Rates from English into French?
Thread poster: noelle plat

noelle plat  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:59
English to French
May 7, 2013

I live in San Francisco, and have 13 years of localization experience on the client's side as a linguist and as a localization manager. I have a master in translation and interpretation.
I recently decided to start my own translation business from English into French, working with agencies, and hopefully direct clients.
When it comes to rates, I would like to know what I can expect from agencies in my language combination (English to French). Recently, asked an agency US$ 0.15, and they said it was higher than average. I think it is a fair price, am I wrong?
If any of you could share their rates (per word, hour, with agencies, direct clients) and input, that would be wonderful.
Many thanks


Nicolas Coyer (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:59
Spanish to French
+ ...
You're your own boss May 7, 2013

Hi Nicole,

First of all, congratulations on taking this leap!
You will surely read different views on this topic, but let me start by stating that you set your own rates. If you're a member of the ATA, you can look for an Excel spreadsheet (CalPro) they've designed to help translators figuring out how much you should charge to cover their expenses and make a living out of their work.
You can also refer to many very useful books such as those published by Corinne Mc Kay, Chris Durban, and Juddy and Dagmar Jenner. Corinne's book contain tips on how to calculate profitable rates based on your specific situation.
I would also suggest having Twitter open daily. Many first-class translators (such as the ones above, and many others) post great stuff all the time. Have a look at the people I am following to give you an idea.
At the end of the day, you have to pay your bills, your taxes, etc. so no one else can tell you how much to charge. You have to factor in how many hours you can dedicate to your trade (including admin time such as invoicing, training, etc.).
You have an impressive résumé, and it's worth something. If a potential customer say they cannot afford you, that's because they're not the right customer for you. And come to think of it, why would they ask for your rates if they end up imposing their rates on you?
Whenever I receive an offer with a rate that is way below mine, I just pass on. If you're embarrassed to charge what you charge, just think about how tiny a percentage your bill will be out of the total sales the end client will make thanks to your translation. Otherwise, why would they bother translating their material? It's an investment (some try to push down rates to maximize return on their investment, that's all) just like any other.
You will often hear that you must specialize. For example, you have broad experience in L10N, but it's a vast industry. You might want to specialize in certain types of websites or software.

Best of luck
Nicolas Coyer

[Modifié le 2013-05-07 23:27 GMT]

[Modifié le 2013-05-07 23:30 GMT]


Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:59
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
and they said it was higher than average. May 8, 2013

Sure, they all say that, actually, when they do not say it, you might need to worry (they will probably not have any intention to pay you at all)...

And they will probably say the accountant is on vacation too...when it's time to pay...

But still 0,15 can be ok, depending on the complexity and deadline of the job.

Go down with the rest of them, and you'll just be joining the race to the bottom...


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:59
Member (2007)
+ ...
So true! May 8, 2013

Nicolas Coyer wrote:
If a potential customer say they cannot afford you, that's because they're not the right customer for you.

There are various places that quote average market rates. Actually, I think the tool here on ProZ seems fairly reliable for your pair, though it isn't for some of the rarer ones due to insufficient data. You can find it here: http://search.proz.com/employers/rates (though why does it have that "employers" word in the link???).

You can't go be what one agency says. Better to find agencies that think your rate is fine for the quality you provide.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:59
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Very fair May 9, 2013

noelle plat wrote:
Recently, asked an agency US$ 0.15, and they said it was higher than average. I think it is a fair price, am I wrong?

It is a fair rate if you ask me, and it is normal that some agencies say you are way too high. As the other colleague mentioned, agencies that say that 15 cents is too high and do not want to negotiate around that rate are clearly not interesting.

Be ready to negotiate in case of large projects and agencies with regular work, but remember: it is very easy to reduce your rate... and imposible to raise it later.


noelle plat  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:59
English to French
Thank you all for your very helpful reply May 16, 2013

Hi Nicola and all,
I wanted to thank you for your replies and feedback, they were very helpful.
Thank you also for mentioning the books. I had read Juddy and Dagmar Jenner's book, but not Corinne Mc Kay (started it last week), and indeed it does contain a lot of great advice on setting rates, and lots of wonderful tips in general.
I have done more thinking about what rates to set on my own, have come up with rates I am confortable with. I will stick to them!


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Rates from English into French?

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