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low rates offered by agencies on Proz
Thread poster: Cyril Bel-Ange

Cyril Bel-Ange  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:51
English to French
+ ...
Nov 23, 2007

Does anyone around here think that we Proz moderators should set a minimum wage for jobs posted on the website? In my language pair that is English to French, the rates are getting lower and lower.


All the best,

Cyril


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:51
English to German
+ ...
ProZ.com's policy Nov 23, 2007

Hi Cyril,
You may want to have a look at numerous past discussions of this topic - the site's policy on minimum rates is here.

To make sure your rates aren't going down, you should make sure that potential clients find you: make sure your profile is up to speed, particularly the key words.

Best regards,
Ralf

PS I didn't realise you were a ProZ.com moderator...?


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Joeri Van Liefferinge  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 19:51
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
No, it's a good selection criterion :-) Nov 23, 2007

Cyril Bel-Ange wrote:

Does anyone around here think that we Proz moderators should set a minimum wage for jobs posted on the website? In my language pair that is English to French, the rates are getting lower and lower.

Certainly not, there's no better way to see if a certain client is worth investing time in or not. If I see such an offer, I know I don't have to waste my time bidding on it.


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Cyril Bel-Ange  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:51
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
great thought Nov 23, 2007

Joeri Van Liefferinge (King Darling Communications) wrote:

Cyril Bel-Ange wrote:

Does anyone around here think that we Proz moderators should set a minimum wage for jobs posted on the website? In my language pair that is English to French, the rates are getting lower and lower.

Certainly not, there's no better way to see if a certain client is worth investing time in or not. If I see such an offer, I know I don't have to waste my time bidding on it.



very interesting reply thank you Joeri!

Cyril


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Cyril Bel-Ange  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:51
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thank you for your info Ralf Nov 23, 2007

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Hi Cyril,
You may want to have a look at numerous past discussions of this topic - the site's policy on minimum rates is here.

To make sure your rates aren't going down, you should make sure that potential clients find you: make sure your profile is up to speed, particularly the key words.

Best regards,
Ralf

PS I didn't realise you were a ProZ.com moderator...?


I am not even a paying member Ralf, just someone interested in improving the translation business...


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:51
English to German
+ ...
That's what we're all working on Nov 23, 2007

Hi again,

I am not even a paying member Ralf, just someone interested in improving the translation business...

My question referred to your reference above ("...we ProZ.com moderators...").

What you need to recognise is that there isn't a single translation market, but numerous horizontal segments characterised by different needs - and different prices. Judging from my own experience, chasing low-paid jobs doesn't make much sense (although I have seen business scenarios where a low rate could be transformed into a decent stream of daily income) - the more interesting assignments are where the customer finds you. (Hence my reference to profiles etc.)

Finally, bear in mind that the rate per word (line, page...) is merely a transmission mechanism - what's really interesting is how much income you generate per hour (day, month...). Mind you, I still don't quite get how you get along with 2-3 cents: in the course of a presentation I held at ESTRI in Lyon recently, I asked the students attending to give me some ballpark figures to enter into the ProZ.com Rate Calculator. We used rather low figures, and ended up in the EUR 0.08/0.09 region. Food for thought.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Narcis Lozano Drago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:51
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A suggestion Nov 23, 2007


What you need to recognise is that there isn't a single translation market, but numerous horizontal segments characterised by different needs - and different prices. Judging from my own experience, chasing low-paid jobs doesn't make much sense (although I have seen business scenarios where a low rate could be transformed into a decent stream of daily income) - the more interesting assignments are where the customer finds you. (Hence my reference to profiles etc.)


I agree with you, Ralf, but I have a suggestion. Right now we have a Premium category, for jobs with rates above the average, and then the Standard, for the rest. Why not create a SUBSTANDARD category, for jobs with rates WAY BELOW the average, with less visibility. That way, people willing to work for this rates can still go after them, and the rest won't feel insulted having to see these 0.00001$/word rates offers.

We can have Premium jobs, Standard jobs and then the Cheap (or Economic, Peanuts, Sweatshop ,you name it) jobs.

Narcis


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Jerónimo Fernández  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hear, hear Nov 23, 2007

Narcis Lozano Drago wrote:


I agree with you, Ralf, but I have a suggestion. Right now we have a Premium category, for jobs with rates above the average, and then the Standard, for the rest. Why not create a SUBSTANDARD category, for jobs with rates WAY BELOW the average, with less visibility. That way, people willing to work for this rates can still go after them, and the rest won't feel insulted having to see these 0.00001$/word rates offers.

We can have Premium jobs, Standard jobs and then the Cheap (or Economic, Peanuts, Sweatshop ,you name it) jobs.

Narcis


Narcis, this is the most brilliant post I've read in a good while, and a good idea too. I'm up for this.


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 20:51
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
Agree Nov 23, 2007

Narcis Lozano Drago wrote:


What you need to recognise is that there isn't a single translation market, but numerous horizontal segments characterised by different needs - and different prices. Judging from my own experience, chasing low-paid jobs doesn't make much sense (although I have seen business scenarios where a low rate could be transformed into a decent stream of daily income) - the more interesting assignments are where the customer finds you. (Hence my reference to profiles etc.)


I agree with you, Ralf, but I have a suggestion. Right now we have a Premium category, for jobs with rates above the average, and then the Standard, for the rest. Why not create a SUBSTANDARD category, for jobs with rates WAY BELOW the average, with less visibility. That way, people willing to work for this rates can still go after them, and the rest won't feel insulted having to see these 0.00001$/word rates offers.

We can have Premium jobs, Standard jobs and then the Cheap (or Economic, Peanuts, Sweatshop ,you name it) jobs.

Narcis



I absolutely agree with this idea Narcis proposed! And I think this would answer the discussions going on regarding this issue on Proz and keep everyone happy (as much as its possible at all).


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:51
English to French
+ ...
Partial solution only Nov 23, 2007

I agree with different job categories; however, that is already the case, except that substandard jobs are simply called classic (these are the ones announced on the job board). The problem is that premium jobs are, by definiton, jobs that pay the current average rate or better. However, this average rate is based on the average rates ProZ users enter in their profile, and not on the average rates of the translation community at large. Since there are lots of translators on ProZ who "can English", you can imagine that these minimum rates are largely composed of rates that are worse than peanuts. For example, in my main language pair, the average rate is USD 0.09 with a target rate of 0.12. I don't know of any serious professional who would be willing to work for such a rate - USD 0.12 to 0.15 is more realistic, but this rate will never be the average on ProZ, because of the large number of users who "can English".

What I am trying to say is that, while the idea is great in theory, in practice, it would not help. This is because premium jobs are based on average rates entered on this site, which is not representative of the professional community, and because these rates are driven by a community which is made up of a large number of translators who are anything but professional. The culprit isn't the ProZ jobs system, but rather the people who quote on these jobs.

As long as wannabe translators who "can English" are the majority, rates will keep decreasing. The key to this problem is to refuse to work with unprofessional outsourcers/freelancers and to hold your ground when you quote on jobs. Determine your minimum rate and stick by it. Professional outsourcers are not interested in working with unprofessional freelancers - there will always be plenty of professional outsourcers to go around for professional translators to have a steady flow of work. The parallel peanut market flourishes, and it will keep flourishing, but as Ralf says, it shouldn't be a preoccupation to professionals - you don't want to be a player on that market. It's okay that that parallel market exists, and unprofessional outsourcers also have a right to be in business, as well as unprofessional freelancers. The best thing to do is to simply ignore those offers that you consider substandard. If you are asked to proofread a translation done by someone who is unprofessional, as mean as it may sound, it is your duty to your client as a professional translator to tell your client about it. One of my clients greatly appreciated my telling them that my colleague submitted substandard work, and that outsourcer is interested in weeding out the bad seeds. In turn, I am now only getting quality translations for editing/proofreading from them, which is good for me, not necessarily moneywise, but because I don't give myself a headache when I work with them. This is good for everybody, and professional outsourcers acknowledge this.

There will always be a market for quality translations. Your job as a businessman is to pick the serious outsourcers and learn to have a flair for professional outsourcers. As for the left-over breadcrumbs of the market, just give them to the dogs.

[Edited at 2007-11-23 18:44]


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Grading jobs Nov 23, 2007

More detailed grading of jobs of all levels is a pretty good idea. I love the idea of a "peanuts" category...!

This is a better idea than hoping that rates will somehow miraculously trend upward instead of down. This is simply not going to happen.

Other than green college students and other possibly poor/ pretend translators, it should be borne in mind that the world is becoming more globalized, and that essentially we all (no matter where we live) have to compete with persons from other countries who can live on far less. It's very easy to snipe about sub-standard translations (and to assume that a lower rate reflects this) without recognizing that the translation market has evolved, as has the rest of the world. This is happening at a dizzying pace.

Remember that even ten years ago some of the problems being discussed here would have been unheard of. However, internet access globally has completely changed the profession of translation.

I recall that when I lived in Guyana - I would have been living like a queen on what I earn today. However, with that same money where I live now, I really have to make an effort to "juggle" my bills and enjoy my life (finding the perfect balance). I live well, but the jingle of loose cash in my pocket is no longer there. The cost of a basket of goods varies greatly between both countries.

Just a quick comment as well that there are qualified and competent translators in some developing countries who don't have to charge high rates, simply because of their lower cost of living. University education is not confined to the developed world, and in any case there are quite a few people from developing countries that return home after studies abroad and are able to offer more competitive rates than translators in the EU. Some of the rates may seem exploitative in an EU context but may actually offer quite a comfortable standard of living depending on one's location. Also, people in "poor"countries now have better money transfer options now (beyond the horrid Paypal) which means that today's market is even tougher. It has broken down barriers and made for very aggressive competition.

Greater access to the internet and education are levelling the playing field considerably and living in denial of this can only harm your career. Even companies with large in-house translation departments are waking up to this reality. I think we in the freelance market have to realize this too, and continue honing our translation and marketing skills accordingly.

Quick (rough) calculation at a moderate word count:
0.07 USD pw * 1,500 w = $105 USD
20 days * 105 = $2,100
Less tax @ about 30% = $1,617.00
That would be an ok salary here (but not too wonderful for a mid-career professional with a family). It would be dodgy in the US, awful in the UK or France, and would be PARADISE in most South/ Central American countries I've visited. Even 0.05 USD is still great for people living on some locations. It may not be what we want to hear, but it's true!


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 19:51
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Why not create a SUBSTANDARD category Nov 24, 2007

+

PS: maybe two - a USD and EUR category
PPS: Caeterum censeo that ProZ prices should be in euros

[Urejeno ob 2007-11-24 00:40]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:51
English to French
+ ...
Indeed Nov 24, 2007

Vito Smolej wrote:

+

PS: maybe two - a USD and EUR category
PPS: Caeterum censeo that ProZ prices should be in euros

[Urejeno ob 2007-11-24 00:40]

Amen, both to PS and PPS!

[Edited at 2007-11-24 05:18]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:51
German to English
+ ...
Voilà Nov 24, 2007

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

However, this average rate is based on the average rates ProZ users enter in their profile, and not on the average rates of the translation community at large. Since there are lots of translators on ProZ who "can English", you can imagine that these minimum rates are largely composed of rates that are worse than peanuts.


What I am trying to say is that, while the idea is great in theory, in practice, it would not help. This is because premium jobs are based on average rates entered on this site, which is not representative of the professional community, and because these rates are driven by a community which is made up of a large number of translators who are anything but professional.


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 20:51
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
Focus on one factor, others overseen Nov 24, 2007

Viktoria Gimbe:
However, this average rate is based on the average rates ProZ users enter in their profile, and not on the average rates of the translation community at large. Since there are lots of translators on ProZ who "can English", you can imagine that these minimum rates are largely composed of rates that are worse than peanuts.

What I am trying to say is that, while the idea is great in theory, in practice, it would not help. This is because premium jobs are based on average rates entered on this site, which is not representative of the professional community, and because these rates are driven by a community which is made up of a large number of translators who are anything but professional.
[/quote]

Partially correct, and islander1974 is right saying that
islandeer1974:
the world is becoming more globalized


The cost of living may be one of the factors, but it's quicky getting less and less important - again, due to globalization. The more important factor is the taxation system used in relevant countries.

Recently, a Russian translator living in Germany mentioned that she pays 65% in taxes.

Working from Ukraine, I have to pay (under the current legislation) a fixed tax irrespective of the earnings unless they exceed roughly $US 100,000 a year. The monthly tax is $US 19.

With time, globalization will lead to most countries adopting more or less similar taxation laws, and that will change the situation dramatically. Presently, a translator based in Russia, Ukraine or some other countries will be in a better situation charging 0.09 compared to the more realistic USD 0.12 to 0.15 that serious professionals are willing to work at. When these countres change their taxation systems the number of translators setting 0.09 as as the basic rate will be reduced greatly.

Ralf Lemster:
there isn't a single translation market, but numerous horizontal segments characterised by different needs - and different prices.


That's the point! The tread is called "low rates offered by agencies on Proz" - I'd say, it sounds like "icebergs are really small". Very often (not always!), posted jobs are the least interesting.

Cyril Bel-Ange
Does anyone around here think that we ProZ.com moderators should set a minimum wage for jobs posted on the website? In my language pair that is English to French, the rates are getting lower and lower.


Cyril, you are the seller of your translation services. There are and will be buyers trying to get them as cheap as possible or even free - why should you care? Or, come to think of it from the buyer's perspective: have you ever - hypothetically - considered becoming an agency? Would you be able to offer EUR 0.15 to every freelancer?

In a nutshell, the rates are not getting lower - it's the number of translation service buyers looking for cheap manpower increasing.

Cheers,
Oleg


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