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Poll: Good rates vs. steady work: which one do you prefer?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:41
SITE STAFF
Jun 30, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Good rates vs. steady work: which one do you prefer?".

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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:41
Member
German to English
+ ...
Both! Jun 30, 2012

There's no point having either very intermittent work at very good rates or a huge amount of work at paltry rates. So I'd rather have a half-way house of reasonable rates and a reasonable workload, please!

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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:41
Hebrew to English
Both! Jun 30, 2012

...why is this option missing? Everyone likes to have their cake and eat it too!

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:41
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Both, of course! Jun 30, 2012

Good rates + a feasible workload it's all I ask for...

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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:41
German to English
+ ...
Both! Jun 30, 2012

I am just adding to the general clamour.

Good rates and steady work are not mutually exclusive.

What, are people still falling for the line, "You will receive steady work, and in return for the client's magnanimity (of actually giving you the work they need to have translated anyway), you will get paid poorly"?


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Paula Hernández
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
Like the rest Jun 30, 2012

Both! What is good about steady work if you have to kill yourself working because the rates are low? And what is good about high rates if you have maybe a job every 2 or 3 months...well, I guess in this sense I would choose good rates if they were so good they allowed me to live in between jobs, but honestly that is just too stressful, I rather have steady work at good rates (that is, at my chosen rates)

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dasein_wm  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:41
Member (2009)
Italian to English
+ ...
Prefer or accept? Jun 30, 2012

It seems like a given that (almost) everyone would answer both.
I prefer good rates. I also only accept good rates. My work is steady too - if I can count more than a week of unscheduled 'free-time' in a six month period I'm lucky.
No complaints.


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Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:41
English to Dutch
+ ...
Both and more... Jun 30, 2012

I wouldn't want the one without the other. Steady work without a good rate is asking for an ulcer, good rates without steady work makes me hungry. I also prefer meaningful assignments over run of the mill marketing assignments but beggars can't be choosers, and I won't take on certain jobs even if they paid a euro per source word (e.g. arms, x-rated stuff, fraudulent or illegally obtained documents).

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The balancing act Jun 30, 2012

There are actually (at least) three major variables here, at their best being: good rates, steady work, and short payment terms.

Let's see three cases, two-up and one-down.


  • Good rates and steady work, BUT long payment terms

    You'll be sort of providing your clients (and/or their clients as well) with operating capital from your pocket, which might in part justify the good rates. Bottom line is that you are providing both translation and financial (money lending) services.

    Possible problems here include that if you moneywise 'insulate' your translation operation, at first, it will take you a while to build capital to finance your clients. Care must be taken to prevent any downturn to your banking operation from encroaching into your other assets. For instance, if one large client defaults 2-4 months later, you should have enough operating capital to stay afloat without having to sell anything you own. Also, if you take a vacation or get sick, the financial impact will only be felt months later.


  • Good rates and short payment terms, BUT work only now and then

    Here the balancing act really comes into play. You shouldn't sell all your production capacity to these clients, as when you finish a job and get paid, you'll be well off, however only temporarily. You must make sure that what you get from them will keep you afloat until the next job comes. The balancing act is mixing this with the next group.


  • Constant work and short payment terms, BUT low rates

    The other part of the balancing act. Again, don't sell all your production capacity to these clients, otherwise you'll be working like hell to make ends meet, and won't have any production capacity left to take on better-paying jobs (the previous group).



    And how is it possible to balance the last two groups?

    One effective strategy is avoiding short-turnaround - aka urgent - jobs at low rates. If they need them done so badly, and so quickly, they should be prepared to pay what it costs. This will enable you to thrive on the second-group opportunities, and have the third group as 'fillers' between one high-paying job and another.


    Though this is easier said than done, it seems a good strategy to strive for.

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  • Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
    Local time: 23:41
    French to English
    Silly question Jun 30, 2012

    Good rates and a steady flow of work.
    Can you seriously imagine someone saying to you at a job interview, either you come in regularly for a pittance, or you do the odd job here and there and we'll pay you decently.
    Get serious!


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    xxxjacana54  Identity Verified
    Uruguay
    English to Spanish
    + ...
    Worrying Jun 30, 2012

    What I don't like about this poll is that whoever suggested it (anonymous? site staff?) may really think that we have to accept this a a valid option.

    On one hand, and as José Henrique says, there are more variables involved.

    On the other, if enough people accept that this is an either/or situation, the outlook for the rest of us gets darker and darker.

    At a Proz conference I was saddened and shocked because a charming and competent colleague from abroad (underlined: not from Uruguay) told me that she was happy to produce large volumes of specialized work at a really low rate because she was so grateful to the agency for giving her work. Very worrying. This also explains (at least partially) why it's so difficult to get work from many agencies at rates I consider reasonable.

    Have a great weekend everyone.


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    Michael Harris  Identity Verified
    Germany
    Local time: 23:41
    Member (2006)
    German to English
    other Jun 30, 2012

    and what about the payment? Good rates and steady work with long payment deadlines?

    I prefer steady work with good payment deadlines


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    José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
    Brazil
    Local time: 18:41
    English to Portuguese
    + ...
    You have pinpointed... Jun 30, 2012

    ... the #1 root cause of all translators' business problems:

    Lucia Colombino wrote:
    ... because she was so grateful to the agency for giving her work.


    This grovelling stance from some self-asserted "professional" translators who take a job assignment as outright charity is what spoils the entire trade. As this self-contempt becomes common among a number of translators, it develops a somewhat pervasive feeling of power within translation clients.

    If I studied and practiced long enough to be considered a professional translator, furthermore, if my country's government put me through an exam and found me adequate to be certified as such for official purposes, assigning a translation job to me should be a wise business decision, not an act of charity.

    Being thankful is just a matter of politeness. If my client was wise enough to choose me to do a job, I should live up to my attributes, and deliver high quality work on time. My clients should be equally grateful that I fulfilled their business needs, so it balances a fair deal.

    This aforementined translator levels herself to those hobos who stand at traffic lights, and who will smudge your winshield (early on each shift, some of them will actually wash it!) for a few pennies, if you feel sorry enough for their condition. The fact is that every modern car has a contrivance to do their job by merely pulling a lever. Now equate that device to machine translation, and you'll have the complete analogy.


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    Renee Lizotte  Identity Verified
    Spain
    Local time: 23:41
    French to English
    + ...
    Who says the two are mutually exclusive? Jun 30, 2012

    Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

    Good rates and a steady flow of work.
    Can you seriously imagine someone saying to you at a job interview, either you come in regularly for a pittance, or you do the odd job here and there and we'll pay you decently.
    Get serious!


    Absolutely!


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    Renee Lizotte  Identity Verified
    Spain
    Local time: 23:41
    French to English
    + ...
    Very nicely said. Jun 30, 2012

    José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

    ... the #1 root cause of all translators' business problems:

    Lucia Colombino wrote:
    ... because she was so grateful to the agency for giving her work.


    This grovelling stance from some self-asserted "professional" translators who take a job assignment as outright charity is what spoils the entire trade. As this self-contempt becomes common among a number of translators, it develops a somewhat pervasive feeling of power within translation clients.

    Assigning a translation job to me should be a wise business decision, not an act of charity.

    Being thankful is just a matter of politeness. If my client was wise enough to choose me to do a job, I should live up to my attributes, and deliver high quality work on time. My clients should be equally grateful that I fulfilled their business needs, so it balances a fair deal.


    You've hit the nail on the head, José!


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