Candid talk from an ordinary freelance translator.

Nov 30, 2014

New Translator and Low Rates

Recently, a translators asked me if he should lower his rates being that he is new to the industry and long to get into the workforce for both financial reason and to gain experience as a translator. The advice I gave him, without any intentions to invade in his decision making aspect was; "No, I really don't think you should.". The reasons? Let me explain.

When I first kick started as a translator, I dealt mostly with direct clients.
My method of getting myself into translation business, was to take all jobs without much of any terms to work by from my side. The result? Not at all good. I was once got hired by a client through Elance. I was pretty new
on the site and yet to have any feedback or experience to show. The offer was that she has pretty big, on-going project, supposedly a scope of up to 200K source word.  Precisely using that reason, this particular client is only happy to pay 0.02 USD per source word. My rate was higher, but I considered the work seriously and finally take up the offer. In this way, I have cut my own price by half and this means I have to work double in volume to meet up with the rate I usually work for. To make matters worse, I started work without any definite payment terms as in when exactly I would get paid and whatnot.

Having done up to 45K source word, it was about the time the client said she will make payment. She now asked me if I could be the one responsible for Elance fee, since she can only pay 0.02 USD per source word regardless of whether there were any charge incurred! Now that means the rate is no longer the already tiny amount of 0.02 USD but even lower having to deduct Elance fee out of it!

This is very painful experience for me since I've done the work to the best of my ability and by far accepted as job well done. I couldn't count how many sleepless nights I went through to ensure the quality of work.

All in all, I would say lowering your rate will not guarantee good pay, large volume or continuous  workflow. More often than not, it spells out desperation, poor judgment and even lack of principle on your part. Sure, there are times with exception cases, all I am saying is; if you ever doubt, for even a split second, that it might not be a good idea, it might just not be a good idea.


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