Charging for proofing a translation in its final format?
Thread poster: Joanie G

Joanie G  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:46
English to French
Jan 28, 2014

I have a client that regularly sends me ads in PDF form and asks me to translate them. After I send off the translation, they populate the PDF with my translation and then send it back for proofing. After I send back any changes necessary, they fix it, then send it back... rinse and repeat until everything is good.

But lately, they have been making tweaks and changes on their end (adding or removing parts) and asking me to proof every time, which means I end up entangled in emails and back and forth that take hours of my time, and yet I only get paid for the initial translation of less than 100 words.

I'm curious to find out how you guys handle this? Do you normally charge for proofing your translation in the final format? Do you only charge if they tweak too much? Do you charge any fee for a small change in the translation later on?

And how much do you charge?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Jerry Dean  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:46
Member (2010)
Polish to English
+ ...
set clear rules Jan 28, 2014

I would set with the client clear information to what your fees cover. For example, my fee of x includes translation of the text and one review of the text after page layout. Any addtional reviews are charged at a fee of X (per word / per hour) with a minumum charge of X.

That should do the job so that all is clear in what you offer and what is expected.

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Natalia Mackevich  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:46
Member (2009)
English to Russian
+ ...
Charge per hour of your work Jan 28, 2014

I have several projects where the agency prepares various files in different formats and after my first revision in Trados or Passolo they send me a pdf for proofreading and then I do a quick final check to make sure the corrections were inserted properly. It's a standard procedure, and I always charge my hourly rate (I calculate the total time spent on these tasks and invoice them once a month). Everyone's happy!

[Редактировалось 2014-01-28 20:58 GMT]

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Alexander Chisholm  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:46
Italian to English
+ ...
Hourly Jan 29, 2014

I agree that hourly is the safest way to go. But if the changes and tweaks are generated by the client, and not as a criticism to your original translation, then you should definitely be charging them.

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Kay Denney
Local time: 23:46
French to English
Hefty flat rate Jan 29, 2014

We're talking about advertising, right?

This is a field which requires oodles of creativity. Everything has to be perfect because the message has to hit home, you have to grab attention and get people hooked despite their resistance (nobody likes to admit to being taken in by an advert do they).

So your client fiddled like this for ages with the source text, and needs to fiddle with the target.

You inevitably end up spending a lot of time on the job. Some find this frustrating, I happen to love it because we're arguing about what each word means exactly. I get to hear other people's opinions of my work, I hear what effect the words I choose have on them. I can take the criticism and I relish getting the feedback, every remark is given due consideration and it all contributes to getting things even better next time round.

I wouldn't enjoy it half as much if I weren't being paid for it.

You could bill per hour, as others suggest.

However this actually means that those who do a poor job and need to rewrite their copy five times get paid more than the seasoned translator who has built up a sound body of knowledge of the market, the product, and the sensibilities of the assistant editor and who produces near-perfect prose with a spot-on slogan within minutes of getting the source text.

So I charge a flat rate for ads.

Actually, I consider that I should be paid like the advertising firm. They may have different rates for a straightforward ad with just a picture and an slogan and a website address and for an ad that sparkles or jumps out at you on your screen or with a whole mosaic of custom photos, but they would never dream of billing per word or per photo. The client may just suggest using blue instead of black for the letters of the website, or may tear the whole thing apart and move all the photos around, or reject most of them, or object that the slogan isn't catchy enough, they want something that rhymes, it's their prerogative, it's what they're paying for. If they get it right first time, they deserve to be paid well because they have talent.

So I make my flat rate a hefty one, because I do a good job. I sometimes hit the nail on the head first time, and the client just tweaks my text a bit here and there. Then again the client might not appreciate all the shades of meaning in my copy and request changes that I will have to fight because my version is better. Then again they may make perfectly valid criticism, in which case I take it on the chin and work to produce prose to please. And then they may just engage in endless to-ing and fro-ing with stupid remarks and needless changes. It's their prerogative, it's what they're paying for. I don't begrudge them because the fee covers it.

In short,

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:46
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Hourly rate Jan 29, 2014

Since you are apparently spending hours working on one single project, it's adviceable to charge by the hour.

As Jerry pointed out, a project rate includes one translation and one final proofreading (of course including your proofreading after the completion of the translation), and the affiliated correspondence. Period.

Like you, I was faced with several "corrections", sometimes up to 5 x, plus the final proofreading after layout, and in some cases a final-final proofreading, since my corrections weren't applied. This took hours of my working time until I decided that it was time to clearly outline which services my rates includes. These additional proofreadings stopped the moment I wanted to get paid for them.

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