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Poll: What percentage of your income comes from outside your country of residence?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 09:29
Mar 26, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What percentage of your income comes from outside your country of residence?".

This poll was originally submitted by rifkind

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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:29
French to English
+ ...
>90% in 2008 Mar 26, 2009

Over 90% of my income came from outside of my country of residence (France) in 2008, but less than 10% came from outside of Europe.

This amount varies slightly per year and 2008 was somewhat exceptional in the amount of work that came from "elsewhere".

Over the past five years, I've probably averaged 35% of my income coming from French customers.



Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:29
English to Spanish
Interesting results Mar 26, 2009

So far, the results suggest an "all or nothing"-like phenomenon (a bit of an exaggeration, of course).

My answer is "< 10%". This is because quite a few (not all) of the foreign outsourcers who have contacted me have been surprised at the fact that I don't quote them 0.03 USD/word (nor 0.04, nor 0.05, nor ...), which leads me to believe that they contact South American professionals with the intent of getting a bargain. (Some of you may remember a company which explicitly stated "we pay our Latin American translators 0.02 EUR/word" in their e-mail. Yuck!).

There are exceptions to the above, of course, and I do work for a couple of foreign outsourcers who pay what our work is worth regardless of where the translator lives.

Still, since it is apparent that lots of foreign companies are looking to pay half (or even less than half!) my local rates, I have obviously worked harder at building a strong client base within my own country. This client base accounts for the majority of my income.


[Edited at 2009-03-26 14:46 GMT]


Silke Blumbach  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:29
English to German
+ ...
Depending on my country of residende Mar 26, 2009

When I was still living in Albania, the percentage was under 10 %. Due to the low rates prevalent in Albania, I hardly worked for local clients and relied almost exclusively on the internet (with all its exorbitant expenses and technical challenges).
Now it is 1/2 to 1/4 ... I would like it to be less in order to avoid the hassle with the VAT, but I don't say no to a good German order.



Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:29
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

Very intersting results indeed Mar 26, 2009

I would say that my income is 35% local customers (Uruguay), 65% foreign customers.
As I have been a translator for many years now, my client base has changed quite a bit during these past few years.
I used to live in Argentina, and 100% of my customers were located in Argentina. As any of you familiar with the country know, major economic crises hit the country every so often (way too often...). This has meant that several times I lost all my customers overnight, and let me tell you it wasn't pretty.
After I moved to Uruguay ten years ago I decided to diversify my customer base, and for a while most of my customers were US companies. But now two of my major American clients have gone out of business, so I'm very pleased that I a few years ago I began working for European agencies.
I believe that this geographic diversification is essential. I used to think that this was true only for those of us living in more unstable economies, but what's happening in the US makes me think that it is essential for all of us, as we can never know what the future will bring.
What do you think?


Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
Almost 100% from outside of Spain Mar 26, 2009

I am from Spain and I work mostly with foreign countries. Most Spanish agencies pay peanuts so I only have one client (agency) in Spain. They pay me 0.09 €/word. This is still a bit low for me so... unless I don't have anything to do, I don't take their assignments.

Most of my work comes from foreign agencies that are willing to pay higher rates in exchange of good quality. I work both with Europe and the US.


John Cutler  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
The flip side of the coin Mar 26, 2009

Penelope Ausejo wrote:

I am from Spain and I work mostly with foreign countries.

100% of my work comes from Spain. I've had offers from other countries but can't be bothered with dealing with foreign taxes, paperwork, paypal, time differences, etc.

I agree with you that rates are somewhat low here, but I always negotiate with those who offer me work. I'm happy with my Spanish clients.


Local time: 12:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
I concentrate on the domestic market Mar 26, 2009

I concentrate on the domestic market as I also interpret besides translating


Claudia Aguero  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 10:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Local clients Mar 26, 2009

I have only worked for a few foreign agencies and my experience has not been satisfactory.

At present, my clients come from my country, and I only work for those companies or individuals wiling to pay my rates. In some cases, I have been informed that parent companies have instructed their offices in Costa Rica to hire my services. I rahter think this is because they are happy with my work, and not because they a looking for Latin American rates.


Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Not only outside my country Mar 26, 2009

My percentage is 90% outside Europe.


Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:29
Member (2008)
English to Italian
95% from my country Mar 26, 2009

I have started working with foreign agencies only recently, and sofar I have had wonderful clients. But I find it extremely difficult to work for clients abroad, as the material I translate is usually required in my target language in my own country, so being asked to translate a patent into italian from someone in any foreign country is quite rare, it has happened though. On the other side, my foreign clients have given me the opportunity to work also in different fields, and I guess the low percentage of volume depends basically on the fact the we have been cooperating for just a few months.


Alexandra Speirs  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:29
Italian to English
+ ...
none at all Mar 26, 2009

I haven't a single customer outside Italy. It would be nice to collect higher rates, but at the moment I'm so busy I haven't time to look farther afield.


Consult Couture  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:29
Spanish to English
< 10% outside of my country of residence Mar 27, 2009

Hi Everyone!

These results are interesting indeed. I work mostly with US-based agencies, but I've connected with a few foreign companies in the past year. Payment is a little more challenging, but services like PayPal help a lot. It's good to know that word of mouth continues to be the best venue for advertising.

Best wishes to all of you! Suzanne


Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 09:29
English to Russian
+ ...
Is "zero" less than 10% or "N/A - other"? Mar 27, 2009

For me, it's zero. But I'm mostly an interpreter...


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:29
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not counting international organizations, 10% in my home country (US) Mar 27, 2009

A lot of my work is for international organizations, which don't pay local rates. Other than that, I enjoy collecting clients in far-flung places. It's fun to say to my friends, "Gotta go now. I have a client waiting for me in Poland/Singapore/Israel/China/New Zealand [whatever the country du jour happens to be]....." So far, I have "collected" at least a dozen countries.

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