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Providing generic price quotes to agencies as a freelancer
Thread poster: ntext
ntext  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:34
German to English
+ ...
Sep 17, 2003

One of my least favorite questions is, "What's your rate?" — when asked without any indication of the kind of job I might get hired for.

I find that there are huge differences as to how long it takes me to translate different texts of equal length. Like many translators, I'm inclined to charge different word rates for different projects, depending on a number of variables. But the reality is that many language agencies want to know how much we charge before they inquire about a specific job, and an hourly rate is usually not acceptable to them.

So I'm wondering what my distinguished colleagues think is the smartest strategy for freelancers when providing generic price quotes to agencies. I'm especially interested in input from people who run agencies.

1. If I have the option of giving a price range, rather than one rate, should I do so? And if so, how much of a range should I give — say, 8 to 16 cents, to cover all the bases? Or 9 to 12 cents, to cover most jobs?

2. If I only give one rate, should it be the lowest? Or the average? (Probably not the highest, I would assume.)

3. When in doubt, should I err on the side of quoting too high (and then be open to working for less if a job is easy and/or voluminous) or on the side of quoting too low (and then possibly ask for more when approached for a job)?

[Edited at 2003-09-17 21:56]


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:34
English to Spanish
+ ...
What works for me Sep 17, 2003

When asked about my rates I say something like:

======================

Plain text, no special formatting, non-technical: US$x

Rate may vary according to subject matter, difficulty, and delivery times.

======================

I suggest that you don't mention a range of rates, as the lowest one will be the only one the client will want to offer you.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:04
English to Tamil
+ ...
It cuts both ways Sep 18, 2003

Usually clients expect you to commit yourself to fixed rates while they are delightfully vague about the nature of their normal jobs. I don't feel shy of giving them a rate but I make it clear that it is valid only for the moment. If they come sometime afterwards, they will be given the prevailing rate. As a successful translator in my own right, I don't allow myself to be browbeaten by such agencies.

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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 09:34
German to English
I would love to see hourly rates become standard. Sep 18, 2003

A conversion in the industry to hourly rates just as it is in almost every other industry.

This would justify lower rates for beginning translators for instance.

sylvie


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:34
German to English
+ ...
"What's your rate?" Sep 18, 2003


One of my least favorite questions is, "What's your rate?" when asked without any indication of the kind of job I might get hired for.


... in which case, why does your ProZ profile state that your rate is 0.08-0.11 USD/word? OK, it's a band - but a fairly narrow one. (Nothing personal Norbert: I'm in the minority here.)

Once again, translators are their own worst enemies. Just look at all those rates on ProZ profiles, like price labels on sacks of potatoes!

Hands up all those who would like to see customers selecting their translators on criteria other than price! OK, hands down, fingers back on the keyboard - and get those rates deleted from your profiles. Expect fewer phone calls (or maybe more, who knows), but more promising ones.

Marc


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:34
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
I look at the total amount against the job details Sep 18, 2003

sylvie malich wrote:
A conversion in the industry to hourly rates just as it is in almost every other industry.
...


Sylvie,
it would be an improvement, sure, but it would also imply that we provide an accurate estimate of the time needed to complete a job, and then we stick to it.

But, as we know, this may often be not practical or impossible. For example, the customer/agency may know the volume but the files are not yet available.

In general, any price (per word, per line, per hour or for the whole project) should be provided initially as a ball park figure, and confirmed only after a careful assessment of the actual material to translate and all contractual terms.

The rates posted in our ProZ profiles, as any other rate supplied before the final confirmation, should be considered NOT committing by both parties.

I don't mind working using a rate per word, as long as I'm happy with the total amount for a particular job. I look at the global picture, mentally including in the rate (regardless of the unit used), all other factors.


Gianfranco


[Edited at 2003-09-18 14:04]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:34
English to German
+ ...
Slight correction, Marc, if I may... Sep 18, 2003

Once again, translators are their own worst enemies. Just look at all those rates on ProZ profiles, like price labels on sacks of potatoes!

This is where I agree - which is exactly why you won't see a price in my profile (although I have entered my rates).

OK, hands down, fingers back on the keyboard - and get those rates deleted from your profiles.

No need to delete the rates - just change visibility.

Best regards, Ralf


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Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:34
English to German
I would love to see hourly rates become standard. Sep 18, 2003


A conversion in the industry to hourly rates just as it is in almost every other industry.


Actually, I wouldn't because I can make a lot more money being paid for the number of words I translate. I think that most of the hourly rates offered by localisation companies are an insult to experienced and highly specialised translators. At least, by paying me by the word, my speed works to my advantage.

OK, so you think I'm greedy

sparkie


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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 09:34
German to English
Hourly standard Sep 18, 2003

sparkie wrote:
... I can make a lot more money being paid for the number of words I translate. ...At least, by paying me by the word, my speed works to my advantage.


Which leads to you raising your hourly rate as your professionalism increases showing you're no beginner...

Take the case of advertising. I often take hours ruminating over 3 slogans. If I were paid by the word it would give me an hourly wage of, well, peanuts.

sylvie


[Edited at 2003-09-18 16:32]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:34
German to English
+ ...
Well-hidden rates :-) Sep 18, 2003

Hi Ralf,


No need to delete the rates - just change visibility.


I looked for your rates but couldn't find them. You've done a good job of hiding them.

I have considered posting my price list on my web site in encrypted form, and giving new customers the key when they inquire. But it's not a suitable solution either. For instance, I have a lower rate for agencies, which I think might put end customers off. More importantly, although like most people I have a volume-based rate for each customer, the rate reflects the kind of work I get from that customer and so differs quite a lot from one customer to the next. For that reason a rate for a new customer is only provisional anyway.

I'd actually like to charge by fixed quotation per job. I did try introducing that once but it didn't work. I don't think charging by the hour will catch on, either, and I don't think I would like it if it did.

Marc


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:34
English to German
+ ...
Easy... Sep 19, 2003

Hi Marc,

I looked for your rates but couldn't find them. You've done a good job of hiding them.


Not at all - members entering rates have a choice to show them - or not...

Cheers, Ralf


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