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Who works for 0.035 EUR/word?
Thread poster: Madeleine van Zanten

Madeleine van Zanten
Switzerland
Local time: 13:05
Member
French to English
+ ...
Jul 21, 2008

It's been a while since I checked out the jobs on Proz, and this morning, I realized that I wouldn't have liked it anyway... who amongst you works for a rate of 0.035 EUR/word for a translation into French, or 490 EUR/16000 words? In my country, you will not find a cleaning lady for that price, so what is happening to the rates for qualified work?

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Ángel Domínguez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:05
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
*sigh* Jul 21, 2008

Recently I was contacted by an italian agency who declined my offer (0.06 € seemed too high, as they pay translators 0.04 €).
Anyway, right here, right now, I would probably have to accept it. Sometimes you just have to pay your bills, but yes, it's disheartening to see the rates offered through the jobs here at Proz. Sometimes I believe a minimum should be set.

But hey! It's not only translation that's watching qualified work rates plummet. I have worked as a designer for many years and you should hear what clients sometimes tell you. Again, a cleaning lady/guy would earn more per hour than some designers (and translators, seeing what happens with jobs here).


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mdmarcl
Local time: 13:05
French to Spanish
+ ...
What else can you do? Jul 21, 2008

Hello everyone!
My rate is 0,065€ per word BUT working as freelance for videogames localisation services in Spain, I've been paid 0,035€ per word or, even worse, 0,03€. I have contacted several enterprises and I haven't found (in Spain) any of them that pay more than that. If you know one, please give me the information!!

Hopping the situation gets better,

María del Mar


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Start asking for a proper rate Jul 21, 2008

Mar Clavijo wrote:
My rate is 0,065€ per word BUT working as freelance for videogames localisation services in Spain, I've been paid 0,035€ per word or, even worse, 0,03€. I have contacted several enterprises and I haven't found (in Spain) any of them that pay more than that. If you know one, please give me the information!!


We are offered 4, 5, 6, 7 cents, etc. nearly every week and say no. It's just about time we all said no, as it is not a matter of a "tight budget".

The "tight budget" is usually enough to pay a nice, ample office in a representative building in downtown Madrid or Barcelona, plus a nice car for the owner of the agency, plus the fees of renowned international L10N organisations, nice hotels, nice restaurants, etc. Not a matter of how much they get from the customer. It's usually a matter of what they want to give you.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:05
Flemish to English
+ ...
Supply and demand-Vraag en aanbod. Jul 21, 2008

Vertaling in het Nederlands: Translation into Dutch or from Dutch into another language: nobody will work for such rates. On the supply side: more or less an equilibrium between supply and demand. Most translators into Dutch live in countries with high costs of living.
Into Spanish is another matter: on the supply side: too many translators.

[Edited at 2008-07-21 15:01]


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:05
Dutch to English
+ ...
Supply and demand (please note the order in EN) Jul 21, 2008

Williamson wrote:

Vertaling in het Nederlands: Translation into Dutch or from Dutch into another language: nobody will work for such rates. On the supply side: more or less an equilibrium between supply and demand. Most translators into Dutch live in countries with high costs of living.
Into Spanish is another matter: on the supply side: too much translators.

[Edited at 2008-07-21 11:57]


You mean "too many translators", I presume (sorry, just sticks out like a sore thumb to a native)

But you are quite correct, it's a question of supply and demand. The EN-ES-EN market appears to be saturated - but even so, there's still a top end and certain niche markets.



[Edited at 2008-07-21 12:09]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not too many translators - Too little customer education Jul 21, 2008

Williamson wrote:
Into Spanish is another matter: on the supply side: too much translators.


I don't quite agree. In proportion of the population, Spanish-speaking countries probably have the same amount of translators than the Netherlands.

The problem is that we lack the knowledge or the interest in educating the customer about how a translation done by a professional translator is different from that done by a secretary or a clerk who speaks a foreign language.

We have some local customers and they know what our rates are. Every time they need a professional translation, mostly for quotations to international customers, they call us. When they just need to know the general meaning of some document, one of their clerks does it. Just their choice! But we don't lower our rates to try to capture the low-end translations too.


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Timothy Barton
Local time: 13:05
French to English
+ ...
Big supply, huge demand Jul 21, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
But you are quite correct, it's a question of supply and demand. The EN-ES-EN market appears to be saturated - but even so, there's still a top end and certain niche markets.


[Edited at 2008-07-21 12:01]


I disagree, at least for ES-EN. There is so much that needs translating. So yes, there is a big supply of ES-EN translators, but there is HUGE demand.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:05
Dutch to English
+ ...
But everything still boils down to supply and demand Jul 21, 2008

Timothy Barton wrote:

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:
But you are quite correct, it's a question of supply and demand. The EN-ES-EN market appears to be saturated - but even so, there's still a top end and certain niche markets.


[Edited at 2008-07-21 12:01]


I disagree, at least for ES-EN. There is so much that needs translating. So yes, there is a big supply of ES-EN translators, but there is HUGE demand.


Good to hear it, as I'll be tapping into that legal market in the not-too-distant future

As long as there is a sufficient supply of translators willing to work for peanuts, abysmal rates will still be offered, although I fully agree with you it's probably far worse for EN-ES than for ES-EN (same here for EN-PT).

I should have said the bottom end of those markets - as this is what I meant when referring to 'top end' and 'niche markets' - regardess of the language pair, there's almost always going to be a greater demand for work where quality really counts than there is going to be a supply of competent translators.

It's still a question of supply and demand, no matter how you look at it.



[Edited at 2008-07-21 12:27]


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Maria Rosich Andreu  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:05
Member (2003)
Dutch to Spanish
+ ...
what is there to be done? Jul 21, 2008

This is not directed to anyone in particular, although I quote an answer from this forum. This is for anyone ready to work for too low rates.



What else can you do?



Refuse.


My rate is 0,065€ per word BUT working as freelance for videogames localisation services in Spain, I've been paid 0,035€ per word or, even worse, 0,03€.



I also work in the gaming industry and that does not mean accepting this kind of prices: it means working for agencies that pay better. Working for a decent amount means you can work less hours for the same money and so find better clients. Even most Spanish agencies will pay at least 0,05 € for games (not that I say that's enough); actually I only know one in Madrid that pays the amounts you quote. And they will keep paying the same as long as someone accepts.

Educating the client, as Tomás says, is a necessity, but so is knowing what one's work is worth. We all have bills to pay: I have a mortgage, a baby on its way and my boyfriend is also a freelancer, so I know what it is to need to work. But plummeting prices is not the way forward.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:05
German to English
+ ...
It's really pathetic Jul 21, 2008

Hi,

There seem to be few well-paying job offers on ProZ these days for experienced, highly-qualified translators in my language pair (German->English), but then I don't look often anymore, so perhaps I just don't see them.
However, if some of you are looking for advice (not the original poster, necessarily, but it seems some of the answerers might need some) on increasing your rates, here are my 2 cents based on my experience: It takes some time and practice with various agencies, allow for at least a year or two. It is also important to specialize in no more than five areas. That means you know or get to know the vocabulary of those particular industries well and don't have to waste time looking up words on subjects you aren't familiar with. As your experience and speed increase, shop around for agencies that pay better and are more specialized in the subjects you cover, and they do exist. You just have to be patient and be willing to take short tests now and then (no more than 300-400 words). Then after doing that for a time, the next step is to start looking for direct clients, using your agency experience, glowing references and expertise in your subject fields to prove your qualifications. To do that you use the internet, and look for clients who are involved in your fields of specialization. Usually it is better to start closer to home, so you can offer to visit and make a small presentation in person. Lots of companies feel more comfortable knowing the translator is nearby, even if it is not an issue anymore because of the internet.

There is a lot more you can do, but this is a bare bones guide for people who may not have had much experience yet. As for ProZ, participate and contribute to Kudoz, your position in the listings makes a difference. I started getting more direct inquiries in my speciality fields after a time, and that is why I really don't need to "Browse jobs" anymore and avoid getting upset about the really terrible rates some cutthroats are offering for a demanding profession.

As a side note to Mar, I also translate games and know that they tend not to pay that well because the "fun factor" is high and lots of people will do the work for below average rates, but I do other things as well, and achieve a nice balance that way without having to starve.

Edited to add: Your rates for games is too low, in any case. And the comments that have been posted since I started writing this regarding "just say no" are also valid, but sometimes you do not have a choice if you are fairly new to the profession and need to gain experience first. It is a bit of a "catch-22" situation, but hopefully sooner rather than later, you can charge what your work and experience are worth.

I hope this is useful to some of you and good luck!



[Edited at 2008-07-21 18:56]


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Miroslav Jeftic  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:05
English to Serbian
+ ...
It depends where you live Jul 21, 2008

In Serbia 500-600€ is a good monthly salary, and translating 16000 words would take much less than a month, so no problem with that rate.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Enhorabuena Jul 21, 2008

Maria Rosich Andreu wrote:
I have a mortgage, a baby on its way
uote]

Congratulations! (For the baby, not the mortgage...)


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mdmarcl
Local time: 13:05
French to Spanish
+ ...
Ok Jul 21, 2008

Hello again,

First of all, congratulations for your baby, Maria Rosich Andreu.
Please, could you give me the name of that agencies in Spain? I really haven't found them and I will be very pleased. We have to educate the client, of course, but meanwhile... what do I do? Refuse and work as a teacher? (Teachers are fine but I have studied 6 years to be a translator) I am very angry about earning 0,035 and I want to change it! I translate other things and I do charge more, but in the gaming field I just don't find any agency that pays more than 0.035€ per word.
I'll have to move to another country
I think that in California translators earn 8000$ per month for testing services.

Kisses to all of you!


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:05
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Perception of value Jul 21, 2008

It's all about perception of value. If you contact an agency with your rates, the relationship is about rates. If you contact an agency with your skills and expertise, then it's about skills and expertise. Then rates are secondary.

You need agencies that sell quality, not budget solutions. After all, you sell qualit, not budget solutions

I have recently revised my CV and cover letter for agencies so that the focus is on the service I deliver, not the rates I work for. I have also stopped doing free tests, instead I provide samples. This is a long term approach, but I find that the amount of interested agencies hasn't changed - its the type of interested agency that has changed.


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