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2nd Translator quoted about 80% less
Thread poster: VoiceTex

VoiceTex
Germany
Local time: 05:37
English to German
+ ...
Jan 17, 2010

Hi all,

An end client contacted me and asked for a quote for an English-German translation.
Bit technical, mostly marketing. The texts included studies valid for America but not Germany or even Europe.

He sent me 6 files - 1 text for his website as .doc and the other 5 as PDFs. They were brochures, leaflets, and the "How to".

All in all, Trados counted roughly 13,800 words with just 300 repetitions and no other matches.
He wanted to keep the format - no problem there and I also had two weeks for the whole project including proofreading.

Now, I just got a message that another translator (English native, has lived in Austria for 15 years, has the same translation degree as mine) quoted about 2,300 EUR less than I did.

Now, that makes for a price per word of about 0.04 EUR.

Could that be a mistake?
I really don't see, how a translator is able to provide excellent quality translations at such a price. Don't they use a proofreader? Then, I guess, you just need to be fast - and good to get the texts done to make for a decent per-hour rate.

I admit, I worked for that little money right in the beginning, when all I wanted was gain experience and just DO something for the sake of working. But then again that was for agencies and I didn't have to provide proofreading.

So, I wouldn't even dream of quoting such a price for an end client.

Am I wrong here?
What do I miss?

I do not want this to become a discussion about low rates again - we've had enough of that before. I just want to know where I took the wrong turn.

Regards,
Christina


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Brian Young  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:37
Danish to English
no wrong turn Jan 17, 2010

As far as I can see you did the right thing. If someone else wants to work for such a ridiculous rate there is not much to do about it. I doubt that the other translator is faster, or has any other advantages. It's a choice you have to make. If you have to sell yourself too cheaply then it is just not worth it.

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 04:37
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
What goes around comes around Jan 18, 2010

Christina Heger wrote:
I really don't see, how a translator is able to provide excellent quality translations at such a price.

I admit, I worked for that little money right in the beginning, when all I wanted was gain experience and just DO something for the sake of working.

Am I wrong here?
What do I miss?


What makes you think excellent quality will be delivered here? It's possible I suppose, but unlikely. It is most unlikely that this quote comes from someone who is not living at another person's expense. Degree or not, this person might simply want something to toy with and is willing to take anything for the sake of "experience" as you once did.

I wouldn't worry about it in any case. Regardless of what service level the other person may provide, this is not a typical scenario. Lots of other fish out there.


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Sindy Cremer

Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
something wrong with the math ...? Jan 18, 2010

if (s)he quoted € 552 for 13,800 words (€ 0.04 x 13,800), that's indeed quite ridiculous.
If you quoted 2300 euros more for the job, then we're looking at a rate of 20.6 cents/word...
Bit steep, I would think.... unless there's something wrong with the math of course.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:37
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Dirty games Jan 18, 2010

Now, I just got a message that another translator (English native, has lived in Austria for 15 years, has the same translation degree as mine) quoted about 2,300 EUR less than I did.

Now, that makes for a price per word of about 0.04 EUR.


Hmm. I just asked a friend of mine (German native, lived in the US for 15 years, same translation degree as yours), he said he would do it for 0.03 USD/word.

Could that be a mistake?


Sure. It could also be a lie.
Just like the sentence I wrote above (in Italics).

Katalin

[Edited at 2010-01-18 00:56 GMT]


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hellmut1956  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:37
German to Spanish
+ ...
Taking the risk to make myself unpopular Jan 18, 2010

To make it clear from the beginning, I am not the one who quoted for that project.

I do accept that the rate is very low for end customers.

But I see the trend in the market to go toward rates that high. In a certain way it is the consequence of the increase in efficiency translating with the latest tools like Studio 2009 from Trados.

I am specialized on technical translations and I do have pretty extensive TMs and terminology databases. My quotes make it very clear that I do not use a reviewer and that my services are delivered without including any layout work. Layout information is only included to the degree the CAT tool can preserve it. I point out that all my services are delivered using the Microsoft Multilanguage Pack for reviewing the orthography and the grammar and that they are delivered without justified error messages generated by this tool left.

Why am I telling you this? Because I believe that many translators have not yet become aware of the fact the industrial customers see translations as an industrial production service. The best example for this is the automotive customer. I have not met yet more demanding customers as those! One of the lessons young engineering students learn pretty early during their studies is that a good work is not the one with the tightest tolerances, but one that stays within the accepted tolerance range. So there is a relationship between the speed of the translation process, the tightness of the tolerable error margins and the rate paid.

I do deliver my services at a rate of 0,04 Euros or 0.06 USD per word with very clear statements of the parameters of the quality of the service delivered. Those parameters are not related to the quality of the terminology used, they are not related to limitations on the grammar or the exactness of the delivered translation. They are related to the fact that humans do errors when they work and that the tool used for review is not perfect. But having worked in this business since 1981, having studied mechanical engineering and having worked full time for semiconductor and telecommunications companies over a time period of 15 years I can deliver consistent quality by translating only to my two native spoken languages German and Spanish, between them and from English to them.

Since I use the latest Studio 2009 SP1 software on a very fast Intel I7-920 CPU with 6 GBytes of DDR3 memory and 2 24" screens the efficiency of my translation work has increased in average by 25%. This means that my hourly rate has increased by the same amount. The difference between an industrial process oriented work style to the traditional work style is that the work is done following a workflow that is continuously improved. There is another word that says that quality is not tested into a product, but it is manufactured into it. All I am saying here is that those translation projects of technical topics that I do work on require a very procedural way to work. I believe that when you are familiar with the topic to be translated, when you know how to make best use of the available tools and if you know how to make good use of the websites like linguee.de and others. Not as a source to find translations terms, but as a source to get presented a number of synonyms from which to choose the most adequate one, and finally if you only translate to native spoken languages, you can achieve a speed and a quality that makes translation a worthwhile business for freelancers and with a good chance to stay in business the next 10 or 20 years!


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Nadejda Vega Cespedes  Identity Verified

Local time: 05:37
Spanish to Russian
+ ...
Not necessarily a sign of poor quality Jan 18, 2010

Chances are it is just an aggressive marketing strategy: if the client is promising and the other translator is confident s/he is the best choice for the job, s/he may be willing to offer an extremely low price for this particular project in an effort to lure the client away. Players in other industries often do this: hotels offer free dinners to travellers staying at other hotels, Nescafé gives you a free sachet when you buy a jar of Moccona and so on. This is not to say everybody does it all the time, but it is a relatively common practice.

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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:37
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Nothing is wrong with the math Jan 18, 2010

Sindy Cremer wrote:

if (s)he quoted € 552 for 13,800 words (€ 0.04 x 13,800), that's indeed quite ridiculous.
If you quoted 2300 euros more for the job, then we're looking at a rate of 20.6 cents/word...
Bit steep, I would think.... unless there's something wrong with the math of course.



I did not check this calculation, but Christina said it is an end client (not agency), and she is responsible for both formatting and final proofreading. In other words, the entire QA cycle that is normally the responsibility of the agency is part of this job.
Do you still think that 20 cents per word or even 21 is steep?

Katalin


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VoiceTex
Germany
Local time: 05:37
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Correct math, interesting thoughts on marketing Jan 18, 2010

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

Sindy Cremer wrote:

if (s)he quoted € 552 for 13,800 words (€ 0.04 x 13,800), that's indeed quite ridiculous.
If you quoted 2300 euros more for the job, then we're looking at a rate of 20.6 cents/word...
Bit steep, I would think.... unless there's something wrong with the math of course.



I did not check this calculation, but Christina said it is an end client (not agency), and she is responsible for both formatting and final proofreading. In other words, the entire QA cycle that is normally the responsibility of the agency is part of this job.
Do you still think that 20 cents per word or even 21 is steep?

Katalin


The math is quite right.

And as Katalin wrote, the QA process is all mine.
I demand of my proofreaders to take their time. I do not want them to rush through a job just because they found 2 typos in the last text.
I want them to test me - I dare them to find the mistakes I made involuntarily during translation. Even style is often a matter I want them to have an eye on. So I take the proofread text and even go through the changes. I like to discuss texts with my proofreader.
I appreciate a second opinion on my work. That's the main reason why I work with a proofreader.

Then again, time's money. And I also have certain expectations when I proofread a text for another translator. And I wouldn't want anyone to work for less than I would work for.

I am prepared to pay a Euro more in the end and have a happy proofreader, an excellent text and a satisfied client.

But Nadejda brought up something I honestly didn't think of: first-project special prices. I just hate that to be honest.
Who guarantees that this client is coming back when I tell him that I intent to raise the charge after the first project anyway?

hellmut1956 on the other hand is also right. Of course, the client can say that he does not want the text reviewed - okay, no problem.
If the price is to be lowered, I cut down service. I don't compromise on quality, though.

As I said, if you are fast, you'll achieve a decent per-hour rate. And no poor quality either.

Thanks for your posts guys.


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:37
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
To "hellmut1956" Jan 18, 2010

Hi hellmut

Regardless of the speed etc. there's nothing wrong with making money.
Agencies lowered their prices to their clients not when they got Trados, but only when the clients asked for lower prices. In the meantime, they were charging high and they didn't even mention Trados. I do not see the reason for self-punishment unless the market demands it.
So, if the market pays me 15, I will not say to myself "I'm such a bad bad boy and I have to charge less" - because I'm not helping the end client (he has already paid), but the agency. With this mentality we'll all end up in the poorhouse and agencies will be making 400% (end-clients have no idea about trados etc).

Nevertheless, my question was different, and I'm interested:

HOW have you increased your productivity by 25% with Studio? Are you talking about a 25% difference from the previous Trados version? Tell me more.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:37
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You business has managerial problems Jan 18, 2010

hellmut1956 wrote:
The difference between an industrial process oriented work style to the traditional work style is that the work is done following a workflow that is continuously improved. There is another word that says that quality is not tested into a product, but it is manufactured into it. All I am saying here is that those translation projects of technical topics that I do work on require a very procedural way to work. I believe that when you are familiar with the topic to be translated, when you know how to make best use of the available tools and if you know how to make good use of the websites like linguee.de and others. Not as a source to find translations terms, but as a source to get presented a number of synonyms from which to choose the most adequate one, and finally if you only translate to native spoken languages, you can achieve a speed and a quality that makes translation a worthwhile business for freelancers and with a good chance to stay in business the next 10 or 20 years!

I agree with your approach and in fact as a technical translator (also working very frequently in Automotive as one of my main topics). I also consider this part of my work as an industrial product and improve my processes continuously.

I also work with English and German (into Spanish, so two crowded language pairs). Still, I am able to charge a very far higher amount than yours. If we add the fact that I do deliver finally formatted work in most cases, my conclusion is that, although you could be an excellent engineer and translator, your business has management problems if you only manage to charge 4 cents. I really wonder how you manage to keep your systems up-to-date, invest in good dictionaries, training, software, translation portals, translation associations, etc. Unless you live like a monk in your private life, figures don't quite match.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:37
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nothing wrong Jan 18, 2010

Christina Heger wrote:
Am I wrong here?
What do I miss?

Perhaps the main aspect that gets mismanaged in our profession is customer education and rate management. You know what you can offer, know that your rate matches the quality you are delivering (on the base of your qualification, further training,experience, specialisation, and availability of tools), and are able to explain that to your prospects and current clients. That is the way to go. You have more resources to compete in responsiveness, flexibility, range of services, etc., and that proves in the fact that you charge a higher rate.

Yes, a Trabby or Käfer does have an engine, wheels, steering wheel and brakes. It will take you from A to B the same as an Audi, but you don't want to be the Käfer. I apologise for comparing you to a car!

It would be an illusion to say that all customers value quality more than the rate. There is a low-end market and there is a high-end market. You want to be in the latter. As long as high-end customers exist who can value your qualities, stick to that market, fight for it, keep improving your training and means of production, and of course use your rates.


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xxxLatin_Hellas
United States
Local time: 05:37
Italian to English
+ ...
Living at another person's expense Jan 18, 2010

Kevin Lossner wrote:

... It is most ... likely that this quote comes from someone who is ... living at another person's expense. Degree or not, this person might simply want something to toy with and is willing to take anything for the sake of "experience" as you once did. ... this is not a typical scenario. Lots of other fish out there.


I agree that this is the most likely explanation. Going forward, I see entering the business more young people, with translation degrees and similar, still living with their parents, trying to gain experience, including young people from countries like India, in many cases even with pretty good educations.

Though this is not a typical scenario now, it may becoming increasingly so going forward. Nevertheless, as Kevin also implies - other fish out there - there are always market niches, but these may become increasingly narrower going forward. Related to this is what level of quality is demanded in general and in particular, so the waters may become increasingly difficult to navigate and going deeper out to sea may be necessary.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:37
French to German
+ ...
Probably nowhere... Jan 18, 2010

Christina Heger wrote:

Am I wrong here?
What do I miss?

I do not want this to become a discussion about low rates again - we've had enough of that before. I just want to know where I took the wrong turn.

Regards,
Christina


except if the client was not aware of all the steps included in your price. I normally make a written and detailed estimate. Other than that, the client may just have been out for price-fishing and a "good bargain".

[Edited at 2010-01-18 11:32 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I'm lost... Jan 18, 2010

Christina Heger wrote:
I do not want this to become a discussion about low rates again - we've had enough of that before. I just want to know where I took the wrong turn.


I'm lost... what kind of discussion did you have in mind then, if not about low rates?

As for the wrong turn, well, it would help if you can describe what it is that you think you are doing wrong, or what the desired outcome is that you're not getting.

I read your post but did not see any problems there -- unless your question is whether one can possibly live off 4c per word in Austria. Perhaps I should ask you what you think is the absolute lowest amount that you think you'd need to earn (gross) to survive in your country.

Let's see... to earn EUR 4200 per month (to make EUR 1400 per month, which is the highest statutory minimum wage in Europe, if we assume that the rest are taken up by taxes and business expenses) you'd need to translate 100 000 words per month, or just shy of 1000 words per hour (calculated at 27 hours a week).

So I guess that's your answer: the competing translator must be a part-timer who lives rent-free with his grandmother. And his idea of editing is probably running a spell-check.


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