Translations by the Gigabyte

This is an actual email I received this week. It was broadcast out to me and 30-40 other translators at the same time:

Hi. We urgently need help. Have any of you ever done translations
that are billed in gigabytes? If so, how is this done? How much does it
cost per gigabyte?

Thank you very much. We really appreciate any help you can provide
in the way of this query.

Kind regards,


The billing unit varies by language and location. In Korea, translators often charge by the line or by the page. And in many languages, they charge based on source word count in every case. 

But for Korean in the international market, I’ve found that billing by the English word is the most reasonable. On jobs from English into Korean, it is easy to quote the job price since we have the word count up front. For Korean to English, it is more problematic because we can’t know the actual billable word count until the job is done. 

Oftentimes, if a client wants to know the final price of a Korean > English job up-front, I will eyeball the text, estimate the final word count and give a fixed price quote that won’t vary at the end.

I have, however, never heard of billing by the gigabyte. That is a first!

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