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Korina HanselOver the past decades, due to the advance of technology but also that of globalization, translators have wittnessed a severe decline in rates and an increase in the number of customers looking for the lowest rates. But how much should you charge?

When you are quoting for jobs you will almost always be asked for your rates, which are usually given per word. In order to be able to do so, you will have to calculate exactly what your costs of living and running your business are. Take into consideration how much you could work per day and month and break this down to a price per word figure.

For example, if you are working from home and your rent is 600€ per month and you need another 1000€ for all additional costs (telephone, insurances, food, car etc.) you will need to make at least 1600€ per month. Ideally you could work 5 days a week and 8 hours per day.

However, not all this time can be spend translating, you will also have to spend time on organizing, marketing your services, writing invoices and all other things related to working as a freelancer. Moreover, you cannot count on receiving enough work to keep you busy 40 hours a week, especially not when you are just starting out. So let's say you manage to receive as much work as to keep you busy for 3 days a week on average.

If you can translate 2500 words per day (proofreading your own translation included) your total output per month would amount to roughly 30.000 words which means that your price per word would have to be at least 0.053€ in order to cover your basic costs only. Therefore, your minimum charge cannot be less than this rate unless you can count on receiving more work each month on a regular basis.

The same principle applies of course if you are charging your customers by the hour, which is usually the case for proofreading, DTP related work and the like. Taking the figures used above, your minimum hourly rate would be roughly 17€ (1600 divided by 4 weeks divided by 24 [the number of hours you assume to be able to work for a client]).

Please keep in mind that these figures are only used as an example and that they may vary depending on your personal situation. By using our PriceCalculator , which you can find under Tools / Extras --> PriceCalculator, you can easily find out what your minimum rate would have to be. (Of course the sky's the limit - ideally!)

When negotiating your prices with your clients you should emphasize that you are also running a business, just like they are, and that, therefore, your prices are calculated economically. Depending on where you are living your minimum rate might be higher or lower than the average price. But you should keep in mind that not only prices but more importantly quality assures long-term business relations. So your own rates, even if they should be higher than that of others, are justified if you can deliver quality work on time.

Republished with permission by author and - The translation industry information and project portal Visit

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