Waiting for Translations: New Pricing Model?

On call: doctors and translators.
The German-speaking blogosphere recently saw an interesting discussion about pricing models for translations centered around whether should you should charge by the line/word or by the hour/project, which is an important topic, as is pricing in general. While the jury is still out on this one (we personally like the hour-based approach for certain projects and have written about this issue extensively), Dagy recently had a very unique request from an advertising agency client that we'd never had before: they asked her to provide a quote for her availability for possible translations, six days in a row, including the weekend.

After consulting with her favorite business partner, Dagy decided to charge EUR 500 per business day and EUR 750 for every day of the weekend, plus a slightly discounted rate per line for any translations. In exchange, she guaranteed permanent availability and the fastest possible completion of all translations, every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Even though we've worked hard on developing and insisting on professional rates for our services, Dagy did fall into the stereotypical self-exploiting freelancer trap with one thing: she didn’t even think about including a lunch break in her quote. We've made many business mistakes, and we usually don't make the same one twice, so next time we will definitely contractually set a lunch break. Lesson learned!

The client happily accepted after zero haggling. Dagy had to cancel quite a few appointments she had scheduled during those days, but it certainly paid off. Most days, she received no translations. On two days, she did a lot of translations, which had a nice impact on the final invoice. While Dagy did feel a little limited in her daily activities, she was certainly happy with what ended up being a highly lucrative week. During her stand-by times, she also proofed several hundred pages of a German-language annual report, which is per se a major project, and also worked on a wide variety of other client projects.

We believe this experience goes to show that even very unique pricing models are possible in our industry and that clients are prepared to pay adequate prices for extraordinary services. Why not keep that in mind next time you negotiate with a client?

By the way: what Dagy ended up translating were documents regarding a highly confidential company acquisition by a large European company. The estimated purchase price was in the billions. It does feel nice to have been part of such a major deal, even to a very small extent. 

While a friend suggested she use part of that money (it was, after all, a lucrative week) to upgrade to business class on her upcoming flight to the US, Dagy decided to put some of the money aside for future tax payments and to make a donation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (also known as the UN Refugee Agency) to benefit people who are much less lucky than she is. 


Michael Schubert on April 5, 2017 at 2:35 PM said...

Lots of food for thought and entrepreneurial thinking in here! I'm going to share this with my translation students who are graduating this spring and have so many questions about the business end of translation. (And naturally they will be ORDERED to buy your book as well!) ;-)

Max Neilson on April 6, 2017 at 6:02 AM said...

Great Post!
I will surely buy your Book which related to translation and also recommends everyone to read your book especially translators.
Thanks for sharing!

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on April 6, 2017 at 3:24 PM said...

@Michael: Thanks for your thoughtful comment and for ordering your poor, poor (haha) students to buy our book. We hope they find it helpful! This on-call translations model is certainlya new one for us, but it's always worth putting some thought into these pricing models before you are confronted with them so one is as prepared as possible. :)

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on April 6, 2017 at 3:27 PM said...

@Max: Many thanks -- we appreciate your comment and thanks for reading. We hope you enjoy the book. It's a labor of love, and while it does need a second edition, we think it does contain a lot of good information indeed.

Evans on June 27, 2017 at 9:27 AM said...

That is a good approach since many people use the words to charge and i bet having newer methods would help promote the Translation industry hopng you book is availlable in amazon

Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

Subscribe by email:


Twitter update

Site Info

The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

Translation Times