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How to Run a Translation Business PART 4: Money

In this one, I talk about money, 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 You can also ask colleagues about how they set their rates and/or check the average translation rates and the money matters forum.

❗ 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.

Ways of charging a client:

  • PER WORD: the most common with LSPs (translation agencies), but sometimes you can also charge them…
  • …PER PAGE: usually in case of translation. One page is 1500 or 1600 characters with spaces depending on the LSP. Charging per page is more common with direct clients, though. Then the page is 1800 characters with spaces. However, more translators charge per word or per hour of work.
    Sworn translators also charge per page (1125 characters with spaces).
  • PER HOUR: typical for editing, subtitling, transcription, and copywriting.
  • PER PROJECT: a quote tailored to a specific project. You can apply it for a project that requires a different scope of work than usually for this 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.

❗ Sometimes, a translation you proofread contains so many errors that it’s better to translate it from scratch. In such a case, definitely apply your translation rate. Or you can, of course, refuse to accept the project if you don’t feel like doing it.

❗ You should raise your rates once a half-year or a year, and always with new clients. However, you shouldn’t do it with all your clients at the same time. You may lose a lot of them when they don’t accept your higher rates.

Payment methods

There are various ways a client can pay you. The most popular is bank transfer. Some clients pay through PayPal due to fees charged by banks on both sides.

Which one to choose? In general, it depends on your and your clients’ preferences.

❗ If your clients aren’t based in your country, check whether your bank charges any fees for transfers from abroad.

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. You can use it to grow your business, e.g., invest in professional development or hire people. It n cases of inconstant workflow.

💡 It’s good to have several streams of income. For example, apart from being a translator, you can also work as a university lecturer or language teacher. No more worrying about getting less projects.
Another idea is passive income. It means you gain money through selling products you once created, e.g., a book or a paid course. You can also do it through 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.

A linguist, translator with 4 years of experience, and passionate photographer and traveler. I like meeting new people from all around the world and getting to know 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, fashion, tourism, and hospitality. I also run a blog on which I share my insights and knowledge as a translator and linguist.

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