"Your rates are too high"
Thread poster: Vincenzo Di Maso

Vincenzo Di Maso  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:50
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
Jan 29

Dear colleagues,

I am feeling really worried about what is happening.
Every year I would like to increase my rates, but this is becoming much harder.
My rate are stuck since 2010 with most of my clients. And it is happening that they are even asking me to do down for specific projects because end clients are cost-conscious. Things are not much better with new clients. Sometimes they can accept good rates but that's quite rare, even in rich countries.

"We w
... See more
Dear colleagues,

I am feeling really worried about what is happening.
Every year I would like to increase my rates, but this is becoming much harder.
My rate are stuck since 2010 with most of my clients. And it is happening that they are even asking me to do down for specific projects because end clients are cost-conscious. Things are not much better with new clients. Sometimes they can accept good rates but that's quite rare, even in rich countries.

"We want to assign this job to you but for this project we cannot pay your rate". I also apply for Proz jobs and most of the times clients prefer cheaper translators.
Italian market is dangerously low. I talk with less experienced colleague and I see that they accept peanut rates. When we talk about my rate they feel amazed "Wow, so high?!". Unfortunately my rates are not so high, especially compared with those applied by colleague who have been in the market for decades. I started to work as a translator 15 years ago.

I can make a living, I am much faster thanks to CAT tools and I feel comfortable with MT post-editing assignments.
The issue is that cost of living is increasing and translators are not managing to keep pace with this. CAT tools are definitely improving turnaround, but we are competing with translators charging 0.04 or 0.05 Euros (or even USD) per word. "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys" no longer applies, as unfortunately many good and qualified translators accepted these rates...

So, I am definitely worried for the future...
Collapse


Valentina Castello
Joy Lewis
Andreea Popescu
Andreas Hild
Colleen Roach, PhD
Gloria Teixeira
Morano El-Kholy
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Tieni duro Vincenzo Jan 29

Vincenzo - instead of worrying, make a stand for professionalism and quality.

Like you, I have not increased my tariff for many years (I think 7). Until 7 years ago inflation was high and everyone expected the price of everything to increase, so it was relatively easy to find acceptance for a tariff increase. But then the inflation slowed down, interest rates became very stable, and tariff increases became difficult to justify. Anyway I had plenty of work.

But now, my
... See more
Vincenzo - instead of worrying, make a stand for professionalism and quality.

Like you, I have not increased my tariff for many years (I think 7). Until 7 years ago inflation was high and everyone expected the price of everything to increase, so it was relatively easy to find acceptance for a tariff increase. But then the inflation slowed down, interest rates became very stable, and tariff increases became difficult to justify. Anyway I had plenty of work.

But now, my overheads are beginning to increase and as new clients come along, I am beginning to apply a higher tariff.

A few days ago I was approached by an agency looking for new translators. I wasted time updating my CV and sending them a lot of information about myself, only to be told that my rate was too high (they were offering a maximum of Euro 0,07). I gave them a lecture about their participation in the race to the bottom that is devaluing our profession, and told them to take a walk.

There is a big change happening in our industry: a division between cheap translations that could basically be done by MT with a bit of tweaking, and high-quality translations that are going to command not lower tariffs but higher tariffs. Decide which side of this change you are going to be on!

In my opinion relying on CAT tools to work faster, and accepting jobs that consist of the arduous task of rewriting a bad MT translation, simply means that you are chasing down the descending payments scale as agencies continue to reduce their charges to their customers. Don't be a part of that because you will become a victim of it; working harder and harder for less and less money. Just visit the websites of the agencies: they're all offering cheaper translations, not better translations. Those agencies are going to die.

Get into the habit of refusing jobs that do not pay the basic tariff you need. Of course you will have less work, but you will also create space for higher quality jobs that pay decently. And since you will be earning more for a smaller volume of work, you'll be in the same place economically - with more time for yourself!

That's the way the world is going now. You have to decide if you are going to play it the agencies' way, or force them to play it your way. They'll disappear for a while, but as soon as they need a REALLY GOOD translation that requires expertise and intelligence, they'll be back. I have two or three agencies like that; they disappear for a while (presumably handing out lots of badly paid jobs to people like yourself...:) but not to me) and then they suddenly come back to me with challenging, interesting jobs that pay me what I expect.

[Edited at 2019-01-29 12:33 GMT]
Collapse


Carolina Finley
mareug
Maja_K
Henriette Saffron
Esther Dodo
Tanami
Michel Virasolvy
 

Andreea Popescu
Romania
Local time: 14:50
English to Romanian
+ ...
The same happens to new struggling translators Jan 29

Hi. I am an emergent translator for the international market. My languages are English, French and Romanian. Btw, 0,06 or 0,07 euro/word are considered "too much" for most clients, even if affluent countries.

gauloise
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 12:50
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
@Vincenzo Jan 29

I translate from English, French, Italian and Spanish into Portuguese and I’ve been noticing a big difference regarding some language pairs: ES-PT and IT-PT. While customers with projects in EN-PT or FR-PT are willing to pay my rates (by the way, my rates are slightly higher than yours according to your profile), the number of clients willing to pay my rates for ES-PT and IT-PT is getting lower each year. Last year, I translated: EN/PT: 307,581; FR/PT: 149,677; ES/PT: 25,524; IT/PT: 9,327. For... See more
I translate from English, French, Italian and Spanish into Portuguese and I’ve been noticing a big difference regarding some language pairs: ES-PT and IT-PT. While customers with projects in EN-PT or FR-PT are willing to pay my rates (by the way, my rates are slightly higher than yours according to your profile), the number of clients willing to pay my rates for ES-PT and IT-PT is getting lower each year. Last year, I translated: EN/PT: 307,581; FR/PT: 149,677; ES/PT: 25,524; IT/PT: 9,327. For my long-standing customers my rates were raised in 2015 and there's no point raising them again for several of them who would very probably stop sending me work, so I intend to continue to serve my existing customer base at current prices. Of course, I have been feeling the pressure to lower my rates from some potential clients: that’s why I now prefer to quote on a per-project basis rather than a per-word basis. As I said before on another thread as long as my existing customer base stays satisfied, everything will be fine…Collapse


 

Gloria Teixeira
Brazil
Local time: 08:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Dear Jan 29

I am a translator since 2012 from English, French, Spanish to Portuguese (BR) my rate is 0.07USD or 0.07EUR, so far only one agency in China after completing the test is who have proposed to pay the value per word of 0 , 25 EUR, I think very low unfortunately I chose to refuse.

 

Maria Pia Giuseppina Nuzzolese  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:50
Member
English to Italian
+ ...
I'm afraid you're right... Jan 29

Vincenzo Di Maso wrote:

"If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys" no longer applies, as unfortunately many good and qualified translators accepted these rates...



I think that's the real problem: translation agencies are provided with somewhat good translations at lower rates, so we actually are damaging our category with our own hands. And, in my opinion, all of this mainly happens because of the mystery that surrounds this subject...I mean, everybody knows how much does a Ferrari cost, but people still buy it, especially those who want to stand out of the crowd in some way. While here I feel some reticence about publicly disclosing rates, and I've always been wondering why...


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
French to English
Markets Jan 29

Andreea Popescu wrote:

Hi. I am an emergent translator for the international market. My languages are English, French and Romanian. Btw, 0,06 or 0,07 euro/word are considered "too much" for most clients, even if affluent countries.


This is quite an interesting discussion as rates is always a biggie and always difficult to compare. Different countries, different percentage due to state funds, different costs of living, different payment practices, etc. The list is endless. But bear this in mind... I started translating professionally in 1994 and the rates many agencies are offering now are the same as they were back in 1994 when I had a university degree, but not the 25 years' experience I now have, not to mention a couple more degrees.

And with all that experience and my degrees, I still don't know the answer.


Kay Denney
Friedrich Reinold
 

Michel Virasolvy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:50
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
Fare et défaire, c'est toujours travailler Jan 30

Giving my two cents on the current "market state", althought probably not complete.

When I switched from amateur to pro translator around 6 years ago, I had already good subtitling experience but no actual business skills and establishing my rates turned into a massive problem because that “your rates are too high” motto was already used throught and throught. I did calculate what I should apply as a bare minimum but agencies (I was not very experienced at finding direct client
... See more
Giving my two cents on the current "market state", althought probably not complete.

When I switched from amateur to pro translator around 6 years ago, I had already good subtitling experience but no actual business skills and establishing my rates turned into a massive problem because that “your rates are too high” motto was already used throught and throught. I did calculate what I should apply as a bare minimum but agencies (I was not very experienced at finding direct clients back then) kept with the bargaining. Oh, for sure agencies really outdid themselves to saturate my schedule with insanely poorly paid jobs and I was so happy to be paid to do what I love, I was so naïve as to think I could raise my rates little by little over the years.

This was the first very big mistake I did. I believed the [censored] lie about being competitive. Take into account that the cost of life in France is very high and you get your first big lesson in business management: you should first set your rates high, and by high I mean very high, before you start any form of negociation with your clients. The marketers and businesspeople you'll be discussing with will always try to at least force you to half your rate before even considering calling upon your services. These people are literally trained to bargain and if they get their way with your company you'll have to find a middle ground that will never benefit your company. I even came accross a number of cases where tests were rigged exclusively to that aim.

Don't be mistaken, I was completely overbooked by work, but once your rate with a client is set, you will find it very hard to raise it no matter the reason. More often than not, even if you do have good relationships with their PMs, the company will have little to no qualm switching to another cheap translator. My suggestion is that if you plan on raising your rates, proceed by step and be prepared to lose a good chunk of your current client portfolio because only by making yourself indispensable to your client can you be sure they won't cut ties on a whim. I'll be very honest: when I raised my rates in 2017, I lost all my clients but two, and when I raised them again in last April, I literally had to start making an entire new client portfolio from scratch. Again (still frustrated).

Another benefit from keeping your rates as high as possible is that you'll sort the wheat from the chaff. Most professionals simply don't want to initate a translation without the absolute certainty of being paid (an incentive to really check the client's ID and solvency) and that's already a deterrent for a number of scammers. Add this to the fact some bottom-scrapping agencies have no understanding of the cost of living in other countries and try to outsource massive jobs at insanely low rates, it's really better to not get involved with them at all and focus on clients who have a little bit more of ethics regarding you and your business.

In IT, another reason for the whole ‘your rates are too high’ motto is the cult/religion over automation. Just like Netflix, many companies are completely ignoring the assets of a language and relying heavily (and blindly) on automation via TMs combined with cheaply paid screening of amateur translations. It's very much taylorism applied to translation: unqualified workers (the public, volunteers) are given tools to make the job easy, and from there the professionals only focus on little tweaks and balance issues.
Collapse


Colleen Roach, PhD
Christel Zipfel
Emily Scott
 

Peter Motte  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 13:50
Member (2009)
English to Dutch
+ ...
High offering Jan 31

Michel Virasolvy wrote:

 you should first set your rates high, and by high I mean very high, before you start any form of negociation with your clients.


Indeed, because the prospect ALWAYS says your price is too high, no matter how low it is.


Colleen Roach, PhD
Maria Pia Giuseppina Nuzzolese
 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:50
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Low rates Feb 1

My way of dealing with agencies who don't want to pay professional rates:
"Unfortunately you want filet mignon for the price of a Big Mac. That said, you would be best served by going to McDonald's and looking for translators there".

My often repeated advice: wean yourself from agencies and go after private clients.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:50
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
But aren't direct clients more demanding? Feb 1

Michael Newton wrote:
My often repeated advice: wean yourself from agencies and go after private clients.

Michael, my advice is generally "whatever works for the person in question". It is certainly possible to make good money working only with agencies. But I have no experience with direct clients.

One slight concern I have about direct clients is that if a freelancer doesn't have the business chops to handle finding, negotiating with, and working with the decent agencies, will they have the necessary skills to deal with direct clients? The consensus seems to be that direct clients require a broader range of skills in terms of managing both the transactions and the relationship.

You already have that business experience, so I would think direct clients hold no fears for you, but what's your take on that?

Regards,
Dan


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
missdutch
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Direct vs agency Feb 1

Dan Lucas wrote:
One slight concern I have about direct clients is that if a freelancer doesn't have the business chops to handle finding, negotiating with, and working with the decent agencies, will they have the necessary skills to deal with direct clients? The consensus seems to be that direct clients require a broader range of skills in terms of managing both the transactions and the relationship.

At the end of the day, though, each of us is just one translator with very finite capacity so there isn't much to manage or negotiate. (I don't negotiate at all. I just give them a price.)

In theory I much prefer the agency model, but in practice I find direct clients easier to deal with. Whether they view you as a glorified secretary or a fellow professional, they are more loyal, more appreciative and never quibble about money.

With the big agencies, you are increasingly just a commodity.


Tom in London
Teresa Borges
Kevin Fulton
 

Gloria Teixeira
Brazil
Local time: 08:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Rates Feb 1

This is a very commented matter today, it is the third forum where translators are arguing, nothing against those who accept low rates, I only think that those who accept the low prices are devaluing the category

Friedrich Reinold
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Carrot and stick: "I dare you to contradict me!" Feb 1

While many sellers (translators) could try to (A) ramble on a rosy outlook, comparing virtual benefits and prepared absurd excuses as "If my rates really were too high I would have had no clients, whereas there're many loyal customers", or (B) tell bogeyman stories about possible losses, the statement "Too high rates!" assumes that a prospect did care to reply anything (including "Too expensive!"), he may* like it, and implies:

1) Can you show me you are a de
... See more
While many sellers (translators) could try to (A) ramble on a rosy outlook, comparing virtual benefits and prepared absurd excuses as "If my rates really were too high I would have had no clients, whereas there're many loyal customers", or (B) tell bogeyman stories about possible losses, the statement "Too high rates!" assumes that a prospect did care to reply anything (including "Too expensive!"), he may* like it, and implies:

1) Can you show me you are a decent specialist?
2) Do you really know your biz and it's worth it?
3) What kind of person--one who can stand to the prices or a crybaby twisted on around a little finger?
(=="Not enough info!")


Arguably, well-grounded claims, which require sensible feedback, considering so many good linguists (not to mention bottom-feeders) are but poor businesspersons. Unfortunately, most non-businessmen will (1) ignore it, (2) take it as an insult, or (3) low the rates, indeed.


When I was a new hand at this customer solution biz, my first then-prospect direct client also stated "Your rates seem rather high", I felt a little disappointed and lightheartedly replied "Oh, thank you--I'm doing my best!"

Cheers

[Edited at 2019-02-01 15:10 GMT]
Collapse


Chris S
missdutch
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

"Your rates are too high"

Advanced search







Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »
CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search