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Have you seen a downwards trend in pricing of translation?
Thread poster: Viena Wroblewska

Viena Wroblewska  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:38
French to English
+ ...
May 16, 2012

From the perspective of an agency owner, I've received my fair share of qualms from translators about the downwards trend in pricing which has been taking place. Believe it or not, this can also have a negative impact on agencies as they see themselves competing with agencies providing translation at rates that get cheaper with time.

If you are a freelance translator, have you had to lower your pricing over the years?
And if you are a buyer of translation, do you find that rates have decreased?


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:38
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Been raising my rate for a while May 16, 2012

Viena Wroblewska wrote:

From the perspective of an agency owner, I've received my fair share of qualms from translators about the downwards trend in pricing which has been taking place. Believe it or not, this can also have a negative impact on agencies as they see themselves competing with agencies providing translation at rates that get cheaper with time.

If you are a freelance translator, have you had to lower your pricing over the years?
And if you are a buyer of translation, do you find that rates have decreased?


Hi Viena, I hope you're doing well!

I've raised my rates for all new clients and most old clients this year, with moderate success.

I've done this consistently over the last 8 years. To be fair though, I would probably be considered an established translator (judging by rate alone) for only the last 4 years.

Best,
Mikhail


 

Jose Ruivo  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:38
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sadly... May 16, 2012

Viena Wroblewska wrote:

If you are a freelance translator, have you had to lower your pricing over the years?
And if you are a buyer of translation, do you find that rates have decreased?


Yes, otherwise I don't have enough work. The recession in the country - Portugal - doesn't help either, unlike other parts of the world where business seems to be going strong.
Can't understand how my competitors make a living and pay their taxes, though - at least not untill I start spellchecking their translations and making some QA. People claiming to translate 7 and 8k words a day, and such...


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 03:38
Turkish to English
+ ...
Sticking to my guns May 16, 2012

I have been doggedly sticking to my guns as far as rates go (i.e. I have resisted reducing them despite flagging demand). However, I have experienced a significant drop in my work levels, especially since the new year, and this may be the reason.

 

Gad Kohenov  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 03:38
English to Hebrew
+ ...
As I said elsewhere May 16, 2012

The bad economic situation will probably last 10 years. When I said so in 2008 I wasn't taken seriously. I wonder what you think now.
Accepting lower prices while the cost of living is getting higher all the time is one way of weathering this crisis. But those of you who cave in will have to do it for many years to come.
I prefer not to work most of the time instead of caving in. The misfortune is that we are considered as "upgraded typists" and nothing else.
We are not showing any "unified front". Tranlators are still not organized like other sectors are.
In the past there was no internet and we didn't suffer from competition from third world translators and local "smart" translators who think they will work for less and "destroy the competition". They are sawing the branch we are all sitting on.
I see such people here in Proz. Asking 300 Kudoz questions and answering none.
They can afford it. They use a system of "fill in the blank spaces". We give them the difficult terms so their work is very easy. Some people come with a "shopping list" every Friday and get all the difficult terms from others. No wonder prices go low.
Most of the work is finding the difficult professional terms. In the past all this did not exist and we were full of work. I could handle 25 people and there were at least a 100 more waiting in line!
Now there are 10 translators for every client. And some will do almost anything to get the client. I was offered 0.04$us today not for a proofreading but for a translation of a source word. I told them to take a hike. Let them get a bad translation from amateurs. At least we could make money from the proofreading!
If all of us asked reasonable prices and not less than reasonable prices that could help. Otherwise this trend will go on for quite a few years to come, I am afraid.
Nobody will fight our fight. Freelancers have to fight for themselves or find another more "appreciated" profession.
I don't take large translations. They want a "discount" for large texts. Sorry it against my interest. Not interested. I translated books for many years and nothing changed there. Translators are working for next to nothing.
My advice to you is to decide of a price under which you never will agree to work. But stick to your guns! don't change policy like a weathercock.
A coordinated world strike of translators, for a week will bring our plight to the media. United we stand - divided we will remain suckers and patsies!


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:38
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It depends on how you work it out, but I get paid less per thousand words in practice May 16, 2012

From my point of view, prices have not gone up, and some have in fact gone down since I started.

In figures, my rates are about the same now as they were in 2003 when I started freelancing.

I have succeeded in raising them for one or two clients, and I have pushed them up slightly when new clients send work: I simply quote a higher rate than when I started. I don't always get it, but I try.

However, most of my clients used to pay in Danish Kroner when I started, and a greater proportion of them now pay me in GBP. I have stopped working for the agencies that pay the lowest rates in GBP - I am still able to turn down clients who really pay too little.

But I live in Denmark, and the exchange rate for the pound has gone down against the Danish Krone, so although I charge slightly more pounds per thousand words on average, the exchange rate is lower.

Added to that, Danish rates are generally higher than British rates. In the last two years especially, I have seen that some big Danish companies, who used to work with Danish agencies, are now going to (lower paying) British agencies ...

You can't blame them: it is the obvious choice if they want translations into English! And sometimes they get precisely the same quality (because the translations are done by me as before icon_razz.gif ).

Just too bad that I live in Denmark and have to keep up with the Danish cost of living! Of course I spend some of my earnings in the UK and save on bank charges, but the result is that I get paid less for the same work.


 

Viena Wroblewska  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:38
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
May 16, 2012



[Edited at 2012-05-16 17:44 GMT]


 

Viena Wroblewska  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:38
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hi folks, May 16, 2012

I often think that translators should "stick to their guns" for the benefit of the industry.

On the other hand, each one is it for themselves, really, and competition can be fierce. In the context of freelanceship, it's easy to forego principles of a united front, and lower pricing to pay your bills.

I think that what needs to happen is that clients (both direct and agencies) need to be educated about the perils of cheap work. Surely a seasoned professional, or someone who takes their effort seriously will stand behind his/her worth for the long-term benefit. As an agency owner, I've seen it, and I respect those translators who refuse to come down in price. They know their worth, and their stance can actually sway me in their favour.

Educating clients is not easy as one doesn't wish to bombard them with information, and telling them about all the things that could go wrong. Yesterday I wrote an article to enlighten some clients. Feel free to check it out and use parts of it as required.
http://goarticles.com/article/The-Truth-About-Translation/6510962/


 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Gad, I fully subscribe your analysis May 16, 2012

nothing to add! It's really sad.

I am not starving, let's make it clear, but I get (and read) more and more insulting offers and prefer not to work rather than work at certain rates. And fortunately, I still can make a living out of it.

[Bearbeitet am 2012-05-17 08:12 GMT]


 

Carole Paquis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:38
Member (2007)
English to French
No downward trend, but... May 16, 2012

I have put up my minimum price and I have attracted 3 excellent new clients in the last year. So, going "up market" has paid off.


However:

Clients seem to take longer and longer to pay. 45 days is very common.
Some of my clients now send me shorter texts, so as to cut down on translation costs.


Finally, I have found that I get less and less "easy" documents to translate.
The assignments I get are now very specialised or need impeccable quality.

In both cases, the client is prepared to pay a premium and is worried that "cheap" might mean "poor quality".

I have had several conversations where the client wanted to know about quality more than about price.

Carole PAQUIS


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:38
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Increased with new customers, maintained with old customers May 16, 2012

Viena Wroblewska wrote:
If you are a freelance translator, have you had to lower your pricing over the years?

No, and in fact I have raised my rates over the last years for all new customers, mainly as a consequence of the investment in achieving two credentials in 2008 (ATA certified) and 2011 (DipTrans) and, more recently, the ISO 9001 and EN 15038 certifications for our office here.

As for big, old customers, my rates started at a reasonably high level and haven't changed much for over a decade, so I keep considering an increase... which I never implement in the end...icon_smile.gif

I strongly believe in raising rates if they are too low, but also feel that we should give agency customers and end customers something in return, e.g. more qualifications and credentials, a higher degree of specialisation, quality certifications... If we charge more, the value for money should stay the same, i.e. we should do our bit to improve our knowledge and services.


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:38
Italian to English
Translators are not necessarily in competition May 16, 2012

Viena Wroblewska wrote:

I often think that translators should "stick to their guns" for the benefit of the industry.

On the other hand, each one is it for themselves, really, and competition can be fierce. In the context of freelanceship, it's easy to forego principles of a united front, and lower pricing to pay your bills.



Hi Viena,

You and I are both translators but we are not in competition at all.

We work in different language pairs and (I imagine) in different sectors. There is absolutely no reason why you should attempt to influence my prices or I should strive to justify yours.

However, if we both have well-defined - and documented - areas of specialisation, we can recommend each other with a certain authority without even mentioning price. Many consumers of translations are interested primarily in quality and are prepared to pay a premium for it.

Overall industry rates are irrelevant. What matters is the rate we can charge customers who require our unique (or hard-to-duplicate) skills.


 

Nikita Kobrin  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 03:38
English to Russian
+ ...
I have increased my rates recently May 16, 2012

Viena Wroblewska wrote:

If you are a freelance translator, have you had to lower your pricing over the years?

No, on the contrary: on Monday I finished my last translation. I did it at a rate of USD 0.15. It's the highest rate in my career. And unlike the previous 3 years I have plenty of work at the moment.

NK_TC_Logo_30x31.png


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:38
French to English
+ ...
The perils of cheap work... May 16, 2012

Viena Wroblewska wrote:
I think that what needs to happen is that clients (both direct and agencies) need to be educated about the perils of cheap work.


One thing that still intrigues me about this is that the debate seems to be very one-sided. Many translators, myself included, are continually shocked at the appallingly low rates that clients expect to budget for translations. Yet I don't see the corresponding outrage among the client community about the terrible quality of their translations.

Does such outrage exist? What actually happens to the "$0.02/word or best offer rush job" when it lands back on the client's desk?

[Edited at 2012-05-16 21:45 GMT]


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:38
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
It ain't pretty May 16, 2012

Neil Coffey wrote:
What actually happens to the "$0.02/word or best offer rush job" when it lands back on the client's desk?


As an infrequent outsourcer, I've seen it, edited it, and cursed it.


 
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