Translation Agency Tips: #5 An agency has asked me to lower my rate. What should I do?

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The question nobody likes to ask, but in our blogs we like to tackle these kinds of questions, and it shouldn’t be like the cartoon above suggests!


Remember that an agency is a client, just like any other client. And you are a business person. You have to face questions on your rates and react professionally.  You may say yes. But you can say no.


Here at Atlas we come across the same situation, where a client may ask us for our “best price” or to lower our rates.  How do we react?


Firstly we explain that our price list is – well, our list of prices. It’s what we charge! We offer small discounts for volume, multi-lingual projects, and non-profit-making organisations. We will consider requests for a discount, but at most it’s likely to be in the region of 5% and will be for translation only, not proofreading or any other services.


Before we make our decision though, we will consider the following:


  • Is it a client we really enjoy working for, or very much want to work for?
  • Is it work that is well-presented, and not problematic in any way for our translation team?
  • Does the client give us reasonable deadlines, or do they expect a very fast turnaround?
  • Do we have a long-standing relationship with this client, built up over many years, and supported by a strong team of translators who really enjoy the work too?
  • Does the client pay our invoices promptly or do we always have to chase them and send out final reminders?
  • Does this client represent a big chunk of our business?


We suggest you ask yourself the same questions.


When you are starting your career and building your business up, you may decide to work for lower rates if you are happy that the client has a reasonable reputation, will offer you varied and interesting work, and will pay you promptly.


As far as Atlas Translations goes, we try to be transparent about what we pay our freelancers. We suggest that before applying to work with us, you ask if your rate is a match with us.


And of course as your career progresses, you should consider rate increases. You may have different rates for different clients in different industries and different countries!


The question of rates is so often swept under the carpet, so please do review yours regularly and don’t accept rates you are not happy with – instead find other clients who will pay your rates.


What’s your experience when negotiating rates? We’d love to hear your views in the comments.


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  1. Fausto

    whan first approaching a new agency I try to stay higher (rather than lower) with my rates and then to find a compromise (because often the counterpart request is often very low).
    In any case, it is always difficult to increase my rates in line with the cost of life. Some agencies simply refuse and you have to guess whether you’re so valued by them to keep your position.
    It is a hard work…

  2. hellen mason-spyry

    Spot on advice, those are exactly the factors I take into account, good clients who know I will support them when they are pressed to negotiate. Putting price up? That is tougher – I think you do make more because you become quicker and more efficient. H

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