Negotiating translation rates

Negotiating translation rates: 3 clients, 3 strategies

How do you define the profile of your customers? Which strategy is best to adopt for negotiating your translation rates?

A professional translation is subject to a commercial relationship like any other where a fee is negotiated. But, sometimes professional translators don’t know how to handle a customer who wants to negotiate translation rates. Here are some suggestions.

Stingy, ignorant or suspicious? Who is my client?

With regard to translation rates, there are three types of customers in the field of professional translation. You will have to negotiate with them in one way or another depending on the type of client with whom you’re dealing. Therefore, it helps to be able to recognize the type of customer you are trying to strike a deal with:


Always looking for the cheapest option on the market regardless of the quality of work, he will have no problem in trading you in for a cheaper alternative at the drop of a hat


This type of client demands very low rates because he has no idea what a good professional translation is about. No one has ever explained to him how long it takes to do lexical research, develop a glossary or carry out the final proofreading. Not to mention the initial training, especially if one wishes to dedicate oneself to specialized translation, such as legal, financial or technical translation, for instance.


This type of customer knows full well what a quality translation involves and how important it is, but he needs to be sure that you are competent and the best option for him.

Negotiating translation rates: which strategy to adopt?

You won’t be able to use the same strategy for every client you work with. Below are 3 strategies you can adopt in order to negotiate your translation rates.

STRATEGY #1 : “Better alone than in bad company!“

It’s not worth negotiating with a stingy client. This type of customer will never value your work and will use any excuse to quibble over something. Leave him to find his own “I couldn’t care less” translation and you will be well shot of him, as he will only bring you problems.

STRATEGY #2 : “In the street of the blind, the one-eyed man is called the guiding light”.

Don’t forget that an ignorant client can become a good client. It’s worth opening his eyes to the state of affairs; set out your arguments and he will probably be willing to pay a fair price.

STRATEGY #3 : “Big problems need big solutions”

Your client is suspicious? Show off all the resources at your disposal (training, experience, customer base, etc) to show that you’re the best professional translator for his project, and your fee negotiations will be built on a solid foundation.

Do you know other types of customers? Which are your strategies? Share your experience with us, leave a comment below!

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This article has been written by Mathieu

Mathieu was born in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. After studying Literature and Linguistic Research, he moved to Argentina where he is currently a translator and a web editor.