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low rates vs need to work: What to do??
Thread poster: Laura Iglesias

Laura Iglesias  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:06
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 21, 2005

I have been offered to collaborate with a Spanish agency. Previously, they had offered me 0,038 per word. There were som problems so it didn't happen.Now, after two months, they have contacted me again but now they say the rate has changed since they now use the dollar so now the rate is 0,030 per word. I think the rate is very bad but I need to get clients. What do you think?

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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 11:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Click there Dec 21, 2005

Hi Laura,

I`d suggest you to read these forums:
http://www.proz.com/topic/40181
http://www.proz.com/topic/40132
http://www.proz.com/topic/40039

And let me know about it.

Best regards,

Walter


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:06
Dutch to English
+ ...
No way ... Dec 21, 2005

Laura Iglesias wrote:

I have been offered to collaborate with a Spanish agency. Previously, they had offered me 0,038 per word. There were som problems so it didn't happen.Now, after two months, they have contacted me again but now they say the rate has changed since they now use the dollar so now the rate is 0,030 per word. I think the rate is very bad but I need to get clients. What do you think?



Even for Spain that rate is incredibly low and there is just no way you can live in Spain at that rate. (I live in Portugal and although our costs of living are lower than our Northern colleagues, the difference isn't that great anymore and certainly doesn't warrant that rate).

Personally I wouldn't take it and would look for other forms of employment to supplement translating at a decent rate. You'd get more for a basic admin. temp. job or part-time teaching.

Once you accept that rate you are locked into it with this type of agency, so it may seem like a short-term solution now but there are many other better-paying solutions.

Good luck
D

[Edited at 2005-12-21 13:14]


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Fred Neild  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Go for it Dec 21, 2005

Laura Iglesias wrote:
the rate is 0,030 per word. I think the rate is very bad


Yes. I wouldn't work for it.

Laura Iglesias wrote:
but I need to get clients. What do you think?


Go for it. Seems you do not have much to lose. It will give you translating and business experience (I assume you are not an experienced translator).

But, bear in mind that it is a short-term solution, to get your first clients or enter a new market. You should reconsider if this low rate is taking you anywhere in about 6 months.

And, you cannot build a Client Portfolio based on this kind of client. You should hopefully let go these low rate payers in one year.


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Niina Lahokoski  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 17:06
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Do you need experience or money? Dec 21, 2005

If you are very inexperienced, you could take the job as a temporary solution, if there really aren't any other possibilities. But if you have to make a living, I would try something else.

I confess: when I started a year ago, the first jobs I did were for an agency of not-so-good reputation, and the rate was almost as lousy as that offered to you. I took the jobs mainly to get some experience, even when I knew that there was a risk of not getting paid (the money wasn't so necessary because I had a part-time job). But I got paid, and soon I started to get jobs from other agencies that paid better rates. In less than half a year I told the first agency, that I couldn't work for them anymore. Now my rate has doubled from the one I started with.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:06
Member
English to French
Forget it Dec 21, 2005

The time you would spend translating at that rate would be better used networking with fellow translators and securing new customers worldwide. Living in a specific country doesn't mean you have to comply with that country's "market rates".
I didn't know such rates were so shamelessly offered in Europe.
Of course, you could make an almost decent living working for these people 14 hours a day and 30 days a month (which I would consider as slavery, but with your informed consent). Even then, this agency may not guarantee you enough work to keep you busy 7 days a week. So that wouldn't solve your cashflow problem.
If you are that worried about your income, I am sure there are other lines of work far less stressful, requiring less qualifications, more protected and better paid. If I were in a hopeless financial situation (no jobs, no prospects, nothing to give me hope), I would certainly not persist in this business to keep me afloat.
Probably you will receive mostly advice against the idea, because such rates further jeopardize the already underestimated hardship of our work. In an offer-and-demand environment, if we take anything that's thrown at us, we'll all be soon better off gathering acorns in the forest or loading pallets of made-in-China bikes onto lorries (nothing against it[been there, done that] but I find it less... yes, exciting).
That's my point of view, but ultimately you're on your own to make a decision...
Keep hoping, and move yourself to make things happen
Philippe


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Pilar T. Bayle  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
The problem with this rate... Dec 21, 2005

Is not so much that it's low, but that you advertise equally low rates on your own profile. Unless you start treating yourself with some respect, agencies will disrespect you. You seem to have experience, yet you quote yourself lower than when I started as freelancer 6 years ago. And my rates have improved, and the cost of living has increased...

I never thought of lowering my rates, eventhough I had some very tight periods in the beginning. Instead, planning for the future, I spent time polishing my profile, signing up in several sites similar to this one, checking different agencies, writing to them, etc., etc.

I believe being unemployed in our field is actually a full-time job.

Good luck!

P.
www.pbayle.com/blogs


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Lluc Potrony Juli�
Local time: 16:06
English to Catalan
+ ...
No way Dec 22, 2005

I'm also looking for translation work in Spain and I found this rates a clear abuse. Most agencies offer 0.5 per word to the client which means they are paying most of people what they offer you. This fees are really bad. It won't aern you good money in the end.

In Spain most enterprises are trying to pay the lowest possible fees, regardless of their field. Translation is seen as something very easy in people's minds. It is not and we should not be treated as slaves. I'm unemployed nowadays and I know it is not easy find transaltion jobs but this is an abuse.


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Laura Iglesias  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:06
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reality vs fiction Dec 22, 2005

First of all thank you very much for your comments; I have learnt a lot from reading your messages. It seems strange to me that, on the one hand, some translators are complaining about the rates being low but, on the other hand, jobs are advertised at very low prices and they are closed within minutes. What is going on?

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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 17:06
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Who takes low fees? Dec 22, 2005

You have to keep in mind two factors.

1. Many translators, if not most, use translating as a second income. They do not expect to make a living on their income, but supplement their income. Therefore, how low they go depends primarily on how much time they have.

2. If you only have one language combination, you must deal wtih the reality of competition. I also can translate French to English, but almost never do since they seems to be a glut of translators, as compared to the number of jobs, giving the agencies the abilty to dictate the price. If all you can do is one language pair, you have two choices: quit or work fast.

Maintaining your price level, not to mention raising it, means giving up some jobs. Many are willing to pay that "price", many cannot or do not want to do so.

Stephen Rifkind


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:06
German to English
+ ...
low rates vs need to work: What to do?? Dec 22, 2005

Stephen Rifkind wrote:

Many translators, if not most, use translating as a second income.


Correct, unfortunately. A lot of translators for example rely on partners with a substantially higher income. Others are students or recent graduates trying to finance a student lifestyle rather than support a family.

If you only have one language combination, you must deal wtih the reality of competition. (...) If all you can do is one language pair, you have two choices: quit or work fast.


Not correct. Most of the really successful translators I know, including those with "major" combinations such as French to English, only offer one language combination. Offering more than one combination is not necessarily an obstacle to success, but it certainly isn't a prerequisite. I offer three language combinations, but I would be more "successful" financially if I were to limit myself to one of them.

The key to success is being the best at what you do, not being a jack of all trades.

Maintaining your price level, not to mention raising it, means giving up some jobs.


Correct. In fact, if you begin by working for the bucket-shops just in order to get established, replacing them with proper customers as soon as possible should be a major part of your business plan.

Marc


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Pilar T. Bayle  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
I don't agree... Dec 22, 2005


2. If you only have one language combination, you must deal wtih the reality of competition. I also can translate French to English, but almost never do since they seems to be a glut of translators, as compared to the number of jobs, giving the agencies the abilty to dictate the price. If all you can do is one language pair, you have two choices: quit or work fast.


I only have one pair, English INTO Spanish, one of the most abused pairs in our trade. Every Spaniard who has spent 2 months in England thinks they know the language. Then they call me to fix mistakes, and I make a bundle of money.

P.
www.pbayle.com/blogs


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Fred Neild  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Reality Dec 22, 2005

Laura Iglesias wrote:

First of all thank you very much for your comments; I have learnt a lot from reading your messages. It seems strange to me that, on the one hand, some translators are complaining about the rates being low but, on the other hand, jobs are advertised at very low prices and they are closed within minutes. What is going on?


Have you really read our messages?

Seems you have already made up your mind, but Proz.com jobs are far from representing translation business, thank God!

Have you ever met any translator in the forum working for US$0.03 and telling you how successful he/she is?

I dare any full-time translator with these rates to explain his/her success. If he/she convinces me, I'll be the first one to lower my rates. If he/she translates 4000 words/day (wow!), 30 days/month, he/she will have an annual income of US$43200. Is this the lifestyle you want? This should be the income of someone who translates 2000 words/day, 15 days/month, he/she even has some days left to run the business.

Probably, these 'low raters' are working so hard to make a buck (33.33 words) that they have no time to spare with us.

There is nothing like reality vs. fiction, you couldn't have expressed it better. The thing is, do you think US$0.03/word is reality?


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Laura Iglesias  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:06
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I will not accept that rate Dec 22, 2005

I HAVE read your messages and I decided not to collaborate with that agency. I actually work as a teacher so I only translate for a few clients. Thankfully I don´t need translation to survive. The lowest rate I have applied is 0,05 eur per word. However, since I signed up with Proz I started to think of becoming a freelance translator. I think I have made mistakes, which I suppose its understandable when you start in business.I just saw that there were ads for low rates gone within minutes so I assumed that that my rates were too high. Now I realise my mistake. I believe in the quality of the work I can offer so I will keep my old rates. Don´t worry any more about me lowering down rates!
Thanks again, laura


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:06
English to Czech
+ ...
low rates vs need to work Dec 22, 2005

Fred Neild wrote:

Have you really read our messages?


Well, you were the only one who said "Go for it", Fred...


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