Pricing and Costs
I have frequently heard linguists starting out in the translation and interpretation business ask the question about rates. "What do I charge for my services?" And although we are prevented by anti-trust legislation from discussing specific numbers, there are some general guidelines that may and should be discussed.

So, how does one figure out what prices to charge one's customers? As far as I can see it, it is an exercise in arithmetic. First, you have to determine your cost. "Cost", you would say. "I am not a company, I do not buy materials or maintain an office with employees." That is true. However, you do have bills to pay, food to buy, vacations to take, and children to put though college, among other things. In short, you have to figure out what it costs to maintain your family. Here are some of the components you have to take into consideration: I suspect this is not a complete list. Please let me know if you can think of something else.

Once you have all those costs figured out, you have to see how much time you have to earn this money. Let us say that you start out with 365 days. Subtract the number of weekend days and the 10 statutory holidays (US). The result is 303 days. Assume (for the sake of example only), your costs were $36,000. Divide that out into the number of days, and you get $119 per day (rounded up). This is what you need to earn each and every day of the year to pay your bills. But wait! What if you fall sick or want to take a vacation? You will not be working while sick or on vacation but the bills will still need paying no matter what. Therefore, you have to make provisions. Total up the sick days (say, one work week for the sake of this example) and vacation time. You get 20 days. Multiply that by your daily cost ($2,380). Subtract the 20 days from the 303 available days a year (283 days). That is the number of actual available work days per year during which you will have to make up the money that you will not be earning while sick or on vacation. Therefore, divide $2,380 by 283 ($9 rounded up). Add the result to the original daily cost ($119) and get your final daily cost ($128, or $130, to get a nice round number). This is what you absolutely have to earn to pay your bills. But this puts you down to the wire with no margin at all. This increases your cost to about $145 per available work day. That said (written, actually), there will be days when there is simply no work to be had or those when you only have a couple of hours' worth. What this means in practical terms is that you have to make up on the days that you are working. In the final analysis, this basic number ($145) might have to be doubled, or even tripled. You will be able to gage your annual workload once you have been in the business a few years.

Disclaimer: The specific numbers are for illustration only and are based on the cost of living in the US. The lists are not exhaustive.