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Am I setting my sights too high?
Thread poster: Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:01
French to English
+ ...
Oct 29, 2003

Finally, I've made the jump to being a freelancer, after a year of dithering and researching. I have been lurking on Proz all that time, even making the occasional post, but this is the first message I'm transmitteing from among the ranks of the freelancers.

I've been contacting lots of agencies, as you might expect, giving my rates as £60/€80 per thousand words. Some have written back saying I was rather expensive, and they only pay translators £50/€60 per thousand words. I was under the distinct impression that 6p/€0.08 a word was fairly average (some might say on the cheap side).

So my question is: Am I being unreasonable in demanding my rate rather than theirs? Are prices dropping across the industry and do I have to do likewise?

Any feedback would be much appreciated.

[Edited at 2003-10-29 19:51]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:01
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nope! Oct 29, 2003

And welcome!

(Actually, you're quite reasonable. Contact another batch of agencies before you draw any conclusions).


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:01
French to English
Stick to your guns! Oct 29, 2003

I would continue down the list of agents until you get one or two who are prepared to pay you 0,10 € and see whether they pay you within 30 days. Whatever you do, bear in mind that you are entering the profession because you want to do this type of work but also, I suppose, to make a living from it. At 0,08 € in France, once you have paid your "charges sociales" and taxes, 55%+ of what you collect ends up in the state kitty. I think you will find it nigh on impossible to live from 0,04 € a word.

A fellow translator once told me that it is easier to justify a high rate to your clients than a low rate to yourself - wise advice.

Nikki


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Jeremy Smith  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:01
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Ahem...blush Oct 29, 2003

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

At 0,08 € in France, once you have paid your "charges sociales" and taxes, 55%+ of what you collect ends up in the state kitty. I think you will find it nigh on impossible to live from 0,04 € a word.



Ah yes - I've actually moved back to the UK - and the tax and "charges sociales" issue was a major factor in deciding to do that (although not the only factor). I had just forgotton to update my profile accordingly - all fixed now.

[Edited at 2003-10-29 19:51]


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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Doing a bit of weeding Oct 29, 2003

Hello Jeremy,

What you describe is pretty common in this business. You just have to stick to you own targets and don't accept any blackmails. I would say that in this profession, good professionals are first of all good gardeners, since we have a lot of weeding to do to have a pretty garden (i.e a nice portfolio of clients who know your rates are fair for the service provided and who pay on time). They exist and are out there so don't give up and best of luck.

By the way, with your language combinations have you ever thought of working in-house in a UK-based translation company that is able to provide you with technical training in one or two technical areas? That might help you to get established in one specific area of knowledge and therefore to reinforce your possibilities as a freelancer. Just a thought

Regards,
Mónica Machado (MIL)

English into European Portuguese Translator
Member of APT and IOL & Associate Member of ITI
Portugal
E-mail: mfcmachado@hotmail.com
http://monicamachado.planetaclix.pt



[Edited at 2003-10-30 17:45]


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Laura Vinti  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:01
German to Italian
+ ...
I don't think you are Oct 29, 2003

Hi Jeremy,

I think your rates are reasonable. I charge agencies rates higher than that for financial translations, and since it seems that the Italian translators are among the cheapest in Europe (if not THE cheapest), I really don't think that your rates are excessive. Of course it depends also on the agencies you are contacting - some are less willing than others to pay decent rates - and in which countries they are located (in some countries rates tend to be extremely low).
In my experience, sometimes it takes a very long time before an agency contacts you, even after you have passed a translation test and they have put your name in their database, but that does not necessarily mean that you are too expensive.

Best wishes,
Laura


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Joeri Van Liefferinge  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 18:01
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Not at all Oct 30, 2003

Jeremy Smith wrote:

I've been contacting lots of agencies, as you might expect, giving my rates as £60/€80 per thousand words. Some have written back saying I was rather expensive, and they only pay translators £50/€60 per thousand words. I was under the distinct impression that 6p/€0.08 a word was fairly average (some might say on the cheap side).
[Edited at 2003-10-29 19:51]


You're not expensive at all. Among my clients who pay a per-word rate, even the one who pays the lowest rate (because he sends me large volumes, always with +/- 15-20% repetitions - for which I do NOT give a discount, mind you) pays more than 0.08 EUR per word.

fwiw

Joeri


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Camaxilo  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You are doing it right! Oct 30, 2003

Joeri Van Liefferinge (King Darling Communications) wrote:

Jeremy Smith wrote:

I've been contacting lots of agencies, as you might expect, giving my rates as £60/€80 per thousand words. Some have written back saying I was rather expensive, and they only pay translators £50/€60 per thousand words. I was under the distinct impression that 6p/€0.08 a word was fairly average (some might say on the cheap side).
[Edited at 2003-10-29 19:51]


You're not expensive at all. Among my clients who pay a per-word rate, even the one who pays the lowest rate (because he sends me large volumes, always with +/- 15-20% repetitions - for which I do NOT give a discount, mind you) pays more than 0.08 EUR per word.

fwiw

Joeri


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Camaxilo  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You are right! Oct 30, 2003

You should choose your field and get good in what you do and they have no choice, but to comply with your prices or else go knock somewhere else, where they can get cheap and substandard work. When an agency try to push you around, do the same to them: 1. ask them. "How long have you been in business?"
"What kind of binding contract do you work under?" "How long will take you to pay me, after I deliver the final product?" (Accept nothing beyond 30 days.); "What is your company's asset?" And then you see how they will react. I found out that many times they cannot pay a reasonable charge and they are trying to bargain with translators to get some margin; instead of being more agressive with their clients and try to get better deals so they can operate within a nice finantial boundary. Well, unfortunately there is no free lunch!
Be very careful with agencies!!!A lot of them will try not to pay you.Try to know them before you loose your time and have to spend time in court, going after them for your money.On the other hand, there are lots of good agencies out there, which are very professional, pay well and are worth to work with. Stick with these ones! Never give them the sense that you are working for them. You are a freelancer! You work for yourself, with them, some times. That should be very clear, to impend proper business relationship and mutual respect. Be corteous, precise, professional, informative and on time to your clients.Get insurance!
Develop, sort of a little procedure in your routine, before you engage in a major project. Work with signed contracts. I always tell them that I need their contract signed and delivered to me so my lawyer can go over gives me the ok, before I start the translations. I don't know in UK or some other part of the world; here in US I pay $55.00 monthly to a friendly lawyer, who is knowledgable in this kind of things. It serves me well and I tell you it is well worth. Understand, I can use him for other things as well. When that agency start to mess around with my money, they will have to face the heat from the attorney. I don't have time to go to courts. I need all the time I can get in front of my computer translating away.Be on top of things and get all the gadgets and paraphernalia that go along with present day translation technology. Good computer, broadband IT connection, good Translation memory (Wordfast, Trados or Dejavu or some equivalent to these)desktop stuff such as: all the adobe stuff pgmaker, framemaker,MSoffice suite, acrobat writer and reader, conversion format software etc. You need to have your technological arsenal in good standing order, to compete fairly in the market place. Associate to online directories such as Proz and so forth...although I found out that some of these services that we associate to are very expensive for what they offer; there are lots of other similar services that are emerging and are excellent and for a much more reasonable price they give you lots of clients, as my wife and I found out.I get more of my clients the old fashion way. In target corporations and such.I do technical manuals and smilar work. Well good luck! I am doing a digital camera and a website! I get run.


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xxxtramont
English to Spanish
+ ...
It all depends Oct 30, 2003

Jeremy Smith wrote:

I've been contacting lots of agencies, as you might expect, giving my rates as £60/€80 per thousand words. Some have written back saying I was rather expensive, and they only pay translators £50/€60 per thousand words. I was under the distinct impression that 6p/€0.08 a word was fairly average (some might say on the cheap side).

[Edited at 2003-10-29 19:51]


It's easy, when you are an established translator with a lot of regular clients, to say that you should stick to your principles. But the question is, how much work are you getting at your preferred rates, and how badly to you need to get work, even at a lower rate, in order to establish yourself and pay your bills?

Also, how does your perception of your credentials as a translator compare with the perception of the people who get your CV? Do you come across as an experienced translator with a sound educational background, with varied experience and a lot of projects under your belt? Is what you are claiming for yourself backed up by the reality?

Also, don't forget that you are in the UK and offering two of the most common language combinations, which means you have a lot of competition.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:01
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Direct clients Nov 3, 2003

Maybe you should be aiming for direct clients rather than agencies - your rate doesn't seem high.

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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 11:01
German to English
Similar experience here Nov 16, 2003

Hiya - i just wanted to say that I have just returned to freelancing after a 3-year contract job ended, and I am having similar issues. Most of the agencies I have contacted say that my rates are high too. I currently have one client who pays me ... 0.04 EURO per word. This is absolutely the lowest rate I will work for, as quite honestly, it doesn't really keep the wolf from the door. My plan is to get some freelance experience under my belt and build up a good client base - then I can pick and choose my jobs. Until then, its more of a case of "take what you can get" - at least, that's my motto. I am very encouraged by what I have read here, though - know your value and even if you have to start small, raise your rates as soon as you can.

Hilary


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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:01
Italian to English
+ ...
Don't do it, Hilary! Nov 18, 2003

You're worth so much more than that! 0.04 EUR a word is pretty bad (OK, in some countries 0.04 EUR is acceptable and fairly respectable, but you are in the UK!).

Admittedly, starting out as a freelancer is an issue because the whole 'have no work, can't get experience/can't get experience without any work' thing rears its ugly head, but personally I feel that you are selling yourself far too short. You have an MA in t/i, so I don't see why you should go in for 0.04 EUR. There are plenty of good payers out there who appreciate quality, so it's just a case of market, market, market.

You say "know your value and even if you have to start small, raise your rates as soon as you can". "Know your value" - yes. But start your rates higher and you can always put them down later. Start them low and you'll find it tough to tell your 'established base' that they're going up later on. Don't listen to agencies who say your rates are too high - paying out less to you means more for them. With regard to your combination - in my experience German agencies have always been really good payers. Having said that, a little negotiation never hurt anyone!

As Marc Prior said in another forum earlier today, it might be worth taking a look at the rates survey published by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. The Institute is at http://www.iti.org.uk.

I say stick to your guns. Remember that you could spend two weeks a month working on a 0.08 project, or the whole month on the same project for 0.04 EUR. It's time we pushed rates up, not down.

Have a good week,
Amy


[Edited at 2003-11-18 17:08]

[Edited at 2003-11-18 17:09]

[Edited at 2003-11-18 17:13]

[Edited at 2003-11-18 17:17]


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