CHAPTER 7 – PROFITABILITY IS THE KEY
Your rates should be based on some sort of a target income level. Read newspapers and magazines, do research and try to form an idea on how much people in the same age group with the same educational background earn on average. Find out what the median income in your country is. This is where a number of translators will gasp: “That’s a lot!” When dealing with earnings, one should go for realistic, yet not too modest expectations. When exploring the statistics, reflect on which professions can be compared to translation and interpreting. How much do people in these professions earn?
You should think about whether to earn your living as a professional translator, or if you would prefer translating as a secondary income. The latter is a valid choice as long as the translations are kept up to par with those of professionals. However, you shouldn’t underprice your work, even when translating is a secondary income for you. It is much harder to raise prices afterwards should you wish to become a full-time translator. You ought to give your work the value it deserves; if you don’t do it, no one else will. Don’t forget that your personal choices affect the price level of the whole industry. Different translation associations conduct salary and fee comparisons. You should familiarize yourself with them as it will help you get an idea of the general income rate and the most common pricing criteria.
Common sense and rationality are good starting points when it comes to economic matters and financial management. It is no excuse to claim that you aren’t good at math. Everyone doesn’t have to be an expert in balancing the books, but everyone should know the basics of financial management.
A good accountant is a valuable asset, but small-scale accounting is doable for almost anyone – depending on the business structure. However, based on their expertise, an accountant can advise you on other matters such as taxation. For example, you don’t have to know and learn everything yourself if you get yourself a professional to deal with matters such as tax-related legislation and other time-consuming expert tasks. Therefore it may be worthwhile to truly concentrate on your core competence – translating and/or interpreting – instead of wasting your time and energy on tasks you are not as good at. A professional accountant will also be familiar with the practices of the local tax office, is able to inform you of important dates, and keep track on whether you should raise or lower your tax prepayments etc.