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Relation between volume of work and rate
Thread poster: Jocelin Meunier

Jocelin Meunier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:53
English to French
Jul 19, 2019

Hello everyone,

I have recently been offered to work on a big project (or so it seems anyway) for a rate of 0.03 USD with mentioned right after that there will be "a big volume of words".
It is not the first time that I see this as an excuse to pay translators less, but I was wondering how other professionals felt about that. To me it's like proposing to get paid less for doing overtime, but since I am seeing this here and there, is it accepted? Is it considered ok uunder cert
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Hello everyone,

I have recently been offered to work on a big project (or so it seems anyway) for a rate of 0.03 USD with mentioned right after that there will be "a big volume of words".
It is not the first time that I see this as an excuse to pay translators less, but I was wondering how other professionals felt about that. To me it's like proposing to get paid less for doing overtime, but since I am seeing this here and there, is it accepted? Is it considered ok uunder certain conditions (like a real rate) or am I just being super dismissive?

Looking forward to see what you think.
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Mikhael Doba
Marcos Kaltenbaher
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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 06:53
Member (2016)
English to German
Volume discounts make not much sense for a freelancer Jul 19, 2019

If we assume for a minute that this mysterious future "big volume of words" is indeed real and not just a fairy tale, it still makes not much sense to offer any kind of volume discount when you are working as a freelancer. You cannot extend your working capacity infinitely, therefore you cannot calculate like other businesses where more volume would indeed change the price calculation. Other businesses can benefit from synergies, outsourcing, automation, size effects and such when dealing with h... See more
If we assume for a minute that this mysterious future "big volume of words" is indeed real and not just a fairy tale, it still makes not much sense to offer any kind of volume discount when you are working as a freelancer. You cannot extend your working capacity infinitely, therefore you cannot calculate like other businesses where more volume would indeed change the price calculation. Other businesses can benefit from synergies, outsourcing, automation, size effects and such when dealing with higher volumes, so higher volumes can mean higher profits and part of these profits can be offered to the customer as discount. But for a freelance translator, most of these effects simply do not exist. You cannot sell more than your own work and time. Therefore you should always strive to get the highest hourly rate possible.

Of course, minor discounts may sometimes be in order for bigger projects, for example a 10% discount of your standard rate, when the client is a long time customer and reliable payer and you wish to maintain and foster a good client relationship. When you get a bigger project, you have some advantages, you don't need to do so much marketing for a time, you can get more familiar with the subject matter and maybe work faster, and all that. But you still need to get a sustainable, professional rate.

Accepting lousy rates from a first-time client on the vague promise of bigger volumes in the future is wrong in multiple ways. What you can do is offer your standard rate and at the same time indicate that AFTER the first 100k of words are done and paid for, you might be prepared to renegotiate for a slight discount for subsequent projects. Just as a marketing gimmick.
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Li-Hsiang Hsu
Thomas T. Frost
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Li-Hsiang Hsu  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:53
Member (2014)
French to Chinese
+ ...
Agree with Kay-Viktor Stegemann Jul 19, 2019

I receive quite often offers for really big projects which I should work on for several weeks or even one or two or even several months, but I don’t accept any discount for the reason of “a big volume” project, especially for a rate of 0.03 USD that looks ridiculously low.

My reason is, just as Kay-Viktor Stegemann rightly pointed out above, “(v)olume discounts make not much sense for a freelancer” because “(y)ou cannot extend your working capacity infinitely,” especi
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I receive quite often offers for really big projects which I should work on for several weeks or even one or two or even several months, but I don’t accept any discount for the reason of “a big volume” project, especially for a rate of 0.03 USD that looks ridiculously low.

My reason is, just as Kay-Viktor Stegemann rightly pointed out above, “(v)olume discounts make not much sense for a freelancer” because “(y)ou cannot extend your working capacity infinitely,” especially when my schedule is filled up with orders, I’d rather choose to work on many small but better paid works to maintain my productivity in terms of hourly income, better quality of work life and better life quality. I won’t have myself bothered by this kind of “discounted voluminous work.”

For me, this kind of request for discount for the reason of “big volume” projects is very similar to that for the reason of “fuzzy matching” with CAT tools. It is just excuses that your client invented to cost down from their freelance service providers, without “big volume” or “fuzzy matching” being a real productivity-increasing factor for freelancers.
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Jocelin Meunier
Tina Vonhof
KateKaminski
IanDhu
Marco Belcastro Bara
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:53
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Volume vs. rate Jul 20, 2019

Regardless of how big the promised (not yet guaranteed) volume might be, offering 0.03 USD is only saying that they want the cheapest labor possible. Now, 0.03 USD per character (western languages only) comes closer to reality. And sometimes free time and one's well-being is worth more than money.

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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:53
Member (2018)
French to English
. Jul 20, 2019

I tell clients that if I accept that job as described, it would mean turning down other, better paid work from my direct clients, so either they match my top rate to make sure I don't lose out, or they pay their usual rate with me and give me a deadline that means I can fit in work from my top-paying clients, or they go elsewhere.

I was asked to do this lately, for an agency who'd just negotiated a big deal with a major lingerie manufacturer. Lingerie being one of my speciality subj
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I tell clients that if I accept that job as described, it would mean turning down other, better paid work from my direct clients, so either they match my top rate to make sure I don't lose out, or they pay their usual rate with me and give me a deadline that means I can fit in work from my top-paying clients, or they go elsewhere.

I was asked to do this lately, for an agency who'd just negotiated a big deal with a major lingerie manufacturer. Lingerie being one of my speciality subjects. Given that I had previously translated press releases for this manufacturer via another agency, I knew full well that they had recently relocalised their sweatshops to Tunisia, to halve production costs, yet they hadn't then halved the price of their garments. So I didn't really see why I should then cut my rate for them, I don't live in Tunisia after all.
(no disrespect meant to Tunisian translators, I'm simply referring to the fact that labour is cheaper there)
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Thayenga
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Li-Hsiang Hsu
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Jocelin Meunier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:53
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Yeah Jul 20, 2019

Li-Hsiang Hsu wrote:
I don’t accept any discount for the reason of “a big volume” project, especially for a rate of 0.03 USD that looks ridiculously low.


Even though I haven't landed a job in a while, I still couldn't accept that one. Rates like those are insulting. And not very logical as well. They always want native speakers, which means in this case that the translator will most likely live in France, and yet they propose rates that don't even allow to break the poverty line.

That being said, so far it feels like this kind of "big volume" excuse isn't well accepted, at least among professionals, that's reassuring.


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Li-Hsiang Hsu
Teresa Borges
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Armine Abelyan
Armenia
Local time: 09:53
Member (2017)
English to Armenian
+ ...
Big volumes and discounts Jul 20, 2019

I have had another case. The client suggested me not only 0.03 USD per word but as he suggested as well 15 % reduction as we have had in our website such offer in case the customer is new, though we have notified up to 15 %.

When I rejected the customer offer, of course, I have lost a big project.

Better to loose than work in an unfair and ridiculous way.


IanDhu
Marco Belcastro Bara
 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:53
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
It is logical for a client to ask for volume discounts Jul 20, 2019

The rationale is that you will need less time in project management. If you want to compare a job that pays $10, 000 with 20 jobs, each of which pays $500, the difference in project management time will be substantial.

Also, your will be less competitive if you are not willing to give volume discounts, because larger jobs do attract more translators

[Edited at 2019-07-20 18:08 GMT]


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:53
Member (2012)
French to English
Imagine... Jul 20, 2019

... going to the supermarket and asking for a discount because you are buying a huge quantity of groceries.

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Gareth Callagy
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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:53
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
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If you want to buy stationary for $100 each time at a convenience store in the street corner, Jul 20, 2019

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

... going to the supermarket and asking for a discount because you are buying a huge quantity of groceries.


The owner would give you a discount. Large chain stores are a different story. I don't think the store manager is authorized to give any discount.

I remember I had an immigration consultant notarize 60 certificates of translation accuracy for $2 each. After I paid her, she gave me $20 back. I hadn't even thought of asking for a discount.


Enrique Bjarne Strand Ferrer
 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:53
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Big volume Jul 21, 2019

"There will be a big volume of work". Yes, and the moon is made of green cheese.

This is similar to "give us your best rate based on long-term cooperation".


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writeaway
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Marco Belcastro Bara
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 13:53
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Ever went to a supermarket? Jul 21, 2019

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

... going to the supermarket and asking for a discount because you are buying a huge quantity of groceries.

Every single supermarket I have ever seen offers volume discounts one way or another, whether it's on specific items, a specific group of items, or straight up on the actual amount you purchase.


 

Enrique Bjarne Strand Ferrer
Norway
Local time: 06:53
Member (2017)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Any business Jul 21, 2019

jyuan_us wrote:

...
I remember I had an immigration consultant notarize 60 certificates of translation accuracy for $2 each. After I paid her, she gave me $20 back. I hadn't even thought of asking for a discount.


Discounts for volume are given in any kind of business. Reasons are that overhead is low, one can work more efficiently, only one invoice, one secures a steady flow of work (and income) etc.

Off course, if one can fill the days with higher earning activities, there is no reason for allocating time to discounted rates (unless the other benefits are appealing).



[Edited at 2019-07-21 14:27 GMT]


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:53
Member (2012)
French to English
. Jul 21, 2019

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

... going to the supermarket and asking for a discount because you are buying a huge quantity of groceries.

Every single supermarket I have ever seen offers volume discounts one way or another, whether it's on specific items, a specific group of items, or straight up on the actual amount you purchase.


Yes, the supermarket offers discounts, on its own terms and ensuring that it still makes huge profits. The customer cannot haggle with the supermarket to get the items at a a cheaper rate, or at least not where I live.


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:53
Member (2012)
French to English
Hello Jul 21, 2019

[quote]enrfer wrote:

jyuan_us wrote:

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

...
I remember I had an immigration consultant notarize 60 certificates of translation accuracy for $2 each. After I paid her, she gave me $20 back. I hadn't even thought of asking for a discount.


Discounts for volume are given in any kind of business. Reasons are that overhead is low, one can work more efficiently, only one invoice, one secures a steady flow of work (and income) etc.

Off course, if one can fill the days with higher earning activities, there is no reason for allocating time to discounted rates (unless the other benefits are appealing).



Can you sort out this quote, please. You have attributed it to me, when it was written by someone else.


 
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