How to Run a Translation Business Series your translation rates
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How to Run a Translation Business PART 4: Finances

In this one, I talk about finances, i.e., how to calculate and set your rates, how to charge your clients, and what the various streams of income are.

As you requested, I have gathered my tips for running a translation business in one place, How to Run a Translation Business Series. It’s divided into five parts, each of which touches on a different aspect: online presence, content, clients, finances, and mindset. As you will see, some of them alternate with the others. For example, online presence mentions content and clients; finances are connected with clients and mindset; and mindset is connected with all of them. In the first part of the series, I touched on online presence. The second one was about content. In the third part, I covered clients.

Money is a measure of your business’s effectiveness.

1. Set your financial goals.

Think of how much you want to earn per month or year as well as your rates and/or products’ prices. Remember that, first of all, your rates depend on your language pair, type of service, and niche. But they should also be adjusted to the market, i.e., not too low nor too high.

2. Set your rates.

To calculate your rates, you can use the rate calculator available on ProZ. You can also ask colleagues about how they set their rates and check the average translation rates and the money matters forum on

❗ Remember that you’re a business owner. It means that your rates need to reflect your expertise and knowledge as a translator, as well as include all your expenses. These are bills, CPD, tools, licenses, subscriptions, membership fees, etc.

❗ You’re free to charge the rates you want as long as they comply with the conditions mentioned above.

Different ways of charging a client:

  • PER WORD: the most common with LSPs, but sometimes you can also charge them…
  • …PER PAGE: usually in case of translation and editing. The most common with direct clients.
  • PER PROJECT: a quote tailored for a specific project. It may be one that requires a different scope of work than usually for your client.
  • PER PACKAGE: when you offer a client more than one service. For example, translation + proofreading by a native speaker in case you don’t translate into your native language.

❗ Proofreading: If a translation contains so many errors that it’s better to translate it from scratch, you should raise your rate. (Or you can refuse to accept the project or charge a client for translation.)

Also, you should raise your rates once a half-year or a year, and always with new clients.

❗ However, you shouldn’t raise your rates with all your clients at the same time. You may lose them all when they don’t accept your higher rates.

Different ways of payments

wire transfer:


3. Do what brings you money first.

Always prioritize tasks that bring you money, i.e., translation projects, over being active on social media, finding new clients, etc. Focus on maintaining the customer relationships you already have rather than building new ones. It’s harder to get a new client than to get another project from a satisfied client.

4. Have a so-called financial cushion.

If possible, put money aside consistently so you can use it to grow your business (invest in professional development or hire people) or in cases of inconstant workflow.

💡 It’s good to have several streams of income. For example, apart from being a translator, be also a university lecturer or language teacher. Another idea is passive income, e.g., a book or ebook, a paid program or course, affiliate marketing, or partnerships.

Last but not least,

5. Track your numbers.

Keep track of the number of projects you have completed and the revenue each of them has brought you. This way, you know what kinds of projects are most profitable for you. Also, know which clients give you the biggest number of projects and which give you the most profitable ones.

Any questions? Ask me in the comments. I’ll be happy to help.

Linguist and translator with 4 years of experience. A passionate photographer and traveler. I like meeting new people from all around the world and knowing their culture. I graduated from 3 different universities in Poland and one in Spain. At przeTŁUMACZ Dorota Oleś, I offer into-Polish translation services of English and Spanish marketing content, mainly related to sports and fashion. I also run a blog on which I share my insights and knowledge as a translator and linguist.