Top 3 Most Important Things Some Translation Clients do not realize

They say ignorance is bliss.

For us translators, I believe it’s good that some clients do not fully understand how we work and how we go about producing professional translations and managing our business. There are, however, 3 major things which I hope all clients would realize for that matter.


  • Rates Deemed “High”: When we charge a certain rate that they find “too high” given that the task can be done in a short period of time, they would actually be paying for the EXPERTISE.
    The years of experience spent are the main factor determining how much we charge for a certain service. If I become too good at something, it doesn’t mean it gets easier, it only means I get better since I am more familiar with it, and I deserve every penny I ask for to get it done.
    In the first months of professional work as translators, I understand that we could charge low rates until we are experienced enough. Clients who say “but you used to charge way less” need to understand that when several factors change, the rate is bound to change, just like the quality of the service offered.
  • Urgent Jobs: There’s no such thing as an urgent job, just a client who was late, so they might as well pay for their procrastination!

What I might (but don’t – you’ll see why) consider urgent, though, are press releases and news articles. Such texts are prepared on a continuous basis, which requires round-the-clock translation. Even for such jobs, urgency is no longer the case: translators usually end up working shifts and waiting for the client to send the press releases to be translated and circulated to the media.

Therefore, when a client contacts me for an “urgent” job, I hope they realize that the rate for express translations is higher than that for regular ones, and I hope that they acknowledge it and are OK with it.

  • Giving a free word count: This is not mandatory when it comes to new/potential clients. It is a complete waste of the translator’s time to wait for the potential client to send them the material so they can in turn do the word count (in case that is doable, of course. Some files cannot be converted, e.g. images), and then give a final quote, only for the potential (I repeat, potential) client to find it too high or to find the translator’s time frame not suitable.
    Existing clients can of course benefit from this service; at least mine do. On the other hand, what I do with potential clients, who are not even sure if they will be giving me the job or not, is that I give them my rate per word, based on their description of the project, and let them handle the word-count and eventually how much the project would cost them. I’ve learned that the hard way though.


Do you have other things you wish your clients realized? Share them with us in the comments section below!

2 thoughts on “Top 3 Most Important Things Some Translation Clients do not realize

  1. Hi there, another thing which I am constantly struggling with is the “word for word” translation, without adaptation. Some people just don’t understand that different languages work differently, as they have different grammar structures etc. and they expect to see a word for word translation. Some phrases or expressions just don’t work in another language and need adapting.

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