Pricing for a high volume translation project - 1,000,000 words
Thread poster: Sera Keskin

Sera Keskin
Turkey
Local time: 14:55
Turkish to English
+ ...
Mar 2

Dear translators,

I've received an offer from a translation company that I worked with before, regarding a high volume e-commerce translation project of 1 million words in total. As they sent the offer to other freelancers as well, I suppose I will not be translating the whole project all by myself.

So their offer is 630€/month or 31.50€/day. They indicate that the initial project will go on for at least 2 months and steady and sizable update work will follow. It will take 160 hours/month, meaning a full-time project. The translation will be from ENG >> TR with basic, probably beginner level product descriptions for an e-commerce website. I suppose it will be pretty repetitive in nature.

I normally work with publishing houses and every once in a while, when I am available and want to make extra money, I get involved with this kind of extra projects. The last time I worked on a similar project was almost 2 years ago so I am a bit confused regarding the pricing.

I find their offer extremely low. They are open to negotiate but I am not sure how to rate. Considering that it is a very high volume project, it does not make sense to price it based on words. Would it make sense to price it hourly or monthly? How much of a discount should I consider?

I would be happy to have suggestions of translators who work with this type of projects.

Thank you very much in advance.

[Edited at 2018-03-02 08:53 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-03-02 08:58 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-03-02 09:22 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:55
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Extremely low Mar 2

serakeskin wrote:

So their offer is 630€/month or 31.50€/day. They indicate that the initial project will go on for at least 2 months and steady and sizable update work will follow. It will take 160 hours/month, meaning a full-time project. The translation will be from ENG >> TR with basic, probably beginner level product descriptions for an e-commerce website. I suppose it will be pretty repetitive in nature.



For me, this offer wouldn't even merit a counter-offer. I would be aiming to make 10-20x that amount, so it's clearly a non starter. I would sooner turn down a big job like this and have the availability to jump on higher paying projects. Even if you charge a low rate in En>Tr, you can still invoice a few hundred dollars/euros in a day. If you do three 200 EUR jobs in the month, you have already made as much as this project is offering you.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:55
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some comments Mar 2

serakeskin wrote:
The translation will be ... basic, probably beginner level product descriptions for an e-commerce website. I suppose it will be pretty repetitive in nature.


Product descriptions are actually not very repetitive, and they tend to require a lot of research, particularly if there is very little other information about each product available (such as a picture of it) when you translate the description.

I can understand why a client would want to charge very little for product descriptions -- a lot of the translations will never be read, but he can't know beforehand which ones will be read and which ones won't. But translating product descriptions is actually hard work and a lot of work.

So their offer is 630€/month or 31.50€/day. It will take 160 hours/month...


In other words, EUR 4 per hour, 8 hours a day. Your translation speed will not pick up by much after you've started with the project, so you won't be earning anything higher than EUR 5 per hour.

They indicate that the initial project will go on for at least 2 months and steady and sizable update work will follow.


While I'm sure that that is their intention, it is not guaranteed, so don't let that influence your pricing decision.

Considering that it is a very high volume project, it does not make sense to price it based on words. Would it make sense to price it hourly or monthly? How much of a discount should I consider?


I agree that a per-hour rate will likely be fairer to the client, if he can trust the translator to declare his hours truthfully (or if he has a system to track the translator's time).

However, since this is such a lot of work, I would recommend not going too much below your usual hourly rate (i.e. no more than 5% or 10% discount on what you normally charge per hour). The client already benefits by paying per hour instead of per word.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:55
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Don't give out discounts for no reason Mar 2

serakeskin wrote:

I find their offer extremely low. They are open to negotiate but I am not sure how to rate. Considering that it is a very high volume project, it does not make sense to price it based on words. Would it make sense to price it hourly or monthly? How much of a discount should I consider?



I replied to this earlier but for some reason it didn't go through, so I will try again.

Never give a discount without a good reason. "The project is big" is not a good reason. Does it cost you less (in terms of time etc.) to translate 20,000 words as opposed to 5,000 words? You are not some automated assembly line, where a bigger order would mean a cheaper per-unit price.

In fact, "the project is big" is usually a good reason to charge MORE, not less, because you will be forced to turn down other opportunities and decline projects from other clients for a long period of time.

I would not consider a monthly rate. What if the scope of the project changes? What if the client suddenly discovers a bunch of texts they forgot which are urgent, and you have to do overtime to translate them on time, but then the client refuses to pay more than the monthly rate they agreed to, because no one bothered to strictly define the conditions under which that rate would apply? Too many unknown variables there.

If you don't want to charge by word, then by all means charge by hour. But do not offer a discount. Figure out what hourly rate you need to survive, pay your taxes and insurance, have some left over (profit margin) and compensate for the time you are committing to this one project. Then charge that.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I tried to reply earlier too but lost it - it's a glitchy day. Mar 2

It sounds as though it's an agency from some low-cost area such as India or China that's trying to get someone -- anyone -- interested. I imagine they won't expect anyone, not even in their own low-cost area, to stick it out for the whole term. They'll probably be recruiting continuously throughout the project term. Of course, if you did work full-time on this for over two months then you'd risk losing some of your current clients, who sound far more interesting.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Not really a valid assumption in today's world Mar 2

Sheila Wilson wrote:

It sounds as though it's an agency from some low-cost area such as India or China that's trying to get someone -- anyone -- interested.


You'd be surprised to see from which areas bottom-feeder rates are coming nowadays. Every country seems to have them and Proz seems to be a primary fishing ground.
Fwiw, the rates paid for these e-commerce jobs seem to be among the lowest.



Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:55
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Correction: 'translators' are to blame more than agencies Mar 5

writeaway wrote:
Sheila Wilson wrote:
It sounds as though it's an agency from some low-cost area such as India or China that's trying to get someone -- anyone -- interested.

You'd be surprised to see from which areas bottom-feeder rates are coming nowadays. Every country seems to have them and Proz seems to be a primary fishing ground.
Fwiw, the rates paid for these e-commerce jobs seem to be among the lowest.

Yes, you're right of course. It's a worldwide market so peanut rates can come from anywhere nowadays. The problem is that the lowest rates are being snapped up by so many 'translators', even from countries with a high cost of living where the self-employed pay astronomical taxes and social charges. Those quote-marks are to blame! As long as we need absolutely no credentials to become professional translators, those who know a second language - even if they've just studied it at school - will fancy their chances at earning a bit of pin money during the evenings/weekends, when the kids have gone to bed, in-between lectures, while unemployed...

But there are reasonable rates to be had in e-commerce. I worked for some years for a French-owned home decoration portal, translating their blurb and some product descriptions. They came to me via ProZ.com and were happy to pay my rate, although I did end up having to add a surcharge for the descriptions, for the reasons Samuel has set out. They never seemed to need any more of those and in fact I didn't work for them in 2017. Maybe I won't get any more e-commerce work at my rates, but I can't believe that the average rate has dropped to the ridiculous figures mentioned in this thread.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:55
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Erm... Mar 5

I'm sure they mean 31.50€/hour?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Daryo
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:55
Serbian to English
+ ...
to put it bluntly ... Mar 8

[quote]serakeskin wrote:

The translation will be from ENG >> TR with basic, probably beginner level product descriptions for an e-commerce website. I suppose it will be pretty repetitive in nature.

[Edited at 2018-03-02 08:53 GMT]

If you really believe that, you must be still believing in Santa Claus, or whatever is the Turkish equivalent ... that's the kind of sales patter used to make you accept lower rates!

Get hold the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System [generally referred to as "Harmonized System" or simply "HS"] open few random pages and try to translate them - and then compare how long it takes with the word count. You are guaranteed to stumble every few pages on a term or two that are going to drive you around the bend for hours ... and all the "saved time" on repetitive / very similar descriptions is going to vanish down the drain.

And that is just the description of basic groups - not the description of each product with all the added information [that becomes part of a sale contract - so you better get it right, if you don't want to end up being be the scapegoat for irate buyers!]

This is the kind of work that should be payed by the hour, at whatever is the reasonable rate for your circumstances. Any idea that the volume should warrant some kind of discount is pure nonsense - you need to pay the same attention to every word, be the it the first or the 1,000,000th - there are NO "economies of scale" whatsoever in translating longer texts.




[Edited at 2018-03-08 15:16 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Pricing for a high volume translation project - 1,000,000 words

Advanced search







BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »
WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search