Rates for 'new translators'
Thread poster: Ed Ashley

Ed Ashley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:35
Member (2015)
French to English
+ ...
Feb 23, 2016

I think I can probably divine most people's feelings on this subject (i.e. similar to my own), but would like to ask all the same. For the second time in my freelancing career, I have had a 'new translator' rate proposed to me by a prospective customer (agency), presumably with a view to raising that rate once I am considered a more established supplier. This perplexes me. I may be new to them, but I'm certainly not new to the industry. They should be able to tell this from my CV and, if there is any doubt, from the quality of my work. What are people's thoughts on this?

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Anna Sarah Krämer Fazendeiro
Germany
Local time: 10:35
Member (2011)
English to German
+ ...
No Feb 23, 2016

I would not accept such offers. It is notoriously difficult to raise established rates with agencies, and it doesn't cost them a cent to promise you longterm relationships, higher rates in the future, high volumes in the future, etc. just to forget about you as soon as they have gotten that new end client or finished that complex project.
I might accept to do a sample translation for free, but that will always be the first and last freebie/discount I offer. The same goes for large volume discounts, another agency favourite to lower translator's rates.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:35
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Be wary Feb 23, 2016

Ed Ashley wrote:
What are people's thoughts on this?

It goes without saying that you shouldn't accept a "new" rate.
More worryingly, if they're trying it on like this - in such a transparently obvious fashion - they're probably not a good agency to work with.

Dan


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Ed Ashley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:35
Member (2015)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks both Feb 23, 2016

I have to say, when I was a bit greener I did agree to this with one agency. They ultimately raised my rate by a few pennies -- not much. But the last contact we had, I was badgering them for months to pay me an invoice of no more than £150 which they said was delayed due to cashflow problems. Things must be pretty bad if you can't pay a £150 invoice. They did pay in the end.

Anyway, since that experience, I am indeed wary of any such proposals. It's generally not a good sign, is it?


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:35
Member (2014)
English to German
New rate? Feb 23, 2016

Whatever that may be ... as long as you can negotiate a "new translators rate" at a rate that would match the rate you would charge them either way, then you might be able to raise it in future?

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 10:35
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I've said it before and I'll say it again... Feb 23, 2016

If you deliver a translation that is fit for purpose, then you should be paid the full rate. It has the same value for the client, regardless of whether it was done by someone straight from college or someone with years of experience.

Well qualified new graduates can produce excellent translations, and they spend time perfecting them. They deserve to be paid the full rate. I have proofread translations like that, and there is absolutely no reason for paying them less.

There are better arguments for charging different rates for different types of translation - and beginners may be safest with the more straightforward jobs as they gain experience, but that is another matter.

I find it pays to stand up to agencies. I throw my weight around and give them the benefit of my expertise. Either it frightens them off, in which case I don't miss them, or it leads to a fruitful cooperation, with agencies sending me just the kind of work I am best at, so that in return I can deliver work I feel confident about.

I usually have plenty in my in-tray, too...
If you agree to be treated like the office junior, then at least make it clear that you are an office junior who is working up for promotion, not a permanent fixture!

We all do well to be aware of our limitations, but at the same time, don't let anyone underrate you.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:35
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Absolutely! Feb 23, 2016

Christine Andersen wrote:
If you deliver a translation that is fit for purpose, then you should be paid the full rate. It has the same value for the client, regardless of whether it was done by someone straight from college or someone with years of experience.

Well qualified new graduates can produce excellent translations, and they spend time perfecting them. They deserve to be paid the full rate.

The way a new translator earns less is by spending longer on the translation, making sure it's the best possible quality. A couple of years later, that same translator can be charging exactly the same rate to the client - for an equally good job - while earning loads more. The only reason to offer a lower rate is because you know that the translation won't be up to scratch. And in that case, you should be turning it down!

I'm happy to provide up to 250 words for free, but only if the text is representative of the work they want me to do and if there really is a job on the cards for which they're willing to pay my rate and according to my terms. In other words, I'm not interested in being put in their database and then spammed with inappropriate job offers (although I do get far too many of those). Once a client says they're willing to work with me then the rate doesn't get lowered unless I think there's a good reason for it (as my terms say, "discounts and surcharges may apply").


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Vadim Kadyrov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 11:35
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Once you accept the rate, Feb 24, 2016

this rate will never be changed. Period.

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Ed Ashley  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:35
Member (2015)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Standing your ground Feb 24, 2016

Vadim Kadyrov wrote:

this rate will never be changed. Period.


As I said above, when I was a little 'fresher' to the industry I did once accept a 'new translator' rate which was subsequently raised, so I don't think it's necessarily a lie. But I do think it is a sly money-saving tactic.

Christine Andersen wrote:

I find it pays to stand up to agencies. I throw my weight around and give them the benefit of my expertise.


Yes! This is something I took a while to learn, but I'm pretty frank in my negotiations nowadays! Going back to the case at hand, when I told the client I could not accept his prices he did come back to me and ask if we could strike a balance. So I would definitely advise others to stand their ground. I'm not expecting anything, though, as my standard rate was about two thirds again what he was offering!

Thank you all for your input!


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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 10:35
German to Swedish
+ ...
The future doesn't exist Feb 24, 2016

I would not yield on price to a new agency customer (however, I might agree to a "no questions asked, full refund return policy" on the first job).

Even where promises of vast future rate increases are entirely sincere, they tend to never materialize. PM:s leave or forget, agencies fold or get sold, their customers disappear, the industry changes etc.

Your willingness to accept work should be based on the actual remuneration for the individual job, not on some vague prospect. For a good customer, there will be some flexibility - but you don't know yet if it's a good customer.

[Bearbeitet am 2016-02-24 21:21 GMT]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:35
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I get them all the time Feb 24, 2016

... from agencies I should be rating, seniority-wise.

This is a bit late for weighing in, but when I do have the patience to respond, I explain my philosophy in simple terms.

1. My services are democratic. Granted I have the time and you have the budget, it's a deal.

2. Considering the problems are usually on my end (available time), I make no promises. However, face it -- we're all only given 24 hours in a day. Might as well do something we're good at that's worth doing.



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