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Your definition of a market rate
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Aug 14, 2007

G'day everyone

I'm writing an article for a translation journal about market rates or market related rates. I know that there have been many posts about market rates, but what I want to know here is specifically how you would define the concept of a market rate (even if it is difficult to apply the definition).

Is the market rate, for example, ...

* the lowest rate that a translator is willing to work for
* the average rate that an agency is willing to pay
* the average rate that a translator would offer for a job
etc.

And should one limit the definition to certain translators and agencies, eg only "translators that are accredited by local translation associations" or "agencies that have existed more than X number of years"?

The most useful definitions would be those that can be applied, of course, but even if your definition of a market rate is vague and fuzzy, I'd like to hear it.

I may decide to apply those definitions that can be applied, to see what rates they result in.


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 01:21
English to Swedish
+ ...
My draft definition Aug 14, 2007

The average of the rates charged on all timely paid translation invoices.

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Catherine Brix
Local time: 01:21
Swedish to English
+ ...
Depends on your definition of market, Aug 14, 2007

and your perception of the market, wouldn't it?

If I consider myself to be part of an industry then the buyer is my market. If I further divide my market into geographical parameters, then my market includes buyers in Sweden. I can opt for standard industry rates for the country of Sweden, thereby supporting an industry standard and potentially raising market rates.

If however I consider myself to be part of a collection of buyers and sellers who transact over a particular service, then I can opt to adopt any rate I please to ensure a final sale - thereby potentially lowering market rates.

Right?/Catherine


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:21
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Intersection of supply and demand Aug 14, 2007

I would define a market rate as the rate at which a buyer of translation services is prepared to do business with a seller of translation services.

That immediately implies that there are millions of market rates, depending on language combinations, topics, difficulty, urgency, amount of sunshine, urge to do some gardening instead, etc.

If you could collect all these market rates, you could perhaps create a scatter diagram, or more likely several scatter diagrams, which would give some indication of the range of rates, and perhaps even of some typical rates. But at the end of the day I suspect it is a bit like quantum theory - the greater the precision you seek, the greater the uncertainty.


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Partial member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
My definition of market rates... Aug 14, 2007

.. is what normally allows me to earn my living after having paid all taxes/expenses and so on, considering also that one unfortunately is not always busy 20 days per month.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:21
English to French
+ ...
My two cents (make that three :D) Aug 14, 2007

In my opinion, a market rate would be the average of the minimum rate the majority of freelancers wouldn't shun. I think the mean general rate is too low to fit this definition, not because the cost of living varies so greatly from one country to another, but rather because many people work under the rates they consider acceptable.

I have read here many times that if people accept a given rate, that means they agree with it, so they should not complain. I tend to disagree. For instance, people who just got their crisp new translation degree and have no client base do accept rates that they otherwise consider extremely low considering the time and the effort they invest into such jobs. The problem seems to be that many of us accept those rates simply because deep down, most of us know that if we refuse such low rates, the next desperate inexperienced or pseudo translator will be willing to accpt it, so we might as well accept it because the rates will not magically go up.

I am fortunate enough to be in a position to refuse such "substandard" rates, but I also realize that this is a privilege. Therefore, I don't consider that the average market rate is reflective of the "normal" rate - the normal rate would rather be the one most of us would consider fair, but this is very far from what most of us accept. Many of us only accept the current average rates because many of us think they don't have the choice.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:21
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Pussyfooting around? Aug 14, 2007

Hullo Samuel,
Are we pussyfooting around in this forum, not quite liking to state the rate we personally charge - or is it not allowed under ProZ rules to say what that magical figure is?
The "market rate" presumably varies from country to country or continent to continent, according to the cost of living there, taxes, competition, and so on.
I'd be perfectly happy to say what I charge and what I personally would consider unacceptable, but perhaps that "just isn't done" in the ProZ universe. If we could all simply say what we charge, then you might be able to arrive at your "market rate" - or am I missing the point? I did have to study "économie politique" in my student days, but never really got the hang of it. God, it was grim.
Kind regards,
Jenny.


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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 01:21
English to Swedish
+ ...
Dear Peter, Aug 14, 2007

Am I to understand that you are of the opinion that it should be based on agreements entered into rather than deals consummated, as I suggested?

[Edited at 2007-08-14 22:53]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What you charge Aug 14, 2007

Jenny Forbes wrote:
I'd be perfectly happy to say what I charge and what I personally would consider unacceptable...


There are dozens of threads in which specific amounts are mentioned, but that does not interest me. What interests me, is how these people arrived at these amounts.

If what you charge is not the market rate, then it would serve no purpose to tell me what you charge, would it? If, however, you believe that your rate reflects the market rate, tell me why you think that.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:21
Flemish to English
+ ...
Free market with many sheep grazing... Aug 15, 2007

Before you write about market-rate, you should first define the market.
It is not a ologopolistic market, but a free market with many small submarkets. There are many players on these submarkets.
Some of these markets are the result of economics, (globalisation), world-politics, political decisions (E.U.-expansion) and technological evolutions (in I.T.,...)
On these submarkets, there is no such thing as a standard rate. There are rate-brackets and as mentioned above a personal rate, which depends upon where you live, what your cost of living is, the local tax-level and what the customer is willing to accept. In the kind of customer, there is a variation too.
Furthermore, you can vary your rates according to the kind of service you offer, like DTP or whether or not you consider : "Have Trados, must give discounts a must or not".
One should keep in mind the laws of supply and demand as well as who your competitors are.
----
Fortunately, translation into Dutch is a niche-market with a limited number of service-providers and a higher demand, so that rates can stay at a reasonable level.
On the other hand, why a language like Japanese commands such high rates remains a mystery to me?




[Edited at 2007-08-15 06:43]


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:21
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Sorry, Samuel, I was being dim Aug 15, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

Jenny Forbes wrote:
I'd be perfectly happy to say what I charge and what I personally would consider unacceptable...


There are dozens of threads in which specific amounts are mentioned, but that does not interest me. What interests me, is how these people arrived at these amounts.

If what you charge is not the market rate, then it would serve no purpose to tell me what you charge, would it? If, however, you believe that your rate reflects the market rate, tell me why you think that.


I see what you mean now - sorry I was so dim.
I believe the rates I charge reflect the market rate for my language pairs in the UK and the European Union, but how do I know that?
I recently raised my rates by about 6% after leaving them unchanged for six years. At the time I was nervous that clients wouldn't accept my decision, but they all did, without demur. Perhaps I didn't raise them enough? My "minimum charge" is deliberately high because I dislike having to break off to do fiddly little jobs and don't mind if my clients don't send me them because think it's too high - however, perhaps it isn't, because I still get quite a few of them.
I am sometimes offered jobs through ProZ and others at less than what I charge and I simply don't accept them. I generally get mountains of work and make a decent living that enables me to live happily, but I've been established a long time.
It would be very different for a beginner. It would be very different in a different country.
How does a translator arrive at his/her rate? I guess it's a bit of a gamble at first, and he/she finds out by ascertaining what the client will accept and the point at which he/she can earn enough to live reasonably from translating (and not have to flip hamburgers as well to make up the slack).
I'll stop rambling.
Regards,
Jenny.


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
The average of the Gaussian Aug 15, 2007

http://www.proz.com/?sp=rates_view

I would consider the average rate as the nominal market rate, because this would be conform to the definition at stock exchange: the rate where you have a good chance to get into business.

The width of this graph can give you a good idea of how much the rate for a given project may depend on translator, country, topic, etc.


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Nizamettin Yigit  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:21
Dutch to Turkish
+ ...
consumer price index Aug 15, 2007

Hi,

I think consumer prices make the market. Other segments should be specified.
Variation by geographical area, language pair, complexity etc are only sub-segments.
Average marginal proifit level of all languages for consumer (ordering party of that translation) is our market rate.



[Edited at 2007-08-15 08:43]


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 02:21
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
market rate is same like elsewhere Aug 15, 2007

Dear Samuel,

I think that the so called "market rate" is the "average rate" for which you can get the service (like a "general tendency of the rate"). Something like an average between the minimum and the maximum rate - the rate the people usually ask for a certain job and when such a rate is reasonable having in mind the job to be done. Same like in other areas. Of course, the real (actual rate) might be (even much) different and it depends on many factors (the main being the agreement of the parties), but there is kind of a "reference point" what I call that "market rate". Say, for your lang combination (just like a sample) the smallest rate is some 0.05 EUR per word and the max rate is 0.14 EUR. And if, say, you post a job on proz, asking people to give their best rates, you will get the majority of 0.08 EUR. This would be the market rate...Like in the previous topic we discussed - if an agency then wants the job to be done for some 0.03 EUR, can they expect something decent? And why a normal translator shall go below the average when others ask for 0.08 EUR?

So, seems to be nothing new - same like in other areas (trade, production, services).

[Edited at 2007-08-15 10:06]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:21
French to English
Clarifying the question? Aug 15, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

There are dozens of threads in which specific amounts are mentioned, but that does not interest me. What interests me, is how these people arrived at these amounts.


So what you want is how people decide what their rate is, and not our own interpretation of what "market rate" means, which was how I understood the original question ("your definition of market rate"). Or - how do you decide how muh to charge? Is that what you want to know? Although the 2 are linked....

Because my definition of market rate would probably be "the intersection of the price that customers are willing to pay with the revenue that suppliers want to receive" or something along those lines. But you could get definitions of market rates all over the web, I imagine. Maybe my definition of "market rate" is, in fact of no interest to you at all
Whereas you would like to know how I decide how much to charge....?


If what you charge is not the market rate, then it would serve no purpose to tell me what you charge, would it?

How do we know whether it would serve a purpose or not? All we know is that you're writing an article. Maybe you're trying to find out the highest and lowest rates anyone has ever worked for. Your purposes are a mystery to us....!


If, however, you believe that your rate reflects the market rate, tell me why you think that.

On an individual level, I think that my rate is probably close to a "market rate" because I generally have neither too much nor too little work to do. Too little work, and I would deduce my rates are too high. Much much work, I would deduce my rates are too low. Supply and demand, and all that stuff.

Actually, I do get offered slightly more than I can handle, so new customers are proposed a slightly higher rate than existing ones, in an attempt to nudge the average up. Some accept, some don't. So again, I think I may be at the interesection of a) what they're prepared to pay and b) what I want to earn.

That said, I know there are people in a similar position to me in terms of workload who charge more, and who charge less, than I do. They would probably deduce the same as I have - they must be charging a "market rate", cos demand = supply. In which case, the variable part is the qualifier "market" - and that's where it gets interesting, I think. Determine your market - then define your market rate....


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