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Asking advice on rate negotiations with agency 0,04 EUR/word
Thread poster: Karin Ervin

Karin Ervin
Estonia
Local time: 22:49
English to Estonian
+ ...
Apr 29, 2019

Hello,

Hope some experienced translators can give me their insight on if the rate I am being offered by agency is fair. I am pretty new to professional translations industry and freelancing to make some extra cash.

I got an offer to translate English->Estonian, EU related documents. Should be a continuous project as I understood. I checked the industry average which seemed to be 0,07 EUR - 0,10 EUR per word (source language). The rates I sent to the agency were 0,09 pe
... See more
Hello,

Hope some experienced translators can give me their insight on if the rate I am being offered by agency is fair. I am pretty new to professional translations industry and freelancing to make some extra cash.

I got an offer to translate English->Estonian, EU related documents. Should be a continuous project as I understood. I checked the industry average which seemed to be 0,07 EUR - 0,10 EUR per word (source language). The rates I sent to the agency were 0,09 per source word. They told its too expensive for them and offered 0,04 EUR instead which itself is below the average.

This would mean approximately 10 EUR per page. What is your opinion, is 0,04 EUR (English-Estonian) reasonable rate or they are trying to be cheap? I’d like to negotiate a bit higher payment but would be good to know if I’m on the right track. PS, the agency is based in Latvia.


Thanks in advance,
Karin


[Edited at 2019-04-29 13:24 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-04-29 13:38 GMT]
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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 04:49
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Don't bother Apr 29, 2019

You can negotiate a 10%, 20% difference. You can't negotiate a 100% difference.

Karin Ervin
Sheila Wilson
Angus Stewart
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Gloria Teixeira
Christine Andersen
Ann Marie Bohan
 

Karin Ervin
Estonia
Local time: 22:49
English to Estonian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice! Apr 29, 2019

Lincoln Hui wrote:

You can negotiate a 10%, 20% difference. You can't negotiate a 100% difference.



Hi,

Thanks a lot for the suggestion!

Kind regards,
Karin


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Karin Apr 29, 2019

Karin Ervin wrote:
I got an offer to translate English->Estonian, EU related documents. Should be a continuous project as I understood.


Even if it is a continuous project, you can attempt to change your rate at any time, and you can stop working on the "continuous project" at any time (as long as you've delivered whatever they've asked you to translate up until then). Also, the fact that something is a "continuous project" should not affect your rate.

I checked the industry average which seemed to be 0,07 EUR - 0,10 EUR per word. ... They told its too expensive for them and offered 0,04 EUR instead which itself is below the average. This would mean approximately 10 EUR per page.


And don't forget, you are unlikely to be able to convince them to raise it in future. Still, I would recommend that you accept this rate and work for them for a while, to gain some experience.


Karin Ervin
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:49
Member
English to Italian
Calculations Apr 29, 2019

I hope there are some EN>ET translators who can answer you specifically about that rate in Estonia.

That said, more in general, you could also do the math by yourself. Take the number of words you can comfortably translate per hour, on average, multiply that by 0.04 and ask yourself whether that's an acceptable level of income (per hour), also taking into consideration: taxes, social contributions, absence of the typical benefits of salaried work, irregularity/unpredictability of fr
... See more
I hope there are some EN>ET translators who can answer you specifically about that rate in Estonia.

That said, more in general, you could also do the math by yourself. Take the number of words you can comfortably translate per hour, on average, multiply that by 0.04 and ask yourself whether that's an acceptable level of income (per hour), also taking into consideration: taxes, social contributions, absence of the typical benefits of salaried work, irregularity/unpredictability of freelance work, etc.
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Karin Ervin
Philippe Etienne
Yvonne Gallagher
 

Karin Ervin
Estonia
Local time: 22:49
English to Estonian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice! Apr 29, 2019

Samuel Murray wrote:

Karin Ervin wrote:
I got an offer to translate English->Estonian, EU related documents. Should be a continuous project as I understood.


Even if it is a continuous project, you can attempt to change your rate at any time, and you can stop working on the "continuous project" at any time (as long as you've delivered whatever they've asked you to translate up until then). Also, the fact that something is a "continuous project" should not affect your rate.

I checked the industry average which seemed to be 0,07 EUR - 0,10 EUR per word. ... They told its too expensive for them and offered 0,04 EUR instead which itself is below the average. This would mean approximately 10 EUR per page.


And don't forget, you are unlikely to be able to convince them to raise it in future. Still, I would recommend that you accept this rate and work for them for a while, to gain some experience.


Thanks for the advice! Yes, lack of experience is now what puts me to the weak spot in negotiations and experience would be good. Good to know that the length of the project shouldn’t affect the price, I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks!


 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:49
German to English
+ ...
continuous work Apr 29, 2019

If a client wants to have your services on a continual basis, then they should be willing to pay extra for the privilege. They are not doing you a favour - they need you, and not the other way around. This is the point where the relation goes the wrong way around, and it happens far too often.

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Karin Ervin
Sheila Wilson
Melanie Meyer
Vera Schoen
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:49
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Just to gain experience Apr 29, 2019

Karin Ervin wrote:

... The rates I sent to the agency were 0,09 per source word. They told its too expensive for them and offered 0,04 EUR instead which itself is below the average.

This would mean approximately 10 EUR per page. What is your opinion, is 0,04 EUR (English-Estonian) reasonable rate or they are trying to be cheap? I’d like to negotiate a bit higher payment but would be good to know if I’m on the right track. PS, the agency is based in Latvia.


0,04 € is too low. If they think that 0,09€ is too much, then keep in mind that they are probably charging their client at least 0,15 € per word, if not more.

It seems that they are looking for cheap translations only without any respect for the translator. If you are new in the business, you could accept that rate for a little while, then raise it. They won't agree to a higher rate, but by then you might have other customers who value the work you do. This way it won't hurt you to stop working with them.


Kevin Fulton
Karin Ervin
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:49
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Karin Apr 29, 2019

Though usually there isn’t much relation between the price paid by the EU to the agency and the price paid by the agency to the translator, the fact is that in what regards the EU the procedure is rather transparent and the list of the contractors and the price range paid is public. This is the last one I kept (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/omnibus_15_2015.pdf).... See more
Though usually there isn’t much relation between the price paid by the EU to the agency and the price paid by the agency to the translator, the fact is that in what regards the EU the procedure is rather transparent and the list of the contractors and the price range paid is public. This is the last one I kept (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/omnibus_15_2015.pdf). You could easily find out how much the agency is receiving…Collapse


Yolanda Broad
Nuno Couto
Karin Ervin
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:49
French to English
Rates Apr 30, 2019

Karin Ervin wrote:

Thanks for the advice! Yes, lack of experience is now what puts me to the weak spot in negotiations and experience would be good. Good to know that the length of the project shouldn’t affect the price, I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks!


In favour of accepting the offer:
- you will get experience
- it may be an acceptable hourly rate for you (if you can do enough words and make sufficient money after deducting the costs of running your business)

Against accepting the offer:
- this is below standard rates
- if the agency sees you accept to work for 0,04€/word, he has no reason to accept to pay you more
- as you are new, you will work more slowly so you might not be able to do the amount of work you need to make money
- paradox: indeed, precisely because the rate is low, you may find yourself having to work fast to make it profitable: this is good for the agency but not good for you.

The two points in favour may be more important than the four points against. It's up to you to balance them out and decide.

I see some large agencies in France offering very low rates, even for experienced translators (I have 25 years experience), particularly when the work is for the European Union. Rates are close to rates I was getting when I started out more than 20 years ago. There are agencies that pay good rates, pay on time and are pleasant to work with too.

if you think some work is better than no work, bear in mind that the good jobs can also arrive when you have just agreed to do a big volume at a cheap rate. It is not easy to decide.

EDIT: An additional note and something you need to know for this type of contract.
Agencies compete to get the contracts with European institutions and they are likely to be a regular source of income for the agency. However, competition often means that rates will be fairly low to get the deal. If the agency is not getting a good deal, the freelancers working on these projects will not get a good deal either. European structures are heavy in terms of administration and processes so these agencies need to have solid finances to be able to pay their translators when the agency has not been paid. So not only is it likely you will be expected to work for low rates, the agency is likely to want to push payment deadlines to the legal maximum. It would not be unusual to expect to be paid two months after the month in which you submitted the invoice for the work you did. In these conditions, if you do a lot of work at the start of the month, send your invoice at the end of the month and then wait 2 months to be paid, the time between the moment you do the work and get paid for it can be very long indeed. You need to be able to support that. If you can't, either don't do it, or don't rely on this type of work alone. If you do, if the agency decides to stop working with you, you will be back to the starting point in looking for other clients and also have to wait a couple of months before the final payment comes in. it can put you in a dangerous position of dependency - and for low rates - at a time when you are starting out. So make sure you avoid dependency.


[Edited at 2019-04-30 10:52 GMT]


Kevin Fulton
Karin Ervin
 

KateKaminski
Local time: 20:49
Member (2012)
German to English
I would stay firm Apr 30, 2019

I never accepted such low rates, even when I was starting out. When I was a beginner, I earned less because my translation work took me longer - but I was still producing good quality translations. If you view yourself as a competent, professional translator, only accept professional rates. You may only translate 500 words a day at first, but make sure your work is top rate. Don't head straight for the bottom feeders and end up with a high workload for little pay.

There are good age
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I never accepted such low rates, even when I was starting out. When I was a beginner, I earned less because my translation work took me longer - but I was still producing good quality translations. If you view yourself as a competent, professional translator, only accept professional rates. You may only translate 500 words a day at first, but make sure your work is top rate. Don't head straight for the bottom feeders and end up with a high workload for little pay.

There are good agencies around who appreciate quality and will pay accordingly. If I were you, I would keep looking rather than settle for second-best. And tell this 0.04 EUR/word agency what your lowest acceptable rate is and then walk away.
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Karin Ervin
Yvonne Gallagher
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Katharina Palt
Davide Leone
 

Karin Ervin
Estonia
Local time: 22:49
English to Estonian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you everyone for your time to give advice! Apr 30, 2019

Hello everyone,

Thanks a lot for the great advice! I am really grateful for the community here, wonderful.

I am glad I took some time to consider your feedback. Told the agency that from the business perspective, I understand that 0,09 EUR is too high for their company to make a decent profit. 0,04 from the other side is not profitable nor motivating for me. Told them my minimum rate to be 0,07, take it or leave it. Let's see if they can afford this....
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Hello everyone,

Thanks a lot for the great advice! I am really grateful for the community here, wonderful.

I am glad I took some time to consider your feedback. Told the agency that from the business perspective, I understand that 0,09 EUR is too high for their company to make a decent profit. 0,04 from the other side is not profitable nor motivating for me. Told them my minimum rate to be 0,07, take it or leave it. Let's see if they can afford this.

Thanks again everyone for advice! You saved me from a headache of working a lot and for less than a minimum.

Wishing all of you lot's of success in the translation business! Good karma.

Kind Regards,
Karin
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Karin Ervin
Estonia
Local time: 22:49
English to Estonian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice! Apr 30, 2019

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

I hope there are some EN>ET translators who can answer you specifically about that rate in Estonia.

That said, more in general, you could also do the math by yourself. Take the number of words you can comfortably translate per hour, on average, multiply that by 0.04 and ask yourself whether that's an acceptable level of income (per hour), also taking into consideration: taxes, social contributions, absence of the typical benefits of salaried work, irregularity/unpredictability of freelance work, etc.


Very valid points, thanks a lot for the advice! Will take into accunt all you mentioned, taxes etc. and the fact it is not a stable income. Thanks again!


 

Karin Ervin
Estonia
Local time: 22:49
English to Estonian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice! Apr 30, 2019

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

If a client wants to have your services on a continual basis, then they should be willing to pay extra for the privilege. They are not doing you a favour - they need you, and not the other way around. This is the point where the relation goes the wrong way around, and it happens far too often.



Thanks a lot for the advice, completely agree. The agency was mentioning that they can offer job on a regular basis if my rate is 0,04- I guess just a negotiations technique. I am not doing translations full time and have primary income besides freelancing, which makes me less dependednt I guess. Thanks for the advice!


 

Karin Ervin
Estonia
Local time: 22:49
English to Estonian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks a lot Teresa! Apr 30, 2019

Teresa Borges wrote:

Though usually there isn’t much relation between the price paid by the EU to the agency and the price paid by the agency to the translator, the fact is that in what regards the EU the procedure is rather transparent and the list of the contractors and the price range paid is public. This is the last one I kept (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/omnibus_15_2015.pdf). You could easily find out how much the agency is receiving…


That is very helpful, didn't even know there would be public information about it. The link had a problem opening but I will look into it and check.

Thanks a lot!


 
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