How much does translation cost ?

...and what you can do to get more for less.

translation cost

Trying to keep down the cost of a French translation project or of a multilingual campaign is a priority for many businesses. At the same time, there is no point paying anything at all for badly translated copy which won’t deliver on your objectives. So, how much is too much, and how much is too little?

How much should I pay a translator ?

For a relatively non-technical translation, an output of 2,000 words per day before proof-reading is considered reasonably achievable (click here to read about the pitfalls of urgent translations). Technical text and copywriting will take longer, producing a more likely output of around 1,500 words per day.

You can therefore expect to pay at least £0.10 per word for a decent translation into a relatively common language such as French or Spanish, and closer to £0.12 for a rare language. For copywriting, expect to pay at least £150 for a 1,000 words piece.

Any other requirements likely to slow the work down, such as specific technical knowledge or research, SEO integration or specific formatting requirement may increase the cost.

How can I reduce the cost of translation ?

Remove the middleman – translation agencies are useful to manage large, multilingual campaigns or projects, but they invariably mark up the translator’s rates. Going directly to a freelance translator may not only reduce the overall cost, it also allows you to be more involved and to develop a closer relationship with your go-to linguist. They will be able to contact you to discuss details of your copy or choice of terminology and, in time, they will get to know your products, your industries, your objectives and your priorities.

Use a standard format – If you can, convert any web or creative files into a more standard format to save on your final bill. There is no need to pay your translator to fiddle with obscure file formats when your design team can have it all converted to MS Word in a few minutes.

Should I pay for proof reading ?

Staring at a document for too long will make the best writers or translators immune to any errors. This is why it is recommended to walk away for a few hours (ideally a couple of days) before proof-reading a text. Alternatively, there is the option of hiring a separate proof-reader. Either way, the value of proof-reading should not be underestimated. Think of the expense in the same way as you budget for graphic design or packaging costs : it is the final touch that will make the difference to your customers.

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