How to set your rates?

One of the major questions I asked myself when I started as a freelance translator was: how much should charge for a translation?

I started by doing some research, I contacted other translators, went through their websites, but the rates went from really cheap to really expensive. At least I got a scale of prices to start with. And then I looked at the whole price issue from a different angle...my own. I stopped thinking as a client (wow that's cheap! No way, out of my budget!) and started thinking as a professional offering a service.

So with a (pretty big) piece of paper and my pen, I wrote down a list of all the things I have to pay for each month...the bills, my rent, food, a little extra for hobbies and leisure times as well as how much I'd like to add to my savings each month for presents and my future. Once I got a total, I added the percentage that would go to our dear government, the taxes and social contributions.

You end up with a number that shows how much you need to be earning each month to live. But as a translator, you don't ask your clients for monthly fees, you charge them for the work they need you to do, no more, no less, it's not their problem if you take a month to translate something that should have taken you a day or two. So next step was to find out how much I can translate, revise and proofread in a month. I didn't translate all month to get there, I just translated for an hour and then with a simple math magic (words translated in an hour x hours I spend translating a month*) I found out how many words I can translate in one month. I did the same with revising and proofreading.

All I had left to do, was another math trick (How much I need to earn each month / Words I can translate/revise/proofread in a month) and there I had my rates per source word.

Then I simply checked I was in the price range I discovered during my research, and that was it.

*THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

As a freelance translator, you don't spend all your working time translating, revising, and proofreading. There's also a lot of time you spent looking for new clients, taking care of your website and social media pages, and many many other things. So when calculating how many words a month you can translate, do not forget that you won't spend all your working hours translating.

Second thing, when you work on short documents, it doesn't make much difference, but once you get to longer ones, it can make a big one! Do not forget that in a translation service, revision and proofreading are included. You have to include that in your price as well, otherwise you will be working pro bono when revising and proofreading your translation. And do not think these steps unnecessary. It happens to the best of us to skip a sentence a paragraph or worse, to leave a typo or to misspell a word. Theses steps will allow you to correct most of those!

If you have questions or if you'd like some help setting up your prices, do not hesitate! I'll come back to you ASAP!

 

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