Q: What are the strategies to set minimum rates?
A: Clearly communicate to the client what your minimum rate is. You might add that information on your website if you feel comfortable with that. Then stick to the minimum rate, unless it's a repeat customer who sends you lots of work and who just happens to need one sentence translated.
Q: What is the best strategy to inform customers of an inflation rate adjustment?
A: Clearly state that you have adjusted your rates for inflation on the price quotes that you issue during the first months of the year. It can be as simple as "Please note that my rates have been adjusted for inflation by XYZ." We update our rate sheet, which is publicly available, at the beginning of each year, and post the adjusted rates there.
Q: How do you deal with being undercut by less qualified interpreters when agencies just want to go with the cheapest?
A: That is of, course, always a problem. Unfortunately, you cannot control what others do -- you can only control what you do (trite, but true). Move on to the next client and make sure you communicate the value of your services to the potential client. The goal is to get them to see your value and your abilities, not your price. That said, there will always be clients who just want the cheapest price. We don't work with those clients and neither should you.
Q: Nowadays, the US economy is not the same as 10 years ago. Are you aware that we don't get to make many choices with reference to accepting or rejecting a client's offer?
A: I am well aware of the state of the American economy. However, regardless of the economy, you always have a choice whether or not to accept a certain rate. As a business owner, you have to make some tough decisions, and they include walking away from work that doesn't pay what you charge. Independently of the economic climate, there will always be clients who look for world-class quality and who are not very price-sensitive. Of course the economic downturn has, in general, made customers more price-sensitive in all areas. But if you demand and receive adequate rates, you don't need hundreds of clients. You just need a few good repeat customers, and trust us: they are out there. You have a choice regarding the clients you work with. Let's not take the "free" out of "freelancer." You might enjoy the tough love and brilliant advice regarding pricing in Chris Durban's book "The Prosperous Translator." Down with the poverty cult (Chris's words)!
Q: Do you charge late fees, if payments are not made on time?
A: That's a good one, and it's a tricky issue. We rarely encounter late payers as we clearly define our payment policies up front. However, when people have paid late, we have sent them updated invoices with a late fee. Most folks have provided prompt payment, but conveniently exclude the late fee from the payment. Collecting on the late fee can be frustrating and time-consuming, so depending on the amount owed and how much time you want to put into it, you have to decide whether to pursue it or to just let it go. Your time is the only resource you have, so use it wisely.
Q: A translation agency told me I had to charge them one third of the price they charged their client. Do you know if that is standard practice?
A: I am not sure. Twin Translations works exclusively with direct clients, so we don't know much about how agencies break down their rates. It's surprising that the agency shared that information with you. Perhaps one of our readers can answer this question by leaving a comment below.
Q: What about reductions for repetitions?
A: I presume you are talking about repeated words/segments in translation environment tools. We don't give discounts for those, unless the client wants to pay us for the investment in these tools that we've made and the hundreds of hours we've spent dealing with the software. Also, repetitions still need to be reviewed to make sure the context is correct. For instance, in many legal documents you will find both the word claim as a verb and claim as a noun. The system would recognize this as a repetition, but you still have to review the sentence. We also don't give discounts because we use a computer and not a typewriter -- after all, we paid for the computer. However, we recently did a a project that was a series of handouts which had the exact same information on each page four times. In that case, we certainly only charged once. There was still some formatting involved to make sure the layout was correct, but charging only once was the right thing to do. There's always some room for flexibility.
Comments? We'd love to hear from you.