Rates for transcription in 2 languages in one audio file
Thread poster: Meg F.

Meg F.
Canada
Local time: 20:45
Member (Jun 2019)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Oct 8

Hi,

I do mainly translation from English to Japanese (sometimes JP to EN), but I occasionally get other jobs (like interpreting or transcription).

So, I was contacted by this company and they wanted me to do transcription. In their email it said from JP to JP and asked me my rate. First I checked Blue Board (had a pretty good rating) and I gave my rate which, I still have problems quoting for non-translation jobs. Anyway when I received the footage and checked it, the i
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Hi,

I do mainly translation from English to Japanese (sometimes JP to EN), but I occasionally get other jobs (like interpreting or transcription).

So, I was contacted by this company and they wanted me to do transcription. In their email it said from JP to JP and asked me my rate. First I checked Blue Board (had a pretty good rating) and I gave my rate which, I still have problems quoting for non-translation jobs. Anyway when I received the footage and checked it, the interviewer was asking questions in English, then the interpreter translated in Japanese and the interviewee was speaking in Japanese(then interpreter translating into English). From what they wrote in the initial email I understood that they only wanted Japanese transcription and I accepted it(mistake #1).

Then after that I was told that they wanted everything in Japanese AND English. Basically they were asking me to transcribe both English and Japanese.

It was a super rush job and although it was only 60 min footage it took me a lot of time, mainly I had a lot of problem timecoding to fit into the guideline of 32 characters/line(in English).

Learning from my past mistake accepting super low rate (whopping $1/audio minute -long time ago thankfully) I asked them a decent rate if it was just transcribing Japanese.

Anyway I finished it and they asked me to do another footage which another freelancer backed out a half way. I took it, and it was a rush job, too.

But I was able to finish it and they were very thankful. Then there was another job, which I had 2 days to complete(first 2 was super rush, one I had 24 hrs and the other, 10hrs). I took it and while working on I got an email from them saying, "since this is not a rush job, would you take this rate (minus $1 from my rate/min)?" The original rate I quoted was actually my regular rate, not for a rush job. But since I had a mistake of not fully negotiating I thought this should be my lesson and accepted the lower rate for the 3rd job. But I did tell them that the rate I gave them was my regular rate for one language, not two.

So here is my question:
Is this a normal practice to ask for transcribing 2 languages in one audio/video? If so how does the rate work? I am not a native English speaker and if I knew that I had to transcribe both English and Japanese I don't know if I would have taken the job or not. And also, I know that I made several mistakes with this particular (non existing) job negotiation. If anyone could give me some advice on what I should have done in this kind of situation, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks!
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:45
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Meg Oct 8

Meg F. wrote:
Is this a normal practice to ask for transcribing 2 languages in one audio/video? If so how does the rate work?


I have done very few transcription jobs myself, but I imagine that it must be fairly common to have to transcribe more than one language at a time. And I don't see how the rate should be affected either. I do understand that having more than one speaker can affect the speed of the transcription, which in turn would affect the rate. If switching between languages is something that causes you to take longer, then you should charge a higher rate.

IMO the appropriate way to charge for transcription is per actual minute (and if the client insists on a per audio minute rate, you should assume a very generous margin, e.g. "1 minute of audio takes 10 minutes to transcribe", i.e. your per audio hour rate should be ten times as high as your per actual hour rate).

If anyone could give me some advice on what I should have done in this kind of situation, I'd really appreciate it.


Most translation agencies are very bad at giving you all the information that you need to calculate a fair rate. I don't think that this is deliberate -- I suspect the PMs simply don't understand all the factors that must be taken into account. So they give you very basic information, and assume that the translator will ask questions if anything is uncertain.

For this reason it's safest to start with a high initial rate and then lower it if conditions turn out to be more favourable than expected. What many freelancers do, unfortunately, is the opposite: they start out with a rate that represents the most ideal conditions, and then try to tack on surcharges (or bemoan the low rate) when they discover that the job is more difficult than they had assumed.

You have discovered for yourself just how much extra time is taken up by time-stamping (i.e. adding and adjusting times). The agency's PM probably thinks it's simply a matter of pressing a button at the right time, or watching a timer out of the corner of your eye, and so it "shouldn't take you any extra time" to do.

You also discovered how much extra effort it is to reduce the text to under X number of characters (which, by the way, is actually part of another type of job, "subtitling"). But PMs often do not even mention this (that you'll be expected to perform subtitling during/after transcription) during rate negotiation, again because they assume shortening a text doesn't really take a long time. In fact, I've had PMs assume that the transcription and shortening is one action: you listen to the speech, and then type a shorter version of it, all in one step.

And from your description, I gather that you also had to do time-coding and spotting. All of these things take extra time, and are certainly not part of "transcription", but agency PMs don't know that transcription and subtitling are two entirely different things... and many translators don't know this either....

The solution for preventing what had happened to you is to make sure translators who get transcription jobs know what sorts of questions to ask during the rate negotiation.

Translators who do not often do transcription assume that the PM will give them all the necessary information about the job, but the PM doesn't always know what information might affect the difficulty or fair rate that a transcription newbie might not think of asking.

But since I had a mistake of not fully negotiating, I thought this should be my lesson and...


Unfortunately the "lesson" here is that, like many other translators who deal with agencies, you assume that all misunderstanding is your own fault. There comes a point at which you can no longer assume that the agency is ignorant of all the things that they "misunderstood" when they gave you details of the job.

You should have been far more strict with them when they continued to change the deal again and again. And now they tried to change the rate, with this excuse that since you have an extra day, it is no longer a rush job.

Remember, they are free to try to renegotiate the rate halfway through the job, and you are free to accept their new proposal, but you are also free to reject it and insist on the original agreement.


[Edited at 2019-10-08 06:07 GMT]


 

Meg F.
Canada
Local time: 20:45
Member (Jun 2019)
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Oct 8

@Samuel Murray

Thanks for your response.

As I was writing my original post I noticed a lot of things I should have done. You know, since they seemed to be so desperate I could've even raised my rate!(haha)

I have my rate for regular translation jobs but when it comes to subtitling/transcription I still struggle to come up with the right numbers(even this time I read a lot so I wouldn't undercharge but still managed to screw up somehow.

As you
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@Samuel Murray

Thanks for your response.

As I was writing my original post I noticed a lot of things I should have done. You know, since they seemed to be so desperate I could've even raised my rate!(haha)

I have my rate for regular translation jobs but when it comes to subtitling/transcription I still struggle to come up with the right numbers(even this time I read a lot so I wouldn't undercharge but still managed to screw up somehow.

As you pointed out I realize that it was not a simple transcription job. I should be really aware about many things you wrote on needing to find out the nature of the jobs I get offered. The good thing is, at least I won't make the same mistakes next time.

You should have been far more strict with them when they continued to change the deal again and again.


I know! I can't believe I just accepted it.

I'm in the middle of negotiating with another agency right now, and I'm kinda lost on how much I should charge them for time-coding.

Anyway, thank you so much.
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