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Translator rates impossible to understand!
Thread poster: Jacqueline Rosa-Kuhn

Jacqueline Rosa-Kuhn
United States
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 10, 2012

Hi everyone,
I'm a freelance translator and I am subscribed to some of the most popular online freelance sites.

I know that my rates are more than affordable, I always quote based on the project itself, rather than a flat fee. So, if it is a simple project, I quote a little bit less. I translate from scratch, I don't use google translate or any other automatic translation software, and I don't use CAT tools.

On these sites, I have seen bids that are IMPOSSIBLE for me to understand! I have seen people bidding for $.005 per word, that is less than a cent!!!! And surprisingly, even some residents of USA are bidding like that! Just recently someone bid $400 for a 90,000 words project due in just 3 days, so obviously I did not even bother to bid on it.

I'm even starting to get worried about quoting my clients, because even @ a fair rate, I feel like if a client finds about any of these sites, he'll think I'm trying to rip him off!!

So my question is: HOW they do that???? Have you encountered situations like that? Is there a tool that allows a translator to afford rates like that? I'm so confused!!!!

Your thoughts, comments, and ideas are so welcome!

[Edited at 2012-07-10 14:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-07-10 14:19 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-07-10 15:58 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Don't give up, just be selective! Jul 10, 2012

Your thoughts are shared by (almost) everyone here, Jacqueline. You simply have to ignore the indecent jobs and find ones which pay sensible rates. They do still exist, and it is possible to find them here. Occasionally, you will find that a job poster is willing to pay for a quality translation, but more often these outsourcers will use the translators' directory to get in touch directly with selected translators. Hence, most of the good jobs are never advertised.

I would love these bottom-feeding jobs to disappear, but I'm afraid that's not likely to happen.

Sheila


 

Annelise Brincker  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:09
English to Danish
+ ...
Difficult for a newbie Jul 10, 2012

I quite agree. And these rates make it so difficult when you join the freelance market after many years of regular salaries or fixed rates for one client. What do you charge? I am certainly worth more than the ridiculous rates, but also have to take into account that I am an "unwritten card".

 

Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
They won't think that it's a rip-off Jul 10, 2012

Dear Jacqueline,

Sheila is, as always, completely right...

Speaking about myself, I am never worried about the prices I quote to my clients, because I try to be correct at all times and put myself in the situation of the client as well, quoting depending on the characteristics of the text as well as other factors like good client/nice treatment/acceptable deadlines, etc. I do not worry about the price I quote, because if they go to a LOCAL agency and ask for a quote, I KNOW that they will get an even higher price than my humble and correct rate. I have seen quotes around here from agencies, and even if they do not pay the translators high rates here in Spain, but I assure you they do get a high price from the client who "desperately" needs help with his translations. So the main thing here is to be correct (includes professionalism and quality work) and to try to survive. I know, it sounds “like a jungle”, and it seems it is a jungle sometimes, what can we do… But don’t despair, it has nice parts as well…the nicest one is to be able to translate and live from what you love to do. I still did not achieve it completely, I really hope I will! For the moment sometimes I take different small jobs over to survive (German classes, helping an elderly woman with Spanish-related questions, doing extra hours as a waitress…), but sometimes I do not have time because I get translations, and the clients I have always come back to me. This is a good sign, and anyway, I will never underbid the price which enables me to do this work professionally. I’ll do anything before that! So don’t give up. I think there are clients who appreciate good work and reliability. But it takes a long time to find them.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:09
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, I absolutely support you Jul 10, 2012

I think translators, who are no worse professionals than lawyers and doctors, with years of education, various academic degrees, and years of practice, should fight for their rights and to keep the prestige of the profession. Some administrative employees of some translation companies, or companies which are in need of translations, do not have the faintest idea that translators are really professional people comparable to lawyers and doctors, and they should be treated and paid accordingly. Language of the following type should be laughed at." We have a 90,000 word project: we want you to be a native speaker of both the source and the target languages, you should hold a university degree in translation, we want you to do the project in a month, but it would be better if this could be done in two weeks, we want you to use the following CAt tools which you should buy if you don't have the newest version, we want the text fully edited, ready for print, with perfect lay-out. Our budget is $900. This should be an excellent offer, taking into consideration all the CAT tools you will be using (we deducted a few thousand for that). There are just really a few words to be translated, the rest being repetitions. Specialization - quantum physics. " All the information here is 100% fictitious, simply creating the general feeling of some job offers.

I don't feel sorry for clients, never, especially if they are big companies. If I feel really sorry for some people I do the translation for free. I actually do it, from time to time, for some really good causes.













[Edited at 2012-07-10 16:06 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-07-10 16:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-07-10 16:18 GMT]


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 19:09
Member (2008)
French to English
Lowest bidder doesn't necessarily get it Jul 10, 2012

Although I rarely bid on jobs, I have occasionally in the past, and for the few times where I got the job, I wasn't the low bidder, in some cases actually the high bidder. So don't forget they are not an auction, the buyer gets to select from the bids submitted.

Likewise, I have outsourced the occasional job on the board and the lowest bids received did not generally engender confidence in the bidder - they tended to be quite unprofessional.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:09
Russian to English
+ ...
Translators who have too low rates should not be taken seriously Jul 10, 2012

I think that translators who have too low rates, or agree to very low rates should not be taken seriously They are not professional translators, just some kids, or students, who want to make some pocket cash. A professional translator would rather wait the tables than accept degrading rates. If the clients or outsourcers want to throw their translations into their garbage cans and be sued by the original clients for the waste of time and money and possible accidents that happened because of wrong translations of manuals and nuclear plants designs, they should go ahead and give the work to people who would work for $.04/word.

 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:09
English to German
+ ...
no "tool" will provide acceptable translations Jul 10, 2012

Jacqueline Rosa-Kuhn wrote:

Hi everyone,
I'm a freelance translator and I am subscribed to some of the most popular online freelance sites.

I know that my rates are more than affordable, I always quote based on the project itself, rather than a flat fee. So, if it is a simple project, I quote a little bit less. I translate from scratch, I don't use google translate or any other automatic translation software, and I don't use CAT tools. ...


... So my question is: HOW they do that???? Have you encountered situations like that? Is there a tool that allows a translator to afford rates like that? I'm so confused!!!!

Your thoughts, comments, and ideas are so welcome!

[Edited at 2012-07-10 14:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-07-10 14:19 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-07-10 15:58 GMT]


Hi, Jacqueline,

CAT tools (at least buy one) can help you.
Many jobs these days are carried out using translation memories, and you can only get them with CAT tools. CAT tools also make your job easier - translation memories will insert repeated words and phrases for you automatically, but you will still have to decide if/when you use these words/phrases or if/when another word/phrase should to be used. The computer will not (hopefully never) adjust for all possible contexts. I use one CAT tool (not always) but it doesn't mean I give the typical discounts although some outsourcers automatically assume they must be applied. Neither do I rely on it for any sentence and would never just take whatever the TM suggests.

How they do that?????
As far as the outsourcers are concerned - scam artists (at the rates you suggested above) preying on unknowing "word laborers".

As far as translators are concerned: people who don't translate but say they do (using online translation machines ONLY - which don't give you real translations)
or people who have absolutely no idea about what it means to be a translator and are working for unacceptable rates for a very short time - they must quickly realize this is not going to pay their bills.

I wouldn't worry too much about the answers either.
I think what is more important is to stay out of the low-price market or no-price market.
You can filter getting job offers here at proz.com by setting job notifications above your declared rates (by the way, you don't have to display your rates on your profile).
Then go back to improving your marketing: profile page, your own website, and contact direct clients. Enter your locality for keyword searches on the internet.

Your goal should be to raise your rates, never lower them.

HTH

B


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:09
Russian to English
+ ...
This most important think is stick to reasonable rates Jul 10, 2012

The most important thing is to stick to reasonable minimum rates, and not to go even $0.01 down. Minimal rate is minimal rate. Otherwise, you are destroying the market and killing the profession that gives you bread. If you are not a real translator, but just an imposter, using machine translation, find a cool administrative assistant position and don't create confusion in such a highly professional field as translation. You may use your language skills in administrative and secretarial positions as well: to talk to clients over the phone and things like that.

 

Jacqueline Rosa-Kuhn
United States
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you everyone for your comments. Jul 11, 2012

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Your thoughts are shared by (almost) everyone here, Jacqueline. You simply have to ignore the indecent jobs and find ones which pay sensible rates. They do still exist, and it is possible to find them here. Occasionally, you will find that a job poster is willing to pay for a quality translation, but more often these outsourcers will use the translators' directory to get in touch directly with selected translators. Hence, most of the good jobs are never advertised.

I would love these bottom-feeding jobs to disappear, but I'm afraid that's not likely to happen.

Sheila

------

I have been doing translations for 15 years, but just as a side/occasional job. Just recently, I decided to launch my business, and I am trying to get more clients and projects. That's why I subscribed to bidding websites, and observed this ridiculous rates I could not understand.

Thank you everyone for your comments and advice!


 

Jacqueline Rosa-Kuhn
United States
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
To Lilian Jul 11, 2012

LilianBoland wrote:

The most important thing is to stick to reasonable minimum rates, and not to go even $0.01 down. Minimal rate is minimal rate. Otherwise, you are destroying the market and killing the profession that gives you bread. If you are not a real translator, but just an imposter, using machine translation, find a cool administrative assistant position and don't create confusion in such a highly professional field as translation. You may use your language skills in administrative and secretarial positions as well: to talk to clients over the phone and things like that.





Hopefully you are not referring to me when you write "you".

As a professional translator, it is really sickening to see those rates out there, even here @ proz.com. The crazy thing is that I was looking at the portfolio of one of the lowest bidders on one of those websites, and to tell you the truth, he is extremely good, but working for peanuts, in occasions for less than $.01 per word; he works for Peru though. I agree with you, people like that, definitely kill the profession.


 

Jacqueline Rosa-Kuhn
United States
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Agnes Jul 11, 2012

Agnes Lenkey wrote:

Dear Jacqueline,

Sheila is, as always, completely right...

Speaking about myself, I am never worried about the prices I quote to my clients, because I try to be correct at all times and put myself in the situation of the client as well, quoting depending on the characteristics of the text as well as other factors like good client/nice treatment/acceptable deadlines, etc. I do not worry about the price I quote, because if they go to a LOCAL agency and ask for a quote, I KNOW that they will get an even higher price than my humble and correct rate. I have seen quotes around here from agencies, and even if they do not pay the translators high rates here in Spain, but I assure you they do get a high price from the client who "desperately" needs help with his translations. So the main thing here is to be correct (includes professionalism and quality work) and to try to survive. I know, it sounds “like a jungle”, and it seems it is a jungle sometimes, what can we do… But don’t despair, it has nice parts as well…the nicest one is to be able to translate and live from what you love to do. I still did not achieve it completely, I really hope I will! For the moment sometimes I take different small jobs over to survive (German classes, helping an elderly woman with Spanish-related questions, doing extra hours as a waitress…), but sometimes I do not have time because I get translations, and the clients I have always come back to me. This is a good sign, and anyway, I will never underbid the price which enables me to do this work professionally. I’ll do anything before that! So don’t give up. I think there are clients who appreciate good work and reliability. But it takes a long time to find them.



I know you are right, like I mentioned in my posting, I also quote based on the project itself, and I always give a fair quote to my clients. I do never lower or discount my rates below certain point; this is a professional job like any other, and I have ended up rejecting projects, because of ridiculous payment offers.

Thanks again for your kind words.


 

Susana González Tuya
Spain
Local time: 01:09
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
this is just my opinion Jul 11, 2012

In some sites, I think people do not quote the real amount.

For example, a few weeks ago I saw a bid for a 12000 word scientific article about agriculture for the amount of 70 dollars and to be delivered in 4 days. To make matters worst the "client" has left feedback saying that he was very satisfied with the quality.

There are many sites for freelancers out there and they charge a commission over the total amount accepted in the bid so I am starting to believe that the agreement goes along the lines of "this is how much I am going to charge you but you pay me outside this system and you save yourself quite a nice amount of money".

That is the only thing I can think of, that or the world is full of company owners and PhD's who are taken for a ride.


 

Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:09
English to Spanish
Low rates "even" here on ProZ.com? Where are worse? Jul 11, 2012

Jacqueline Rosa-Kuhn wrote:

As a professional translator, it is really sickening to see those rates out there, even here @ proz.com.


What do you mean by "even"?

ProZ.com is precisely the site where those ridiculous rates started! ProZ.com is where you see them mostly.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:09
Russian to English
+ ...
Jacqueline I was not referring to you Jul 11, 2012

I was using generic you, instead of one. In AE, you are not really supposed to use one. As to the portfolios of people who charge $0.01 -- somebody else probably did them for them, otherwise these people must be insane or millionaires who do not have anything to do with money, but why would they be destroying the market? A portfolio is nothing really. A friend could paint a picture for me, and I could pose as a great artist. I don't think, too many people cheat, but if people are charging $0.01/w and have great portfolios that makes me suspicious.

To Susan: You give people too much credit Susan. There are plenty of freaks out there, who would charge $70 for a scientific translation, just to build up their Egos that they got the job. I am not even sure if they can do it -- they can reject it later, but they won. I don't think anything goes under the table on those sites.







[Edited at 2012-07-11 23:02 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-07-11 23:03 GMT]


 
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