'Cut' taken by agency - is this normal?
Thread poster: mattsmith
mattsmith
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:27
German to English
+ ...
Nov 12, 2006

Hi everyone. I have recently been offered some freelance translation work as a German to English translator by an agency in Germany. When it got down to discussing terms and conditions, they said that they normally charged their clients 7 to 10 cents a word (depending on difficulty level) and that I would get 50% of that. This was because they have to cover their administrative costs and they also considered it fair since they would be finding me clients and providing a regular flow of work - so I wouldn't have to do anything on that side. Is this normal industry practice for work from agencies or a rip off practice that I should I best avoid?

[Bearbeitet am 2006-11-12 11:37]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:27
English to German
+ ...
Percentage sounds reasonable - the price is not, IMO Nov 12, 2006

Hi Matt(s?),
A mark-up of this magnitude may be reasonable, provided that they do a proper job in terms of marketing, business development, etc. Looking at a price of between 7 and 10 cents, I don't think that is the case.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:27
Dutch to English
+ ...
Agree with Ralph Nov 12, 2006

It is perfectly reasonable if the agency is asking 0.20 plus and they actually do something too. But if they offer rock-bottom rates, well...

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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:27
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Your call Nov 12, 2006

These margins are common, but I'm surprised that this agency gave you their financial information like that. Naturally, you are under no obligation to accept their offer. They are also under no obligation to accept yours. If you and your potential client can come to an agreement whereby you charge them X cents per word, their profit margin is irrelevant to you.

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 21:27
Dutch to English
+ ...
Steer clear ....... Nov 12, 2006

In addition to what's been said on the pricing (which is ludicrous), I find it rather strange that a fully-fledged, professional agency would be discussing its rates with you as a potential freelancer.

Whilst we've all got a fair idea what our various agencies charge end-clients in different countries - and face it, if we were that curious, it's not difficult to make a phone call and find out - agencies generally don't make a habit of discussing their profit margins with freelancers.

You (preferably) quote and they accept/decline or they make you an offer.

Sounds to me suspiciously like you've been approached from someone, masquerading as an agency (easy enough to do), who is getting work from agencies himself/herself and simply passing it on as a further intermediary, adding no further value whatsoever to the supply chain.

My advice: steer clear of these bargain hunters, do your research on rates for your language pair and fill out your profile properly so that more upmarket agencies will approach you.

Best of luck

[Edited at 2006-11-12 13:58]


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 03:27
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Rates Survey Nov 12, 2006

Hi Matt,
Before accepting a translation job, you had better do a rates survey for your language pair. By doing so, you have clear picture and will be able to negotiate your rates convincingly.
However, it should be noted that you should first set your expected rates for your translation services.
It seems that the offered rates (50% of US$0.07-0.10 per source word) are really cheap given the fact that German has numerous words that are a combination of several words. I assume that the English words count will be much more than the German words count.



[Edited at 2006-11-12 14:31]


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mattsmith
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:27
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your comments everyone! Nov 12, 2006

Thanks for your help. It´s a small agency that hasn´t been established long. I´ll write off to some more agencies and see what happens.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:27
English to French
+ ...
Looks like the boss in that agency doesn't have a clue about standard rates Nov 12, 2006

Either this agency (person?) hasn't got a clue of the market, or they are trying to rip you off, or they are trying to be extremely competitive and don't mind making your life miserable in the process.

All I've got to say is - STEER CLEAR!

Question: could it be that this "agency" is a local representative of an agency in Russia, India or China? The rate eerily resembles the ones offered in those countries...

[Edited at 2006-11-12 20:34]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Not a rip-off Nov 13, 2006

Matts25 wrote:
...they said that they normally charged their clients 7 to 10 cents a word (depending on difficulty level) and that I would get 50% of that.


Something is only a rip-off if you get a raw deal or if you are being cheated. This agency is honest about what they charge the client and what they pay you. It is not a rip-off.

It is normal for an agency to take a cut from the rate they charge the client. Different agencies take different cuts -- some claim to take as little as 20%, but IMO the percentage they take is irrelevant as long as the translator is satisfied with what he gets out of the deal.


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Nicholas Ferreira  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
High-risk investment Nov 13, 2006

Matts25 wrote:

Thanks for your help. It´s a small agency that hasn´t been established long. I´ll write off to some more agencies and see what happens.


Matt,

I would consider this a high-risk investment. Your investing your time (and financial means) in this upstart, who is forced to charge lower rates to break into the market. If you feel comfortable with this and have a working relationship with the director, then you could benefit from the company's growth.
And a 50% cut for a new company makes sense since they need to front-load a lot of expenses.
It comes down to the question: are you comfortable with getting 3 to 5 cents per word for your work? If you are, then go ahead. But if you do, I would keep looking as you work at this rate, and when you find enough work at a higher rate, you go back to the agency and lay it on the table. Either he increases or you go elsewhere.


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mattsmith
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:27
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 13, 2006

Thanks again for taking the time to write ín and comment.Your suggestions have been helpful to me as I look for work.

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