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Poll: What is your main strategy to increase your income?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

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Local time: 10:09
SITE STAFF
Dec 4, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What is your main strategy to increase your income?".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:09
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Dec 4, 2015

Over the years, I have acquired a good client base (both direct clients and agencies) and my main strategy is to consistently produce great work in order to keep them. Of course, my door is always open to long-standing working relationships (hate one-offs)…

 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:09
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Other ... Dec 4, 2015

Quality.

Or am I missing the point?


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 03:09
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Other, me 2 Dec 4, 2015

Increase client base of better paying clients while shedding the lower paying ones

This way, I can

- Get paid more for doing basically the same volume of work
- Make even more by accepting larger volumes of work, or
- Work less but keep income at the same level

At least, this is how the theory goes. This falls flat when the economy sucks like it does now here in Japan. Sigh...

Oh, and since a customer just canceled 7 out of 10 medium to large jobs last month that were promised to me and that would have kept me busy until April, yours truly is in 'survival mode' yet again. I know once again what a punchbag feels like. icon_rolleyes.gif


 

Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:09
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Better clients Dec 4, 2015

Of course always striving to enhance the quality and gain more specialist knowledge etc.....

I mostly work with international agencies - and prefer that - in fact, I have some lovely, regular clients among them.

But the problem is that many agencies mistakenly (and detrimental to the industry) think that the way to do business and to be successful is is by competing with the cheapest rates.

For an agency that makes sense. They reckon that this way they will gain more work, which they'll spread out to multiple freelancers, and all are happy - they think.

But this way our industry will just spiral downward, not only financially but also in terms of quality and reputation.

What most agencies do not understand is that for the individual translator there is a limit to how much work we can take on, as there is a limit of hours in the day. And if you are a reasonably successful translator, why accept a lower rate?

When prices are going up all around us, translators have to follow the trend in order to stay in business and make a proper living of it.

I am looking for more clients who understand this logic.

[Edited at 2015-12-04 12:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-12-04 13:50 GMT]


 

Laura Bissio CT  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 15:09
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Better clients Dec 4, 2015

As Julian said: "Increase client base of better paying clients while shedding the lower paying ones".

DianaGM, sadly not all clients are willing to pay for quality, so you need good clients who will appreciate the quality... therefore, the answer remains: better clients.

Of course, specializing, delivering good quality, working extra hours if necessary to meet a deadline, are required to keep the best clients. As Teresa said: "consistently produce great work in order to keep them".


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:09
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Better clients, but that's not all Dec 4, 2015

Better clients of course, but there are other factors. I had written a five-paragraph comment that disappeared, and I don't have time to write it all over again.

 

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Raise my prices... Dec 4, 2015

.... to somewhere near where they should have been for a long time now. Little by little.

 

Huasha
China
Local time: 02:09
English to Chinese
+ ...
Better clients and develop skills Dec 4, 2015

Finding nice clients is one side and I am always interested in developing new skills, which may add valueicon_smile.gif

 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
What is quality? Dec 4, 2015

DianeGM wrote:

Quality.

Or am I missing the point?


I don't think you're missing the point, but perhaps misnaming it. I think the poll assumes that you're already taking care of the quality of your translation writing but it asks how are you maximizing your earnings potential.

Cheers from Ohio.


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not the disappearing act again! Dec 4, 2015

Mario Freitas wrote:

Better clients of course, but there are other factors. I had written a five-paragraph comment that disappeared, and I don't have time to write it all over again.


That happened to me twice on LinkedIn: after spending 20-30 minutes writing a carefully worded comment, it would disappear after I clicked POST.

Annoying, ain't it?


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Strategies Dec 4, 2015

I like some of the smart options for this poll. I would say a combination of some of the above.

As for finding better clients, I'm a bit confused: what's the criteria to decide which client is better and which one is not? In my experience, clients find me, not the other way around. I have no way or time to assess a client before a project lands on my desk. I can, of course, decide to say no and decline the project but only on the merits of the preceding communication asking me to do the project.

When I hear or read better clients, I am thinking that a personal assessment has been passed on a person or company offering jobs to translators. I don't work that way.

Seriously, my main strategy is to make a current client an offer they cannot refuse. 😜

[Edited at 2015-12-04 17:57 GMT]


 

Ilan Rubin (X)  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:09
Russian to English
Better paying clients Dec 4, 2015

Firstly, I find that it’s better to have a small number of regular clients who give you work, ideally on a daily basis, so you don’t waste time constantly bidding for jobs, sending out CVs, negotiating and so on. Sometimes this takes a long time to find, sometimes quickly. Part luck, part persistence I suppose.
After that you need to recognize who the best clients are to work with – definitely those who pay well, and logically direct clients have more money as they don’t give the middle-man their cut.
BUT… there are two types of clients broadly speaking (at least with whom I’ve worked). The first know that they need high quality and they will pay the going rate for that quality. Especially if it’s a narrow field and you are a specialist in it. Great to find. But for this client you really have to be prepared to bend over backwards – urgently translate 3 sentences if they send them – because you are the go-to guy for them and you are their solution and their reason why they don’t need another translator / editor. (For example, I work almost full time for three direct clients. For one I’m the sole editor and for the other two I’m the sole translator, and I’m always there for them because I hope that they will keep it like that.)
The second type of client works to a set budget and just tries to find the best quality available within that budget. Especially agencies but not only. Depending on the translator’s dreams / needs / self-belief or whatever that budget may or may not satisfy them. And sometimes you feel that the person you are dealing with at that client may be low paid and jealous of what they see you earning, and they enjoy trying to force you to accept a lower rate.
But the second type of client is more common in my experience (though it may be to do with my particular language pair, I suppose in some countries the attitude to quality is more serious). So the trick is to find the first type and ditch the second. Because once you get to clients that pay the top rate there’s not much else you can do to raise your earnings, short of outsourcing, becoming an agency or moving to a low-tax / no-tax environment.
Working long hours sucks if it’s aim is to make up for low rates. But it can be great if it’s to enjoy the higher rates of course. But in any event there’s a limit to how many hours you can work.

PS – I typed this text out in Word as a precaution, so if it disappears the first time I still have it…


[Edited at 2015-12-04 18:33 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks, Ilan Dec 4, 2015

ILAN RUBIN wrote:

Firstly, I find that it’s better to have a small number of regular clients who give you work, ideally on a daily basis, so you don’t waste time constantly bidding for jobs, sending out CVs, negotiating and so on. Sometimes this takes a long time to find, sometimes quickly. Part luck, part persistence I suppose.
After that you need to recognize who the best clients are to work with – definitely those who pay well, and logically direct clients have more money as they don’t give the middle-man their cut.
BUT… there are two types of clients broadly speaking (at least with whom I’ve worked). The first know that they need high quality and they will pay the going rate for that quality. Especially if it’s a narrow field and you are a specialist in it. Great to find. But for this client you really have to be prepared to bend over backwards – urgently translate 3 sentences if they send them – because you are the go-to guy for them and you are their solution and their reason why they don’t need another translator / editor. (For example, I work almost full time for three direct clients. For one I’m the sole editor and for the other two I’m the sole translator, and I’m always there for them because I hope that they will keep it like that.)
The second type of client works to a set budget and just tries to find the best quality available within that budget. Especially agencies but not only. Depending on the translator’s dreams / needs / self-belief or whatever that budget may or may not satisfy them. And sometimes you feel that the person you are dealing with at that client may be low paid and jealous of what they see you earning, and they enjoy trying to force you to accept a lower rate.
But the second type of client is more common in my experience (though it may be to do with my particular language pair, I suppose in some countries the attitude to quality is more serious). So the trick is to find the first type and ditch the second. Because once you get to clients that pay the top rate there’s not much else you can do to raise your earnings, short of outsourcing, becoming an agency or moving to a low-tax / no-tax environment.
Working long hours sucks if it’s aim is to make up for low rates. But it can be great if it’s to enjoy the higher rates of course. But in any event there’s a limit to how many hours you can work.

PS – I typed this text out in Word as a precaution, so if it disappears the first time I still have it…


[Edited at 2015-12-04 18:33 GMT]


In the middle of your comments I found something to think about: the motivation behind a client. I believe we can be better negotiators and client finders if we train ourselves to ask intelligent questions about what motivates a client:

Is it budget? Is it top writing quality? Is it building a long-term relationship?

Of course, we need to ask those questions in an oblique manner, not á la americaine, which is shooting straight. Just look at federal government forms and you'll get my drift. These forms ask, for example: Have you ever used drugs? D'oh.

Not me, I never used drugs.


 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Grow my second business Dec 4, 2015

I recently discovered that I have another set of skills that generates more money than translation does, at least at my current workloads and rates.

So, my plan to increase my income from translation is to grow this side business. That way I can more confidently charge more for my translation services, as well as be a lot pickier with my clients and subjects since I have a comfortable Plan B that passively generates income.


 
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