Professional Translators

The Price Difference Between Transcreation and Translation Explained

by | Last updated May 2, 2018 | Professional Translators | 6 comments

Hourglass to represent time investment as one of the main differences between transcreation and translation.

The price difference between transcreation and translation is because of the time involved in transcreation.

You’ve probably heard a lot about transcreation recently. One difference between transcreation and translation is how they’re priced. This article explains why.

Maybe you’ve read Gwen’s blog The Truth About the Difference Between Translation and Transcreation. Or my article about Transcreation Examples: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In our articles, we see transcreation as being a point on the spectrum between literal translation and copywriting.

Some people say there’s no difference. That translation and transcreation are basically the same thing. They say transcreation is just clever marketing. Another way to sell translation. Put a creative twist on it and charge more money. But, is that true? Is there more to transcreation than just higher rates?

Where translation and transcreation overlap

There are certainly similarities between transcreation and translation. Firstly, all transcreation involves professional translation skills. Secondly, both transcreators and translators need to have professional writing skills in their native language. Thirdly, there will always be a degree of creativity involved.

Transcreation and #translation are different, but how? Click To Tweet

Where translation and transcreation diverge

Adaptability

Transcreators and translators need to adapt to what the customer needs. As Gwen explained in What Is Transcreation? Is it Different to marketing Translation?, transcreators can advise on cultural aspects too. For instance, they can give a copywriter’s slant on your visuals and whether they’ll work in the target market. And if not, how to adapt them.

Translation and transcreation be different kinds of jobs. A translator can advise on cultural aspects, but isn’t expected to. Sometimes customers don’t want to know, they just want a translation. A transcreator might be specifically hired to do that cultural analysis as part of the project.

Time investment

Creating a text that sells in the target market takes time. The transcreator needs to understand the brand. They have to consider the target customer, approach, tone of voice, visuals.

The client will already have decided this in the source language. The transcreator needs time to read and digest that information, to examine the visuals and marketing materials.

Then, they need more time to tailor that to the target market. There’s probably a lot of reading involved. They might need to ask the client questions. There will be brainstorming and various drafts. It takes longer than translation.

Which leads me on to…

Price

Obviously, all that time investment needs to be compensated for. You can’t charge per word for transcreation. Well, you could. But, you wouldn’t make any money. So, transcreators charge per hour or per project.

Look at this blog by Gwen about how transcreation takes longer: A Simple Transcreation Example that Raises Controversy for Translators. Or this article Don’t Make this Rookie Error with Your Marketing Translator, about the time and steps involved in transcreating a slogan.

Don’t forget, when some clients ask for transcreation, what they really need is bilingual copywriting. In this case, there might not even be a source text to work from. Meaning there would be no words to calculate the base rate from.

Some clients need to create an English text from a Spanish brief. Or a text in English from notes and materials in Spanish. This bilingual copywriting obviously can’t be billed per source word.

Per-word rates exist to give the translator a way of estimating how long the job will take. Some projects involve more than just translation and so are billed differently.

What’s the best way to charge for #transcreation: per hour or per project? Click To Tweet

So, price is an important difference between translation and transcreation. But, there is a reason for that. The prices differ because the job differs. As its name suggests, transcreation is about mixing translation with copywriting to create an entirely new text.

The creative effort and time invested means the costs are different. It’s one of many differences. But it’s an important one for translators to bear in mind when thinking about offering transcreation services.

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6 Comments

  1. Genevieve Shaw

    Interesting article. Have you got any recommendations for deciding how to price transcreation? Would you quote for the number of hours you envisage the job taking?

    Reply
    • Lucy Williams

      Hi Genevieve, thanks for commenting. It depends on the job and there are different approaches. Some people quote an hourly rate, especially for smaller jobs, and others charge a per-project rate. It’s important to allow time in the quotation for research as well as simply writing. Research and other aspects take up much more time than the actual writing for a creative job. This needs to be factored in too.

      Reply
      • Gwenydd Jones

        Thinking time, too.

        Reply
  2. Lucy Williams

    Hi Claudia, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I don’t think the blog says at any point that transcreation and translation are one and the same. Quite the contrary, in the same way that you describe transcreation as a “service that’s halfway between translation and copywriting” the article explains that “transcreation is about mixing translation with copywriting to create an entirely new text.” I agree with you that it’s not just about money and time, but I think these are important differences that need to be kept in mind. As the article says “The creative effort and time invested means the costs are different. It’s one of many differences. But, it’s an important one for translators to bear in mind when thinking about offering transcreation services.” I think the examples given in the article could be considered in the category of transcreation services as the person doing them needs to be both a translator and a copywriter. What a transcreator does on a real-life project often requires a degree of flexibility. And that flexibility is one of the things that makes transcreation different.

    Reply
  3. Craig Cavanagh

    Food for thought. Very interesting read (and the links too).

    Reply
    • Lucy Williams

      Thanks, Craig. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

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