Translation is not always about big jobs. Sometimes you receive those little jobs that are too small to schedule but too big to squeeze them in easily. Sometimes they are also annoying, not to talk about stressful. Charging those little jobs by your word rate is not affordable often. Who can set up a TM, translate, edit and deliver within a few hours for only € 2? Nobody. That’s why there is the minimum fee. But hey, they help clients too…
A while ago I had a discussion with a client. She often sent small files to be returned within a few hours. The files often contained only a few lines of text but the requirements where high. I therefore charged a minimum fee for those jobs.
She didn’t appreciate that, because she was afraid that in the end the sum of all those minimum jobs would be too high.
I understood that thought but also explained that it was not affordable to charge the word rate for each and every small job she sent me. However, because she sent small files on a regular basis, I decided to offer a competitive minimum fee. In case she could send me small files on a regular basis, I would invoice the translated texts on a word rate basis. When the amount of words for a particular month should raise above a certain treshold I would invoice my normal word rate, but if the amount of words for that month would be below a certain treshold, I should invoice a monthly minimum fee.
That raised some questions:
„If there will be none small translations in a particular month you will not apply any rate, will you?
Can we also agree that this minimum rate will apply from more than one translation in a month?
So if there will be just one little translation you will apply word rate. If more than one you will apply your minimum rate. Does it sound fair for you?”
The goal of a minimum fee
A minimum fee is meant to protect the translator against an overload of small jobs that are not affordable.
It also helps clients to think once more before they send a small file to be translated. Jobs are nice and welcome, but they should stay welcome. Small jobs without a minimum fee don’t.
A minimum fee also protects a client’s business in that you can agree on it before. The client in turn can than anticipate on it and does not pay more than expected.
A solution for re-occurring minimum tasks
I finally end on this as follows, like I agreed with some other clients:
– When there’s no minimum job, I will not invoice the minimum fee
– When there are minimum jobs that together do not reach the minimum fee agreed, I will invoice the minimum fee
– When there are minimum jobs that together exceed the minimum fee, I will invoice the normal fee
This solution is both affordable to me as a translator and to this clients. They can send minimum jobs as much as they will. Backed up by some additional agreements, as the turnaround time and the delivery format, I can do the jobs quick and easy without any restrictions and with the peace of mind that I get paid for the time I spend.
My experience until now is that in the end all parties involved are satisfied: I for the reasons described above and the client because (s)he can continue to send small files without paying too much.
How do you work think about minimum fees? Share your thoughts below…