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Poll: What % of your income comes from end clients?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:01
SITE STAFF
May 21, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What % of your income comes from end clients?".

This poll was originally submitted by Roberto Cavalcanti. View the poll results »



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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 06:01
English to French
+ ...
Variable May 21, 2010

From one year to the other and/or even from one quarter to the next!
2009 - 10%
2010 (so far) 75%


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Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:01
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Probably May 21, 2010

less than 5%

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Dagmar Jenner  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:01
English to German
+ ...
It's time for a paradigm shift May 21, 2010

100% of my clients are direct clients.

If you understand yourself as an entrepreneur, there really is no need for you to rely on agencies. Direct clients are out there for anybody to find them. Given the fantastic opportunities of the Web 2.0, it has never been easier. If you have the right mind set, if you believe in your skills, if you're ready to invest a lot of time and energy, if you have excellent social skills and if you believe in networking: this is your opportunity to leave agencies behind, to stop thinking of yourself as "just" the translator - and for embarking on a rewarding journey towards becoming an entrepreneur, making a comfortable living, having a better work-life balance and improving our industry's image as a whole.

Good luck!
Dagmar
www.entrepreneuriallinguist.com


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Sabine Schlottky  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:01
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Congratulations May 21, 2010

Dagmar Jenner wrote:

100% of my clients are direct clients.



And thanks for the link!


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:01
Flemish to English
+ ...
Private customers generate better income. May 21, 2010

With postings like "Low budget due to it being a private individual" (as if some private individuals don't have money), many repititions (a real-estate agent, who will not give discounts when he sells the same house twice), your "best" rate, payment in $ coming from an agency in the Eurozone, 50 "translators" jumping on 1 offer and other "tricks of the trade", like endless subcontracting, it is better to go after direct customers.

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Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 23:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
about 1% May 21, 2010

It is not true that direct customers generate more income than agencies, at least not in my case. I nearly exclusively work for agencies that are looking for quality and are willing to pay for that. I charge them the same rate that I charge to any direct customers. The advantage is that I don't have the usual hassle of dealing with direct customers and I can go on holiday without having to worry about losing any because of my lower availibility (I like to travel!).

It's up to you to make agencies pay. I don't really understand why so many translators complain about agency rates. After all, most translators accept to work for those low rates. If people would no longer accept to work for ridiculous rates such as 6, 7 or even 8 eurocents / word (for Dutch), agencies would automatically be forced to raise their rates, or they would be out of business in no time.


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Marinus Vesseur  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
Great Poll! thanks! May 21, 2010

This is a great poll. I've often wondered how many colleagues manage to get work from end clients. As expected, just the minority. Still, it isn't a SMALL minority, so I guess I better try a little harder - I'm in the 20% bracket.

It bothers me a little bit that you seem to have to become an entrepeneur to earn a decent income as a translator nowadays. I though agents were people that took care of that to let you concentrate on what you're really good at (musicians, actors, etc.). I guess we have globalisation to blame for the disastrous price level.

The only advice I can give is to avoid agencies that treat your work like a commodity. If they act like a dealer or trader and show little interest in who you are, what you are and the quality of your work, best to avoid them like the plague.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Usually around 80-90% May 21, 2010

I dont really keep tabs on that.
However, I have had to approach more agencies in the past year as many clients are cutting back on their expenses and trying all sorts of ways to do so, such as "doing the translation themselves" and getting the often horrendous outcomes revised...

BTW I'm slightly miffed because the rates Michael-T cites as "ridiculous" for the Netherlands are actually pretty standard or even good for Spain, where I live and work.

[Edited at 2010-05-21 18:05 GMT]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:01
Member
English to French
<10% direct clients, and Friday blurb May 21, 2010

Dagmar Jenner wrote:
....If you have the right mind set, if you believe in your skills, if you're ready to invest a lot of time and energy, if you have excellent social skills and if you believe in networking: this is your opportunity to leave agencies behind, to stop thinking of yourself as "just" the translator - and for embarking on a rewarding journey towards becoming an entrepreneur, making a comfortable living, having a better work-life balance and improving our industry's image as a whole.

Good luck!
Dagmar
www.entrepreneuriallinguist.com

So many ifs and so little time...
Thank you, but no thanks. I don't look for work, agencies bring it to me. I usually work enough in a day to call it a day, except on Sundays and sometimes Saturdays. I take 4-5 weeks off a year. Sometimes I don't have assignments, I do some DIY in the house. Or check the to-do list. Sometimes I have too much (ie bad scheduling) and I wake up early or ruin my week-ends. Work is varied and flowing. And I dare say that I am not "just" a translator for my agency customers. Not sure what makes a comfortable living in Euroland, but 40-60k gross here are enough for my needs.
I may not have excellent social skills, but it doesn't affect my revenue stream and I do have a fairly busy social (real) life.

Voilà to set the scene: I am glad to report that translators who work mainly with agencies are not all people who have not chosen their fate or second-zone professionals. They just have another right mindset, maybe preferring the peace of their cocoon than the echoing blahblah of introduction meetings.

Congratulations for your "business model" anyway. It seems to have worked out well for you.
Michaël Temmerman wrote:
I charge them the same rate that I charge to any direct customers. The advantage is that I don't have the usual hassle of dealing with direct customers

Which means you charge agency rates to end customers, with hassle included in the package, and with compliments.

I just don't find it logical to put an end-client at the same level of service as an agency. I would never charge my agency rate to an end client for translation only (third-party editing, DTP, proofreading, etc. is not translation) because there is more non-earning time spent with end clients.
Even local end customers (individuals and companies) here, where the "market" price is between nothing and not much, are ready to pay far more than my Euro/US agency rate. And they do pay for my time, because I have to get my bottom off my comfy chair to meet them, wear matching socks and a watch, spend time in traffic, smile at the receptionist after having challenged my maps and compass to find the bloody place, smoking a packet of fags in the process (oh yes I've quit), etc.

Anyway, everybody is entitled to steer their boat the way they wish. Freedom is key.

Have a good weekend,
Philippe


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Laura Bissio CT  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 02:01
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
None May 21, 2010

Philippe Etienne wrote:

So many ifs and so little time...
Thank you, but no thanks.
.....
Anyway, everybody is entitled to steer their boat the way they wish. Freedom is key.

Have a good weekend,
Philippe


Agree!!


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:01
German to English
+ ...
Good stuff! May 21, 2010

Sabine Schlottky wrote:

Dagmar Jenner wrote:

100% of my clients are direct clients.



And thanks for the link!


Concur. Thanks for the link, Dagmar. Can you please quote me a "best price" for your book?

Ciao
Chris


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Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 23:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
end client = agency May 22, 2010

Philippe Etienne wrote:

Michaël Temmerman wrote:
I charge them the same rate that I charge to any direct customers. The advantage is that I don't have the usual hassle of dealing with direct customers

Which means you charge agency rates to end customers, with hassle included in the package, and with compliments.
I just don't find it logical to put an end-client at the same level of service as an agency. I would never charge my agency rate to an end client for translation only (third-party editing, DTP, proofreading, etc. is not translation) because there is more non-earning time spent with end clients.


It's just how you look at things. To me, my translations (pure translation, I don't do DTP, etc.) are worth as much for end clients as for agencies. And the rates that my best agencies pay are the same as normal rates for direct clients (at least for Dutch), so that's why the very few end clients I have, are not charged more. They pay the normal rate for end clients.

The extra hassle you mention, is exactly the reason why I prefer working with agencies. I get paid the same rate and can concentrate fully on my core business, namely translating.

@neilmac: Daily life in Spain is cheaper than in Belgium, but still, how many words do you have to translate per month to even just pay your monthly bills if you only get 6 or 7 cents per word? We are independent workers and should make at least as much net as we would be getting as an employee. Otherwise, why would we bother in the first place? On top of that, we should be putting money aside for old age. In Belgium, retired self-employed receive the minimum pension, which will pay the rent and if your lucky one extra bill. Even if you manage to save some money earlier on, it will be gone very soon. And what if you can't live independently anymore for some reason? How are you going to pay for a nursery home or whatever other service you need? If I had to work for 6 or 7 cents per word, I would look for another job, because it would just endanger my future and demotivate me.


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Dagmar Jenner  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:01
English to German
+ ...
And the best rate is ... May 22, 2010

Textklick wrote:

Sabine Schlottky wrote:

Dagmar Jenner wrote:

100% of my clients are direct clients.



And thanks for the link!


Concur. Thanks for the link, Dagmar. Can you please quote me a "best price" for your book?

Ciao
Chris



Hey Chris,

That's a good one! (Don't even get me started on the "your best rate" line - I wonder if anyone would dare approach a doctor or a lawyer with such a request!)
The best deal is definitely the PDF download because the printed copy ships from the States. If you still prefer the printed version (EUR 20), I have a few dozen books here in Austria that I've been sending to colleagues in Europe (shipping was EUR 3.70).

If you're interested, just drop me a line at office@texterei.com

Have a great weekend,
Dagmar


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iHero
English to Sinhala (Sinhalese)
+ ...
Thanks May 22, 2010

Thank you all for such an informative Poll !!

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