How would you charge for this 'job'?
Thread poster: John Simpson

John Simpson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
French to English
+ ...
Dec 15, 2005

I have been contacted by an agency with the following offer:

1)To translate texts of a general nature from a bank which I would receive every Tuesday morning and would have to return at 15h00.

2)There would be a maximum of four texts and a wordcount of between 500 and 2000 words.

I was wondering how to charge for this kind of job and what I may be letting myself in for (2000 words in half a day sounds a little tight).

If I were to put aside Tuesdays for this job then I would be telling my usual agencies that I am taken on Tuesdays. Work arriving Monday morning that needs to be done Monday afternoon and Tuesday for delivery on Wednesday would have to be turned down.

The agency would want me to be here available for these jobs every Tuesday. Surely this arrangement goes beyond a usual freelancer-agency relationship: would I not be a part-time employee almost? I cannot surely sacrifice a whole day for a job paid by the word, can I?

If you have experienced something similar, please let me know how you dealt with it and how the arrangement with the agency worked out.

Thank you,



Ford Prefect  Identity Verified
Burkina Faso
Local time: 14:53
German to English
+ ...
Sounds like a good opportunity if you play your cards right Dec 15, 2005

You could draw up a contract with a retainer fee to compensate you for any lost business - say a minimum charge of 1000 words at your usual rate for every week, until one or other party cancels the contract at reasonable notice (a month perhaps). So if they only send you 500 words (or send you nothing) one week, you get some compensation for lost business, irrespective of whether you actually did turn down work - and if they send you 2000, you get paid for the whole lot. This will also encourage them to send you work, and you may find on a quiet week they send you other stuff, so they aren't paying you to do nothing.

I'd recommend asking for a couple of sample texts before committing yourself to doing 2000 words in 6 hours. This is quite feasible for some jobs, but others can take much more effort.


Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:53
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Does not sound like a bad opportunity Dec 15, 2005

However, I couldn't have put it better than James. If I had to accept such a job, I would have handled it according to the suggestions James made.

Good luck on the job!


Ingo Dierkschnieder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
First of all, make sure that the agency is decent Dec 15, 2005

I had a similar offer some time ago which actually would have bound me for two days a week. The offer was also that I would always get paid a standard rate, no matter how high the volume of the text was and get more when it was above a certain volume. However, in the end the agency seemed to be not too professional and I withdrew my agreement to the contract. It turned out that they were notorious non-payers and were just 'hopping' from one translator to another, working with one translator until he realised that he would not get paid. If the credentials of the agency are in any way dubious, don't go for it.

If they are alright, James' contract suggestion is definitely the way to go, maybe instead of going for a particular wordcount charging them a days' worth (what you normally would earn in a day) as you reserve this day only for the work for this agency and will not be able to accept any other jobs that are due on this day or the following morning.

Also, like James suggested, get a sample text. 2000 words can be quite a pain to do in six hours and you wouldn't believe what some people understand as general text...

Good luck.


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:53
German to English
Use a TM program Dec 15, 2005

There is a likelihood that some of the material may be repetitive, so you will be able to work faster over time if you use a TM tool.


Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:53
English to Spanish
+ ...
Charge extra for same day delivery Dec 15, 2005

I have worked twice for clients with a scheme similar to this.

In both cases I charged 150% of my per-day rate.

This type of work is very intense, and potentially stressful.

I suggest invoicing an amount that will make it worthwile.


Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:53
Italian to English
+ ...
You'll probably find... Dec 15, 2005's extremely repetitive, or at least the same type of document, same style etc. etc.

I've done several of these things over the past year, and I was originally very cautious with the word limit and accepted less than I thought was feasible in the time. But I found that the material was all about the same topic so as time went on it became much quicker to do. The only thing is that you have to be VERY strict with the word limit, in the end they were sending me nearly twice as much as agreed so I had to put them straight.

Just check their credentials first!


John Simpson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
French to English
+ ...
Thank you for your help Dec 20, 2005

Thank you for replying to this post. I eventually received a sample from the agency: a five-page pdf document which was bordering on 'general' but leaning more towards 'banking'. I decided not to take on the project due to the deadlines expected, the format used and the topic area. As some of you said, these short deadlines are stressful. Had I put in a bid, I think I would have gone with Dyran's advice, namely, a flat fee for that day.
Thank you once again.



Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:53
German to English
+ ...
One last comment that might help others Dec 20, 2005

I know you resolved your situation, John, but I wanted to add a brief comment in case others come across this later.
For stuff like this on very tight deadlines it's really important to have a contact you can call in the event of unresolved abbreviations, ambiguities, company-specific terminology (names of departments and such), typos, etc. in the text. That's the sort of thing you need to go directly to the author for, if possible, because you might not be able to sort it out yourself, particularly that quickly (and adding the agency in between lengthens that time, too).


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