Today I want to talk about another interesting topic: Should translators charge a minimum fee for small jobs?
Unstable translation rates have been an ongoing problem in many countries. Now more than ever it seems important for translators to set a minimum fee when possible, although it isn’t always easy to know how much to charge.
Pricing in the translation industry has become a topic of concern more recently, with many academics releasing papers about it. They attribute pricing pressure to disruptive trends from changing technology, client or LSP resistance to rate suggestions, and the willingness to talk about rates within the community.
I find that the latter, the willingness to talk about it, is one of the biggest obstacles in the community. We are afraid to talk about rates because we don’t want our competitors to steal our clients. But at some point, as a community, we have to stand together and support our interests.
For me, it always depends on the client. Whether it is a direct client or an LSP, they are the ones who suggest a minimum fee. I work with a minimum fee with many LSPs, I think they understand better that sometimes there can be really small projects coming their way, or that the volume of work isn’t going to be the same every month.
With other clients, whenever I try to charge a minimum fee for a small project, I can sense the resistance. They say that it is too expensive, but am I really willing to spend my time and resources on a project that is going to earn me just a few bucks, probably 30 to 45 days after I invoice it? It can also depend on the client and the volume of work you get from them.
If you get a steady volume of work, and then it decreases and small projects start to come in, I go ahead and take them, because I know that at some point the volume will increase again, and that will make up for the low-volume times.
But if we are talking about a new client, who doesn’t send me a steady workflow, I might consider not accepting the small projects, and waiting until bigger ones come my way. Of course, I always explain this to the client and that’s when I try to negotiate a minimum fee.
The main thing is that you should do what you feel comfortable with, and you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and ask for a minimum fee. You might not get it, but at least now your client knows that you won’t work for nickels.
What about you? Do you work with a minimum fee? Has this approach worked for you? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.
Thank you to Day Translations for sponsoring this post. You can click on the link to find out more about the services they offer.
Until next time, take care and stay safe!