Payment for small jobs
Thread poster: Minna Wood MITI (Purring CAT Ltd.) (X)

Minna Wood MITI (Purring CAT Ltd.) (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
English to Finnish
+ ...
Oct 17, 2001

Do other translators charge a minimum fee for small jobs (eg. less than 100 words)? Or is it normal that you do several small jobs for a client over the month and invoice the whole lot together?

I had my first contact with an agency that I had never heard of before (from proz job listings). I was bidding for a job which I didn\'t get but the director of the company was kind enough to send me a reply. In that e-mail she had attached a small job (31 words) and told me that she would like me to do this job for them. She also said there will be more small jobs coming later. They would not accept a minimum fee nor a separate invoice for small jobs and they only \"agree monthly invoices\". She said this was because they can\'t send minimum fee invoices to their regular clients otherwise they would loose them. I would have agreed with this if I had previous experience with the company but as I didn\'t, I rejected the job. Anyway, the rates they were prepared to pay were rather miserly....!

I would like to hear other people\'s comments on the matter. Any comment would be appreciated.




Local time: 02:27
Afrikaans to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 17, 2001

Forget those offers.


Erika Pavelka (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:27
French to English
Re: Payment for Small Jobs Oct 17, 2001

Hi Minna,

Since this client said that there would be small jobs on a regular basis, I\'d have no objection to doing the translations (at a reasonable rate) and billing at the end of the month. In fact, I do this for about 5 clients, and it really saves time administratively-speaking. I spent about 2 hours at the end of each month doing up the invoices for these clients, who all send small jobs throughout the month.

If you think this could be a regular client who sticks to their payment terms, then there\'s no harm in doing small jobs throughout the month and billing at the end.


Erika Pavelka


Uwe Schwenk (X)
Local time: 19:27
English to German
Minimum payments Oct 17, 2001

Dear Minna,

minimum payments are almost standard and it does make perfect sense. While it may be only 31 words as in your case, you nevertheless must set up everything may do some research, etc., so there is a considerable amount of effort involved on your part, with very little profit per se, and that\'s why you should charge a minimum charge.


They would not accept a minimum fee nor a separate invoice for small jobs and they only \"agree monthly invoices\". She said this was because they can\'t send minimum fee invoices to their regular clients otherwise they would loose them.

I consider this a very poor excuse, because it is irrelevant. You as the translator have been tasked by the translation bureau and not by the client directly. So it is up to the translation bureau to take care of this. However, I might guess that the work would be too much taking care of each invoice.

The way I handle this is that I pay each small invoice (it\'s a considerable amount of work on my end) of a contractor and I bill the client monthly. In this manner, the contractor is happy, because he/she needs their money and they rendered a service, and the client is also happy, because he/she will only get a monthly invoice.

Granted, one might say that the effort does not warrant this, but without the goodwill of the translators, how long would I remain in business?



Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:27
German to English
+ ...
Minimum charge Oct 18, 2001

Let me add my two cents\' worth. I\'m a freelance translator as well as a company owner. I expect translators working for me to charge a min. charge. If I send them a few words or sentences at a time, I certainly don\'t expect them to do if for, let\'s say, $3.10. They have to drop what they\'re doing, shift gears, maybe even do some research, and simply can\'t bill this at the regular per-word fee, which is what they would be doing if they were expected to accumulate the number or words over a one-month period. I may, however, expect them to charge a lower min. fee each time than they would if it were a one-time job. Translating a few words at a time is much more time-consuming than if they were part of a longer project.

As a company owner, I have a long-standing client who currently is sending me one or two sentences several times a month. In that case, rather than lowering my min. fee, I charge him my regular min. fee every second or third time, depending on the number of words, but certainly more than I would based on the wordcount alone.



Pernille Chapman  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:27
Member (2004)
English to Danish
+ ...
A question of trust Oct 19, 2001

I agree entirely with Trudy\'s approach, and I also believe that Minna was right in rejecting this particular job. Having had one very bad experience with a non-paying client, I now charge a standard minimum fee for all small jobs, in particular when working with a new client/agency. So far, nobody has objected to this, rather, they seem to expect me to have such a fee in place. Also, when carrying out a recent job for an agency who contacted me through Proz, I asked that they pay me a nominal \"deposit\" (ca. 20% of the full fee) before embarking on the actual work. This was done promptly, and the agency was very understanding; as they pointed out, they were taking a risk when working with new translators, too, but unfortunately trust in the decency of other people involved in this business is not always enough. It is a great shame that we have to take precautions such as these, but provided that it leads to good working relationships (= future trust/reduced minimum fees, etc.). surely it\'s worth it. As a final note to Minna, I\'ve heard some scary stories about different translators being asked to translate sections of what later turned out to be one text, only for the \"client\" to piece together these sections and never pay for the work carried out. This type of scam may be disguised as \"sample\" translations. Stick to your guns - if you\'re dealing with decent colleagues/clients, they\'ll understand your position. Good luck!


Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:27
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
"Small jobs" Oct 19, 2001

A job is a job and you have to be paid for it! I work on a different basis: a set fee per working hour when I do proof-reading and a set fee per total signs divided 55. The second one allows you to be paid for any short job, like 31 lines, anyway and it is less costy than fixing a \"minimum fee\", which can exceed the \"value\" of your efforts. Another solution is to be paid for translated word, still tricky, as you might work more than you actually translate (for ex. when you deal with big documents having a lot of already translated words, but you have to go through the whole document anyway = it takes ages! - whether you use Trados or not!

It is better to refuse such agreements filling up your day, but not your pocket!


English to Spanish
I agree with Chapman Oct 19, 2001

I never, never bother with bids that include a must-do sample text; it strikes me as a devious way to get free work.


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