Newbie questions - Price per word rates and New job posters
Thread poster: Alain Bolduc

Alain Bolduc  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:04
French to English
+ ...
Oct 26, 2015

I'm new to ProZ.com and the translating business and have the following questions:

1) When billing per word, are word counts typically based on the text in the source or the target language?

2) Looking at the recent postings for my language pairs, I've noticed a few from job posters who don't seem to have offered work in the past and obviously don't have Blue Board ratings because of that. How would you suggest one go about working with these types of clients, if at all, in order to ensure smooth transactions?

I'm sure I'll be back with additional questions, but these are the first two that struck me when considering offers.

This probably goes without saying, but all feedback will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Alain

[Edited at 2015-10-26 03:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-10-26 03:31 GMT]


 

Elif Baykara Narbay  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 13:04
German to Turkish
+ ...
Hello and welcome :) Oct 26, 2015

1) As to my clients, the word counts are mostly based on the source language BUT it should always be clearly stated.

2) BB is an important reference but it is not the only one. It is always worth to inquire using other sources of information. You may look for the news about the potential client. There are other websites dedicated to this topic, e.g. http://paymentpractices.net/


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:04
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Bonjour! Oct 26, 2015

Welcome, Alain!

1) In your language combination, the prices I usually see are based on the source text. Of course you could decide to charge a different way (per page, per hour, whatever).

2) This comes down to experience, I think. You start to get a "feel" for whether a client is serious, whether they're risky, etc. But when in doubt, I will sometimes tell a new potential client that the first job has to be paid upfront before delivery (I tell them it's just my policy for all new clients). I have never had a client complain about or refuse to do this. I then provide a proforma invoice to them (which is a great reason and opportunity to collect all the pertinent information, contact info etc) and once the money is received* I confirm the job, issue an actual invoice stamped "PAID" and then deliver the job. Based on how smoothly that process went I decide whether or not to accept further jobs from them without requiring advance payment.

* I have only ever accepted payment in cash or by bank transfer, but if you are sent a cheque or any type of payment that needs a few days to clear, wait for it to clear before you deem it truly paid!

You can also check paymentpractices.net and other sites, you can run a credit check to find whether they are credit-worthy, and just do a bit of sleuthing on the internet to make sure there aren't any red flags out there.

(Edited for a typo)

[Edited at 2015-10-26 08:35 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My 2 cents Oct 26, 2015

Welcome, Alain. I agree with Elif on both points.

I prefer to work with a source-word count but sometimes that simply isn't possible e.g. in the case of a scanned PDF or a hand-written text. But I rarely work with that type of document (and I have software to convert PDFs) so I almost always quote per source word. But as Ilze says, the important thing is to have the volume of the job set before you start work. You MUST know how to invoice for it. Other possible pricing methods are per standard line or page, per character, or per hour of your time. The last one would be great, and it's how I charge for editing, but all clients - direct ones as well as agencies in my experience - prefer a quote based on volume for translation. However, if you have to do jobs other than translation that take more than a few minutes then they should be added separately. Any DTP, excessive/complicated file handling, glossary building for the client... are all normally priced by the hour.

As for new clients, due diligence applies in all cases. I'm happy to rely on a BB record with loads of complaints or with a couple of serious recent complaints - I say no to those. I also read the comments carefully for what is really being said. Remember a 5 means the translator wants more work, not that everything was perfect. So never rely on the BB to tell apart really good clients and ones that (eventually) pay their translators after demanding the earth for a few peanuts.

Other resources/methods include:
- the country's commercial register (e.g. Infogreffe in France, Companies House in the UK have online info for a small fee)
- sites with similar directories to the BB
- forums on LinkedIn etc that list poor payers
- a general Google search for the company, your contact, the email address...
- the IP address of the email address
- Google Earth for the actual company address
- the scam centre here on ProZ.com
- the Wiki article here on risk management has more ideas.

Basically, do all the checks you feel necessary. This means that urgent jobs for new clients are highly risky. So too are large first jobs - you need to see the colour of their money first. But if they are anxious to pay in advance they could be scammers! So be on your toes and stay wary. Still, most clients are honest so follow your nose. I've done some of my biggest commissions for fairly unknown clients and I've never been scammed (in over 7 years), though I have had a couple of bankrupt clientsicon_frown.gif.


 

Alain Bolduc  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:04
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sensible advice Oct 26, 2015

Thanks to all three of you for your valuable insight.

I guess what you're each saying in your own ways is:

1) Find out as much as possible about a potential client in order to be as comfortable as can be that things will work out well before working with them,

2) Don't rush into a contract before having done that and be weary of undue client pressure to accept work,

3) Make sure to set the ground rules properly ahead of time to avoid unpleasant surprises both for the client and myself.


I'd say those points are common to most business dealings and all make perfect sense. And thank you for the research pointers. I plan on making good use of them.

Now, as far as the basis for billing work, is per source word the de facto standard? It seems to be, from what you've each said and other posts I've read up to now, although there may be some variations depending on the job, client, and type of work being performed.

When responding to an offer, would you typically state your per word rate as part of your price quote or do clients usually prefer being given an overall rate for a job, or both?

On a slightly different topic, I'm also entertaining the possibility of taking on work as an interpreter from time to time. Would any of you also have experience in that field and advice about terms and rates for those types of assignments?

[Edited at 2015-11-12 23:46 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
"Yes" to everything, plus... Oct 26, 2015

abolduc wrote:
When responding to an offer, would you typically state your per word rate as part of your price quote or do clients usually prefer being given an overall rate for a job, or both?

For agencies - always the rate per word; for direct clients - usually both as they may have no idea of word count even if it's always been at the bottom of their screen in Word.

n a slightly different topic, I'm also entertaining the possibility of taking on work as an interpreter from time to time. Would any of you also have experience in that field and advice about terms and rates for those types of assignments?

I've done three interpreting assignments. The first was for the next-of-kin of a tourist in a French hospital who'd flown over probably to say goodbye. The terminology was very man-in-the-street and presented no problems but I found it highly distressing; I really wasn't up to it emotionally. The second was a house purchase, something I'd been through myself and with the Notary following a script, which went OK until he insisted on handing me a cheque for the agency boss - almost six times what I was being paid! The third was a multi-million-euro deal between a French/Spanish nurseryman and a Dutch supplier speaking English. I was terrified! One mistake of those huge numbers and I'd be sued for the lot, I thought! They said I did such a good job that they wanted to take me to lunch, no interpreting required, but I'd never have kept it down I was so stressed. I aged several years in those three hours. That was it for me - never again.


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:04
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Have you checked out the ProZ Wiki yet? Oct 26, 2015

A few topics that may be of interest to you:

Approaches used in determining payment for translation projects
http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Approaches_used_in_determining_payment_for_translation_projects

Determining your rates and fees as a translator
http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Determining_your_rates_and_fees_as_a_translator

Main page, if you want to browse for more content:
http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page


 

Alain Bolduc  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:04
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great stories, food for thought Oct 27, 2015

I've done three interpreting assignments. The first was for the next-of-kin of a tourist in a French hospital who'd flown over probably to say goodbye. The terminology was very man-in-the-street and presented no problems but I found it highly distressing; I really wasn't up to it emotionally. The second was a house purchase, something I'd been through myself and with the Notary following a script, which went OK until he insisted on handing me a cheque for the agency boss - almost six times what I was being paid! The third was a multi-million-euro deal between a French/Spanish nurseryman and a Dutch supplier speaking English. I was terrified! One mistake of those huge numbers and I'd be sued for the lot, I thought! They said I did such a good job that they wanted to take me to lunch, no interpreting required, but I'd never have kept it down I was so stressed. I aged several years in those three hours. That was it for me - never again.


Thanks for sharing those stories.

Those types of assignments do sound as if they would be nerve racking

Your experiences make me think I'll want to consider starting off a little more slowly, with contracts where important business transactions or other situations where the potential for heavy emotional involvement potential isn't as high, such as at trade shows or conventions of some sort.


 

Alain Bolduc  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:04
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting articles Oct 27, 2015

A few topics that may be of interest to you:

Approaches used in determining payment for translation projects
http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Approaches_used_in_determining_payment_for_translation_projects

Determining your rates and fees as a translator
http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Determining_your_rates_and_fees_as_a_translator

Main page, if you want to browse for more content:
http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page


Thank you for pointing these articles out.

I'd browsed the Wiki quickly, but will definitely spend more time there reading through those, and probably others, in more detail.


 


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