"Making money isn't hard in itself... What's hard is to earn it doing something worth devoting one's life to".
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Money, rates, surcharges, discounts, TM breakdowns… the dreaded taboo subjects every freelance translator seems to avoid talking about with other freelance translators. I do get it, money can be a delicate, even personal subject, but for translators who are starting out, the general trend in tactically avoiding ever discussing anything to do with rates can be really frustrating, as I definitely experienced whilst completing my MA.
It’s not that people don’t want to address rates at all, in fact I’ve encountered lots of people who have been very keen to give advice on the matter, it’s just that no one wants to actually bite the bullet and talk about numbers. And let’s face it; vague statements like “make sure you don’t charge too little”, “start low and then increase your rates as you gain more experience” or “charge at a rate you feel comfortable with” are really not helpful in the slightest. What we all want to know is exactly how much everyone else is charging and exactly how low is “too low”.
I know the market is competitive, and obviously telling the entire world exactly what you charge for each client for various different circumstances is not what you want to be doing if you want to stay ahead of the game, but I do think that at university, graduate or internship level we need to change the way we approach the business side of translation. Because, as I’m sure everyone will agree, being a freelance translator is 50% translation and 50% business. So, can we leave words aside for just a moment and talk numbers?
I would love to know your opinions on the matter – leave a comment below!