Thursday, January 03, 2008

Raising Rates

The beginning of a new year is when many freelancers raise their rates. I’m interested to know how often this happens (every year, every few years, when you think of it, etc.) and by how much (5%, 10%, a few pennies/pence/kronor/other relevant currency, etc.).

As for me, since I rarely work for agencies and since I don’t generally do just one kind of translation work, I don’t have completely set rates. Instead, I estimate the cost of each project by looking it over and trying to figure out how difficult it is, how much work is required, and how much time it will take me, plus I take into consideration how soon the client wants the work completed. This in turn means that I don’t have an annual increase in rates. Rather, as I get more experience and as I get more compliments and messages of gratitude from customers, I slowly increase my prices a bit. I probably don’t do this often enough, but as I try not to quote prices that are lower than I know I deserve or that I feel comfortable with, I am generally satisfied with rates that are fair both to my customers and to me.

From informally talking to other translators or from seeing messages on translation lists, however, it seems that an annual increase in rates is quite common. Judging by the rates people list, I estimate that their fees go up by about 8% a year. What do you do? Please vote below.

How often do you raise your rates?
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How much do you raise your rates by?
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Carmit said...

This is such a loaded topic. I've been reading a lot of online articles on this lately, and a lot of them put into words the thoughts I have running through my head.

I started out pricing myself really low, because I had taken no time to research the market, and today I'm still "stuck" with some clients who pay me ridiculously little money. I've kept them for several reasons, some of which include the fact that I like them and enjoy working with them.

I think a big part of raising rates is being afraid of the reactions, so one way of going around this is keeping your rates unchanged or little changed for existing clients, while quoting higher rates for new clients.

I'll be writing more about this topic when my own translation blog gets off the ground, but commenting here has given me some good thoughts on how to structure the post.

B.J. Epstein said...

Thanks for your comment, Carmit. I think that is a common issue -- beginners start off with low rates, because they don't have the confidence or the experience, and then they have trouble raising their rates later, whether with old customers who have gotten used to the rates or new ones who have heard of the low rates from others.
I'll look forward to seeing your new blog!
Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

I haven't formally raised my rates in years. This is because I have been in this business for many many years, and I started off when inflation was high, and fees could be almost automatically raised on a regular basis. The situation has changed and I am already at a fairly high end of the market,and I'm stuck there (not a bad thing after all).
Nadine "la parole exportée"