anarkyQuoting is one of the very first steps of a translation project. With a new prospect, it could mean the beginning of a long-term collaboration and as such, it is a crucial step.
Sending a clear quote is essential. A document giving detailed information about a project means that all parties know exactly what the project will entail and their roles and responsibilities: the translator agrees to deliver so many words on a particular date and the client agrees to pay the price quoted. In order to do this, I analyse the document to assess its difficulty, the time it will take me to translate and how it will fit in with my work schedule. The more complex the document, the longer it will take me to produce the translation and so the higher the per word rate is. This hourly rate calculator is very useful and this wiki on determining your rates also contains interesting information.
I never take into account the competition when I prepare a quote. I decided long ago to remain a neutral observer of the price wars, for a simple reason: that’s all I can do. There will always be translators that are in a position to offer much cheaper rates than me, so my unique selling points are the quality of my work, my reliability and my efficiency. So far, this approach has worked for me, but lately, I’ve had a string of rejected quotes. One was strictly because of rates, another prospective client found someone with more experience than me, another decided to go with a translation agency instead of several freelance translators, another I’m not sure. I asked for feedback from my latest prospect and she told me that she liked my personal approach and my website, which made her feel welcome and aware of my process, but that her decision came down to budget.
I can’t help feeling that had I given her a call to discuss her project, she might have decided to pick me. Although her project was straightforward and didn’t necessarily need discussing, she clearly values a personal approach and creating a rapport might have made the difference. The other mistake I think I made was that I didn’t tell her how interested I was in her project and how I was looking forward to sinking my teeth in it – it required a creative touch, which I love, and I should have emphasised the need for us to have regular communication in order to get the right tone for the translation.
I always aim to make working with me as simple as possible for my clients: people are busy and the less maintenance I require, the more they can dedicate their time to other tasks, which they are generally grateful for. In some cases however, and definitely in this one, speed and efficiency must be put aside to favour a more personal touch: by firing an email with my quote without taking the time to talk to my prospect, I probably lost the “personal edge” she liked when she visited my website. In freelance translation, one size definitely doesn’t fit all.
Photo by StartTheDay