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Your budget is...what?!?
Thread poster: Gregory Lassale

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:00
Member (2019)
English to French
Oct 2, 2018

I was just contacted for a short project (about 100 words) and was offered a whole 4 (four!) dollars for it by the agency. On a per-word basis, it is less than half of my regular rate (which is on the low end of the standard range in my language pair), and I have a flat fee much higher than $4$ for documents under 300 words anyway. I just recently launched my translation service and my wife keeps telling me that maybe accepting those bottom-feeder rates is how you start out and pay your dues... ... See more
I was just contacted for a short project (about 100 words) and was offered a whole 4 (four!) dollars for it by the agency. On a per-word basis, it is less than half of my regular rate (which is on the low end of the standard range in my language pair), and I have a flat fee much higher than $4$ for documents under 300 words anyway. I just recently launched my translation service and my wife keeps telling me that maybe accepting those bottom-feeder rates is how you start out and pay your dues... But to me it just screams:

- I am desperate for work.
- I am cheaper than cheap.
- My work is mediocre.
- I am setting a precedent that clients will leverage to keep offering me the same ridiculous rates or marginally higher ones.

I have a reply email drafted saying thanks but no thanks unless you can offer decent compensation, but wanted to check with seasoned professionals who have already gone through the growing pains of starting out in the industry.

Thanks,

Gregory


[Edited at 2018-10-02 17:25 GMT]
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Max Chernov
IanDhu
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:00
Member
English to Italian
Tags Oct 2, 2018

Gregory Lassale wrote:

I was just contacted for a short project (


Well, yeah, that's really short...

Seriously, you should remove the "minus" sign, or everything after it gets parsed as HTML and not shown as plain text.

As for being offered $.04 per word, well, I can assure you you'll see much worse than that...

My advice is to say no, as you were planning to do, and look elsewhere. There are good (or at least decent) clients out there (even in my and your language pairs)... the problem is exploiters seem to be the vast majority.

[Edited at 2018-10-02 17:16 GMT]


IanDhu
José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Don't set that precedent Oct 2, 2018

Gregory Lassale wrote:
I just recently launched my translation service and my wife keeps telling me that maybe accepting those bottom-feeder rates is how you start out and pay your dues... But to me it just screams:

- I am desperate for work.
- I am cheaper than cheap.
- My work is mediocre.
- I am setting a precedent that clients will leverage to keep offering me the same ridiculous rates or marginally higher ones.

If you need to get some work - any work - for experience, try the crowd-sourcing sites such as the TED ones or the Wikis. You won't get paid but you'll get plenty of feedback from others. You'll just have to filter it as some will be from those who have no idea . For commercial texts, you should be paid an average rate, as you'll hopefully produce at least an average translation. Inexperienced translators earn less per hour of their time than experienced ones through being slower and taking more time checking and polishing their translation. It's absolutely correct that you set a minimum fee and a minimum rate per word. This will give you an indication of what the minimum should be: https://www.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates

If you're looking for work here on ProZ.com then you'll find that paying for membership AND being active on KudoZ etc will bring your profile to the attention of potential clients with higher budgets. At the moment, you're a ripe target for the bottom-feeders, I'm afraid.


José Henrique Lamensdorf
Chris Foster
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Telling people from biz Oct 2, 2018

Once I also got a surprise rush job to translate a letter with about a hundred words for $50 via AmericanExpress... I thought it was a joke, yet as far as it took me a cup of coffee to translate the letter, I sent it back, noting it was pro bono. Soon I received a Thank-You letter and happily forgot about it.

Two months passed and a friend of mine called me asking why THE very important man wanted me to work in their international project. I just heard about that person, so I replie
... See more
Once I also got a surprise rush job to translate a letter with about a hundred words for $50 via AmericanExpress... I thought it was a joke, yet as far as it took me a cup of coffee to translate the letter, I sent it back, noting it was pro bono. Soon I received a Thank-You letter and happily forgot about it.

Two months passed and a friend of mine called me asking why THE very important man wanted me to work in their international project. I just heard about that person, so I replied we weren't familiar and had no biz. However, the project was real and I was pre-approved "from above"--with a very lucrative contract; just sign it. I was still in doubt and answered I would think it over. Soon I got a call from abroad and when a gentleman after introduction cited a line from the letter, I had a brain wave.

This is not another a-la Cinderella story, but worthy exp with good contacts

[Edited at 2018-10-02 18:58 GMT]
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Kevin Fulton
Andy Watkinson
Vladimir Filipenko
José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:00
French to English
Compensation Oct 2, 2018

Gregory Lassale wrote:

I have a reply email drafted saying thanks but no thanks unless you can offer decent compensation,


[/quote]

It sounds like the would-be client has not read the right line in the dictionary definition of the term "compensation" which can also be payment made to offset loss. And what a loss this would be. If you're worth paying at all, then they should pay you correctly. It is already clear in your mind: if a client pays you this little once, why should they pay more next time?


 

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:00
Member (2019)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Exactly Oct 2, 2018

It's not like I'm totally opposed to negotiating fees either, but like everything in life that has to be within reason. $0.04 - which again is less than half of my rate - to me, is most definitely not.

I think setting a (bad) precedent is the most dangerous thing here. In professional - just like in personal - interactions, you teach people how to treat you. Once you've said yes to that type of rate, they "got ya" so to speak, and negotiating fair compensation, which is over twice
... See more
It's not like I'm totally opposed to negotiating fees either, but like everything in life that has to be within reason. $0.04 - which again is less than half of my rate - to me, is most definitely not.

I think setting a (bad) precedent is the most dangerous thing here. In professional - just like in personal - interactions, you teach people how to treat you. Once you've said yes to that type of rate, they "got ya" so to speak, and negotiating fair compensation, which is over twice as much, will be mission impossible. Too much of gap to bridge It's like negotiating any sale. People start lower than they're willing to pay and higher than you're willing to sell. At $0.04 per word, even if I can squeeze a little more out of them, it still won't be near what I think I'm worth.

Also - to clarify one thing - yes, I am starting out as a freelancer, however that's not to say my work is mediocre. I think my skills are pretty decent. No, I'm not going to be as fast, efficient or as technically savvy as a seasoned pro, but I'm not totally new to the craft either. Even though my professional life has taken a (long) detour, I received a fair amount of translation training in college. Granted, it was a long time ago, but my point here is that I'm not JUST bilingual and starting without ANY experience at all. For whatever that's worth. But I understand that lack of experience is lack of experience and that (many) agencies will lean on that as much as they can to try and get you to work for pennies on the dollar.
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Valérie Ourset
José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Greg Oct 2, 2018

Gregory Lassale wrote:
I have a reply email drafted saying thanks but no thanks unless you can offer decent compensation...


It's unprofessional to insult a client (even if you feel insulted yourself).


Colleen Roach, PhD
123Translations
Edward Potter
 

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:00
Member (2019)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
I don't think I'm insulting anyone Oct 2, 2018

I don't think it's insulting to say "thank you for the offer, but unfortunately at these rates, I will respectfully decline - here are my current rates" - which is how my response is drafted. Haven't sent it yet. Of course, it WOULD be insulting to say "You kidding me? Stop wasting my time. I'm charging X - take it or leave it".

It's how you say it, I suppose.

[Edited at 2018-10-02 20:10 GMT]


Santa525
Yolanda Broad
Deborah do Carmo
Julien ROUWENS
Max Chernov
Joe France
Cetacea
 

Daniel Frisano
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:00
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
I am absolutely with you Oct 3, 2018

Posting a couple of forum messages for a total of 200+ words rather that translating ~100 makes great sense to me.

I totally support this kind of logic.


Max Chernov
 

Gregory Lassale  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:00
Member (2019)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Daniel Oct 3, 2018

Your sneering is not particularly appreciated or constructive. Believe it or not, there might be more value in making $0 for writing 200 words but find out whether I am steering my ship in the right direction than in translating 100 for 4 bucks. That's ok, I think I can skip my morning coffee tomorrow to offset the missed income.

Thank you for keeping close tabs on my word count all the same. You can now add another 85 if you're still keeping track.


Mirko Mainardi
Cetacea
Barbara Turchetto
Natasha Ziada
Kevin Clayton, PhD
Jo Macdonald
writeaway
 

Daniel Frisano
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:00
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
@Gregory Oct 3, 2018

No, really, I DO support it. After all, if everyone refused any job under, say, $0.10 per word, we'd all be happier, right?

Max Chernov
toasty
Susanne Gläsel
José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:00
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Business expenses Oct 3, 2018

Surely the agency is charging its client a lot more to cover its own business expenses, and rightfully so. To offer you peanuts is a sign of no respect for your work and displays a tunnel vision in regards to your business expenses.

It's true that some agencies offer $ 0.01 per word and want the ready-to-go translation "yesterday". However, there is no reason whatsoever to support this bottom-feeder mentality. Whether you have a lot of experience or are just starting is irrelevant f
... See more
Surely the agency is charging its client a lot more to cover its own business expenses, and rightfully so. To offer you peanuts is a sign of no respect for your work and displays a tunnel vision in regards to your business expenses.

It's true that some agencies offer $ 0.01 per word and want the ready-to-go translation "yesterday". However, there is no reason whatsoever to support this bottom-feeder mentality. Whether you have a lot of experience or are just starting is irrelevant for as long as you can deliver a flawless final product. After all, you intend to work for your living, not for living on crumbs.
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Max Chernov
Valérie Ourset
Melanie Meyer
José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

Julien ROUWENS  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:00
Member (2018)
English to French


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


What if ?... Oct 3, 2018

I am totally with you in this "fight" against lower than the lowest rates.

But, what if this agency wants to test your capacities and later offer a more decent rate ? You never now, but how long is it to translate 100 words and see where it takes you ?

You can still have three lines on your bill. One with the proposed rate, one with the difference from your standard rate and the proposed one, and the last one with the commercial offer equal to the line 2 and making it f
... See more
I am totally with you in this "fight" against lower than the lowest rates.

But, what if this agency wants to test your capacities and later offer a more decent rate ? You never now, but how long is it to translate 100 words and see where it takes you ?

You can still have three lines on your bill. One with the proposed rate, one with the difference from your standard rate and the proposed one, and the last one with the commercial offer equal to the line 2 and making it free.

Now the question is that you will take more time to set up your bill than do the work...

Hope it helps, somehow.

Julien
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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:00
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
If you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras Oct 3, 2018

Hey Gregory,

Some people here are saying, "What if they come back with a better rate?" and "I once did this job for free and then like magic a lucrative job dropped from the sky..." But the reality is that most of these "clients" approaching you with a very low rate are never going to return with better offers later. And the clients who would do that are also clients who would absolutely listen if you replied saying that your minimum fee is X and at any rate you couldn't do this job
... See more
Hey Gregory,

Some people here are saying, "What if they come back with a better rate?" and "I once did this job for free and then like magic a lucrative job dropped from the sky..." But the reality is that most of these "clients" approaching you with a very low rate are never going to return with better offers later. And the clients who would do that are also clients who would absolutely listen if you replied saying that your minimum fee is X and at any rate you couldn't do this job for any less than X.

My suggestion is to research every potential client who contacts you, especially in these early days. You will soon get a feel for who is serious and who is a time-waster. And as you interact with more and more clients, you'll even be able to tell this sometimes just from how the request itself is phrased.

Some clients who ask for crazy rates are simply not frequent translation buyers and do not realise just how much our work costs. But many many others, especially the ones contacting you through ProZ and asking for crazy rates, are just chancers who either don't pay their bills anyway, don't ever pay reasonable rates, or just will never have the budget to afford you because of where they are based. Those ones are obviously not a good fit for you -- you have your own bills to pay!

Anyway, good luck, and don't get too defensive on these forums when you ask questions. You get all sorts on the internet
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Vera Schoen
Christophe Delaunay
Melanie Meyer
Robert Forstag
Yvonne Gallagher
Chris Foster
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:00
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Testing Oct 3, 2018

Julien ROUWENS wrote:

I am totally with you in this "fight" against lower than the lowest rates.

But, what if this agency wants to test your capacities and later offer a more decent rate ? You never now, but how long is it to translate 100 words and see where it takes you ?

Julien


If this was the case, then they should show the courtesy to tell the translator. I've done test translations - which were explicitly asked for as such - at a lower rate, but also informed the prospective client that this lower rate is a one-time "bonus".


Julien ROUWENS
 
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