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.
It’s nearly December now and here I am just getting around to writing about last month. Following weeks of working on one project after another, and being lucky enough for clients to agree to wait in the queue, I’m finally enjoying a bit of breathing space. Hopefully it won’t signal a famine period for me as I am only free because I couldn’t make the deadline for one largish project and didn’t fancy anything else I was offered.
As we saw in Part 1 of the Revision Survey Results, the main reason respondents gave for not offering revision services on their website or social media profiles (91 people explained their response) was poor translation quality. This was corroborated by the next survey question, shown above left.
This post is not going to tell you how much to charge for your services, because there’s no such thing as a going rate in translation. The amount you receive for your work will depend on your language pair, the specialism involved (in other words whether it’s a subject you need other qualifications and/or years of experience for), and a whole host of other factors.
there’s no such thing as a going rate in translation
The general advice regarding clients is that you should be actively seeking new ones all the time because you never know what’s around the corner. Not only should you be looking to replace clients already in your circles that you are not overly keen on working for, but you also need others to fall back on if you lose some. This post is going to focus on why an agency might stop working with a translator, although some of the reasons will hold true for direct clients as well.