I need help figuring out how much I should negotiate with this one important client.
Thread poster: Camila Barbosa

Camila Barbosa
Brazil
Local time: 08:41
Member (2019)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Dec 29, 2019

Hello, fellow colleagues! Any business savvy translators out there that can help me out?

Since 2018 I have been providing translation services to a company that works as an advisory for people who want to apply for visas. They used to outsource all PTBR>EN translation to an agency, but figured out it'd be easier to have a freelancer do this sort of work.

It was right when I started my career, so it was a huge opportunity for me. I am paid a flat rate per month but there
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Hello, fellow colleagues! Any business savvy translators out there that can help me out?

Since 2018 I have been providing translation services to a company that works as an advisory for people who want to apply for visas. They used to outsource all PTBR>EN translation to an agency, but figured out it'd be easier to have a freelancer do this sort of work.

It was right when I started my career, so it was a huge opportunity for me. I am paid a flat rate per month but there's no employment link.

From 18/Dec until 27/Dec I translated a total of 231 pages for them and this end of year I received a figure from them. Apparently I delivered 4500 translations (and that's in units, not pages!).

I thinking about negotiating with them, so instead of being paid a fixed monthly amount, I will be paid per page. What would be a reasonable price per page to negotiate?

Edit: less is more, the original post was all over the place. I am so sorry for that.

[Edited at 2019-12-29 16:45 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-12-29 16:51 GMT]
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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 11:41
Member (2016)
English to German
Are you really a freelancer? Dec 29, 2019

Getting paid a flat sum for a variable amount of work is rather untypical for a freelancer. In most cases, freelancers are paid by project, and are free to accept or decline projects based on their availability. Are you free to work for other clients as well? The whole thing sounds more like a permanent employment than a freelancer agreement.

I think you should negotiate for a per-project rate in any case, and you should pursue projects with other clients too. Alternatively, you cou
... See more
Getting paid a flat sum for a variable amount of work is rather untypical for a freelancer. In most cases, freelancers are paid by project, and are free to accept or decline projects based on their availability. Are you free to work for other clients as well? The whole thing sounds more like a permanent employment than a freelancer agreement.

I think you should negotiate for a per-project rate in any case, and you should pursue projects with other clients too. Alternatively, you could offer them to employ you on a permanent basis with all social security benefits that might apply.
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Teresa Borges
Camila Barbosa
Tina Vonhof
Morano El-Kholy
Dan Lucas
Vanda Nissen
 

Camila Barbosa
Brazil
Local time: 08:41
Member (2019)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am in a grey area Dec 29, 2019

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

Getting paid a flat sum for a variable amount of work is rather untypical for a freelancer. In most cases, freelancers are paid by project, and are free to accept or decline projects based on their availability. Are you free to work for other clients as well? The whole thing sounds more like a permanent employment than a freelancer agreement.

I think you should negotiate for a per-project rate in any case, and you should pursue projects with other clients too. Alternatively, you could offer them to employ you on a permanent basis with all social security benefits that might apply.



See, I don't receive any sort of social security benefits, I am free to search other clients as well (there's no exclusivity agreement) and I work from home (meaning I am paying for electricity, internet, softwares, etc).

I came to the conclusion that changing it to a per-project rate after I looked more into it, but I am uncertain on how much it should be.


 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 11:41
Member (2016)
English to German
This is called price calculation Dec 29, 2019

Camila Barbosa wrote:
I came to the conclusion that changing it to a per-project rate after I looked more into it, but I am uncertain on how much it should be.


When you are working as a freelancer, you should have figured out what kind of hourly rate you need or want to achieve, in order to cover your expenses, have a good income, and be competitive in your market. And since you have done a lot of these projects already, you should have an idea how many pages or projects of this kind you can do in an hour. When you divide your target hourly rate by the number of pages you can do in an hour, you get your target page price you should at least ask for. Add some breathing and negotiating space and you have a number that you could offer your client.

The price your client charges themselves to the passengers is not really a point. If they are able to sell your work for twice what you are charging them, good for them, but no problem for you. It might give you an idea how much negotiating is possible with them, but you are not "entitled" to a certain rate just because they are good at selling your work. Or could you do this yourself, and do the passenger advising like they do?


Camila Barbosa
Teresa Borges
 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 03:41
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Per project? Dec 29, 2019

Do you mean a fixed price per project? That would be an option if these projects are all more or less alike or if you can calculate the average length of these projects and the time it takes to complete them (for example over the past 6 or 12 months).

Your current arrangement with this client is not ideal; it looks like it does not pay you what your work is worth. First, you need to take into account whether the client could readily find someone else or whether they need you - the
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Do you mean a fixed price per project? That would be an option if these projects are all more or less alike or if you can calculate the average length of these projects and the time it takes to complete them (for example over the past 6 or 12 months).

Your current arrangement with this client is not ideal; it looks like it does not pay you what your work is worth. First, you need to take into account whether the client could readily find someone else or whether they need you - the latter would put you in a better bargaining position. Once you have figured out what would be a fair price, present the client with a clear and reasonable proposal but be prepared to negotiate.
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Camila Barbosa
 

Camila Barbosa
Brazil
Local time: 08:41
Member (2019)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Fair rates Dec 29, 2019

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

The price your client charges themselves to the passengers is not really a point. If they are able to sell your work for twice what you are charging them, good for them, but no problem for you. It might give you an idea how much negotiating is possible with them, but you are not "entitled" to a certain rate just because they are good at selling your work. Or could you do this yourself, and do the passenger advising like they do?


You're absolutely right. I only took it into account because I don't want to catch myself charging an amount that's not competitive or would affect their business.

Tina Vonhof wrote:
Your current arrangement with this client is not ideal; it looks like it does not pay you what your work is worth. First, you need to take into account whether the client could readily find someone else or whether they need you - the latter would put you in a better bargaining position. Once you have figured out what would be a fair price, present the client with a clear and reasonable proposal but be prepared to negotiate.


Yeah, that's what I have been feeling, that it's not ideal. I really love them, they are very honest and we have an amazing relationship. I want to reach an ideal arrangement with them and be able to pay the bills lol.

I know they used to outsource my work to a translation agency. A possible advantage I have in comparison with this translation agency, from what I've gathered, is that our communication (me and my client) is easier, faster.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Camila Dec 30, 2019

Camila Barbosa wrote:
From 18/Dec until 27/Dec I translated a total of 231 pages for them and this end of year I received a figure from them. Apparently I delivered 4500 translations (and that's in units, not pages!).


I understand from you post that you are possibly translating too much work for too little money in December each year, but since you're getting paid every month, you should ask whether you're translating too much for too little across the entire year. Are you able to take on other work from other clients during those other months?

Your original post also mentioned how much money the agency is charging for the translations, and how much you are earning, and by comparison how little you're earning compared to the agency. But I don't think that that is relevant. The translator is not a partner of the agency who is entitled to a certain percentage of the profits. You should not ask yourself "what percentage am I getting" but "am I getting a fair amount of money for the amount of work that I do". It doesn't matter if the agency gets 20 times as much as you're getting. It doesn't matter if the sales reps are getting 10 times as much as you're getting, even though you do all the work and all they have to do is convince the end-client to hire them. All you have to ask is whether you are satisfied with how much money you're getting for the effort on average.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 11:41
English to Russian
+ ...
Check your employment laws Dec 30, 2019

Camila, the flat-rate arrangement you have had until now may not even be entirely legal. In many countries of the world this could be considered disguised employment and the employing company would be in trouble for employing you without paying social security benefits. If this is also the case in Brazil, you'll have a very powerful negotiating tool in your hands. You may want to check with your local tax / social security office.

Sheila Wilson
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:41
French to English
Ouch! Dec 30, 2019

Camila Barbosa wrote:

Since 2018 I have been providing translation services to a company that works as an advisory for people who want to apply for visas. They used to outsource all PTBR>EN translation to an agency, but figured out it'd be easier to have a freelancer do this sort of work.


I thinking about negotiating with them, so instead of being paid a fixed monthly amount, I will be paid per page. What would be a reasonable price per page to negotiate?

[/quote]

I suspect that in most legal systems, yours included, the arrangement you describe here is in a grey zone.

If you are self-employed, you decide who you work for and the terms and conditions that will determine your working arrangement. You write that you have been "providing translation service" "since 2018" and are "paid a fixed monthly amount".
This situation is not for a short-term project but has been in place for more than one year. Objectively, it has many of the characteristics of a contract of employment.

You do not indicate if you are working exclusively for this client. Do you have other clients?
You do not indicate if you are working full-time for this client. Are you working full-time or part-time?
If you are working exclusively and full-time for this client, then under many legal systems you would be considered as an employee. Employees often have many advantages (health benefits, pension/retirement insurance cover, etc.). Self-employed people (freelancers included) are independent and pay for these advantages themselves.

Clients sometimes like to have freelancers working for them on a fixed rate. This is a dangerous situation for a freelancer. Why? Because all of the advantages are for the client. You might think you have security, but this is not the case. If you do not have a contract of employment, you have no"job" security. Why? Because you do not have a "job". The "client" can decide to stop using your services from one day to the next. Further, if this does happen, do you have other clients? If you are in a client-freelancer situation with one client for whom you work full-time, all of the cards are in the "client's" hand. They owe you nothing and yet you are fully dependent upon them.

There may be legal solutions - conversion of your agreement into a contract of employment. You may not want that. It may not be possible. It may also be expensive and just a waste of time and money. In practical terms, the best solution is to make sure you have other clients and that you gradually decrease your dependence upon this client.


Camila Barbosa
Sheila Wilson
Alison Jenner
 


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