How do I avoid undercutting myself?
Thread poster: Chase Faucheux

Chase Faucheux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:40
German to English
Apr 17, 2019

Hi, this is my first time posting, so I hope I'm posting this to the right place.

I've been in the field for some time now, but have only been translating as very significant chunk of my income for a few years. I've been lucky enough to find regular work with 3-4 agencies that pay typical agency rates for my language pairs.

However, work coming from my normal agencies has been quite slow lately, and for the past two or three months, I've only barely earned my minimum mo
... See more
Hi, this is my first time posting, so I hope I'm posting this to the right place.

I've been in the field for some time now, but have only been translating as very significant chunk of my income for a few years. I've been lucky enough to find regular work with 3-4 agencies that pay typical agency rates for my language pairs.

However, work coming from my normal agencies has been quite slow lately, and for the past two or three months, I've only barely earned my minimum monthly target (when times are good, I'm able to double it). So now it's back to the slog of finding new sources of work.

The thing is, this usually means quoting prices to clients on platforms like PROZ. And that is where I am completely lost. I know that this very site lists the "minimum" and "standard" rate for DE>EN as EUR .08 to EUR .11 (same for USD, but I usually prefer payment in EUR since the dollar is often weaker and because 99% of the work comes from Europe):

https://search.proz.com/employers/rates?source_lang=deu&target_lang=eng&disc_spec_id=¤cy=eur&submit=Submit

It seems to me though that the "auction" nature of these jobs tends to encourage underselling one's own work. I know the work I deliver is high-quality, and I am obsessive researcher of terminology and cultural minutiae. I believe that for a translation to be successful, it MUST read like it was never written in anything other than the target language (except in certain literary cases where a certain sense of the original language may be deliberately preserved). The agencies I work for have been very pleased with the quality of my work, and I hope I'm not coming off like a jerk if I say I'm convinced the product I deliver is very good.

So how do I A) actually find jobs and clients (not just post-editing garbled nonsense) -- is it merely a matter of applying to postings here and finding agencies online? and B) quote rates that clients are willing to pay while not underselling myself and lowering the market rate for other translators as well?

Thanks!

P.S. There's also C), how do I actually get feedback from clients/agencies to put in my profile? Is it just a matter of asking?
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Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 06:40
English to Italian
+ ...
Don't trust listed rates - unless it's a direct end client Apr 17, 2019

Standard and minimum rates, as self-reported by users, are not reliable.

The listed minimum is the actual standard, and the listed standard is nothing but wishful thinking.

All this applies to work you get from agencies. The listed rates may apply to work from direct clients, but we all know that makes up a small percentage of the aggregate volume, despite funny characters swearing otherwise.


Elena Aclasto
Chase Faucheux
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Chase Apr 18, 2019

Chase Faucheux wrote:
It seems to me though that the "auction" nature of these jobs tends to encourage underselling one's own work.


It's not really accurate to refer to ProZ.com's jobs posting system as having an "auction" nature, because the bids are always closed. However, it is true that whenever people know that others will be quoting on the same job, they tend to lower their quote in an attempt to gain an advantage over colleagues who normally charge a rate similar to theirs. I'm not convinced that translators bidding on jobs lower their rates by very much, though. Some agencies accept the first bid they receive, regardless of rate. Others accept the first bid that they can afford. Others wait a while and evaluate translators on several aspects.

By the way, the rates listed on the page you refer to have nothing to do with the rates translators offer when they bid on jobs. Translators are completely free to bid higher or lower than the rates mentioned on their profile pages.

How do I actually find jobs and clients [via ProZ.com] -- is it merely a matter of applying to postings here and finding agencies online?


1. Use the Blue Board to make a list of agencies, and then visit their web sites one by one, and apply to them individually.
2. Make sure your profile page looks impressive.
3. Try to get KudoZ points so that your profile comes up higher in the search results.
4. Optional: apply for the posted jobs (if only to introduce yourself to those agencies, even if your rate is too high for them for that particular job).

How do I quote rates that clients are willing to pay while not underselling myself and lowering the market rate for other translators as well?


Don't worry about other translators. Eventually you'll discover what rate is a rate that is generally acceptable to agencies in the market that you're aiming for.

How do I actually get feedback from clients/agencies to put in my profile? Is it just a matter of asking?


Yes. Simply ask them. Or you can use the form, here: https://www.proz.com/translator-feedback/request

Daniel Frisano wrote:
The listed minimum is the actual standard, and the listed standard is nothing but wishful thinking.


Different translators use this feature differently. Some translators believe that their profile page should mention higher rates than they're actually willing to work for (e.g. to create a more professional impression), while others believe their profile page should mention lower rates (e.g. to make it more likely that a client would contact them).

[Edited at 2019-04-18 18:01 GMT]


Morano El-Kholy
 

Chase Faucheux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:40
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Apr 18, 2019

Samuel, thanks a lot. I guess I do need to figure out how to work with the Blueboard stuff. Also, how do I get KudoZ? The problem is that I've never done a job directly via Proz.com -- it's always responding to agencies advertising that they need freelancers, and from then on it's a matter of them emailing me or posting jobs on their own portal. I've gotten in touch with a few very agencies I've been very happy to work with in this way (and vice-versa), but it does seem to circumvent the whole s... See more
Samuel, thanks a lot. I guess I do need to figure out how to work with the Blueboard stuff. Also, how do I get KudoZ? The problem is that I've never done a job directly via Proz.com -- it's always responding to agencies advertising that they need freelancers, and from then on it's a matter of them emailing me or posting jobs on their own portal. I've gotten in touch with a few very agencies I've been very happy to work with in this way (and vice-versa), but it does seem to circumvent the whole setup of this website.

Also, how worth it is it to become a paying member? I figure since I've already bit the bullet and purchased SDL's primary software, I might as well shell out more money if it's worthwhile. Translation is not my *primary* income (thank God -- I live in the US where things like medical insurance are tied to one's job), but it is the most intellectually stimulating work I've ever done, and sometimes I make more money doing this than my actual official job. So I would like to build on what I have in order to establish myself more as a professional.
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
But that's how ProZ.com works! Apr 18, 2019

Chase Faucheux wrote:
I've never done a job directly via Proz.com -- it's always responding to agencies advertising that they need freelancers, and from then on it's a matter of them emailing me or posting jobs on their own portal.

It's a market-place where professional translators can meet potential clients. ProZ.com staff don't interfere in the actual job, thank goodness!

The Blue Board displays info on experiences with outsourcers. KudoZ points are a way to improve visibility in the freelancer directory and gain the respect of fellow translators. Paying members get to quote more often and more quickly on jobs, rank higher in the directory, and various et ceteras.


 

Chase Faucheux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:40
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
But where do KudoZ points come from? Apr 18, 2019

I mean, how does one get them? Do they just come from clients who were satisfied with my work? And are they only awarded based on jobs done via this platform (no agency I've worked with assigns jobs via this platform)? Sorry for my ignorance!

 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Kudoz Apr 18, 2019

Chase Faucheux wrote:

I mean, how does one get them? Do they just come from clients who were satisfied with my work? And are they only awarded based on jobs done via this platform (no agency I've worked with assigns jobs via this platform)? Sorry for my ignorance!


You get kudoz points if you answer questions posted by other translators in your language combination(s) and your answer is chosen. The asker may need a translation or sometimes an explanation of a term or phrase. Due to time zone differences most answers have already received responses and all you can do is agree or disagree or offer another option. Nevertheless it is a valuable exercise because you can often learn something from it and you get to know your colleagues. Finally, as Samuel explained, having kudoz points puts your profile higher up in the search results.


 

Chase Faucheux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:40
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 18, 2019

Thanks! You do Dutch to English in Canada, I see, so you're probably at the same time-zone disadvantage I am. But that does sound like it could be helpful, and I'm guessing quite a bit more professional than the leo.de forums, which are filled with non-native speakers suggesting cringe-worthy translations for difficult terms/collocations.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
WWA? Apr 18, 2019

Chase Faucheux wrote:
Do they just come from clients who were satisfied with my work? And are they only awarded based on jobs done via this platform (no agency I've worked with assigns jobs via this platform)? Sorry for my ignorance!

You seem to be referring to client feedback, known here as WWA - Willing to Work Again. Any client can leave it, however you got to work with them, although those with a profile here count for more. You can request a WWA entry or leave it up to the client.


Chase Faucheux
 

Gloria Teixeira
Brazil
Local time: 02:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Kudoz Apr 19, 2019

You can have more information about Kudoz at this link : https://www.proz.com/faq/70204

Chase Faucheux
 


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