New Translator: Question regarding translation rate for technical translation
Thread poster: OwenE

OwenE
France
French to English
+ ...
Feb 1, 2017

Hello,

I am new to freelance translating and have been asked to quote for translating a technical manual and specifications for a machine (that cleans tram wheels). I have worked out that there are 38000 words. If I charge on the basis of 10c(0.10€) per word that comes out at €3800 to be completed over a two month period. My questions to the more experienced translators are:
Does that rate sound really high?
The company wants me to go to their offices with the translation and review it with one of their engineers to do the final proof reading and reviewing. Should I charge extra for this time?
Would an agency charge much less?
Am I pricing myself out of this job? I normally charge between .11€ and .14€ per word.

I would appreciate any advice.

Thank you.


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:43
English to French
+ ...
think about this Feb 2, 2017

Why would you trust advice given by competitors?

 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:43
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Why high? Feb 2, 2017

OwenE wrote:
Does that rate sound really high?

€3800 is equivalent to annual income of €22800. Does that sound high to you? Why are you not charging your usual rate?

Dan


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:43
Member (2014)
English to German
38000 Feb 2, 2017

Dan Lucas wrote:

OwenE wrote:
Does that rate sound really high?

€3800 is equivalent to annual income of €22800. Does that sound high to you? Why are you not charging your usual rate?

Dan


But I am sure this would not be the only project over a period of two months?!


 

OwenE
France
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am new to this Feb 2, 2017

Dan Lucas wrote:

OwenE wrote:
Does that rate sound really high?

€3800 is equivalent to annual income of €22800. Does that sound high to you? Why are you not charging your usual rate?

Dan


Thank you for your comment.

On the principle of buying in bulk, I have brought the rate down. But being new to freelance translation, I thought that the proz forums might be a good place to ask for input from more experienced translators.


 

OwenE
France
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, I have other work Feb 2, 2017

Gabriele Demuth wrote:


But I am sure this would not be the only project over a period of two months?!


No, I have other work, but this will take up quite a bit of time.


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:43
German to English
While that's sound advice ... Feb 2, 2017

JL01 wrote:

Why would you trust advice given by competitors?


... most of us aren't actually in competition with you.

At €0.10 per word I would think you are likely to price yourself out of the job by being too cheap. To consistently get competent and reliable technical translators, I would assume that an agency would need to pay them at least €0.10 to €0.12 per word, then they need to pay someone to review the translation, then they need to pay their project managers and office employees, and then they need to pay all of their other other costs and then they need to make a profit.

If you have convincing credentials as a technical translator (and, in general, direct clients could not care less about degrees in translation or languages) and the text is not incredibly simple or repetitive, then I would submit a bid of at least €0.20 per word. If you are not particularly qualified, then I don't really know what you should do, because then price would have to be a major selling point: €0.10 or €0.15 or I don't know what, but I would certainly hesitate to go below €0.10.

Travelling to a company and actively participating in their entire review process (not just responding to the queries and comments stemming from it) seems like an unusual procedure and I would charge a day's work (8 hours) for it.

On the other hand, general advice is not usually very helpful for specific cases, so you need to try to make sense of the situation and do what seems best to you. Why do you think they came to you? Who do you think you are competing with? What do you think they want? What makes sense for you?


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:43
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not in Italian-English Feb 2, 2017

Michael Wetzel wrote:

At €0.10 per word I would think you are likely to price yourself out of the job by being too cheap.


Wow! In my language pair ITA-ENG that is considered top of the range ! Alas, the Italian market is flooded with cheapskates and cheats who keep forcing the rates down.

[Edited at 2017-02-02 08:34 GMT]


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:43
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Hopefully not Feb 2, 2017

Gabriele Demuth wrote:
But I am sure this would not be the only project over a period of two months?!

One would hope not, and one would hope that it would not take the OP two months to complete it, but for somebody just starting out, who knows?

Dan


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:43
German to English
Top of the range for outsourced projects or for direct clients? Feb 2, 2017

I don't know, and I hope I conveyed that through the disclaimer at the end of my response. I don't want to cost anyone a big project by providing them information based on irrelevant experiences.

There are a ton of German>English projects out there at €0.05 or €0.10 per word, but if someone has a genuinely convincing specialty and regularly has enough work and requests for offers coming in, there really is plenty of German>English work to be had from direct clients at €0.18 to €0.20 (my current rate for new clients). German words are very long, so that sounds like more than it is, but I am also specialized in art and not law or medicine or business or technology.

In the past, I've personally worked for agencies for €0.09 and €0.10 and for direct clients for €0.12 per word: Everyone has to do what they have to do to get by.
I also absolutely agree with you that what constitutes "getting by" in some language pairs and translation directions and specialties would qualify as thriving in others.

But if someone can present convincing credentials, speak their clients' language, deal well with people, consistently produce good results and put themselves in a financial position to take more risks when bidding on new projects, they can gradually raise their rates across the board. I think that is the same everywhere, but the numbers involved are very different.


 

OwenE
France
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you Feb 2, 2017

Thank you for the replies. I don't think my responses are being posted quickly, but I appreciate the advice. I may well have gone too low, but if I get the work it will be a lesson learned.

 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:43
Member
English to French
0.10 to an end-customer, hand-holding included? Feb 2, 2017

Certainly not.
I think this kind of rate is closer to what translators charge agencies, ie with no hand-holding, no suit and tie, no travel, no external proof-reading, no time constraints except deadline, hardly any CRM, no phone, nothing to explain about your job, no faffing about, etc.

Instead of talking rate per word, which is of no interest as such to an end-customer, let's talk "turnkey assignment", ie a job done and delivered to the customer's full, unconditional satisfaction :
Anticipate that 38kwords may require about a good one month of full-time work, hand-holding and proof-reading included (a few days lost).
Considering that only about half my income goes into my pocket after I have planned retirement, funded holidays, paid suppliers and taxes, etc., I'd aim at 5-6000 euros total in my language pair. Plus expenses, ie travel + per diem if any.
Not because I'm greedy, but because I don't see the point of charging unsustainable rates.

Anyway.

Depending on the customer's budget and/or your selling/negociation skills, you can succeed with a quote at 0.20 (eg. you worked in railway maintenance) or fail at 0.06 (eg. the customer just won't trust you).

Good luck,
Philippe

[Edited at 2017-02-02 10:54 GMT]


 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:43
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
If you are OK with the rate go for it Feb 2, 2017

Hi Owen,
If it looks like a job you can do in less than a month and have two months to do it.
If it looks like a job you'll be comfortable with.
If you are OK with the rate of 10 cents/word, go for it. I can't see any reason why you should worry about charging more or less.
Charge extra for the proofing, visits to their offices, etc.

Re: Would an agency charge much less?
There are agencies that charge 7 cents and agencies that charge 20.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:43
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Bill extra for proof-reading with their engineer Feb 2, 2017

I would bill extra for the time spent proof-reading with their engineer. Either billing for time on top of the rate per word, or simply quoting a higher rate that factors in the extra time. I would prefer to simply quote a higher rate, but I would have to be sure of a specific amount of time with the engineer.

Billing a higher rate means that once you've managed to forge a trusting relationship with the customer, they'll drop the proofreading stage. You then get to charge top rates without having to waste time on the proofreading. This might sound dishonest, but I consider that if they can drop the proofreading, it's because I'm a good translator and I've taken on board any comments the engineer might have made.


 


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