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Why most rates proposed and/or expected by potential clients are below ProZ "Average rates"?
Objavljivač niti: CARLIER BRUNO

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
Član:
engleski na francuski
+ ...
Are we on the same page? Apr 1

Lingua 5B wrote:

There’s no much transparency about how “community rates” are calculated so we can only speculate. I can for instance speculate that ProZ is a business, has certain business goals for which marketing is required. Just as my local grocery shop, for example, uses stage neon lights above the fruit section to make the fruit look prettier, shiner and fresher than it really is.

As an example, the last time I checked, the community rates in my pair were ca. 0.20, while most agencies on here don’t offer more than 0.04 in that same pair (regardless if they source through directory or the board). Do you really believe the amount of newbies who decide to buy a membership on this site would be the same if they came here and read that regular rates offered are 0.02 as the community rates? They wouldn’t, they’d just turn around and leave. Same with the fruit section I mentioned above if they switched off those lights that distort perception.


This is what the ProZ community rates page has to say:

This page lists the average rates reported by ProZ.com's community of freelance translators and translation companies. Please be aware that this data does not necessarily reflect the average of rates actually charged and paid for real-world projects; it is only an aggregate view of the rates that users have entered into their ProZ.com profiles. (That said, because the rates entered are used to filter notifications, etc., they can be considered relatively representative of actual fees.) Furthermore, not all users have reported rate data; please take note of the sample size when evaluating this information.

These are general rates for typical projects, but it should be understood that actual rates often vary depending on details such as the type of service, expertise required, minimum fees, type of client, etc.


Isn't the description transparent enough?

Furthermore, I don't see a ca 0.20 USD per word rate in any of the language pairs involving translations to Croatian, although all of them have a very small sample size, which could skew the stats.

Are we talking about the same page?

https://search.proz.com/employers/rates

[Edited at 2021-04-01 05:50 GMT]


 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
Član:
engleski na francuski
+ ...
Sinking ship sensation Apr 1

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:

I am sorry for not having tried to solve the translation world's problem with my post. It was not exactly the OP anyway, so I was also trying to stay on-topic.

But I have stated what I suggest: to keep working for decent rates and upholding good quality standards. This is what I can do at my level.

What is your take then? What should I do?


I'm not trying to give advice - just throwing information. The advice I gave years ago was not followed (whenever it was, in accidental cases where the selected translators demanded even double the price, it worked like a charm! - but now it can't, everyone's on the board).
The example I mentioned is just typical of the larger set of the market right now - there are no unicorn segments, and there are no unicorn survey prices in real life. Occasionally you find a good client for a one-time project, or a project manager who wonders "this guy's expensive but I have budget on this project and I've heard he's good", and that's it. This too will disappear this year.
Maybe I'm just disappointed with my choices... seeing older friends who started from a much lower point (a smaller modest boat) being now lawyers or upper employees with huge prospects, and me on this Titanic.
So... that's all.


I understand and I sympathize, Eleftherios.

I may have a suggestion, but I am not a financial advisor…


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosna i Hercegovina
Local time: 11:17
engleski na hrvatski
+ ...
Read carefully. Apr 1

That’s why I said “the last time I checked”, that was quite some time ago. I won’t be checking it now, as I have no interest in the “community rates” whatsoever.

Thanks for your quote but most people/readers/visitors don’t read the subtext or additional notes. They just read what’s highlighted at the top of the page or text section. Information can be presented and positioned strategically with a certain goal in mind. You need to have in mind a complete newbie visito
... See more
That’s why I said “the last time I checked”, that was quite some time ago. I won’t be checking it now, as I have no interest in the “community rates” whatsoever.

Thanks for your quote but most people/readers/visitors don’t read the subtext or additional notes. They just read what’s highlighted at the top of the page or text section. Information can be presented and positioned strategically with a certain goal in mind. You need to have in mind a complete newbie visitor who has no idea what a real world project is, or “rates entered into profiles”, maybe not even the profile. They just see those numbers with a calculator in their hands, then think “this is great, let me buy the membership”.

“it is only an aggregate view of the rates that users have entered into their ProZ.com profiles” does not provide much transparency whatsoever, in my book. What users? Have you checked those users? Are they even real people with real profiles? Have you checked they indeed charge those rates? I could go on with questions forever.

[Edited at 2021-04-01 06:05 GMT]
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Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
Član:
engleski na francuski
+ ...
Speculations aside Apr 1

If translators cannot read and research, who will?

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosna i Hercegovina
Local time: 11:17
engleski na hrvatski
+ ...
They can read but.. Apr 1

Jean Dimitriadis wrote:

If translators cannot read and research, who will?


That’s speculation again.

As newbies, they have no a real sense of what “rates added to profile” or “real project” is, and they will be more focused on that price chart. They instictively believe it’s true, like that shiny fruit I mentioned earlier. It’s a selective perception.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Velika Britanija
švedski na engleski
+ ...
You’ve clearly got second sight Apr 1

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
... A few years back I warned about price crash in the Greek forum and the reasons. Everyone disagreed. It happened (even worse than I had predicted). Now they say "Lefteris was saying it but...". Then I warned about MT taking over completely. Everyone disagreed. It happened. I wasn't a prophet, I was just stating the obvious. I wasn't a genius (if I were, I wouldn't be still working as a translator), I was just saying "hey guys, I see more electric lamps, our whale oil won't be selling in a few years". Then I said that the H1-B mania along with automated project management software will replace a lot of project managers. We are seeing this slowly starting to happen. Then I was saying that "translator" is not a career or a business, but only a "job", and whispered something about "cooperatives" only to be called a communist workers' organizer. And now many are seeing things and don't disagree with theoretical wishes, because of the ProAct etc coming up fast, and it may even become reality in European countries as well. This time many agree, because all the things I was warning about piling up.


Do you have any hot stock tips to share?


Dan Lucas
 

Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
Sjedinjene Američke Države
Local time: 04:17
grčki na engleski
+ ...
"Free" market and stock tips Apr 1

Jean Dimitriadis



Jean, most translators think they're operating in a free market.

A "free" market in which:
a) They sign NDAs
b) They sign non-competition clauses
c) Their market is monopolized by 2 agencies and their regional branches


That's Stockholm syndrome...
The last one was enabled by agreeing to work at low rates. This benefited agencies with strong sales departments. The old time decent but passive agencies almost disappeared.

Hundreds of $$ in software, hundreds in subscriptions, thousands in time (BUY HIGH) --> to sell at low prices (SELL LOW)

See the problem? Not good to buy high and sell low.


 

CARLIER BRUNO
Francuska
Local time: 11:17
Član (Feb 2021)
engleski na francuski
+ ...
POKRETAČ TEME
Thanks for your comprehensive and very personal testimony... which sounds very gloomy, actually. Apr 1

Hi Eleftherios,

Thanks for your comprehensive and very personal testimony... which sounds very gloomy, actually.
From what I have read, I assume that you are no longer making a living from translation or at most, partially.
Personally, even though I recognise that the situation is getting more and more complicated, I still consider that by targeting the right clients and the right translation contents, one can make a (very) decent living from translation without becoming
... See more
Hi Eleftherios,

Thanks for your comprehensive and very personal testimony... which sounds very gloomy, actually.
From what I have read, I assume that you are no longer making a living from translation or at most, partially.
Personally, even though I recognise that the situation is getting more and more complicated, I still consider that by targeting the right clients and the right translation contents, one can make a (very) decent living from translation without becoming sort of a "slave" of it.



Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:

Adieu wrote:
6k words for $200? Stuff that.


I just checked again, and that project was finally given at $120. Straight translation, no MT, a little over 6,000 words, lots of software-related complex content. So basically you had translators outbidding each other downwards to less than 2 cents per word. I kept a screenshot.

On the MT side it works as follows: the agency has the beginning and the end time of work on files in their system. This also applies if you work on their desktop applications, the application keeps the open time and last save time. It's used to calculate the average time translators worked on them. So when a translator is proud of himself for finishing MT-editing 3000 words in 1.5 hours or less, in reality he has just fed this number to the agency. The most experienced and most concentrated translators are shooting themselves in the foot this way.
As a result, it's an automatic system that punishes dedication and experience. The more you produce, the less you get paid in the next project.

The same started happening in the non-MT jobs too. Since translators are using the Google-API as an assisting device, their output increased dramatically in projects where they have experience. Hence a very sharp decline in rates in the last 2-3 years, because of the way they manage the actual files on their computer (begin and end time) and their rush to send the files as quickly as possible to impress the PMs. Just like good little workers that they are.

If you add to that certain distortion factors (non-business-related personal preferences of key PMs, misleading word counts, kickbacks from certain networked translators, oligopoly status of 2-3 agencies controlling all end-clients with recurring work, lockdowns that have flooded the industry with people happy to practice at the expense of the product, etc etc), and the industry for most of those who depend on a sufficient income to pay their bills has become a Class A Titanic.

There are also small old-style agencies that will pay the old-style rate of 0.12-0.10, but these are very few and their available work is also sporadic and limited. That is why proz rates are misleading, because they're not based on the bulk of work done everyday by the large agencies, they are based only on a limited sample that represent 1% of work or less. The bulk or work is assigned outside proz.

Now, a lot of people in these forums will tell you that they are making a living. They mean that they make 10-25K per year, and in their area and life circumstances that's sufficient. In Greece for example if one earns 1,000 per month from this job he'll be happy, especially if he craftily avoids taxes by working only for US-based companies (no 1099 reporting requirement leads to undeclared income). In the US though, regardless of area, I'd say 40-50K per year would be the lowest in gross income in a cheap area to justify freelance effort, if you pay your own rent and support yourself.

One would say "determine whether the income from this job is sufficient for you", but I say that this income will sink even further next year, with a cost of health and opportunity cost alone not worth the effort.
Unless you're desperate.
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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosna i Hercegovina
Local time: 11:17
engleski na hrvatski
+ ...
Agree, agree and agree. Apr 1

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:

Jean Dimitriadis



Jean, most translators think they're operating in a free market.

A "free" market in which:
a) They sign NDAs
b) They sign non-competition clauses
c) Their market is monopolized by 2 agencies and their regional branches


That's Stockholm syndrome...
The last one was enabled by agreeing to work at low rates. This benefited agencies with strong sales departments. The old time decent but passive agencies almost disappeared.

Hundreds of $$ in software, hundreds in subscriptions, thousands in time (BUY HIGH) --> to sell at low prices (SELL LOW)

See the problem? Not good to buy high and sell low.


Very true. Some of those decent agencies paying decent rates stopped operating altogether, and some lowered their rates significantly.

One particular agency that gave me a job based on my sample that the client "really loved", it was a copy written in a specific engineering field (my own original copy, not translation). According to the agency PM, the client was impressed by it - which was followed by the offer for me to work at $0.18/word (through the agency). All fine for several years (this was a long, long time ago). Nowadays, this agency hires translators in my pair at $0.03 for this same project, I no longer work for them, and it was thanks to my copy that they won the contract with this corporate client for my pair. Meanwhile, the client has no idea who's working on their translation nowadays and what changes took place. Transparency in the darkness of the Internet.



[Edited at 2021-04-01 08:58 GMT]


Adieu
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosna i Hercegovina
Local time: 11:17
engleski na hrvatski
+ ...
Income. Apr 1

CARLIER BRUNO wrote:

I still consider that by targeting the right clients and the right translation contents, one can make a (very) decent living from translation without becoming sort of a "slave" of it.



How much have you invoiced/made so far through translation (it's a rhetorical question, I'm not really interested in your income)? Are you speaking theoretically/potentially, or do you have solid evidence to this based on personal experience? Maybe you made loads, but based on your profile, I'd say you're a complete newbie and you are talking very theoretically. Come back to this thread once you make or start making "decent" income from translation, to confirm.

You know, in business, they always seek evidence, thousands and thousands invested in market research. They are not interested in theories or wishful thinking.



[Edited at 2021-04-01 09:15 GMT]


 

CARLIER BRUNO
Francuska
Local time: 11:17
Član (Feb 2021)
engleski na francuski
+ ...
POKRETAČ TEME
And when you are in a dead calm, a spinnaker can be useful. Unless you're not already rowing. Apr 1

But never forget the lonely woman waiting for you in the next port...


Jean Dimitriadis wrote:

The question is about a perceived discrepancy between offers proposed or expected by potential clients and the ProZ community rates, which are set by translators.

I can confirm that my effective rates fall within the standard and minimum ProZ community rates for my main language pair. And the community rates tend to be lower than those reported in studies made by translators associations (which usually gather successful professionals and tend to weed out amateurs).

When setting my rates, I accept that they make me not a good match for many agencies out there (and vice versa).

I also concur that most demand is invisible and goes through the ProZ directory.

Allow me to answer with a question:

- Which is the main reason an agency would post their project through ProZ Jobs or through a bulk email sent out to an undisclosed number of ProZ members?

While there may be other reasons (urgent project, exotic language pair, rare specialty, big project, etc.), the main one is because the offer is "price sensitive".

Believe it or not, it's a free (and global) market out there. And this market has many segments. My advice: just focus on those that can meet your rates, which in turn should sustainably meet your needs and living standards.

Shouting at the waves does not help to stay afloat...

[Edited at 2021-04-01 01:33 GMT]


Jean Dimitriadis
 

Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turska
Local time: 12:17
Član:
engleski na turski
@Jean Apr 1

I just wanted to let you know that I'm actually following your advice regarding negotiating from a certain position. I turned down 3 jobs this week: one was paying 0.03 USD per word with the promise of 'continued (bottom-feeder) work', another was a 20k proofreading work at 0.015 USD, and another was something to do with transcription or phone interpreting (I lost interest after seeing the sender's country of origin).
I'm doing my modest contribution to the industry as far as maintaining
... See more
I just wanted to let you know that I'm actually following your advice regarding negotiating from a certain position. I turned down 3 jobs this week: one was paying 0.03 USD per word with the promise of 'continued (bottom-feeder) work', another was a 20k proofreading work at 0.015 USD, and another was something to do with transcription or phone interpreting (I lost interest after seeing the sender's country of origin).
I'm doing my modest contribution to the industry as far as maintaining the standards, though I must say it leaves me with too much time on my hands...
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Dan Lucas
Jean Dimitriadis
P.L.F.Persio
 

Sadek_A  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:17
engleski na arapski
+ ...
..... Apr 1

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:
Early this morning there was a project in one of those platforms of a large agency. 6,000 words (not MT), $200. The deadline was so tight I couldn't do it, so I didn't bother. But it was hanging there for a while, so I assumed that people were submitting offers. I re-checked it out of curiosity before going to bed for a nap. It was now at $180, same deadline.

That ad doesn't mean there is a job, and the bidding doesn't mean there is a translator, and the award -if ever- doesn't mean there will be a usable end-product.

What about the bids, you asking? What about them? You never heard of insiders promoting the image of their agency's bidding process?

On the internet, every Joxer can brand themselves as a Hercules, until they are put to the test.

You want to see how good a translator is, sit next to them and watch them do the reading, the thinking, the research, the writing, the editing, the formatting, the timing, etc., right before your eyes. I guarantee you in every 20 one will impress and the rest will depress.

I have seen some wannabes spend 2hrs trying to finish 100w, others rejecting every single project in which they see a hint of difficulty and only accepted easy and template-based texts. Those were in-house, btw, so multiply that by all the times you can think of for freelancers.

Haven't you read those threads of outsourcers having troubles with their hires? So, practically, very few are the actual (working with their own hands) translators contributing to the industry right now.

It's safe to say it's currently a breathing game, between downward forces and upward forces, to see which side will hold their breath longer.

That said, the point that many seem to be missing is that in helping and/or advocating the current trends (especially PEMT/MTPE) not only will translators be benched, but also interpreters, subtitlers, voice-over artists, translation companies, translation associations, and eventually even language teachers. The whole sector would be put to an end by, perhaps, a subscription product right inside people's pockets, that is facilitating all inter-languages interactions without the need for a human.

The producer entity would then be cashing big, while all the benched ones would be sucking their own thumbs.

If it has to happen, then we should all hedge for it, charge big and don't jump through any hoops. No excuses for otherwise!


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
Velika Britanija
Local time: 10:17
Član (2014)
japanski na engleski
Reports of the end of the world much exaggerated Apr 1

CARLIER BRUNO wrote:
Thanks for your comprehensive and very personal testimony... which sounds very gloomy, actually.

Because we know that context is everything, I should point out that Eleftherios has been gloomy ever since he started posting on ProZ.com in 2004. One cannot deny that he has been consistent, and that's a good thing. And he's still here, so he must like it.

Personally, if I had listened to the people who were saying in 2014 that the end was nigh for translators I would never have started out in this business. I would have lost out on hundreds of thousands of pounds in income achieved with no investment other than a PC. Fortunately, I took a view, pushed on, and have been reasonably successful.

Unsurprisingly, since then people have made various excuses for why (until COVID) I was managing to grow my revenues steadily and why, despite CAT and MT, my professional life has actually been pretty good. One of my favourites is "Ah, but you're in a good language pair". In fact, on the JP-EN specific mailing lists there is plenty of doom and gloom, and talk of falling rates, so clearly the pair isn't the determining factor. JP-EN has been affected by broader industry trends, just like other pairs. Some people succeed, some people fail. It's complicated.

I fully expect to read many more wild and unsupported assertions to the effect that by 2024 (ten years after I started) my business will have dried up and I'll be no more than an MT jockey. Maybe that will happen, maybe not. Maybe it's no big deal if it does happen provided that my income remains much the same. Some people found ways of prospering despite CAT, some didn't.

But I can tell you now that, if my business hasn't imploded by 2024, the doomsayers will move the goalposts again and some other reason will be found for the success of people like myself. "You've been fine because of XYZ, but don't you worry, it's coming", will be the vague threat. "You just wait. By 2030 you'll be out of a job". Yeah, OK. Anyway, good to see you again mate, you're looking well. Sorry, can't stop to chat, need to finish 6,000 characters by tomorrow morning.

I would not deny that the market has changed over the past decade, and I expect it to change again over the next ten years. I've been waiting for the sky to fall in - as foretold by many in this forum and elsewhere - for seven years. And you know what? If this is the end of the world, it's been fairly lucrative and quite enjoyable.

BUT, and it's a big "but", you need something that makes you stand out from other freelancers. For me, and many others, that has been domain-specific knowledge. If you are an expert in a particular field, there is demand out there. (For example, if this person's linguistic skills are up to scratch, she'll probably do fine because of her specialist knowledge.)

If you don't have some kind of expertise, it's going to be harder. Just being able to take simple text in one language and express it reasonably well in another language isn't enough any more. That market is under pressure. Adapt, evolve, or die. Then again, isn't that the case in most industries? Everybody needs a Plan B.

Regards,
Dan

[Edited at 2021-04-01 10:37 GMT]


Michael Wetzel
 

CARLIER BRUNO
Francuska
Local time: 11:17
Član (Feb 2021)
engleski na francuski
+ ...
POKRETAČ TEME
You said: "aggressive" market? Apr 1

Dear "Lingua 5B"

Yes, you're right, I'm quite a newbie on the ProZ platform, but not in translation; thanks for that... Nevertheless, it's true that I haven't invoiced as much as expected since beginning of year and that obviously, the rates wide gap is the rule in the profession. As for the clients, by the way, which is a critical selection criterion, from both sides. But still, the rates offered by some agencies/direct contacts etc. are thankfully still reasonable and a proof of t
... See more
Dear "Lingua 5B"

Yes, you're right, I'm quite a newbie on the ProZ platform, but not in translation; thanks for that... Nevertheless, it's true that I haven't invoiced as much as expected since beginning of year and that obviously, the rates wide gap is the rule in the profession. As for the clients, by the way, which is a critical selection criterion, from both sides. But still, the rates offered by some agencies/direct contacts etc. are thankfully still reasonable and a proof of the non-negotiable requested quality. And this is not only based on theories or wishful thinkings, even if it doesn't do any harm to be optimistic too. Does it?


Lingua 5B wrote:

CARLIER BRUNO wrote:

I still consider that by targeting the right clients and the right translation contents, one can make a (very) decent living from translation without becoming sort of a "slave" of it.



How much have you invoiced/made so far through translation (it's a rhetorical question, I'm not really interested in your income)? Are you speaking theoretically/potentially, or do you have solid evidence to this based on personal experience? Maybe you made loads, but based on your profile, I'd say you're a complete newbie and you are talking very theoretically. Come back to this thread once you make or start making "decent" income from translation, to confirm.

You know, in business, they always seek evidence, thousands and thousands invested in market research. They are not interested in theories or wishful thinking.



[Edited at 2021-04-01 09:15 GMT]


[Modifié le 2021-04-01 11:27 GMT]
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