Should you post your translation rates on your website?

A reader asks: Should I post my translation rates on my website? I feel like this could discourage some of the low-balling clients I don’t want to work with, but I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do. Let’s take a look!

Why might you WANT to post your rates?

Posting your rates has a few advantages:

  • If potential clients look at your posted rates, they have some idea what you charge. Your posted rates might not align exactly with what that client needs, but they might help answer the question, “Is this translator in my budget?”
  • Posted rates can dissuade “tire-kickers”–potential clients who take up a lot of your time preparing a complicated quote, then don’t turn out to be serious about their project
  • Many translators fantasize that posting their rates will free them from negotiation–a process that many freelancers find excruciating. This may or may not be a valid reason to post your rates (more below)

Why might you NOT want to post your rates?

Well, a bunch of reasons:

  • Once you post your rates, it’s hard to charge more than what you’ve posted. A potential client may be thrilled if you charge less than what you’ve posted, but they may (somewhat understandably) feel a bait-and-switch coming if you charge more
  • Posted rates lock you in; either you have to post a rate for every single factor in a project that might cause you to charge more (rush, complicated formatting, PDFs, documents requiring a lot of research, handwritten documents, and so on), or you have to explain to the potential client why you’re not charging the posted rate
  • Posted rates don’t necessarily help clients–especially direct clients who may not know much about translation–answer the all-important question, “How much is it going to cost me to get this thing translated?” Even if you say that you charge per word, many clients still won’t understand what that means; you’ll get questions (as I once did) like, “Do you charge for the little words?”
  • In my experience, most clients will still contact you for a quote. To be honest, I have direct clients who I charge by the word at a per-word price that we agree on for the entire year, and they still e-mail me their files and ask how much it’s going to cost to translate them. So I’m skeptical that listing your per-word rate will result in fewer requests for custom quotes.
  • Posting your rates closes off the best option for raising your rates, which is to try a higher rate with a new client when you’re already busy. If the new client saw the rate on your website, that’s what they’re going to expect.

Situations in which it’s helpful to post your rates

I think it’s almost never helpful to post your rates, for the reasons mentioned above. The only exception is a service for which you always charge the same thing, no questions asked: like X to translate a one-page official document, or X for a full-day conference interpreting assignment. If you never deviate from that price, go ahead and post it. For services like official document translation, posting your rates can streamline the process, so that you have as little unbillable time as possible, which is a good thing.

I feel torn here, because I’m a fan of rate transparency–I will tell pretty much any other translator what I charge, but I’m hesitant to post my rates on my website, mainly because every project–even a one-page birth certificate–is so different that I don’t like being locked in.

Situations in which you shouldn’t post your rates

If you want the flexibility to charge different rates to different clients, or different rates on different projects, don’t post your rates. It locks you in, and it’s unlikely to free you from having to issue custom quotes, at least to new clients.

Readers, over to you: any thoughts on posting or not posting your rates?

18 Responses to “Should you post your translation rates on your website?”
  1. juliamaitland February 10, 2020
    • Corinne McKay February 10, 2020
  2. Sandra@quadrilingua February 12, 2020
    • Corinne McKay February 12, 2020
  3. Gabriela Gurova February 12, 2020
    • Corinne McKay February 12, 2020
  4. Jennifer Castner February 12, 2020
    • Corinne McKay February 12, 2020
  5. Fiona Peterson February 12, 2020
    • Gabriela Gurova February 12, 2020
      • Corinne McKay February 12, 2020
    • Corinne McKay February 12, 2020
  6. Alice Crisan February 12, 2020
    • Corinne McKay February 12, 2020
  7. Nina Gafni February 12, 2020
    • Corinne McKay February 12, 2020
  8. JT Hine February 12, 2020
    • Corinne McKay February 12, 2020

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