Poll: Would you work for a regular client at a fixed salary?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 20:12
SITE STAFF
Jul 14, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Would you work for a regular client at a fixed salary?".

This poll was originally submitted by Ramona Ali

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:12
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I don't understand the question... Jul 14, 2006

Do you mean a fixed salary or a fixed rate? To me, salary means you work for a company as a salaried employee, and you usually work AT the company, rather than at home. If you mean fixed rate, well that's something else altogether.

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:12
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
I don't think it changes my motivation Jul 14, 2006

I voted "other" because I do work regularly for one client (batches sent once a week), but payment is for the amount sent, and this varies. (I work for other clients as well, of course). I think my motivation is the same for the regular work as for my other work, and I don't think it would be any different if it were for a fixed salary.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
Calculate Jul 14, 2006

Some companies consider their employees as customers.
You could consider your employer as a regular client too.

In another topic, a colleague mentions that translators must be able to calculate well in the first place. An average annual salary of a translator (who does not work for an international institution) is in the range between €17000-25.000/30.000. If for two consecutive years your annual revenue (for a fixed customer) is lower than that, shouldn't you consider becoming an employee? As an employee you built up experience too and your income is more stable.
---

Of course, the best position as a translator is at an international institution: 9-5, nice net-salary of about £35000-50.000 euro per annum, no taxes to national authorities to be paid, a lot of perks, career-possibilities, self-development possibilities, one month-payed vacation + legal holidays, children at a international multilingual school and upon retirement, a nice pension.


[Edited at 2006-07-14 19:37]

[Edited at 2006-07-14 19:40]


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Victor Potapov
Russian Federation
Local time: 06:12
English to Russian
+ ...
Nope - and my reasons are below. Jul 14, 2006

I actually see the logic behind this question.

Probably this has to do with my background.

I went from translation (for translation agencies - virtually no direct clients, I was doing my university studies then) into financial work for about 8 years and back into translation (presently for direct clients only).

During the first several years of my "second career" (=freelance translation for direct clients) I often felt the temptation to return back to the "safe & comfortable" world of corporate employment - this is perfectly explainable: when you have very few direct clients your income stream is highly unpredictable.

When you get a lot of direct clients (exact definition of "a lot" depends on frequency of jobs these clients place with you), but by my rule of thumb "a lot" is 20 to 30 to 50 clients...

So when you get a lot of direct clients, you get the benefit of "the law of large numbers" - a steady work (and income) stream. In case you have too much work for you to do (there are definite peaks in the annual workload) you can split/share extra workload with your trusted colleagues (and it takes some time to get to know and trust people). Plus the overall income increases (you do more work and, hopefully, increase your rates) - this makes living easier, even during the slow periods...

In other words, it is much easier to live as a freelancer in your fifth year as compared to the first - or even the second year of your career!

So working for a "regular" client at a "fixed" salary would be VERY attractive for a translator just starting out in this business.

For an experienced freelancer with a developed customer base this would be counter-productive, the "going rate" for salaried translators is much less than a person can earn as a freelancer. Here I am not saying that everybody WILL earn more as a freelancer, the accent in the previous sentence is on "CAN". Thus, if a freelance translator accepts a fixed salary position, he/she is probably "leaving money on the table" - not realizing the full income potential he/she is capable of.

For me working for a fixed salary would actually destroy the main reason why I decided to work for myself.

Just one example:

- In corporate employment salaries usually increase at best by several percent (less than 10%) a year ("adjusted for inflation", "we are in the top quartile", "we are paying above-market salaries" - every employee in any large company have heard such phrases from HR people). Of course, if you change jobs you may get a 20% increase (if you know how to "sell yourself") - but you cannot do that every year, can you?

- If I presently have 20 regular clients and get 2 more clients of the same size, my revenue will increase by 10% that year. If during the year I go from 20 to 30 clients, my revenue goes up by 50%.

There is no way to get such type of annual salary increases if you work for a company (except, of course, for very few specific situations: e.g. if you work in sales and get a percentage commission, or you are a securities broker, or as a VP in an investment bank and get year-end bonuses etc.).

This potential for increase in income is one of the main reasons I have chosen "the way of the freelancer".

There is very limited "upside potential" in corporate employment, to my mind.

That's why I will not be working for a "regular" client for a "fixed salary", at least for the forseeable future.

On the other hand, if the meaning of your question was "would
you work for a regular client on a retainer basis" - that is, getting a regular (monthly) payment for provision of a fixed amount of services, but WITH an opportunity to serve other clients in your free time - in this case I will full-heartedly agree.

Retainer scheme (almost) does not limit your flexibility, but provides additional stability of income. Banks, for instance, would love to see such retainer-type contracts if you come to them with your loan/mortgage application

So choose for yourself!

Best regards - and good luck!


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:12
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I like freedom! Jul 15, 2006

This is just me, of course, but I would never, ever, ever work for a translation company where I had to get up, put on uncomfortable clothes, and go to the job. I love working at home, and I even like the uncertaintly of never knowing what's going to happen next. I control my income carefull, so if there's a dry spell I don't have to suffer for it. To me, there's nothing finer than working at home!

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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agreement with one regular client Jul 15, 2006

I work freelance.

But I have ONE client (who was one of my first) who sends me every week or two a 6-8 page text. From the begining I reached an agreement with him: he pays me a monthly amount (in addition to not charging me annual dues to the organization he works for and to which I belong).

I have been doing this for 15 years already and am happy with this agreement. I have a constant income I can count on every month, and the amount of work is more or less always the same. It is not a big amount of money, but also allows me to work freelance and not worry on slow months...

Maybe I am charging a bit less than I would by the word, but with the dues exemption it sort of evens out. And I am already an expert on the kind of texts he sends me (it doesn't take me more than an hour each time)...

It works out well.

I would recomend something like this, specially when you are starting or times are hard: a small regular client who pays you a fixed salary (with an agreement that this salary can be discussed if there is a considerable change in the amount of work), yet allows you the time to work as a freelances. It is money you can always count on!!!


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Heike Kurtz  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:12
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
I already do - kind of... Jul 15, 2006

In Germany, working for one client only is prohibited and judged as "fictitious self-employment". Some years ago, this was used by employers such as parcel services etc. to save money on social security conributions, therefore a law was established which now forces self-employed people to prove that they do not depend on one client only (if they do, they are "fictitiously self-employed" and the "employer/client" has to pay social security contributions.

But even if you would work part-time for one client, doing the rest of your work on a freelance basis, I do not get the point of it: an employment always means that the employer has to pay social security contributions (at least here in Germany). It would therefore always be cheaper to give a freelancer regular orders. I have two clients who do so (a bi monthly magazine and monthly analysts' statements) - the invoices are almost the same every time, but I would not call this a "salary".


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John Walsh  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:12
Member (2004)
Italian to English
yes, freedom Jul 15, 2006

The choice between being a 9 to 5 slave or a slave to cash flow. Hmmmm, I prefer the "freedom" of the latter.

Amy Duncan wrote:
there's nothing finer than working at home!


Yes, but having your own office within 5 minutes walk from home is great. I like separating the two environments.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:12
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Same here Jul 15, 2006

Heike Kurtz wrote:

In Germany, working for one client only is prohibited and judged as "fictitious self-employment". Some years ago, this was used by employers such as parcel services etc. to save money on social security conributions, therefore a law was established which now forces self-employed people to prove that they do not depend on one client only (if they do, they are "fictitiously self-employed" and the "employer/client" has to pay social security contributions.

But even if you would work part-time for one client, doing the rest of your work on a freelance basis, I do not get the point of it: an employment always means that the employer has to pay social security contributions (at least here in Germany). It would therefore always be cheaper to give a freelancer regular orders. I have two clients who do so (a bi monthly magazine and monthly analysts' statements) - the invoices are almost the same every time, but I would not call this a "salary".


although there is no law against having single clients in Spain, the system is rigged in such a way that if criteria point to the client's being in fact an employer, he pays your social security. There are limits to how the premises in this question can operate: for example, a cleaning lady for 2 hours a day on a fixed basis (i.e., the contract can't be terminated just like that) is an employee.

I was once asked to block off two hours of every working day for the stock market press room. There was a minimum rate for this, but the actual invoice (not payslip) depended on the amount of work. I paid my own SS. So that probably doesn't count.

Meantime, I can't answer the poll. There is a very strict legal distinction in Spain between working for someone else and being self-employed. And people don't generally leave what they're doing for lower wages, which is what is likely to happen if you work for someone else.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:12
English to German
+ ...
Besides - what a nice deal... Jul 16, 2006

for the outsourcer/employer.

The employer doesn't have to pay for additional office space (you are probably sacrificing a good part of your home), doesn't have to pay for additional software licences, machines, paper, toner, computer repair and maintenance, phone bills or electricity. Handy!

As Heike mentioned, it is unlawful in some countries, plus, you would never have the freedom to turn down a job, take time off whenever you feel like it or increase your rates.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
Freedom? Jul 16, 2006

John Walsh wrote:

The choice between being a 9 to 5 slave or a slave to cash flow. Hmmmm, I prefer the "freedom" of the latter.

Amy Duncan wrote:
there's nothing finer than working at home!


Yes, but having your own office within 5 minutes walk from home is great. I like separating the two environments.


You mean the "freedom" to work round the clock and against the clock, week-ends included.


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Ramona Ali  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:12
Member (2004)
English to Malay
+ ...
Yes, it is still your choice Aug 10, 2006

Williamson wrote:

You mean the "freedom" to work round the clock and against the clock, week-ends included.


It is your freedom to choose whether you want to work round-the-clock and on weekends. I choose not to.


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