Increase rates?
Thread poster: Anne-Elisabeth Schweitzer

Anne-Elisabeth Schweitzer  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 12:52
Member (2013)
Greek to French
+ ...
Jan 5, 2016

Dear all,

I have been working for the last two years (English to French) with a very good client in terms of communication, projects (quite easy and regular projects such as general press releases, simple legal reports etc) and payments (on time). This client represents 25-30% of my monthly income.

But the projects are often immediate which means that I have to be available as soon as I get the project.
The rates I had given then are very low (0.04 EUR/source word) and I intended to discuss a raise?

Do you increase your rates with your clients?

Thanks and Happy new year

Anne


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:52
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
at 0,04 I'd dump them immediately Jan 5, 2016

and spend a little time in finding a better client, even at slave rates between 0,06 and 0,08 you're still far better off than this client who's managed to pull the wool over your eyes somehow... 0,04 !? for press releases and legal stuff - are you kidding me???

---
Ed


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:52
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Haven't increased rates in a while Jan 5, 2016

I haven't increased increased my rates in quite a while, but I have to say that the rates I have with most customers are quite OK and sustainable, and I have increased my productivity with better training and tools over the years.

I think that 4 cents very low indeed for your language pair and increasing your rates is a goal you should have in mind. However, it is very possible that you find a lot of resistance from the customer. I'd say that it is worth giving it a try, but email is not too effective in these cases: call them and discuss the matter with them with solid reasons why you should now raise your rate instead of using a higher rate from the beginning of the relationship.

Unfortunately, very often the only solution is to increase your marketing efforts and gradually replace low-pay customers with customers that pay a higher rate, instead of trying to convince your current customers to pay more, which always proves to be very difficult.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:52
Member (2008)
Italian to English
WHAT ??? Jan 5, 2016

Anne-Elisabeth Schweitzer wrote:

The rates I had given then are very low (0.04 EUR/source word)


Nobody in any European country should be working for such a low rate. Even double that would be low.

Once you agree to work for low rates you'll be inundated with enormous volumes of too much work, which you won't be able to complete to anything like a high standard. And having established a low rate, you'll find it extremely difficult to argue for an increase.

The question would be: what has changed, about the service you provide, that would justify you increasing your low rate?

[Edited at 2016-01-05 08:10 GMT]


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 17:52
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Professional prestige Jan 5, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Nobody in any European country should be working for such a low rate. Even double that would be low.

Once you agree to work for low rates you'll be inundated with enormous volumes of too much work, which you won't be able to complete to anything like a high standard. And having established a low rate, you'll find it extremely difficult to argue for an increase.



Discussion on rates in cyberspace is complicate since living costs varies among countries. I set my regular rate and urgent/holiday rate to suit my preference. The broad-minded clients accept such rate settings.
I want only to insist that clients respect our professionalism i.e. treat us humanely. My last job's client demanded urgent requests on New Year Days without logical reasons. I perceive these as relatively inconsiderate.

Soonthon L.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:52
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Low, but... Jan 5, 2016

what do we know about the situation in Greece? You don't say whether your clients are local or international, I take it they are local. For somebody in the UK or in Germany, it is easy to say "increase" or "dump them", but what is the market in Greece? In CZ, I have local clients that pay less than that (and I am in the process of dumping them). I was once contacted by a Greek agency and I refused, as the rate proposed was low (I don't remember the exact figure), so probably it's your market. You should first find better paying clients - i.e., probably in other countries, through ProZ. Only when you have enough business at better rates can you think about dumping anybody.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:52
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
My two cents Jan 5, 2016

I agree with others that the easiest way to raise rates is to look for new clients willing to pay those rates then, when the old client is less important to you, you can simply state that you are raising your rate. Of course, you can give "excuses" if you want, you can even suggest measures whereby they could have your services for a little less, for example by adding 24 hours to the turnaround of each job. But I wouldn't actually consider discussing it, as in going to them, cap in hand, suggesting that you would like to... Remember, you're a partner in a business deal, not an underling. Your regular baker wouldn't discuss the increase in the price of a loaf of bread with you.

But of course there is no guarantee that they will pay. They may well look around for, and find, a cheaper alternative. In my experience, they may well come back after a while, once they've had ample time to assess the quality of the cheaper alternative, but that can't be guaranteed. And losing 30% of your income overnight would be a little hard to deal with, I'm sure.

If you really need to take some action now with this client (and I would say you do), then I would suggest applying a surcharge to selected jobs. Perhapy you'll still be happy to provide a very short translation the same day, but for a longer one there will now be a surcharge of, say, 25%. Explain that this is necessary because you are very busy with other clients nowadays, and dealing with this job urgently will mean extending the deadlines for other clients, or working through lunch or late into the evening.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you won't continue working for €0.04 per word. I imagine the cost of living in Greece may be quite low, but you don't need to depend on Greek clients if they won't pay higher rates - certainly not for EN>FR work. I do the opposite pair in Spain and I certainly don't work for the sweatshop rates some say are normal here, as my clients around the world, and even my Spanish clients, pay my normal €0.12pw/€30ph rates.


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Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:52
Dutch to English
+ ...
be realistic Jan 5, 2016

Although 0.04 is pretty low, it's what a lot of translators ask/get these days. It is not realistic to expect 0.12 per word unless you have direct clients or want to work 1 day a week. Considering the work/risk involved, it's not worth more than 0.08 from an agency in the former case anyway.

I suggest you write to the agency and explain that you are also a 'market' with supply/demand, and that you feel it necessary to revise your prices accordingly, but hope that they will appreciate that you still offer value for money.

Then delete this thread... it is public after all, and your agency may end up reading it!


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:52
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agencies do pay .12 and more.... Jan 6, 2016

and you only need 1/3 the work to earn the same amount of money....

Why work 30 days a month for .04 when you can work 10 days a month for .12 ????

By the way, direct clients in the U.S. pay (or at least used to pay) 0.20 to 0.30 per word..... Unfortunately many freelancers have elected to work for direct clients at the same rates they charge agencies, causing a downward spiral in rates.

Richard Purdom wrote:

Although 0.04 is pretty low, it's what a lot of translators ask/get these days. It is not realistic to expect 0.12 per word unless you have direct clients or want to work 1 day a week. Considering the work/risk involved, it's not worth more than 0.08 from an agency in the former case anyway.

I suggest you write to the agency and explain that you are also a 'market' with supply/demand, and that you feel it necessary to revise your prices accordingly, but hope that they will appreciate that you still offer value for money.

Then delete this thread... it is public after all, and your agency may end up reading it!


[Edited at 2016-01-06 03:14 GMT]


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:52
Member (2014)
English to German
Differences Jan 6, 2016

As has been discussed here many times there are local differences as well as different agencies and direct clients, what makes if difficult to determine what to charge.

For my very first translation job almost 3 years ago I was paid $0.03 from a direct client who told me with quite some confidence that any more would be too much, he had high standards, was located in the UK and, as I found out later, charges GBP 100 per hour for his own time!

I have moved on since, but still, some agencies are very happy to accept my rates and others do not and we cannot come to any agreement ... and I move on.


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:52
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Hear, hear! Jan 6, 2016

[quote]Jeff Whittaker wrote:

Why work 30 days a month for .04 when you can work 10 days a month for .12 ????

By the way, direct clients in the U.S. pay (or at least used to pay) 0.20 to 0.30 per word..... Unfortunately many freelancers have elected to work for direct clients at the same rates they charge agencies, causing a downward spiral in rates.

[quote]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:52
Member (2008)
Italian to English
More importantly.... Jan 6, 2016

More importantly....being paid a fair rate means you can spend time on the translation, and do a really good job. It isn't about the money; it's about the quality that is made possible by the money.

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Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 11:52
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
One day a week is just fine! Jan 6, 2016

Richard Purdom wrote:
unless you want to work 1 day a week.


Make it three days a week, maybe - otherwise your skills might deteriorate. It is where I find myself after having worked my way up from 0.01 USD jobs on different freelancer platforms with overnight and weekend projects (I was young and needed the money - had no idea what I should charge - and the quality of my very first translations probably corresponded with that rate ). It took a couple of years to become what I now confidently call a 'professional translator'.

I reach my financial goals through a combination of rates that are still relatively low (0.08 EUR average) and skills/technology to speed up my work (namely specialization and DNS). And I search continuously for new, better paying clients. The process is easy: I regularly send out applications for projects and answer interesting requests from potential clients promptly. If a potential new client cannot contribute to a higher profit on my side I will not consider working for him. I accept new clients if they pay more or offer projects that fit my specialization.

Recently, I seem to be hitting a wall, having more difficulties to find higher paying clients - that is why I decided to deepen my specialization by getting an engineering degree. Should I ever find that I have to accept slave conditions and peanut rates, I would give up translation. In that case even a return to growing my own vegetables might be a better solution.

In summary: While working for low rates and under bad conditions might be okay to get started, it shouldn't be a permanent situation. The continous search for better rates and better conditions must be part of our daily efforts if we want to live comfortably and be paid according to our qualifications.

And considering direct clients vs. agencies: That depends on each person's temperament. Personally, I prefer the more standardized communication I have with agencies - and I don't mind the permanent haggling and harassing, just ignoring what I don't like, while I find the increased responsibility and the communication skills needed to deal with direct clients rather intimidating - to each one's own.

[Edited at 2016-01-06 10:47 GMT]


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:52
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Spot on Jan 6, 2016

Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro wrote:
And considering direct clients vs. agencies: That depends on each person's temperament. Personally, I prefer the more standardized communication I have with agencies - and I don't mind the permanent haggling and harassing, just ignoring what I don't like, while I find the increased responsibility and the communication skills needed to deal with direct clients rather intimidating - to each one's own.

An excellent post ending with this nice summary.

Dan


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