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Should I accept dumping offer?
Thread poster: Kuno771

Kuno771
Germany
Local time: 15:32
English to German
+ ...
Jul 12, 2010

Hi,

I'd like to hear some opinions because I'm in a bit of a pickle.

I don't want to bore you with too many details but I basically got into freelancing through a job as PR editor at a very small agency somewhere in Germany, and when I quit there to pursue a different career, I kept freelancing for them at fairly high rates (first 1,28 per 50 characters, later adjusted to 1,35, of translated text, including blanks.) The downside was I only had that one client, and when the other career took a wrong turn, options kept narrowing. When the credit crunch hit, things got still worse.

Now, through a stroke of luck and personal connections, I got a chance to freelance for a TV network. They have a large volume because they buy a lot of shows in English markets which need to be dubbed in German. I watched a few of these and noticed terrible translation errors right away. In some shows, it was basically one slight lexical error every other sentence or so, and two or three massive bloopers per 45 minute show, many of which I could spot even without looking at the original English track. I did a test translation for them, they liked it a lot and I got the offer to work with them on a regular basis.

The downside, however, is that their offer comes to less than a third my usual rate.

Is this what the market is like? I wouldn't have thought that serious industries like premium television expect to get quality work at that price. Should I just ring the lady up and tell her that she should know by now what kind of quality she could expect for that kind of money and it was no solution for her problem? I fear I’d be coming over quite condescending. I don’t mean to, but I also don’t mean to sell out.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 16:32
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Decent rate Jul 12, 2010

I believe the market for EN-DE video translation is rather crowdy, so decent rates are hard to achieve. It all depends of course how much you can translate in a given time and keep quality up.
In any case you should get more clients. Read what others have said about marketing yourself as a freelance translator.

Regards
Heinrich


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Flora chen
Local time: 22:32
English to Chinese
+ ...
For your information Jul 12, 2010

I think all the translators should read the article as per following link:


http://provenwrite.wordpress.com/articles-interviews/twelve-step-program-for-self-injuring-translators/


I faced similar situation 1 month ago, I didn't accept their offer as the rate is really too low.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:32
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translation, subtitling or producing a dubbing script? Jul 12, 2010

Are you being quoted per minute and not per word/line? There's a way of converting these. Take your average per-day income and divide by 30 minutes (which is about what can be processed in one day) to get your per-minute equivalent.

Otherwise, counting by word/line doesn't tell much about subtitling or dubbing jobs. Time and space constraints can reduce/increase your output, and the recourse to synthesis in cases of "cramping" can render the word/line count quite moot. On the other hand, it's almost guaranteed you'll need to play clips over and over again to get them right. Once you've got the comparative figures, they can help you decide.

Hope it helps.


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Kuno771
Germany
Local time: 15:32
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dubbing script Jul 12, 2010

Parrot wrote:

Are you being quoted per minute and not per word/line?


I'm actually being quoted per page, of dubbing script. But not what I previously considered a standard page of 1500 characters, but 1800 characters instead. And not even 'of translated text', but 'of original English text'. Then again that shouldn't matter much as the translation is required to be only as long, and in many places much shorter than, the original text.

Also I'm told there'd only be about one or two jobs per month. Assuming each 'job' is a show comparable to the one I did for the test translation.

Doing all the numbers, that would keep me busy for two to three more days per month and yield 300 to 600 additional Euros. OK, so that's my health insurance taken care of

Seeing I don't have much else to do because I suck big time at marketing, I'm still tempted to consider it. But it does feel very harsh. It also feels like contributing to a downward spiral in a market where nobody cares for quality and therefore my only remaining argument is speed.

I'd also probably end up throwing a free editor's job into the bargain because I'm able to spot factual bloopers in the original, of which there were also a few.

I'm told quality does not matter in the genre because the network's cash cow is a different genre (that doesn't need translation), while this one is just a sort of cultural give-away to sweeten the Pay-TV deal for the wifie. At the same time, their clients are defecting in droves to IP-TV, where said cash-cow can be had a lot cheaper.

I should go back to lorry driving is what I should do


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Mette Melchior  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 15:32
English to Danish
+ ...
Respond with your usual rates and try to negotiate their offer Jul 12, 2010

That would be my advice. Although if their offer was only 1/3 of your usual rate there is a long way to go...

Unfortunately, there are many companies who seem to think they can get quality translation at unrealistically low prices. Sometimes, I think it is just due to lack of insight into the time and effort required to produce a good translation but in other cases, to state a rate they are well aware is on the low side can also be a way to try to obtain a cheap deal. If you just accept it, then good for them. Every time we as translators accept a rate which is below what you could call a decent rate this influences how much the companies will be willing to pay, so as I see it, we are all somewhat responsible for the going prices in the industry.

In my personal experience, prices are very often negotiable - even if an agency states that their budget is only XXX to start with. So let them know that their initial offer is way below your usual rate and argue that quality translation takes time and comes at a price.

I don't know about the German market, but I have also heard that rates in the dubbing and subtitling industry in Denmark are generally on the low side - probably because many people like this kind of work and therefore are willing to accept a lower rate. In Denmark, there is an association of media translators who has published some guidelines regarding rates and what should be taken into consideration when quoting on dubbing or subtitling projects. Maybe there is a similar association in Germany?

As to finding more clients: If you have experience as a PR editor, you should be able to attract clients who are looking for skilled marketing translators. Translation of marketing material and corporate communication is needed in all industries so there are many potential clients you can try to market yourself to.

Good luck

Mette


[Edited at 2010-07-12 15:00 GMT]


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Mette Melchior  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 15:32
English to Danish
+ ...
If quality doesn't matter why do they want to hire a professional translator? Jul 12, 2010

Kuno771 wrote:

I'm told quality does not matter in the genre because the network's cash cow is a different genre (that doesn't need translation), while this one is just a sort of cultural give-away to sweeten the Pay-TV deal for the wifie.



Your message only became visible here half an hour after I had written my post...

If quality doesn't matter they could just use Google Translate and don't worry about having to pay someone a decent pay which he or she could actually be able to get a sustainable income from.

I would not waste too much energy on a client who openly states that quality isn't important to them.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 15:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
If you really want to do the work Jul 12, 2010

I would suggest quoting them your correct rate and applying a massive discount - at least your real rates are visible, and you are at liberty to remove the discount at a later date (or because you have done extra other things for them). If nothing else it might help you feel a little better! Armchair pyschology.

Further thought: this could be like all those telephone services - you get the first two months at a 75% discount and then the rate goes back up. Except they don't mention this when they sell it to you over the phone, and you don't find out the real deal until you receive your first bill and are locked into 18 months of "permanence clause" (is that the right word - I just had to go and look it up, since I learned this lovely little technique in Spain as permanencia)... Just dreaming I suppose!

[Edited at 2010-07-12 15:58 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:32
French to German
+ ...
Logical way of thinking Jul 12, 2010

Kuno771 wrote:


The downside, however, is that their offer comes to less than a third my usual rate.

Is this what the market is like? I wouldn't have thought that serious industries like premium television expect to get quality work at that price. Should I just ring the lady up and tell her that she should know by now what kind of quality she could expect for that kind of money and it was no solution for her problem? I fear I’d be coming over quite condescending. I don’t mean to, but I also don’t mean to sell out.


The logical way of thinking is that the current quality corresponds to the rates they offer (or at which they had the job done until now). And if quality does not matter, why should you "give" it them at a third of your rate?

Just let them go on like before!


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xxxmediamatrix
Local time: 11:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree Jul 13, 2010

Kuno771 wrote:
I should go back to lorry driving is what I should do


That looks like your best bet.

MediaMatrix


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:32
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Watch out, this is a public forum Jul 13, 2010

Kuno771 wrote:

Seeing I don't have much else to do because I suck big time at marketing, I'm still tempted to consider it.


Posting such comments in a public forum is an open invitation to abusive offers. If you were a potential outsourcer and read such a comment, wouldn't you be tempted to exert a much stronger price pressure on the translator? I very strongly advise you to remove that part of your comment; once it's done, I will delete the corresponding parts of my post (or all of it).

If marketing yourself is a sore point of your business, you have a lot of useful things to learn and do. Invest some time into it instead of accepting very low paid offers.


I should go back to lorry driving is what I should do


Even that is a much better option than accepting offers that will hardly let you make ends meet – and that won't leave you time to build your career.

Best regards,
Attila


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:32
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Nothing to do? Jul 13, 2010

Take it on and try and find better paying clients at the same time... problem solved...

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Julie Dion  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:32
English to French
Take it for now Jul 13, 2010

It will give you experience in that field. It will give you something to put in your résumé (some do volunteer work for that!). They will become part of your network of work relations. It will give you confidence and something to talk about at parties. And since they don't seem to care so much about quality, give them your best, but don't fret over it.

And no, you are not helping the industry get better rates, just don't make it a permanent thing. Quit or raise your rates when you have squeezed out what you wanted. In the meantime, do go out and market yourself, otherwise you'll get nowhere

Good luck!


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Don't agree with the "take it" crowd Jul 13, 2010

Kuno771 wrote:
... and I got the offer to work with them on a regular basis. ... the downside, however, is that their offer comes to less than a third my usual rate.


I have no idea what "the market" is like for these services, so unfortunately I can't comment on that aspect of your question. But it seems to me you have already provided insight into your true feelings on the subject - you used the word "dumping" in the thread title, and I would tend to agree that 1/3 of my rate fits that description nicely.

So why on earth would you want to work with them on a regular basis at such a low rate??

For one thing, think about what your income would be like, and how hard you'd have to work for it. Then there's also the "free editor's job" you mention. It certainly seems to me that you would be, in essence, turning yourself into their slave.

At best, I can see perhaps taking on one extreeeeeeemely interesting project if I really had nothing else to do (and/or no project deadline in the foreseeable future), but if I even deigned to do that, I would absolutely and in no uncertain terms tell them that the "massive discount" provided (to quote aceavila - Noni) is actually a charitable contribution on my part that would under no circumstances be repeated.

But in all good conscience, I really don't advocate doing that. You have experience, and at decent rates. IMHO, it seems that it would be more beneficial from a monetary standpoint to simply take other work (wouldn't it pay more??), and use whatever spare time you have to perform those dreaded marketing measures.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:32
Member (2008)
French to English
Marketing Jul 14, 2010

Kuno771 wrote:

.... because I suck big time at marketing

....
I should go back to lorry driving is what I should do



And how do you propose getting work as a lorry driver - by marketing those services of course.

The main problem translators seem to have is faith in their own marketing skills. Most lorry drivers would know to walk away from a less than minimum wage offer to drive a lorry, so why not translators?


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