Minimum and standard fees/rates charged by agencies and "proz" listed on proz.com and implications
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:33
English to German
+ ...
Nov 26, 2011

Hi everybody,

Wouldn't it be great if agencies would, on proz.com, report minimum and standard fees (or rather maximum fees) they charge their customers, just as many translators report their rates on their proz.com profile page, the latter being the basis for the following translator rate list:
http://search.proz.com/employers/rates

It would shed some light on the difference between what a translator receives from such agencies and what an agency charges its client for their "work". Unfortunately, that will never happen.

The list published on proz.com is currently based, in the English-German direction, on information collected from 1866 translators (probably not very representative anyway but many don't report their rates).

in US Dollars:

standard rate: $0.12/wd
minimum rate: $0.09/wd
hourly rate: standard: $36.90/hr
hourly rate: minimum: $27.20/hr

Implications:

1. Agencies will use the published rate range to justify the rates they propose (and why shouldn't they?)
2. What if you (the translator) work clearly outside that rate range (meaning you charge more):

Questions:

1. Should you be concerned and report your higher rate on your profile page in hopes to
change the list,
or:
2. should you not care and hope to find work from better paying future contacts - which you will probably not find through proz.com, not even by having that perfect profile page (I am leaning towards the latter approach).


Based on my personal experience: the proz.com rate list is a low-rate list and does not help professional translators (so-called PROZ), it only supports agencies that want to pay as little as they can.

Pity is, many translators already work in that kind of pay range. It is very hard these days to break out of that and convince new clients to pay you more. A lot of damage has been done over the years. There are various factors.

It is also true that some agencies will clearly pay way less than even stated on the list above. Two examples, posted today, 11/26:

a) a proofreading job (marketing), posted today (about 6000 words, English to German, proposed pay USD (yes, US Dollars) .01-.02/word, from a company based in a small non-German speaking EU member country; granted there are no takers yet for that one as of now, the contact method is "submit quote through proz.com".

b) a marketing translation, 3000 words English to German and add. languages, needed by Monday, proposed pay $0.04 USD to $0.14 USD (yes, US Dollars) per word. from the UK, with the popular disclaimer; send me your "best" rate. Payment 40 days after date of invoice; contact method: email.

3. Do you still think proz.com is a platform for professional translators and agencies?

Suggestion:

We need additional platforms to promote better paid, high-quality services. If more such platforms are established, it might have implications for this platform: it might change how one sees their proz.com profile with regard to how it helps or prevents one (from) getting an adequate translation job and what to do about issues such as paid membership. It might, I say, it doesn't have to, necessarily.

Your opinions are appreciated.
Bernhard




[Edited at 2011-11-26 22:31 GMT]


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:33
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
In a perfect world... Nov 26, 2011

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

The list published on proz,com is currently based, in the English-German direction, on information collected from 1866 translators (probably not very representative anyway).

in US Dollars:

standard rate: $0.12/wd
minimum rate: $0.09/wd
hourly rate: standard: $36.90/hr
hourly rate, minimum: $27.20/hr

Implications:

1. Agencies will use the proposed rate range to justify the rates proposed (and why shouldn't they?)
2. What if you (the translator) work clearly outside that rate range (meaning you charge more):

Based on my personal experience: the proz.com rate list is a low-rate list and does not help professional translators (so-called PROZ), it only supports agencies that want to pay as little as they can.

Pity is, many translators already work in that kind of pay range. It is very hard these days to break out of that and convince new clients to pay you more. A lot of damage has been done over the years. There are various factors.



Yes, some agencies offer a lot less. They actually feel good about offering USD 0.02/word for "advanced" technical translations.

It is also true that some agencies will clearly pay way less than even stated on the list above. Two examples, posted today, 11/26:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

a)
a proofreading job (marketing), posted today (about 6000 words, English to German, proposed pay USD (yes, US Dollars) .01-.02/word, from a company based in a small non-German speaking EU member country; granted there are no takers yet for that one as of now, the contact method is "submit quote through proz.com".

b) a marketing translation, 3000 words English to German and add. languages, needed by Monday, proposed pay $0.04 USD to $0.14 USD (yes, US Dollars) per word. from the UK, with the popular disclaimer; send me your "best" rate. Payment 40 days after date of invoice; contact method: email.


I received a job notifaction for both, took one look and said: Good luck. Fact is, someone will work for such a low rate. This is why these agencies get away with their offers, requests for best rates, and "flexible", for the agency extremely convenient terms of payment.

In fact, today I was notified by an agency that my "invoice was delayed" and that "payment will be made in about two weeks" meaning, the agency simply - and unilaterally! - changed the agreed 30 days payment term to 62 days.

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

3. Do you still think proz.com is a platform for professional translators and agencies?

Suggestion:

We need additional platforms to promote better paid, high-quality services. If more such platforms are established, it might have implications for this platform: it might change how one sees their proz.com profile with regard to how it helps or prevents one (from) getting an adequate translation job and what to do about issues such as paid membership. It might, I say, it doesn't have to, necessarily.

Your opinions are appreciated.
Bernhard


Yes, it just might.



[/quote]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:33
French to German
+ ...
Create a task force... Nov 26, 2011

and name it STS (Special Translation Service), like in SAS and SBS.

It can be done even outside of ProZ.com and its team feature if translators are willing to keep a minimum of discipline among themselves and thus to make the famous comparison with cat herding lie.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:33
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What's good pay? Nov 26, 2011

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
Wouldn't it be great if agencies would, on proz.com, report minimum and standard fees (or rather maximum fees) they charge their customers, just as many translators report their rates on their proz.com profile page


I really don't think we have any right knowing what they charge their clients - that is for the agencies to state on their websites, if they see fit. Does a farmer have the right to query how much his/her cauliflowers cost in the supermarket? It really wouldn't help anybody as some agencies add real value and others don't, whilst eveybody in the business wants to earn their crust. However, I would like them to state in their profiles how much they are willing to pay their translators, on average. I don't like to see this in job postings, because we have the right to set our own rates, but it would be nice to have some idea as to whether it was worth our while sending a quote. I hope this will be implemented one day.

The list published on proz.com is currently based, in the English-German direction, on information collected from 1866 translators (probably not very representative anyway but many don't report their rates).

in US Dollars:

standard rate: $0.12/wd
minimum rate: $0.09/wd
hourly rate: standard: $36.90/hr
hourly rate, minimum: $27.20/hr


Not so long ago, we had parity between dollar end euro. Since then, the two currencies have diverged and I can only really speak for the euro. I reckon my rates are right on the button for France, neither low nor high, and they are right there in your figures, but in euros. Are they so far from normal? Should I be worrying? We are, of course, talking rates for agencies - rates for end clients will be higher. BTW, I believe that many users and members do not make their rates public yet do record rates for the purpose of filtering and for this very 'community rates' feature.

[/quote]a proofreading job (marketing), posted today (about 6000 words, English to German, proposed pay USD (yes, US Dollars) .01-.02/word[/quote]

Proofreading is notoriously difficult to cost by word, so it is only possible to quote per word if you have seen the text. However, for a translation into English done by a proficient, native(-equivalent) translator, I would perhaps accept 2 euro cents. Is it really so low?

a marketing translation, 3000 words English to German and add. languages, needed by Monday, proposed pay $0.04 USD to $0.14 USD (yes, US Dollars) per word


For 4 euro cents, I'm totally disinterested, but 14? That doesn't seem too unreasonable for someone who is perfectly happy to work weekends and take a couple of days off during the week.

Do you still think proz.com is a platform for professional translators and agencies?


Yes, I do. However, all wise translators will concentrate on encouraging agencies to come to them and will not rely on public postings, which more often than not are from agencies that do not benefit from a large pool of happy freelance partners.

We need additional platforms to promote better paid, high-quality services.


Well, it's a free world and a free market, as I'm sure ProZ.com knows only too well.

Sheila


 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:33
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Voluntarily Nov 28, 2011

If a company wants to voluntarily post what they charge others, there should be no problem.

I'm not sure what benefits they would get from this, but it is conceivable that they might get something. Again, completely up to the company.

As of now, nothing is stopping an outsourcer from putting this information on their Proz profile.

If the poster is suggesting that an obligation be imposed for providing this information, then I would differ in opinion. This likely would have negative unintended consequences. I could be wrong, though. Completely up to Proz.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:33
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Justification Nov 28, 2011

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
http://search.proz.com/employers/rates
Agencies will use the published rate range to justify the rates they propose...


Not really. Very few of the agencies who have contacted me via ProZ.com offered the amount listed for my language. Some offer more, some offer less. A lot of my regular clients have kept the same rate for the past 3-4 years, even though I can tell you that the average rate for my language combination (in the URL you gave) has gone up.

You say that for German/English, the published rates are $0.12/wd and $36.90/hr. Do agencies that contact you via ProZ.com typically offer you more than this, or less than this?

Based on my personal experience: the proz.com rate list is a low-rate list...


No, it is an average rate list. If your rate is higher, then your rate is above average.

What I miss with the information given by ProZ.com is the type bell curve that THE OTHER BIG translator portal displays, so that one can see not only what the average is, but at roughly what point the rate suddenly drops or suddenly stops increasing (if any). ProZ.com also doesn't give information on a per-country basis -- it treats translators from all over the world as equals earners.

We need additional platforms to promote better paid, high-quality services. If more such platforms are established, it might have implications for this platform...


I don't understand that you mean by "platform". Do you mean that more translator portals such as ProZ.com should be established, with stricter rules on how much agencies may offer (or how much translators may charge)?

Would you be willing to pay the same amount that you pay for your Proz.com membership, if the portal generates only 10% of the number of leads that you currently get, albeit with higher rates?


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:33
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
from my viewpoint, Nov 28, 2011

the rates offered by agencies through job posts here on proz.com or even through direct contacts (probably through the proz.com profile/directory) are always too low for the work of a professional translator.

Samuel Murray wrote:
Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
http://search.proz.com/employers/rates
Agencies will use the published rate range to justify the rates they propose...


Not really. Very few of the agencies who have contacted me via ProZ.com offered the amount listed for my language. Some offer more, some offer less.


I have the opposite experience. Agencies contacting me through proz.com try to pay on average USD .10/source word at the most. Hardly ever more, most often less. Definitely those who publish their jobs on proz.com.

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
Based on my personal experience: the proz.com rate list is a low-rate list...

Samuel Murray wrote:
No, it is an average rate list. If your rate is higher, then your rate is above average.

Again, from personal experience: The rates posted on the proz.com rate page are too low. Yes, there is a difference between the average rates published on proz.com's rate page, based on about 1800 translators in English>German, and the actual overall situation in that market segment, but I doubt very much it is any better than on that page. I believe it's worse. If it is the average rate, it is still too low IMO. The list published on proz.com is a low-rate list.


Samuel Murray wrote:

You say that for German/English, the published rates are $0.12/wd and $36.90/hr. Do agencies that contact you via ProZ.com typically offer you more than this, or less than this?


Definitely less!! And when you say that the average rate "posted on proz.com" in your language combination has definitely gone up, it doesn't say anything about where that translator rate really should be. This is just the proz.com average rate.


Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
We need additional platforms to promote better paid, high-quality services. If more such platforms are established, it might have implications for this platform...

Samuel Murray wrote:
I don't understand that you mean by "platform". Do you mean that more translator portals such as ProZ.com should be established, with stricter rules on how much agencies may offer (or how much translators may charge)?


I am thinking of different ways to promote our work and get jobs. Getting away from low-rate jobs. They way it is set up here is not to the benefit of us translators - unless you are happy with the rates published on proz.com and the often even lower rates offered in the job posts. Did you see my examples above???

Samuel Murray wrote:
Would you be willing to pay the same amount that you pay for your Proz.com membership, if the portal generates only 10% of the number of leads that you currently get, albeit with higher rates?


Depends on how much these jobs would really pay.

Thanks for your input,
Bernhard


 


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