What is the 'normal' rate for a highly repetitive text?
Thread poster: Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy

Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:47
Member (2014)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Jun 4, 2014

Dear Translators,

I have recently encountered an offer about an IT-related translation, that has highly repetitive text.
First, I had to do a translation test of 585 words, and once the outsourcer decided my work is very good, they offered me the following rates:

Context Match: 10% discount of total rate
Match types/Percent of full word rate
Repetitions 5
100% 5
95% - 99% 15
85% - 94% 30
75% - 84% 50
50% - 74% 80
No Match 100

So far I haven't really had to do translations with lots of repetitions and/or the outsourcer didn't want to get a discount for it, but now these rates seem utterly low.
With these rates I would have received about 5,85 USD for the test translation, even if I spent slightly over 1,5 hours with it.
Obviously, I have to triple-check repetitions as well to make sure they match the context, therefore I don't feel that a rate of 0,0025 per word for these would be a correct price (my per source word rate is already 0,05 USD) - even if the outsourcer insists they have a 'GOOD TM and we assure our TM quality' and even if she insists that 'The rate is what I'm applying to other translator as well (even very experienced translators & rare language as well). So, I 'd rather like you to agree this rate because it's convenient for our management matter. The rate is higher than some agency could offer you for long-term cooperation, too.'.

I would really appreciate your more experienced feedback, because I don't really want to get ripped off - neither on the short nor on the long term.

Thanks!


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:47
English to Dutch
+ ...
Way too low Jun 4, 2014

Leaving aside that your base rate is already much too low (I won't even get out of bed for less than $0.13):
Full matches should be paid at least 25% of the base rate, as a bare minimum. Like you said, you have to check them for context. Also, you are provided with a TM. Now that might sound nice, but often these contain incorrect translations, so a Full match is actually worse than a No match (as you have to spot it, think about it, and THEN translate it from scratch). Note that this is also true for TMs that the agency claims are very good. (I won't go as far as to say 'especially true for TMs that the agency claims are very good', but I'm tempted, on the base of experience. After all, why did they come to you if they were satisfied with the previous translator.)
The fact that they pay other translators peanuts, does not mean you have to be a monkey too.


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Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:47
Member (2014)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jun 4, 2014

Thank you for your comment, Jan!

I agree with you.
Sadly, I have to use low rates as most of the agencies still think of me as a translator who has not got enough experience - even if I can prove I am perfect for a job.
I have sent my expected rates to them yesterday (I was willing to give some discount, as they insisted), but in the response I have received today it seems they did not even pay attention to what I wrote.
As for the TMs - even if I am 'not experienced enough', I already have plenty of experience with TMs. Sadly, they do more harm than good most of the time. Agencies want to rely on them soooo much they truly believe they are 100% perfect and it is only the translator who can be wrong.

To be frank, I was thinking about giving this outsourcer a chance and work with them on a smaller project at first and then start working/asking for higher rates on the next project - but I don't feel this would work. They would just probably ditch me and search for someone else who is willing to work with them for such low rates.

I really want to get more experienced - but not while working for free.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:47
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You know this isn't a normal rate, I think Jun 4, 2014

Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy wrote:
I don't feel that a rate of 0,0025 per word for these would be a correct price (my per source word rate is already 0,05 USD) - even if the outsourcer insists they have a 'GOOD TM and we assure our TM quality' and even if she insists that 'The rate is what I'm applying to other translator as well (even very experienced translators & rare language as well). So, I 'd rather like you to agree this rate because it's convenient for our management matter. The rate is higher than some agency could offer you for long-term cooperation, too.'.

There are good agencies; there are bad ones; and there are totally despicable ones. Why associate with a bad one just because there are worse? You know how bad a deal this is from the test you did.

I don't know your pair but I would have thought that if you're confident about your quality then you should probably be charging triple this derisory 0.05 USD rate per new word in you EN>HU pair and a bit more in your reverse pair to cover a native proofreader's costs. Whether or not you offer CAT-style discounts is up to you, but the client should be paying a larger percentage of your rate for all words. I personally would NEVER accept any discount at all for less than 75% matches as they can often take longer to edit than to translate from new.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:47
English to Dutch
+ ...
Some more advice Jun 4, 2014

I realize that this can be hard to do, or even impossible, as you have to earn a living, but basically: don't work for low rates. They only mean that you have to work longer to make less money - you want to do the opposite.
Asking for discounts is par for the course for agencies. And they always have plenty of reasons why you really should apply lower rates. "All of our translators accept this rate", "These are standard market rates", "You won't get much work with THOSE rates", "The economic situation unfortunately dictates..." etc, etc. NONE of them are true.
My colleague Rose Newell has an interesting blog with useful tips for not-so-experienced translators, I can recommend you read: http://lingocode.com/12-newbie-traps-1/


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Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:47
Member (2014)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
More thanks! Jun 4, 2014

Dear Sheila and Jan,

Thank you for your comments.
I understand that the economy is still not the best and translation is a very competitive market, but I really don't get why do agencies keep pushing the already low rates down - quality work takes time and more effort than a machine-like translation.
For example, two weeks ago I was offered a medical translation for a flat rate (very low), so I declined it. Two days later I accepted to do the proofreading for the same job. Well, (as I expected because of the price) the translation was of extremely low quality - the so-called translator did not even try to translate the longer, more difficult sentences; he either simply omitted them or wrote 'I don't know' (in Hungarian, of course) in their place. All in all, a 15-30 minute proofreading turned out to be 3-4 hours of re-translation for me, for the same, flat price... But I didn't have the stomach to give an unprofessional translation out of my hand.

I will definitely start reading the blog you've linked, Jan, and I will continue checking other ProZ forums as well, as they always proved to be a good source of information so far.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:47
English to German
+ ...
Discounts on your terms Jun 4, 2014

Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy wrote:

Thank you for your comment, Jan!

I agree with you.
Sadly, I have to use low rates as most of the agencies still think of me as a translator who has not got enough experience - even if I can prove I am perfect for a job.
I have sent my expected rates to them yesterday (I was willing to give some discount, as they insisted), but in the response I have received today it seems they did not even pay attention to what I wrote.
As for the TMs - even if I am 'not experienced enough', I already have plenty of experience with TMs. Sadly, they do more harm than good most of the time. Agencies want to rely on them soooo much they truly believe they are 100% perfect and it is only the translator who can be wrong.

To be frank, I was thinking about giving this outsourcer a chance and work with them on a smaller project at first and then start working/asking for higher rates on the next project - but I don't feel this would work. They would just probably ditch me and search for someone else who is willing to work with them for such low rates.

I really want to get more experienced - but not while working for free.


Hello Zsofia,

You showed them how good you are with the test translation. There is no need to think you have to work for lower rates because you are new. If you provide quality, you deserve adequate compensation.

As far as discounts are concerned, I don't apply them the way agencies often want - as in the list you posted with percentage discounts for fuzzy and other matches suggested by the agency.

Asking for a discount when requesting a translator to use a CAT tool/creating or using a previously created TM is really just a way for agencies to get you to do more work for less money. And even if they didn't intend that, it's still what it comes down to: more work and less money.

Apply discounts on your terms!

After a thorough review of the source text, if I find that there are lots of repetitions or if there are other reasons to lower the rate/fee, I will still propose a per-word rate for the entire text (including all words, no matter if they repeat a thousand times) or I will quote a total price/fee for the translation based on the amount of work involved/quoting an hourly rate (I determine how long it will take me). If I need to use a CAT tool, and especially if I am given a TM created by someone else, I still look at the source text and figure how much it would cost to translate it without the CAT tool. Then I will probably increase the fee because as you said, there is no guarantee for the quality of a TM that you didn't create yourself and using a CAT tool is not necessarily a convenient way to type a translation. And working with a previously created TM means you still have to think about every single suggestion and decide if it is indeed good or not.

Our success lies in the way we advertise ourselves. We need to convince visitors to our profiles that they get an excellent service for professional fees. Having said that, I will probably simplify my profile page - changing things once in a while never hurts.

But it matters most what you say about yourself that shows your professional attitude. Attracting clients who look for quality instead of low prices is what we want. And they are out there.

HTH

B

NB: There is no "normal rate" for highly repetitive texts. A thorough analysis of the source text is required for every single project to determine an adequate and professional rate/fee.

[Edited at 2014-06-04 14:32 GMT]


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Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
I used to turn down offer from such clients and glad I did it. Jun 4, 2014

You are right in saying that If you accept their low rate, there is no way you can increase it in the near future or the next project.

I am patient in a way that I dont take the bait from such job and I am rewarded with some decent clients. At the end of the day, maybe what I got is equal to a lower-rate fellow but I work less, put more quality in my work and have a balanced life. And I think you also realize how different the time you actually spend on the translation and the reward you get from the discount rate so we should place a higher rate than their proposed.

You are also not wrong about TMs. I saw 100% match turned out to be totally wrong because it was misaligned or because the context are different so it usually take me more time to put a few words here and there to a match sentence.

One more thing that makes me tend to turn them down is because if I accept their policy, I felt guilty to my good clients.
l

Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy wrote:

Thank you for your comment, Jan!

I agree with you.
Sadly, I have to use low rates as most of the agencies still think of me as a translator who has not got enough experience - even if I can prove I am perfect for a job.
I have sent my expected rates to them yesterday (I was willing to give some discount, as they insisted), but in the response I have received today it seems they did not even pay attention to what I wrote.
As for the TMs - even if I am 'not experienced enough', I already have plenty of experience with TMs. Sadly, they do more harm than good most of the time. Agencies want to rely on them soooo much they truly believe they are 100% perfect and it is only the translator who can be wrong.

To be frank, I was thinking about giving this outsourcer a chance and work with them on a smaller project at first and then start working/asking for higher rates on the next project - but I don't feel this would work. They would just probably ditch me and search for someone else who is willing to work with them for such low rates.

I really want to get more experienced - but not while working for free.


[Edited at 2014-06-04 17:13 GMT]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
A minimum rate... Jun 4, 2014

... of $100.00 would have prevented this, but I suspect that the real "test" is to see if you are gullible enough to accept such a payment scheme.

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jotranslator  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 03:47
Russian to English
+ ...
Great blog post Jun 4, 2014

Jan Willem van Dormolen wrote:

I realize that this can be hard to do, or even impossible, as you have to earn a living, but basically: don't work for low rates. They only mean that you have to work longer to make less money - you want to do the opposite.
Asking for discounts is par for the course for agencies. And they always have plenty of reasons why you really should apply lower rates. "All of our translators accept this rate", "These are standard market rates", "You won't get much work with THOSE rates", "The economic situation unfortunately dictates..." etc, etc. NONE of them are true.
My colleague Rose Newell has an interesting blog with useful tips for not-so-experienced translators, I can recommend you read: http://lingocode.com/12-newbie-traps-1/


Jan, thank you for linking to Rose's post. It is really very helpful. I fell into several of those traps and it is hard to extricate oneself from them.

In the past fortnight I have been offered (and declined) the following "newbie trap" jobs, all from large agencies:

- A proofreading job (that involved comparing 5 source texts with the translation, the source texts were highly specialized) for $0.012 per word.

- A specialized translation with a tight deadline for $0.04 per word. The PM's response when I said that the rate was way too low was, "we have to offer this rate to win the client".

- A job "editing" a Google translated document that was gobbledegook and was about 30,000 words long for $0.03 per word.

- A job that involved proofreading an English translation that was a single document that had been cobbled together from different parts of 6 source files. The source files were very long and there was no indication marked in them as to which parts had been lifted and translated and compiled into the final document. $0.03 per word.

- I was asked to help a PM FOR FREE by reading some texts in a source language and telling him what they were about, and maybe translating a sentence or two here and there for free, which would "only take about 30 minutes of my time" and "there is a chance of a large contract". $0.00 per word.

I can completely sympathize with the OP who says that she is charging $0.05 per word because that is what agencies accept. Agencies who advertise on ProZ expect that sort of rate.


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Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:47
Member (2014)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Appreciate your ideas Jun 4, 2014

Thank you everyone - I am really happy that in the end it seems it is not my judgement that needs some polishing, but the rates of some outsourcers.
You all gave very reassuring answers for me!


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KateKaminski
Local time: 01:47
German to English
It does not matter how experienced you are Jun 4, 2014

If you know you are a good translator, charge at least average rates. That is for you to decide, not the agency.

If they are not willing to pay for a good translator, they will have to hire someone who cannot provide the same level of quality.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:47
English to German
+ ...
Got to stick to professional business practices Jun 4, 2014

KateKaminski wrote:

If you know you are a good translator, charge at least average rates. That is for you to decide, not the agency.

If they are not willing to pay for a good translator, they will have to hire someone who cannot provide the same level of quality.


.. or someone who will accept their offer because they are new, young, not knowledgeable about shady business practices etc. or simply don't know any better. Unfortunately, many people will be ready to jump in and take on the job and maybe even carry it out pretty well.

But they're not doing themselves any favors. One can figure out easily that working under such conditions is simply exploitation. And no one can go on and will want to go on being exploited like that.

In any case, one really needs to stay away from unprofessional businesses and business practices. Nothing good comes of it for any translator.

B

[Edited at 2014-06-04 17:22 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:47
Member
English to French
Your time is valuable Jun 5, 2014

Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy wrote:
...First, I had to do a translation test of 585 words, and once the outsourcer decided my work is very good, they offered me the following rates:

Context Match: 10% discount of total rate
Match types/Percent of full word rate
Repetitions 5
100% 5
95% - 99% 15
85% - 94% 30
75% - 84% 50
50% - 74% 80
No Match 100...

Before entering into any kind of test, state all your conditions including YOUR OWN discount matrix if you are prepared to use a CAT tool and offer discounts on matches. Of course, this matrix should yield an hourly rate at least matching a standard translation without repetitions/matches. It could be as simple as 100%/reps: 20%, fuzzies (down to 85%): 60%, no match (up to 84%) 100%.
If the prospect comes back with their conditions such as payment 60 days end of month and 80% of full rate for 50-74% matches, kiss them goodbye and don't lose time with a test.

I don't know Hungarian, but those discounts would seem utterly disgraceful in FR. Good idea to figure out with such discounts and the test piece how much you would earn per hour. It could be an eye-opener for some.

Philippe


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:47
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Service providers vs. employees Jun 5, 2014

Zsofia Koszegi-Nagy wrote:

Dear Translators,

I have recently encountered an offer about an IT-related translation, that has highly repetitive text.
First, I had to do a translation test of 585 words, and once the outsourcer decided my work is very good, they offered me the following rates:

Context Match: 10% discount of total rate
Match types/Percent of full word rate
Repetitions 5
100% 5
95% - 99% 15
85% - 94% 30
75% - 84% 50
50% - 74% 80
No Match 100

So far I haven't really had to do translations with lots of repetitions and/or the outsourcer didn't want to get a discount for it, but now these rates seem utterly low.
With these rates I would have received about 5,85 USD for the test translation, even if I spent slightly over 1,5 hours with it.
Obviously, I have to triple-check repetitions as well to make sure they match the context, therefore I don't feel that a rate of 0,0025 per word for these would be a correct price (my per source word rate is already 0,05 USD) - even if the outsourcer insists they have a 'GOOD TM and we assure our TM quality' and even if she insists that 'The rate is what I'm applying to other translator as well (even very experienced translators & rare language as well). So, I 'd rather like you to agree this rate because it's convenient for our management matter. The rate is higher than some agency could offer you for long-term cooperation, too.'.

I would really appreciate your more experienced feedback, because I don't really want to get ripped off - neither on the short nor on the long term.

Thanks!


If you are employed with an agency/company as an in-house translator, then you have to do whatever type of work your boss is giving you...for a fixed monthly salary.

As a service provider/freelance translator you are the "boss". This means that

1. you are under no obligation to do any tests, let alone unpaid ones, or test that exceed the acceptable 200 - 300 words by far,

2. you have paid for your CAT tool. Why? To increase your income and help you to work faster, making translations easier for you? Or to help increase your customer's profit margin? This leads to number

3. you, in your position as the "boss" provide discounts at your sole discretion, and are under no obligation to agree to discounts dictated by your client.

4. You need to ensure that you won't fall into the category of "cheap" translators. It is nearly impossible to escape that trap when you continue to work with the same clients, because they will not only expect (demand?) you to keep your current rates, but possibly even to lower them some more.

The other day I received an offer to proofread several thousands of words. Even though the sender asked for my rate, he also suggested a rate, USD 0.01 per word. I replied with my hourly rate and mentioned that I don't proofread on a per-word basis.

There was no actual reply to my email. Instead the same person sent me a test translation request - some 80+ words to be done within the next 11 minutes (eleven minutes) based on his delivery deadline. Rate offered: 0.00 of any currency.

While I was wondering why a proofreader needs to do a free test translation that actually calls for a surcharge due to the extremely (and unrealistic) turnaround time, the cursor already went to "delete", and the case was closed.

Without assuming any mal-intent, I do believe that outsourcers (by all means, NOT all, but only a few) believe that repetitions don't require any additional work, most probably because they (rightfully) expect you to proofread your translation prior to turning it in.

The bottom line is, you are the boss. You are setting your rates. You are granting discounts or not. And if you (out of the blue, so to speak) offer your client an unexpected discount, then you will have one happy client.


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