The price of translation has its cost – this should be obvious. What does it actually cover? In this text, we will refer to the hackneyed saying “time is money” but the reverse is also true: “money is time”. All the tasks which are related to a translation order and take our time must translate into money. The money paid by our clients for translations means that we spent an adequate amount of time to perform various activities, which go beyond translation as such.
Because we want to be transparent with our clients, we would like to tell you what exactly is included in the translation price, even though we do not present exact calculations down to every per cent. Not everything is quantifiable in translation, there are parts of the job that simply cannot be measured and easily converted into euros. However, it should be borne in mind that our work – and this text is in equal measure about our work as it is about the price for translation – covers certain tasks that need to be taken into account in the final price. We will also say more about the nature of our work and about running a small translation business.
QUOTATION AND ORDER MANAGEMENT
We need to explain one thing here. Many translation agencies and studios, both large and small, use a call to action to send files for quotation. It usually looks like “SEND YOUR FILE NOW TO RECEIVE A FREE QUOTATION”. Of course, this means that for the quotation for the file and the preparation of an offer for the translation no fee is charged upfront and it is not specified in the final invoice. It is not charged if the potential client rejects the quotation either.
However, it should be noted that even if this is not specified anywhere, this does not mean that the task takes no time and therefore is should be completely free. Depending on the type of the order, its size, and the source files, the quotation may take half a minute (simple conversion of the number of characters into pages and multiplication by the price per page), several minutes, up to a few hours, if the content needs to be extracted from non-editable files.
Order management means all the tasks that include contact with the client, preparation of the offer, reply to any questions asked by the client, or preparation of preliminary questions to the client. If the order is confirmed, order management also includes scheduling, entering the order into appropriate Excel sheets, planning the translation and revision, preparation of any separate agreements and their printing, signing, and sending the scanned copies, and similar activities.
In large translation agencies, these management and administrative tasks are performed by dedicated personnel. Smaller studios or freelance translators rely on their own work. In both cases, such management costs are part of the final price.
When the files to be translated are sent in a non-editable form (i.e. pictures, .pdf files, etc.), they need to be first processed and converted in OCR software so that they can be opened in Microsoft Word. When they are converted into .docx or .doc files, they can be translated with CAT software (i.e. Computer Aided/Assisted Translation software; more about CATS in our blog entries – first part, second part). Even if the file is in a Word format, it still may require processing of figures, text boxes, or tables that are to be translated.
Similar tasks are performed after the translation has been made. Especially in the case of translations into Polish, it turns out that figures, tables, text boxes, or even paragraphs “tear apart”, because they need to accommodate more text than the original.
The amount of time that we need to convert and format the files depends on the number of figures and on how complicated they are. Sometimes it takes half an hour or so, but sometimes it may well take five, six, or seven hours. Such works are also taken into final account.
THE TRANSLATION ITSELF, REVISION, PROOFREADING
This is the part that takes the majority of the final price for the order. We wrote about the process of translation some time ago. In short, it covers getting familiar with the text, the translation itself (i.e. rendering the source text in the target language), all search for adequate terms and additional information (broadly speaking, research), use of source materials, and contact with subject specialists or the client in case of any doubts.
This stage also covers the translator’s check, revision by Martyna or Paweł, and, if necessary, proofreading.
Of course, how much time it takes to translate, check, review, and proofread the text depends on a given order, that is why there are no fixed rules here.
In our case, the translation service covers also any consultations once the text is sent back to the client. We often attach comments to problematic, unclear, or even erroneous fragments of the text or to clarify some of our decisions. We are also open to broader discussion of the text, if necessary. Especially in the case of text review and editing, we provide additional feedback concerning grammar and style.
Translators also use tools – see our blog post about this topic. The basic tool is, obviously, a computer, but software also falls into this category as well as other equipment, for instance a smartphone and office furniture. Some programmes have a subscription mode that requires renewal every few years. Other applications have new versions released with newer and better features, so these may also require replacement every now and then.
That is why part of the translation cost is reserved for the replacement, maintenance, and upgrade of the equipment necessary to perform our work.
RUNNING A BUSINESS
One should also bear in mind that running a business in Poland requires a lot of money that are included in the final price.
These costs include first and foremost social insurance (the infamous ZUS) and advance PIT payments. Additionally, they include utilities (most often electricity and water, if the office is not located at home), internet, and phone operator. Apart from those, many translators use accounting, marketing, or DTP services. Also, as mentioned in section 1, this includes our time spent on issuing invoices, preparing contracts, or paying an employee responsible for these tasks.
KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE, GROWTH
This section is the most important one. The client pays for our knowledge and experience, which we have gathered throughout our whole life. First and foremost, this includes our linguistic skills, which we have been improving all the time and which led us to study philology, linguistics, and translation at the Jagiellonian University, and, later on, allowed us to professionally translate. We improve our knowledge and skills every day.
This section also covers our knowledge concerning various disciplines. We constantly learn new things, as every bit of information may be useful in a future project. Also, this covers our self-learning by reading professional publications on translation or from our specialisations. Additionally, we assign some funds to buy new books, e-books, dictionaries, subscriptions, and other sources that allow us to grow professionally.
Last but not least, the price also covers the courses for translators, specialised language courses, post-graduate studies, webinars, or, in some cases, member fees of translators’ unions and organisations. These are also costs that cover our growth so that we could be even better translators in the future.
The price of our translation covers more than a skilful rendition of the source text in the target language. It also covers many other factors and tasks that are directly related to our work. Even though they are not visible at first, they are also important and necessary in translation. In other words, the price per standard page or per hour’s work includes many essential components. To put it shortly: the amount you pay us never gets wasted!