You’d think being a self-employed language translator would make getting a raise pretty simple. And technically it is simple. If you want to increase your income, you have a couple choices:
- Work harder at the same pay rate
- Increase your rates
Many of us would love to go with choice B, but the thought of having to break the news to our loyal clients keeps us from doing it. Fear is no reason to put off increasing your rates—which is not to say that this is something to be taken lightly. To the contrary, there are careful and deliberate steps freelance translators should take before raising their rates.
The Language Translator’s Eternal Dilemma: How Do I Raise My Rates?
Honestly consider whether conditions merit a price increase
Before you raise your rates, find out what other translators with your level of experience and expertise are charging. You can do that by visiting Common Sense Advisory, Translators Café, or ProZ.com. In addition to this, ask yourself:
- Have customers seen any improvements in service or performance in the last year? If so, were these improvements the result of resources or equipment that I had to purchase?
- Will increased rates improve service and performance in the future? How?
Allow your clients enough time to adjust to the idea
Surprises are nice, but not when they impact the billfold. Give your clients a couple months to prepare themselves to your new pay scale. In addition to this, let them know that once the new pay scale goes into effect, you will continue to provide service at your old rate for the next few months. New rates will go into effect only thereafter.
Briefly and tastefully explain why your pricing policy is changing
Here’s a tip we borrowed from Anthony over at Transbunko: Over the years you’ve probably built a solid working relationship with your clients, but odds are that the foundation of that relationship is the quality and consistency of the product you provide for them. Because of that, there’s no reason to get into the nitty-gritty of why you are changing your rates. Clients don’t need to know that you are going through a messy divorce, that you just spent $2,000 on surgery for your beagle, or that you’re just short on cash.
Instead of unloading your life story, simply tell clients that you weighed your work load and wages and found a need to increase your hourly rate. If you feel the need to give a more detailed explanation, highlight any additional training, qualifications or investments you’ve made in the business which justifies the increase.
Be confident about your decision
If you consistently exceed your clients’ expectations, you should feel confident in raising your rates. Your clients know what they’re going to get from you: quality and consist translations, not to mention peace of mind. That’s all worth paying a little extra for.