North American Fees and Business Trends
Thread poster: José J. Martínez

José J. Martínez  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:09
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sep 5, 2016

I started translating professionally in the language pair EN/SP in 2007 for a large NY translation outfit. Most of the translations were medical or scientific in nature. At the time, the prices offered by that firm were USD $ 0.06 per source word. After some time I got other clients and little by little raised my price to 0.10. I got to a point where I was making a lot of money per month. But then clients started offering less and less. Now one is happy to get offers of 0.06 again. What is happening in the industry? I am very concerned because I live in the US and Mexico and feel that sooner or later prices will get into the $ 0.04 level, and that does not compensate for the time and effort devoted to good quality translations.

Some of my friends tell me that it is because of the advent of the machine translation programs that can easily be found on the Internet. Also, they tell me that maybe there are too many translators coming on board.

I have also noticed that if one does not have a specific CAT, one is out of the game, giving less value to the final translation and more to the specific CAT requisite. I would like to know opinions of what is happening or if it is only happening to me.

I would like to be making 0.10 per source word again be it to SP or to EN. Please advise.

Also, the jobs keep appearing in Proz.com, and if one fulfills the client requisites, usually one is notified by email, however after quoting with a desire to do the job, one seldom hears from the client saying "thanks but no thanks". I feel there should be a moral obligation for the clients to at least say thank you, or know the price or reason the job was awarded to someone else. Is that too much to ask?


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Octavio Armendariz  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:09
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
Supply and demand drives rates lower Sep 6, 2016

Hi,

I believe the trend to lower rates is the result of:

1- Supply and demand,
2 - Globalization,
3- Focus on price vs. quality
4- Greed by translation companies.

1 and 2 - The supply of translators may very well exceed the demand for translators, thus driving rates lower. In addition, globalization means increased competition from other Spanish-speaking countries, notably Argentina and Chile, made possible as a result of the internet, also driving rates lower.

3 and 4 - Outsourcers, may be focusing more on price vs. quality. Since there is a wide variety of rates, they may simply think that all translations are alike and they use the price criteria to choose vendors. I believe, we as translators, should educate outsourcers to make them understand that higher rates reflect higher quality. Translation companies, in particular that NY outfit that you mention, play translators against each other to secure the lowest rates. These are companies that care more about short-term gains (a quick profit) than developing long-term relationships with preferred vendors that will deliver high-quality translations in a timely manner.

CAT tools dictating the choice of vendor: Maybe, you should try mastering more than 1 CAT tool. I have 3 of the most popular ones, but I find myself choosing Trados most of the time. That NY outfit that you mentioned had a preference for WordFast Pro so I have that CAT tool as well. I have recently acquired MemoQ to increase my eligibility for projects using that tool. By the way, some CAT tools can work with the formats of other CAT tools.

Moral obligation to reply to vendors: Project Managers are notoriously known for not giving reasons for not choosing you. I don't know if it's because they are in a hurry and have no time for feedback or, if it is outright rudeness. By that as it may, I think it's good business to give the reasons your bid was rejected. However, the pace of business nowadays, makes it more something we need to get used to.

Overall, all these factors combined drive rates lower in all language pairs.

Octavio Armendariz


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 15:09
English to Croatian
+ ...
5 - Unregulated market? Sep 6, 2016

Octavio Armendariz wrote:

Hi,

I believe the trend to lower rates is the result of:

1- Supply and demand,
2 - Globalization,
3- Focus on price vs. quality
4- Greed by translation companies.

1 and 2 - The supply of translators may very well exceed the demand for translators, thus driving rates lower. In addition, globalization means increased competition from other Spanish-speaking countries, notably Argentina and Chile, made possible as a result of the internet, also driving rates lower.

3 and 4 - Outsourcers, may be focusing more on price vs. quality. Since there is a wide variety of rates, they may simply think that all translations are alike and they use the price criteria to choose vendors. I believe, we as translators, should educate outsourcers to make them understand that higher rates reflect higher quality. Translation companies, in particular that NY outfit that you mention, play translators against each other to secure the lowest rates. These are companies that care more about short-term gains (a quick profit) than developing long-term relationships with preferred vendors that will deliver high-quality translations in a timely manner.

CAT tools dictating the choice of vendor: Maybe, you should try mastering more than 1 CAT tool. I have 3 of the most popular ones, but I find myself choosing Trados most of the time. That NY outfit that you mentioned had a preference for WordFast Pro so I have that CAT tool as well. I have recently acquired MemoQ to increase my eligibility for projects using that tool. By the way, some CAT tools can work with the formats of other CAT tools.

Moral obligation to reply to vendors: Project Managers are notoriously known for not giving reasons for not choosing you. I don't know if it's because they are in a hurry and have no time for feedback or, if it is outright rudeness. By that as it may, I think it's good business to give the reasons your bid was rejected. However, the pace of business nowadays, makes it more something we need to get used to.

Overall, all these factors combined drive rates lower in all language pairs.

Octavio Armendariz




It's an unregulated market without any selection standards. What does it mean in practice?

Well, it means that a person can simply decide that would like to "translate" and earn some money on a side. They didn't invest in their education. They didn't invest in membership (s). They didn't invest in anything. Will little ROI at 0.04 per word concern them much? No, it won't. Especially not if they already have some "main" job. If they invested a zero, any little earning will be good enough.

Supply exceeds demand usually for languages of countries with poor economy. In developed countries "translator" is not really a popular job.

[Edited at 2016-09-06 14:06 GMT]


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:09
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
No change Sep 6, 2016

José J. Martínez wrote:
I would like to be making 0.10 per source word again be it to SP or to EN. Please advise.

José, while I sympathise with your situation, you asked a very similar question back in February of this year. I thought that thread made some sensible and helpful suggestions. Have you acted on those suggestions? Because if you don't do something different, your situation is unlikely to change.

Long before you asked that question, people also offered you what I thought was good advice about CAT tools in a thread you initiated last year. Did you consider the suggestions made on that thread?

Incidentally, I don't see why you would limit yourself to North America. First, however, you need to market yourself more effectively. Lots of advice on this in these very forums - and it's all free!

Regards
Dan


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Herein lies your problem Sep 6, 2016

José J. Martínez wrote:
But then clients started offering less and less.

Since when did you, as a customer, ever offer a price for anything? You might when you're haggling at a market stall, but not otherwise. A professional can certainly negotiate, but that process has to be kicked off by the SUPPLIER setting the initial price.

What is happening in the industry?

Well, on the supplier side it's simply that: suppliers are letting themselves be kicked around. And not surprisingly the clients are only too willing to take advantage of their elevated position.

I would like to be making 0.10 per source word again be it to SP or to EN. Please advise.

I suggest you leave the "industry" and join the "profession". In other words, offer quality translations for appropriate rates to clients who will value that quality. There's a demand, but it takes a bit more effort to find and fulfil it.


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José J. Martínez  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:09
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Positive replies Sep 6, 2016

I thank all that have given positive replies. Negative replies sound to me like someone wanting to spank a child, I take them for their true value and not for the content. Positive replies possibly will enlighten my path to increase business.

Considering that, yes, I still translate, I still translate some but not like I used to. Many jobs were in the > 5,000-word range, but now, they are no more, max 1,000-word jobs. Also, the price has dwindled to levels where I prefer to extend my afternoon jogs, and not work. I do feel that translators (term them "professionals" or not) are available, some very good, some not so good; some whose value is highly regarded while others will get a job ONLY if they accept very low prices and fuzzy breakdown counts. The industry has changed, and if specialty sites like these keep statistics on almost everything of their translator members, maybe the "clients" should also be required to disclose the reasons why one translator was given a job while the other did not.

Thank you all for your positive advice.


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