https://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/339455-should_i_charge_by_thousand_words_rather_than_by_single_word.html

Should I charge by thousand words rather than by single word?
Thread poster: Paul Dixon

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:15
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Dec 12, 2019

I have always charged by single word and I am now wondering if I should move to charging per 1000 words as it seems to be more common and avoids quoting prices in cents.
1. I live in a country where the economic crisis is extremely serious, especially in the translation business. It is not unknown for clients to give work to their husband's friend's sister-in-law's hairdresser's brother's butcher's neighbour's friend who 'spent a week in Disney and can do it for free'. This has had a devas
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I have always charged by single word and I am now wondering if I should move to charging per 1000 words as it seems to be more common and avoids quoting prices in cents.
1. I live in a country where the economic crisis is extremely serious, especially in the translation business. It is not unknown for clients to give work to their husband's friend's sister-in-law's hairdresser's brother's butcher's neighbour's friend who 'spent a week in Disney and can do it for free'. This has had a devastating effect on prices and on the market. In view of this dire situation, I feel quoting a price per kiloword could scare clients off.
2. My current client distribution is mostly Brazilian clients. I would like to get more international clients but the market is extremely competitive. For example, I responded to a client five minutes after the e-mail arrived and they said 'this job is no longer available'. Shows the poor situation of the translation market.
3. For those who do charge by kiloword: does this mean 1000 words would be a minimum charge? And how to deal with fractions if I do charge by kiloword? For a 2300-word job would I charge 2000 (rounded), 3000 (rounded + fractional unit) or 2300 (exact number)?
4. Would it be better to charge per kiloword for foreign clients and by individual word for Brazilian clients?
I am preparing my price list
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Paul Dec 12, 2019

Paul Dixon wrote:
I am now wondering if I should move to charging per 1000 words, as it seems to be more common and avoids quoting prices in cents.


The only clients who I have encountered who paid per 1000 words were all from the United Kingdom. And even then, most of them paid fractions of 1000 words on a per-word basis anyway. So the "per 1000 words" was just a way to avoid fractions in the unit price, but the final amount still had fractions.

Some professions charge per hour, or per half an hour, or per 15 minutes. To translate 1000 words will take the average translator 3-4 hours, so if you're going to charge per 1000 words and always round up, you're essentially charging per 4 hours, which is rather unique in the world. If you want to charge for a set number of words and always round up, how about 100 words? Just make sure the client is aware that 140 words is charged at 200 words.


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:15
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Some questions answered Dec 12, 2019

Is charging per thousand words actually more common? I think it depends on the market. For example, I have only seen prices per thousand words in the UK. In Germany, on the other hand, it is common to charge per page, per line or per word.

To answer your questions about charging per thousand, NO, this does not mean that one thousand words is the minimum charge. You are still essentially charging PER INDIVIDUAL WORD; the "per thousand" quote is only to give the client a better way of
... See more
Is charging per thousand words actually more common? I think it depends on the market. For example, I have only seen prices per thousand words in the UK. In Germany, on the other hand, it is common to charge per page, per line or per word.

To answer your questions about charging per thousand, NO, this does not mean that one thousand words is the minimum charge. You are still essentially charging PER INDIVIDUAL WORD; the "per thousand" quote is only to give the client a better way of visualising what the price of their translation might be.

For example, you quote the client £100 per thousand, and your minimum fee is £40. So in this scenario, if they send you a job with 300 words, you charge £40 (your minimum fee). If they send you 800 words, you charge £80. If they send you 2300 words, you charge £230.

But in any case, if you are working with agencies, you can just quote your prices per word because the agency will understand what that price means, without having to have a kiloword rate.
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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:15
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
I do not recommend rounding, personally Dec 12, 2019

Samuel Murray wrote:

If you want to charge for a set number of words and always round up, how about 100 words? Just make sure the client is aware that 140 words is charged at 200 words.


If the market is really as highly competitive as the OP suggests, I would think that doing any kind of rounding would be very risky. Just keep it simple and charge per word if that is the unit of measurement you're charging by.

If I'm the client, I don't want to be told that if I send you 140 words, you are going to charge me for 200. Especially in an industry where I can easily find a translator who will just charge me for the 140 words.


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Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:15
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Brazil Dec 12, 2019

Here in Brazil the usual practice is to use the 'lauda', a kind of official page, but this has been falling out of use (except with sworn translations) as different translators use different laudas. Mine was 1300 characters with spaces, while others used 1000 w/o spaces, 1250 w/spaces, 180 words w/spaces... and the editorial market uses 2100 characters (can't remember if with or without spaces). Once I was on the phone for an hour with a client explaining the concept of a 'lauda'. And one client... See more
Here in Brazil the usual practice is to use the 'lauda', a kind of official page, but this has been falling out of use (except with sworn translations) as different translators use different laudas. Mine was 1300 characters with spaces, while others used 1000 w/o spaces, 1250 w/spaces, 180 words w/spaces... and the editorial market uses 2100 characters (can't remember if with or without spaces). Once I was on the phone for an hour with a client explaining the concept of a 'lauda'. And one client (agency) calculates lauda using a complex formula involving words without spaces, lines, and paragraphs.
Nobody charges per line in Brazil, but I can see why it is common in Germany. (Always wondered how German translators charge for a word like "Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft" which takes up two lines but is only one word). I believe Italy has a similar system based on charging per line.
Regarding clients, 1000 words is more common for foreign clients while national clients usually quote by word or lauda.
Considering the points raised here, I'll stick to per-word prices except for UK clients - and keep my minimum rate.
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Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 14:15
Member
English to Russian
+ ...
Rates and units Dec 12, 2019

UK - £ per 1,000 words

Germany - € per line (typically 55 chrs) or per word

Russia - RUB per A4 page (most common is the assumption that it contains 1800 chrs with spaces
included; others assume that an A4 page contains 1680 chrs, or 1500 chrs)

Japan, China, etc. - I believe they charge per character

Elsewhere - per word in whatever currency they prefer ($, €, £).

Personally, I had never had any problem with charging p
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UK - £ per 1,000 words

Germany - € per line (typically 55 chrs) or per word

Russia - RUB per A4 page (most common is the assumption that it contains 1800 chrs with spaces
included; others assume that an A4 page contains 1680 chrs, or 1500 chrs)

Japan, China, etc. - I believe they charge per character

Elsewhere - per word in whatever currency they prefer ($, €, £).

Personally, I had never had any problem with charging per source word. My UK clients pay me in Euros per word, because my primary bank account is in Euro.

I don't think switching to another word counting method will help you become more competitive. There are other ways to do that
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I don't have a very high opinion of a lot of Brits at the moment, but ... Dec 12, 2019

Paul Dixon wrote:
I'll stick to per-word prices except for UK clients

I'm sure all British outsourcers can manage to multiply a per-word rate by a thousand


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 12:15
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Dec 12, 2019

Nowadays for editable formats I charge per source word and for uneditable formats per target word (even for my UK clients), but when I started out some 40 years ago I charged per line or per page. One of my customers is charged per character at their request and another one likes being quoted per project.

 

Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:15
Dutch to English
+ ...
fake natives Dec 12, 2019

Paul Dixon wrote:


1. I live in a country where the economic crisis is extremely serious, especially in the translation business. It is not unknown for clients to give work to their husband's friend's sister-in-law's hairdresser's brother's butcher's neighbour's friend who 'spent a week in Disney and can do it for free'. This has had a devastating effect on prices and on the market. In view of this dire situation, I feel quoting a price per kiloword could scare clients off.


I feel for you, being a translator from PT and NL into English.
I rarely get any PT work at all, it's extremely poorly paid and nobody seems to care about quality. It's exactly like you say, and if a PT speaker has lived in an English-speaking country for more than a fortnight, they tend to think they're a world authority on the language.
This is all reflected in the absolutely crap translations by fake 'native-level' translators that abound, even in renowned cultural institutions where you'd think they might have the money and attention to detail to care. But no.

Fortunately I have plenty of work from NL, but I don't really know what you can do in that language pair. I don't think charging the same using different calculations will make much difference.

[Edited at 2019-12-12 17:07 GMT]


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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:15
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Off Topic Dec 15, 2019

Paul Dixon wrote:

(Always wondered how German translators charge for a word like "Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft"


@Paul
"Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft" is just like "du" (= you) 1 word, but rest asure, no German in his right mind would use such idiotic words.

On Topic
I fail to see the real difference between charging per word or per 1000 words. Can't people multiply anymore?


[Edited at 2019-12-15 15:10 GMT]


 


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