Monday, June 20, 2016

Which Is Best? Being Paid by the Word or the Hour?

There are cases where translators bill by the hour, but generally, the norm is for translators to charge on a per-word basis.

Below we’ve listed our thoughts on the differences between charging by the hour and charging by the word –

There Are Advantages to Pricing Translations by the Word

·         If you charge by the number of source words, then everyone involved in the translation process, including the client, knows up-front just how much the project will cost – right down to the very last cent. No-one has to estimate how many hours the project will take and no-one has to deal with any unexpected overruns.

·         Pricing on a per word basis encourages translators to improve their technology and skills: it may also improve translation technology innovations because translators would be more likely to invest in tools that allow them to translate faster.

·         An efficient and skilled translator would probably be able to earn more charging by the word than a client would be happy to pay by the hour.

·         Pricing on a per-word basis allows translation clients to quickly and easily compare quotations, rather than having to determine between a translator who quotes a higher per hour figure and claims to work quickly from one who has a lower per-hour charge-out rate but works slower.

Disadvantages of Pricing by the Word

One of the disadvantages of pricing by the word is that the translator is agreeing to work for a flat and fixed rate, which means that when you come to a document that’s barely legible because it’s been scanned and photocopied many times before you receive it or the handwriting is barely legible, you’re now stuck with the per-word rate you agreed to. Once you’ve experienced this a few times you’ll probably decide it’s time to rethink your charge-out rate and introduce a higher rate!

So, Is It Better to Price by the Hour?

It all depends! From the translator’s point of view, the main advantage of pricing by the hour is that the translator has no risk of loss: if you charge (let’s say) $40 per hour and you work for 10 hours, then you know you’ll receive $400. On the other hand, if you charge (let’s say) $.20 per word and believe you’re capable of translating 600 words per hour, but the complexity of the particular document means that you actually translate 250 words per hour, then your anticipated finances have just taken a hit.

As you can see, the pricing structure for translation is all a matter of preference; however, the main reasons pricing by the word is still favored are –

·         The client is fully aware how much the translation will cost; and

·         Generally, the more efficient and experienced translators are capable of earning more on a per-word basis than what clients would be prepared to pay by the hour. One word of warning here, though, is that translators should be sure that everyone agrees in advance whether the billable word count is determined by the source document or the target document.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Goal Setting for Translators

It’s interesting that many freelance translators don’t set goals for their business, yet we know that goal-setting is a vitally important element of running any business – and yes, that includes running a freelance translation business too! When you work day-in-day-out without any goal in mind, this type of passive attitude can only lead to low job satisfaction and job stress, and it’s no wonder! You feel like you’re at the mercy of your clients and that they’re dictating how, when, and what rate you work at; instead of having the satisfaction of knowing that you’re actively progressing towards achieving your goals.

Let’s have a look at some suggestions for setting and achieving your goals –

Define Your Likes and Dislikes

Ask yourself what you enjoy and what you dislike about being a freelance translator, and make sure you write your answers down. Do you hate the stress of rush projects, but you love the flexibility of your job? Be honest about your specialization: do you find it boring? Or do you love your specialization, but you’re not feeling challenged at the moment? Once you’ve completed your list, find ways to shift your work towards the aspect’s you enjoy. Making this kind of inventory can be eye-opening, because suddenly the answers will be clear.

Rank Your Clients

Divide your clients into groups – Group A, Group B, and Group C. Your Group A clients should be your drop everything clients. These are the clients that are easy to work with, they’re the clients who pay well, and their translation projects are interesting. Unfortunately, most Group A clients don’t require your services on a regular basis, so unless you have a lot of these clients you still need another source of income. Group B Clients are your bread-and-butter clients – they’re the foundation of your business. It’s these clients that keep your Inbox filled with work; they usually pay on time, and their work can be either tedious or interesting. Group C clients are those clients who may offer a particularly interesting project, but you only work with them when business has been slow or you have some other motivation.

Now that you’ve ranked your clients, work out how you can identify more Group A clients. What are the specific characteristics of these clients? Once you have the answer to this question, you can then search the Internet for more potential clients like them. An additional benefit is that you’ll also discover some characteristics of your business. Group A clients are probably going to be direct clients because, once a translator has reached a certain level in the industry, they will have moved beyond translation agencies maximum rates. Any translator who’s reached that level won’t be able to increase their income without moving towards working with direct clients, and that will involve undertaking one hour translation reviews.

Make Sure the Goals You Set Are Specific and Achievable

Being specific and being achievable are the two characteristics that make goals worthwhile. Instead of setting vague goals like: ‘To be less stressed’ or ‘To make more money’, set yourself actual goals that you can reach, and be specific. These need to be measurable objectives. As an example, your goal might be to find one new direct client in a specialization you’re really interested in; or perhaps to find three new direct clients that pay more than your current per-word rate within the next three months. It may be that you set a goal of increasing your income by 30% in the next financial year, or that in six months’ time you won’t be working any more than one night per week. Of course, these are just suggestions, but whatever your goal is, write it down and make sure it’s specific - and achievable! Good luck!