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What to say to your low-balling client September 3, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
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Freelance Folder has a great article on What to Say to Your Low-Balling Client. As translators we all have deal with clients who “low-ball” us on projects. As the article explains, “If you are new to freelancing or unfamiliar with the term, “low-balling,” refers to the practice of trying to get the lowest possible price for a project. Usually a low-balled price is well below the average market rate for a particular type of work.” We have all experienced this at one point – and in some cases every single time we deal with certain translation agencies. This blog post offers four different approaches on how to deal with the client in that situation. It also lists “three scams to watch out for: the big $$$ project, the “free” sample, and the open-ended project.” If you’ve been in the business for any length of time I would hazard a guess that you have been approached by a client with one if not all of these scenarios. I know I have (numerous times). Needless to say I think it is a must-read for new and seasoned translators alike.

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1. translation - September 13, 2009

Found your blog in the top 100 Language blog list.

This is an interesting topic here; allow me to share some of my experience:
There’s also the “free samples” approach wherein clients would ask for unique and fee translation samples about their chosen subject, then take that sample and have them rewritten for a lower fee.

The best defense for this is to just ignore them. Your essentially working for free and without assurance of any future benefits. But if you already have a collection of samples that were not used in any project, it would be best to post them online to make it difficult for scammers to copy your article.

I’d be interesting to hear your thoughts and experiences, Jill.

-Josh Mcshane

jillsommer - September 13, 2009

I think it depends on the client. I have no problems doing a free sample of about 250 words, but anything over and above that I refuse. Clients sometimes have clients that require a free test translation as a stipulation to ensure the translator is competent. I have no problems in that case – especially if it lands me a lucrative job. I myself have not fallen into the “test translation as a scam” trap and really don’t know anyone else who has.

On the other hand I have a couple test translations in my inbox that have been waiting for me to finish for months. Other paid work takes priority and sometimes the test translations fall to the wayside. It’s been so long I have written off ever completing them.

2. Keely Translation - November 30, 2011

I think you are right in that the smart thing to do is limit the translation to a set number of words – 250 in your case. This is small enough that it isn’t too much lost time and they won’t be able to use it to rip you off as Josh explained. But it’s long enough that they get a real feel for your work. I am still curious to know what some of the four responses are as suggested by the article.


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