This post is a summary of a discussion on fees and rates during a hosted Group Translation Chats (GTC) session It was moderated by Robin Humphrey who kindly gave me his notes to use a basis for this post.
Many newcomers to the profession can find it hard to know what to charge, especially as MA courses often don’t pay much attention to business aspects. Hopefully this post will bring some clarity to the fees and rates discussion and help translators feel confident when speaking about the cost of their work.
Broadly speaking, fee is used to describe an individual service, and rate the price or cost of something per piece (per character, word, 1000 words, page, hour, for example).
The difference between fees and rates matters because we’re running businesses. Some think translation is not a “real business”, that it’s not “real work” and anyone can do it, especially if they have access to the internet. But this is a wrong assumption and although our job requires skill, training and time, we’re not generally overpriced. We offer a professional service and should charge accordingly.
Just over a year ago, I revisited the purchase order I first shared with you in 2015 because I’d divided it into four to cover the four different services I currently provide: translation; revision; editing; and localisation.
I’m now back again with another update.
After talking to colleagues recently about pricing, negotiating and deadlines, I realised I needed to add a couple of lines to my purchase orders.
It is safe to say that I decided to devote my work fully to translation somewhat later than I should have done. But, as the saying goes, better late than never! That said, if I had decided to pursue studies earlier, I would not have gained the wealth of experiences that I am now able to include in my translation toolkit!
I studied BA(Hons) at the University of Bristol in the nineties and followed with a PGCE in Secondary Education. I aimed to become a language teacher, but life took me into hospitality management and, later, into project management and logistics in the European bespoke furniture industry.
I loved the challenges of both careers, but when my youngest son was due to start school in 2018, I knew I wanted to get back to work but that I wanted to work from home. After a serendipitous visit from a school friend, a Switzerland-based freelance translator, I had a lightbulb moment. Languages and informal translation, even interpreting, had always been a part of my work, probably the part I enjoyed most. I wanted languages and, specifically, translation to be the focus of my work, not incidental to it.
Members of translation and interpreting associations will know that a lot of emphasis is placed on CPD (continuing professional development). The ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting), which I’m a member of, recommends we log 30 hours of CPD every membership year (in my case from May to April) and issues a certificate when the record is complete.
Given that ongoing training is so important, we discussed our future CPD plans in a hosted session of the Group Translation Chats (GTC), moderated by Jenny Zonneveld, back in February. This is a summary of what we talked about containing many links to CPD you might like to try.
From the outside looking in, most translators probably seem lone wolves, happily working at their desks all day with hardly any social contact. In fact, many freelancers highlight being their own boss and making all the decisions as one of the main reasons why they pursued a self-employed career.
But the reality can be quite different, even if you don’t work in an agency’s office. Because translators are increasingly realising the benefits of working together on projects and sharing their knowledge.
In the Group Translation Chats (GTC) session in January, hosted by Ellen Singer, we talked about the pros and cons of teamwork and how and when we can work better together.
I update these pages on a regular basis when I either come across links to add or delete those that no longer work after running the broken link checker. This post doesn’t include everything new since last time, just a few of the highlights.
You can read about some of my favourite useful links here.
Attending online events I’d never manage to go to in person is one of the few advantages of the COVID-19 pandemic. So along with a handful of Group Translation Chats (GTC) members, I signed up for the CopyCon 2020 conference held by ProCopywriters.
Long before we got to the talk on perfectionism, some speakers floated the idea that copy doesn’t have to be perfect. Sandra Wu from Blinkist told us that perfectionists were wasting their time because people skim content and only read around 30% of what you write. Copy doesn’t need to be beautiful and engaging to convert and so rewriting text to make the language better doesn’t pay off.
This is the title I chose for the November hosted session of the Group Translation Chats (GTC). Besides two coffee-break chats per week, which are drop-in meetings anyone in the group can attend, we hold one moderated chat on a particular translation-related topic every month.
I’ve always been interested in editing and revisions. Not only do they account for a large chunk of my workload, I’m also now a member of a RevClub and an Edit Club, meeting with my colleagues on alternate weeks to discuss texts we’ve translated with the aim of improving them and learning from each other.
Let’s be honest, after completing a four-year undergraduate language degree (and spending the previous 15ish years in education), the last thing you probably want to do is go back into education.
That’s how I felt at least. I had just graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in German with Dutch and decided I wanted to be a translator. I started to look for jobs in translation, but it seemed as though they all required an MA, so I did some research into Translation MA courses.
There were two universities I was interested in: Surrey and Manchester. I had no preference, so applied and was accepted to both. Shortly after, my partner received an offer for a job based near Manchester and we decided to relocate together.
In Part 1 of this mini-series on ‘memoQ for the non-tech savvy’, I gave a brief introduction to memoQ and reviewed this CAT tool after switching to using it from Wordfast Classic. That was over three years ago and I’m still getting to grips with all the many features.
If you’re as bewildered as I am by all the tabs and buttons, I hope these posts will help you find your way around memoQ so you can start translating your first document with a minimum of fuss asap (because time is money, right?).