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How to compete against experience and LOW rates? (rant warning)
Thread poster: Elda Veiga

Elda Veiga  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:42
Member (2013)
English to Portuguese
Mar 5, 2014

Hi everyone,

I have been working as a freelance translator since 2011, and I believe I have amassed a reasonable working experience that enables me to request a reasonable rate as well. Until today I considered myself not a bottom-feeder, but somehow close to it, since the rates I ask are a beginner's rate (not for my specialization, though, those rates are better).
And yet, today I discovered another freelancer with 10+ years of experience willing to translate a 85k book for 800 USD - no royalty split, pay-for-hire, probably even losing moral rights.
How do I compete against that? Less than $0.01 per word, offering an expert service. Yes, I know that if someone's willing to work for this rate, the client will take the offer, but my question is why someone would work for such pay? The person in case lives in the same city, so the overhead costs don't get into play here, they'll be similar.
I'm simply stunned.


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Wen Bing
China
Local time: 09:42
English to Chinese
+ ...
Is it because it is harder to find projects nowadays? Mar 5, 2014

In China we have the same problem. I have been a freelance translator and interpreter for about 3 or 4 years now, and when I first started, the rate was about 200 RMB for 1000 words, that is about $0.03/word, which is OK in China, but soon I found that some translators only ask for half of that money or even less. Actually, I think the reason may be that the number of translators are increasing rapidly, therefore, it is harder to get projects, at least in China it is so. Are their more translators in your country now than when you first started?

[Edited at 2014-03-05 10:34 GMT]


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DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bored, retired, married rich ... Mar 5, 2014

Just ignore it and move on. They won't be in the market for much longer.

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Frankie JB
France
English to French
+ ...
Elda... Mar 5, 2014

How do I compete against that? Less than $0.01 per word, offering an expert service. Yes, I know that if someone's willing to work for this rate, the client will take the offer, but my question is why someone would work for such pay?


It's hard to offer a diagnosis without knowing the specifics, but:

- I doubt very much that someone living in Western Europe would be willing to provide "an expert service" for such an insane rate - which I'm not sure is a good rate anywhere on our planet, except maybe in 1$-per-day countries. Only someone in stark financial hardship, or with a massive self-esteem/respect issue would offer that... If indeed the person is a full-time pro with 10 years' experience, it's astounding.

- Don't think all purchasers are dumb and devoid of moral values. Price is definitely a critical element but there are others, and most of the time I would say that a reasonable buyer who cares a bit about quality will never pick bottom feeders...

- Finally, there is no reason to be frustrated in those cases: Just offer what you consider your fair rates, don't look at other bidders (there will always be rats in the rat race) and move on!


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Norskpro
Sweden
Local time: 03:42
Member
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Stunned about client Mar 5, 2014

Elda Veiga wrote:

Yes, I know that if someone's willing to work for this rate, the client will take the offer


I wonder about the quality of the translation, and so should the client. Why would anyone take there chance of hiring a translator for so little money, to translate a book?


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Elda Veiga  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:42
Member (2013)
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
About the quality Mar 5, 2014

Norskpro wrote:
I wonder about the quality of the translation, and so should the client.


She claims to have 10+ years of experience, and that's what's confusing to me. How can someone with such experience work like this?
And yes, I too wonder about the quality of the translation.


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:42
Member
French to English
+ ...
Can't see it ending well for either party Mar 5, 2014

Both parties to that deal sound rather naive! I find it hard to believe the translator has 10+ years' experience. Perhaps it's a novice who doesn't realize how much work will actually be involved, but has figured out that it's difficult to get work without claiming to have experience.

All we can do is focus on working for more savvy clients who understand that translation isn't as simple as pressing a button and "ping!" They are out there, we just have to keep looking for them and not be disheartened by the train wrecks in the making that we see around us, such as this one.

[Edited at 2014-03-05 11:11 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:42
Russian to English
+ ...
How do you know that the freelancer wanted to translate the text Mar 5, 2014

for so littlle money? Just because they bid on the job does not mean that they bid at the rate suggested by the client. They could have bid a few times the amount

[Edited at 2014-03-05 11:23 GMT]


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Elda Veiga  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:42
Member (2013)
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
she told so Mar 5, 2014

LilianBNekipelo wrote:

for so littlle money? Just because they bid on the job does not mean that they bid at the rate suggested by the client. They could have bid a few times the amount

[Edited at 2014-03-05 11:23 GMT]


Nope, she told in a public place how much she charged. Unfortunately, that was the real amount.


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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:42
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Sometimes, experience is a subjective statement... Mar 5, 2014

Slightly off track, but it might well be a similar situation:

While I was at uni, my flatmate decided to start a dog walking and training business. She had just bought a young dog that she couldn't manage to train, so she rescued another dog, which she equally failed to achieve even basic training with. So, by some strange logic, she decided that she would be able to spend more time with those dogs, if she just gave up her job and started a dog walking and training business. 20 years earlier, her family had bought their first dog. The good lady had been a toddler at this point. There had been 12 or 13 years, during which she had had next to no contact with any dogs in any way. Given that it had been 20 years since her first doggy encounter, as a toddler, her website and flyers boldly claimed "20 years' experience in dog training". The customers came rolling in in no time, nobody seemed to question a 23 year old having 20 years' experience.

I wouldn't worry too much about it. I was recently asked to provide a quote for a 600k file and the client went on to hire someone who offered to do the job for $1,000 within 2 months. Good luck to them. Not all clients are worth competing for.


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Elda Veiga  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:42
Member (2013)
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
Agree... Mar 5, 2014

dianaft wrote:

I wouldn't worry too much about it. I was recently asked to provide a quote for a 600k file and the client went on to hire someone who offered to do the job for $1,000 within 2 months. Good luck to them. Not all clients are worth competing for.


That's exactly what I have to keep on mind.
And that doggy story is absolutely terrible. If someone would lie about credentials, couldn't they at least make it a tiny itty-bitty believable?


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 03:42
German to Swedish
+ ...
Bad Mar 5, 2014

Elda Veiga wrote:

She claims to have 10+ years of experience, and that's what's confusing to me. How can someone with such experience work like this?


After being in the business for 10 years, she works for $0.01 per word.
Ergo she has nonexistent marketing skills/self confidence, or is a truly lousy translator.

(After all, even the bottom feeder jobs we see advertised regularly pay better than this... If she's good enough to be hired for those, why work for less?)

[Bearbeitet am 2014-03-05 13:24 GMT]


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JanaB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:42
English to German
No need to bother about it Mar 5, 2014

DLyons wrote: Bored, retired, married rich ...

Just ignore it and move on.


It's all said:-)

On the other hand maybe she's just not had enough jobs lately and is a little desperate, but again, no need to waste your valuable time thinking about it;-)


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Mohd shadab  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:12
Hindi to English
+ ...
Honestly looks weird to me. Mar 5, 2014

Elda Veiga wrote:

dianaft wrote:

I wouldn't worry too much about it. I was recently asked to provide a quote for a 600k file and the client went on to hire someone who offered to do the job for $1,000 within 2 months. Good luck to them. Not all clients are worth competing for.


That's exactly what I have to keep on mind.
And that doggy story is absolutely terrible. If someone would lie about credentials, couldn't they at least make it a tiny itty-bitty believable?


Honestly Speaking its looks weird to me.. I do received 20-25 resume on daily basis as i also run an agency but never receive a resume of 10 years of experience and ready to work at $0.01 cent.

something must be wrong with him.

Move on..


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Elda Veiga  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 02:42
Member (2013)
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
Not frustrated Mar 5, 2014

Frankie JB wrote:
- Finally, there is no reason to be frustrated in those cases: Just offer what you consider your fair rates, don't look at other bidders (there will always be rats in the rat race) and move on!


Wise words, Frankie. I'm actually not frustrated/upset, just... well, stunned. My country has been going through some serious economic hardships, but someone can find a day job that pays better than what she's going to make; even a cashier or a house cleaner earns a better pay.


But as some people already said in this thread, I shouldn't be spending my time with this. Perhaps the amount of work will make her realize her value and stop selling herself short.

Thank you everyone for your inputs! It was good to know this isn't actually a current practice in our industry!


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