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How much do you compromise on very large projects?
Thread poster: Kévin Bernier

Kévin Bernier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:14
Member (2013)
English to French
Jul 26, 2013

Hello,

Most clients who come to us with very large projects (let us say upwards of 500,000 words) frequently ask us to offer a good price per word.

My question is, how far do you usually go with the compromising regarding your prices? Do you "slash" your prices for the very large projects?

What do you consider to be an acceptable "discount" for such projects? 50% of your rate? 25%?

I'd appreciate any answers regarding the matter.


 

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:14
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Wow, are you out of your mind? Jul 26, 2013

Really, are you willing to cut your rates by 25% or even as much as HALF for these large projects that will occupy most, if not all, of your time? In the meantime you will be prevented from doing work for other clients.

I don't offer any kind of "large quantity discounts" unless it is a project that is personally interesting to me, such as a creative work like a long novel. In this case I may consider a "special rate" that is 5 to 10% better than my standard rate.

Considering that you are also in Canada and the costs of living are high here, I am quite surprised to hear this. I may expect these kind of remarks from someone in a country with a very low cost of living but not a Canadian professional.

[Edited at 2013-07-26 19:43 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-07-26 19:55 GMT]


 

cranium
French to English
+ ...
Do you mean 50,000? Jul 26, 2013

500,000 would take the better part of a year to do full-time. So it wouldn't lend itself to a per-word rate, but rather a monthly fee of some sort equalling or exceeding the country's average translator salary - and in Canada, it is about double what it is in France, by the way. (Just looked at your rates - how would you even live on the discounts you suggest?)

On a side note (but not a huge tangent given your language combination) be aware that a client from France offering you 500,000 words and asking for a per-word rate could actually be dodging employer social security contributionsicon_frown.gif By French law, they should hire you on some sort of temp contract if the relationship becomes exclusive for a lengthy time period and you no longer feel free to turn a project down. You are no longer a genuine freelancer in these circumstances.

[Edited at 2013-07-26 19:49 GMT]


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:14
English to German
+ ...
Wow, are you out of your mind? II Jul 26, 2013

Seriously. Why would anyone do such a thing? Writing 25% of 500k at no charge, I mean.

 

Kévin Bernier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:14
Member (2013)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Perhaps a slight misunderstanding... Jul 26, 2013

Don't get me wrong, Sarah. I don't slash my prices for large projects. I find the idea of offering small prices for incredibly large projects ludicrous in itself : when one is asking for a very voluminous job, they should be expecting to pay accordingly.

A lot of potential clients tend to ask for this on the other hand, and I was merely interested in knowing how translators react in general.

[Edited at 2013-07-26 19:53 GMT]


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I got a request to translate 500,000 words in several months Jul 26, 2013

Sarah McDowell wrote:

Really, are you willing to cut your rates by 25% or even as much as HALF for these large projects that will occupy most, if not all, of your time? In the meantime you will be prevented from doing work for other clients.

I don't offer any kind of "large quantity discounts" unless it is a project that is personally interesting to me, such as a creative work like a long novel. In this case I may consider a "special rate" that is 5 to 10% better than my standard rate.

Considering that you are also in Canada and the costs of living are high here, I am quite surprised to hear this. I may expect these kind of remarks from someone in a country with a very low cost of living but not a Canadian professional.

[Edited at 2013-07-26 19:43 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-07-26 19:55 GMT]


They asked me to make cultural adaptations and I have to document every word that has been "adapted" to fit into Chinese culture. They also ask me to make the Chinese text "aligned" to the educational level of the target population and document it accordingly.

What they offered is $0.04 per word and I gave them a big shake of my head. They replied by saying they will contact me when needs come up again.

I said to myself: "better not".

[Edited at 2013-07-26 21:52 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:14
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I don't have "a rate" Jul 26, 2013

Kévin Bernier wrote:
Most clients who come to us with very large projects (let us say upwards of 500,000 words) frequently ask us to offer a good price per word. ... My question is, how far do you usually go with the compromising regarding your prices?


Well, I have a rate that I mention when I'm asked to quote, but that is not necessarily the rate that I'm willing to work for. How "low" I'm prepared to go depends on several factors, but the size or potential size of the job is not a very important factor. In fact, I typically do not offer any price reductions based solely on the size of the job. But I might consider different rates for different projects, if I consider all factors involved.

When a regular client asks for a reduced rate for a new project, I will usually insist on the rate that that client usually pays me, but I will also ask for more information about the project. It sometimes happens that a project is so "easy" that I will actually make more money (per hour) with the lower rate than I would have made with other translation projects at the higher rate, and if that happens, then obviously I will consider the lower rate.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:14
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I rarely take on big jobs, but when I do, there is no discount Jul 26, 2013

If there is a good, flexible deadline, I may charge at the lower end of my normal scale - I did this for a cookery book which was not difficult, but called for some adaptation and checking what ingredients were available and finding substitutes for some of them. The client checked and re-tested the recipes.

I charged my full top rate for an academic book, and for subsequent papers on the same subject, although for one of them I gave a 50% discount on Trados matches where a large section was similar to a section of the book - and the deadline was very tight. By then I was working for a good, almost regular client, so I made a special effort.

Otherwise I consider very carefully whether I will take on big jobs at all, and the answer is no if it would mean turning down better paid work from regular clients. I usually have enough work to do without large jobs in the background.

Some people like the big jobs, but in general I prefer small to medium ones. Many are 'ongoing stories' - following on from earlier work for the same client, so I don't want to lose them, having worked up a good relationship with them.

On the whole big jobs mean my capacity may be overloaded, and there is often more work in checking and maintaining consistency among other things. There is usually no reason to give a discount. On the contrary, from my point of view a higher rate would be justified!


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:14
English to Polish
+ ...
... Jul 26, 2013

Kévin Bernier wrote:

Hello,

Most clients who come to us with very large projects (let us say upwards of 500,000 words) frequently ask us to offer a good price per word.

My question is, how far do you usually go with the compromising regarding your prices? Do you "slash" your prices for the very large projects?

What do you consider to be an acceptable "discount" for such projects? 50% of your rate? 25%?

I'd appreciate any answers regarding the matter.


I'd prefer not to call it a discount but simply a negotiated price that takes account of all sorts of things, since I really don't need any form of tax or even any sort of tax-relevant sales volume to be calculated on money I didn't stand a chance of earning. But I digress.

I have in the past compromised too much, and I regret it. In one instance, I accepted a proofreading job that was too large for such a short time-frame and involved bad quality scans with the necessity to describe corrections by citing things to be corrected and then writing down the changes in a separate file. Long story short, due to some things I missed I wasn't paid, but I won't share the method they used to dodge the payment in order to avoid giving scammers any ideas. Suffice to say that litigation was risky because a court-ordered expert opinion could have cost more than the amount in dispute, making it impractical to spend time and nerve litigation when victory was far from guaranteed.

Lesson: don't accept jobs just because a hefty chunk of money is proposed to be paid when that hefty chunk of money is a fraction of what really should be paid. Those guys are already cutting corners like heck, and monkey business is already taking place.

Also:

– Translation is not a commodity, at any rate it is not a physical item of merchandise that you put on a shelf or something like that. You don't benefit from a high turnover the same way a trader of goods does.
– In fact, if the volume is high in proportion to the deadline, you should be earning rush fees.
– At any rate, it doesn't benefit you to give discounts if you could feasibly earn more money by simply translating a number of smaller texts for a number of different clients.
– On the other hand, you may find it reasonable to charge less if getting such a huge chunk of work means that you can spend less time marketing, that you avoid an actual risk of not having work or having work at lower rates and so on.
– Be careful with clients who ask you to provide them with better quality at lower cost than you do as a standard, especially without giving you a good reason why you should do so.
– Where faced with such sweet deals being sought by your clients, check if such clients don't have a history of questioning translation quality after delivery in order to claim a further reduction. For some people, such is a standard order of business.
– Remember that if they do lodge a quality complaint shortly after delivery, Proz.com's BlueBoard rules will prevent you from posting a rating. (I'm not sure if Staff would make an exception for a bad-faith or incompetent complaint, but the rules per se don't provide for such an exception.)


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 03:44
English to Hindi
+ ...
Far from offering discount... Jul 27, 2013

I would insist on additional stringent payment conditions to take up large projects, such as upfront part payment, followed by regular weekly or monthly payments.

I would also ask for an extended deadline so that I have room to take up other smaller work during the long time I would be busy with the mega project, so that all my eggs are not in one basket.


 

Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 19:14
English to Spanish
I was recetly offered a 450,000 words project... Jul 27, 2013

... by a regular, trusted client.

I quoted them 40% over my usual rate for them, due to:

a) all the extra work involved
b) the fact that it would mean neglecting my other clients in the meantime


They understood the reasoning behind my quote (but politely rejected it, of course).

Greetings!


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 01:14
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Really Jul 27, 2013

SBlack wrote:

(Just looked at your rates - how would you even live on the discounts you suggest?)



Perhaps you better hide your rates, otherwise potential clients start to think translation is like standing at a supermarket counter for 14 Euro/hour.

I support Balasubramaniam's view on the matter.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:14
Member (2008)
Italian to English
More is less? Jul 27, 2013

Doing more work for less money doesn't make any sense to me.

 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:14
Russian to English
+ ...
On such a big job -- probably $100 bonus Jul 27, 2013

for the outsourcer, for finding a large volume job.

 

564354352 (X)  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:14
Danish to English
+ ...
10-20 % Jul 27, 2013

I would take the view that a very large job meant a steady income over a fixed period of time, and I would be willing to consider a discount on that basis. In fact, I am prepared to give discounts for much smaller jobs than the 500,000 words mentioned here. I consider any job of 50,000 words or more a big job, and on such jobs, I would typically offer a 10 % discount (on top of any Trados-related fuzzy/repetition discounts).

For much bigger jobs, I would be prepared to go as far as 20 %.

I don't understand the argument that there will be more work involved in managing a voluminous job than in managing a number of smaller jobs. On the contrary. While working on a large project, and using a CAT tool, naturally, you quickly get the terminology and style of writing in place, and consistency really is not a big problem. You become more and more of an expert as you go along.

However, I would most definitely insist on staged payments for such large projects, maybe based on partial deliveries and invoiced on a monthly basis.


 
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