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2015 Translation Income Summary
Thread poster: Dylan Jan Hartmann

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

MODERATOR
Dec 29, 2015

I don't know how best to begin this thread, but in an attempt to be open, to gauge the respective financial positions of other full-time translators, and to also be a resource for those considering to take the full-time leap, I propose we share how well we did this year icon_biggrin.gif Let me begin...

Since switching to full-time translation mid-2014 my income doubled from $US 3x,xxx to $US 6x,xxx in 2015.

I have 3 major clients who comprise approximately 85% of my work and I can often accomodate work from new/occasional clients.

As these 3 major clients have gained a firm grip on my services, I've had to say goodbye to plenty of low-paying clients from the past. Needless to say, I'm much better off without them.

I'm confident and have a positive outlook for 2016, as I begin to gain more local direct clients and rise up the rankings of TH-EN vendors within the agencies that I already work for.

How was 2015 for you?



[Edited at 2015-12-29 09:02 GMT]


 

Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 00:28
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Pretty good Dec 29, 2015

I'm going to refrain from stating any figures, but according to my records I made pretty much the same as I did in 2014, plus or minus a few hundred dollars. In a way that's good because I said goodbye to some low-payers and raised my rates for some others, so I basically worked less for the same income. On the minus side I didn't get half as many new clients as I'd been hoping for, so that's something I'll need to work on in 2016.

 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:28
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Nicely done Dec 29, 2015

DJHartmann wrote:
Since switching to full-time translation mid-2014 my income doubled

A very pleasing result for you and no doubt well deserved. I admire your bravery in publishing absolute numbers.

I am not going to disclose my exact income on a public forum, but I will say that the figure you quote seems entirely realistic as an annual income, based on my own experience. Like you I have been rejecting offers from clients who want low rates. I get a good deal of repeat business from clients at higher rates and I am steadily accumulating new clients. There's still lots to do but the business is performing well.

To those struggling to make money in translation: DJ's figures suggest that with the right skills and the right approach freelancers can indeed make decent money even early in their careers. Take heart. Rethink your marketing.

Regards
Dan


 

Ana Cuesta  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:28
Member
English to Spanish
Touching wood here... Dec 29, 2015

All I will say is that in 2015 both work volume (from both the UK and the US, mostly) and income (the euro has played a part here, since for reasons we can discuss in another thread I invoice my clients in their own currency) have jumped back to pre-crisis levels... hoping it is a trend and not mere chanceicon_smile.gif

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:28
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Pretty good Dec 29, 2015

My 2015 was pretty good all in all. I invoiced almost exactly the same amount as in 2014, although with changes in my customer base: a couple of old (and always happy) customers yielded to the market pressure and reduced rates unilaterally, forcing me to switch them to low-priority and replace their business with other customers with better rates. My income levels have been rather regular over the last decade or so.

In terms of language pairs, whereas in the past I used to make about half of my income in the Nordic countries with translations from English, today I do much more work in German-speaking countries with translations from German.

If there is a factor that kills my chances of actually enjoying my income, it is taxes: they are awfully high and complex here in Spain. The cash I can actually enjoy after taxes is less than half of what I produce, which makes me a de-facto slave of our big and expensive administration.


 

Sorana_M.
Romania
Local time: 03:28
English to Romanian
For me Dec 29, 2015



How was 2015 for you?



Pleasant until mid-August, 2015, extremely poor ever since.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:28
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I did well in 2015 Dec 29, 2015

I was offered more work than I could take on most of the time, so naturally, it was the low-paying and less interesting clients who had to look elsewhere.

I turned down some clients who are less interesting to me because I do not work in the subject areas they needed - finance and chemistry for instance, not because there was anything wrong with the work they were offering. I sincerely hoped they found someone better qualified to do their translations.

I could have earned more by working more intensely, but I have actually reached a point in my career where for tax reasons there is very little point! Above a certain level my earnings affect my husband's pension, so after tax there is less than 25% left for me!

Not that I earn a fabulously high income in local terms, but it sounds a lot in other parts of the world, so I won't give absolute figures either.

However, I do not work for rates below 0.11 Euro per word or 112 Euro per thousand source words, and for specialist work I go higher. As I love to tell everyone, you get 1200 English target words, so it is not as exorbitant as some PMs try to tell me.

In 2016 I actually hope to earn less and spend more time on other things!

[Edited at 2015-12-29 10:08 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
For the past 10 years Dec 29, 2015

DJHartmann wrote:
Since switching to full-time translation mid-2014 my income doubled from $US 3x,xxx to $US 6x,xxx in 2015.


My story has many ifs and buts, but essentially:

Ten years ago, I stopped working as a salaried full-time translator, where I earned about XX 2,400 (cost to company). During the first four years of full-time freelancing, my gross income was between XX 1,400 and XX 7,000. Then I had two transitioning years (emigration) in which I earned less than XX 1,000 per year. Now, in my current country of residence, I now earn between XX 8,000 and XX 12,000 per year. My maximum per-word rate is about 20% higher than 10 years ago, and my average per-word rate is probably somewhat lower than 10 years ago.

I have 3 major clients who comprise approximately 85% of my work and I can often accomodate work from new/occasional clients.


One of my clients accounts for 30% of my work and 20% of my income. Another one of my clients accounts for 30% of my work and 40% of my income.



[Edited at 2015-12-29 10:44 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:28
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Is this safe? Dec 29, 2015

Samuel Murray wrote:
One of my clients accounts for 30% of my work and 20% of my income. Another one of my clients accounts for 30% of my work and 40% of my income.

When I see these figures, I can't help wonder: is it safe for you to have such a big figure with one customer? If they run into financial issues, hire a new VP who wants to cut on everything, or are bought by some other company who insist on using their translation providers, you risk suddenly losing 40% of your income...

My biggest customer accounts for 15% of my income, with another 60% spread over six different customers in three different countries, and the rest spread over about 20 customers in six or seven different countries. Yes, I know that this adds complexity to my work in terms of administration, rules, guidelines... but it feels a lot safer to me to know that losing one, or even two customers, would not put me into much trouble.


 

Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:28
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ditto Dec 29, 2015

Last year my accounts bounced back from the crisis but I definitely had to give up a lot of the domestic market.

This year it seems the domestic market is bouncing back as well - but I suppose I lot of us already got spoiled by the stint away from it.


 

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

MODERATOR
TOPIC STARTER
Round figures, anyone? Dec 29, 2015

No one is really following the lead and sharing their income figures. Samuel's XX figures have flown straight over my head!

How are others doing in terms of USD?

Are my figures in the ball-park average? It's been said that the translation industry is recession proof, true?


 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:28
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
You cannot compare Dec 29, 2015

DJHartmann wrote:

No one is really following the lead and sharing their income figures. Samuel's XX figures have flown straight over my head!

How are others doing in terms of USD?

Are my figures in the ball-park average? It's been said that the translation industry is recession proof, true?


First of all, most people consider their actual figures confidential, and even if they didn't - the same figures mean different things in different countries. If I made your figures in my country, 1) I would have no life besides my work, and 2) I would have to pay VAT, which would be a burden to me.
As to relative figures, I voluntarily reduced my volumes over the last year, precisely because I wanted to have a life, and I don't need very high income here (I am close to retirement, have no children, and consider my retirement provided for). As others pointed out, I consider your focus on 3 clients dangerous - I have been working on diversifying over several years. My main client used to represent 70% of my income, just now (for 2015) it is about 26% and there are 9 clients that together represent 75% ("significant share"). Now I am going to improve the structure - 3 of these 9 are low-cost agencies, so they shouldn't be there.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
My XX figures Dec 29, 2015

DJHartmann wrote:
No one is really following the lead and sharing their income figures. Samuel's XX figures have flown straight over my head!


Three days ago I bought a bunch of carrots for XX 0.30, but yesterday they were priced down to XX 0.10 per bunch (the leaves were beginning to yellow), which is great, because my rabbit is nursing four younglings and it's costing me a fortune in green stuffs.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:28
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
You cannot compare 2 Dec 29, 2015

I don't actually know the precise figure.

Before tax and expenses, I probably earned something like USD 45 000.

But my 'take-home pay' is under half that after tax and deductions, and then we pay Europe's highest VAT (25%) on EVERYTHING - milk, bread, heating, basic clothes, visits to the dentist...

Petrol costs more than 30 USD for a US gallon. (Asuming my calculations of litres to gallons and kroner to dollars are correct.)

Denmark is one of the most highly taxed countries in the world. OK, we do have a lot of welfare, and I have seen just about enough of countries without welfare to appreciate it. All the same, some countries can apparently provide welfare at a much lower cost. Earlier on, the Danes seemed to get far more welfare at lower tax rates too, so I don't know what has gone wrong.


 

Sorana_M.
Romania
Local time: 03:28
English to Romanian
Figures and countries Dec 30, 2015

DJHartmann wrote:

Are my figures in the ball-park average?



Your figures, whether before or after tax + my country = a worry-free life. Even luxurious, some may say, now, that I've converted those figures.


 
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