Archive for the ‘Pricing’ Category

Price Quotes and How to Make Them Comparable

June 21, 2011

In the translation business different types of pricing have appeared among translators and across regions and countries. Why, I have no idea, to be honest. In other service professions, the hour is a common benchmark by which the services of different providers can be compared. In other, more tangible services, say a foot massage or a training course of some kind, the service itself is a unit with a certain price.

So far, so good. But what do we have in translation? There are prices per word, per line, per page, per character, percentages of known and unknown text sections, and some colleagues only give lump sum estimates for the texts they work with.

I think it’s not wise to keep the client in the dark about pricing. It leaves behind a feeling of uncertainty in the client, which in the end bounces back to the provider as a “no, sorry, we will accept the quote that gives us a clear idea about what we will have to pay in the end.”



Offshoring Translations

January 19, 2011

Yes, of course, why not. But like with all products or services acquired from lower-middle-income countries, some aspects need to be considered:

  • Is the price the only criterion you base your decision on?
  • Are you familiar with the translation business?
  • What do you expect from the text?

Generally, you should never just pick the first provider in, say, India or China that comes along, even though there are plenty. But then again, this is true also for language service providers (LSP) in your home country.

So, the really decisive criteria apparently are the two others. (1) ‘Do you know your way around in the translation industry’ and (2) ‘What do you expect from the text’.

If this is the first text that you need to have translated, you should be very careful who you pick. Better ask around whether someone you know can recommend a good translator or agency. Chances are higher that you will get what you want.

Which brings us to the third criterion: This is probably the most important one. Do you just want to get rid of the task without putting too much emphasis on the result? Then go ahead. Not much can go wrong in this case.

On the other hand, if you want a high-quality result and a properly managed, smooth-running translation project, you might want to proceed as follows:

  1. Pick a translator (freelance or agency) who gives you the impression that s/he cares about you, your company, and your text.
  2. Check the translator’s credentials and experience in translation in general and in the text type and subject matter at hand.
  3. Provide as much background information as possible in terms of terminology, existing bilingual texts, details on the author and the target group, etc.

And, please, beware of translators whose only reply to your initial request is: “Yes, I can do it. How fast do you need it done?”

It is better to plan translations ahead and pick your translator with care. You get better results from true professionals, whether they live and work in your own country or somewhere else.

Think globally, act responsibly

The Difference Between Pages

August 5, 2010

Texts are not equal. Some texts are more sophisticated than others. Even expertly written texts may take a lot of time to work through, depending on the mental effort involved in translating.

Therefore, a page is not a page.

Regardless of the actual amount of words written on a page, the translation may

  • Take longer
  • Cost more

For example, highly technical texts may contain lots of terms to investigate. They probably include descriptions of
complex and complicated processes. The translator must fully understand all of those before s/he can begin to
transfer the text to the other language.

Other texts come with a strong message. The message has to be pondered to get it across best in the target tongue. This is the case in marketing and promotional texts, which must evoke a certain reaction in the recipient.

Actually, it is better to allow more time and budget for the translation of a business critical document than face the consequences of becoming embarassed by some ill-translated gibberish that came back translated fast and at no cost.

turn the page

Food for Thought – Feed Your Translator

March 15, 2010

This is a short list of the types of nourishment a translator needs:

  • Information
  • Feedback
  • Payment

Let your translator know about the text what you know. Tell her/him about the author, the readers, your intentions and the desired effects. This will help your translator to work more effectively.

If the translation result is not to your liking, this may have different reasons. Only one of them is that you were so unfortunate to pick an incapable translator. Other reasons may be that the information exchange beforehand was insufficient, or that the source text was of low linguistic quality in the first place.

Let your translator know what you don’t like about the result and ask her/him to make amendments. If you don’t, you will most likely get the same mess when the next translation is due. As a side effect, repeated feedback cycles might help you improve your source texts in the long run.

Well, of course. That goes without saying.

brainwork needs good food

The Cheap vs. the Quality Translation

October 15, 2009

Why do I state this as a contradiction? Does this have to be a contradiction?

Not necessarily, but actually, in my experience in most cases it is. There are three things to consider here:

  1. What is a “high quality” translation?
  2. Which types of texts need high quality?
  3. What does a translator need to sustain him/herself?


The Free Test Translation

October 1, 2009

This is a very frequent request by clients: “Please translate this text as a test for us to evaluate” or “Please analyze this translation whether it requires proofreading or revisions”.

A little rule of thumb:

A translator who agrees to do free work usually is not confident enough in his/her skills to insist on adequate payment for his/her services. So why would anyone trust such a translator to do a good job?

If you want to evaluate the quality of a translator’s work up front, ask for credentials with relevant samples. Most professional translators have a collection of client-authorized sample projects that they will be happy to provide on request.

Good service has its price. So, please don’t humiliate your translator by asking him/her to do unpaid work.


Haggling as Usual

September 2, 2009

Aaah, this is one of my favorites! I get this every other day: “Oooooh, that much. Can’t we do something about the price?” Unfortunately, I like my work and my clients more than to simply say: “Weeeell, no, actually…” but I would love to most of the time.


The little voice that screams in the back of my head on these occasions wants to answer: “Hm, in the supermarket when you get to the checkout counter do you also ask ‘can we do something about the price’?” Or at the hairdresser’s, or on the phone with your lawyer, with your therapist? Or do you haggle with your plumber after your washing machine got fixed. No. Nobody does. A definitive no. I know it.

So why us translators?