Whether you're working as a translator for a large, multinational professional translation agency or as an individual freelance translation service provider, you should probably be aware of the fact that quoting the correct price for a would-be client is one of the most crucial (if not the most crucial) parts of your work. However, to many a human translation expert, it's nigh-impossible to give out the right estimate if he has no initial information of what his impending translation job entails. As a translator, you must first have a good idea of what's the nature of the job you're getting before you can provide a fairly accurate estimate.
At any rate, no one in the professional translation industry has a perfect solution for the translation rates, quotes, price, and bids problem at the present, but there are enough human translation tips and tricks available to get you by this particular hurdle. Who knows? Perhaps the following recommendations could be worth a lot of money to you; gaining the ability to know how to properly approximate the price of your translation services such that neither you nor the client would feel gypped is a win-win proposition for everyone concerned.
Translation Pricing Basics
By the way, did you know that only sixty percent of translation experts work at this craft as a full-time job? About less than half of the translators working in the human translation industry right now can earn enough money to make this career their "day job", even though it remains a very profitable field.
Why is that? It's because they tend to forget that they're translators, not financial experts, so following fixed rates for jobs will make them lose more money than they earn in the long run. When it comes to pricing, it's always best to follow your instincts (albeit well-informed and reasonable instincts) instead of following inapplicable fixed rates.
- Sample work: One commonsensical rule that even the greenest, most inexperienced translators are aware of when it comes to pricing is to never work for free. In most cases, this rule is absolutely true, but of course there will always be exceptions. One such exception involves your clients asking you to complete a trial project at no cost on their part in order for them to gauge the quality level of your service. A brief two-hundred- to four-hundred-word sample should suffice for those who are willing to indulge this request, but most professional translators don't even bother with it for reasons of wasted effort and pointlessness.
- Rush or Urgent Jobs: More often than not, translation work is always urgent; "urgent" is one of the most abused words in this field, in fact. As such, charging extra for rush jobs or projects with nearing deadlines tend to get a little tricky. You'll need to narrow down your definition of "urgent" to actually be able to charge an added amount for such jobs. Be aware that a typical translator translates one thousand to three thousand words in an average eight-hour day, and base your calculation of the client's deadline on that figure. If its deadline is less than a couple of weeks (that is, it needs to be submitted within a week or a three-day work period), then it's urgent.
- Weekend or Holiday Work: Because a translator's job tends to have a loose schedule (because really, just as long as the job gets done, the client doesn't need to be privy of how it gets done), especially freelance translators, one of the perks that "regular" office workers enjoy (extra pay from overtime or weekend work) is nonexistent for a typical translator. In fact, nearly ninety percent of your fellow translators probably work Sundays to keep a decent living!