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How can I raise my rate?
Thread poster: Bárbara Hammerle López-Francos

Bárbara Hammerle López-Francos  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:24
Member (2013)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 16, 2013

Hi,

I am a freelance translator, working for several european translation agencies. My current rate is 0.025 - 0.03 EURO/ word, and as I can see in that forum, this rate is clearly too low. My idea now is to raise my rate up to 0.04 EURO / word. I think this is still a rather competitive rate for the agencies.
My question is now, how can I tell the agencies that I would like to raise my rates. Has somebody experience on that?

Many thanks in advance!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Very difficult indeed... Apr 16, 2013

If you wish to stick to your current customers --those who are making a poor person of you--, your only option is to raise the rates a little bit today, fight with them for weeks, then wait for another year, raise them another little bit, fight with them again, etc. etc.

Unfortunately this will keep you poor for quite some time, so unless you are determined to be an NGO you want to look for other customers willing to pay better rates.

To me, 4 cents is terribly low!


 

Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:24
Italian to English
Unbelievable! Apr 16, 2013

Seriously? With your qualifications and background?

Assuming you can actually survive a little longer on just peanuts, I would start marketing yourself energetically to other agencies - at a rate of several times what you are currently charging.

There are markets at all price levels - and many better agencies who wouldn't risk the quality of your work at the rates you are currently charging.

Then you can start telling your present customers what your new rates are; you might be surprised to find how much they value you - more than you do by the sound of it!

Good luck!


 

Ann Krol  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:24
Member (2008)
Polish to English
+ ...
I can't believe! Apr 16, 2013

Hi Barbara,

I can not believe that you charge 0.03 EUR in your language combinations!

It is not even a proofreading rate for me. I would start to look for more serious clients who pay more, much more (!) and step by step decline jobs from your current clients at your actual price. There are many, many clients who are willing to pay more - you just need to find the right clients.

Good luck!
Ann


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A simple equivalence Apr 16, 2013

1000 words at 3 cents = 30 euros = 200 words at 15 cents.

It's just about deciding whether you want to translate 1000 words or 200 words to make the same money. Simple!icon_smile.gif


 

Kata Koncz  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 20:24
Member (2008)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
You can raise your rates Apr 16, 2013

...by simply telling any new customers your new rate (which should be higher than 0.04 though!) and perhaps by actively searching for new clients who work in your fields. When you have enough new clients, you can drop those old ones who are not happy with your new rate.

Fortunately there are many decent companies that are quite ready to pay for good quality translation, and it can happen that they do not even trust linguists working for peanuts. So yes, go ahead, be brave, it will work.


 

Catherine De Crignis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:24
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
20 years' experience? Apr 16, 2013

Dear Bárbara,

I had a look at your profile. You have 20 years' experience and you translate into German as well as Spanish. Reading how much you charge and how candidly you ask how to raise your rates simply makes me want to cry.
Time I went for a walk.

Regards,
Catherine


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:24
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Do not quite agree Apr 16, 2013

Kata Koncz wrote:
...by simply telling any new customers your new rate (which should be higher than 0.04 though!)...

I think it would be irresponsible to simply raise the rate to the old customers and let them "eat it". Clearly they would drop you instantly, and all of a sudden you would be out of work.

I would stick to the current customers at the current rate or with small increases, but making sure you firmly and definitely reserve at least one hour every day to actively search and contact new customers, and to improve your marketing materials (stationary, CV, website, portal profiles) to make them more attractive to an international audience.

In order to have that time available for your long-term work, you might want to already drop the customers who pay you the lowest rate. Dropping those customers will allow you to work for a better future and not simply to survive day by day.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:24
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
You can't raise your rates Apr 16, 2013

Bárbara Hammerle López-Francos wrote:
My current rate is 0.025 - 0.03 EURO/ word, and [m]y idea now is to raise my rate up to 0.04 EURO / word.


Raising to EUR 0.04 is not worth it. You should raise to at least EUR 0.07 or so. That means that your existing clients will have to leave you, eventually. So what you must do is to get new clients and quote your new rate to them. Keep working for your old clients at their original rate until you have enough high-paying clients that losing all your low-paying clients will not harm you. Then try to raise your rates with the low-paying clients to EUR 0.05 or so.


 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:24
German to English
+ ...
Agree with all of the above Apr 16, 2013

Yes, multiply your rate 3x or 4x and look for new clients.

 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 23:54
English to Hindi
+ ...
My method, which I learned from one of the forum posts here... Apr 16, 2013

... I forget now which post it was (It was long ago), but the method is somewhat like this:

- Build up a regular client circle at your current rates (0.03 euro in your case). You should have five or six regular clients who ply you with regular work and give you an income which you feel is adequate for your purposes (which means bare necessities, of course).

- Keep looking for new clients and when you find them, quote a higher price say 0.05 euros to them. You are on safe ground because you are already earning the bare minimum you require and you won't starve if this client refuses you. On the other hand, if he/she accepts, there you are, you have found a higher paying client.

- Cultivate this client by providing him priority service - quick turnover, greater attention to details, small additional tasks at no additional charge, etc. Build him/her up to a stage where he/she starts giving you regular work.

- Try to find more such better paying clients and set them up nicely.

- Once you have properly set up a few high-paying new clients, take a close look at your older list of clients (the low paying ones). You can now afford to move a few of them out of the inner circle of essential or priority clients. This means, you no longer accept all work you get from them, you refuse some of their work so that you are able to find time for the higher paying ones (remember you only have 24 hours a day at your disposal).

- Simultaneously, start price negotiations with the shunted out clients and strive to bring them up to the high rate you are now getting. If they refuse, you can now afford to dump them.

- Repeat this process every three or four years.

The above is a tested method although it takes several months to pan out fully. The advantage is, nothing precipitous happens that could rock your financial boat, you gradually reach higher levels of income.

Timing is also important. Ask for a raise around Christmas time when people are generally in a good mood, or after you have completed a few projects successfully and elegantly for your client.

---

Sorry, I just noticed that Samuel and others have got there before me, and in much fewer words.

[2013-04-16 15:47 GMT पर संपादन हुआ]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:24
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You've been listening to the wrong people Apr 16, 2013

Of course there are potential clients out there who will accept your current rates - who wouldn't, if you provide quality translations? But there are also clients who will accept, I don't know, maybe 15-20 cents per word for highly technical texts, particularly using German. Do you have any German clients? I know that rates generally in Spain are low (which is one reason why I have zero Spanish clients), but they are higher in Germany, and any clients you have there must be really gleeful, if they aren't totally ashamed of themselves for exploiting you.icon_mad.gif

My advice would be to try to get all existing clients to accept 0.04; drop any who won't budge above 0.03 and make sure you only accept work from the others to fill 75% of your capacity (if you can live on what you get at the moment, you should be able to live on that); then spend the other 25% of your time marketing your services to clients for a minimum of, say, 0.10 € per source word. Of course, every time you get work from a new client, you'll have to reject some work from an old one - don't let them nibble away at your marketing time. Eventually, you'll have to (or, more correctly, you'll be able to) part company with all those who've been exploiting you.

Of course, as Russell says
Then you can start telling your present customers what your new rates are; you might be surprised to find how much they value you - more than you do by the sound of it!

It's always worth giving them the option to match your new rates. If they accept, fine, but it's no good going up from 0.03 in half-cent increases: you'll die poor that way.

When I started freelancing I had much the same (though far less extreme) problem - I think it's normal. My very first client actually accepted several rate increases when I made it clear to him that I wasn't just being greedy - others were paying me this amount. But there came a time when he came to me for job after job but didn't take up my quote, and he finally disappeared off the scene. Maybe one day he'll be desperate enough to come back - hope he has a strong heart!icon_biggrin.gif


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:24
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Are you translating in the right field? Apr 16, 2013

I looked at your profile and your CV.
You have very high qualifications in fields that are very marketable, there is a huge demand for them and they pay well.
Are you wasting your time translating personal letters or driver's licenses, or something much simpler than biology, life sciences, neurology, etc. that is your specialty?
I cannot believe you would be charging those rates for medical translations.

I suggest you make an effort and find clients who need your true expertise (they are out there) and you will find that your current rates are exploitative - those fields pay 5 times more, easily! I have seen life science texts translated by people lacking the necessary qualifications, and they were paid multiples of your current rates. Of course, editing and proofreading costs more in these cases, but there is budget for all of that. The industry needs people with the right knowledge in these fields, and pays for that expertise. Wake up!

Maybe you don't have time for marketing (if you are trying to make a living on your current rates, you must be working day and night), but you should make time.
You are ruining your career, your life, and the market as well.
Sorry, if this sounds harsh, but as a freelancer you are the boss, you are responsible for the long-term sustainability of your business.

Wishing you the best
Katalin


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:24
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
medical translations? Apr 16, 2013

When I was a PM managing projects that included translations of medical books, no way would I ever have believed that it was possible to pay a medical translator that little. I deliberately chose those charging four times as much, because then at least if they delivered rubbish I could take them to task. If I hired a translator at 3 euro cents and it was rubbish they could have got away with telling me that I got what I paid for!

 

Kata Koncz  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 20:24
Member (2008)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
@Tomás Apr 16, 2013

"I think it would be irresponsible to simply raise the rate to the old customers and let them "eat it". Clearly they would drop you instantly, and all of a sudden you would be out of work."

Yes, that's why I mentioned "any NEW customers" and not the old onesicon_wink.gif and suggested her to start searching for new clients because it's unlikely that any customer who currently pays her 0.025 EUR would be willing to pay twice or three times as much all of a sudden. But when she gained enough decent clients, she can offer the new rates to the old clients as well (and if they "can't" accept it, good riddance...)


 
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