Guide To Professional Freelance Translation and Interpretation | Part 4: Fees. Per-Word, Hourly or by the Job?

Translators And Interpreters Do You Charge Per-Word, Hourly, Or By The Job?

What makes more sense?

By the word?

By the hour?

Or by the job?

Does it make a difference?

No matter what method you use, per-word, hourly or by the job, they all have time as their common denominator.

Yes, it all comes down to time.  Your time.

Because as the saying goes, "time is money".

Your time and expertise -not just words- helps you determine your fee for each of these three common methods.  

In the end, it is you who gets to decide what method is right for you.

Since you might already have an idea of what you want your target annual salary to look like, you simply need to figure out your time and the role it plays in determining your fees.

Regardless of which method you use, keep the 5 golden rules in mind.

The 5 Golden Rules Professional Translators and Interpreters Follow When It Comes To Fees |

The 5 Golden Rules Professional Translators and Interpreters Follow When It Comes To Fees


Rule 1. Professional Translators And Interpreters Set Their Own Fees

Decide on a fee which you find fair and acceptable to you. 

 Rule 2. Professional Translators And Interpreters Know How Long A Job Will Take Them

Before anything else find out as much as you can about the job and review the source text(s).  Get an approximate word count.  

After reviewing the job details, inform the potential client of your fee and a feasible delivery time (you might want to give yourself time for research, formatting, proofreading, revising, contingencies, and any unexpected problems), one which you can guarantee quality and professional services (more in parts 6 & 7).

Rule 3. Professional Translators And Interpreters Decide Their Minimum Hourly Base Fee.

In other words, the minimum amount you are willing to accept in order for you to stay in business.

Rule 4. Professional Translators And Interpreters Decided If They Will Charge Rush Fees.

Rule 5. Professional Translators And Interpreters Decided If They Will Grant Discounts.

Just like when you go out shopping, the store simply displays its price (reduced or not) and if you are not happy with the price, then you go elsewhere.  

In a similar fashion, your translation and interpretation services, fees, and policies are set by you and only you.  

If your potential client is not happy with the fee, they have three options:

1) accept your fee, 
2) negotiate your fee -if you are willing to negotiate-, or 
3) choose to not work with you

Not everyone is your target client like we talked about in part 2.

Which is the most appropriate billing method for a translator, per-word, hourly or by the job? |

Which is the most appropriate billing method for a professional translator and interpreter?

There is no uniformity in fee-setting, if anything it's very competitive, especially among  nonprofessionals, and novices wanting to build up clients.

Different translators charge in different ways, the per-word probably being the most common.

Should you be paid per source word or target word?

According to some estimates a Spanish document is 25-30% longer than the English source. A Russian word count is 70% of the English count, but Russian character/letter count is slightly higher.

The per-word method might have been created to make it easy for clients to easily figure out how much the translation would cost them without it being too complicated.

Ideally your per-word fee should only be for you to know and help you determine your job fee.
Most service professionals prefer a flat fee billing rather than charging per-word or hourly.  It's easier to simply quote a potential client a job fee that reflects your professionalism, quality, and expertise.  A flat fee doesn't constantly remind the client of the recurring expense of the per-word fee. 

Bottom line, regardless of what method you choose to use, the potential client can always do the math and figure out a per-word fee for their particular job.

So the next question would be...  How do you justify your fee to a potential client?

How do you help your potential client consider your fee an investment instead of an expense?

We'll go into that in parts 6 and 7.

But before we get to that, first things is first, you need to figure out your baseline fee.

Here is a recap of the guide:

Part 1: Consider Yourself A Business Owner
Part 2: Be Professional In Everything
Part 3: You Determine Your Target Annual Salary
Part 4: Fees: Per-Word, Hourly or By The Job
Part 5: Calculate Your Baseline Fee
Part 6: Working with Clients Before, During, and After I
Part 7: Working with Clients Before, During, and After II

As always, thank you for reading and sharing my posts.  Please if any of my blogs inspire you, give credit where credit is due.  Let's be fair, honest, and professional.  Let's help each other be great and stay great!

Feel free to connect or email me, Carmen Arismendy.  I'm a professional Spanish interpreter-translator and founder of eLingual.Net.  I started the eLingual Network because I could not find a fair, no middleman, no job bidding, ethical, and transparent meeting place for translators, interpreters, and clients online.  The website is in beta phase and by no means perfect but it's a step in the right direction.
eLingual.Net's mission is to spread happiness worldwide through happy translators, interpreters and clients.
For the professional translator and interpreter, this means no middleman, no job bidding, the freedom of setting their own fees, having control over their services, and who they choose to work with.
For the clients, this means working directly with ethical and professional translators and interpreters committed to quality and value.
Join our happy community, let's work together!


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