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How to respond to low rate job offer?
Thread poster: edith1
edith1
Netherlands
Local time: 22:54
English to Dutch
+ ...
Jul 5, 2005

I received a rate inquiry from a translating agency from India. Being a beginning translator, I told them my rate is 0.05 Euro/word. I told them too that I am a beginner and that my rates are low because of that.

They replied and asked whether I am willing to work for 0.03 Euro/word. Now, in principle I am not.
On the other hand, I am willing to do one or two small jobs at a rate of 0.03, to convince the agency of my abilities as a translator.

What to do? Are they trying to take advantage of my inexperience? Or is it normal for Indian companies to pay such low rates even to translators outside of India? (I imagine 0.03 Euro/word is a lot if you live in India!)
I would like to make it clear to them that 0.03 is really too low to accept for regular work, but that a small job at this rate is ok. Will that be an insult to them?


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:54
English to German
+ ...
Decline the offer Jul 5, 2005

Hi Edith,
Now, in principle I am not.

And that's what you should stick to.

Even as a beginner, 5 cents is a low rate - I don't see how you could commercially justify working for 3 cents. (Bear in mind that your income doesn't only have to cover regular expenditure and your cost of living, but that you will also need to set aside reserves for investment and retirement provisions.)

If you accept work for 3 cents, I don't think you'll be able to subsequently raise that.

In any case, before working for an unknown customer (regardless of location), make sure to check their business practices, especially regarding payment.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:54
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Reject emphatically, decline politely Jul 5, 2005

The rate they are quoting is rather high for them, but low for you. Why give them the hope of being able to employ you?

I say, reject it with abandon and don't waste your time! Don't sell yourself short, either, no matter who it is, Indian or whatever agency.


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:54
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
raising rates is near impossible Jul 5, 2005

As most people will tell you, raising your rates (especially from such low levels) is close to impossible once you have agreed to work for a certain rate with a certain client. Indian companies are well-known for their "generous" offers and also their "excellent" business practices. Decline, decline, decline. If you want experience, consider translating for charities.

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paula13  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 17:54
Member (2005)
Just say NO! Jul 5, 2005

What to do? Are they trying to take advantage of my inexperience?


Of course they will always try to get their translation done for the lowest possible price, but a cheap translation is... well CHEAP!
It's one thing to be inexpensive because you're just starting and need experience, but selling yourself short is a whole other story. Not to mention the impact it has on the market. I mean, the more translators take jobs for 0.03 cents the harder it is for the rest of us to talk new clients into paying what our work is really worth.
I think it's great that you would consider saying no! Just make sure you turn them down as nicely as possible and who knows, maybe they're just playing hardball.


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cendrine marrouat
English to French
+ ...
Your rate is already too low Jul 5, 2005

Hello!
I think your rate is already too low to start with. Maybe you should think about raising it a little bit, such as 0.06 or 0.07 euro a word. Never underestimate your level.
It is clear to me that 0.03 a word is a rip off! Decline!
Best regards.


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French Foodie  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:54
French to English
+ ...
Charge a professional rate and hire a reviser Jul 5, 2005

I agree your rate is too low, even if you are a beginner. Do you pay lower fees to your doctor just because he or she just graduated from Med School?
I would suggest charging a professionally accepted rate (ask other translators in your language pair) and then hiring a reviser to look it over for you if you are feeling a little nervous because of your inexperience. So in the end, you get the same amount as if you charged 5 cents, but you have a high-quality product that the client will understandably be willing to pay a good price for. You keep learning by translating and benefitting from your reviser's comments, and when you are ready to strike out on your own - you don't have to battle to raise your rates because they are already set at a reasonable, professional price.

Best of luck to you,
Mara


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edith1
Netherlands
Local time: 22:54
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jul 5, 2005

Thanks to all of you for your comments. I have sent a reply to the agency, telling them as politely as possible that I don't want to work for 0.03 (explaining why), but am willing to do one short job at this rate to show them that I can do the work.

Mara, hiring a reviser is a good idea, thanks. However, it will not solve the problem of getting jobs. Since I am a beginner, I have no credentials and no references. The only way a translating agency can know if I'm any good is to give me a job and see for themselves. That's why I still think I should stick to a low (but not rediculously low) rate.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 22:54
English to German
+ ...
You are the best judge of your situation Jul 5, 2005

Hi! I some times work for chinese agencies and also indian agencies. No doubt the rates are low, but the texts are not difficult either.Additionally some of these agencies also come with lumpsum offers such as 300 pages for USD5.000 etc., which are sometimes interesting. If I go by word count, I wouldn´t be able to manage it.Here the grade of difficulty, time frame and above all the lumpsum agreed payment for a certain number of hours (which I otherwise not invest, such as weekend or the similar)play also an important role to take-up the job or not. who knows in 300 pages may be the text content is only 180 pages. Rgds, Brandis

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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 16:54
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Hi Edith Jul 5, 2005

Some years ago I was in the same situation you are now. Willing to work, and nothing else. I found an experienced translator who accepted to be my mentor. He gave me the jobs, proofread them, paid me taking a part for his job. This helped me a lot for flying alone.
Dutch and the Netherlands are not cheap, you should not try to find cheap jobs. You would be in competition with translators of your country, even if you're working for an Indian client.

If another Dutch translator is reading this, and has enough work to share a little bit, he should contact you in order to put you in the side of those who defend a decent living, decent rates, and to avoid having you in the competition side of low rates. I think that it would be an intelligent move.
But things don't come alone neither, you could contact them. Keep in mind that this kind of requests must always be personal (don't send the same letter to 100 members). Some won't have enough work, others won't have enough time, but you'll find the good one

Good luck

Claudia


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 23:54
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
Also: be careful Jul 5, 2005

Dear Edith,

I'm totally agree with my colleagues: just stick to your rates -- it's unlikely that if you agree to work for lower rates for a client, (s)he/it would raise them for you in the future.

But since you are a beginner in the freelancing world, I would advise you to check any client's reliability before taking a job. I mean it's a nice idea to investigate the client's website or the Blue Board or to take other measure of cautions - otherwise you may risk to not be paid at all, even for these $0.03.

As far as I know Indian agencies are relatively cheap, and $0.03 is probably one of the highest rates you can possibly get from them. I'm not the one to accuse Indians in dumping or anything, just trying to share what I met in practice. At the same token, Russian or other agencies from the former Soviet Union propose quite low rates, so you have to think about working for them twice depending on the minimum rates you're going to work in the future during your developing freelancer's career.

Finally, I would add that stating low rates is, maybe, one of the most common mistakes which beginning freelancers make...
A non-paid test about 150-200 words is much better than a cheap real job done for the sake of promotioning yourself. Do a free test, then charge the rates which you believe you deserve.

[Edited at 2005-07-05 19:00]


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gad
United States
Local time: 16:54
Member
French to English
Is there a reason an agency should pay someone more who lives outside of their country? Jul 5, 2005

edithbeerdsen wrote:

is it normal for Indian companies to pay such low rates even to translators outside of India? (I imagine 0.03 Euro/word is a lot if you live in India!)


Their rates are their rates and either you accept those rates or you do not. I would see no good reason that an agency would pay translators in their own country the going rate there, but pay translators from other countries more just because the going rates outside of that country are higher. They pay what they pay, just like your rates are your rates.


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Pilar T. Bayle  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
Excellent advice!!!! Jul 6, 2005


I would suggest charging a professionally accepted rate (ask other translators in your language pair) and then hiring a reviser to look it over for you if you are feeling a little nervous because of your inexperience. So in the end, you get the same amount as if you charged 5 cents, but you have a high-quality product that the client will understandably be willing to pay a good price for.


If everybody who is just starting out as a translator had the presence of mind to ask regular (normal) rates and pay for an independent proofreading from their own pockets we would see:

1. Better translations overall
2. Regular rates, not just dumping rates
3. A little more self-confidence
4. Faster improvement of translating skills due to professional proofreading.

I also think that 5 cents is cheap, 3 cents is simply dismal.

Kind regards,

P.
www.pbayle.com


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craigs
Local time: 16:54
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Great ideas Jul 6, 2005

btw I'm searching for a "mentor," any takers?

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Anil Goyal  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 02:24
English to Hindi
+ ...
Why do they pay less... Jul 6, 2005

Kirill Semenov wrote:

As far as I know Indian agencies are relatively cheap, and $0.03 is probably one of the highest rates you can possibly get from them. I'm not the one to accuse Indians in dumping or anything, just trying to share what I met in practice. At the same token, Russian or other agencies from the former Soviet Union propose quite low rates, so you have to think about working for them twice depending on the minimum rates you're going to work in the future during your developing freelancer's career.



[Edited at 2005-07-05 19:00]


BTW, why these agencies, specifically Indian agencies, offer low rate to translators? Simply because they are paid at lower rates. When the European clients want to hire an Indian agency they want to pay them at the lower rate because they think their cost of living is low. See this extract from a job posted today:

"Please note that we won't be able to hire European / USA personnel for this position as it will be too expensive for us, so if you are located in South America or India or else, where the cost of living is significantly low, your chances to start working for us are high."


On the other hand when they (Europeans) are hired by the Indian agencies they want to get paid at higher rates because they think their cost of living is high.

Is this justified? Does it make this business viable for the Indian agencies? No, if they are paid at lower rates, they are bound to pay less to their vendors.

This issue has been discussed many times in this forum and I see a welcome change that less number of people are seeing a direct relationship between high prices and high quality.

[Edited at 2005-07-06 06:14]


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