Figuring Out Translation Prices for a Global Project

Translations can be tricky for both sides of a project when it comes to good pricing. For a company, it can be the best or worst that can be squeezed from a negotiation. For a translator or a service provider, the margins could affect profits, service quality or both. Translation work can be tagged as a la carte or buffet format or in terms of billable hours. It entirely depends on the nature of the work, the volume and scale involved, the terms and conditions important to each party and the dynamics of the market.

Sometimes, per-word prices can work reasonably well for someone looking for global translation services. At other times, a component of value-add or project management fees can change the cumulative pricing significantly.

But quality and a premium for add-ons that a global translation services firm can deliver, with its depth and experience, are worth paying for, especially if the task at hand is not a one-off.

Freelance pricing structures can work for piece-meal jobs but if the work is of consistent nature, or if it is something where market insights and nuances can matter tremendously, then a value component will inevitably come in. There was a time when many translation services providers had a tough time convincing companies that they charge on a per word basis. Most of them were paying freelance translators on a per page basis. But slowly and surely the companies understood that professional firms bring on board certain definite values like confidentiality of the document, a strong process to ensure flawless translation, global knowledge of the industry and tools to measure the translated work across multiple clients etc. Translation pricing works excellent for both parties when efficiency, timeliness, insight, affordability and quality areas are well balanced.

It is advisable to have some clarity beforehand on supplementary parts like service terms, basic fees, hourly rates, minimum levels and iteration rates. A good translation contract would take into account all obvious and fine-print areas well, that too in advance. Such a contract would also be flexible depending on the quality or experience of resources that a firm can offer or the level of non-technical ingredients that professionals or the firm can bring in.

Global translation work is not about simply translating one language into another. It would touch upon many marketing areas, regional angles, extra services and document related work that surfaces during the course of a long-term project. The pricing structure would cover not just fees for translators but also for project managers, service staff, technology tools and software costs.

Service providers who are well-versed with and well-rooted in this space are often able to strike a fine balance between reasonable pricing and affordability without compromising on the gains that either the client or the translator expects from the journey. This may also include clauses related to deliverables, outcome-based pricing and service levels that help both the parties have clear guidelines in case circumstances pose a challenge.

Pricing offers an opportunity to establish points of performance in advance. Pricing, if handled well, can help companies achieve quality at every level of the translation project.

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