Rates too low for Russian translators not based in Russia
Thread poster: Maia Nikitina

Maia Nikitina
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:19
Member (2017)
English to Russian
+ ...
May 4

Hello everyone,

I think this appies to translators from countries other than Russia too where the cost of living and salaries are lower than in the UK. I am based in the UK and have found that the rates offered to native Russian translators tend to be too low for me to live on, because they are based on the rates usually offered to Russian translators who live in Russia. I am not sure if this applies only to the agencies I have spoken to, or whether it is the case in general, but any ideas of how to get around this issue would be appreciated.


 

Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:19
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Focus on other USPs May 4

Yes, it's what happens when markets are international and clients can choose from the whole world.

My advice as someone who also works with Russian/English is to focus on where your clients are based. Don't bother with clients based in Russia because they will almost always prefer to "go local" and are in a better position to judge the quality of the work (so if they shop around they'll undoubtedly manage to find someone they trust who charges a local rate that will be too competitive for you). Clients based in Europe are more likely to have the right budget for you, so focus on building trust with them.

Based on the prices you have listed on your ProZ profile, I would also perhaps consider something more bold: raise your rates. This strategy will be a slow grower, but worth it in the end if you can stick it out and wait patiently for your business to grow. A higher rate will send the message: "I'm skilled, I'm a specialist (in medical and pharmaceutical translation) and I'm high quality that you can trust". I find clients in Europe looking for Russian translation often have to rely on things like price to "feel out" whether the translation will be any good because they don't necessarily have the skills or in-house competency to judge a Russian translation themselves.

Focus on USPs that work to your advantage. You can't compete on price (nor should you!) So compete on experience, areas of specialisation (like your medical and pharmaceutical expertise), your good client relationship management, your friendliness, your willingness to go the extra mile and be highly responsive, etc. etc.

Eventually you will see that there's enough work to go around, even with other translators offering rates you can't compete with.

Good luckicon_smile.gif


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:19
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@Maia May 4

You’re right the same happens in Portugal. I lived in Belgium for 30 years and when in 2015 I decided to return to my home country fortunately I had established a good client base as rates applied in Portugal are much lower than the ones I charge... So, I keep my customers close to my heart and welcome new ones!

 

Natalia Peshkova
Germany
Local time: 18:19
Member (May 2018)
Russian to English
+ ...
Totally true May 4

Maia,

You are totally right. However, I think the problem is not just the location. The human factor as well. No idea why but thousands of Russian-speaking translators are ready to accept less-paid jobs instead of giving themselves more value. If they had, agencies and clients would have no other choice but agree to higher rates.
Let us hope the situation will change positively and be die-hard, as advised aboveicon_wink.gif.


 

Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 02:19
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
I agree with Angela May 5

Hi Maia,

It might come as a surprise but good translators in our pair charge more or less the same all over the world. I can assure you that the really good ones have high rates even when they live in Russia or Ukraine. At the end of the day it is all about selling yourself (that said, your translation skills come first).


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 11:19
German to English
+ ...
Rates set by.... May 6

Unless you are seeking employment, if you are working freelance then the rates are set by you. So they can't be too low unless you make them low.icon_wink.gif

 

Alena Trainova  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 02:19
English to Russian
pretty much the same situation here May 7

I also lived in the UK for quite a while but I was lucky as I had been employed in-house for a number of years. Just before moving to Australia I decided to go freelance and I found approaching various and even local UK agencies very difficult. They simply were not interested in getting another Russian translator on their books unless I was prepared to lower my rates to the ridiculous level.

Being a member of professional associations, such as ITI and CIoL helped me find some very good direct clients and I intend on keeping my ITI membership even now that I am living in Australia. These organisations have regional and subject-related networks and may be of interest to you. You can get to know other translators in your area who may share some tips with you and offer some support.

I am still struggling to establish a viable freelance business but I now focus on attracting direct clients (which is so much easier said than done). I am not giving up just yet but I am getting another degree as a back-up plan.

I wish you luck and perseverance. There is work out there, it is just a matter of finding clients who require your specialisms and who appreciate your work.






[Edited at 2018-05-07 22:59 GMT]


 

Maia Nikitina
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:19
Member (2017)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! May 8

Thanks everyone for your valuable advice and encouragement! I have a couple of clients who pay well but I want to expand the business.

Alena, thanks for sharing your experience with professional organisations and regional networks - this is something I didn't realise even though I'm a member of CIoL so will definitely find out more about it.

Angela, that's a great point about the prices. Thanks for checking my profile and bringing this to my attention.

I've seen so many jobs for very low paid work (and so many bids on them) that I was beginning to doubt my gut feeling that was telling me not to bother with them. Now I can direct my energy into finding the right clients.icon_smile.gif


 

Alexander Onishko  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:19
Member (2007)
Russian to English
+ ...
show your advantage over the competitors and demand higher rates May 11

Maia Nikitina wrote:

Hello everyone,

I think this appies to translators from countries other than Russia too where the cost of living and salaries are lower than in the UK. I am based in the UK and have found that the rates offered to native Russian translators tend to be too low for me to live on, because they are based on the rates usually offered to Russian translators who live in Russia. I am not sure if this applies only to the agencies I have spoken to, or whether it is the case in general, but any ideas of how to get around this issue would be appreciated.



And, for example, how much (or how little) do they offer (per word)? UK-based agencies?

Or what would be you target rate? Maybe as percentage to those ones offered (In any case, please ignore this question if it is too personalicon_smile.gif )

I believe that maybe it would be a good idea for you to concentrate on Russian to English translations? In this case, as a person ho has lived for quite long in the UK you would have a competitive advantage on the translators based in Russia. You would be able to provide a solid argument that you offer better quality and for this reason you demand higher rates.

Kind Regards,
your fellow colleague Alex also suffering from the dumping rates

[Edited at 2018-05-15 10:50 GMT]


 


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