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Question about a rate offered
Thread poster: Adam-MSCR

Adam-MSCR  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:16
Member (Jan 2018)
French to English
+ ...
Feb 4, 2017

Hello everybody,

Long time without posting. I have been busy translating for a charity to gain experience. I hope everybody is well and happy.

I recently started messaging agencies to offer my services as a translator. I just received a reply from one saying that my language pairs are very crowded (French, Italian and Spanish) and that the fee they offer to all translators is €0.05 per source word - which is non-negotiable.

Personally, it takes me about 4 hours to translate 1000 words because I like to do background reading on the text, maybe take time to confirm a translation term with someone if I'm not 100% sure etc. In my opinion it takes me 4 hours to produce a high-quality translation.

By that token, I'd be paid €12.50 per hour. Can anyone confirm if that rate is as derisory as I think and hope it is compared with what other agencies pay? I'm disappointed because it's been my dream to translate for many many years. In addition, as you will all know, language learning takes a lot of time and dedication.

Do all agencies pay this "take it or leave it" rate? I would really appreciate any advice on this as I'm feeling completely lost and disappointed.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:16
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Adam Feb 4, 2017

Adam-MSCR wrote:
I just received a reply from one saying that my language pairs are very crowded (French, Italian and Spanish) and that the fee they offer to all translators is €0.05 per source word - which is non-negotiable.


Well, if the agency works mainly in a field where competition is quite stiff for those languages, then it is perfectly excusable for them to offer only a very low rate. And you're free to accept that rate, if you feel that it is worth your while. Other agencies may work in other fields or have different business models, in which those languages can be supported with higher rates.

By that token, I'd be paid €12.50 per hour. Can anyone confirm if that rate is as derisory...


No, you're just a slow translator. (-; But that is nothing to be ashamed about.

I'm disappointed because it's been my dream to translate for many many years.


If you want to earn higher rates, seek out agencies that pay higher rates, and dazzle them.

Do all agencies pay this "take it or leave it" rate?


No, most agencies want you to tell them what your rate is, and then they try to find clients who are willing to pay your rate. If your rate is quite a bit higher than the type of client that that agency typically gets, however, then you should expect to get very few jobs with that particular agency. Some agencies do respect the translator's rates, but at the same time set a certain maximum rate that their business model can support.

Have a look at the Blue Board and work your way through the list of agencies in countries where your source or target languages are often needed. Select "Average LWA descending" when you do your search, and then go to the very last page, where you'll find outsourcers who have most recently registered at ProZ.com (they are often also the newest outsourcers, who may still be looking for translators).

PS. Replace your world-trade-center-guy profile photo with something that says "I'm worth high rates".


[Edited at 2017-02-04 12:23 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-02-04 15:49 GMT]


 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:16
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Where is that agency? Feb 4, 2017

If in Western Europe, yes, the rate is ridiculous. This is what I accept from agencies in Latvia for example - but I can afford it, I live in a low-cost country myself and also work much faster. BTW, if they are in India or China, it's high! Such countries to be avoided. But I have encountered a French agency that told me exactly that - I just answered I wouldn't work for them, full stop.
In your pairs in Western Europe, you should get about twice that rate. On the other hand, if you are a beginner, you probably have less choice than I have after nearly 30 years.


 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:16
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Leave it Feb 4, 2017

Hi Adam,
The going rate for a good agency and an experienced translator in Spain or Italy translating from those languages into English is a bit less than double what you were offered. In countries other than those two (same languages) the rate will be higher than that.

There are loads of cheapo agencies offering low rates, there are many offering medium rates and there are a few offering good rates.

If you need experience then you could start working for slightly less, but basically the trick is to offer something that looks, acts and sounds professional and eventually also something it looks like only you can offer. If the client wants YOU they will be much more likely to ask for your rates rather than tell you what they will pay.

I'm not sure how much experience you have in the languages you're translating out of if you've just travelled through Italy but I lived (as a resident) in Spain for 5 years before starting to translate Spanish to English and lived in Italy for 20 years.
I'm not saying you're not qualified to translate in those language pairs, that's for you to say, but perhaps something like that might attract low rate offers.

Most successful strategy I had when starting out was to phone potential clients before sending them an Email. That way you can talk to them and see what they're like, and they'll be expecting your mail so are less likely to bin it.



[Edited at 2017-02-04 13:25 GMT]


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:16
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
do you want fries with that? Feb 4, 2017

let's be honest

2000 words a day is pretty OK for a translator

0,05 although not OK , seems to be accepted by some translators, depending on where they live or where that client is located - mistake nr. 1. - - why should you lower your rates depending on where the client is from - - this translation is used in your home country, not anywhere else. Saving 100 euro in the grand scheme of things (product development, production, marketing, shipping, website) is plain stupid...

Spanish, French and Italian is pretty much hurt by all sorts of economic troubles the world over and there are quite a lot of people out there acting as translators, not only in Europe, but throughout South-America, Africa and Asia - and they:
A) don't mind taking on jobs they know nothing about;
B) at rates that would shock you;
C) they use it to supplement their income, or add-on to spouse's income...
D) Most of the work is sub-sub-su outsourced , so higher up the chain you might fetch a decent rate for it...

SO, normal rates (although actually too low to make a nice living) are probably between 0,08 (grand max) and 0,06 (lower limit for western-european....)

===
Ed


 

Christian Nielsen-Palacios  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:16
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Need to study Feb 4, 2017

Adam:

You sound like a newcomer to this wonderful profession. I think you will enjoy it.

I am originally from Venezuela, and while I love languages and have studied several (German, French, Italian, Danish), I only feel confident working in the English/Spanish combination.

I have been charging US $0.12/source word for many years, and am trying to increase it to US $0.13. A lot of my work is actually editing/proofreading the work of other translators, for which I charge US $0.04/target word. There is indeed a lot of competition in certain languages, and I could accept the meager fees you were offered if I lived in Central or South America, but I live in the USA.

I think you would benefit from reading and participating in webinars about the BUSINESS of translation.

Google Corinne McKay, who wrote a great book about becoming a translator. Tess Whitty is also well known for her book and online classes on Marketing for Translators. Finally, I am currently in a paid group where we get coached and encouraged to pursue our goals, taught by Jenae Spry. She has two popular groups in Facebook. One free, the other paid ($87/month). She teaches you how to write your résumé, write cover letters, and use technology to increase your speed and productivity. I highly recommend her classes (www.successbyrx.com )

Good luck!


 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 13:16
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
high-quality translation? Feb 4, 2017


it takes me about 4 hours to translate 1000 words because I like to do background reading on the text, maybe take time to confirm a translation term with someone if I'm not 100% sure etc. In my opinion it takes me 4 hours to produce a high-quality translation.


On the one hand, that's 12.50/hour _before_ your admin overheads.

On the other hand, you may find that the kind of work sent to you by such an agency contains a lot of nearly-repetitive boilerplate stuff (legal documents, or technical manuals, for example) that does not require the same amount of time as the work you may have been "practising" on - a lot of standard phrases (maybe it takes you that long the first time, but then the next ten are all much the same), no need to worry about getting the "mood" of the document or the author's "voice" or think about idioms, etc.

I mean, I'm not saying you should sign up to them. You can definitely do better than that. But if you were to, and they sent you, say, a contract for a cleaning service, and it took you 4hr/1000 words, chances are that the service contract they sent you the next week would look quite similar and contain a lot of similar phrases and take you a lot less long.


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
Do they apply a CAT discount on this rate? Feb 5, 2017

Beware: some agencies seem to give better rates but they apply CAT discounts. So in the end their rate is
not that good. I would say that 0.05 euro/w without discount equals 0.07 with a CAT discount

[Modifié le 2017-02-05 12:57 GMT]


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:16
Member
English to Italian
"Discounts" Feb 5, 2017

mairaw wrote:

On the other hand, you may find that the kind of work sent to you by such an agency contains a lot of nearly-repetitive boilerplate stuff (legal documents, or technical manuals, for example) that does not require the same amount of time as the work you may have been "practising" on - a lot of standard phrases (maybe it takes you that long the first time, but then the next ten are all much the same), no need to worry about getting the "mood" of the document or the author's "voice" or think about idioms, etc.

I mean, I'm not saying you should sign up to them. You can definitely do better than that. But if you were to, and they sent you, say, a contract for a cleaning service, and it took you 4hr/1000 words, chances are that the service contract they sent you the next week would look quite similar and contain a lot of similar phrases and take you a lot less long.


As David wrote, several agencies (especially those who behave like this and look for "best rates"...) will apply "discounts" for fuzzy matches, thing which basically nullifies possible advantages due to repetitive/similar source. However, even if that was not the case, accepting a low rate in hopes of receiving repetitive projects so as to "maximize" your output seems quite far-fetched...


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
there are always many fuzzy matches even in projects that are not reptetitive Feb 5, 2017

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

mairaw wrote:

On the other hand, you may find that the kind of work sent to you by such an agency contains a lot of nearly-repetitive boilerplate stuff (legal documents, or technical manuals, for example) that does not require the same amount of time as the work you may have been "practising" on - a lot of standard phrases (maybe it takes you that long the first time, but then the next ten are all much the same), no need to worry about getting the "mood" of the document or the author's "voice" or think about idioms, etc.

I mean, I'm not saying you should sign up to them. You can definitely do better than that. But if you were to, and they sent you, say, a contract for a cleaning service, and it took you 4hr/1000 words, chances are that the service contract they sent you the next week would look quite similar and contain a lot of similar phrases and take you a lot less long.


As David wrote, several agencies (especially those who behave like this and look for "best rates"...) will apply "discounts" for fuzzy matches, thing which basically nullifies possible advantages due to repetitive/similar source. However, even if that was not the case, accepting a low rate in hopes of receiving repetitive projects so as to "maximize" your output seems quite far-fetched...


There are always many fuzzy matches even in projects that are not repetitive (at least 15-20%). Some of these matches even seem to stem from other projects that had been entrusted to other translators.


[Modifié le 2017-02-05 13:10 GMT]

[Modifié le 2017-02-05 13:59 GMT]


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
on the contrary Feb 5, 2017

[quote]Mirko Mainardi wrote:



As David wrote, several agencies (especially those who behave like this and look for "best rates"...) will apply "discounts" for fuzzy matches, thing which basically nullifies possible advantages due to repetitive/similar source. However, even if that was not the case, accepting a low rate in hopes of receiving repetitive projects so as to "maximize" your output seems quite far-fetched...

On the contrary, most established agencies apply CAT discounts.

[Modifié le 2017-02-05 13:30 GMT]


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
Try to find out the actual rate in your language pairs Feb 5, 2017

Try to find out the ACTUAL rate (not the proz official dreamlike rate) rate in your language pairs.
I've observed that in some pairs like Spanish French, or even English>French, some experienced translators
with a degree in translation offer between 0.05 and 0.06 euro per word even though they are experienced.


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:16
Member
English to Italian
Contrary to what? Feb 5, 2017

David GAY wrote:

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

As David wrote, several agencies (especially those who behave like this and look for "best rates"...) will apply "discounts" for fuzzy matches, thing which basically nullifies possible advantages due to repetitive/similar source. However, even if that was not the case, accepting a low rate in hopes of receiving repetitive projects so as to "maximize" your output seems quite far-fetched...


On the contrary, most established agencies apply CAT discounts.


I just said that several do, especially those looking for cheaper rates, which will probably just state their own "discount" matrix, along with their rates...

As for being "established"... many of those are (unfortunately).


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
many bottom feeders don't apply any CAT discounts Feb 5, 2017

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

David GAY wrote:

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

As David wrote, several agencies (especially those who behave like this and look for "best rates"...) will apply "discounts" for fuzzy matches, thing which basically nullifies possible advantages due to repetitive/similar source. However, even if that was not the case, accepting a low rate in hopes of receiving repetitive projects so as to "maximize" your output seems quite far-fetched...


On the contrary, most established agencies apply CAT discounts.


I just said that several do, especially those looking for cheaper rates, which will probably just state their own "discount" matrix, along with their rates...

As for being "established"... many of those are (unfortunately).


I meant that many bottom feeders don't apply any CAT discounts (thank God).


 

Anne Raffolt  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:16
Member (2013)
English to French
+ ...
FWIW Feb 5, 2017

I don't think that 1000 words per 4 hours is particularly slow, especially for a beginner. Taking your time to ensure the product you deliver is as good as possible is important. You will likely translate faster as you gain more experience, which will mechanically increase your hourly income.

I don't work in your direction but EUR .05 seems way too low IMO, even for a beginner. I wouldn't have accepted it for English to French when I took my first projects and the markets haven't gotten that much more crowded since. Have you checked the proz community rates page? I wouldn't recommend working for less than 1 cent under the minimum when starting out.

[Edited at 2017-02-05 17:17 GMT]


 
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