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Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 22, 2008

I've read that we can negotiate rates with our clients. That said, does this mean that the quoted rate is really a suggested starting rate? How much room to negotiate do we have?

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Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:44
Member (2003)
French to English
Running a business means you negotiate Sep 22, 2008

If you're working as a freelancer then you set your own rates, based on the market in which you're operating and how much you need/want to earn: it's not like being an employee where your employer decides how much you are worth to work in a particular job.

How much room you have to negotiate depends on lots of factors: where you're positioning yourself in the market being the main one. If you're trying to compete on price at the bottom end of the market then obviously you have less room to negotiate than if you have a particular specialist area, very specific technical expertise and so on.

Best,

Karen


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:44
English to German
+ ...
It's *your* business Sep 22, 2008

Hi Srta Sara,

How much room to negotiate do we have?

Entirely up to you.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:44
French to English
+ ...
Think of it another way... Sep 22, 2008

When your plumber comes to do work in your home, do you say "I'll pay you x?" or do you ask for his rate? When your tooth aches and you go to the dentist and he tells you you need a crown, do you tell him "OK, I'll pay you 50 bucks for that" or does he give you an estimate?

Same for translators. We are service providers, we run small businesses, we set our own rates

Cheers,

Patricia


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:44
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Target rate Sep 22, 2008

Srta Sara wrote:
does this mean that the quoted rate is really a suggested starting rate? How much room to negotiate do we have?

A good solution is to quote a "target rate" to customers. That means it is not a definite quote, and indicates that there is room for negotiating -- up or down.

Remember that wise saying -- in business you do not get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:44
French to English
+ ...
Possible confusion? Sep 22, 2008

Peter, there is the chance that in quoting a target rate, people may misconstrue that to mean the target language per word rate, rather than the source language per word rate. Srta Sara would have to make her meaning very clear

Patricia


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 14:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes. Yes. No! Sep 22, 2008

Karen Stokes wrote:

If you're working as a freelancer then you set your own rates, based on the market in which you're operating and how much you need/want to earn: ...


Yes, you set your own rates.

Yes, your rates should be based on the market in which you're operating.

But no! - How much you need/want to earn is irrelevant.

There's no point in deciding you want the luxury of working from a luxury yacht cruising round the Caribbean all year - and then demanding 100 bucks/word in the hope of paying for it!

Nor should you set unnecessarily low rates on the basis of "well, actually I'm earning quite a good living, I don't need all that cash, I'll charge less". If, by some quirk of fortune, you are in that enviable position then you should still charge proper rates for your market - if only to avoid being accused of disloyal competition with other translators. If you're making 'too much', you can always give the excess to a worthy cause!

MediaMatrix


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:44
Italian to English
¡Hola Señorita Sara! Sep 22, 2008

There are various client types.

Outsourcers who stipulate a rate are generally unwilling to negotiate so just ignore them if their offer is too low.

The clients who offer good jobs through Proz don't regard the rate as the deal-breaker. Instead they draw up a shortlist of likely translators from the directories, with or without a test, and ask them to quote. In that case, you have plenty of wiggle room to negotiate.

As a rule of thumb, if you're getting too many good job offers, raise your rates; if you're not getting enough, raise your visibility by improving your specialist skills, fine-tuning your profile etc.

Suerte,

Giles


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
cheap/fast vs quality translations Sep 22, 2008

Giles Watson wrote:
As a rule of thumb, if you're getting too many good job offers, raise your rates; if you're not getting enough, raise your visibility by improving your specialist skills, fine-tuning your profile etc.


Agree, there's a market out there for cheap/fast translations, and another market for quality translations. Quality translations are neither cheap nor fast.

If you want to get in a position where you name your price, rather then be told what it is, think about developing a specialism and focus on acquiring expertise. If you are uncertain about specific field specialisms, focus on broader text types/ areas that appeal to you (tourism, websites, marketing, research articles, etc) and try to learn as much as much about them as possible.

A good starting point for any translator wanting to learn and grow is simply to start reading up on style guides (general ones, international organisation ones - Strunk & White, EU, WHO, etc - which eventually lead onto specific guides governing humanities, science, etc). Any native can write their own language - but not necessarily to a "professional standard". Most quality translations essentially require translators to really know their stuff about "professional" writing, and, of course - eventually - to have "field knowledge", but that is less accessible ... meanwhile, start with the small stuff:-)


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Quoted versus suggested Sep 23, 2008

Srta Sara wrote:
I've read that we can negotiate rates with our clients. That said, does this mean that the quoted rate is really a suggested starting rate?


As a freelancer, each job you do is a separate job that can be quoted and negotiated separately. Usually you'd use the same or similar rate for a client on all his jobs (it makes it easier for both parties), but there is no compulsion to do that.

If you feel that you have quoted a very low rate for one job, feel free to tell the client that you think it was a low rate and that you are likely to quote much higher for future jobs. The client might take a fright and drop you, or he might try to squeeze another low-paying job out of you to see how serious you truly are.

I don't think there is negotiation in the real sense when it comes to quoting rates. To negotiate means to give and take, but I don't see how the client can give you anything in lieu of a lower rate. He might offer to extend the deadline, but that shouldn't result in a much lower quote. He might say "just this once, then we use higher rates" but that is not negotiation -- that is just begging.

As for you, you can't "negotiate" higher rates. You simply tell the client "this is my rate, let me know what you think" and if he wants a lower rate, you can talk about it and perhaps you'll agree to let him get away with a lower rate this once.


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:44
French to English
+ ...
sure there is! Sep 23, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:

I don't think there is negotiation in the real sense when it comes to quoting rates. To negotiate means to give and take, but I don't see how the client can give you anything in lieu of a lower rate. He might offer to extend the deadline, but that shouldn't result in a much lower quote. He might say "just this once, then we use higher rates" but that is not negotiation -- that is just begging.



There is always a possibility of negotiation in quoting rates (whether it is successful or not is another matter, but it often is). It has to be a win-win situation, that is to say each party has to "give" something and each has to perceive they have "won" something. The process takes active "listening".

A translator can negotiate their rate up to fulfill a client's particular need (turn-around time, format, ready to use copy that has already been proofed by a third party etc..). A translator should not negotiate down their rate unless the client agrees to a counterpart gesture that is important to the translator. It is up to the translator to propose, OK, I'll offer you this time a commercial gesture of X percent discount on the invoice (never on the per word rate!) in exchange for payment at reception of invoice (instead of 30 or more days delay), or in exchange for his/her name on the published translation or any other such term useful to the translator's business.

HTH,

Patricia


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Negotiating for what is your right anyway Sep 23, 2008

Patricia Lane wrote:
It has to be a win-win situation, that is to say each party has to "give" something and each has to perceive they have "won" something.


Yes, but what good is it if you negotiate for something that is your right anyway? For example, attribution is your right. Payment on time is your right. A fair deadline is your right. You can't negotiate these things. If you try to negotiate them, you're sending a signal to the client that you're used to being treated with contempt.

OK, I'll offer you this time a commercial gesture of X percent discount on the invoice ... in exchange for payment at reception of invoice (instead of 30 or more days delay)


That's just a complicated way of giving the client a discount. The client has a certain accounting policy that he is unlikely to have control over. Do the math: If his policy states "30 days after receipt of invoice", then he will simply do a late payment and pay interest on his late payment. Odds are that the amount of interest on late payment will be less than the discount he "negotiated" with you, so he wins (money), and you win (a warm, fuzzy feeling that you've been cleverer).

...or in exchange for his/her name on the published translation or any other such term useful to the translator's business.


Attribution is your right anyway. And it's easy to promise such things. But iff the client had no control over attribution in the first place, what makes you so sure he'd have any control over it now that you ask?


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