Poll: When working on a project paid on an hourly basis, I...
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Oct 22, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "When working on a project paid on an hourly basis, I...".

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Oct 22, 2014

I charge by the hour for revision work and usually with me it's a mixture of the first two. I try to do a rough calculation, but on the couple of occasions that I have monitored more carefully how much real time I actually spend, it has turned out that I would have earned more by charging my per-word rate. However, I consider it as a sort of collateral discount for my clients and don't really bother about it much. My main concern is doing the job well enough to get the text accepted for publication and getting on with the next one in the queue. I currently have about half a dozen academic papers awaiting revision.

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 04:39
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
I never work on an hourly basis Oct 22, 2014

But if I did, I'd reaaally take my time....

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Ben Harrison  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:39
Member (2013)
German to English
This! :) Oct 22, 2014

Julian Holmes wrote:

But if I did, I'd reaaally take my time....


I never charge by hour because it would be too difficult to separate actual working time from the amount of time I get distracted and do other things. Per word seems fairer and easier on both sides IMO.


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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:39
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Only when necessary Oct 22, 2014

Some work cannot be charged on a per word basis, e.g. translating captions on .pdf drawings. I set the timer on my computer and pause it if I take a phone call or make a cup of tea. At the end, I round the time taken up or down to the nearest quarter hour. I consider it a matter of personal integrity to work at a reasonable speed on such jobs. If I do the work faster and charge less, then I profit from having extra time in my day. I generally suggest to the client, in advance, a price/hours ceiling and contact them for their instructions if it seems that the job will exceed this.

Lots of professionals work on an hourly basis, e.g. lawyers. It so happens that I have been cheated by a lawyer, here in France, and I have spread the word about her dishonesty to a large number of people I know. I even considered sticking a copy of the incompetent work she over-charged me for (with my corrections in red and a copy of her invoice) to her office door, but decided it would take too long to redact personal information. So, to anyone who suggests they would "reaaally take [their] time," I'd say beware the vengeance of wronged clients.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
What's wrong with charging by the hour? Oct 22, 2014

Lawyers and graphic designers do it. Why not us, if the project parameters so allow it?

Hahah, Julian, that's a good one.

I chose the option I charge the exact time..., but I have a problem with it. In writing as well as in translation, there's no such thing as “exact time” and I find its application to what we do inappropriate.

After all, there are unforeseen circumstances that warrant charging the next round number of hours. For example, if I have a 2-hour minimum for DTP work (which I do, by the way), I usually charge by 30-minute increments. However, if the total DTP time is 3 hours and 43 minutes, I round it up to 4 hours.

If you charge by the hour on certain projects, make sure you have a rounding up number, like 15 or 20 minutes, or whatever is more suitable to the situation.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:39
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Estimate + Oct 22, 2014

When I charge on an hourly basis, e. g. proofreading or editing jobs, I usually give my client an estimate on how long a job will probably take me to complete - and make sure s/he knows that it's only an estimate. I usually track the time required so that I can forward the time sheet to my client... if requested - which seldom happens because my clients know that I e. g. won't go shopping inbetween and then charge them for that time, too. Honesty carries you much further in the end.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
I charge what is fair to *both* parties Oct 22, 2014

Normally if it takes four hours I will bill four hours

But if I've half-killed myself getting six hours' work done in four hours then I will bill for six hours


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:39
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Rounded up with time for mailing, invoicing etc... Oct 22, 2014

I time the job and note, at least approximately, times of interruptions like answering the phone or whatever. I always have a scrap of paper handy.
I also subtract time if I spend ages checking some background detail that I should have known!

Then I round the time actually worked up, never down, to allow for mailing back and forth, invoicing, and all those other little things...

However, if it is one of those agencies that states in advance they will pay for 15 minutes, but sends a whole page for QA, then I simply tell them I physically cannot do everything on their checklist in 15 minutes, so sorry, I haven't got time!
They inevitably send a long checklist of things you are supposed to do, and then only offer to pay for the time it takes to tick the boxes

They can cross me off their lists for a start!


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Victoria Britten  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:39
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
Negotiation Oct 22, 2014

B D Finch wrote:

I generally suggest to the client, in advance, a price/hours ceiling and contact them for their instructions if it seems that the job will exceed this.



That's my approach too, once I've seen the text. If they'll accept it (which this far they always have), I set a maximum time I'm really in no danger of exceeding and then (so far) always end up charging less, which means both parties are happy.


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Round it off Oct 22, 2014

I have so many distractions that it would be unfair to the client to charge for the actual amount of time that I spend in front of a computer on a project. I will usually figure up a per word cost and divide it by the number of hours I should take to do the project (without getting sidetracked).

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:39
English to Spanish
+ ...
Distractions Oct 22, 2014

I see that at least two colleagues are careful to bill just the time they were involved in doing the job, without distractions and without being sidetracked.

I suppose everyone has a mental list of defined distractions, like someone calling at the door, or a 30-minute phone call from grandma.

However, if I'm taking a 7-minute coffee break, I'm not deducting that from my hours devoted to a project. Of course, I'm veering into a different territory: contract work, which could go for weeks or months, when we sign up a client to perform a variety of tasks 10, 15, 20 or 40 hours a week.

In this case, the client is usually asking to clock in and clock out on a third-party website timesheet so that all the hours are kept track of. In some workplaces, you get 30 minutes for lunch and two 10-minute breaks a day in an 8-hour day. However, that schedule is outdated because:

a) In today's open offices, people move about, consult with each other and network with colleagues in other departments;
b) Good ergonomic practices recommend getting up and walk away from the desk, or avoid spending all our working hours sitting at the computer;
c) People in the writing professions (I call them that for the sake of argument) do not work in assembly lines, where every worker is assigned a piece of the product to work on for a set amount of minutes;

So, I don't adhere to such a 19-century way of working and taking breaks, but I always get the job done.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:39
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Most of the jobs I charge for by the hour are very small Oct 22, 2014

These days I am losing patience with proofreading - I have a hard enough time checking my own work, included in the rate for translation!
I rarely take on large proofreading jobs now, so checking a page or two would normally be done between coffee breaks, and by rounding up to allow for 'administrative costs' I push things as far as I dare!

I have one or two clients who occasionally send well-written academic papers or the like for proofing. These clients end up paying for something like a whole day's work, with coffee breaks, ergonomic toe-wriggling and the rest.

The only other work I charge for by the hour is updating a few sentences here and there, or translating text in graphics that will not be picked up in a word count. It normally involves setting up a table and typing in the source text as well as translating it. Again, these are normally small jobs that take less than two hours.

I do write abstracts a couple of times a year, and would normally charge for those by the hour, but in this case it is a pro-bono client.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:39
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I charge the exact time Oct 23, 2014

In 15-minute increments. When I get to the end of 15 minutes, I will stop at that point if there's something else I want to take care. Otherwise I go on to the next 15 minutes.

I do this mainly when reviewing the work of new freelance translators for my previous employer to help them separate the wheat from the chaff--which I hate to do. I often spend more time than I would translating the job myself from scratch.

The last job I did took me a huge amount of time and the client refused to pay what I billed them. They haven't asked me to do it since, and that's fine with me!


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