Rate negotiations for translation can sometimes become an uncomfortable part of your chosen freelance translation career; it’s very much like bargaining when traveling in different countries! However, in order to achieve an acceptable rate for your work, you must accept that negotiation is a reality in the translation business and that there are negotiation tactics to be learned.
The purpose of this article is to assist people who are new to the translation industry in gaining the upper hand. There are strategic methods for approaching the subject of translation rates, and it will definitely be to your advantage once you’ve become comfortable with these strategies.
The First Strategy Is to Base Your Rate and Negotiations on Your Client’s Perception of Value
Freelance translators often make the mistake of pricing their work based on their own perceptions of what they believe their services are worth. This is not the right approach: you must do exactly the opposite! You should price your services according to your client’s perceived value. When it comes to rate negotiation, yours is not the most important opinion – it’s what your client thinks that’s important. Therefore, with your next request for rate negotiation, stop and analyze the nature of the project and the client’s situation. The value of the project to your client should determine the rate you charge, perhaps more so than any other factor. You’ll be in the driver’s seat when determining your translation rate when you understand how your services will benefit your client and ultimately affect their bottom line.
Does this translation fall into any of the following scenarios?
· An urgent project: If you receive a translation request at 4pm on a Friday afternoon with a delivery deadline of the following Monday afternoon, it’s expected that there’ll be a surcharge of between 30% and 70% for weekend work.
· Projects that directly affect the bottom line: Some translation projects can make or break a company’s bottom line, and these might include contracts and bid proposals for potentially lucrative deals. For such important projects, you’ll find that clients will accept higher rates.
· Disruption: If the client’s usual translator is unavailable, on holiday, or sick, this may be your opportunity to negotiate a higher rate for your translation services. However, you need to be aware that your client has been placed in this situation.
The Second Strategy Is to Start High, then Negotiate Lower
Perhaps you’re already aware of your client’s price limits so you may want to employ the ‘start high, then go lower’ tactic; meaning that you make your first offer as high as possible, hopefully without completely alienating the client! Unless you’re well and truly out of the ballpark, it’s highly unlikely that your client will reject your rate outright. Who knows, the client may accept your bid believing that it appears reasonable, which means that you’ll receive a higher price for your services. In any case, using the ‘split the difference’ method is a great tactic for achieving a reasonable rate. Generally, the client will bring you down to a number that you would have been happy to accept anyway, which means that the client is happy with their negotiation skills and you’re happy with the agreed-upon rate.
Of course, these rate negotiations won’t always work in your favor. As a freelance translator, it’s ultimately up to you to decide how to price your services, and what methods to use in achieving your desired income. Remember that if you bargain too aggressively it could result in the loss of good one hour translation reviews; however, if you’re too soft in your negotiations it could cost you a lot of money. Our feeling is that if you lose a client who doesn’t honor the value of your work it could well be a blessing in disguise: by refusing difficult and low-paying projects you’re leaving the door wide open for projects that are worthy of your time and effort.