Get Your Freelance Rates Right
Be realistic in your expectations when deciding what to charge, but do not let yourself be drastically underpaid either. Beginner freelance translators often take jobs that pay well below the industry standard, deciding that it is better to work for a low rate to gain experience than to not work at all. While it is advantageous to practice under an agency and start getting clients, a translation is a specialized ability and you should not let clients undermine your talents. Eventually, as your level of knowledge and specific skills evolve, you will be able to start charging closer and closer to the industry standard. Current acceptable industry rates can be found through an internet search as well as on translator workplaces such as proz.com or translatorscafe.com, and through association websites.
When you do start applying for or bidding on translation jobs, it is important to take into account the amount of words in a document, the industry or field in which the document is written, and when the translation is due back. All of these factors should be considered when accepting or even applying for a job. You should not take on jobs that are too difficult or that are in a field with which you are unfamiliar; know when to decline a translation. The point of specialization is to make the translation process as effective and flawless as possible. Spending time researching too many terms or concepts slows you down and can lead to changes in meaning in your translation.
Equally important is the amount of time you have in which to produce a translation. Figure out how many hours you would like to dedicate to translating in a day, and then how many words that you translate in an hour in any specific field. Multiplying the two numbers will give you how many words you translate per day, but your knowledge of the field of the document and specialized terms or phrases will affect the amount of time in which you are able translate. You should also take into account whether or not you are using a CAT (Computer-Assisting Translation). Make sure to give yourself enough time. If you can translate 1600 words in an 8 hour day, accepting a 3000 word rush job to be done by tomorrow in a field in which you do not specialize may not be the best decision, as it is likely that you will not have the time to return the translation in the polished and accurate form that is expected.
Translation Rates from a Customer's Perspective
This page was written within the context of what a freelance translator should know. To learn about translation rates from a buyer's perspective, check our Translation Rates page.