How to reduce/raise rates?!
Thread poster: Elke Fehling

Elke Fehling  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:52
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Apr 30, 2009

As many others, I have had a very "slow" April. I don't know if this really is a reason to worry, because I usually go on vacation in April and just don't know if this is typical for April or not.

However, I don't like the situation and wonder what I can do about it. One German translation agency contacted me a couple of weeks ago and told me that they needed their translators to reduce their prices by 15% - due to the recession. I contacted another agency (Dutch) that hadn't sent me jobs in quite some time, and they told me that they had always like my work but that they thought my prices were too high (and they were right, I charged them a lot!). So in order to get back into business with them I reduced my price by about 15% (which is still ok, in my opinion).

Actually, I am now working as a freelance translator for more than 6 years. I have never ever raised my prices and I had been planning to do so this year. If you raise your prices, when do you do it, how do you do it? And would it really be a good idea to do it now?

And if business is slow and you want to keep your clients, what do you do? I think it's a bad idea to just reduce my prices for the clients that still are with me?! But maybe I should do that instead of waiting until they leave me without telling me why, like this other agency.

What are your experiences? How do you proceed?


Jon O (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:52
Dutch to English
+ ...
easy... Apr 30, 2009

I just send a polite e-mail informing my clients that my rates will be rising as of XXXX date. Obviously, it goes down better if you give some advance warning, I normally send notification a month or two in advance. In my experience, most clients simply respond by saying thanks for letting us know, we'll make a note of it. I've found that I have lost some peripheral clients by raising my rates but the good ones normally stick with you if they like and trust your work. One may view it as a risk, but if you honestly believe your work deserves a higher rate then I would go ahead and implement it.
It's perhaps a different issue when you are just raising your rates for particular clients in an attempt to cover a slowdown/shortage of work elsewhere. I'd keep it simple, charge what you think you're worth.


Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:52
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Match discounts, in order to revive business May 1, 2009

In general, I do not give discounts for any kind of matches to translation agencies. However, this is on the basis that the match is in their TM, not mine, and matches a translation they have received from somebody else, whose work I am not familiar with.

A different situation is if you either (1) give match discounts to agencies because they keep sending you orders for the same client of theirs, and you build up matches in your own TM; (2) have end clients, for whom you gradually build up matches in your TM.

In the case of good translation agencies who match you up to do the work of a particular end client of theirs, but never ask you for discounts for matches, if you start giving them match discounts based on your own TM, when there is an economic recession, they are pleasantly surprised, but appreciate it and sometimes respond by starting to give you a bit more work.

In the case of the end clients, they do not know anything about matches; they just want the translation done. However, when you start implementing the "reward discount scheme" (or whatever you call it for them), they also get a bit more enthusiastic about sending you work. You do not lose anything, because you have got quite fast at doing their work, as there is a common thread in it all (which shows up in your TM).

As for raising rates, I do not think it is the appropriate time to do it this year - at least not for existing customers. In any case, it depends on whether you want the work or the customer wants the translation. If a new customer approaches you out of the blue, you quote your ideal rate (bearing in mind that, if they become a regular customer, you might have to charge them that same rate for a long time yet). However, if you go round translation agencies begging for work, you have to do it with decreased prices.


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How to reduce/raise rates?!

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