Rate per target word?
Thread poster: Elani Koogle

Elani Koogle  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:44
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Feb 20, 2015

Hello everyone,

A translation agency just asked me to send them my CV, the link to my Proz.com profile...and my best rate per target word.

Does anyone have advice/a good method for changing their using rate per source word to a rate per target word?

And does this seem weird to anyone else? I would almost think it's a scam of some sort, but the company checks out well, and honestly, I'm not sure that charging per target word necessarily benefits them.

Thank you!

[Edited at 2015-02-20 20:53 GMT]


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:44
English to German
+ ...
Not a professional contact Feb 20, 2015

Elani Koogle wrote:

Hello everyone,

A translation agency just asked me to send them my CV, the link to my Proz.com profile...and my best rate per target word.

Does anyone have advice/a good method for changing their using rate per source word to a rate per target word?

And does this seem weird to anyone else? I would almost think it's a scam of some sort, but the company checks out well, and honestly, I'm not sure that charging per target word necessarily benefits them.

Thank you!

[Edited at 2015-02-20 20:53 GMT]


If someone asks for your best rate, forget about it. My advice.
If someone wants your CV and a link to your profile page, they might be harvesting personal information for their own use (I leave it up to you to figure out what that can include).
What is the source and target language? If it's going from German to English, you probably end up with more words but less text. It's the other way around if you go from English to German.

[Edited at 2015-02-21 00:22 GMT]


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:44
German to English
Not unusual in the US Feb 20, 2015

I'm frequently asked for my target word rate. Although I agree that "best rate" requests are frequently an indication of a low rate, asking for a target word rate is also sometimes indicative of the type of documents the agency handles, i.e. pdf files, faxes and other non-editable documents. If you use a CAT tool, these are often hard to work with without some sort of conversion/manipulation.

If you do reasonable due diligence, it can't hurt to send your CV, as there are reliable agencies that pay per target word.


 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2014)
Thai to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
Depends on your source language Feb 20, 2015

I work primarily by charging per target word, only because PM approximations of source Thai words are so often inaccurate. For example, I just finished a 14,700 word translation into English that the PM had counted as 10,000 words. It didn't take too long to realise that accurate source word counts for my source language required the PM to have a Native Thai Windows OS and the Thai version of MS Word, which is of course never the case. Therefore, in my situation, charging per target word is the only accurate method.

 

Elani Koogle  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:44
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
too bad about the "best rate"... Feb 20, 2015

Thanks for the advice, everyone! Kevin, I think your answer may well be the correct one for this company. The email said that the work is largely scanned PDF documents. I'm new to this and didn't realize that could be the answer.

I think that I will go ahead and send them a quote after a little more due diligence...while keeping their 'best rate' request in mind and not getting my hopes too high.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:44
English to German
+ ...
What reliability? Feb 20, 2015

Kevin Fulton wrote:


If you do reasonable due diligence, it can't hurt to send your CV, as there are reliable agencies that pay per target word.



Reliable agencies that ask for your best rate?
Reliable low-payers, yes.


 

Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 06:44
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Stick: Wrong end Feb 20, 2015

Elani Koogle wrote:

Does anyone have advice/a good method for changing their using rate per source word to a rate per target word?

And does this seem weird to anyone else? I would almost think it's a scam of some sort, but the company checks out well, and honestly, I'm not sure that charging per target word necessarily benefits them.


A translator should know how word counts "translate" between their working languages.

e.g. 1,000 words in Spanish = roughly 900 in English.

If verbose, sloppily-written Spanish, as few as 800.

Guess which word count I prefer to charge for.

Given your language pair, surely it's in your interests to charge target rates.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:44
English to German
+ ...
Big No Feb 20, 2015

Elani Koogle wrote:

Thanks for the advice, everyone! Kevin, I think your answer may well be the correct one for this company. The email said that the work is largely scanned PDF documents. I'm new to this and didn't realize that could be the answer.

I think that I will go ahead and send them a quote after a little more due diligence...while keeping their 'best rate' request in mind and not getting my hopes too high.


When it comes to official documents, it's much more appropriate to start with a minimum fee per document or per page, and if it is a complex/long text, you will need to increase that fee. Also, I only translate official documents for direct clients, not outsourecers. I do it for clients in the US where I am able to provide certified and notarized translations of official documents. Such translations are different from other text translations for which a per-word rate (usually per source word) might be appropriate. Per-source rates help to arrive at a definite price before you start, but it's also important to gauge exactly how much work is involved.

If it involves PDF documents, either estimate the source word count or OCR or copy and paste the text into Word or use Adobe Acrobat (free trial available) to determine the source word count.

If you are interested in working for adequate rates, a demand for "best rate" means you're not going to be able to compete - but I wouldn't want to. Low payers are mostly late payers, and there are possibly many other schemes that people might try to exploit you, especially if you're new at this - that is my opinon.
"Due diligence" is key, yes, and "best rate" is a big No.

[Edited at 2015-02-21 00:03 GMT]


 

E. Muranyi  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:44
Hungarian to English
+ ...
It matters if you do certain pairs Feb 21, 2015

If you do Hungarian to English, your target word count will be much lower than the source text because of the language. I would venture to say that it would be the same at the German area too. I am sure in some pairs the difference is not that dramatic, but also, how do you estimate unless you analyze your past work and make some statistical estimates. Thanks!

Elani Koogle wrote:

Hello everyone,

A translation agency just asked me to send them my CV, the link to my Proz.com profile...and my best rate per target word.

Does anyone have advice/a good method for changing their using rate per source word to a rate per target word?

And does this seem weird to anyone else? I would almost think it's a scam of some sort, but the company checks out well, and honestly, I'm not sure that charging per target word necessarily benefits them.

Thank you!

[Edited at 2015-02-20 20:53 GMT]


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:44
Member
English to French
It doesn't matter, source and target rates should be different anyway Feb 21, 2015

In most languages I would think.

Of course if they ask you for your target word rate, it's likely because they have no ready way to count source words.

As regards your rate per source/target word, page, sentence, accented letter or whatever, the unit per se has no significance whatsoever. You sell your time, not words, be they target, source, offensive or highlighted in red.

Set the hourly rate that you think is sustainable, THEN work out how much source/target words, sentences, pages, characters or whatever you do in one hour on average, for exemple from a selection of completed projects.

For instance, if I charged 0.20/source for EN>FR, I'd charge something like 0.17-0.18/target to earn grossly the same amout/hour, given that FR is more verbose than EN by 10-20% in word amount.
Hence, a EN>FR translator charging X/source ALWAYS EARNS LESS than a FR>EN translator charging the same X/source.
This is probably valid for many other language combinations.

Philippe


 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:44
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Careful Feb 22, 2015

The conversion between source and target rates is easy. You take a few texts that you have translated and compare the wordcount and apply the percentage difference to your rate.

BUT - big but - as you state yourself, the agency may well ask for this due to scanned pdf files etc.
This has a huge impact on your workload! Not being able to use your CAT tool is only a tiny part of that. You may spend several hours on formatting. What are you going to earn from a 200 word text with complicated formatting if this is charged per word? What about the extra hour you spend drawing tables?

I had this experience a few times - an agency asking me for my rate and then sending me a poor quality scan with extensive formatting requirements and becoming really upset when I explained that my per word rate wouldn't apply to that. Consequently, I now add ***based on fully formatted and editable source files***.
I do have a flat rate per page for scanned PDFs that takes into account the additional effort. The translation itself often accounts for less time than the deciphering and formatting.
BTW, I strongly agree with Bernhard Sulzer. The words "best rate" are indeed a red flag.

[Edited at 2015-02-22 08:14 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 01:44
English to Portuguese
+ ...
On 'best' rates Feb 22, 2015

Yes, I do have a 'best' rate, however my translation rate doesn't change.

A few years ago I noticed how payment terms and methods can make a big difference in the net worth of the payment I actually receive in Brazil.

Let's assume a US$1,000 job paid SIX months later via PayPal to a translator in Switzerland. What that translator will get then will be worth about the same US$1,000. If that money were invested in CHF for that period, the interest yield would possibly be a single-digit figure in USD, if that much. Does PayPal charge any fee there? That should cover it.


Let's compare that with the same US$1,000 paid to me ONE month later in Brazil via PayPal.

First, when the client sends me $1,000 via PayPal, who deducts a 7.5% fee. My PayPal account gets credited $925.

Second, I assume that I shouldn't be funding my client's revolving capital. For the sake of the exercise, let's say that I needed that money pronto to pay some bills. So I use a Brazilian bank's overdraft facility, currently costing around 11%/month in interest. This should cost me $110 for that month.

Third, when I get paid one month later, PayPal overtly adopts a 3.5% lower-than-market exchange rate, so from my $925, PayPal will transfer to my account US$892.62 worth in BRL.

Now it's time to deduct the interest calculated on the second step, when I have cash to settle my overdraft with the local bank. Therefore I'll actually have received US$782.62 from the $1,000 the client originally paid me.

Total FINANCIAL cost for paying me, in Brazil, one month later via PayPal was 21.74%.

Bottom line, if my net translation rate were US 10¢/word (just to make calculations easier), I should charge US 13¢/word from clients willing to pay me 30 days later via PayPal.

This is a major difference in cost for clients in most countries.

Using the figures from the exercise above, my stated rate for the very popular 30-day PayPal payment should be US 12/word. Meanwhile, my BEST rate should be US 10¢/word for COD via any other payment method. Let the client have a choice!

Bottom line is that 97% of my clients have been paying me COD outside PayPal for a couple of years already.

For the record, I have no clients in Argentina nor Venezuela, where interest rates are even higher than in Brazil.

However the obvious conclusion should shoot down one-size-fits-all payment policies in many translation agencies still upholding them.


 

Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:44
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
11%/month? Feb 22, 2015

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

So I use a Brazilian bank's overdraft facility, currently costing around 11%/month in interest. This should cost me $110 for that month.


I didn't know Brazilian banks charged 132% interest per year. Here it's 7 to 16%.

No offense, just pointing out that we're all just human beings and that in order to prove a point you need to get your figures right. (Assuming overdraft interest isn't really that sky-high in José's country and that it was a glitch as I haven't googled this, nor do I know about it.)

-- I see it's not a glitch, 100 to 160% per year is common when borrowing from Brazilian banks in your checking account. Apologies, then.

[Edited at 2015-02-22 18:09 GMT]


 


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