What do you actually charge for?
Thread poster: Mathieu Isidro
Mathieu Isidro  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:29
English to French
+ ...
Jun 9, 2010

Hi,

Being new to the translation business (I have just joined proz.com, just graduated from a translation MA, and just received my "auto-entrepreneur" papers in France) I have this silly question: what exactly should you charge for in a quote/invoice?

Obsviously, you charge for the actual translation (price per source word in my case). Should I also charge (apart from the price per source word) for proofreading my own translation, if so, how much?
When can you start charging extra for urgent translations, and how much should you charge?

Being auto-entrepreneur in France, my quote is free of VAT right? so I do not need to include that in my quote. Does that affect my prices in any way? Should I lower them?

My thought is, judging by the prices generally offered, which are quite low (the best I saw was 0.08, more generally anything between that and 0.05, which is far from the 0.10 we were told to charge by our professors) Can I actually expect outsourcers to pay extra for proofreading, highly technical text, etc.? Do they expect it themselves?

Finally, being new to the business, and even though I have the education, I have little experience, should I lower my prices accordingly?

Thanks for your insight on this.


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Stéphanie Soudais  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:29
Member (2006)
English to French
Some links Jun 9, 2010

Hi Mathieu,

You might found some hints in http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Determining_your_rates_and_fees_as_a_translator

Discussed as well in
http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom_translation_industry_wiki/160393-please_help_build_wiki_article:_determining_your_rates_and_fees_as_a_translator.html

Also:
- the rate calculator: http://www.proz.com/translator-rates-calculator/
- a similar thread: http://www.proz.com/forum/translation_in_the_uk/151844-tariffs_and_rates:_how_to_do_it.html


Stéphanie


[Edited at 2010-06-09 10:20 GMT]


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:29
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Some answers Jun 9, 2010

Mathieu Isidro wrote:

Hi,

Being new to the translation business (I have just joined proz.com, just graduated from a translation MA, and just received my "auto-entrepreneur" papers in France) I have this silly question: what exactly should you charge for in a quote/invoice?

Obsviously, you charge for the actual translation (price per source word in my case). Should I also charge (apart from the price per source word) for proofreading my own translation, if so, how much?


No, checking your own translation before delivery is not charged separately. If the files undergo DTP and you are required to check the final pdf (to make sure there are no garbled characters, wrong hyphenations, formatting differences, etc.), you should charge that differently, usually by the hour.

Mathieu Isidro wrote:
When can you start charging extra for urgent translations, and how much should you charge?


The decision is entirely yours; search the forums (with key words like "surcharge", "rush job") to get some opinions.

Mathieu Isidro wrote:
Being auto-entrepreneur in France, my quote is free of VAT right? so I do not need to include that in my quote. Does that affect my prices in any way? Should I lower them?


In most cases, rates are quoted net (without VAT), even if one has to apply VAT (you don't). This usually does not matter for the clients: if they have a VAT number, they can collect the paid VAT. You should not lower your prices.

Mathieu Isidro wrote:
My thought is, judging by the prices generally offered, which are quite low


The rates specified by job posters on ProZ should not influence you too much. They are not necessarily representative of the market. There has been some severe criticism that allowing job posters specify the rates adds to he pressure price, and even a petition was lodged, aiming at prohibiting this practice.

See the original petition here, and a detailed discussion of the proposal here. Getting to know the opinions of established colleagues in this question can be particularly instructive at the beginning of one's career.

Mathieu Isidro wrote:
(the best I saw was 0.08, more generally anything between that and 0.05, which is far from the 0.10 we were told to charge by our professors) Can I actually expect outsourcers to pay extra for proofreading, highly technical text, etc.? Do they expect it themselves?


The translation market is not homogeneous. There are a lot of very good, quality-oriented outsourcers, for whom price is one among the many equally important factors to be considered.

Mathieu Isidro wrote:
Finally, being new to the business, and even though I have the education, I have little experience, should I lower my prices accordingly?
Thanks for your insight on this.


If you can afford, do NOT lower your prices. Get experience elsewhere; doing some pro bono work for NGOs is one possibility. If you lower your prices, raising them later will be quite difficult. Instead, try to reach more potential clients, and establish yourself as a competent translator in your specialty fields.

Best regards,
Attila


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:29
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My personal view Jun 9, 2010

Mathieu Isidro wrote:
Should I also charge (apart from the price per source word) for proofreading my own translation, if so, how much?


As far as I'm concerned, a translation isn't finished until it's been spell-checked and re-read very carefully for any remaining errors (e.g. to/too) and for punctuation, formatting etc. This is also the time to check that you haven't let any source language constructions and false-friends creep in.

That work should be included in your price per source word.

Then there's the final proofreading - the "second pair of eyes". I expect an agency to have my work proofread after delivery and my invoice to them states that this final check has not been performed. When I work for direct clients I give them the choice of opting out, but I strongly advise them to make sure it's done by someone before publication. If they ask me to do it, I pass the translation to another native speaker and pass the cost on to the client.

Being auto-entrepreneur in France, my quote is free of VAT right? so I do not need to include that in my quote. Does that affect my prices in any way? Should I lower them?


As you have already been advised, this does not affect your prices, and companies are not normally interested one way or the other. Should you ever work directly for private persons, however (as I do for CV translations) it's a big selling point.

being new to the business, and even though I have the education, I have little experience, should I lower my prices accordingly?


I don't believe lowering your rates would be a good idea. Charging the market rate (perhaps between 0.06 and 0.10 € would be a rough guideline, but you must decide for yourself what is right for you), then taking more time than experienced translators, will already result in you earning less per hour. I believe that's the way to go - rather than rattling out 250+ words per hour, aim to do less at first, with more time spent researching, building glossaries, checking and rechecking. That way, as long as you stick with texts that are within your area of expertise, you can provide quality work at the market price. You'll soon find you naturally speed up with no reduction in quality.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:29
French to English
Couple of points Jun 9, 2010

Mathieu Isidro wrote:

the 0.10 we were told to charge by our professors

Sounds in the general ballpark. Jobs posted on here are notorious for being typically somewhat low paid.

Finally, being new to the business, and even though I have the education, I have little experience, should I lower my prices accordingly?

Absolutely bloody not, and here's the explanation why!
http://www.cbavington.com/Thoughts/BeginnersRates.shtml


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:29
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
On VAT Jun 9, 2010

Attila Piróth wrote:
Mathieu Isidro wrote:
Being auto-entrepreneur in France, my quote is free of VAT right? so I do not need to include that in my quote. Does that affect my prices in any way? Should I lower them?

In most cases, rates are quoted net (without VAT), even if one has to apply VAT (you don't). This usually does not matter for the clients: if they have a VAT number, they can collect the paid VAT. You should not lower your prices.


This is somewhat confusing to me. Surely if you have to charge VAT, it doesn't matter whether the client has a VAT number himself or not -- he has to pay the VAT even if he can't get it back himself.

I'm also surprised at your comment that "in most cases" a quote is done without VAT. It was my understanding that VAT should be included in a quote. The only reason you'd quote without VAT would be if the client has a VAT number himself and would be able to get the VAT back, but you don't always know that, do you?

Unless there is a law in your country saying that you should quote without VAT, I'd suggest that you always include the VAT in your quote.


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Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 11:29
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
More on VAT Jun 9, 2010

I have to charge VAT if my client is either in Finland or in the EU and doesn't have a VAT number (a private person). Companies usually have VAT numbers, I can't invoice them without one and not charge VAT. I even have to report every single client to the tax authorities each month with their VAT numbers and charged sums, and if the VAT number isn't valid, I'm in trouble!

So when a new client in the EU orders a translation, I ask for their VAT number before starting the work. If they don't have one, I tell them I have to add VAT. For Finnish clients I give my quote in the form "X euros + VAT 22 %, total Y euros". I mention it separately and this is how it is required in the invoice as well. You should check these things up before starting any work. There are probably legal requirements for the invoice and so on.

As for what I charge for, well, my time. I tell the client how much of my time they need for a good translation. They then determine how little time will be enough, that is, how much work they want me to put into the translation. I then decide whether this it is acceptable, that is, can I do good enough work in the amount of time they will pay me for. My fee per word includes first round of translation, second round and proofreading.


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:29
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Net price (plus indication of TVA) Jun 9, 2010

Samuel Murray wrote:
I'm also surprised at your comment that "in most cases" a quote is done without VAT. It was my understanding that VAT should be included in a quote. The only reason you'd quote without VAT would be if the client has a VAT number himself and would be able to get the VAT back, but you don't always know that, do you?


Hi Samuel,

What I meant is that net prices are usually quoted, indicating that they are net prices. It has happened that I quoted my per-word rate without adding "plus TVA", and the PO issued by the client contained the word "net" automatically, so this seems to be pretty much the usual way in France.

If a translator works with translation agencies of directly with companies, the client will, in most cases, have a VAT number, so the balance is the same for the client whether they work with a translator who is VAT registered or with one who is not.

Of course, in Sheila's case (individuals) you have to be very careful.

Best regards,
Attila


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:29
French to English
+ ...
Definitely don't lower your rates Jun 10, 2010

Hi Mathieu,

I agree with much of what's been said already - don't offer low rates just because you're new. I remember meeting a fellow translator on a TM course a few years ago. She was employed as a teacher at the time, but wanted to branch out into full-time freelance translating, but she was offering rates of £35 per 1000 words, so no wonder it didn't look a viable proposition! They were the kind of rates I worked for when I started out as a freelance in the late 1980's. By all means make yourself a more attractive proposition by using CAT tools to offer agencies a better deal on the basis of repetitions/100% matches - as long as by doing so you're saving yourself time and allowing yourself to achieve the same income. Speed will come with time, as others have said. It's difficult when you start out, but networking and joining sites like ProZ will all help, as will making your presence felt by answering KudoZ questions, forum participation, etc.

As for urgency surcharges, I find that agencies are generally unwilling to accept these, although I do charge more for complex pdf conversions or working in Powerpoint. I tend to find direct clients more willing to pay extra for urgent work, so you might find you need to be flexible. Once you've quoted a rate, though, it's very hard to backtrack, so make sure you go in at a level you're happy to stick with for a while, at least.

Another way of making sure you offer value for money is joining forces with a fellow translator, perhaps another recent graduate, and proof-reading each other's translations. If you do it on a quid pro quo basis, it provides that valuable second pair of eyes Sheila mentioned, may improve your translation and make you think differently about how you do it and will allow you to offer clients that extra QA facility - just a thought, even if you don't do it every time.

All the best,

Claire


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