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Community rates vs. market reality: your take
Thread poster: Artem Vakhitov

Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
Jun 4, 2013

What do you think about ProZ.com community rates - how do they compare to your idea of market average for your language pair(s) and subject area(s)? Are they lower, similar, or higher?

By "market average", I mean the rates that are actually charged and paid (as opposed to reported).

I for one believe that community rates for English to Russian translation (if you live in Russia) are somewhat optimistic for the international market and outright impossible for the local market. What about you?


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 06:56
English to Portuguese
+ ...
How often are they updated? Jun 4, 2013

I have suggested a few times that Proz should offer a couple (not many!) of kudoz, browniz, doughnuts, whatever coveted stuff they have to translators who update their rates on this system every, say, 6 months, even if it's only to confirm by retyping their previous rates.

We see foreign exchange rates undergoing sudden, sometimes drastic, and at times lasting changes, yet the translation community rates remain unaltered. How can they be reliable?

[Edited at 2013-06-04 23:13 GMT]


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:56
English to Russian
+ ...
My experience is opposite to yours Jun 5, 2013

Rate statistics used to be accessible to non-members, and I can't seem to find it anymore, but last time I checked the EN-RU pair (maybe a year ago), I was charging a fair bit above the average reported rate. However, I haven't had a single client from Russia in years, and I mostly work in the sectors that command a premium - aviation, oil and gas, and clinical research.

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Vladimir Gurinenko
Local time: 11:56
Russian to English
+ ...
Depends on your market Jun 5, 2013

In Russia, the rates (paid by agencies to freelancers) are typically bound to average monthly wages and therefore are much lower than those offered on the international market. Suppose, the country's average is now around $1000. If we take the average monthly performance of a good translator as 130 typewriter pages (that's a typical measuring unit here, approx. 330 words per such page), we can figure than $0.03 per word would be "quite a good shot"! If the workload is steady, that might be OK for a startup, but still...

I personally have not been working at that rate for years, but that is made possible only because I typically work with direct clients. Others work with international agencies and are quite happy too.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Roughly similar Jun 5, 2013

In my pair (ES-EN) the rates are about the same, although for example I have one colleague whose rates are 25% higher than my own. He's simply a harder-nosed negotiator, more "businesslike" than I am.

AFAIK, rates for Russian translation have come down slightly here in Spain, due to the rise in both supply and demand in the past decade. I don't know about elsewhere.


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Artem Vakhitov  Identity Verified
Estonia
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
One small note Jun 5, 2013

Thanks to all who chimed in so far! One small note: the thing to compare here is not your own rates as such but your view of the overall market rates, though the former will of course heavily influence the latter.

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Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 10:56
Member (2002)
English to Russian
Community rates Jun 5, 2013

Artem Vakhitov wrote:
I for one believe that community rates for English to Russian translation (if you live in Russia) are somewhat optimistic for the international market and outright impossible for the local market. What about you?


1. Personally, I am in the upper rate bracket... and I have recently raised my rate offered to any new client... yet again.

2. I couldn't have cared less what the local market might think of my rates, because I haven't worked for Russian clients (except on a couple of extraordinary occasions) since 2002.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:56
Member
English to French
My feeling for EN>FR Jun 5, 2013

Community rates say standard EUR0.11/word and min 0.08.
I assume these rates are for translation agencies (files ready for translation, term backup, references, etc.).

The EN>FR combination is somewhat crowded, but I'd anticipate less pressure than into-English combinations.

I have the feeling that it's easy enough to be offered work at 0.08 out of the blue for reasonably harmless texts, but that getting two-digit word rates requires more proactive steps or sharper knowledge/writing skills.

So overall I get the idea that the "most likely" EN>FR job to be accepted by a full-time translator with no other income than translation services is somewhere between EUR0.08 and 0.10.

Philippe







[Edited at 2013-06-05 08:01 GMT]


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Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:56
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The community rates are not supposed to reflect the market Jun 5, 2013

The community rates are generated by translator input.
When you set up your profile, you can select a range of rates. This range of rates will not appear on your profile (unless you want them to) but can be used by clients/agencies when doing an advanced search.

This means that someone could be searching for French to English translators, come up with a long list and reduce this list to people willing to accept between €0.06 and €0.10.

You don't know what people are thinking when they enter a range of rates. Some will think that it's best to enter a really wide range to access all clients and some will not want to be contacted by people who think that they can recruit a professional translator for €0.04. Some will have no clue at all what a translator earns, have seen a web-operated translation service offering €0.02 per word and think that this is a 'standard' rate.

I may for example never obtain a rate of say, €0.15 per word but may have put it in the top end of my range in case a direct client appears out of the blue who knows that this is a normal rate for a finished quality product because this is what they've been quoted by an agency.

This means that community rates are more a reflection of translators' wishes and desires than a real source of market information.

It's a great tool for people who have no idea but, like other user-input based information, you have to take it for what it is, which is 'only as good as the information that was put in'.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 10:56
English to Polish
+ ...
There are two problems with rates entered in forms Jun 5, 2013

There are two problems with rates entered in standard forms, in fact. An inflated rate that is never charged in practice is only one of them. The other is a low rate that never gets to be charged in practice, for example because it is a base rate and every single text will merit a surcharge.

@Marie-Helene: Unfortunately, in some markets it's perfectly possible to hire a professional translator for €0.04 (or even 0.03).


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:56
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree Jun 5, 2013

Philippe Etienne wrote:

Community rates say standard EUR0.11/word and min 0.08.
I assume these rates are for translation agencies (files ready for translation, term backup, references, etc.).

I have the feeling that it's easy enough to be offered work at 0.08 out of the blue for reasonably harmless texts, but that getting two-digit word rates requires more proactive steps or sharper knowledge/writing skills.

So overall I get the idea that the "most likely" EN>FR job to be accepted by a full-time translator with no other income than translation services is somewhere between EUR0.08 and 0.10.



[Edited at 2013-06-05 08:01 GMT]


The case is similar to ES-EN. Agency rates (i.e. what they charge their clients) and "what translators really end up working for" are 2 different things. For example, I just billed an English-French technical bio translation at 9 cents/wd yesterday, although I'd originally asked for 10.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:56
Russian to English
+ ...
I personally find the community rates not that much different Jun 5, 2013

from what I charge and what I usually get. They might be even slightly too low -- maybe $.0.02 off. I think they are very reasonable otherwise, and working below those rates does not make much sense at all.

Don't forget -- the translator is the seller -- the client is the buyer who has to be able to afford the translation, or negotiate a lower price, not the other way around. This is how the free market works.



[Edited at 2013-06-05 13:03 GMT]


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Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with Etienne and Neilmac Jun 5, 2013

Philippe Etienne wrote:

Community rates say standard EUR0.11/word and min 0.08.
I assume these rates are for translation agencies (files ready for translation, term backup, references, etc.).

The EN>FR combination is somewhat crowded, but I'd anticipate less pressure than into-English combinations.

I have the feeling that it's easy enough to be offered work at 0.08 out of the blue for reasonably harmless texts, but that getting two-digit word rates requires more proactive steps or sharper knowledge/writing skills.

So overall I get the idea that the "most likely" EN>FR job to be accepted by a full-time translator with no other income than translation services is somewhere between EUR0.08 and 0.10.

Philippe







[Edited at 2013-06-05 08:01 GMT]


I agree with Etienne and Neilmac. There are always very interesting discussions about the necessary specialisation of translators, emphasising on the importance of charging according to your value and not according to other factors. In some aspects, I agree, one must consider all the expenses and include proofreading, etc., but all this is only possible within a given market situation (sometimes even on a global level).

To be realistic, you must take into consideration the market factor, this is why I charge 0,09 € even if for the same text an agency already quoted 0,14 €. Ok, it’s nice, maybe the agency manages to obtain this rate from the client, but for the local Spanish market it is definitely too high – if I want to live from my direct clients, build up a mutually valuable long-lasting business relationship, I feel that I need to charge in the range of 0,09-0,10. This way the client can “assume the burden” of his additional translation expenses and I can gain a new client whose payments make my living.

So yes, from my point of view, within the Spanish market reality and according to my abilities, I think that the range described by Etienne and Neilmac is the realistic one.


[Edited at 2013-06-05 13:48 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:56
Member
English to French
Misunderstanding? Jun 5, 2013

neilmac wrote:
The case is similar to ES-EN. Agency rates (i.e. what they charge their clients) and "what translators really end up working for" are 2 different things. For example, I just billed an English-French technical bio translation at 9 cents/wd yesterday, although I'd originally asked for 10.

Sorry, I may have been unclear: my blurb was referring only to translator-agency relations. As most translation buyers are translation agencies in this venue, I assume community rates are rates charged by translators to translation agencies. I have entered my rates with this in mind, thinking that no end client would likely peep into my rates for information. As I only work with agencies, I don't know what translators charge end clients. Agencies charge about twice what I charge them, 3rd-party editing included.
Agnes Lenkey wrote:
If I want to live from my direct clients, build up a mutually valuable long-lasting business relationship, I feel that I need to charge in the range of 0,09-0,10.

If end clients can buy translations at those rates, no wonder translation agencies can only offer translators breadcrumbs to compete with you.
To put things in perspective and maybe value a translation for what it actually is worth to an end client, a good thing to think of is the amount of new potential customers/consumers an end client reaches when they translate a user manual for a 500k€ machine that they will sell by the barrel, or a marketing campaign whose copy has cost them a 100 times more to author.

However, I think this agency/translator competition is marginal, as translators usually don't compete with agencies on such things like multilingual projects, one-stop-shopping (DTP, software, testing...) or long-term Web updates, if only because of the ressources and availability they have compared to translators.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Agency/translator competition Jun 5, 2013

Philippe Etienne wrote:

Agnes Lenkey wrote:
If I want to live from my direct clients, build up a mutually valuable long-lasting business relationship, I feel that I need to charge in the range of 0,09-0,10.

If end clients can buy translations at those rates, no wonder translation agencies can only offer translators breadcrumbs to compete with you.
To put things in perspective and maybe value a translation for what it actually is worth to an end client, a good thing to think of is the amount of new potential customers/consumers an end client reaches when they translate a user manual for a 500k€ machine that they will sell by the barrel, or a marketing campaign whose copy has cost them a 100 times more to author.

However, I think this agency/translator competition is marginal, as translators usually don't compete with agencies on such things like multilingual projects, one-stop-shopping (DTP, software, testing...) or long-term Web updates, if only because of the ressources and availability they have compared to translators.


Philippe, many private individuals exclusively look for a translator locally (Google/Yellow Pages) simply because they do not know any other way to do it and at least some companies prefer doing business regionally, the good 'ol way, even in the case of ('Internet-based') translation. That's where translators, all of a sudden, find themselves competing with agencies.

Sadly, it is actually true that these prospects compare agency offers and translator offers mainly on a price/deadline matrix sort of basis, mostly ignoring or not realising that when commissioning expert translators directly the quality does, upon taking a closer look, usually turn out to be noticeably, if not materially higher than when taking their business to affordable agencies (i.e. ones from the low-end to upper medium segments of the agency market). The same does not usually go for specialized agencies that only do one or at most two fields, but these, then, are usually only operating at the top end of the agency market and are, thus, usually unaffordable for SMEs and private individuals.

Sebastian Witte

[Edited at 2013-06-05 17:53 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-06-05 17:54 GMT]


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