Raised my rate but lost a client
Thread poster: Erin O

Erin O
Local time: 15:46
Italian to English
May 26, 2013

I've been translating for almost 2 years. When I started I charged rates that I didn't realize were much too low. Then after working with a translation center and being paid well for my work, I decided to increase my rates to my freelance clients to match. Recently an older client brought me a proofreading/revision project, so I explained that my rates had increased but I tried to negotiate something agreeable to both of us so as not to lose the project.
I asked for $8 (USD) per page, negotiable. I prefer to charge by page for revisions because not every word will need editing, and I am slower than more established translators. But in the end she said she had other translators who would work for 4.5 Euro. Did I screw up?


 

Rita Pang  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:46
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
In short: no May 26, 2013

Erin O wrote:

I've been translating for almost 2 years. When I started I charged rates that I didn't realize were much too low. Then after working with a translation center and being paid well for my work, I decided to increase my rates to my freelance clients to match. Recently an older client brought me a proofreading/revision project, so I explained that my rates had increased but I tried to negotiate something agreeable to both of us so as not to lose the project.
I asked for $8 (USD) per page, negotiable. I prefer to charge by page for revisions because not every word will need editing, and I am slower than more established translators. But in the end she said she had other translators who would work for 4.5 Euro. Did I screw up?


When you mentioned $8/page, my first thought was "wow, that's low". However, as I do not work with your language pair, nor am I an expert with the rates in the IT-EN field, I can't say whether or not that particular rate is normal or else. I would encourage you to look at it the other way- do you WANT to work for 4.5 EUR per page? Would working at that rate make you angry and constantly think along the lines of "why did I agree to that rate", every time you take up one of their job offers? If so, then you haven't screwed up, but have made a wise choice instead. Indeed it's a competitive market out there, but if you are worth $8 a page, you will, with some extra effort, land new clients who are willing to pay that rate, and hopefully will soon land other clients who are willing to pay more. Don't sell yourself short. You lose a client, but I am sure there are other ones out there to be found, so long as you've got what it takes.

[Edited at 2013-05-26 20:54 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-05-26 20:55 GMT]


 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:46
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Raising your rates is an art May 26, 2013

Hi Erin,

Raising your rates is an art you haven't fully mastered yet, I think. The most effective procedure is to start raising your rates without customers noticing it, i.e. just for new customers. Raise your published rates and only offer your raised rates to new customers from now on. This might or might not work, so don’t change anything for your former customers.

Acquire new customers until your income allows you to ditch your old, frugal, customers. That is the moment you can try to raise your rates for them too. Don’t expect miracles. They’ve picked you because your rates were much too low in the first place. A shrewd customer, with a nose for new translation talent, can repeat this trick every 2 years and pays half the normal price for good quality translations.

Cheers,
Gerard


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:46
English to German
+ ...
good advice May 26, 2013

Gerard de Noord wrote:

...

Acquire new customers until your income allows you to ditch your old, frugal, customers. That is the moment you can try to raise your rates for them too. Don’t expect miracles. They’ve picked you because your rates were much too low in the first place. A shrewd customer, with a nose for new translation talent, can repeat this trick every 2 years and pays half the normal price for good quality translations.

Cheers,
Gerard


That is very good advice, Gerard. It does not apply to a few very good customers of mine though. They will allow you to raise the rates and stay with you because they know your quality work. Naturally, one needs to be careful when to raise the rates and with regard to how much higher one goes. It's important to stay very reasonable these days.

Bernhard

[Edited at 2013-05-26 21:44 GMT]


 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:46
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
You did good May 26, 2013

Hi Erin,

I am with Rita and Gerard, you did the right thing, but raising prices is always tricky.

If you deliver quality for a "few penny's" more, they eventually will come back to you. Years ago I worked for a company which was responsible for almost half of my yearly income. When I raised my price with 1 euro cent p/w, I didn't hear anything from them for 6 months, after which they came back with proof jobs, because the client wasn't satisfied with the translations of their "cheap" translators.

Although our relationship never reached the same level as before, I work for them again (for 1 cent p/w more = my price) and I learned that quality has to be paid. There are enough agencies out there that are willing to pay that extra cent, if you do the job right

Just hold on, and you'll get there.


 

Mark Benson  Identity Verified

English to Swedish
+ ...
Only you would know... or? May 26, 2013

Erin O wrote:

I've been translating for almost 2 years. When I started I charged rates that I didn't realize were much too low. Then after working with a translation center and being paid well for my work, I decided to increase my rates to my freelance clients to match. Recently an older client brought me a proofreading/revision project, so I explained that my rates had increased but I tried to negotiate something agreeable to both of us so as not to lose the project.
I asked for $8 (USD) per page, negotiable. I prefer to charge by page for revisions because not every word will need editing, and I am slower than more established translators. But in the end she said she had other translators who would work for 4.5 Euro. Did I screw up?


You're the one who lost 4.5€/page. How is it you think anyone else would know if that equals "screwing up"?


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:46
German to English
Extreme downward pressure on rates May 27, 2013

You're entitled to a fair rate.

I lost a client by maintaining the same rate I've charged since the 1990s. Last year when I hadn't heard from them in a while, I contacted them and was told I was 'too expensive".


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 01:16
English to Hindi
+ ...
It is part of the game May 27, 2013

Few of the clients I started with are with me now, I have dropped them along the way and have added better clients who pay well and also have respect for my professional abilities.

When you start out, because of natural diffidence, lack of knowledge about market rates, and lack of confidence in your abilities, you tend to quote low. But as you progress, you realize your error and you will need to correct them. This is usually difficult with clients who are used to your low rates. The only way is to dump them for better paying clients.

So losing (I would use dumping them) is part of the process.

Regarding your proof-reading rates, I think they are still low at 8 dollars a page. This can throw up nasty surprises for you when you come up with a really badly translated page and you have to spent hours to correct it.

I would suggest that you begin charging by the hour for proofing. This would reflect the time you spent better than a fixed rate per page. If it take more time to edit a page (badly translated) then you make more money if you charge by the time it takes. Something like 35 USD per hour should be ok to start with in my opinion.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stick to your guns May 27, 2013

No, you didn't.
Pay peanuts, get monkeys. Sounds like you are better off without that particular organ grinder...


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:46
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
happens all the time May 27, 2013

It's as difficult to raise your rates with an existing client as it is for an agency to lower the rates of their existing translators.

Whilst you can justify putting your prices up, the agency probably doesn't see why they should pay more for the same service when they can find other suppliers who charge less.
This is simply because it's hard for someone who is not a linguist to appreciate the subtleties of quality differences in translation.

Raising rates generally involves finding new clients who accept these rates, building business with them and gradually phasing out the ones who pay you the lower rates.

This is fairly organic since, if you have two jobs available, one from an agency that pays you a rate you're happy with and one from one that doesn't, you're clearly going to take the job from the first. Then the lower paying agency will realize that you're often not available for their jobs and look for others who are, and are willing to accept the rates they're happy to pay.

You can still keep the lower-paying agency on the back burner because sometimes you might think that you'd rather work for your previous rate than none at all but the point is that the core of your business will be at rates that you are happy with.


 

Erin O
Local time: 15:46
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Reply May 27, 2013

Thanks for the feedback. It can be hard to remember that it's a business relationship and not take it personally, but in the long run I wouldn't want to work for 4.5 Euro.
And, $8 is lower than what I charge new clients; I was suggesting that as a way to appeal to my client--although it didn't work. None of my newer clients have complained about my rates.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 21:46
English to Polish
+ ...
Only as? May 27, 2013

Marie-Helene Dubois wrote:

It's as difficult to raise your rates with an existing client as it is for an agency to lower the rates of their existing translators.


I'd say more...

Whilst you can justify putting your prices up, the agency probably doesn't see why they should pay more for the same service when they can find other suppliers who charge less.
This is simply because it's hard for someone who is not a linguist to appreciate the subtleties of quality differences in translation.

Raising rates generally involves finding new clients who accept these rates, building business with them and gradually phasing out the ones who pay you the lower rates.


The problem is that what you would use knowing is the subjective golden middle individual price to job flow ration for your client and for yourself, so that you can do some maths on the two and decide what's your reasonable comfort level. Those are not data you will get easily. Client relationships are much like romantic relationships, and surprisingly the best idea is 'to just ask' (not like I would ever split an infinitive but anyway). On the other hand, that will give the other party plenty of strategically and tactically important information about you, again, just like in romantic relationships. Therefore, again just like in romantic relationships, you need to build a certain level of trust first.

This makes me thinking. How many times more does a couples counsellor earn per hour than a translator?


 


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


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

Raised my rate but lost a client

Advanced search







Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »
BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »



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