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Rates, rates and LOW rates!
Thread poster: Rebecca Lyne

Rebecca Lyne
France
French to English
+ ...
Jul 5, 2012

Hello All,

I want to throw this question out there.

Over the past year, I have lost numerous projects based on rates alone. I have been told outright by agencies that I had previously worked with on multiple projects that they needed to lower the rate provided to their translators and are now only paying as low as .07 centimes Euro per source word for French to English.

I had previously worked on a regular basis for one of these agencies from whom, clearly, I will not get much business in the future, due to this rate issue. I certainly can't count on it, at least.

So, my question is three-fold: How many of you accept rates as low as .07 centimes? How much energy have you had to put into obtaining direct clients? Can one even realistically obtain direct clients that can provide enough volume without the structure of an agency and all it can provide to the client?

Thanks!
Rebecca


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Don't play this game Jul 5, 2012

We should be aiming to *increase* our rates, not lower them.

The translator is a key element in the economy of any country.

Without us, firms could not find new markets or export/import their products; academics could not publish their work worldwide; books could not be read; and the whole thing would just come to a stop.

Translators should be a lot more expensive than they are at present. So don't play the game of lowering your rates.

You may end up with less work, but because it will be better-paid, the end result will be the same - and you'll be able to spend more time on each translation.

Concentrate on quality and professionalism, not price.

[Edited at 2012-07-05 08:50 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
Low is in the eye of the beholder Jul 5, 2012

Rebecca Lyne wrote:

So, my question is three-fold: How many of you accept rates as low as .07 centimes? How much energy have you had to put into obtaining direct clients? Can one even realistically obtain direct clients that can provide enough volume without the structure of an agency and all it can provide to the client?

Thanks!
Rebecca


Here's my rather stroppy 3-fold response:)
Q1: I beg your pardon, but I set my basic rate at 8 € cents a word and I often end up accepting 7 cents a word from new clients. I also still charge 7 cents a word to a few direct clients who've been with me for years. I don't consider this low at all, but merely average (I live and work in Spain). If I lived in France, where the cost of living is higher, I'd have to charge more. NB: I don't "do" discounts for reps, or "fuzzy" anythings either, as I like to keep things simple.
Q2: None at all. They all came to me by word of mouth recommendation and stayed with me. Maybe it's because I'm too cheap? Or cheerful? So sue me.
Q3: Yes, we can. Although it is a fact that most agencies do suck, in the parasitic vampire sense as well as the colloquial.

PS: I do some translation and revision for a French magazine every two months. When I tried to raise my rates from 7 to 8 cents last year, they said they could get other translators (based in France) to do it for 6 or less. I caved in and still only charge them 7 cents, because the actual content is easy and I can virtually do it in my sleep, but they have been trying to chisel down the rates constantly since last year - in fact the same client tried it on with a colleague the other day. They must be feeling the pinch.

[Edited at 2012-07-05 09:10 GMT]


 

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz (X)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:42
English to Polish
+ ...
well Jul 5, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

Without us, firms could not find new markets or export/import their products; academics could not publish their work worldwide; books could not be read; and the whole thing would just come to a stop.


"Important" does not mean "expensive", or "increasing in price". Are street cleaners unimportant? I'm not trying to determine what translators should be paid (let alone compare them to street cleaners) but you get the point. It's about the skill required (relative to other professions), it's about what alternatives you have, it's about new entrants, retirees, etc. It's about the advances in CAT tools, the benefits of which are largely grabbed by the buyers, since most translators have no bargaining power whatsoever (and unless they find a niche or become really really good, they'll never have). Supply and demand trump the moral high ground.

[Edited at 2012-07-05 09:44 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
No morals involved Jul 5, 2012

Krzysztof Kajetanowicz wrote:

Supply and demand trump the moral high ground.


Well, Krzysztof, I suppose there are two routes a translator can take:

ROUTE A: low rates, CAT tools, large volumes of work to be done in a hurry, a large number of badly paid jobs.

ROUTE B: higher rates, interesting and challenging texts, and high-quality translations that require an ability to write in an appropriate style, for which CAT tools would be completely useless. Fewer jobs (and therefore, lower adminstration/book-keeping costs).

There's no moral high ground involved.

I know which route I prefer.

PS There's also a ROUTE C, which would be a combination of A and B.






[Edited at 2012-07-05 10:16 GMT]


 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:42
English to Czech
+ ...
My route C Jul 5, 2012

CAT tools, reasonable rates, negotiable deadlines, projects that are sometimes interesting and sometimes dull.

 

Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:42
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Seconded Jul 5, 2012

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:

CAT tools, reasonable rates, negotiable deadlines, projects that are sometimes interesting and sometimes dull.


That's my route exactly. Thanks for pointing out the (quite obvious) 'third way', Stanislav.

M


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
It was me Jul 5, 2012

Maciek Drobka wrote:

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:

CAT tools, reasonable rates, negotiable deadlines, projects that are sometimes interesting and sometimes dull.


That's my route exactly. Thanks for pointing out the (quite obvious) 'third way', Stanislav.

M


Actually it was I who pointed out that there is a third way. So you can thank me.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:42
Chinese to English
Rate level and rate movement are two separate issues Jul 5, 2012

I agree with both Neil and Tom on this.

1) 0.07 isn't that bad. If you translate at a decent speed, you can make a decent living off it.

2) When an agency tries it on, you should resist. It's hard, because you might lose custom in the short term. But if you're good, they'll come back to you when they have a job from a good client that they can't afford to lose.


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:42
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Beg to differ Jul 5, 2012

I'd say it's a very low rate indeed and not one I would even consider. You don't specify if this is a rate being charged for texts of a very general nature or anything more specialised, for which I wouldn't expect more than an output of 2500 words/day, if quality is not to be compromised. A rough calculation therefore takes me to €175 before tax - not great...at all.

 

Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:42
English to Czech
+ ...
All credits go to Tom Jul 5, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

Maciek Drobka wrote:

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:

CAT tools, reasonable rates, negotiable deadlines, projects that are sometimes interesting and sometimes dull.


That's my route exactly. Thanks for pointing out the (quite obvious) 'third way', Stanislav.

M


Actually it was I who pointed out that there is a third way. So you can thank me.


Indeed. I was referring to "route C" mentioned by Tom in his post here.

[Upraveno: 2012-07-05 12:50 GMT]


 

Rebecca Lyne
France
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
But how do you manage higher rates? Jul 5, 2012

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:

I'd say it's a very low rate indeed and not one I would even consider. You don't specify if this is a rate being charged for texts of a very general nature or anything more specialised, for which I wouldn't expect more than an output of 2500 words/day, if quality is not to be compromised. A rough calculation therefore takes me to €175 before tax - not great...at all.



Lisa, this is exactly how I feel as well. However, what do you do from a practical perspective to demand and get a higher rate? I would love to know if you work with direct clients or agencies. Thanks!


 

XXXphxxx (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:42
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Some advice Jul 5, 2012

Don't give in. I have to say I haven't charged anything as low as (the equivalent of) €0.07 since about 1998 (from memory).

The vast majority of my clients are agencies. I have a couple of long-standing direct clients and the rates to them are about 70% above my agency rate. Clients will always tell you that they cannot afford your rate, but nearly half the time they come back and accept it. I wouldn't recommend walking away from all your existing clients in one fell swoop, particularly if this is your only source of income. My advice would be to print up a professional-looking rates sheet with your new rates (it's up to you to decide what you think is reasonable) - it always looks better "set in stone" and start finding new clients now. It may take a while, but once you have enough work coming in at your revised higher rate you can turn to your old clients and explain to them that your rates have gone up, tell them that they'd actually been put up months/a year previously but you'd kept them at a reduced rate for as long as was feasible. Don't expect everyone to stick with you but I can guarantee that, if you're good, most of them will.

HTH.


 

Maciek Drobka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:42
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Thank you, Tom & Stanislav Jul 5, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

Maciek Drobka wrote:

Stanislav Pokorny wrote:

CAT tools, reasonable rates, negotiable deadlines, projects that are sometimes interesting and sometimes dull.


That's my route exactly. Thanks for pointing out the (quite obvious) 'third way', Stanislav.

M


Actually it was I who pointed out that there is a third way. So you can thank me.


Credit where it's due. Thank you, Tom, for signalling route C.

However, I also want to thank Stanislav for describing the route. His description reflects very well what I do, hence my original reaction.

M


 

Timote Suladze  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:42
Italian to Russian
+ ...
I think it is a rather good rate. Jul 5, 2012

Rebecca Lyne wrote:
So, my question is three-fold: How many of you accept rates as low as .07 centimes?

Do you know that in Russia average rate for english/russian translation is about $0.02-0.025? And lots of professional translators work with such rates all over Russia because they have not a choice! Only a few single translators can permit to work with the rate $0.04-0.05 and higher, mainly with direct clients.

p.s. Sorry for my bad english, I am italian/russian translator. By the way the rates for italian/russian translation are higher: about $0.03-0.035 for translation agencies and about $0.04-0.07 and higher for direct clients.

[Редактировалось 2012-07-05 14:00 GMT]


 
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