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Rates for end client
Thread poster: JuliaGoellnitz

JuliaGoellnitz
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:59
English to German
+ ...
Jun 10, 2014

Hi there

I have only been working for agencies and have now an enquiry from an end client for an English to German translation. What are the current rates for end clients for this language combination for website localisation?

Thanks!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why does an agency charge more? Jun 10, 2014

Of course, there's their mark-up - nobody in their right mind would do business unless there was profit in it.

But they also justify an element of their charge for providing services, which a good agency will provide and a bad one won't. These include proofreading your work; managing large projects, putting together glossaries; managing TMs; performing DTP tasks; etc. They also include a charge for finding the client in the first place. Last but not least, they should be accepting a much higher business risk than the translator.

So, you have the right to add on some or all of those charges for a direct client. You'll still be able to undercut an agency as you only need to make one lot of profit (unlesss you're greedyicon_wink.gif) and you'll probably have much lower overheads. OTOH, you'll need to bear in mind that it can be more convenient for a client to deal with an agency, so you do need to be quite a bit cheaper. I'm talking of things one person can't provide, like 24-hour service, automatic replacements for holidays, sickness etc, multiple language combinations, very many thousands of words per day, urgent jobs always possible...


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:59
English to German
+ ...
Charge adequate rates for your service Jun 10, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Of course, there's their mark-up - nobody in their right mind would do business unless there was profit in it.

But they also justify an element of their charge for providing services, which a good agency will provide and a bad one won't. ...


Don't let the rock-bottom prices proposed by the majority of agencies on the job board and accepted by lots of people be your guide - just a word of caution.

When you deliver a product/service to an end/a direct client, you are responsible to deliver a "final" translation that doesn't need to be proofread (by the way I always do this no matter who the client is). You are entitled to charge an adequate fee for your service; that means it does not have to be cheaper than what an agency charges - and I mean even a good agency. Most agencies expect you to deliver a perfect product anyway.

You found the client or the client found you and whatever overhead an agency has or claims to have is of no concern to you in this case. It is hard enough for individual translators to find good projects these days, we don't have to sell ourselves cheap because we have "less overhead" than the myriad of agencies out there (many of them unprofessional ones). No, we carry just as big a risk (and often a bigger risk) making our business work than any agency.

Factor number 1 is the quality of the translation that you provide - and it needs to be paid adequately.

As a matter of fact, your client will find that the direct contact with you, the translator, has many advantages versus the middleman principle of an agency and they will appreciate your accessibility, commitment and quality, and they will gladly pay a good price.

There's no guarantee that getting the translation from an agency means that the translation is better or has to be more expensive. What counts for the client is always the value of the translation (or of any other language service).

Will you be able to sell your services for less than an agency? Yes, but that agency you compare your price to better be a good one, not one of those fly-by-night varieties.

HTH

B

[Edited at 2014-06-11 16:08 GMT]


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. Jun 10, 2014

I usually charge about 50% more to direct clients.

 

JuliaGoellnitz
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:59
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
current rates Jun 10, 2014

Thanks everyone for your input! I will make it a bit cheaper any way as it is for a friend of mine/aquaintance.

So... what do you reckon where the rates currently are?


 

Olga Koepping  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:59
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
tricky... Jun 10, 2014

Well I am with Bernhard on this one. Even if it a friend/acquaintance, you are charging for your time and your expertise, which you could be using elsewhere. If you don't charge a professional rate for a professional job, people don't take you seriously, and for that matter you don't take your own work seriously. I have taken jobs for too little money before, or underquoted, with the "better one in the hand" attitude, but as I was sitting there late at night, having cancelled my plans, finishing a really difficult translation for a super-tight deadline, I thought: No, this is not worth it. This is not going to lead to good work, this is not improving my skills, it is just sapping my strength and my motivation.

Rant over... people are very reluctant to talk about rates. I was talking to a colleague (DEU - ENG) today who said she thought it scandalous that agencies thought she could/should work for GBP 70 per 1000 words. I have another colleague who freely admit that she is too expensive for most clients, at EUR 170 per 1000 words. I could not charge the latter for my work, I just don't have that type of client base, but it did make me think that we all just say YES to any old rate.

So... I was going to say, if it's genuinely a friend, you could go for GBP 75 per 1000 words. But then I realised you used the words "end client". Think about what they would be charged by an agency. At least GBP 100. You quote 85, they feel that they're getting a good deal, you don't feel resentful, and everyone is happy with a professional transaction.



[Edited at 2014-06-10 23:37 GMT]


 

Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:59
English to Spanish
Impossible low rate Jun 11, 2014

Olga Koepping wrote:

... Think about what they would be charged by an agency. At least GBP 100. You quote 85, they feel that they're getting a good deal, you don't feel resentful, and everyone is happy with a professional transaction.


An agency charging GBP 100 for 1000 words?

I am not familiar with the European market, but could any developed country agency possibly survive on rates that low?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Nobody can tell you what to charge. Jun 11, 2014

Miguel Carmona wrote:

Olga Koepping wrote:

... Think about what they would be charged by an agency. At least GBP 100. You quote 85, they feel that they're getting a good deal, you don't feel resentful, and everyone is happy with a professional transaction.


An agency charging GBP 100 for 1000 words?

I am not familiar with the European market, but could any developed country agency possibly survive on rates that low?

AFAIK, any good agency will be charging their client at least GBP 200 for 1000 words. I would have thought a freelancer could ask for a three-figure sum even though it might not be as much as 200. The community rates published here on ProZ.com are for agencies and they come out at about GBP 0.10 per word, so you should be charging more for a direct client if you base your figure on that, maybe GBP 0.15. But as I said, nobody can tell you what to charge.

@ Bernhard: my first comments were probably rather misleading as I never have any dealings with the cheaper agencies beyond the first exchange of emails. I just don't want/need to go there.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:59
English to German
+ ...
No one should go there Jun 11, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:

@ Bernhard: my first comments were probably rather misleading as I never have any dealings with the cheaper agencies beyond the first exchange of emails. I just don't want/need to go there.


I agree. Unfortunately, many "go there" because they either don't know about adequate rates or don't know any better. But no one should work under such circumstances. It doesn't do any translator any good. I keep spreading the word.icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2014-06-11 15:28 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:59
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I never understood this Jun 11, 2014

I really never understood this whole idea that we should charge end customers and agencies a different price. Shouldn't we charge both types of customers a fair and sustainable rate? Yes, agencies indeed give us more regular work and deserve some kind of volume discount (10-15%?), but how come the difference can be of up to 50% between agencies and end customers?

In my opinion, charging direct customers 50% more makes customers go to agencies and not to us directly, since they really don't save much by making the effort of dealing with individual translators instead of one PM.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:59
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
We really swallowed the hook here Jun 11, 2014

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
When you deliver a product/service to an end/a direct client, you are responsible to deliver a "final" translation that doesn't need to be proofread... (by the way I always do this no matter who the client is).

Absolutely. We should always arrange our work so that we can deliver final, proofread texts and charge a fair rate, whatever the kind of customer. By delivering non-final work, we give agency customers the perfect reason not to accept sustainable rates.


 

Michelle Kusuda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why our rates vary Jun 12, 2014

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I really never understood this whole idea that we should charge end customers and agencies a different price. Shouldn't we charge both types of customers a fair and sustainable rate? Yes, agencies indeed give us more regular work and deserve some kind of volume discount (10-15%?), but how come the difference can be of up to 50% between agencies and end customers?

In my opinion, charging direct customers 50% more makes customers go to agencies and not to us directly, since they really don't save much by making the effort of dealing with individual translators instead of one PM.



I can provide a service to the agency at a lower rate because it is their responsibility to hire a proofreader to ensure I did not leave a comma out of place. While I try to make my translations print ready, I do not pay a fellow translator to proofread my work for an agency.

When I work for a direct client, I inform them that the rate includes my services plus the service of my proofreader of choice (which I have to cover).

Client education with top-notch translations will glue them to you!


[Edited at 2014-06-12 15:12 GMT]


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:59
German to English
If you are looking for a price for a friend Jun 12, 2014

Here are the figures from the 2007 BDÜ Honorarspiegel (I think the survey data is from 2005): "Direktkunden in Wirtschaft und Industrie": average highest rate 0.15 EUR per word, average average rate 0.14 EUR per word and average lowest rate 0.12 EUR per word.

You ought to order a current copy from the BDÜ website if you're interested, I think it only costs around 20 EUR.

That is probably a good way to select a fee to charge a friend. There might also an ITI rates survey that is available.

In terms of real prices for real direct clients, I think that "current rates" is a red herring. There are a lot of direct clients out there who are much better served by a small pool of freelancers than by an agency. They don't need any of the additional services mentioned by Sheila, they only need translations related to 1-3 fields and into 1-3 languages and - with a freelancer - they can know who they are dealing with and know that their translator has a substantial grasp of the given subject matter. If you are highly qualified in a subject-matter field, find the clients that are looking for you, are a good communicator and make sure that you always have enough requests for offers coming in that you don't have to worry about the majority of your offers getting turned down as too expensive, then you can make very good money working for direct clients, and they will also be happy to be paying you good money for your good work.
A potential client actually told me the other day that my offer was more expensive than that of a major German translation agency. I don't know if it was true or not, but it would be logical: Why would anyone who only needs semi-regular German-English translations of art-related texts in .doc format go to an every-subject, every-language, super-DTP-plus agency? Price is actually the only way that the agency can compete with me: For this client - and literally thousands like her across Germany, Austria and Switzerland - my service is in every way more valuable. And I can only take care of a few dozen of them and there are only a few dozen other translators like me for the rest. That is why I am in a position to charge direct clients more than I could ever charge any agency.


 

Michelle Kusuda  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
You raised a great point! Jun 12, 2014

Michael Wetzel wrote:


A potential client actually told me the other day that my offer was more expensive than that of a major German translation agency. I don't know if it was true or not, but it would be logical: Why would anyone who only needs semi-regular German-English translations of art-related texts in .doc format go to an every-subject, every-language, super-DTP-plus agency? Price is actually the only way that the agency can compete with me: For this client - and literally thousands like her across Germany, Austria and Switzerland - my service is in every way more valuable. And I can only take care of a few dozen of them and there are only a few dozen other translators like me for the rest. That is why I am in a position to charge direct clients more than I could ever charge any agency.



Something to remember also is that great agencies realize that without great translators working for them, the quality of the services they provide declines so they value us and pay us accordingly. Mediocre agencies try to exploit translators to increase their profit and they end up in bankruptcy or starting over under a new name.


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 07:59
German to English
+ ...
Rates for the work being done - full considerations Jun 12, 2014

It makes sense to charge for the service you provide. That includes the expertise you are bringing into it, and the amount of work involved. It does not make sense to do the same amount of work for two clients, but charge less for one of them unless there is some other benefit to doing so (in which case I guess it's an "in kind" sort of thing - but that extra benefit has to be there for real).

So if I charge .14/word for a French to English translation, that is my rate for an end client and for an agency that is a client. Both are clients. It's the same amount of work. The end client would get exactly the same service from me if they came directly from me. They might get an extra service from the agency that they don't get from me:
-if the agency hires a second person to proofread
- if the agency is coordinating translations into multiple languages
- if the agency is coordinating a large project to be handled by several translators
If the agency is providing the end client with a service in additional to mine, then it makes sense for the client to pay extra for it. It does not make sense for me to lower my fee for providing the same service, because of the extra that the client is getting from the agency. (Phew!)

In many cases, there are advantages to end clients:
- most end clients pay right away or in advance (some large corporations have procedures that put them on par with the usual "30 days" of agencies); most agencies pay after 30 - 60 days
- working with an end client is uncomplicated. You explain procedures before starting out; you ask questions directly of the client. You are working solely along your own procedures. - With many agencies, you have to go through the agency to ask questions of the client. Some agencies have complicated procedures which eat up time and effort.
In those cases where the agency entails more work and delayed payment, why would you give a discount for that?

To some degree we are in competition with agencies. If the end client gets my work and pays .14/word, or gets the same work through the agency and I get paid .14/word, it doesn't matter very much. In tight collaboration, the agency and I work to build their reputation so that they can feed me clients. Otoh, I am also building my reputation and would like clients to recommend me. It does not make sense for me to charge .09, so that the agency can offer .12, and the client that would have come to me goes to them, and I get paid less for the effort.

Advantages to (some) agencies, some of the time:
- If the translation is such that I would have to hire a proofreader, then an agency that does this routinely will be to my advantage.
- Greater visibility of agencies meaning that they can feed through clients to me; so I'm taking advantage of their advertisement efforts
- the efficient agency that is also easy to work with, that has vetted clients and only contacts me for probably deals. This may save me time answering the phone for "window shopper" types of queries. The agency is providing a service. (Otoh, 90% of end client calls result in work. 70% of queries by new agencies recently have been bargain hunts leading nowhere).


 
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