The dos and don't when getting established?
Thread poster: The blue frog
The blue frog
Local time: 06:34
English to French
+ ...
May 24, 2012

Hello All!

I am new on this forum and also pretty new as a freelance translator. Until now, I have had the chance to work for direct clients only, which was pretty straightforward and allowed me to establish good relations, but now I also am starting with translations agencies, and I find it is very different, to say the least!

My question may therefore seem a bit naive or so, and I apologize for this, but I have recently got some work from a translation agency, which have not asked me how much I charged but decided on the rate, and I accepted it as it is not that low afterwards - but they tend to send me a mail saying they have a new project and would I be interested, and that's all - no info.

Until now, I have actually always asked to see it before deciding, politely I precise, do be able to assess it and tell them when I can send it. Is that ok to do so? Would you always do it? I precise that one agency recently contacting me for a job but did not send me the files to look at nor precise whether these are excel, pdf, powerpoint and other kinds of less "translator-friendly" files, nor actually did not tell me whether this is a proofreading job.

So I am not sure how to handle this kind of clients who do not send a minimum of information before-hand and ask you to say yes or not. Am I right asking to see the files first? Would I be right to decline a job that is not in a format I really want to work in - Powerpoint or Excel format can be pretty time consuming and slow down translation a lot, and since I cannot ask for a different rate than the one they offer, I am not all that kind on taking some works, which from recent experience demand far more work than understood in the first place. Last, it is sometimes very difficult to assess the wordcount of a Powerpoint file for instance and I feel that I may have done work where the final wordcount was far more that what the agency told me and did me a PO for.

I would be very grateful for a bit of feedback from more experiences translators on this one.

Many thanks
Grenouille


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:34
Member (2009)
French to English
straightforward answer May 24, 2012

[assorted pleasantries] Yes, I am available. Could you send me the document so that I can provide a more precise estimate of the time involved and *confirm* my acceptance of this project?

Make it clear that you cannot give a firm yes/no until you know more. If they are in too much of a hurry, oh well. At least that way you have not committed yourself to translating a list of Excel terms about grommets.


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Texte Style
Local time: 06:34
French to English
Of course May 24, 2012

you cannot commit to something blind.

You might want to specify that you need to see the text to confirm your rate.
If it does turn out to be a list of Excel terms about grommets, you could then explain that given that it is a list and not text, so there'll be a surcharge, and also that you apply a surcharge for Excel documents as it's less text friendly than Word. And since grommets is clearly a very specialised field, there'll be surcharge for that too. And since there's not time to finish it for Monday without working evenings and weekends, there'll be a surcharge for that too.

You are a FREE lancer and you apply the rates you want, you mustn't let agencies bully you.

Believe me, as a former PM, I had much more respect for the translators who stuck to their guns.

And always check the number of words before accepting a PO. If you don't think you're worth it, who will?


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Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 01:34
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Just chiming in... May 24, 2012

to let you know that you can know exactly how many words a .ppt file has; check the statistics of the file (in Powerpoint 2007 click on the Office button/Prepare/Properties/Document Properties/Advanced Properties/Statistics tab).

Also, consider working with a CAT tool just to standardize your workflow regardless of the format; .PPT files will still take more time during the final review, but Excel files on the other hand shouldn't give you any trouble. CAT tools are the main reason agencies usually have a "one rate fits all" policy. PDF files on the other hand... *eye twitches*.

All in all, I like Jenn's approach best; you are available but the terms are negotiable according to the services they require.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Keep doing it your way May 24, 2012

The blue frog wrote:
translation agency, which have not asked me how much I charged but decided on the rate

That's quite common with agencies, but you don't have to accept it. Of course, it would be pointless to write back with "my rate is 0.10" when their rate was set at 0.05, but you can always negotiate (the worst they can do is refuse!).

Until now, I have actually always asked to see it before deciding, politely I precise, do be able to assess it and tell them when I can send it. Is that ok to do so? Would you always do it?

Absolutely! Top marks for your client training process - don't let up on that

Would I be right to decline a job that is not in a format I really want to work in

Of course you can, though it's better to learn how to deal with all file types (I refuse a lot because I'm just too old to learn new technology, but I wouldn't advise others to)

Powerpoint or Excel format can be pretty time consuming and slow down translation a lot, and since I cannot ask for a different rate than the one they offer

Why ever not? You can have one rate for Word, another for PPT, XLS etc. I don't know if most people do, but there's nothing wrong with you having different rates.

Sheila


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The blue frog
Local time: 06:34
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply to all May 24, 2012

Thank you all for your replies, this is of great help, as a new starter it is always difficult to know how to handle new clients, and I may not be bold enough.

So this conforts me in the knowing that I can and should be able to see a new project before saying yes.

As regards Sheila's answer, however, about rate and my being 'imposed' a rate. I was a bit slow in reacting when I contacted this one agency by sending my CV. They answered after a few days that they wanted to give it a try with me and would I be able to translate some documents, and their rate was X/1000 words. That rate was lower than what I am paid by direct clients, which of course is normal since the agency probably gets paid "my rate" and has to do some profit, but when I accepted the deal, I did not have the reflex to say something like "that's ok with me for a trial, but my usual rate is so and so.
So now I feel stuck. That agency has sent me quite a few jobs in the last few weeks and I feel that it is now too late to renegociate the rate, the more since I have had already to deal with a lot of different formats. (je ne vois pas comment "rectifier le tir")

To Rossana: thank you for the tip about the PowerPoint wordcount! this is good to know I will check straight away whether the wordcount was about right.

Thank you all again!
Grenouille


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:34
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, see the proposed document first May 25, 2012

Dear Frog,
(Queen Elizabeth I used to address her French suitor, le Duc d'Alençon, as "my dear Frog")
You are quite right to specify that you need to see the proposed source document before committing yourself to a job. And, as others have said, you are absolutely free to propose your own rate for a job. You are not *obliged* to accept the rate the agency proposes.
Best wishes,
Jenny

P.S. Permettez-moi: Le verbe "préciser" se traduit généralement par "to specify" ou "to point out". "Precise" est un adjectif en anglais ("précis"), pas un verbe.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 12:34
Chinese to English
You can change your rates any time you please May 26, 2012

The blue frog wrote:

That agency has sent me quite a few jobs in the last few weeks and I feel that it is now too late to renegociate the rate...



I never understand this. I mean, it's nice to be polite, and we don't want to offend anyone. But:

1) It's not personal, it's just business (this excuse was apparently good enough for the Godfather to shoot his own brother - I think it can support a small rate increase).
2) This is your livelihood you're talking about. It's a lot more important than one PM's hurt feelings.

Just say:
"Thank you for the work these past few weeks. It's been great working with you, and I've gained a lot from it. However, my minimum rate with other clients is xxx, and I'd like to ensure that minimum rate with your projects as well. I very much hope you can offer me xxx for the projects you have on hand. If you can't, then we may have to pause our relationship here, and I look forward to working with you on higher-rate projects in future."


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