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My rates are below average, and still some clients are negotiating
Thread poster: Mohammad Khan

Mohammad Khan
Afghanistan
Local time: 12:44
English to Dari
+ ...
Nov 1, 2006

Hi everyone,

I was just cheking translation rates for my language pairs and I found out that the average rates in the country I live are three times higher then what I offer. But at the same time I have clients that negotiate the rates with me and on several occasion I have offered even lower rates.
The thing that I am worried about the most is that by seeing my rates some of the agencies might just ignore me, thinking that I might not be providing praper translation, not serious or maybe have never worked.

Thanks for any comment

Mohammad Khan

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2006-11-01 12:46]


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Indeed Nov 1, 2006

Mohammad Khan wrote:
The thing that I am worried about the most is that by seeing my rates some of the agencies might just ignore me, thinking that I might not be providing praper translation, not serious or maybe have never worked.

I think you are right in worrying about this issue.

They might wonder for the reason why you are offering lower than average rates and then they might try to find out whether this reason is good for even lower rates.

But I cannot say it for sure, because I stopped working in the low rates segment long ago..


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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:14
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
Low rates raise doubts Nov 1, 2006

In my opinion, your clients think that if you’re offering very low rates, than you probably haven't invested in this profession (education, dictionaries, software, etc), and/or don’t depend on translation for your living, consequently you don’t care too much about the quality. I don’t know if they are right or wrong, but if there is such a doubt they might expect that your translation will need extensive editing/proofreading, so they are trying to save their funds for this. I may be wrong; I just tried to imagine what I would think in their place.

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John Farebrother  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
Increase rates Nov 1, 2006

I would recommend you to increase your rates if that is the case.
By charging very low rates you may be undermining colleagues who can't afford to work at that level.


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:14
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
it's language pairs that count Nov 1, 2006

If you live in Canada but you translate into languages spoken in Pakistan or Afghanistan, your competitors are not other translators living in Canada, translating, say, into Danish or Portuguese, but translators who live anywhere in the world and translate into Dari and Pashtu... Your prospective clients might as well work with someone in Islamabad or Karachi, who may be offering much lower rates than anyone living in Canada.

Internet made national borders obsolete, at least in this industry.

You should make steps to increase your rates, and find good marketing pitch to "sell" yourself to prospective clients at this higher rate: convince them that you are a better choice than anyone living in your home country.


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Mohammad Khan
Afghanistan
Local time: 12:44
English to Dari
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Most translators are Europe and North America based. Nov 1, 2006

I understand that but most of the clients are based in western countries. Specially the Dari ones, because it is spoken only in Afghanistan and I have not seen any translator from Afghanistan yet.

Mohammad Khan


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Mohammad Khan
Afghanistan
Local time: 12:44
English to Dari
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Is the average rate really reliable? Nov 1, 2006

John you have a good point.
But the problem is how I would know the real market rate, becuase since I am a relatively new I don't want to have high rates either.

One thing I should mention in the very begging is that how reliable the average rate system is. I remember when I first loged in into one of the websites and somehow I came across this average rate. After looking at other rates I put my rates to most lowest ones. Which was around USD 0.01 or 0.02/word. It is because I saw other rates and I had no clue on how the whole thing works and how long it takes to translate a particular amount of work.
Now when I rechecked that scale of average rate ( which would include my old one too) I start thinking that how accurate that could be.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 09:14
English to German
+ ...
quote only after checking the files Nov 1, 2006

Hi ! that is a very good option, this way you can really assess your ability, have time and check resources etc., and give a good suitable quotation, but generally never quote low. You are a service provider. Best Brandis

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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:14
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
rates are not the only criterion Nov 1, 2006

Hi Mohammad,

I'd like to add one thing (to what other people said here) - rates are not the only criteria for getting the job. Yes, there are client considering lower rates and negotiating as much as possible as their priority Nr. 1 (and maybe the only priority). But there are other people who have other priorities (like high quality, deadline realiability, prompt communication, etc.) and maybe lower rates will be on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th priotity line. I do not say that you shall put the rates above the average just to make an impression that you are "smart" or just to "justify" higher rates. You need to have other "advantages" for yourself (apart from the rates) in which your potential clients could be more interested. Well, for some maybe 10 USD is a big money to "save", but there are clients (believe me) who do not bother too much about several hundred or even several thousand per project if they need supreme quality, complete reliability, etc.

In some sense it is a kind of your "market segmentation", i.e. you shall decide what kind of clients your want to have (those who care for every cent or those who care for other things instead of low rates). Maybe a very straightforward example, but there are people who want a latest model Mercedes and they pay much more money for it in comparison to a cheaper car they can buy.

As Csaba noticed - you live and work in Canada. Your competitors with low rates do not live there. So, make an advantage out of a "disadvantage" and try to answer yourself one question - "Why people shall chose just me, not others?". Put these reasons on a piece of paper, and, based on these reasons, have 5-6 "keywords" as what kind of clients you want to have, correspondingly.

Take care,

Marius


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:14
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Government contracts being sub-contracted out? Nov 1, 2006

You don't have to answer this, and it's just a guess, but could your agency customers have government contracts that they are sub-contracting out, therefore accounting for the low rates? The customers who I have seen looking for your language combos have been US gov't. agencies and the rates they advertised, at least for interpreting, were pathetic for languages in such high demand at the moment. Perhaps if this is the case, you can band together with some other translators and go for the contracts directly instead of through a middle man.

Again, just some speculation on my part. Good luck!


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Mohammad Khan
Afghanistan
Local time: 12:44
English to Dari
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am not going for US gov jobs Nov 1, 2006

Dania it is true that there are many jobs coming from US governement. But as soon as I know a job is related to US Army in Afghanistan I reject it.
I hope my statement is not political and does not offend anyone.


Mohammad


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 15:14
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Increase your rates above the average Nov 2, 2006

Mohammad, you should not set your rates below the average. It had better for you to set them above the average for the possible case as you experienced. This is what I practice in my personal experience. Negotiation of rates between the translator and the client is usual. Therefore, our rates should be higher than our minimum expected rates.

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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:14
Member (2004)
German to English
Ring up a few agencies Nov 2, 2006

Hi Mohammed,
Ring up a few agencies and pretend you have a document to translate. Ask them the price - then halve it. That gives you a rough idea of what they are paying translators. Compare that with the information you have found to see if it maches up with what you think the rate should be. I am sure that your language combination will have much higher rates than the "normal" European languages. Clients will always try to negotiate you down but stand your ground and say "This is the price. Take it or leave it".
Wishing you every success.
Gillian


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:14
English to French
+ ...
Your prices are hard to beat Nov 2, 2006

If you charge 1 to 2 cents per word, I simply can't imagine a way to offer a more competitive rate. I don't think you would be disadvantaged by raising your rates - on the contrary. There are not many people in Afghanistan who live off of translation - I have yet to see just one. Therefore, I imagine your language combinations are rare. You have therefore an argument to raise you rates - and seeing the level they're at now, you need to raise them substantially.

I have a feeling you are insecure and charge low rates to make sure you get plenty of work. But if you charge twice as much and have twice less work because of that, where does that get you? You will make the same amouint of money but will work twice less time for it. I'd go for it.

And yes, by charging ridiculous rates, you are not doing yourself or fellow translators any favor.

All the best!


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