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An hourly fee for translation?

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:45
Russian to English
+ ...
Translation should be paid by word in my opinion Jun 16, 2016

The reason is that agencies and clients would set their own expectation how long things should take, and as a result translators would get paid next to nothing or had to translate 1000 words an hour.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 12:45
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A hourly fee? Jun 16, 2016

When I started translating some 40 years ago, translation was charged per page, and then it moved to per line and, some years later, to per word or per character. The per-word model has been working just fine. However, if the market does move in the direction of a hourly fee, we will need to be prepared! Fortunately, I’m very flexible…

[Edited at 2016-06-16 21:30 GMT]


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:45
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
In a perfect world Jun 16, 2016

In the real world direct clients and translation agencies will determine their desired pace (words) per hour and will calculate back to minutes. We have nothing to gain from this aproach.

The only advantage would be educating end clients about the time it takes to do the work.


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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
In a perfect world 2 Jun 16, 2016

Gerard de Noord wrote:

In the real world direct clients and translation agencies will determine their desired pace (words) per hour and will calculate back to minutes. We have nothing to gain from this aproach.

The only advantage would be educating end clients about the time it takes to do the work.


I agree totally with you, only as a "realistic" translator I would translate "perfect world" here in "urgent, urgent, urgent world".

So, what did we win in those 40 years?

[Edited at 2016-06-16 22:06 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:45
Member
English to French
The unit is irrelevant Jun 17, 2016

For all I care, I sell my time only, be it charged by word, weighted word, hour, project, page, doc, character, etc.
Going from one to the other and/or back is only a attempt to drown the fish.

Philippe


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sabine de vos  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 13:45
Member (2016)
English to Dutch
depends on the difficulty of the source file Jun 17, 2016

Hi all,

Easy source files pay off per word, but more difficult ones that need a lot of online searching, are better charged per hour because you can translate less word per hour. I mix both, depending on the client.

I'm new here so nice to meet you!

Sabine De Vos, English-Dutch, Belgium


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:45
Member (2014)
English to German
Does it matter Jun 17, 2016

as long as the translator determines his/her price and doesn't let PMs tell them what to charge.

However, it is not a practical unit, because the time a translator works cannot be checked unless they use some kind of time tracker and I wouldn't like that. I like to work as I please, sometimes very slowly with lots of interruptions and very focused when a deadline gets tight. That's why I like freelancing ... as long as I get the job done and well in time.


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erickl  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 00:45
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
It happens Jun 26, 2016

I have had one translation agency based in Europe for which I had been working for a couple of years indicating that from now on they would use their own system and pay by the hour. The suggested rates were not acceptable and I simply told them I would not do it. I know from one of their former project manager that they are now out of business. According to her, they ran in big trouble because only desperate and second-rate translators accepted the deal.

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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 06:45
German to English
+ ...
per the article Jun 26, 2016

It says that businesses, agencies, and some translators "have begun" discussing the hourly idea. It's the first I heard of it. I have not encountered any such discussions. In my experience, clients want to know how much something will cost. Hourly fees will always be an estimate - how can that be attractive? The article also states that we quote or clients in terms of word count rates. Many of us assess everything, and then come up with a figure for the entire project. A per word fee helps us calculate the final fee, but other factors come into it.

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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:45
Member (2014)
English to German
This is how it should be :) Jun 26, 2016

erickl wrote:

I have had one translation agency based in Europe for which I had been working for a couple of years indicating that from now on they would use their own system and pay by the hour. The suggested rates were not acceptable and I simply told them I would not do it. I know from one of their former project manager that they are now out of business. According to her, they ran in big trouble because only desperate and second-rate translators accepted the deal.


So they didn't get away with yet another "trick" to pay less.


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Eileen Cartoon  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:45
Italian to English
On the Translation Day virtual conference Jun 26, 2016

I remember hearing one of the speakers, an American, saying that she thought it would be better to work by the hour (I do not) because most people find it more acceptable. The idea was that lawyers are paid by the hour, mechanics are paid by the hour for labor. She felt it was something the general public would accept.

However, as regards mechanics, they have tables that indicate how many hours a given job should take so that a slow worker and a fast one get paid the same for that job (e.g. changing the air filter). In the end, that is not by the hour anyway.

I think by the word is the fairest, best way to calculate.

Eileen


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:45
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
In the end, time is the only relevant variable Jun 26, 2016

Philippe Etienne wrote:

For all I care, I sell my time only, be it charged by word, weighted word, hour, project, page, doc, character, etc.
Going from one to the other and/or back is only a attempt to drown the fish.

Philippe


I agree with this, Moreover, most agencies will not accept any kind of open-ended arrangement in which they agree to a per-hour rate from a freelancer and ask for a bill afterward. Instead, they will insist on negotiating the total fee upfront.

Thus, whether this total fee is divided into units of words or hours in the end really does not matter for the purposes of negotiation.

However, I would venture to say that most translators think in terms of hours when it comes to deciding whether or not to accept a given job. I certainly do.

In the end, I don't see how one escapes thinking in terms of time rather than units such as words, characters, or pages. After all, 5000 words of text in a highly familiar subject area and requiring no formatting is very different from 5000 words in a document involving the reconstruction of half a dozen long tables and the rekeying of several hundred figures in the cells of those tables.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:45
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The problem with an hourly rate is that... Jun 26, 2016

... companies would try to negotiate a rate of $15.00 - $20.00 per hour, while I want to maintain my earnings at around $50.00 to $60.00 an hour.

Another problem is that it's not always the best thing to pay for the "fastest" translation, but rather the best translation possible giving the available time parameters. And you can sometimes be stuck on a few words/phrases for hours.

[Edited at 2016-06-26 19:01 GMT]


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kathleen flanagan
Local time: 13:45
French to English
In the end, time is the only relevant variable Jun 26, 2016

I agree that whatever base unit we use, the ultimate factor is time. I am (more and more) frequently asked to bill by the hour on projects written by several sources; some of the texte being in Engilsh to proofread and fix, some in French to be translated. After over 20 years, I know how many words I translate per hour and, perhaps because I only rarely translate unfamiliar subjects, this speed does not vary much at all. In this case, I simply multiply my average number of words per hour by my word rate and charge that as an hourly rate. It works out the same for both me and my client.
When I do accept translations that require long research, I consider the extra time spent acquiring terminology as a business investment and do not charge more for it.


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:45
Member (2014)
English to German
Well Jun 27, 2016

LegalTransform wrote:

... companies would try to negotiate a rate of $15.00 - $20.00 per hour, while I want to maintain my earnings at around $50.00 to $60.00 an hour.

.

[Edited at 2016-06-26 19:01 GMT]


This portrays the image of the industry/profession very well.

Of course everybody wants to get a good deal, but many companies do treat/try to pay translators as they would typists or admin assistants, whereas translators see themselves as highly educated and skilled professionals who should earn a decent income.

I think it is up to translators to set them straight.


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