How should I charge client for consulting?
Thread poster: krtko

Local time: 06:09
English to Croatian
+ ...
Jun 29, 2013

Hi everyone,

Recently, I started working for a foreign client here in China. I translated couple of e-mails, made couple of phone calls, helped him contact some people here and advised him where to go and find clients or partners for his business.
My problem is that I do not know how to charge this client. If I charge him for the translation work I have done so far, the whole bill would be maybe 30 Euros. I feel kind of stupid to charge him for phone calls, since they lasted couple of minutes and Chinese telecom is cheap. I also feel embarrassed to charge him for advices, because I only told him what I think, and not really know.
I told this to my client, but he insists on paying the whole thing, and now I do not know know what to charge him.
Any ideas?


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Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
For future reference, time yourself Jun 29, 2013

I can recommend Time Stamp, which I use on occasion.

And I think this would still be a graceful way to go about it - name an hourly rate, if you don't already have one, and try and make a fair calculation of the time you've spent on this client. Lawyers do this, even for telephone consultations, so the concept is not new.

Tell your client you are going to use this method, or rather, ask for his approval. But don't underestimate your time too much. However reluctant you are to charge very much, setting a precedent which undercharges for your skills is not a good idea.

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564354352  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:09
Danish to English
+ ...
Be generous if this is going to be a good client Jun 29, 2013

It is important not to do too much work for free, however good a client is, so you should definitely do as the client says and charge him something, otherwise you will get fed up with being kind and will feel that he is taking advantage of your kindness, and rightly so. However, if you know that this is a client who is going to bring in a considerable amount of work, you can afford to be generous. If I were you, I would make a note of the 'little jobs' you do, based on the time the jobs take you, then submit an accumulated invoice once a month or whatever seems appropriate. It may be that you end up charging for just an hour or two per month, but that is still money that the client should pay for the work you do. I had more or less the same experience with a major client who suggested this system and it works fine for both of us.

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:09
Chinese to English
Consulting =/= translating Jun 30, 2013

Charge your client for one day or half a day at a good rate. Consultants charge a lot of money, and you shouldn't (a) underestimate how useful they are or (b) overestimate how much actual work they do. What you're selling to your client in this case is not your time, it's your knowledge. There are people out there selling exactly the kind of knowledge you used for thousands of dollars a pop. There's no particular reason why you should do any different.

Set a daily rate - and you'll have to make it up off the top of your head, but there's no reason to think that USD 1000 would be too much - and charge for your time. If you want to do some market research, call up the other China consultants (there are thousands), and get quotes from them.

Businesses love spending money on this sort of stuff. Never feel guilty about taking money from those who are offering it.

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Kay Denney
Local time: 23:09
French to English
Value Jun 30, 2013

You "only told him what you think" but it was obviously valuable information for him. You speak the language and he doesn't, that's valuable too. It may not have seemed like much to you but you have spent time acquiring this information and your language skills, and they deserve to be paid for properly.

Like you go to see a specialist doctor. Your GP has already mentioned a possible disease and remedy but sends you to the specialist because she's not entirely sure. You spend less than 10 minutes in the specialist's surgery, and she merely confirms what your GP already said. Then she hits you for a huge amount of money. It's justified because she spent 10 years learning that specialist knowledge. In what way is your knowledge any less deserving of payment?

Phil Hand wrote:

Businesses love spending money on this sort of stuff. Never feel guilty about taking money from those who are offering it.

Absolutely spot on Phil!

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Right on, Phil Jun 30, 2013

Never feel guilty about taking money from those who are offering it.

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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:09
English to French
Feeling embarrassed to charge a customer for services rendered? Jul 1, 2013


Do you owe them something?
Are they part of the family?
Do you value what you do?

Charge whatever you see fit, but at work you don't do favours, you maintain business relationships.

Also if you don't charge, you may feel less committed to what you do.
I understand that businesses "prefer" to be charged, if only for the reassurance that they can come back to you and complain for non-performance. This should also be taken into account when you bill them.


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