Increasing rates for the New Year
Thread poster: Jackie Bowman

Jackie Bowman

Local time: 18:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 11, 2006

Folks,

I translate from Spanish to English. I am European. I live in the United States. Mostly, I translate complicated texts on the international aid business. Most of these texts (my translations) will be published and sold or otherwise be made internationally available by the international organizations that commission them.

Currently, I charge an absolute minimum of 14 cents a word and I have more work than I can handle. For the New Year, should I raise my rates? I was thinking of asking for 20 cents a word but I’m not sure. Do you, fellow professional translators, think that’s too much?

All input appreciated. Thanks a million.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:28
English to German
+ ...
Not too much at all Dec 11, 2006

Hi Jackie,
Glad to hear your business is thriving.


Currently, I charge an absolute minimum of 14 cents a word and I have more work than I can handle. For the New Year, should I raise my rates? I was thinking of asking for 20 cents a word but I’m not sure. Do you, fellow professional translators, think that’s too much?

I don't think so - but then, I won't need to pay them...

If your project flow exceeds capacity, this is evidence that your current pricing is too low. Whether you can push it up to 20 cents is worth a try, methinks.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 19:28
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Old Vs. New clients Dec 11, 2006

Hi Jackie

I would consider having different rates for new and old clients. This way you'll be sure not to lose the clients you already have (Maybe you have already thought of that, just a suggestion).

Claudia


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Jackie Bowman

Local time: 18:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Ralf and Claudia Dec 11, 2006

Inspired by your excellent advice, I pushed things a little. Got 22 cents/word offer from a couple of excellent clients. Many thanks.

But I'm still interested to hear what other colleagues have to say, as soon as they have the chance ...


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:28
English to Spanish
+ ...
Give it a try Dec 11, 2006

After all, the rest of us need someone to set those kind of standards.

But even if you can't get it, don't consider youself unfortunate.


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 05:28
English to Indonesian
+ ...
The Law of Supply and Demand Dec 12, 2006

Hi Jackie,

You really have wonderful and pleasant jobs. Great. Indeed, among major language pairs, your pair is the absolutely most needed in the world. This is confirmed by the fact that at ProZ there are 17,374 registered freelancers. It is then followed by Eng-Fr 8,495, Eng-Ger 6,109, Eng-Rus 5,928, Eng-It 5361, Eng-Chi 3,795, Eng-Arb 2,926, Eng-Jap 2,598, Eng-Hin 780, Eng-Kor 766, and Eng-Ind (my pair) 578.

It is completely logical to raise your rates both to your old and new clients alike. This is relevant to the law of supply and demand.

For your old clients, charge them 17 cents, and for your new clients charge them 20 cents.

As for myself, I set a mean rate rather than a minimum rate. It means that the actual rate may be slightly higher or lower than the mean rate, depending on number of source words, technicality, turn around time, and payment immediacy.

I have raised my rate twice - in the beginning and around the middle of this year. Now, my mean rate is US$0.12 per source word. It is more than twice as much as the first try-out rate. Nevertheless, pleasant, decent offers from international agencies do increase afterwards.

Happy translating.



[Edited at 2006-12-12 02:28]

[Edited at 2006-12-12 02:37]

[Edited at 2006-12-12 02:39]

[Edited at 2006-12-12 02:40]


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 09:28
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Go for it... Dec 12, 2006

Hi Jackie,

I just wan't to say congratulations on your successful business and totally go for it:)

I always thought that the Spanish to English market must be so saturated and competitive that it must be getting harder and harder to get work, more so for new translators to the business as opposed to established ones. With that said you must be doing a great job and delivering and offering what others can't, to be commanding what you were already charging and now to be getting 22c per source word, which is truly excellent!

Increasing rates is a brave step to take and it can be a make or break situation where both old and new clients are involved. I would say the same to anyone..go for it...if it doesn't work out you lose a new client...so what...there are plenty more out there:)

Cheers to a great new year for you and to anyone else thinking about doing the same thing.

Best wishes,
Mark


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 09:28
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
A question.... Dec 12, 2006

Hipyan Nopri wrote:
your pair is the absolutely most needed in the world. This is confirmed by the fact that at ProZ there are 17,374 registered freelancers


Is it the most needed or is it the most saturated?

For English to Chinese Hipyan claims there are 3,795 registered members but I would say the demand far outweighs the supply so I don't think the rules of supply and demand factor into the business of freelance translation.

Best,
Mark


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 05:28
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Two Answers Dec 12, 2006

Chinese Concept wrote:

Is it the most needed or is it the most saturated?

For English to Chinese Hipyan claims there are 3,795 registered members but I would say the demand far outweighs the supply so I don't think the rules of supply and demand factor into the business of freelance translation.



The fact that the number of freelancers of that pair is the largest at ProZ.com indicates that the language pair is the most needed. It seems that people come into freelance translation world with a certain perspective of possible success.

In other words, it is the perceived demand that attracts them to step into the profession. As a result, the higher the perceived demand, the more people go freelancing for a living in the language pair.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that this may not be an absolutely linear cause-effect relationship. Other factors, such as status of English (i.e., first, second, or foreign language) in a certain country, people's familiarity with freelance translator profession, access to the Internet, availability of qualified freelancers, etc., may also play a certain role.

The assumption that the supply of Chinese freelancers is outnumbered by the actual demand does not omit the applicability of the law of supply and demand to translation business. It is hardly possible to imagine a kind of commercial business to which the law is not applicable.

It should be noted that the law is primarily concerned with the interactive effect of supply and demand on price. Thus, three variables - supply, demand, and price - mutually interact. Supply and demand serve as the independent variables, and price as the dependant variable. If demand increases while supply is stable, the price will increase, and vice versa. In other words, both supply and demand may increase or decrease. Jackie's case obviously proves this.

Back to English-Chinese pair, the demand is high while the supply is low, then it is quite probable that the price increases. If it does not, we freelancers inflict a financial loss upon ourselves consciously. What is the point of doing translation business but for decent profit?

Best Regards

Hipyan Nopri


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Lakshmi Iyer  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:28
Italian to English
+ ...
Good work if you can get it (and apparently you have) Dec 12, 2006

Congratulations Jackie. I'm very small fry, so I'm in no position to offer any advice to someone with as much experience as you. I did want to say though that it makes a refreshing change to read a post where someone's meditating on going from high to higher rates rather than complaining about absymally low rates. Hats off and all the best to you and anyone else contemplating a similar move.

Kaveri


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Tina Colquhoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:28
Danish to English
+ ...
US dollar rate Dec 12, 2006

Hi

You do not exactly state who you are paid by (I mean in which geographical/currency region your clients or perhaps the majority of them live). Due to the very poor state of the US dollar at the moment it would presumably not cost any European clients of yours so much if you were to raise your rates and you are getting paid in US dollars - your rates have effectively been falling for some time as far as they are concerned. So maybe you should take advantage of that.

My position is the reverse: I am seriously considering dropping anyone who pays in US dollars. Any advantage (particularly against Sterling) has eroded severely over recent months.

All the best
Tina



Jackie Bowman wrote:

Folks,

I translate from Spanish to English. I am European. I live in the United States. Mostly, I translate complicated texts on the international aid business. Most of these texts (my translations) will be published and sold or otherwise be made internationally available by the international organizations that commission them.

Currently, I charge an absolute minimum of 14 cents a word and I have more work than I can handle. For the New Year, should I raise my rates? I was thinking of asking for 20 cents a word but I’m not sure. Do you, fellow professional translators, think that’s too much?

All input appreciated. Thanks a million.


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monbuckland  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:28
Member (2006)
German to English
+ ...
Tarifs in Switzerland Dec 12, 2006

Hi Jackie

I don't think 20 cents a word is too much.

Here in Switzerland i work for government agencies, which pay Swiss Federal Chancellery rates. these work out at the equivalent of 27 cents a word.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:28
French to English
Too much? Dec 12, 2006

Nope, like the others, I wouldn't say 20c is too much.

I am by nature a cautious person, so please indulge me, but the following two points did cross my mind:

1. the USD is weak at the moment. IF (and you didn't say) you have customers in Europe, 14c will appear pretty cheap at the moment, which may be, PERHAPS, one factor in your popularity (along with the quality of your work, of course). And hence, even 20c does not seem stratospheric. This weakness in the dollar may not last. As an aside to this point, perhaps pricing in EUR, with conversion to USD on your invoices at the prevailing rate might help maintain your price increase? For Euro-zone customers, anyway...

2. a 50% hike might be perceived as quite a price rise to some. Of course, I appreciate part of the purpose is to thin out the workload and to work a bit less for more cash. I would hope you don't lose more than 50% of your business, and end up with less income than now as a result. Perhaps a phased rise might be more prudent? But remember, I am a very cautious person

Other than that, you go for it!!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Me too... Dec 13, 2006

Jackie Bowman wrote:
I was thinking of asking for 20 cents a word but I’m not sure. Do you, fellow professional translators, think that’s too much?


I'm not sure if we're allowed to discuss actual rates here, but if you can get enough work at 20 cents per word, then you should charge 20 cents per word. I believe you should charge as high as you can -- there are enough low-paid translators to pick up the clients who are unwilling to pay your rate.

I also have to raise my rate in the new year...


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