Translation Rates: It’s a Free Market, But…

I have addressed this issue so many times (here, here and here to name a few) to the point that I am now being frequently attacked by some colleagues for advocating fair translation rates.

We all know it’s a free market, and every translator has the right to charge what they deem fair. But let’s think about a few points here, shall we?

1- Charging low rates does not guarantee you will have more work or more clients. If anything, it’s harmful for the entire market.

2- Refusing poorly paid projects does not mean you’re losing clients. If anything, you would be gaining respect from your clients by teaching them that they are after quality and that they should know where to make their investment.

3-Never, I mean NEVER, feel guilty about raising your rates. You feel like you will be losing clients? You feel guilty? Well, don’t. And if you don’t have the heart to do it with existing clients, you can always raise your rates when you’re sending a rate card to new potential clients. That would be the perfect chance to do it.

4- Yes, it’s hard to find a constant flow of work so you feel like lowering your rates would lead to having enough jobs for you to survive. But you know what’s even harder? Feeling demotivated and underappreciated. How many times have you felt like what you’re doing is just not worth it because you were working so hard for so very little money? Let me tell you something: Time is money. Your time is valuable; sometimes a single page takes a couple of hours to translate because you spend all your time doing endless research just to find that perfect equivalent/expression in the target language. Yes, it’s just one page, but don’t be the one with that kind of argument. If you don’t put a fair price for your work, the client sure as hell won’t. They are always looking for ways to cut down on cost, so don’t give them a reason to do it at your expense. I’m not saying attack them. I am saying educate them. After all, their time is valuable, too. They wouldn’t want to be paying double because the first time around the poor translation was also poor in quality. A thought to ponder on.



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