Negotiating rates
Thread poster: Scott de Lesseps

Scott de Lesseps  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:41
French to English
Oct 17, 2003

Hi everyone,

Greetings! I'm new to the forums, and in the process of getting established. I was wondering about negotiating rates, if this is common or not, and whether or not you think it's a good idea. I just did a sample work for a potential client. He said he was totally satisfied with my work, and asked me to plese send him my rates. I sent him a quote by e-mail, but have heard nothing back from him. Actually, it's only been a couple of days, but on the Internet that can seem like a really long time. So, my question is should I send him another e-mail, with a lower quote, or just wait for him to reply? I don't want to lose him as a potential customer, because it sounds like he may have quite a bit of repeat work. Does anyone have any advice? Thanks in advance.



Diogo Santos
Local time: 15:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Be patient Oct 17, 2003

If I were you I'd wait a couple days more and only then I would send another email with the same rates and information as before, mentioning that you are waiting for some sort of answer. You can't negotiate aloneicon_wink.gif Probably they are studying other translators samples and proposals. Don't lower your rates that easily, because if they have been offered a very low rate (for example 0.01 USD) the work will certainly be done by a translation machine...

Diogo Santos

[Edited at 2003-10-17 17:57]


tazdog (X)
Local time: 16:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
sit tight Oct 17, 2003

Hi Scott,

In my experience, the situation you described is par for the course, at least if the client is an agency. About 90% of the tests or sample jobs I've done have been a complete waste of time and the agencies have never been heard from again, regardless of whether the agency's specified its rates and I've gone along with them, or whether I've stated my own rates. Therefore, I don't think you should jump to the conclusion that you haven't heard anything further because your rates are too high, especially since it's only been a few days. I certainly don't think you should offer to lower them; that would sound... well, sort of desperate. icon_smile.gif

At the most, I would send a follow up e-mail politely inquiring as to whether your rates were received and whether there's any other information they need.

My two cents.icon_smile.gif

Good luck,


Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
English to German
+ ...
negotiate Oct 17, 2003

I don't want to lose him as a potential customer, because it sounds like he may have quite a bit of repeat work
You could offer a lower rate if you expect a lot of repeat work, but then you need to make an offer and negotiate a precise contract about
- how much lower
- for how much more work
- until when.
If the client does not want to contract for future work, there is no reason to offer a bulk discount.


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
If you are asked for a quotation and you have quoted Oct 17, 2003

the ball's on his side of the court. You can follow up the quotation as Cindy said, but it isn't very professional to start negotiating without a response.

You may have been asked for a quotation so that the client can bid for a job that hasn't materialized yet.

The best you can do is attend to the next client while waiting...

PS: I'm not one for bulk discounts (sorry, Harry) because it just means doing more work for less, and probably under more pressure, producing less quality.

[Edited at 2003-10-17 21:11]


xxx xxx
Local time: 16:41
Do not lower your rates, raise them! Oct 18, 2003

When I started marketing myself to agencies, and when they asked me for my rates I asked them to tell me whether my rates were OK for them. Most of the agencies complied to this request, as it had been them who had asked me for my rates.

If they had objections, I asked them to give me the rates they thought they could live with and then, I decided if I would be willing to work for those rates.

In any case, even if this agency was interested in working with you and agreed to your rates I would not expect them to give you some work.

Tout compte fait (sorry, just now I cannot remember the english expression), I found that working for low rates does not pay (it even does not attract more of the good agencies) and the work involved in finding agency clients paying decent rates is not worth it because the same marketing effort spent on aquiring direct clients will result in much better jobs.




Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
French to English
Be patient, but not idle! Oct 18, 2003

[quote]Scott de Lesseps wrote:

"I was wondering about negotiating rates, if this is common or not, and whether or not you think it's a good idea."

Translating is a business like any other. Negotiation is part of translation, just like any business. Yes, negotiate, but know when to stop, in other words, don't negotiate your way into rates where you will lose money!

"I just did a sample work for a potential client. He said he was totally satisfied with my work, and asked me to plese send him my rates. I sent him a quote by e-mail, but have heard nothing back from him. Actually, it's only been a couple of days..."

When I say be patient, I mean don't worry at all about your potential client. He may be wholly satisfied with your sample but quite simply not have any appropriate work for you right now. It may even be months. You have been lucky enough to have had the feedback that he was satisfied with your sample.

As for not remaining idle, I mean that of course this potential client is just that - potential. And there are thousands more out there!

My advice would be to take note of the one you refer to and get on with contacting others.

All the best,



Local time: 16:41
French to English
Patience Oct 18, 2003

I would also suggest patience. Besides prospecting for business, you may use the time to look over your profile on this site as if you were checking someone else’s translation. I’m not sure that it fairly reflects your writing skills: “I achieved my Bachelor’s Degree from…” is perhaps not downright wrong but it doesn’t sound right either. Also, “render a target text” is perhaps not the best way to put it. We render French texts into English, I believe. There is also an obvious typo. Translators are notorious nitpickers, but they are also generally the ones who pass judgment on our work.
In my opinion, it’s always best to have someone look over our translations (and our résumés). Even after many years in this trade, I personally try never to work without a good proofreader.
Best of luck.


PRAKAASH  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:11
Member (2007)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Have some suggestions dear! Oct 18, 2003

Well, I'd prefer for using marketing techinques. If I'd have to start as in nowadays, I may ask for nominal charges only which can attract the eye of client. After creating a reputation by furnishing jobs in excellent as I'm doing as well, I may ask for more money. They'll perhaps be bounded to pay after having a look at my previouis works and will agree to pay.
Moreover, market always broadens as far as my short term experiences say. If they are not ready to provide you higher charges, then shift to some standard clients and forward your resume to them. After then, wait for your turn!


pascie  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:41
English to French
+ ...
It depens. Oct 18, 2003

Each case is different.
I have performed a sample test for an agency and did not hear from them again for 2 or 3 weeks. They finally contacted me one morning for a job which I undertook rightaway. They paid me upon completion and invoicing. It was very well paid. So here is my experience.
Just be patient.


Local time: 16:41
French to English
More patience Oct 18, 2003

At the same time as I was answering this thread earlier, you were asking questions on Kudoz and showing a singular lack of patience. The terms you needed help with were interesting and challenging, yet you chose to quickly accept suggestions made within minutes, without giving consideration to the fact that the answers could be a little more complicated. For example, in a diplomatic context, the French word "coopération" does not simply mean cooperation. It refers to French foreign-aid programs. In the case of the other phrase, there were at least two better answers than the one you picked.

If you really want to be a good translator, don't rush. Try and figure out what the copy given to you is about. Spend whatever time you need on a translation (if the client lets you). Don't get greedy.


GingerR  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Patience, promotion, pride ;-) Oct 19, 2003

Here is a voice of someone pretty new to the business as well. It might be just repeating what everybody have already said, but, anyway, here it is.icon_smile.gif
My first advice to you is be patient. My "worst" case was an agency that replied to my offer after more than 2 years! (ok, it was a deep recession in my country at that time). But now I am happy to work for them as they offer decent rates, and deadlines that are not killing.
Then promotion - keep advertising, let people know you are there, send out your resumes/offers, reply to ads, use every possible way to market your services.
And finally, be proud of what you are doing. If you do not respect yourself and your work - nobody will! You will always come across some clients that will want to have the work done for less money and to have it done quicker. Remember that when negotiating. And remember that is it easier to lower your prices than to explain why (and make other accept the fact) you want to raise them.
Good luck!icon_smile.gif


Scott de Lesseps  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:41
French to English
thanks Oct 21, 2003

Thanks for all of your helpful responses.



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