at the moment to be living rent free and not having to pay for food/utilities/transport so any money I make is being squirrelled away to save for going back to do my masters in translation in Sept 2010.

Tomàs - I think I do need to charge. I am going to be spending a lot of my time on this and I am acutely aware of the cost of having to fund myself through a masters and can't justify working for free. Also, they're not really very close family and I think I'd feel less comfortable asking for a meal or another kind of treat than cold hard cash.


 

Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:39
French to English
+ ...
Use the directory Jun 29, 2009

I get the feeling that you're looking for someone to quote you an exact amount to charge. It won't be me - sorry.

Why don't you do a directory search for translators in your language pairs and spend some time looking at the different profiles, many of which will have their rates stated. You will get an idea of the rates colleagues are charging and also generally see how long they've been in business.

My advice would be not to undersell yourself - of course you might cut a deal to your family members if you think that you need to, but if you're going to look for "real" customers over the next year, please keep in mind that you will be working as a professional and that you should as such charge accordingly.

Welcome to Proz.com and good luck!
Jocelyne


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Two ideas Jun 29, 2009

francesellen wrote:
Your comments have all been really helpful although I'm still not really any closer to knowing what to charge.


1. Read this and tell us what your totals are:
http://leuce.com/translate/fairrate.html

2. What is the minimum wage in your country? Isn't it GBP 5.72 per hour? Would you like to earn that? More than that? How about twice as much as that? Do your calculations from there.

Of course, calculations based on minimum wage wouldn't make sense in my own country, since my country's minimum wage is GBP 0.52 per hour.

[Edited at 2009-06-29 16:00 GMT]


 


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