Is there a formula for determining minimum fees to charge?
Thread poster: Martin Harvey

Martin Harvey
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:43
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
Oct 10, 2018

Hello

An agency I'm about to start working with has emailed me with their rates, but at the bottom they want to know how much I charge for small jobs of 10-20 words/lines. I haven't a clue what to say to them. Is there a formula for working out this kind of thing? The rate calculator only suggests rates per word/per hour.

Thanks in advance

Martin


 

Blessing Uzuegbu  Identity Verified
Nigeria
Local time: 14:43
Member (2018)
English to Igbo
+ ...
Very possible Oct 10, 2018

For me I charge $10 for small phrase translation of 10-20words.

 

Tomasz Sienicki  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:43
Member (2007)
Danish to Polish
+ ...
Half of the hourly rate Oct 10, 2018

I normally charge half of my hourly rate.

It's not only the question of translating these 10 words, but also invoicing the customer, bookkeeping, monitoring the payment etc.


Melanie Meyer
Tuncay Kurt
Philippe Etienne
Simona Veerhuis-Vannicelli
Susannalangs
Melanie Maiwald-Meylahn
Sheila Wilson
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 14:43
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@Martin Oct 10, 2018

My minimum charge in theory is 40 EUR, but I usually charge 20 EUR for regular clients with small jobs (for some long-standing clients I add up everything at the end of the month), with an exception: I charge only 15 EUR to a very regular client regardless of the number of words (it never exceeds 20 words and most times consists only of 10/15 words)…

 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Min. fee Oct 11, 2018

My min. is €35 because I really don't like stopping what I'm doing to do small, urgent stuff that's often not worth the time. That said I will translate a phrase or offer advice for free for regular clients.
Imo a min. fee is a deterrent against time wasters. If you want to do a lot of favours don't have one, if you don't mind doing a lot of low paid jobs have a low min. fee, if you don't want to be bothered all the time with breadcrumbs keep it high.


Philippe Etienne
Marcus König
IanDhu
Michele Fauble
Jean Chao
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:43
Member (2018)
French to English
€30 Oct 11, 2018

I charge €30 for a one-off job that comes to less than that.

However, for clients who send me plenty of work, I'll add all the bits up at the end of the month. I get lots of smallish jobs so I don't really mind chopping and changing. It's actually a way of taking a break from long projects.

The other day I translated a file worth about €80. Then just a few days later the PM added another 35 words. She was worried I would charge a minimum fee, because the first tex
... See more
I charge €30 for a one-off job that comes to less than that.

However, for clients who send me plenty of work, I'll add all the bits up at the end of the month. I get lots of smallish jobs so I don't really mind chopping and changing. It's actually a way of taking a break from long projects.

The other day I translated a file worth about €80. Then just a few days later the PM added another 35 words. She was worried I would charge a minimum fee, because the first text was already filed as "done" in their system. I reassured her that if they accepted both jobs on the same bill from me, I'd just add the number of words to the first text. After all, the translation was still fresh in my memory, and I could still remember the websites I had visited to check up on the terminology, and that's far more important than what's in their system.

So I don't actually charge my minimum fee very often. Bending my rule keeps my clients happy .
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IanDhu
Teresa Borges
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:43
Member
English to French
I don't sell nails Oct 11, 2018

I use this formula:
[(time period in seconds from reading the request to delivering the translation)x(one unit of your currency) - (amount earned in your currency through other work during this same period)]/(variable coefficient to make the total amount a joke or a fee)

Tomasz Sienicki wrote:
...but also invoicing the customer, bookkeeping, monitoring the payment...

...disturbing your train of thought, communicating with the client, getting some background info about the job if necessary, opening/creating/managing files, folders and resources, providing after-sales service in case of query, taking responsibility for the outcome...

Agencies who think it's fine for translators to charge 2.00 (invoice required, payment 60+ days...) buy words just like they would buy nails in a shop. Translation as a product. More nails? Here's a handful, I'll just stick them in the bushel on the scale with the others.

I charge my agency customers 20 euros when they need a microjob done. That's cheap, but they bring enough work to my doorstep for me to afford it. I even don't charge anything sometimes, for instance when the PM has just been kind enough to postpone a deadline to the following day, when I'm back from a holiday or a pleasant weekend, when I watched an inspiring film on TV or when my income tax is lower than expected.
When unknown agencies enquire for a microjob, either I don't reply, I inform them I don't do microjobs on the first encounter (we need to know each other a lil bit more first), or I offer 50 euros (no luck so far!). Can't be bothered, really.

I have offered free translation to agencies I work with when they need a few words translated, provided that I don't have to open any e-mail attachment or search or connect to any URL, but somehow most prefer to be charged and someone else to handle the overhead and bear responsibility.
Which means my min fee brings far more value than only words.

Philippe

EDIT: my formula had a parameter with a lower than sign that doesn't display, edited for the sake of accuracy

[Edited at 2018-10-11 09:24 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sounds iffy Oct 11, 2018

If you haven't worked with them before, and they are asking about this already, it sounds suspiciously as though they get lots of requests for small translations like this, and they would rather not pay for them if they can avoid it. They might tempt you with promises of bigger jobs later, but pie in the sky won't fill your plate.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:43
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Martin Oct 11, 2018

Martin Harvey wrote:
At the bottom they want to know how much I charge for small jobs of 10-20 words/lines. I haven't a clue what to say to them. Is there a formula for working out this kind of thing? The rate calculator only suggests rates per word/per hour.


Typically, you don't charge a client extra for administration tasks (reading and responding to mails, opening and saving files, recording the information for invoicing, sending the invoice, checking if the invoice is paid, etc) but instead the time that you spend on such tasks is built into your usual rate. However, if the job is very small, then the usual rate no longer covers all of these tasks. So ask yourself how much time you typically spend on all of these tasks, then multiply that with your hourly rate, and add something to cover the actual translation task as well. Since this can be very difficult to calculate, a rule of thumb is often employed.

On rule of thumb in the trade is that a minimum fee should be at least half your hourly rate or at least the amount that you would normally get paid for the amount of words that you can typically translate in half an hour to an hour (which is often assumed to be 125-250 words). So...

Method 1: per-hour rate x 0.5 = minimum fee
Method 2: per-word rate x 250 = minimum fee

Your minimum fee can also depend on what you regard the minimum fee to be for. Some translators use a minimum fee to discourage clients from sending lots of small jobs. Others use it only to offset the time spend on general administration.

You don't have to enforce your minimum fee each time, even if you have one (and even if the client knows what it is). As a freelance translator you are free to be flexible.

There is a certain type of agency that never pays minimum fees. I always tell clients what my minimum fee is, but some agencies never offer to pay it, and instead offers a strictly per-word amount in the offer. When that happens, I evaluate how much work I get from the agency in general when deciding how forcefully I should make a counter-offer with my minimum fee.


 

IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:43
Member (2005)
French to English
Don't let an agency dictate your rates Oct 11, 2018

Martin Harvey wrote:

Hello

An agency I'm about to start working with has emailed me with their rates.


You should be telling the agency what your rates are.

For guidance, I charge a minimum of €30.00 net of tax. You may need to adjust this downwards for the slightly lower UK rates.

Good hunting, and don't let your clients tread on your toes.

With kind regards,

Adam Warren
(ProZ.com: IanDhu; Translator 41189)


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
French to English
Work it out so it's worth your while, or decline Oct 12, 2018

Work out a minimum fee for small jobs like this, or turn them down.

Elements you might take into account for small jobs could be things like not just the dollar/word rate, but the whole thing from creating a file until delivery. When you are working on a larger job, the time taken for creating the file, invoicing, replying to mails, etc., is easily absorbed into what you invoice. In other words, it's worth your while. On a very small job, you might find that the admin takes as much
... See more
Work out a minimum fee for small jobs like this, or turn them down.

Elements you might take into account for small jobs could be things like not just the dollar/word rate, but the whole thing from creating a file until delivery. When you are working on a larger job, the time taken for creating the file, invoicing, replying to mails, etc., is easily absorbed into what you invoice. In other words, it's worth your while. On a very small job, you might find that the admin takes as much if not more time than the translation itself. So go ahead and see how long it takes and work out an average minimum fee.

For my regular clients, I do that type of work for free if it's a one-off now and again. If there's a series of short requests that come in, then I let them know I will be invoicing the series. For unknown or new clients, I take a look at it or turn it down. If it might be an opener to an interesting opportunity, then I might do as I do with established clients.
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