Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Pricing and turnover in a translator’s business

Pricing and turnover in a translator’s business are thorny subjects. So thorny indeed that many translators are extremely reluctant to talk about it at all. It is also a subject where I can get a bit hot under the collar. I know I shouldn’t really say too much as I don’t want to tread on anybody’s toes, but I do feel it is detrimental to the image of our profession that so many translators complain about low turnovers. Are you happy with the turnover of your translation business? If not, consider the following:

Do you specialise in any particular fields? It is time-consuming to regularly have to dig into and research new areas and it will not add much to your bottom line. Stick to the same fields, and market yourself as an expert in such fields.

Do you use translation software to automate some of your work? Translation software will speed up your work considerably. It will take some of the dull, mechanical work off your shoulders and free up space for the more intricate (and much more interesting!) parts of translation.

Do you manage your time? Are you actually working while you could or should be working? Do you manage your attention span? Time is one of a freelancer‘s most precious resources and should not be wasted. Effective time management techniques, therefore, are key.

Translators are not willing to work for peanuts

Do you charge per 1,000 words although it would be wise to charge by the hour – or vice versa? Obviously, you wouldn‘t want to price yourself out of the market, but don’t forget freelancing means you can charge whatever feels right to you. After all, no one dictates what you should charge.

And, finally, the awkward question:

Do you charge enough? Do you work for serious-minded clients or bucket-shop companies? Remember the translation market is huge, and demand for translations is immense. Therefore, why not make the effort and track down some good clients? By the way, if you’re constantly inundated with work, you should raise your rates sooner rather than later.

Misconception 7 of my most popular blog post ever says “translators are willing to work for peanuts”. Are you willing to work for peanuts? There is still much work to be done, but I am confident that we are slowly moving away from the erroneous, outdated image of translation as a low-paid, unattractive profession. And if more of us became a bit more open about what we charge and earn, it would go a long way towards promoting the image of translation as a worthwhile and respected profession.