Are you undervaluing yourself? The effects on you, your business and the translation industry

Value

Many translators complain that industry rates are low. They feel forced to lower their rates in order to attract new clients and even to continue to be able to get regular work from their existing clients. Indeed, it is not only translation agencies who are reducing the rates they pay to their freelancer translators, but also direct clients in many sectors. This particularly applies to companies whose internal regulations require them to obtain several price quotes and to go with the cheapest each time.

Language services undervalued

People generally don’t see why they should pay what they consider to be high prices for translation services because everyone has a friend, acquaintance, niece or nephew who did languages at school who could probably help out, or so they think. Unfortunately misconceptions about the skills translation involves continue to be widespread. But not charging what your work is worth only reinforces these misconceptions and beliefs and is not only bad for you and your business but also for the translation industry as a whole.

The downward spiral of underpricing

Not charging and earning the rates you know that you need to survive – not to mention that you know your work is worth – is a sure-fire way to run both yourself and your business into the ground. You will be working long hours, weekends, be neglecting your health and your family and friends and still not be satisfied with the amount of money coming in at the end of the month.

Avoiding the vicious circle

Competing on price is simply not a good idea in an era where there will always be someone somewhere in the world willing to provide what appears on paper to be a similar service for a much lower price. This is a fact we must accept. It is our job to convince our clients that the value we provide to them in terms of the benefits they receive is worth the money they pay. This is a much more sustainable marketing strategy than always trying to undercut the competition on price.

Translations are not commodities

If you are looking for a product and you find the exact same product on two different websites, one much cheaper than the other, then you are likely to plump for the cheaper offer – providing of course that delivery charges, delivery period and service are all comparable with the more expensive offer. Translations, on the other hand, are never exactly the same – but many potential clients are simply not aware of this. If you want to avoid potential clients making a decision solely on the basis of price, you need to explain the benefits the potential client will get for his/her money.

Communicating value

In her international bestselling book, True Worth, How to Charge What You’re Worth and Get It, Vanessa Ugatti, The True Worth Expert, says “Prospective clients will always regard the quote you give as high if you don’t first demonstrate the value of what you do. Without knowing the benefit, they will regard the fee as too high, no matter what fee you offer”.

Without being aware of additional benefits and, in turn, the value you provide, can you really blame prospective clients for comparing quotes on the basis of price alone? It is our responsibility as translators, both freelancers and agencies, in the 21st century to be proactive in turning the tide and helping our clients understand that quality translations by skilled qualified translators have, and indeed should have, their price.

Photo credit: © eef ink Do-not-undervalue-your-work

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7 thoughts on “Are you undervaluing yourself? The effects on you, your business and the translation industry

  1. Pingback: Weekly translation favorites (Mar 27 - Apr 2)

  2. Excellent and much needed post Karen! I made it my Post of the Day on Twitter and Facebook! I totally agree with your point about communicating value. Good translators add incredible value to the end client’s product or service. Bad translators can destroy their brand and reputation. For example, I refuse to do business with companies that use machine translation on their website. And it’s not because I’m a translator, but that as a potential customer I want them to put some effort into their localization and not just throw everything in Google Translate. I find such approach lazy and disrespectful.

  3. Pingback: Lecturas sobre traducción: abril 2015 | Traductor en pijama

    • I guess it depends on the individual case. What would the advantage of giving a discount be? If it’s a small discount in return for a guaranteed volume of interesting work from a client you have been after for ages, then it might make sense.

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