rates - pricing - how much?
Thread poster: Hannele Marttila

Hannele Marttila  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:58
Member (2011)
Finnish to English
+ ...
Dec 3, 2010

Is it possible to see what a bid went for? There seem to be no guidelines as to pricing and I find myself bidding for work for what I deem to be a reasonable rate and often not getting the job. The problem is that I can hardly adapt my pricing when I have no idea what rate succeeded and what the criteria were in terms of quality/skills/experience etc.

Any ideas??


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markuslebt
Local time: 07:58
English to German
+ ...
kinda feel your way down to a reasonable price Dec 3, 2010

hey there...

why don´t you start with an average offer, and if unsuccessful further work your way down until you get offers ?
after landing some smaller contracts you can still figure out what the reason was and how to get paid what you are really worth.
good money follows good work, at least in my experience.

kind regards,

MB

[Edited at 2010-12-03 18:51 GMT]


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Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:58
Russian to English
+ ...
:) Dec 3, 2010

hannelekristina wrote:

Is it possible to see what a bid went for? There seem to be no guidelines as to pricing and I find myself bidding for work for what I deem to be a reasonable rate and often not getting the job/. The problem is that I can hardly adapt my pricing when I have no idea what rate succeeded and what the criteria were in terms of quality/skills/experience etc.

Any ideas??


Often not getting the job? That is sometimes you are still getting it? This means you are lucky. Just consider that hundreds if not thousands translators reply to each job posting and calculate your chances mathematically.

Getting back to the question itself, I dare say that decent pay would be from 8 to 15 euro per 100 words depending on the complexity of the text. And anything below 6 is simply dumping.

[Edited at 2010-12-03 18:55 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
That's business! Dec 3, 2010

What incentive could there be for outsourcers or service providers to disclose this information?

I agree that it would be very nice to know, although not directly relevant, as I'm not going to change my rates that easily.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:58
Swedish to English
+ ...
Obviously depends on language combinations Dec 3, 2010

Alexander Onishko wrote:


Getting back to the question itself, I dare say that decent pay would be from 8 to 15 euro per 100 words depending on the complexity of the text.


From Hannele's profile, I guess she mainly works FI > EN, EN > FI. The first of these pairs is probably a very rare combination and most translators working in this combination are likely to live in Finland. To my knowledge, Finland is on par with Sweden when it comes to cost of living as well as tax.

Taking this into consideration, "decent pay" would start, rather than end, nearer your higher figure.

Edited for typo.

[Edited at 2010-12-03 22:19 GMT]


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:58
Member (2008)
French to English
Might be wrong market, not wrong price Dec 4, 2010

If you are bidding at the price you have set for yourself and not winning bids, it probably means that you are hitting the wrong market. There is a market for just about any price range, but you have to find it. Bid boards are generally a very low-end market. There are plenty of other ways to promote yourself to higher-end markets where your price will be acceptable. Check out the fora here and also the articles under the education tab for a wealth of information on finding better markets.

The feedback you need is simply that you are not winning bids. You don't need to know what a particular bid went for - in fact it might be counterproductive because you will feel pressure to lower your price to match the winner when actually what you need is to raise your market.


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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 06:58
Japanese to English
Moreover Dec 4, 2010

There's more to winning a bid than just the price. The winner may have quoted the same price you did, but maybe s/he had more experience in the subject or wrote a more convincing message or a host of other things that have nothing to do with price. Lowering your own prices should be the last resort, especially for a rare combination like EN-FI/FI-EN.

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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:58
French to German
+ ...
The main question I am asking myself at the moment: Dec 4, 2010

what am I selling / what do I intend to sell?

Is it time and expertise (together with involvement) or "just words"?


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Riadh Muslih  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:58
Arabic to English
+ ...
Consider agency, etc Dec 5, 2010

I live in Canada and my pricing generally reflects Canadian market and pricing.

Having said that, I have been in business for so many years that I care to count, and not exclusively in translation, but all in the service industry.

Things to remember:

1. You are not the only game in town, there are many more, and when it comes to translating to or from English, there are thousands of good translators, and not so good.

2. You need to be flexible to adjust to the global marketplace (translation is increasingly becoming a global commodity), and adjust your price to fit this reality. You may generally insist on your prices, but be flexible, unless you only want to hang a shingle on your door saying ‘I take work only at my price and on my terms.’ This is the nature of commerce.

3. I'm new into this Internet translation marketplace, as most of my work is local. I noticed that most of the offers on the Internet come from agencies, which naturally want to make money as well. They bring the work to us, and if we get the job, we need to pay them for their efforts, knowledge and connection. In other industries, it is known as commission. Consider it as you have hired a salesperson to promote you and brings you work. I’m used to this, and so should translators. As an individual you can only reach a limited market, but by dealing with others (agencies, for example) you can do more. So, when I quote for an agency I quote my published price (adjusted to the nature and complexity of text, length, and delivery time), minus a discount for the agency. I simply call it Agency Discount. You can set whatever discount you feel worth your efforts, but I think a minimum of 25% is the least you should offer. If you are quoting a client directly, then you do not include discount. In a previous life I was in the graphic design industry, and we farmed clients work out to printers. Printers offered us 30% to 40% discount for passing the jobs to them. In essence, they made use of our connection to the clients and our own sales work, which they did not need to spend time and money on.

4. It is human nature to want some break, even when one can very well afford the full price. So my quote will contain the agency discount, and if it is directly to a client with a large job (you decide what constitutes large) I show my full price and give a ‘volume discount.’ People love to see discount on their bills.

5. You must not take jobs at any price just because you need the work. This lowers our standards as a whole. We offer a valuable service that requires not only excellent knowledge of a pair of languages, but also good knowledge of the cultures of these languages.

And finally, remember these words of wisdom from a former business partner of mine (and still a best friend). When some would phone him to talk (business of course) and usually asked “Andy, are you free ” he almost always had the same answer, “I could be cheap, but never free.”

These are my five cents worth of thoughts. They work for me (not always mind you), but are worth considering.

Good luck to all.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:58
French to German
+ ...
About agencies Dec 5, 2010

Riadh Muslih wrote:

3. I'm new into this Internet translation marketplace, as most of my work is local. I noticed that most of the offers on the Internet come from agencies, which naturally want to make money as well. They bring the work to us, and if we get the job, we need to pay them for their efforts, knowledge and connection. In other industries, it is known as commission. Consider it as you have hired a salesperson to promote you and brings you work. I’m used to this, and so should translators. As an individual you can only reach a limited market, but by dealing with others (agencies, for example) you can do more.

With gross benefit margins (or commissions for that matter) ranging at least from 300 to 500% for each agency?

Someone wrote, not so long ago, that most agencies were still stuck in the low-cost labour scheme, because they were unable to specialise and had to concentrate on mass translations. The person continued by saying that 7 to 10% commission should be enough, as agencies should act more like "head hunters" than "sweatshops", together with giving up the volume approach.

Just some food for thought.

PS: surprisingly enough, my Canadian clients are those who pay me best...

[Modifié le 2010-12-05 07:54 GMT]


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Riadh Muslih  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:58
Arabic to English
+ ...
Canadians are nice people Dec 5, 2010

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

PS: surprisingly enough, my Canadian clients are those who pay me best...

[Modifié le 2010-12-05 07:54 GMT]


Thanks for the compliment, Laurent. We Canadians are known to be very nice people who hate to take advantage of others.

Cheers


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:58
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Agencies vs. brokers and the concept of value added Dec 5, 2010

I think there are many misconceptions floating around. One of them is that we have to pay "commission" to agencies because they bring the work to us.
Hmmm.
If an "agency" does nothing, but provides the connection between the translator and the end user, then maybe this view is OK, but than it is NOT and agency, it is simply a broker, passing on whatever I produce to the end user. (Farming out printing jobs is probably a good example of such brokering, as there is nothing to do with the printed materials other than passing it on to the end client.)

A true agency (IMHO) does much more than brokering jobs. They MANAGE the projects, including the text itself (prepping it, clearing up ambiguities, responding to questions, etc.), MANAGE terminology lists, MANAGE TMs (if any), MANAGE, COORDINATE multiple translators (if the job is split), PROVIDE editing and QA (either in-house or outsourced) for the final product. In other words, they ADD VALUE to the translation itself during the process. That value-adding must be compensated.

It is hard for me to imagine that the commission to a broker would be nearly as much as what the real value added steps would worth.

Look at it this way: the end product (the translation) has to be "ready for publishing", when it goes to the end client. (Whatever quality level the end client decides to be "ready for publishing".) The price of the product should reflect that quality.
Somebody has to provide the extra steps between the translation step and the delivery step. (That is editing, proofreading, QA, etc.) Those extra steps add value, improve quality, that's why the price of a plain "translation" (I won't say raw translation, because it still has to meet certain quality standards, so let's call it first stage translation) is lower, then an edited, polished one, that is the end product.

If the agency provides those extra steps, than the translator can charge the price of that first stage translation to the agency, the agency performs the rest of the process, and delivers the end product to the end client for a higher price (obviously).

If there is no agency, but the translator is working with the end client, than it is the translator's responsibility to provide the end product to the client directly. Therefore, unless it is explicitly agreed otherwise, the translator is responsible for getting the translation edited, proofed, QA-ed, etc. That costs money, and that is the main reason why translations should be charged at a higher rate when working with direct clients.

Again, the point is, it doesn't matter how the end client gets the final translation, whether directly from the translator or through an agency, the same quality should reflect the same price. Each step adds value in the process, and whoever performs that step, should get the compensation for it.

Brokers do not add value to the end product, their only contribution is the connect the translator with the end client. Therefore, they should be compensated only for that.

I think it is very important to know whom you are dealing with: is it a true agency, or just a broker? It is also important to know what quality you are expected to deliver: which steps of the chain are your responsibility, and set your prices according to that.
Fulfilling a responsibility takes time and effort, and it should be compensated.

I have read way too many complaints where:
A) the translator realized too late that the definition of his/her responsibilities was unclear and he/she is accused of "underperforming" (when the "agency" was actually only a broker and delivered the unedited translation to the end client, who in turn complained, while the translator assumed full QA would be performed by the "agency")
B) the translator realizes too late that he/she is being exploited, by voluntarily "overperforming" (providing fully QA-ed translations while getting paid only for the translation part).

None of these scenarios are good. Neither for the translator, nor for the profession itself.

Katalin

[Edited at 2010-12-05 18:09 GMT]


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:58
French to English
+ ...
*Good* translators...? Dec 6, 2010

Riadh Muslih wrote:
1. You are not the only game in town, there are many more, and when it comes to translating to or from English, there are thousands of good translators


I actually wonder if this is true. I think there are probably thousands of *mediocre* translators, and thousands of clients either unaware of the mediocrity of their translations, or who would rather settle for mediocrity if it's cheaper.


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Riadh Muslih  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:58
Arabic to English
+ ...
Did not quote me in full Dec 6, 2010

Neil Coffey wrote:

Riadh Muslih wrote:
1. You are not the only game in town, there are many more, and when it comes to translating to or from English, there are thousands of good translators


I actually wonder if this is true. I think there are probably thousands of *mediocre* translators, and thousands of clients either unaware of the mediocrity of their translations, or who would rather settle for mediocrity if it's cheaper.


Unfortunately, you did not quote me in full. You gave the impression that I said there are thousands of good translators (only). At a minimum, you should have inserted a trailer at the end of your quote, using three dots (...) to signify that the quote was cut mid sentence since that was what you did.

Here is what I wrote for the record:

"1. You are not the only game in town, there are many more, and when it comes to translating to or from English, there are thousands of good translators, and not so good."

Cheers


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