How much money for the language pair Chinese -> German
Thread poster: xxxEgmont S
xxxEgmont S  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:23
Chinese to German
+ ...
Sep 12, 2013

Hello,
I am a German native speaker with a degree in Linguistics.
I speak fluently Mandarin, stayed a long time in Taiwan and occasionally worked as a translator.
Now I want to start as a freelance translator, and I am wondering what price per character I can claim.
Since most of the translators are living in China, I think it can't be too high, around 0,05€ (0,07USD).
I already got offers for 0,02€ per character, but I think, it is way too low.
Do you have any suggestions? I think, the pair Chinese->German is quite rare, so I don't really know how to start...


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Thanh Nguyen  Identity Verified
Vietnam
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
It depends Sep 12, 2013

Hello,

It depends on each language pair and I think Chinese characters seem much shorter than German words, therefore the normal rate as you think would be very high when the text is calculated via page. Anyway, if you are available and just start the business, you should take it to get more translation experience.

[Edited at 2013-09-12 09:10 GMT]


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 12:23
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Not the 0.02 one Sep 12, 2013

That one is ridiculous even for Chinese > English. I think your estimate is reasonable.

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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:23
German to English
prices should be high Sep 12, 2013

I just looked in an old BDÜ Honorarspiegel and the average prices there for Chinese>German are very high (about 50% above the prices for my pair fo German>English). The average Normzeilen prices are 1.28 EUR for agencies, 1.75 for public institutions, 1.56 for private clients, and 1.82 for direct business clients.

That also seems logical, because there has to be a pretty high demand for Chinese>German and nowhere near an adequate supply of good translators for the direction you are offering. If you take the time to find good German clients (incl. agencies, if you can't avoid them), things should go very well for you if you're a decent translator.

I have no idea how to translate those prices into character prices, but I assume that, in Germany, fees per character are a pretty rare method of invoicing for Chinese (even among agencies).


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 12:23
Chinese to English
Don't work for Chinese agencies Sep 12, 2013

The Chinese domestic market is not worth trying. The European market should be very good. I've got a few years of experience, and I'd never accept 0.05 EUR per Chinese character. My minimum rate per Chinese character into English is 0.10 USD, and I'm always busy. New clients have to offer me more than that to get my services. One European agency I work with offers 0.09 EUR per character as standard into English.

German should be even more valuable, because there is a great lack of Chinese-German translators - I've worked for German companies translating into English, presumably because they just can't get reliable translators into German.

Give a good service and expect high rates.


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xxxEgmont S  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:23
Chinese to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sounds very promising! Sep 13, 2013

quote Phil Hand:

The Chinese domestic market is not worth trying. The European market should be very good. I've got a few years of experience, and I'd never accept 0.05 EUR per Chinese character. My minimum rate per Chinese character into English is 0.10 USD, and I'm always busy. New clients have to offer me more than that to get my services. One European agency I work with offers 0.09 EUR per character as standard into English.

German should be even more valuable, because there is a great lack of Chinese-German translators - I've worked for German companies translating into English, presumably because they just can't get reliable translators into German.


It is quite logical that Chinese->German is a rare language pair and that rates must be higher. But I don't know how to get hands on. I already applied for some jobs on ProZ and via agencies, but I haven't got any Chinese->German translations so far, just English->German.
Now I doubt that my rates are too high. The agency with 0.02€ per character was a even German (or, at least, European) company!
So I am a bit confused about the market situation.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 12:23
Chinese to English
Chinese is a difficult market Sep 13, 2013

It takes time to find the good agencies. I've been doing this for 8 years, and I only got a good group group of clients in the last two years. Chinese is especially difficult, because a lot of customers have become accustomed to not finding good translators. Like I said - German companies are getting by with translations into English. You might have to do some work, talking to agencies and letting them know that you offer this service. But when you've found your customer base, it's a good market, and there is no end of work.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:23
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Target those who need your services Sep 13, 2013

Egmont S wrote:
It is quite logical that Chinese->German is a rare language pair and that rates must be higher. But I don't know how to get hands on. I already applied for some jobs on ProZ and via agencies, but I haven't got any Chinese->German translations so far, just English->German.

I find there are three main types of jobs posted on the public job board here at ProZ.com.

The majority are from agencies who need a constant supply of fresh translators because it's difficult for them to find translators to do a second job for them: either freelancers are put off by the rate (which they accepted the first time, before they came to their senses), or there were quality issues, i.e. you get what you pay for. You clearly don't want to accept those jobs.

Then there are more reputable agencies who have a database of regular translators but who have nobody to do a particular job. They often post jobs on Fridays or before public holidays, and they're often urgent once the agency has exhausted its pool of contacts, although non-urgent specialist jobs are sometimes posted because nobody in their database fits the need.

Finally, the smallest group is made up of new agencies, expanding agencies, fellow translators who want/need to outsource jobs, and direct clients who've found their way here. These vary tremendously in terms of rates etc.

But there are other ways to use ProZ.com to get work.

The first is to build yourself a highly-visible profile here to encourage clients to come directly to you via the translators' directory. That's where many, many outsourcers look for their suppliers. It saves them wading through 50+ quotes, 30+ of which are totally unsuitable (likely figures for my pair). Go to http://www.proz.com/guidance-center/directory-rank to find out your current position in the directory and advice on how to get to the top of page one. Mind you, this takes time.

The second is to use http://www.proz.com/translation-companies/ , in conjunction with http://www.proz.com/blueboard/ , although for full use of the BB you need to be a paying member. If you search for agencies specialising in German and Chinese, you'll then be able to contact those who are really interested in the services you can offer.

Whatever you do, accept that it will take time to build a solid client base, and that EN-DE jobs may be easier to find at first.


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xxxEgmont S  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:23
Chinese to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks a lot Oct 4, 2013

for your suggestions.
Now, I will become a translator or die trying:)


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:23
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Wrong! Oct 4, 2013

Egmont S wrote:
Since most of the translators are living in China, I think it can't be too high, around 0,05€ (0,07USD).
I already got offers for 0,02€ per character, but I think, it is way too low.

Your approch is actually wrong. Yes, of course there will be many translators living in China, but how many of them live in Germany? I know the question sounds a bit stupid, but what I mean to say is that you are in Germany and are a trained German linguist, two things that are key for a good translation.

You should probably check BDÜ's website in case they have any hints about this, but you certainly should charge German rates, and not Chinese rates. Otherwise you will end up poor in an expensive country.

Furthermore, the lower your rate is, the worst they will treat you. Ask for reasonable rates upfront. Of course, you will have to prove that you are good!!


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Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:23
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I would ignore the job board Oct 4, 2013

for the same reasons as Sheila already explained.

Go to the Blue Board and make yourself a list of agencies in Germany. Then order the list from the most 5s down. (I personally wouldn't contact any agency that had anything less than a 5 unless there were some serious mitigating circumstances).
Then contact each one (don't send an attachment on your first e-mail) and just tentatively ask if they have any interest in your services/language pair. Just explain that you're a native German speaker who has lived in Taiwan and worked as a translator and that you offer translation from Chinese to German. You really don't need to say much more. Send lots of e-mails out as you will probably only get a few replies and you may get some replies in quite some time.

Then do some research on German companies that do business with China. You may even be able to get information in your local chamber of commerce. Then contact them and say the same. With direct clients, you may want to add that if the person knows anyone who could also be interested in your services, to let you know (you never know and if you get a lead you need to milk it).

Getting direct clients is slower in terms of leading to work and even if you do get work from direct clients, it may be ad-hoc so you do need the agencies to act as fillers. Direct clients are worth finding though so you should give it a try.

Network with translators. Go to any event that interests you and that you can get to that has anything to do with translation. You'd be amazed at how many times good translators get asked whether they know anybody with strange language combinations. If some translators have your card, it's always useful. You need to especially look out for people with your opposite combination. They will get asked if they know anyone who does Chinese to German at some point. They may even get asked to do these translations by clients who don't really understand what translation entails.

At the beginning your role is as a marketer of your own services so you need to do some serious marketing but once you've started reaping the rewards, the rewards will grow exponentially! Don't expect it to be easy to start getting work flowing through on a regular basis. As Phil said, it takes some time/effort but I'm sure you will find that you won't have to die trying

Good luck!!


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