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Poll: How have your average rates evolved in the last 12 months?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:16
SITE STAFF
Sep 11, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How have your average rates evolved in the last 12 months?".

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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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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:16
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Henry doesn't like to hear this, but... Sep 12, 2006

the internationalization of the translation market has depressed rates, and ProZ has bee a party to this trend. Some new clients go into a swoon when I tell them my rates, and many say "forget it." Yet my "new" rates are actually lower than what I was getting four and five yers ago. The clients I have met through ProZ pay a lot less than what I am paid by my older clients. It's true, of course, that the big spenders are spending less money these days and the penny-pinching agencies are still in business, but from my personal perspective, I am cranking out more words for less money than I was four and five years ago.

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Pundora  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 00:46
English to Hindi
+ ...
The increase thing seems over. Sep 12, 2006

[quote]Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

the internationalization of the translation market has depressed rates, and ProZ has bee a party to this trend. Some new clients go into a swoon when I tell them my rates, and many say "forget it."



I agree with Muriel(Nevertheless, we must not forget the other advantages that came with proz.com in the form of more opportunities, etc.). My main clients are local agencies here and when I ask for increase they would say something like, "You see we ourselves are struggling hard now. You can check on proz.com where translators willing to work at rates as low as....... So, we are finding it difficult to even maintain the rates. Still, let us see when some good project comes our way and in that case we can pay more." Naturally, I pretend busy many times when they call me, even if I may be playing games on my pc.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:16
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Same Sep 12, 2006

12 months is rather too short a time for those of us who observe Consumer Price Index fluctuations. All other things accounted for, it's reasonable for clients to expect stability for 24-36 months. Or am I missing something?

Nonetheless, it would be interesting to know the experiences of those whose rates have gone down.


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:16
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
rates went down? Sep 12, 2006

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

the internationalization of the translation market has depressed rates, and ProZ has bee a party to this trend. Some new clients go into a swoon when I tell them my rates, and many say "forget it." Yet my "new" rates are actually lower than what I was getting four and five yers ago. The clients I have met through ProZ pay a lot less than what I am paid by my older clients. It's true, of course, that the big spenders are spending less money these days and the penny-pinching agencies are still in business, but from my personal perspective, I am cranking out more words for less money than I was four and five years ago.


Strange, I am pretty much the opposite. I joined Proz just over 2 years ago and my rates have gone up continuously in that period. Not only are my rates increasing generally but the large number of clients that find me through Proz allows me to "upgrade" my clientbase.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:16
Italian to English
You're probably both right Sep 12, 2006

Konstantin Kisin wrote:

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

the internationalization of the translation market has depressed rates, and ProZ has bee a party to this trend. Some new clients go into a swoon when I tell them my rates, and many say "forget it." Yet my "new" rates are actually lower than what I was getting four and five yers ago.


Strange, I am pretty much the opposite. I joined Proz just over 2 years ago and my rates have gone up continuously in that period. Not only are my rates increasing generally but the large number of clients that find me through Proz allows me to "upgrade" my clientbase.


The effect of globalisation, not just in the translation market, depends on the relative dynamics of supply and demand in the specific subsector.

Muriel is possibly noticing that her bottom-end clients are tending to expect lower rates because they have easy access to many other translators offering services that look identical to hers. This is the downside of increased competition.

Konstantin, on the other hand, is probably referring to the increased ease with which customers for his top-end specialisations can get in touch with him, multiplying his opportunities for work and likelihood of holding up rates: competition works in his favour in this case.

I can replicate both Muriel and Konstantin's experience from my own general and specialised customers. Needless to say, I try to concentrate on the latter, not least because if I can command high rates from some specialist customers, I stand a better chance of squeezing decent money out of the potential bottom feeders.

FWIW

Giles


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 15:16
SITE FOUNDER
Right, Giles Sep 12, 2006

Muriel wrote:
the internationalization of the translation market has depressed rates...

Giles wrote:
Muriel is possibly noticing that her bottom-end clients are tending to expect lower rates because they have easy access to many other translators offering services that look identical to hers...

Konstantin, on the other hand, is probably referring to the increased ease with which customers for his top-end specialisations can get in touch with him, multiplying his opportunities...

Right. Konstantin has used the web to increase his access to clients who really need his specialized services, and are willing and able to pay for them. By using ProZ.com (and probably other resources) to increase his client *flow*, Konstantin has put himself in a position where he can be selective among opportunities. This is the winning strategy for the web, and explains why despite the perceptions many hold concerning rate trends, every time we survey members, we find that they report an overall increase in rates.

Giles has shared his specialization strategy at previous ProZ.com events. I have also written an article on the topic, which gives some concrete ways in which to implement the strategy at ProZ.com: http://www.proz.com/doc/79

Thanks, Konstantin and Giles, for being among those who share their successful approaches.


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
upside to globalization? Sep 12, 2006

I try to take a broader view of globalization than merely looking at market dynamics as they affect me directly. What I have noticed is that heightened interactions between national populations are generating a need for heightened information flows. And that means more work for translators.

My clients are producing more bilingual materials because the need is there, driven by greater closeness between (in my case) the United States and Mexico. In the past two years, I've raised my rates by about 20% and not one client has blinked (but I still don't make much money). But I'm sure that has something to do with my "market niche" and because I don't work for agencies.

What the situation is for any one of us individually really doesn't matter (esp. given the huge diversity of the work that we do as translators). As a COMMUNITY, we ought to be able to impose some standards. If the "community" were defined not by people who self-identify as translators, but through certification processes (and I say that although I'm not certified) that accredit individuals as translators, those people would all have a better shot at making a living wage. (And the rest would need to find another profession.)



[Edited at 2006-09-12 14:57]


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:16
English to Spanish
+ ...
Rates are depressed Sep 12, 2006

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

the internationalization of the translation market has depressed rates, and ProZ has bee a party to this trend. Some new clients go into a swoon when I tell them my rates, and many say "forget it." Yet my "new" rates are actually lower than what I was getting four and five yers ago. The clients I have met through ProZ pay a lot less than what I am paid by my older clients. It's true, of course, that the big spenders are spending less money these days and the penny-pinching agencies are still in business, but from my personal perspective, I am cranking out more words for less money than I was four and five years ago.


I agree with you, Muriel, and I believe this is even more so for US-based translators, and for certain language combinations. The current reality is that any translation agency, large or small, that is willing to invest a little time can easily look overseas to find translators that can undercut me by 30% or more.

Some agencies are putting enormous pressure on US-based translators to get them to lower their rates to levels comparable to what they can get overseas.

Yes, Henry, specialization can help, BUT it is not enough to counter the general trend in the industry, and while some may feel that rates are stabilizing now, most of the damage to US-based translators (especially those in whose linguistic combinations there is a lot of competition) has already been done.

Because I am unwilling to accept depressed rates, I have yet to pick up a single assignment through ProZ. That tells me something... while I love this site for a variety of reasons, and I even pay to be a member, but in this aspect, I feel it has been complicit in lowering my earning ability.


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Timothy Barton
Local time: 21:16
French to English
+ ...
Up, up and away Sep 12, 2006

Patricia Rosas wrote:

I try to take a broader view of globalization than merely looking at market dynamics as they affect me directly. What I have noticed is that heightened interactions between national populations are generating a need for heightened information flows. And that means more work for translators.

My clients are producing more bilingual materials because the need is there, driven by greater closeness between (in my case) the United States and Mexico. In the past two years, I've raised my rates by about 20% and not one client has blinked (but I still don't make much money). But I'm sure that has something to do with my "market niche" and because I don't work for agencies.

What the situation is for any one of us individually really doesn't matter (esp. given the huge diversity of the work that we do as translators). As a COMMUNITY, we ought to be able to impose some standards. If the "community" were defined not by people who self-identify as translators, but through certification processes (and I say that although I'm not certified) that accredit individuals as translators, those people would all have a better shot at making a living wage. (And the rest would need to find another profession.)



[Edited at 2006-09-12 14:57]


I used to think the same about certification, but the clients who are willing to work with people who are not good enough at translating are those who pay poorly. My good clients recognise the quality of my work and are happy to pay my rates.

I have been pleasantly surprised at rates since I have started working. I heard lots of worrying stories about agencies paying only EUR 0,03, and that's what probably made accept a few jobs at EUR 0,05 when I first started. But as I started getting too much work in, I was able to gradually raise my rates, and I'm now generally working for about double that (working mainly for clients in Spain, which is said to have among the lowest rates in the whole of the West).


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:16
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Amen to that Sep 12, 2006

David Russi wrote:

Because I am unwilling to accept depressed rates, I have yet to pick up a single assignment through ProZ. That tells me something... while I love this site for a variety of reasons, and I even pay to be a member, but in this aspect, I feel it has been complicit in lowering my earning ability.



I agree totally with that: a very few customers ontacted me directly after seeing my profile here, but I never got any assignment through the bidding process, and the most likely explaation is that my rates (wich are by no means exceedingly high) are undercut by low-ball bidders.

I still lke ProZ as a meeting place, the Blue Board is useful, but as a means to get good translation jobs.... forget it!



[Edited at 2006-09-12 18:15]


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Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:16
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
Proz.com is a tool Sep 12, 2006

David Russi wrote:
Because I am unwilling to accept depressed rates, I have yet to pick up a single assignment through ProZ.


I am not sure I agree with the rationale here. What if I create an empty profile and don't get any jobs? Is that also because my rates are too high? I often outsource work to colleagues through Proz.com and I can tell you I am unlikely to give my assignment to someone who has two lines of text in their profile.

I think Proz.com is a tool. Just like a CAT tool - until you've mastered it, it's easier and faster to translate without it but once you've got the hang of it you'll never go back.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:16
Italian to English
Why would you want to bid for jobs on price? Sep 12, 2006

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

I never got any assignment through the bidding process, and the most likely explaation is that my rates (wich are by no means exceedingly high) are undercut by low-ball bidders.

I still lke ProZ as a meeting place, the Blue Board is useful, but as a means to get good translation jobs.... forget it!



[Edited at 2006-09-12 18:15]


Hi Riccardo,

I have never obtained a job through the ProZ bidding process either, but then I don't expect to win assignments on price.

I get work from previous clients who are happy with my work, or people they have recommended me to, or sometimes from contacts I have made through ProZ, but not because I am cheap, which I try not to be (I sympathise here with colleagues from traditionally expensive countries, like Switzerland and the US, but for those of us in Italy and elsewhere who have always struggled with low local rates, globalisation is a real boon).

Recently, I have started receiving ProZ requests for quotes that do not stipulate a target rate (this is no surprise: Henry has committed ProZ to matching job offers with suitable bids based on a range of parameters, not just price) and one or two have looked quite interesting. If I'm short of work in the future, I might even make a bid for a ProZ job.

In the meantime, there is no place like ProZ for keeping your finger on the pulse of the translation market.

Cheers,

Giles


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:16
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
I don't bid on price Sep 12, 2006

Giles Watson wrote:

Hi Riccardo,

I have never obtained a job through the ProZ bidding process either, but then I don't expect to win assignments on price.



I probably explained badly: what I mean is not that I bid trying to compete with others on price. I don't.

On the contrary: if I see a job for which I would be well qualified, when I bid I indicate my normal rates.

However, I never received an assigment that way, and what I suspect, is that my price is undercut by others, which therefore win the bid.

I admit that don't bid often, as I find the whole exercise futile.

There are other reasons for thinking that a ProZ membership is useful: a virtual meeting place with other translators, the blue board (altouh I of course subscribe to other payment practices fora as well), occasionally the help from colleagues with some question (or helping other colleagues with theirs).

But as a place where to ind customers? Definitely not.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:16
Member
English to Turkish
They rose Sep 12, 2006

Because I raised them.

I have met more than half of my clients in the post-Internet phase of my career via Proz.com - mostly through direct profile contact, and a couple of them from the job ads posted here. My rates aren't low: in fact, I know they're higher than the average for my pair. However, unlike most -in fact, all, it seems- other colleagues posting in this thread, I work in a pair with a relatively smaller number of translators. I think that's an important factor. Secondly, after my relocation to Germany, I invested much effort and energy in offering my services through the Internet. I had to, because Turkish money to come from my former local 'real-life' clients wouldn't buy me German bread, and I had zero chance of finding the same type of clients in Germany where a third language was spoken. Therefore, I put all my effort in the Internet, and since I was no longer well situated to go on as a literary translator, I focused on and improved other areas I had experience with. So, I have had no difficulty at raising my rates over time. But I understand that, for instance an ES-EN translator located in Spain or the US wouldn't need to invest the same energy in finding the 'right' client over the Internet, which in turn, might eventually make up a different story and outcome than mine.


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