How to ask a client about raising my rates?
Thread poster: Omnia Abulgar

Omnia Abulgar  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:20
Member (2017)
English to Arabic
+ ...
May 28, 2013

Hello dear colleagues
I have been in the business for three years; and have been charging my clients for the same rate ever since. After I have attended a translation conference , I have learned from other translators that my rates are a bit less than I should be earning. How can I tell my clients that I need to increase my rates?

Another question:
I also have this new client ; for whom I have done one job and charged the old rate. Now ; I want to change that. How can I inform them? I have asked this clints how much they paid other translators-after they have told me that my work was excellent- they informed me of the rates and some of the rates were much higher than mine;to this I replied with a not so smart a reply ; namely that I am happy with my ratese and that I do not wish to change them unless they offered to pay more . Now I want to ask them to raise my fees but afraid to appear like a greedy person and like one who does not keep their words. How do eyou suggest I handel this situation?

Many thanks

[Edited at 2013-05-28 13:12 GMT]


Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
Find new clients first May 28, 2013

It's probably not a good idea to burn bridges (which shouldn't be the case but often is), before building others. You don't want to end up getting stuck with no work because your existing clients don't agree with the price hike.

I would find some new clients and ask for the new rates you've established.
I would wait for work to start flowing in from these new clients.
I would then inform existing clients that, although you've tried to freeze prices and have succeeded in doing so for the past three years, due to increased costs you are obliged to raise your rates from X date to X.
You might also want to explain the added value that your length of experience will offer so that you end on a positive note.

This gets around the fact that you've said previously that you were happy with your rates (there's nothing stopping circumstances from changing in that respect) but is still forthcoming enough to avoid damaging relationships.

Good luck!


Olga Adler
United States
Local time: 20:20
Member (Apr 2018)
English to Russian
+ ...
not for everyone at once May 28, 2013

It is always hard to 'talk money' with clients. I faced the problem several times. Maybe you would find my experience useful.
First of all, do not raise the rates for everyone at once (unless you have your fixed rates posted somwhere conspicuous). You need to 'feel' your client database. Do not raise the rates for newest clients because the few jobs you've did for them so far will seem a bait or a marketing trick. Raise the rates for the clients who've been working with you for a long time and are happy about the quality, so they would hardly ask 'How come?...' Should they ask for the reasons you can say that you are receiving many new job offers with higher rates and to keep on translating at old rates would be counterproductive.
Whatever your reasons are, be ready to lose some clients. It happened to me too. There are people who simply can't afford more expensive services or always hope to get better quality at lower price. That's why you should't raise the rates for everyone - to avoid the risk of losing the greater part of your clients overnight.
You can still offer some benefits to your most loyal customers like discounts for large volumes etc.

[Edited at 2013-05-28 13:12 GMT]


Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:20
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Additional comments May 28, 2013

Marie-Helene has offered very sound advice here. I would only add that, when the time comes to raise rates with existing clients, you should not think in terms of asking for an increase, but instead of declaring an increase. Why? Because if you only "ask," your clients will almost surely find a way to reject any increase--either politely or rudely.

The point here is that you should only raise rates for clients that you can afford to lose. And finding new ones that pay higher rates (as M-H has suggested) will put you in a position to do this.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2013-05-28 14:09 GMT]


Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:20
Italian to English
A suggestion May 28, 2013

It may not be possible in your case, but I try to give my clients a lot of advance notice about an increase in rates. That way, there is less chance of them dropping you from their list immediately and if your proposed rate is untenable they are more likely to contact you beforehand to say, for example, they won't be able to offer you as much work as before.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:20
Member (2007)
+ ...
Be business-like: you set/increase your rates May 28, 2013

I second what others have said about the order of implementation of a rate rise and the idea that you don't ask the client for a rise, you inform them of it:
1) charge all future clients a higher rate (don't mention anything about a lower rate);
2) raise the rate of your least important existing client (and be prepared to lose them);
3) do the same with other clients as and when you can afford to lose them

For your recent client, I don't see how you can possibly raise your rate for a year or so, maybe 01/01/2014 at the earliest. Anything else would look very odd. You can't be perfectly happy with an arrangement one day and wanting to change it the next, as you risk losing the trust of the client.

I agree with Russell that it's best to give all good clients advance notice - it's only polite. Let them get used to it slowly so that when it happens they can't say you've dumped them in trouble. By the time it arrives, they'll probably have accepted it. Actually, many of us have had clients who disappear for a while then come back and agree to pay the higher rate. I suppose they play the field and come to realise you're worth the extra after all.icon_smile.gif


Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:50
English to Hindi
+ ...
Also look up similar earlier threads May 29, 2013

This topic is frequently discussed and there are many earlier threads with good advice. Do look them up too.

Basically, you need to do it gradually, first securing the bird in hand before going for the bird in the bush.

Do a little research and find out what the market rate is for your language pair (the rate calculator of can help) and peg your rate at about the average rate for your language pair. Then for every new client quote this rate. When you have sufficient number of new clients at the new rate, you can gradually phase out older (and troublesome) clients who refuse to accept your new rate.


Omnia Abulgar  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:20
Member (2017)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Thank you dear colleagues May 29, 2013

I am really grateful to every one who replied to my post. Some pieces of advice were eye opening and practical. You also gave me alot of details and I love details.
Thank you for taking the time to answer me and for the thorough replies.

Thank you Proz .com fir the wonderful wrb site


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:20
English to Polish
+ ...
Some thoughts May 29, 2013

Whatever you do, keep a good relationship with the client.

Thus, avoid:
– 'grass speak' as we call it in Poland (marketing/sales junk lingo that doesn't even seriously pretend to be true or natural)
– white lies (both for ethical reasons and the fact that bad faith in negotiations may lead to damages in some jurisdictions)
- burning bridges.

Also, you don't want to lose a client who believes your translations to be of excellent quality and is actually open enough with you to tell you how much has been paid to other translators in the past. I'd rather cut complainers first, myself, even if they paid slightly more. Also, with that kind of opinion about you, they might give you referrals, which is the best way to get new clients.

When you need to justify a raise, you don't need to justify indexing for inflation or higher costs of living. You may want to start from there.


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