On Making Rates Public

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Happy Friday, dear readers and colleagues! Today's quick post is about making or rates (or fees) available publicly. We have chosen to do so, but we understand that many linguists choose the opposite approach. We think it's an interesting topic indeed, and here are some of our thoughts on this:

  • In general, we believe transparency is a good thing for the market and for the industry. We don't really see too much of a downside n making rates public. Most other businesses and service providers do.
  • It's important to think of the client. Think of yourself as a customer: if you are on someone's website, and when you click on "rates" and it says "please call," do you really call? Or do you simply go to the next provider who does disclose rates? We usually do. 
  • Making your rates public saves you time. We don't get too many e-mails of potential clients just asking our rates without having a specific project in mind that we can quote on, but when we do, we simply e-mail them a link to our rates. Most potential clients will have already seen them on our website, though, which saves both them and us time we could also spend on better things.
  • We very much understand the argument that some collleagues don't want to publish their rates becuase they are afraid it's not good that they charge different clients different rates. There's nothing wrong with that, though. This is an unregulated industry, and you are welcome to use price differentiation. Pretty much every business on the planet does it. For instance, your glass of wine is cheaper during happy hour at the bar than an hour later and ten feet away in the restaurant area, skiing is more expensive on Saturdays than on Wednesdays, and seniors get a discount on train tickets. You get the idea - it's fine to offer different price points, including discounts to certain groups (non-profits, teachers, military --whatever works). If you'd prefer to post a range, which we think is a good idea, go ahead and do that.
  • Oftentimes, colleagues mention that they are afraid of pricing themselves out of the market. That's a good point, but once you set rates at a level that work for you, you should probably stick to them -- and they shouldn't change too much, whether you disclose them publicly or not. And you probably don't want the bottom-feeder clients who want to pay peanuts anyway, right? The bottom line: you will definitely price yourself out of some work (we all do), but your best bet is to go after the business you want at a price point that allows you to be a happy linguist who runs a profitable small business. 
So those are our main thoughts on this topic -- what do you think? We'd love to discuss this important topic here on this forum and look forward to your comments. 


Jesse Tomlinson on March 31, 2017 at 9:21 PM said...

Thanks for setting a great example. Saludos desde Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, Jalisco.

Ben Karl on April 3, 2017 at 9:06 AM said...

Thank you for writing this post, Judy and Dagmar. I agree, transparency is very important and could make the profession better (and show people that there really are clients who are willing to pay more than 0.04/word for your services...). However, I disagree that most other service providers publish their rates. Comparable service providers, i.e. those that require a high level of training and expertise, such as lawyers, accountants, etc., usually don't publish their rates (and almost treat rate inquiries as a lead-generation mechanism). Do you find that most high-end translators like you publish their rates? You also mention that rates shouldn't change too much once you've set them. How would you suggest translators and interpreters account for cost of living increases and inflation as time goes on? In other industries, most people make significantly more when they are near retirement than when they started, and it's not necessarily because they are busier near retirement, right?

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on April 3, 2017 at 11:35 AM said...

@Jesse: Our pleasure, querida. Wish we were in nuestro Mexico. :)

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