How to make a profit in the translation business without exploiting freelancers
Thread poster: Amanda Tozer

Amanda Tozer
Local time: 18:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 29, 2005

I'm an ex junior academic and freelance translator, who is now embarking on setting up alanguage consultancy, which will also offer translating, prrofreading and interpreting services. BUT, I am facing a big dilemma: which rates to charge the client, and which rates to apply to freelancers. Having worked as a freelancer, I know that many agencies pay pretty badly. However, now the tables are turned and I need to establish rates which are acceptable to the freelance without being exploitative.
Any suggestions on a reasonable margin between the two rates?
The business will be set up in Spain, and I don't know whether or not to set rates in accordance with the target language, or in accordance with the type of translation, i.e. technical, literary, sworn, etc.
I also need to think about rates for proofreading and interpreting.
Any advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Amanda Tozer

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Andreas THEODOROU  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:50
Greek to English
+ ...
hello Oct 1, 2005

Hello ATozer

That's a very interesing situation. I have often wondered myself how I would treat my employees if I were a manager.

I'm afraid that I can't offer any concrete advice but it seems that an agency does not have to change its rates very much to differentiate itself from the others. Only you know what constitutes an acceptable rate in your market for a quality job.

Also, I think it is brilliant that you are thinking this way and this empathy will come over with any freelancers you come in touch with. This can only have positive effects.

Good luck in your new venture !


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:50
German to English
+ ...
Become an expert and aim high Oct 3, 2005

I have no suggestions on particular margins, but a few ideas about your new company's approach.

I work for a few "agencies" - I hesitate to use that word, because they have nothing in common with the type of agencies that receive their well-deserved scorn here on a regular basis - that pay their freelancers excellent rates (without hesitation and promptly!).

Their common "secret" is that they are specialized in only one language pair and direction, and only in a few specific subject areas. Because of this, they produce quality work and are able to command high rates from customers who need their expertise. As a result of the high quality of their work, they are in great demand regardless of the rate, resulting in excess work that can be farmed out to freelancers like me, at very decent rates.

I'm not sure what your specialization is, but this model is worth a look.

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