How to evaluate the cost?
Thread poster: sarahuottawa

May 2, 2016


I have no idea if I'm at the right place but here I go:

A guy asked me to transcript a youtube video and to translate it from English to French. (here's the video if you need it to judge the ''quality'';

I've seen many rates over the web but I don't know how I am supposed to evaluate it, especially that it's a 80 minutes video that I need to both translate and transcript.

I'd like some advices!


Patricia Blanco Dominguez  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:40
Member (2013)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Two rates May 3, 2016

Hi sarahuottawa,

you should apply two rates: one for the transcription (usually per minute) and one for the translation (usually per word). How much you charge is of course up to you! icon_smile.gif

If this is the first time you are going to do a transcription, keep something in mind: it takes a lot of time. You have to listen, repeat, write down, repeat again, etc. and finally polish the final text.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2016-05-03 12:54 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-05-03 12:59 GMT]


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:40
Member (2007)
+ ...
Do a trial May 3, 2016

Patricia Blanco Dominguez wrote:
you should apply two rates: one for the transcription (usually per minute) and one for the translation (usually per word).

Absolutely. Never let the client think that it's just a simple process of speech going in the eyes and coming out of your fingers in a different language. If the client doesn't want to see the transcript then you can save a very small amount of time by not tidying up spelling, typos, punctuation etc.

If this is the first time you are going to do a transcription, keep something in mind: it takes a lot of time. You have to listen, repeat, write down, repeat again, etc. and finally polish the final text.

Especially if you don't have software to simplify rewinds and alter the speed without distorting the sound. I find Express Scribe useful, even without a pedal.

Never quote without listening to random snippets throughout the file. Quality can change dramatically, due to both external conditions (traffic, machinery, technical problems...) and to changes of speaker. Until you have more experience you really need to do a trial before quoting. Choose a slice of a few minutes at random from the file and first transcribe it, then check your transcription work. That should give you a rough idea of how long an audio minute takes in terms of minutes of your time. From that you can calculate your rate per audio minute, based on your normal hourly rate. Expect a minute of audio to take anything from 4 to 10 minutes to transcribe. Then there's the translation to charge for on top of that. Often the final sum will be more than the client is expecting to pay.


Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:40
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
if you're good.... May 3, 2016

time it takes to transcribe = 6 x the play time x rate per hour..., translate (no subttitling, since this takes a lot more time to spot and shorten)...

so 80 min x6 (or 7 or 8) = 8 hours (more likely 10-12)...* 40 = 320 - 400+ euro

translate roughtly 4000 words? * 0,10 -0,12 = 400 - 500

total 800,-

very likely they won't have any budget for this...


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 10:40
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Time needed May 3, 2016

Transcription takes can sometimes as much as 1 hour per 10 minutes of tape or video, so I would go with 8 hours @ your hourly rate. You could then charge for the translation per word @ your usual rate or also per hour and come up with a rounded total.


Thanks! May 3, 2016

Thanks for all your answers!

I usually only do tutoring, I'm not used to do transcription/translation and that's why I needed the ''average'' rate for those kind of jobs.

Since I don't have any certification and it's really only to help this man out, if I charge 400-450$ for this 80 minutes video, it's considered pretty cheap?



José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
First evaluate the service required May 3, 2016

Do they need the transcript?

If they'll be translating only EN > FR and you know what you are doing, the transcript is NOT necessary. You can do it directly.

It would be useful if that video were to be translated into a number of languages, and video translators for some of them were hard to find.

Then the translation. Basically it is done specifically for one of three separate purposes:
a) Full script, e.g. to convert an interview on video for a magazine or blog;
b) For subtitling - requires specific skills, mostly in terms of conciseness; or
c) For dubbing - requires specific skills, generically defined as "metrics".

Regarding (b) and (c), some translators charge extra for (c), as they consider it "more difficult" or whatever. Some charge twice as much for (c) compared to (b).

I charge exactly the same rate per minute, since I spent 17 years translating video for dubbing before venturing into translation for subtitling. But that's my personal decision. For instance, I charge the same for EN > PT text translation as I charge for PT > EN. My tenet is that if I had to charge more for something, all other parameters remaining equal, I shouldn't do it. That's why I don't translate from IT nor FR... I don't know them enough to translate, period!


Srini Venkataraman
United States
Local time: 11:40
Member (2012)
Tamil to English
+ ...
translate roughtly 4000 words? May 4, 2016

I have observed that the words per audio minute are highly variable and some I find are always in a hurry pouring out 120 words or more a minute.
If they don't need transcript I will be happy to translate directly into English (say Hindi >English audio). Since typing Indian languages on a regular qwerty keyboard is messy.


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