Rates: how much should freelance translators really be charging?

One of the most challenging aspects of self-employment as a freelance translator is setting your rates with clients, so it’s no wonder that many freelancers shy away from this difficult area. But ploughing ahead without thinking will not make you the money you deserve, even if you are the most talented translator out there. It’s worth thinking in greater depth about rates, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first.

Ideally you should be charging enough to keep yourself busy and pay the mortgage. Start by assessing your skills and experience. Rarer language pairs, advanced qualifications or experience in a particular sector can set you apart from other translators and should be reflected in your rates. If you are particularly fast you could consider charging less as your speed will make up for a drop in per word charges.

You also need to consider your financial needs, as well as the realities of the translation marketplace, so you will need to do plenty of research to pitch your quotes just right. Put on your budgeting hat and work out your expenses, including everything from rent to petrol to tax. This should help you calculate how much you need to earn in a given working week or month. If you know how quickly you can translate, you can use this information to calculate a target hourly rate. Once you’ve established a goal, keep records of your earnings religiously. This will help you to see how to improve your working patterns and earn more money.

Don’t fall into the trap of setting your rates based on gut instinct with no research, or vague ideas about how much other people charge. Your business will never prosper if you do not do the maths! So take your time in working out your financial goals and then work diligently towards them. If you take things step by step and adopt a realistic attitude it is possible to achieve your freelancer dreams!

This is the summary of the article published in MultiLingual magazine under title “The great rates debate” by Oleg Semerikov. More details at http://www.multilingual.com/articleDetail.php?id=2228.

You can also read the full article in our ebook The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Successful Freelance Translator.

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