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Differentiated rates? (by geography)
Thread poster: Cornelia Serban

Cornelia Serban  Identity Verified
Member (2005)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Feb 19, 2004

Hello everybody,

I need your opinion on this and would really appreciate any suggestions. I will have my website ready soon and want to mention my rates on it. The problem is that in Romania prices charged for translation work are lower than abroad and I really don't know how to set my rates to acquire Romanian as well as international customers. I can't set them too high because I would lose any potential Romanian clients, but I don't want to create the impression that I practice "cheap" translation either. Do you think it would be fair to mention differentiated rates on this basis on my site? I hope you give me some ideas and thank you very much.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:55
English to Spanish
+ ...
Be more reserved Feb 20, 2004

Maybe it is best not to mention rates, except that they are competitive. If you get most of your work locally, you may not make a great living, but you have to start somewhere until you can build a higher paying clientele.

Once you start getting the latter then they are the ones you want to work for. You want to try to keep your rates at a higher level, because that is not only good for you, it's good for all of us!

In addition to saying your rates are competitive, you can also invite prosepective clients to send a text for a quote without obligation, and that you will be glad to provide it.

Many clients have no idea how many words they are dealing with anyway even though the computer will count them, so stating specific rates may not be helpful to them. They also may ahop for price and not quality.

Best of luck in your ventures!

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Rahi Moosavi  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:55
Partial member (2004)
Farsi (Persian) to English
+ ...
Local - International Rates Feb 20, 2004

I have the same situation in Iran. Eventually, I found out that not stating any rates on my website would be better.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:55
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Which is you native language? Feb 20, 2004

As Romanian you perhaps should concentrate on translations from English and French into Romanian, and your customers are going to be international clients. No general rates should be offered but negotiated from case to case.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:55
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I use local x international Feb 20, 2004

Cornelia Serban wrote:
Do you think it would be fair to mention differentiated rates on this basis on my site?

I charge one rate for local ZA clients (approx EUR 0.025 per word, which is average-to-low by local standards) and another rate for non-local clients (approx EUR 0.075 per word, which is average-to-low for US/EU standards). I mention this on my web site, in a roundabout way (my web site is linked to from my profile. if you want to visit it and see).

[Edited at 2004-02-20 09:39]

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invguy  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:55
English to Bulgarian
Differentiated rates? - Yes, by all means. Feb 20, 2004

I agree with the others that it's better not to mention prices on your website. IMO you can afford to do that only if you are targeted at a relatively small market segment where the type of jobs you get is pretty much the same, and there is a known "going price" (or at least a fairly established price range).

I'd say, a translator's website is not an e-shop where you could buy things right off the shelf. Translation is not a ready-made, but a custom-tailored product. Therefore, your website should first of all present - in a convincing way - your professional qualifications, as well as give some proof of your reliability. In short, the purpose of a website is to make a potential client call you and ask for a price estimate. From that point on it depends on your negotiating skills

Else, your specific prices may (actually, ought to) depend on three main factors:

1) Type/complexity of job.

2) Technical factors: urgency, need to use various software, need to comply with specific layout or file format requirements, ability to use CAT tools, etc.

3) The market (or market segment) where your client comes from.

The last factor is very often underestimated, or wrongly interpreted, and this leads to tension and confusion on the translation market. It is also a disputable issue, so please take all written below as my humble opinion only.

Actually, it refers not only to translation, but to any intellectual product, and has become a particularly sensitive issue with the advent of the Internet leading to a globalization of the intellectual labour market.

I base on the assumption that the price of a product is not just a number, it is a MEASURE OF VALUE.

And yet another assumption: each (local, national, regional) market (or even market segment) is a balanced economic system where prices for each product have reached equilibrium level basing on: 1) the product's value; and 2) the self-regulating action of free market mechanisms, the demand-supply one in particular.

Let's assume that the price of translating 100 pages is approximately equal to an average monthly salary (AMS). Thus, a client in market A (where AMS = 2000 EUR) would be prepared to pay 2000 EUR for this. (I say 'prepared' because that would be the reasonable expense they have calculated into their business plan.) OTOH, a client from market B (AMS = 200 EUR) would be only prepared to pay 10 times less than client A.

If you announce a price range tailored to A-type markets, you'd cut off all clients from market B. OTOH if you go on market A with B-type prices, that would represent severe underpricing - that is, a disturbance in the normal functioning of market A. Of course, most clients would gladly take any opportunity for reducing their expenses, so client A would most probably cherish a B-type offer. But in this case PRICE WOULD NO LONGER SERVE AS A MEASURE OF THE PRODUCT'S VALUE, which would have a destructive impact on the market environment as a whole.

Regretfully, this is often the case lately. Intellectual workers from lower-income regions WRONGLY base their pricing on their own necessities. Of course, on that acount they (that is, WE, as far as I am geographically your neighbour) can afford to be more than competitive on the global market. However, by using that opportunity at max, we contribute to creating the abovementioned disturbance in the market - which could, in the long run, lead to reducing THE VALUE of translation as a market product.

Mind you, I'm not talking about prices, I'm talking about VALUE. Such changes would unavoidably strike back on us, too - sooner or later - because they are structural changes, and resonate in all markets, regardless of specific price levels. If a market has been too long under a constant pressure to lower a product's price, structural changes are just a matter of time. For translations such a trend definitely exists, but I believe there is still time for it to be reversed.

Therefore I suggest that you research the going prices on all markets you intend to aim at - and develop a separate price range for each of them. I am not saying your prices should not be competitive; what I'm saying is that normal price competition means "X percent lower", not "X times lower".

BTW the ideal (IMHO) price competition formula is: more value for the same price

NOTE: I am not discussing quality here - I'm taking good quality as granted. There is quality stratification on each market, which is reflected by the corresponding price range specific for that market - but this is a different topic.

I realize my post is not exactly an answer to your question, for which I apologize; however, as you're at the point of deciding on your prices, I believe it would be helpful to have these considerations in mind.

Good luck, Cornelia!

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Cornelia Serban  Identity Verified
Member (2005)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Agree Feb 20, 2004

Thank you all so much for your replies. I will have spend some time to consider this seriously and hope to make the right decision.

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