Freelancers looking to get their careers started often ask me how much they should charge for translation and interpreting services.
It can be tempting to compare yourself to what other professionals charge and decide to go with a lower rate than them, right?
After all, a newcomer has less experience, so they might believe that charging less will help them have access to more opportunities.
If you're looking to make a living as a freelance translator or interpreter, I advise you not to take this approach.
What someone charges is ideally based on how much they must earn to meet their needs.
If you ask others, which I don't recommend unless they're close friends, make sure you look at the bigger picture. Their needs are likely different than your needs.
Additionally, if you start working with low rates, it'll be tough to increase them. Clients generally look to spend as little as possible, not to pay more – unless you add some new value to your services.
When you undercharge for your services, the following can happen:
You end up working longer hours.
You don't have time to find better clients.
Your finances suffer because you start relying on credit.
You get in trouble with tax collectors.
You start using your time off to work.
You lose quality because you haven't rested well.
Therefore, whether you're a newbie or an experienced professional, I suggest that you reevaluate your rates based on your current needs.
My colleague Helen Eby created a spreadsheet to evaluate her rates from a cost of doing business perspective before launching as a full-time translator/interpreter. You can download it and use it to see if you're charging what you need to make a living.
Remember – What works for others won't necessarily work for you!