Transcription/translation rates
Thread poster: Nina Halperin

Nina Halperin
United States
Local time: 12:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 22, 2014

Hello,

I had some questions regarding transcription/translation rates. An agency got in touch with me today with a possible transcription/translation project and asked me for my rate. I quoted the project manager $1/audio minute for the transcription and then a separate per-word rate for the translation. I know there have been many forums about transcription rates on ProZ and otherwise, but I'm confused by the great deal of discrepancies in the rates sited. When I researched this topic a few months ago, the consensus I seemed to find was about $1/audio minute. As I've looked into it again today, after already having quoted my rate, the sites I perused suggested rates from $5-$10/audio minute. Now I think I've completely cut myself short. Why are there such discrepancies in rates? Is $1/audio minute actually horrendously low, or are those other estimates very high? If the rate is indeed too low, then I'm not exactly sure how to proceed if the project is approved. I suppose that I can't change my rate midway through a transaction, but I also don't want to do the project if the rate is much too low (plus they'll expect a similar rate in the future).

My second question relates to the translation aspect of the project. When I told the project manager that I charged one rate for transcription and another for translation--and that the latter depended on the word count, which I wouldn't know until actually finishing the transcription-- he said that was problematic because the client wanted an exact price up front. What is the best response to this type of situation? It's obviously not fair to me to have to quote up front if I don't know how many words there will be-- it could result in another situation where I'm cut short.

Third, I'm unable to find any information on the payment practices of the agency that requested the project. Usually in such a situation, I would ask the agency to pay 50% up front to ensure that I'll be paid. However, if we do agree to separate transcription and translation rates as I've suggested, we won't know the entire price up front, and thus also wouldn't know how much 50% would be. Thoughts?

Thank you so much for any suggestions or advice!

[Edited at 2014-07-22 04:07 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:18
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
The rates Jul 22, 2014

Hi Nina,

indeed $ 1.00 per audio minute is far too low!

Thus far I have stated separate prices for transciption, translation and, of course, for proofreading/editing, which my major client has accepted. I have separate per audio minute rates for transcriptions and for translations. And an hourly rate for the revision services.

This works quite well, even more so since one audio minute might only contain 2 - 5 words.icon_wink.gif Or perhaps 20 - 40 words. This, within itself, suffices for me to refrain from asking for a per word rate. Hope this helps.

Best,
Thayenga


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nina Halperin
United States
Local time: 12:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The rates Jul 22, 2014

Thayenga,

Thank you so much for your reply! If $1/audio minute is indeed too low, what is a range that you might suggest? Do you agree then that the normal rate falls within $5-$10/audio minute for transcription? I've never heard of doing a per audio minute rate for translation-- is that common? What are the normal rates for that? Thank you again!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:18
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
The rates Jul 22, 2014

Nina Halperin wrote:

Thayenga,

Thank you so much for your reply! If $1/audio minute is indeed too low, what is a range that you might suggest? Do you agree then that the normal rate falls within $5-$10/audio minute for transcription? I've never heard of doing a per audio minute rate for translation-- is that common? What are the normal rates for that? Thank you again!



Nina,

my pleasure.icon_smile.gif

Well, you need to negotiate the rates (see how far/high you can go), but yes, $ 5 - 10/audio minute for transciption is quite normal. I've seen less offered! Some colleagues charge more, though. But... when you start your collaboration with an agency and they are happy with your work, a rate increase is not out of your lead.

The translation rate per audio minute lies within the same range. It's up to you to decide, but the transcription rate should always be higher.

You might also inform your client of a possible surcharge (transcription) in case the audio quality is not good and/or too many people are speaking at the same time, which makes transcription quite a challenge.

Much success!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nina Halperin
United States
Local time: 12:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The rates Jul 22, 2014

Thayenga,

I really appreciate your help! So I did severely undercut myself... I suppose for this project, if it's approved, I will have to go through with the $1/audio minute as discussed. It may seem like a drastic leap to change from $1/min to $5/min for the next project though. Do I need to justify the change?

As for the translation component of the project, I also posted the same question on a different forum; someone suggested that if I wanted to charge per word, I should try to determine how many words there are in a minute of audio (on average) and then estimate the total word count from there. That way I could give the agency an exact price up front. I'm wondering if this is a common practice. I also think it may run the risk of underestimating the word count.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:18
Russian to English
+ ...
I agree with what was suggested above Jul 22, 2014

The standard EU and US rates are $5-10/audio/video minute. Don't take any work for $1/audio minute. This sis utterly outrageous.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nina Halperin
United States
Local time: 12:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I agree with what was suggested above Jul 22, 2014

Lilian,

Thank you so much for your input! What would you suggest in this case though since I've already quoted the price? Is it possible to change the price midway through the negotiation? Should I simply explain that in doing more research I realized I was charging far below the standard price?


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:18
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Negotiate Jul 23, 2014

Nina Halperin wrote:

What would you suggest in this case though since I've already quoted the price? Is it possible to change the price midway through the negotiation? Should I simply explain that in doing more research I realized I was charging far below the standard price?


Now, did your client receive your final quote? Did you have a chance to listen to the audio? If so, then you should know the word count by now.

If all this is not the case, then you don't have a contract yet. You can ask your client if you could listen to parts of the audio file. Then state that your price will be USD XXX per audio minute. Yes, this is still possible in this midway-stage. If your client appreciates good quality, s/he will agree to the new rate or...assign the job to a "cheaper" LSP, and later on possibly asks you to proofread / edit it for a few pennies. And this can mean many, many hours working for free. I know because I had made that mistake a while back: a one-time-only mistake!

As mentioned before, be careful with "estimating" a per-word translation rate. You can indeed end up spending quite some time working for free. But this is your decision. Thus far, my agreement with my client works quite well and benefits both parties, a per audio minute rate for translations. Some minutes have a couple of words, other have 20 - 30, so that in the end it evens out, and we are both happy. icon_wink.gif


Direct link Reply with quote
 

KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 18:18
Russian to German
+ ...
Some more advice on transcription Jul 23, 2014

In addition to what others have said, I would like to add another few pieces of advice that can be useful when it comes to quoting an adequate price for transcription services.

1) Ask to listen to a sample of the audio first.

The difficulty of transcription tasks varies greatly according to what kind of audio/video you receive. Check for audio quality issues and find out whether it's a monologue/dictation, an interview between two people or a group situation.

2) Ask what exactly is needed.

How exact does the transcript need to be? Do they want you to omit self-corrections? Do they want you to take notes on paraverbal phenomena? Do you have to identify individual people talking? Do they want you to include time codes (and if so, what are their preferences)? Do they even need the transcript in the original language at all or would they prefer you to translate straight from the audio?

3) Use transcription software.

It's incredible how many people do transcription tasks without using proper software. Keep in mind that having to press a "play" and "pause" button several thousand times a day is not only terribly annoying, it also costs you a lot of time. There are a lot of free tools available online, it's definitely worth looking around and downloading one of them. (I have used InqScribe and f4 before, and I can recommend both of them, but there are lots of others, too.)

4) Find out how long it takes you.

When it comes to giving a quote, it's nice to be able to estimate how long it is probably going to take you to do the job. I am an experienced transcriptionist and fast touch-typist and have found that for me, "audio length times 4" is a good factor for easier tasks (like an interview with good audio quality and average talking speed), whereas more difficult assignments with time-codes and other issues might take me about 10 times the length of the audio. Remember that this factor is affected by a lot of variables, so keep track of your assignments to figure out your own speed. Once you have some experience in transcription, you will be able to predict the necessary effort quite accurately.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Nina Halperin
United States
Local time: 12:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Negotiate / Some more advice Jul 25, 2014

Thank you so much again for your help, Thayenga! I still haven't heard from the agency, so all may be for naught... But I did call to talk to the project manager anyway to change my rates-- as you said, nothing was actually set in stone yet. KKastenhuber, thank you as well for your helpful advice!

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:19
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Time will tell Jul 25, 2014

Nina Halperin wrote:

Thank you so much again for your help, Thayenga! I still haven't heard from the agency, so all may be for naught... But I did call to talk to the project manager anyway to change my rates-- as you said, nothing was actually set in stone yet. KKastenhuber, thank you as well for your helpful advice!


You're very welcome, Nina.icon_wink.gif This is what this forum is all about, colleagues helping colleagues. So among us all...we know it (almost) all.icon_wink.gif

The outcome of your re-negotiation of the rate depends mainly on the PM's reaction to your rate increase, and on what his/her boss has to say. It might materialize after all. Just give it a little more time.

Much success!

Thayenga


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Daniela Maizner  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 18:19
English to German
+ ...
Some more infos Jul 29, 2014

When I send out a quote for a transcription, I usually add a comment that the rate only applies to a standard sound quality. It's not possible to listen to the whole audio file before quoting. Once I had to work with an audia file that was somehow damaged. Five minutes of the material were very difficult to understand and it took me quite some time to get the transcription done. Because I had informed the customer in advance, I was able to charge a higher rate for these minutes. Of course, you could always debate about what "standard sound quality" means, but I prefer to have this sentence mentioned in my quote.

Thanks for this interesting discussion, I found a few points to think abouticon_smile.gif


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Transcription/translation rates

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search