Translation Rates and Getting Started
Thread poster: David Brown
David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:50
Spanish to English
Dec 8, 2003

I recently posted a question about getting started and rates for the job. I mentioned that my lowest rate was 4centimos(5cents)/word and was told by several other professionals that my prices were far too low and how could one exist on these rates or could only do so if living with parents. Today on Prozcom I see a posting for an URGENT translation and wanting someone with 5 years experience at 4 cent(3.3 centimos) per word. Interesting world

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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:50
German to English
You will see all sorts of low rates offered Dec 9, 2003

But that doesn't mean that's the going rate.

You should decide what your target hourly rate should be, and then see how many words you would need to translate to achieve that rate; if you think you can translate that many words/hour, then you have the rate you should charge. You may have to settle for a less than optimal rate until you become more proficient (either at translating or typing), but *never* accept a rate that is significantly below what you think your services are worth.
Hope this helps, Kevin


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:50
German to English
+ ...
Interesting world Dec 9, 2003

David Brown wrote:

I recently posted a question about getting started and rates for the job. I mentioned that my lowest rate was 4centimos(5cents)/word and was told by several other professionals that my prices were far too low (...)


David,

The fact of the matter is that there is not one "translation market". There are several. There is a market for translations at 5 US cents/word, and there are plenty of translators willing to work for that. There are also customers willing to pay three or five times that (yes, really) for work that meets their standards. Believe me, those customers have a much harder time finding suitable translators than the cheap outsourcers offering 5 cents a word. Or 4. Or 3...

Your profile is a case in point. At least you haven't made the mistake of offering to translate both into and out of half a dozen different languages. But even though you are qualified to a high level in a specialist subject, you are offering, according to your profile, "Tech/Engineering, Art/Literary, Medical, Law/Patents, Science, Bus/Financial, Marketing, Other". Since, at least on paper, you can already claim to be a specialist, why are you selling yourself as a jack of all trades? And a cheap one at that? Sure, even those of us who specialize very closely encounter work from time to time that is outside our areas. I don't mean to suggest that it isn't possible to do it, either - just that it will probably take several times longer. More importantly, if it's the norm rather than the exception, it invalidates the claim to specialism, because being a specialist means constantly building on experience in a field.

I agree that the Spanish market has problems of its own. Spain is not a "low-cost country", but can be served by translators in countries that are. Even so, I don't believe that it's that easy to find an English native speaker (you are an English native speaker, aren't you?) with a degree in medical sciences and knowledge of the Spanish medical environment driving a taxi in Argentina. You are already well equipped to deliver very high quality translations for one particular market. The next stage is to persuade customers that a good service is worth paying good money for. Delete the jack-of-all-trades stuff out of your profile, and list what you've been doing for the last forty years. I presume you haven't just been sweeping the floors at the local hospital.

Marc


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:50
English to French
Yes but Dec 9, 2003

David Brown wrote:

I recently posted a question about getting started and rates for the job. I mentioned that my lowest rate was 4centimos(5cents)/word and was told by several other professionals that my prices were far too low and how could one exist on these rates or could only do so if living with parents. Today on Prozcom I see a posting for an URGENT translation and wanting someone with 5 years experience at 4 cent(3.3 centimos) per word. Interesting world


If you look more closely you will find a zillion threads to complain about the rates in Proz. Proz is an open market place, and there is nothing stopping anyone from asking anything. So, there you go with unreal rates or exigences by folks who have no clue about ordering translation, and no respect for our job.

If they are here to stay, they wise up and they start offering better rates. Think. If a pro can charge his regular customers euro 0.08 per word, why would he bother with a rush job at 0.03?

People taking these kind of rates (in countries with high costs of living) most likely don't have have good customers paying them 3 times as much and are desperate for some job. That's not the profile of a translator I can trust with my documents.

Frankly, translation is quite a rough trade You got to find your clients, chase up payments, handle the translations, deadlines, customers, queries, stay current in your specialized areas, software, ... I like it, but it's a lot of work and thinking and I wouldn't do it at Mc Do's rates. Take pride in what you are doing. Your service IS valuable, there is no reason to shortsell it.


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Céline Graciet
Local time: 22:50
English to French
they were right Dec 9, 2003

Clients will always try to pay the least amount possible while providers will try to get the best possible rate: nothing outrageous there. What is outrageous is accepting rates that wouldn't allow you to have a decent life.

The people who told you it is crucial you don't undersell yourself were right and I hope you will listen to them. If we keep accepting poorly-paid jobs (and 4 cents is VERY poor), these will become standard rates and it will become impossible to make a decent living (for those living in Western countries anyway). I only started 3 and a half years ago and trust me, clients WILL pay good rates for good service. Don't lose heart and be patient!

David Brown wrote:

I recently posted a question about getting started and rates for the job. I mentioned that my lowest rate was 4centimos(5cents)/word and was told by several other professionals that my prices were far too low and how could one exist on these rates or could only do so if living with parents. Today on Prozcom I see a posting for an URGENT translation and wanting someone with 5 years experience at 4 cent(3.3 centimos) per word. Interesting world


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David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:50
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Translators underselling themselves? Dec 9, 2003

[quote]Céline Graciet wrote:

Clients will always try to pay the least amount possible while providers will try to get the best possible rate: nothing outrageous there. What is outrageous is accepting rates that wouldn't allow you to have a decent life.
I have refused work from agencies who have offered me a pittance, but they haven't come back and offered me more money or any work. Does this mean someone else has accepted this level for translating (I am talking 2.5 centimos/ 2cents a word!)? when I can get the same or more than that for proofreading scientific texts.


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David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:50
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Getting started and prices Dec 9, 2003

[quote]MarcPrior wrote:


Your profile is a case in point. At least you haven't made the mistake of offering to translate both into and out of half a dozen different languages. But even though you are qualified to a high level in a specialist subject, you are offering, according to your profile, "Tech/Engineering, Art/Literary, Medical, Law/Patents, Science, Bus/Financial, Marketing, Other".
My profile was an oversight, thank you for pointing it out. I have now changed it. I must add I only just placed my profile on prozcom within the last few weeks. I only accept, medical, pharmacological and pathology life sciences documents. Except I have experience of electronics (Valencia based international firm) and patents (Pharmaceutical Company)(good rates)through a verbal recommendation of my work from a client.


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Céline Graciet
Local time: 22:50
English to French
difficult to say what happened... Dec 9, 2003

During an interpreting assignment I met a fellow interpreter. He was a delightful man who I really liked until he told me he was doing all the organisation's (it was a public organisation) translation for free because he's rich and bored. Grrrrr. I wanted to scratch his eyes out and ask him why the hell he can't go and play tennis if he's bored and leave us to earn a living, but I managed to remain polite throughout. And breathe.

You don't know why or how people take some ridiculously paid jobs, for some it's a matter of survival, for others those rates allow them to live well in their country. Don't focuse on that and concentrate on making your offer attractive to your clients.

[quote]David Brown wrote:

Céline Graciet wrote:

Clients will always try to pay the least amount possible while providers will try to get the best possible rate: nothing outrageous there. What is outrageous is accepting rates that wouldn't allow you to have a decent life.
I have refused work from agencies who have offered me a pittance, but they haven't come back and offered me more money or any work. Does this mean someone else has accepted this level for translating (I am talking 2.5 centimos/ 2cents a word!)? when I can get the same or more than that for proofreading scientific texts.




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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:50
German to English
+ ...
Rich and bored Dec 9, 2003

Céline Graciet wrote:
He was a delightful man who I really liked until he told me he was doing all the (...) translation for free because he's rich and bored.


I guess he wasn't that delightful then? Anyway, don't worry about it - he'll probably get bored at some point.)

More to the point is whether he is doing it properly or not. The question is not so much persuading clients that we need to eat - why should they care? - but of the importance of having translation done properly.

I've just returned from seeing my accountant. His fee for 2002 is 1500 Euro. I've no doubt it can be done more cheaply - everyone in Germany seems to have a colleague or relative who does it for them. I'm not in a position to judge whether he's done it well, either, because if I were to go to the trouble of checking, I could do it myself. But the questions he asks and the advice he gives suggest to me that I can rely on him, and I'm certainly happy to pay him 1500 Euro rather than do it myself, which in theory I could. It should be the same with translators and their customers.

Marc


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