Fees or Rates? A Discussion on Translation Prices

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.

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Purchase Orders – 2021 Update

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.

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Teamwork: the pros and cons of being a lone wolf or a pack animal

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.

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Do translations only have to be good enough?

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.

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What should and what shouldn’t we change when revising a colleague’s translation?

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.

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10 things I wish I’d known when I first started translating

I was extraordinarily wet behind the ears when I first started translating professionally in Spain over 20 years ago.

Although I’d studied literature translation at university as part of my BA language degree course, it was not an appropriate preparation for a career as a translator.

Here’s a list of 10 things I wish I’d known when I first started translating that would have made my life much easier.

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What’s the difference between translation and transcription?

This is a guest post written by Danilo from Espresso Translations, a translation agency specialising in translation and transcription services. It was founded by two translators working in tandem and has grown to become a leading language services provider.

One question we’re often asked is whether translation and transcription are the same thing. Sure, they both sound similar, but it’s safe to say they’re actually quite different. Both services have amazing benefits and can help your business, but it’s important to know how they differ and which is the right approach for you.

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Purchase Orders Revisited

Way back in 2015, I asked my blog readers whether the purchase order I’d produced was merely a pipe dream or a document I could actually use with my clients. The general consensus was that my overly long PO would prove daunting for direct clients and unnecessary for agencies. After tweaking it a bit based on the many suggestions I received, I instead came up with a purchase order checklist. The idea was to fill it in ourselves using the information we gleaned in negotiations with clients and for it to be a handy reminder of what questions we should be asking.

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How ‘No’ Days Can Be Good for Your Business

In a recent panel discussion during a Wordbee webinar on freelance translation management, we talked about how it’s important to specialise. This helps you stand out from the crowd of translators that offer to translate everything or almost everything under the sun. It also makes you more credible. Because being good at every subject is impossible, even if you do pride yourself on your research skills.

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When Things Go Wrong

I had pink roses in my bouquet and in the table top display

Watching the royal wedding earlier this month reminded me of my own almost 11 years ago. Ours was obviously not nearly as grand and since we didn’t want a church ceremony and had young children, we opted to tie the knot at a zoo. Although we had gone for a more casual affair, we still hoped it would be perfect. Sadly, it was anything but.

So many things went wrong on the day and leading up to it that I don’t know where to start. Because this is a tale of service providers failing to do what we hired them to do.

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