Mobile menu

What influence - if any - should colleagues exercise on your own pricing?
Thread poster: Olga Dubeshka
Olga Dubeshka  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:44
Russian to English
+ ...
Sep 12, 2007

Hi guys,

This is not a discussion about low rates vs high rates and
how lower rates undermine other translator`s jobs -
I will stay clear of that since it has been discussed just recently

Just recently I was careless enough to be pressed by a colleague of mine about how much I billed a direct client for a very small (but urgent), super simple translation of a paper (about 15 lines ). It took me about 10 minutes to translate.
My colleague, working in the same language group, made a comment that truly upset me. She said my fee was low and I was undermining other translators (her included) by undercharging - and she was very persistent. At the moment I was a little speechless and did not say anything to defend myself.
However, I felt her opinion was not only uncalled for, but also distorted. In fact, when I did a little reseach I figured that in 10 minutes I made as much as some office workers
might not even make in a couple of hours !
In all truth I am getting tired of agencies bullying translators
to lower their rates and I always refuse to - politely.
However, this is the first time my friend makes me feel like
there is a higher authority that sets the rates in our community that I have to answer to. I was never aware of that ! There I was thinking freelancing is to be your own boss...

Obviously, I need to make a living so I charge for the services I provide accordingly. I do not feel comfortable
when someone out of the blue says it is too high or too low -without even bothering to explain why.
Charging an arm and a leg for something that is really not worth that much just to "keep the prices up" borders on greed and even disregard for the end client.

I would like your advice on how to handle smth. like this.
How much is too much ? Who sets the rules ?
And, finally, are we our own bosses?






[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-09-13 05:17]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:44
English to German
+ ...
You decide what you charge Sep 13, 2007

Hi Olga,
First of all, you decide what you charge - your colleague should have the same influence on your decision as your client: none.

However, I felt her opinion was not only uncalled for, but also distorted. In fact, when I did a little reseach I figured that in 10 minutes I made as much as some office workers
might not even make in a couple of hours !

Fair enough, but this comparison is somewhat distorted as well: office workers are not subject to the same economic risk as freelancers, who need to make more in comparison, if only to set aside some reserves. Also, the job is likely to take more than the ten minutes needed to translate the document: bear in mind the time required to exchange e-mails, write an invoice, and monitor receipt of payment. Moreover, your calculation needs to take into account overhead costs such as energy, office space, equipment, etc. (Note that none of these factors is any of your colleague's business...) Given the administrative costs involved, I often don't charge for 'mini jobs' by good clients (= those whose business provides me with sufficient margin to factor in small favours).

In all truth I am getting tired of agencies bullying translators
to lower their rates and I always refuse to - politely.
However, this is the first time my friend makes me feel like
there is a higher authority that sets the rates in our community that I have to answer to. I was never aware of that !

That's because there isn't.

There I was thinking freelancing is to be your own boss...

You are. Sadly, I see many freelancers who don't act accordingly: when colleagues quote me a price that's below the hourly rate my plumber charges me, I tend to tell them...

Charging an arm and a leg for something that is really not worth that much just to "keep the prices up" borders on greed and even disregard for the end client.

Greed rarely is a relevant factor in this context. However, quite a few translators are fixed on per-word or per-line prices without considering that it's the amount per interval of time worked that's essential for your bottom line.

I would like your advice on how to handle smth. like this.

Ignore.

Cheers, Ralf


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:44
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Think once again Sep 13, 2007

Of course everyone is free to price their services at will. But nobody, not you either, does it like to be underpriced. So colleagues who tell you not to sell too cheap are right from this point of view.
One factor Ralf did not mention is marketing skills. The customer does not chose the one that is the cheapest but the one that appears to be of highest value.
Your colleague maybe has had the skills to aquiere customers that pay better than average. Other customers may not be ready to pay more.
Regards
Heinrich


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:44
Dutch to English
+ ...
Word of Warning Sep 13, 2007

I agree mostly with what Ralf says, but a word of warning, based on personal experience.

Beware of colleagues pressing you for details like this.

A "colleague" on the Dutch-English site used to try and pummel me for the same type of information (as well as actual client details). She also freely stated her own rates (without me ever asking).

Quite by accident, I discovered she in fact regularly accepts jobs at 2 and 3 cents less per word than what she stated.

So, don't be overly influenced by what your colleagues say at all - it may indeed be a ploy to get you to increase your rates and price yourself out of certain jobs they have their eye on.

Not that it worked in my case - I've anyhow cut all ties with the translator in question because of things like this and her consistent requests for help on Skype, with absolutely no regard for my schedule - but it's a reason some colleagues would ask.

Just something else to consider.

Bottom line: do what suits YOU.

[Edited at 2007-09-13 11:46]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:44
English to German
+ ...
To answer your question ... Sep 13, 2007

... colleagues should exercise exactly the influence on your own pricing you let them. If you do not react to peer pressure, they cannot exert any.

I like to hear colleagues' comments about pricing and marketing. They are interesting and inspiring and sometimes good for a laugh.
If I regard them as good advice I take them into consideration, see what I can do better. If not then I decide that they have nothing to do with me. This may have several reasons: different expectations, different ethical concepts, different standard of living, etc. It is no pressure, it simply is advice, though sometimes brought forward in a quite demanding manner.

Still, I would not discuss exactly my pricing and marketing with colleagues, unless they are very good friends with lots of experience in this industry.

And please: If you do good work for your customers and they can rely on you, there is absolutely no need to have a bad conscience if your prices are not on the low side and other people would charge less. It has nothing to do with greed to take the money you can get, it has more to do with what you think your work is worth!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Seamus Moran  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:44
German to English
+ ...
Independent thought Sep 13, 2007

I can't see why you are influenced by "colleagues". You set your own price and make your own decisions after all.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Your friend has a point, up to a point Sep 13, 2007

Olga Dubeshka wrote:
She said my fee was low and I was undermining other translators (her included) by undercharging - and she was very persistent.


Theoretically, I think translators have the responsibility to set a standard for clients.

It is therefore important to charge a fair rate -- fair in terms of a translator who makes a living from the money. Part-time translators should not undercharge simply because they can afford to do so.

But that's just theory -- it would depend on the odds of a client from a cheap translator coming across an expensive translator.

In an ideal world, translators should ask themselves "How little could I have charged if I were running a full-scale business?". By this I mean translators should calculate what their expenses would have been if they had had "normal" business expenses, and then set their price accordingly.

The flipside is also true, however -- you are your own boss.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I also regularly accept lower rates Sep 13, 2007

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
Quite by accident, I discovered she in fact regularly accepts jobs at 2 and 3 cents less per word than what she stated.


I also have a "standard" or "usual" rate, but I often accept jobs below that rate. I also often refuse jobs at below that rate


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Olga Dubeshka  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:44
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks to all Sep 13, 2007

Thanks to all of you who shared their opinion - and I
feel some relief knowing I had a point.
I purposefully left out the fee amount, but I can say that much - it was definitely not underpriced even by our "higher"
standards...

I have a sneaking suspicion it was what Lawer-Linguist
was warning me about since my colleague was very secretive about her rates. Was she trying to guilt me out of business?

However, I decided to be wiser and avoid situation in the future.

There is no doubt "standard" minimum rates can only benefit each and every one in our comunity. And I have no problem if someone decides that his work might be worth double or triple - I bet he does a fantastic job worth every penny.
But when a price truly seems unreasonable ( and we are talking price that was simply made up, believe me) one has to say : well, good luck to you !


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:44
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not really the point Sep 14, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
Quite by accident, I discovered she in fact regularly accepts jobs at 2 and 3 cents less per word than what she stated.


I also have a "standard" or "usual" rate, but I often accept jobs below that rate. I also often refuse jobs at below that rate


That's your prerogative Samuel, but you're obviously not the type to adamantly state that the rate you mention is "as low as you'll ever go" and act differently afterwards.

Just pointing out to poster that she should be wary of so-called "friends" and "colleagues" and the information she gives them.

A red flag needs to go up for anybody really pressing for information about rates and/or clients.

Lekker naweek!
Debs


[Edited at 2007-09-14 12:21]


Direct link Reply with quote
 
lingomania
Local time: 11:44
Italian to English
Very little... Sep 15, 2007

I don't think they should "brainwash" us in any way....pricing has to be a little "personal" and/or subjective sometimes you know.

Rob


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

What influence - if any - should colleagues exercise on your own pricing?

Advanced search


Translation news





PDF Translation - the Easy Way
TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation.

TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation. It also puts your translations back into the PDF to make new PDFs. Quicker and more accurate than hand-editing PDF. Includes free use of Infix PDF Editor with your translated PDFs.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs