How to Completely Change the Rate per Word

Although the rates on most of the jobs posted on the freelance translation job boards are completely unrealistic in my world, I still think that an outsourcer / job poster should be allowed to suggest whatever rate they want. It just gets particularly important that you as a freelance translator are aware that it’s a suggestion, and nothing more.

Do you decide, or even suggest, exactly what the fee of your carpenter, plumber, hairdresser, mechanic or whatever should be? No, of course not.

If money really is that big an issue, you shop around until you find something that matches your budget. Or you don’t buy anything, until you have a budget.

I don’t start harassing a supplier and try to get him or her to lower the fee down to 80% off or some crazy number. I just don’t buy if I don’t have the budget.

As a freelance translator you have to get your expenses covered, and how in the world should a potential buyer on some job board know, what your expenses are? You have to figure that out and base your rate on that, not on the numbers from some pushy job poster from another world.

Negotiation, on the other hand, is something else. Offering a free test of 250 words or something and in return getting your foot in the door, is a good investment.

Working day in and day out at 80% or 50% off is not a good investment. It’s suicide for your business.

Business is actually an important word in this matter, because you’re running a business here. If you were working as an employee and you lost your job – would you just take the next job at a 50% lower pay?

No thanks, I’ll keep looking. In your business, keep looking is called Marketing.

Did you ever work in a job in a private company? Did this company have a marketing department, or did at least a few people work on spreading the word about your company and the products or services you provided?

Of course there was a marketing department of some kind. So if all you see is 80% off, you need to put on your marketing hat and find someone with an actual budget. You know, real money?

Although the endless line of completely unrealistic job posters is annoying, I wouldn’t bother them. After all, they probably get what they pay for.

I don’t think the unrealistic job posters are mean or greedy, I just don’t think they know much about translation work. I believe most of these jobs actually gets done, but the question is by who and in what quality?

It’s hard to reach an agreement through negotiation, when they’re starting 50-80% below your sustainable rate, but there’s probably someone out there who would like a little extra cash for the weekend. And that’s where the quality suffers if they haven’t translated before or don’t plan on doing it again.

An amateur might do this once, and then realize how much work there actually is involved in doing a proper job. I don’t think a low paying outsourcer would expect a crap quality, just because the price is low.

I believe this results in a constant inflow of outsourcers, who don’t know what quality actually costs, and a constant inflow of translators, who don’t know what it takes to produce proper quality. But in the end, what does this have to do with your business?

It requires energy on your behalf to find realistic outsourcers with a budget, i.e. do marketing, and it’s easier to just look at what is right in front of you. The problem is that you also get what you pay for, so there’s this endless line of completely unrealistic low rate outsourcers, in your face.

Instead, here are a few places where you can put in a marketing effort and put yourself in front of potential clients with more than peanuts and beer money in their budget:

  • ProZ profile
  • LinkedIn
  • Translators Café
  • Twitter

Where do you put yourself in front of people that you can help with translations?

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