How to determine a flat rate?
Thread poster: Gladys Wiezel

Gladys Wiezel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:23
English to Portuguese
Oct 29, 2012

I am getting back to freelancing, and I am not sure how to determine a flat rate. Should it be the minimum I would accept for a certain amount of work.
Something like US$ 100/1000 words? Should it be lower or higher than my minimum per word?
I need advice from you experienced independent linguists!
Thank you!
Gladys


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xxxchristela
Lots of us Oct 29, 2012

have a minimum rate of one hour of work, because we have to accept the job, do it, make an invoice and proceed it in our accounting system. If it is less than 200 words a problem arises because the clients find it expensive. So then it depends on the relationship you have with your client.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:23
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
In addition Oct 29, 2012

to what christela has already said, most of us have a range of rates, whether we're charging per word, per line, per 1000 words...

I might charge one rate for a text that I consider 'easy' i.e. it's well within my comfort zone - the sort of text I'm well used to doing; then I have another, higher, rate for a text that will need more research and/or more formatting; and there could be a surcharge for urgent 'drop everything else' jobs and maybe for working unsociable hours (though I don't apply a surcharge for that unless the job simply can't be done without working all through evenings and/or the weekend).

If there's much in the way of DTP to be done, most translators charge for that by the hour in addition to the translation rate, as it isn't part of our job, really. I actually prefer to turn down those jobs as I'm a total duffer with DTP.

HTH

Edited to say that I just read your post again (or maybe for the first time) and you seem to be asking if you should charge less if you are charging per thousand words than if you were charging per single word. Is that right? If so, I can't see any reason to charge any differently. There are very few economies of scale in translating: the second 1000 words can take just as long as the first 1000. If use can be made of a CAT tool, with significant savings, you may wish to pass a proportion of these on to your client if you feel it necessary. BUT, and it's a capital-letter BUT, don't fall into the trap of giving volume discounts from the first word. If the 1001st word doesn't arrive then you're out of pocket. I tell clients I will consider reducing my rate after n words or after the first month.

[Edited at 2012-10-29 17:08 GMT]


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Gladys Wiezel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:23
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
But WHAT is a flat rate?? Oct 29, 2012

Thank you very much, Sheila and Chrystela.
Actually my doubt comes from the term itself. What is a "flat rate"? Many agencies ask for a "minimum rate", which is the rate you charge when they send you a bunch of words to be translated right away.
This is the first time I am asked about a "flat rate", so I was affraid I misunderstood them.
For what Chrystela says, it is the same thing. I am not sure about Sheila's comments, I think I may have created confusion mentioning a number of words.
Have you heard the term "flat rate" before? Is this what I understand?

Thanks again!


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Jacqueline Sieben  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:23
Dutch to English
+ ...
All-in rate Oct 29, 2012

Hi Gladys,

A flat rate is an all-in rate (or fixed amount) for translating the full document and, possibly, editing/proofreading. If any DTP is required, those (hourly) costs should be included as well.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:23
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Flat rate Oct 29, 2012

Gladys Wiezel wrote:

Have you heard the term "flat rate" before? Is this what I understand?


In common parlance, a flat rate simply means that, after reviewing the job, you give the prospective client a fixed total price up front, rather than saying "this will cost $.1x" per target word or source word (or whatever unit) and using that as the calculation basis for invoicing.
Of course, as a practical matter, a source-word-based price does essentially work out to a flat rate, since it can presumably be fixed in advance.

The easiest method is to estimate what you otherwise charge in total based on your unit pricing, and use that as your flat rate. If you would normally charge for a file by target word, then be sure to take any probable expansion, and things a word count tool can't capture (explications of seals and signature blocks, images, etc.) into account in your flat rate.

A minimum charge is just that - your minimum charge for any project. An hour's time is typical.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:23
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Ah, I see! Oct 29, 2012

Gladys Wiezel wrote:
Many agencies ask for a "minimum rate", which is the rate you charge when they send you a bunch of words to be translated right away.

Actually, I'm not sure I agree with that at all. What they mean is "I want your normal impeccable quality but I don't want to pay for it". I sometimes reply that my minimum per-word rate is my normal per-word rate. "Minimum rate" or more correctly "minimum charge", as both christela and I mentioned, is the minimum amount you're prepared to invoice for, often an hour's work. I actually once invoiced a client for 30 € for 11 words, as that was all they'd ordered that month. They didn't like it but they knew my terms and they came back.

Have you heard the term "flat rate" before? Is this what I understand?

Now I understand the question I'd agree with Jacqueline: it's the total amount you're going to charge them for the job. The one the tax man takes so much interest in.

But it's only the same as minimum rate if the job would normally come out at less than your minimum invoice amount. Based on my own figures, I might charge the client 0.10 € per word for 100 words, plus 0.03 € for proofreading (if it warranted that), plus a 50% urgency surcharge. The flat rate for the job would be 19.50 €. However, my minimum charge is 30 €, so that would be what I would charge for this particular job. If they came back with an order 10 times the original size, it would cost them a flat rate of 195.50 €. Please forgive me if the maths is awry.

Are we on the same wavelength now?


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Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 17:23
English to German
+ ...
A flat rate... Oct 29, 2012

.. is a fixed lump sum. Period.

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xxxchristela
I see now Oct 29, 2012

I misunderstood your question.

Gladys Wiezel wrote:

Thank you very much, Sheila and Chrystela.
Actually my doubt comes from the term itself. What is a "flat rate"? Many agencies ask for a "minimum rate", which is the rate you charge when they send you a bunch of words to be translated right away.


Well, in this case the "minimum rate" is your cheapest or lowest rate. The lowest rate you accept to work for, e.g. for very easy texts or software localization. Then the agency will either say that this is too much and have you lower it again, either will give you highly technical texts for the same rate - because you said that this was your rate, didn't you?


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:23
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Me too Oct 30, 2012

I understand "flat rate" as Ralf and Jacqueline. "Minimum rate" is generally the same as an hour's rate -- not just to cover processing time, but any small surprises from the bank.

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Gladys Wiezel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:23
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
Flat - minimum for small volume Oct 30, 2012

Thank you everybody.
I understand that a "flat" rate is the minimum you will accept for any job too small to apply a rate per word or per hour.
I hope the storm was as kind to you all in the East Coast as it was for me.
Have a great week everbody!
Gladys


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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:23
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
Flat rate, best rate, miminum charge... Oct 30, 2012

F l a t r a t e: you receive a project (any volume, big or small), study the files and tell the client the total amount you will charge for this project (in accordance with the client's requirements: translation, proofreading, DTP, etc.).
B e s t r a t e: the client promises large volumes in the future and begs you to offer your services for peanuts (almost for free), otherwise the agency won't be able to afford your services, as their client is poor and greedy (go find yourself better clients and stop complaining, I say). When they ask me for my best rate (i.e. as low as possible), I either ignore such requests or offer MY best rate (as high as I can charge for challenging texts). As a result, I never hear from them again (good riddance).
M i m i n u m c h a r g e: For me, it's my average hourly rate, otherwise it's worse than free, as I still need to do the invoicing and pay taxes.

[Редактировалось 2012-10-30 14:30 GMT]


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