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The Solution to Price Pressure

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: September 2, 2011

It doesn’t take a long time around translators for the conversation to move to pricing. Just about everyone is conscious, or even worried, about what they see as the continual pressure to reduce their rates and accept poor conditions. According to some, this has only been exacerbated by the growth in popularity of translation portals that allow the assignment of work to become a bidding war, with the spoils going to the lowest bid.

While it can be enjoyable to complain and blame it doesn’t really do anything constructive. We can grump all we like about reverse bidding, we can protest and write and even sing if we like, but those sites will not go away; neither will those who use them.

So what is the solution? For me it is incredibly simple: just say “no.” If a client asks you to work for less than you are comfortable with, say “no.” If a project proposal seems to lean towards getting the most work for the least money, say “no.”

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realise that the rates issue is not really about online portals at all. It’s actually all about the decisions translators make. We can complain about cheap providers and unrealistic clients all we like but if we choose not to work with them, it doesn’t really matter anyway. There is no way that we will ever prevent people offering and getting translators for ridiculous rates; what we can do is ensure that we don’t work for those rates.

For as long as translators will accept silly rates, there will be clients who will try to get them. On the other hand, there are still plenty of clients who realise that when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. It is those clients we need to care about and it is that market that we need to be concentrating our attention on. After all, who is worth more to us, the client offering rock-bottom rates or those who actually care about the quality of the work they get?

Let the low payers find low chargers. Just make sure you are not one of them.