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Rates according to text volume
Thread poster: xxxTiago Moita

xxxTiago Moita  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
May 22, 2013

Now that I've established my rates (thanks to all that replied to my last post!), I'm confused yet again.
I'm applying for a job that demands I give the potential client my rates for:
1) more than 10,000 words,
2) more than 50,000 words and
3) more than 100,000 words.

How should my rates vary accordingly?
(I settled on 0.06 EUR per word / 15 - 19 EUR per hour)

Cheers!


 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:00
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Forum search May 22, 2013

Dear Tiago,

Start reading here:

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/244562-rates_for_large_volume_of_work.html
http://www.proz.com/forum/poll_discussion/242695-poll:_do_you_grant_discounts_for_large_projects.html
http://www.proz.com/forum/translation_project_vendor_management/228055-help_with_pricing.html
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/214546-rates_for_bigger_volume_suggestions_needed.html

Come back if you have further questions.

HTH,
Erik


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:00
French to English
+ ...
Frankly... May 22, 2013

Tiago Moita wrote:
Now that I've established my rates (thanks to all that replied to my last post!), I'm confused yet again.
I'm applying for a job that demands I give the potential client my rates for:


Frankly, I wouldn't bother.

A typical 10,000 word text won't typically demand moving your standard average target rate. And how often are they going to actually have jobs of 50,000+ words?

Just tell the client that your rate is negotiable if the volume and nature of a particular text demands it.

Wait until they're actually flooding you with offers to translate 100,000 word texts before worrying about it too much.

If they really did send you a 100,000 word job, then asking you a priori how this will affect your rate really is like asking how long is a piece of string.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Not "How?" May 22, 2013

Tiago Moita wrote:
How should my rates vary accordingly?
(I settled on 0.06 EUR per word / 15 - 19 EUR per hour)

But "Why?". That's the question you should be asking yourself. If you can see some business benefit to it, then offer a discount; if not, tell them that your per-word rate is for every word.

If you do decide to give discounts (and I'm not really recommending it), I strongly advise you to make absolutely sure that it only kicks in from the nth word. Too many clients want a discount for, say, 100,000+ words, then the job mysteriously disappears after about the 2,000th - discounted - word.


 

xxxTiago Moita  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks May 22, 2013

That was helpful

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:00
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I don't understand May 22, 2013

I've never been unable to understand why a translator should charge less for doing more work.

 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:00
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
You could keep the same rate for all May 22, 2013

I think that what the client is trying to do is negotiate with you to get discounts for volume which isn't unreasonable in itself but there are some points to consider:

On the one hand, longer projects ensure less down time, reduce your marketing costs and reduce the time taken overall to complete the project since you get exponentially better at the translation as you progress and you don't have to faff around with setting up the project and reading all the documentation 10 times for instance.

If you are starting out, the potential to reduce down time probably has a higher monetary value than for translators who receive work more regularly.

However, I will perhaps sometimes offer a slight discount to my rates to induce a client to offer me longer projects but I don't think that I'd be willing to accept less than the rate you have stated under any circumstances.

Also bear in mind that more words = more risk if you don't already have a business relationship with the client.

There's nothing wrong with your replying with your rate for all three options. There's also nothing wrong with replying that with option 1), you'd need 30% upfront, with option 2) 45% upfront and with option 3) 60% upfront.

There's equally nothing wrong with applying your lowest rate to option 3 and then adding 10% as you go down in amount of words (unless of course you've already stated to this client that this is your standard rate).

It's all about what you would be happy with. Some people don't like long jobs because they have the potential to bore you and on the other hand, if you're starting out and aren't used to your own rhythm yet, you could incurr the risk of missing deadlines because you may inadvertently accept deadlines that are too short for the amount of words required.

In essence, the calculation here should be:

how much you'd like to earn per day/the amount of words you can easily handle in a day = the rate you charge

then using the figure for the amount of words you can easily handle in a day, work out how many days a 100k project would take you compared with the amount of days it would take you to complete 100 x 1,000 word projects under normal circumstances, halve the difference, work out what this is as a percentage of the whole (ie the second figure) and offer this discount to the client. Or not.

Whatever you do, the rate you decide to work for must be your decision and a rate you're happy to work for. Don't let clients push you into accepting rates you aren't happy with as this will only lead to a downward spiral.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Use the same rate for all categories May 22, 2013

Tiago Moita wrote:
I'm applying for a job that [ requires that ] I give the potential client my rates for:
1) more than 10,000 words,
2) more than 50,000 words and
3) more than 100,000 words.


The client is hoping that your rate per word would be less for larger projects. In general, this sort of discounting is not profitable for freelance translators, so just charge the same rate regardless of the number of words.

If you do want to give a bit of a discount, make the discount small (e.g. 5% discount for over 50 000 words (so he gets 2500 words for free), and 10% discount for over 100 000 words (so he gets 10 000 words for free)).



[Edited at 2013-05-22 14:11 GMT]


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:00
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
10,000 words for free??? May 22, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

If you do want to give a bit of a discount, make the discount small (e.g. 5% discount for over 50 000 words (so he gets 2500 words for free), and 10% discount for over 100 000 words (so he gets 10 000 words for free)).



[Edited at 2013-05-22 14:11 GMT]


When you actually do the maths, the discount sounds much worse. 10,000 words for free??? that could take me a week to complete! Whoever heard of working for a week without pay just so you have 9 other weeks of work? Imagine if the boss of a company were to implement that for his employees? It's the opposite for employees: they get weeks of pay for no work (i.e. paid leave)


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:30
English to Hindi
+ ...
The disadvantages of large projects May 22, 2013

Large projects do come with certain disadvantages, which too you should factor in.

- If you get involved in a very large project for a very substantial time (say a month or so), then you will have to refuse many other clients while you concentrate on the large project. When the large project ends, you could find yourself having no work as you would have refused many clients who would have found other translators with whom they would have built a lasting partnership, thus no longer needing your services.

The lesson is, even while doing a large project, don't devote all your time to it, but keep aside say 20 % of your time for smaller jobs with a view to maintaining future work flow.

- Large projects can bore you rapidly and doing them after a certain time can become tedious and mentally straining. To avoid this too, you will vary your work with other different work.

- Clients demand discounts for large products, but you should not fall into their trap. What you are selling is time, and you have only 24 hours of it. It is not like a shopkeeper selling n number of things. It would not take him substantially more time to sell 10 x n or 100 x n things. So it makes sense for him to offer discounts for bulk purchases. But in our case 1000 words will take 10 times more time to translate than 100 words and 10000 words will take 100 times more time to do than 100 words. Thus, your work does not decrease because of a large order.

The only discount you should consider is the gain you make by being in work continuously for a longer period of time. But if you are an established translator and are receiving a steady stream of work, this is automatically taken care of and the large project can offer you nothing to your special advantage. So no discount on large projects.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:00
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Correct May 22, 2013

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

Large projects do come with certain disadvantages, which too you should factor in.

- If you get involved in a very large project for a very substantial time (say a month or so), then you will have to refuse many other clients while you concentrate on the large project. When the large project ends, you could find yourself having no work as you would have refused many clients who would have found other translators with whom they would have built a lasting partnership, thus no longer needing your services.

The lesson is, even while doing a large project, don't devote all your time to it, but keep aside say 20 % of your time for smaller jobs with a view to maintaining future work flow.

- Large projects can bore you rapidly and doing them after a certain time can become tedious and mentally straining. To avoid this too, you will vary your work with other different work.

- Clients demand discounts for large products, but you should not fall into their trap. What you are selling is time, and you have only 24 hours of it. It is not like a shopkeeper selling n number of things. It would not take him substantially more time to sell 10 x n or 100 x n things. So it makes sense for him to offer discounts for bulk purchases. But in our case 1000 words will take 10 times more time to translate than 100 words and 10000 words will take 100 times more time to do than 100 words. Thus, your work does not decrease because of a large order.

The only discount you should consider is the gain you make by being in work continuously for a longer period of time. But if you are an established translator and are receiving a steady stream of work, this is automatically taken care of and the large project can offer you nothing to your special advantage. So no discount on large projects.



This is very good sense. I agree 100%.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 03:00
English to Polish
+ ...
Well... May 22, 2013

Marie-Helene Dubois wrote:

I think that what the client is trying to do is negotiate with you to get discounts for volume which isn't unreasonable in itself but there are some points to consider:


Yeah. Basically, a client always has a different point of view and tends to prefer to spend less just like we prefer to earn more. Same when the client is, say, a doctor or marketing consultant whose services we need. Underpaid as we are and feel, it's difficult for us to empathise sometimes. To us, thousands of words means hard, hard work to do. (What about the deadlines for such large quantities?) To clients, that means they're already paying through the roof and are taking it to us rather than a different translation, so they think they deserve some discount. Both of us are quite right.

On the one hand, longer projects ensure less down time, reduce your marketing costs and reduce the time taken overall to complete the project since you get exponentially better at the translation as you progress and you don't have to faff around with setting up the project and reading all the documentation 10 times for instance.


Yup. I remember translating stuff for power plant construction. I was green when it began. Talented but green. I needed supervision. I did 1.5 to 2 pages per hour, mostly because I typed fast and was an efficient user of Google. Some months later I did like 6 pages an hour when the grammar and syntax were simple, and it mostly came down to the vocabulary. Also helped me in some other projects later on for different agencies. By the way, translators who have worked on the same stuff tend to be preferred to other translators, especially when they've worked on the exact same stuff for the same client.

If you are starting out, the potential to reduce down time probably has a higher monetary value than for translators who receive work more regularly.


Yup. The problem, though, is getting the clients and the market as a whole used to hearing low rates from you. That can backfire. There are different schools of thought. I've heard from a guy who was incredibly cheap, worked his hands off, amassed experience and referrals, and now charges thrice that. On the other hand, some folks can't climb out of the low rate bracket. My rates never dropped beyond a certain level and they were above average for the agency world from the get go, but I've never been able to raise them consistently or get better paying agencies. It's better with direct clients, but I can't make clients pay that much more than agencies.

However, I will perhaps sometimes offer a slight discount to my rates to induce a client to offer me longer projects but I don't think that I'd be willing to accept less than the rate you have stated under any circumstances.


5% comes to mind. But a more typical solution in my market is waiving rush surcharges on the base fee. Traditionally, every 5 pages beginning with 6, a Polish client had to pay +25% or +50%, sometimes even double. Now that's mostly a fond memory, but rush fees still exist, and those clients who consistently deliver large chunks of work escape the worst of them, or all.

Also bear in mind that more words = more risk if you don't already have a business relationship with the client.


At least get an advance payment to cover any VAT or advance PIT payments you need to make under an accrual system. (As it may take forever before you can write off a bad debt.)

It's all about what you would be happy with. Some people don't like long jobs because they have the potential to bore you and on the other hand, if you're starting out and aren't used to your own rhythm yet, you could incurr the risk of missing deadlines because you may inadvertently accept deadlines that are too short for the amount of words required.


Personally, I think everything has its advantages and disadvantages, and depeding on your shape and mood it's easy to focus exclusively on either. Then, there are the same old human vices: pride, greed, whatever; on the other hand there's hopelessness and lack of a belief that things (i.e. rates or work to pay ratio) can get any better. It's important to live a healthy life-style, deal with any semblance of depression, and avoid hasty decisions.

Whatever you do, the rate you decide to work for must be your decision and a rate you're happy to work for. Don't let clients push you into accepting rates you aren't happy with as this will only lead to a downward spiral.


Yup. Business has a tendency to make people push for more until they meet resistance. If they sense enough resistance to make it not worth it, they'll usually let go. This includes situations where the purchaser can easily live with the original price but just sees if the cost can be 'optimised' (i.e. lowered).

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

The lesson is, even while doing a large project, don't devote all your time to it, but keep aside say 20 % of your time for smaller jobs with a view to maintaining future work flow.


Same thing I thought. I try to leave some room when booking a share in a larger project or setting a deadline when I'm the only translator working on it.

- Large projects can bore you rapidly and doing them after a certain time can become tedious and mentally straining. To avoid this too, you will vary your work with other different work.


Or focus on the plus sides, get yourself some healthy rhythm, start early, waste no time on social media, finish early, don't kill yourself in the evening when you're dosing off, get some free time in the middle of the day and treat yourself to a coffee out, which you can do since you're your own boss.

- Clients demand discounts for large products, but you should not fall into their trap. What you are selling is time, and you have only 24 hours of it. It is not like a shopkeeper selling n number of things. It would not take him substantially more time to sell 10 x n or 100 x n things. So it makes sense for him to offer discounts for bulk purchases. But in our case 1000 words will take 10 times more time to translate than 100 words and 10000 words will take 100 times more time to do than 100 words. Thus, your work does not decrease because of a large order.

The only discount you should consider is the gain you make by being in work continuously for a longer period of time. But if you are an established translator and are receiving a steady stream of work, this is automatically taken care of and the large project can offer you nothing to your special advantage. So no discount on large projects.


Yeah, it's only the client acquisition that falls off, as well as any time savings due to your increasing familiarity with the text (which does not apply to a 100,000-word job that comes in 50 chunks each about a different subject). I'd try to explain to the client that in professional services it is essentially time you sell, not products, so you aren't actually making money on sheer volume the way it is in selling products. An business-apt client should understand.

Basically, I tend to see discounts in three kinds: those I need to give because I have no title to deserve the full amount, those I can give because I have some wiggling room in my rates in the particular scenario, those I must give or I won't make enough to keep afloat. I handle them differently.

[Edited at 2013-05-22 15:06 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:00
Hebrew to English
Agree May 22, 2013

Texte Style wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

If you do want to give a bit of a discount, make the discount small (e.g. 5% discount for over 50 000 words (so he gets 2500 words for free), and 10% discount for over 100 000 words (so he gets 10 000 words for free)).



[Edited at 2013-05-22 14:11 GMT]


When you actually do the maths, the discount sounds much worse. 10,000 words for free??? that could take me a week to complete! Whoever heard of working for a week without pay just so you have 9 other weeks of work? Imagine if the boss of a company were to implement that for his employees? It's the opposite for employees: they get weeks of pay for no work (i.e. paid leave)


In all honesty I couldn't sit there for 3/4/5/6 days straight translating and knowing I'm not getting paid for it, I'd feel rather aggrieved, to say the least.

Volume/bulk discounts just don't make sense to me.

What I would be tempted to do in that situation is to quote a higher per word rate which would bring you down to your "actual" rate after the "discount" - you won't have lost out and they feel like you are flexible/willing to negotiate.


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:00
Member (2008)
French to English
No change in rate per word May 22, 2013

100,000 words takes 10 times as long to translate as 10,000. In other words, the same rate per word.

This isn't a mass production process, where (beyond the first couple of hundred words) there is a certain overhead time that can be amortized over the whole volume.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
10 000 words for free May 22, 2013

Ty Kendall wrote:
Texte Style wrote:
Samuel Murray wrote:
If you do want to give a bit of a discount, make the discount small ... 10% discount for over 100 000 words (so he gets 10 000 words for free).

When you actually do the maths, the discount sounds much worse. 10,000 words for free???

In all honesty I couldn't sit there for 3/4/5/6 days straight translating and knowing I'm not getting paid for it, I'd feel rather aggrieved, to say the least.


Exactly. A 10% discount on 100 000 words means that you do 10 000 words for free. Think!


 
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