How Much Should I Charge

by Alicia Aguilar

Alicia Writes: Hello, I'm only starting as freelance translator, I'm using a site for freelancers to find my first customers. However, when it comes to submit a bid I don't really know how much to ask for an e-translation.

For example if the project contains 45,000 words and my rate is 0.08 EUR per word, then would 3,600 Euros be the money I need to get from this translation job?

I have this doubt because customers tell me that I'm expensive.

Also I'd like to know if as translators we need to take in consideration the country of the client and make the price affordable if it's a "poor" country. For example, should we compare our prices to the value of their currency?

Clint's Answer: Great question, Alicia, and welcome to the world of freelance translation!

Submitting a bid for a translation, or knowing what to charge as a translator is one of the most common questions that beginning translators have when starting out. Even veteran translators can have some questions regarding how to charge potential customers, so know that you're not the only one with this question.

There is a wide range of what translators charge, and that range is manifest even more clearly on freelancer-type websites. The reason is because these websites cater to the global market and there are translators from all over the world competing for translation jobs.

So while you charge 0.08 EUR per word, other translators (mostly in third-world countries) are charging half or even a fourth of that amount.

If you're the one submitting a bid for a translation job, it's a lot more tempting to go with the lower price. However, what many of these translation requesters don't realize is, is that with the lower cost comes more of a chance that the translation is not going to be professionally done.

Now if the requester doesn't necessarily want a top-notch translation, that's fine, but if he or she wants something professionally done, then awarding the bid to someone less professional is not the solution.

But enough of that.

The real issue is that you're being told that your rates are too expensive. To be honest, that's what you'll get from trying to win bids on freelance job sites.

Those sites are so saturated with low-rate freelancers that you'll be hard pressed to break through and make much money from those sites since everyone posting bids is looking for the lowest cost.

As a translator, you'd be much better served by advertising in other places, or submitting your resume and information with translation agencies directly. My ebook The Freelancer's Ultimate Guide to Translation Agencies is a perfect place to find these agencies and advertise your translation business.

Finally, with regards to your last question about lowering your prices for "poor" countries, I would say that it depends. I have a range that I use when charging clients, and if I need to or feel compelled to, I will charge the client at the lower end of that range. However, I never say, "Oh, this person is from country X, so I will charge them less (or more)."

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