The problem with “screening” translators

An acquaintance who owns a translation agency was complaining to me the other day about the pool of freelancers who send him applications. He claims that he wants top-quality translators, but so many mediocre ones apply that he can't sift through all the noise. He keeps creating stricter screening procedures in the hopes of filtering […]

“Translators shouldn’t earn more than $75,000/year”

One of the nice things about being a freelancer is that you can earn as much as you're worth, rather than what somebody thinks you ought to earn. Over on the Honyaku mailing list, however, "Captain Adam" doesn't think that translators should earn more than $75,000 per year: In my opinion, a good translator is […]

How long until you quit your day job?

Corinne McKay over at Thoughts on Translation has an interesting post about how long it took her to become established as a freelance translator. I was going to write this as a comment to her post, but this got a little long so I moved it over here. I started freelancing when I was in […]

Point on the graph: direct-client rates for J2E translation

A job offer was recently posted to the Honyaku mailing list, looking for a translator for a book by a Japanese researcher into English. The offered rate was ¥7,600 per 200 English words. That works out to ¥38 per word, or according to the XE.com Universal Currency Converter, US $0.42/word at today's exchange rate (31 […]

Volume discounts

One question that often comes up among freelance translators is whether we should give volume discounts. I'm not against giving them in principle, but I think that we need to weigh the pros and cons of doing so. Crossed purposes Often agencies will ask for rather large volume discounts — larger than translators are willing […]

Translator output

In the comments to this post by Thoughts on Translation, several translators said that they use 2,000 words per day as a benchmark (or rule) for daily output. In an article about how much to charge for translation, I estimated that translators probably produce around 2,400 words per day on average, and Masked Translator agreed […]

Becoming a better translator

My goal as a translator is to be continually improving. If you're satisfied with your current skills, then you're not improving. And if you're not improving, you're stagnating. As I see it, there are seven main areas where we can improve or expand as translators. Target-language ability Source-language ability Subject expertise Translation ability New field […]

How do you know how much to charge as a freelance translator?

When you're first starting out as a freelancer, it can be tough to figure out what rates to charge. This is especially true because once you settle on rates with a client, it's generally very hard to move them upward. The conventional wisdom is that if you want higher rates, you need to find different […]