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Word rate - Agency vs direct Client????
Thread poster: Alexandra Santer

Alexandra Santer  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 04:52
English to German
+ ...
Oct 20, 2015

Hi everybody!

I have a degree in translation studies and, honestly, I'm really frustrated to work or have to accept work for peanuts.
Today I received a request from an Agency to translate a kind of medical text (not too bad but you have to do some research) from Italian to German offering 0,01 USD/word and to complete the translation within a timeframe of 4 hours.
Is this what you guys also accept or do you refuse working with agencies offering Jobs like this?
I refused this Job...
What's your opinion on this? Would you recommend doing some bidding on posted jobs? Is it worth it?

Thanks! Your opinion is highly apprecciated!!!


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:52
Member
Italian to English
Rhetorical question Oct 20, 2015

Alexandra Santer wrote:

Is this what you guys also accept or do you refuse working with agencies offering Jobs like this?


"Offers" like the one you mention go straight in the bin.

Your profile says you have ten years of experience - what have you done in that time? Work on your profile. Answer KudoZ questions. Decide what your USP is and begin contacting serious agencies who value what you do and are willing to pay an appropriate price for it. Specialise - with specialisation comes the ability to demand higher rates, and also gives you a greater sense of satisfaction.


 

Robin Joensuu  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:52
Member
English to Swedish
Don't work for less than your work is worth Oct 20, 2015

Work on your profile. Answer KudoZ questions. Decide what your USP is and begin contacting serious agencies who value what you do and are willing to pay an appropriate price for it. Specialise - with specialisation comes the ability to demand higher rates, and also gives you a greater sense of satisfaction.



Great advice. And another thing I think too few do – make your rates public. This shows agencies that you value your work and that you are open with what you are doing, and what you think you are worth. It also gives other translators a feeling for what others ask for, which brings us to the next thing. Don't agree to anything that is much less than the average for your language combination (0.08-0.11 euros according to the Community rates section here on Proz: http://search.proz.com/employers/rates). This will not help you or anyone else. Think about it: If you work 8 hours for 0.04 because you are afraid you won't get enough work, you would only have to get half that amount of work for 0.08 to get the same amount of money in the end. And you would have 4 hours to learn stuff, market your business, polish your CV, look at funny translation related GIFs, improve your skills, learn how to use your CAT tool more efficiently, network, and what not.

The bottom line: don't work for less than you can make a living of or less than you think your work deserves.

And check this out, by the way: http://marketingtipsfortranslators.com/12-mistakes-less-experienced-freelance-translators-often-make-in-their-business

[Edited at 2015-10-20 20:03 GMT]


 

Robin Joensuu  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:52
Member
English to Swedish
P.S. Oct 20, 2015

P.S. I would ask someone who was asking me to do work for 0.01 USD per word to jump of a cliff - of consider throwing them myself.

 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:52
German to English
No rush jobs, no penny/word jobs Oct 20, 2015

Alexandra Santer wrote:
Today I received a request from an Agency to translate a kind of medical text (not too bad but you have to do some research) from Italian to German offering 0,01 USD/word and to complete the translation within a timeframe of 4 hours.


First of all, medical texts are highly specialized and should be paid at a higher rate than, let's say, a driver's license or birth certificate.

Second, one cent (EUR/USD) per word is insultingly low no matter where the translator lives. Don't take the time to respond; that kind of offer does not deserve a reply, polite or otherwise.

Third under no circumstances take a rush job from a new client. You'll find yourself only doing rush jobs. The message boards are full of translators wondering how to get off the rush job hamster tread wheel.


 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:52
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Word rates Oct 20, 2015

I made a decision long ago not to accept sub-standard rates.
When recently offered USD 0.03/word for a medical Japanese project, I responded:
"If you are offering the India rate, why are you looking for translators in North America?"


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:52
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
End clients are not always better Oct 20, 2015

If you work full time in a lawyer's office in a large city in the USA and translate supporting documents for immigration cases, the lawyer would force you to finish 600 words per hour but he would pay you only $12. It means you got an per word rate of $0.02. Peanuts are everywhere, not only in India.

[Edited at 2015-10-20 21:37 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-10-21 06:00 GMT]


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 21:52
German to English
+ ...
Why agency vs. direct client? Oct 21, 2015

Your concern seems to be about rates. Who is paying you for your work shouldn't matter. Since the work is the same, your fee should be the same, and you should be the one who sets your fees. Somebody can always try to ask you to lower your rate, but at the end of the day it's still your rate.

 

Jenae Spry  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:52
French to English
Business not personal Oct 21, 2015

It's business. Obviously they want to pay the least possible amount. Not everyone needs highly professional translation and that is OK. I am a professional translator so I don't work at such low rates. With that said, I have been asked to edit translations done by translators and they were so terrible, I really WISHED they had used Google instead. So, some translators are worth .01/word. Are you? In any business there is a range of competition and a range of prices and a range of clients.

I wrote a blog post about how to determine your rate that you might find useful if that's an issue for you. But the short version is: charge what you're worth regardless. Agencies provide a service ideally...hence why they pay lower rates. Direct clients require that you perform the services of the agency plus the translation.



[Edited at 2015-10-21 05:27 GMT]


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
It's not an option to accept conditions. Offer yours. Oct 21, 2015

Alexandra Santer wrote:

Hi everybody!

Today I received a request from an Agency to translate a kind of medical text (not too bad but you have to do some research) from Italian to German offering 0,01 USD/word and to complete the translation within a timeframe of 4 hours.
Is this what you guys also accept or do you refuse working with agencies offering Jobs like this?
Thanks! Your opinion is highly apprecciated!!!


A real offer is when a prospective client asks you what your conditions are.

I also think that responding to jobs leads to lower rates. The whole concept of biding is designed to drive the price down. You may win but very seldom will it be interesting or sustainable.

The only sustainable option is you finding the clients who work in your field and are willing to pay your rate. You have to know what your rate is in the first place, and you have to know what you do well.

Negative side of it: it takes time and effort to find this kind of customers. This is the reason we all say it takes time to get established (anything from 6 months up to 2 years).

Positive side of it: once you’ve found the customer and proved overtime you are as good as you promised you would be, you keep the customer for a long time, sometimes for good.

In other words, the opportunity cost associated with working for low rates is huge in the long run.


 

Alexandra Santer  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 04:52
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
a penny saved is a penny got? Oct 21, 2015

Dear colleagues,

first of all thank you so much for your comments and advice. I really, really appreciate your honesty.

As I said I have a degree in translation studies and so I'm a professional translator. I'm glad to have a part time job in a corporate environment where my translation skills are required but are not part of my job-description - that's why I am a freelance translator. I wouldn't say that I'm specialized in the fields of HR, IP and Legal - but these are the fields I mainly do translations in my part time job. I could never ever survive without this part time job ...

When it comes to the low rates I totally agree with your comments to never accept such jobs. It's sometimes really hard not to accept because I think a penny saved is a penny got ... what do you think? do you mostly work with direct clients or agencies?

thanks again for your help and comments.
have a great, successful, day!


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:52
Member
English to French
Since we have to earn a living from translation... Oct 21, 2015

Alexandra Santer wrote:
...
Is this what you guys also accept or do you refuse working with agencies offering Jobs like this?

...we can't afford to work for peanuts.
I work only with agencies, but from experience, "big" agencies have often brought frustration in the long term. Yes, they have a lot of work to dispatch, but what's the point for a single translator to know that they handle 15Mwords/month in their language pair.

A few smaller agencies with their own customer base (and not sub-contractors for the big agencies) dispatching altogether a few tens of thou a month are more than enough: they feed and serve the local economy, have customers with high demands that they have the skills to meet, while pampering their providers instead of maintaining flashy premises in high streets or pay multimillion-dollar villas to their owners.

We only see the big ones because they have much more buying power. They order market research, speak at conferences, sponsor events, have relays in business associations, leverage social media...
A nice US agency I was working with was bought by one of the mammoths and within weeks I had to wish them the best of luck. They buy what they can't make or do themselves (customer portfolio/translation assets/specialised staff...). Their ambition is to rule the translation world, just like major IT players want to rule the information world.
Thankfully, "products" come from our brains, which cannot be bought like machines, patents or processes. So they invest a lot to replace us by machines, hi hi, spreading the word that MT will replace us all soon.

As Jenae says, it's only business. And it's a daily concern when you're self-employed.

Philippe


 

Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 09:52
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Try to bypass agency Oct 21, 2015

Alexandra Santer wrote:

Hi everybody!

I have a degree in translation studies and, honestly, I'm really frustrated to work or have to accept work for peanuts.
Today I received a request from an Agency to translate a kind of medical text (not too bad but you have to do some research) from Italian to German offering 0,01 USD/word and to complete the translation within a timeframe of 4 hours.
Is this what you guys also accept or do you refuse working with agencies offering Jobs like this?
I refused this Job...
What's your opinion on this? Would you recommend doing some bidding on posted jobs? Is it worth it?

Thanks! Your opinion is highly apprecciated!!!


Never be dependent on any translation agency or the like.

Never put agencies in your primary channel. Secondary channel is ideal.

Do your own marketing efforts to target end users or you will be cash cow for them!

[Edited at 2015-10-21 13:08 GMT]


 

jensskarpe  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:52
Member (2013)
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
My experience Oct 21, 2015

My experience as a Swedish translator is that they will come back crying later when the end client refuses to pay due to bad quality. It is very important that able translators do not lower their rates. I recommend offering your services to the bigger agencies like local SDL offices, Lionbridge, Moravia etc. that are know the business and understands that competitive rates guarantee quality and is cheaper in the long run.

 

LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:52
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
People who do that... Oct 21, 2015

... are the reason for declining rates paid by agencies to compete with individuals. Then clients expect lower rates from direct translators... and the whole thing is a vicious downward spiral.




Maxi Schwarz wrote:

Your concern seems to be about rates. Who is paying you for your work shouldn't matter. Since the work is the same, your fee should be the same, and you should be the one who sets your fees. Somebody can always try to ask you to lower your rate, but at the end of the day it's still your rate.


 
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