Walking down Transfreebies Lane

Another wonderful translation day is just starting. With a mug of hot coffee on one hand and switching the computer on with the other, a freelance translator is ready to enthusiastically work on a project.  Automatically, she is logged on to her email, checks to see if there are any new messages (no You’ve got mail is heard!). Great! New projects have been offered! What a start to the day!  She recently had completed a small project worth $30 from a new client. In fact, this little project was their first collaboration. One of these emails is from this new client with a new project: a 3-word one! The project manager would like to know if the translator will do this little one free of charge.

As expected, translators normally set a minimum charge for less than 250 words. It is the norm. One cannot be paid per word for these projects, the total amount most of the times, does not even cover the bank transfer fees. Besides, why should the translator spend even 5-10 minutes of her time to work on such projects and not charge for them? Translators reserve the right to offer such projects for free to the clients of their choice. It is to their discretion to send their little gift of gratitude to clients that send them new, big and interesting projects on a regular basis.

The translator thought about this one for a couple of minutes and decided she will not charge. She informed the client that she charges a certain minimum fee for such projects, but will not charge this time. She translates the words and clicks on SEND. Usually, the client sends back a little email of appreciation with the words Thank you! Not this one. It is a simple case of bad manners. A week passes by, and another email arrives. This time, the same client wants the translator to check if these three words that were translated the week before, look good on a PDF. Of course, no payment is mentioned, but after the translator gave the thumps up, a thank you email did arrive.

Do not get me wrong, translators are not opportunists. The minimum fee is placed for the reasons mentioned above, not to take advantage of clients. And yes, I do agree that sometimes a client does not understand why $20, $25 or $30 need to be spent for 3, 4, 60, 249 words. They consider it a rip-off.  Translators, on the other hand, are not charity cases. Clients cannot expect them not to be charged for little projects.

Coming back to our story, the translator knows for a fact that this particular client has a large number of projects in her language combination, but none are actually directed to her. Didn’t the PM charge her client for these 3 words that the translator gave her for free? Hmm. In these circumstances, she decides that from now on she is going to refuse to offer freebies to anyone except to those clients of her choice.

Have you ever experienced a similar case? How do you deal with little projects? Please share your thoughts!

This Post Has 2 Comments
    1. Natali,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, it is true what you say, I am still not sure how I should handle them!

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