Poll: Are you satisfied with your income as a freelance translator/interpreter?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 05:04
SITE STAFF
Mar 29, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Are you satisfied with your income as a freelance translator/interpreter?".

This poll was originally submitted by tilakahuja. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Mar 29, 2014

Well, yes, sort of... I've been more or less satisfied up till now, but I haven't raised my rates since 2008 due to the economic crisis, as I know most of my clients have been struggling too. However, prices are steadily rising, for example my electricity bill is about 20% higher in real terms than it was for the same period in the last couple of years, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. My social security payments also went up last year... so to cut a long story short I think I'll need to raise my rates soon.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:04
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
So-so Mar 29, 2014

I was more satisfied last year, before my biggest client stopped contracting directly with translators. But the truth is, for the volume I do, the pay is good. I don't kill myself working overtime.

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:04
Member (2008)
English to Italian
Other Mar 29, 2014

I replied other because I am satisfied, but it seems that my country wants all of it paid in taxes... so it is never enough.

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Charlotte Farrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:04
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Yes Mar 29, 2014

I just finished my first year as a freelance translator and my income has been much better than I ever could have expected for my first year, but I also worked significantly longer hours and almost every weekend. If I could earn roughly the same amount but work closer to 40 hours per week, I'd be even more satisfied.

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dasein_wm  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:04
Member (2009)
Italian to English
+ ...
Other Mar 29, 2014

Gianluca Marras wrote:

I replied other because I am satisfied, but it seems that my country wants all of it paid in taxes... so it is never enough.


Ecco...echo!


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, but no Mar 29, 2014

I'd like another zero or two at the end of my invoices

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Chun Un  Identity Verified
Macau
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
It's not the most lucrative job in the world but... Mar 30, 2014

I manage to pay the bills and support the family as the sole breadwinner.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:04
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Another Other Mar 30, 2014

Basically I'm quite happy with my income, but... No, I'm not greedy, but a little more at the end of each month won't hurt.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
A Zen question Mar 30, 2014

Our level of monetary satisfaction will depend, of course, on our own personal goals, which are influenced by several variables, from the size of our families to unexpected medical bills.

As a member of the American Translators Association, I have been hearing (and reading) a great deal from proponents of premium customers.

Sure, we would love to work with direct customers who pay top dollar (or top euro) and have our pick of jobs. One such proponent is Kevin Hendzel, a pretty intense professional who evangelizes about going premium and that translators should stop complaining about low rates and get their behind in rear to go after high-end clients.

A more thoughtful approach is given by French translator Chris Durban, who offers some practical advice on her book The Prosperous Translator.

I have spoken with both of them and challenged what seems to be a big vision short on details (like winning the lottery). After ruffling some feathers (lately), I concluded that it's obvious that most freelance or independent translators may achieve a level of monetary satisfaction as long as they cultivate sound business relationships and keep their goals within the realm of the possible.

What realm? Well, for starters, as humans we are finite; everybody gets only 24 hours a day to do stuff and sleep, rich and poor, the dumb and the smart, the gifted and the stubborn.

Regardless of how well we manage our time and the advantages given by CAT tools and other tools, we still have to take our translations through the same place: our noggin' (brain). So, no matter how fast we type or speak into a microphone, we can only think and process concepts in our head at a certain speed, which will vary depending on the subject matter.

After all, it's not the same to translate 1000 words of a list of car parts and 1000 words of a marketing collateral for a health plan.

Besides, if we believe that we can earn much, much more, we'll eventually have to subcontract and outsource part of the work, at which point we'll become managers and not translators. Some end up setting up a translation agency or have the business acumen to found a company, which they might eventually sell at a profit (like Mr. Hendzel's sale of ASET to Experis a few years back). If we follow that route, what will be doing then?

So, yes, I'm satisfied with my financial gains from my labors, and I know I can make some more, but I need to manage my own expectations and time and stress and energy levels. Do I want to live to make money...or to do what I love?

[Edited at 2014-03-30 05:34 GMT]


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Cecilia Civetta  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:04
Member (2003)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
Ditto Mar 30, 2014

Gianluca Marras wrote:

I replied other because I am satisfied, but it seems that my country wants all of it paid in taxes... so it is never enough.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:04
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Same here Mar 30, 2014

Gianluca Marras wrote:

I replied other because I am satisfied, but it seems that my country wants all of it paid in taxes... so it is never enough.


I earn enough to get by, but certainly nothing extravagant by local standards.
And now my husband has retired, they dock his pension too if my earnings are above a certain level. When more than half of them go on tax and deductions, it certainly takes the top off the satisfaction!


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