4 responses

  1. Ivy Eisenberg
    January 27, 2014

    Very timely article.
    I totally agree with the approach to get the most information possible before quoting a range. As a service provider, I take the time to make sure I understand what the client wants to accomplish–note I say “wants to accomplish” not “what they are looking for.” Many times the client doesn’t know what they are looking for — or what budget they should allocate. Some consultants feel like they waste too much time uncovering the real need from the client. Indeed, there is often a long lead time before you actually get the gig. But I think it is well worth it because everyone needs to have realistic expectations. Unlike buying a car or buying a house (which are both GOODS, not services, and where there are many, many published prices) — there is no transparency as to what some services cost. And often the options available are very jargon-y, so the client doesn’t know what he or she needs. I am on the other side now, working on behalf of a client to find another provider. I got the question “what budget did you have in mind” a few times, and I had no idea. One potential provider laid out a scenario, saying “for this amount, I can give you X, Y, and Z.” That was tremendously helpful.


  2. Anwar
    January 27, 2014

    I found this very useful. I’ve struggled with the pricing aspect of my negotiations with clients. This I will start doing right away.


  3. Yahaira
    January 28, 2014

    Thank you for posting this!

    I recently ran into a snag when, prior to discussion, a prospective client anchored me to a low monthly stipend, for a variety of translation and copy editing services. I was uncomfortable with this, but I still gave the client the green light to send me work samples to complete. My reasoning? It would have been steady work.

    I then received the samples with strict instructions: a 48-hour turnaround time, an explanation of all edits, etc. The samples also totaled around 2500 words. I decided to cap the work at 750 words and provide the following: translation from English to Spanish, translation from Spanish to English, proofreading and a few substantive editing suggestions for good measure.

    On receipt,the prospective client displeased I hadn’t done all the work and cited “needing to see more proof of proficiency.” I was very glad I’d capped the work at 750 words; completion of the entire sample did not guarantee my getting the project. My takeaway was this:

    1) Stick to your guns. I cap sample edits at two manuscript pages, or 500 words. According to my research, this is pretty much the industry standard.

    2) Learn what the industry standard is for the scope of work you’re doing (both locally and remotely).

    3) Walk away if you can’t see eye to eye. I kindly let my client know what my boundaries were and left an open invitation to contact me if a future need for someone with my skill set should come up.

    Being under-pitched is pretty much par for the course in all creative industries. Especially in today’s economy, prospective clients will try to economize. Many of those same clients will turn around and offer you what you’re worth when their penny-pinching earns them a shoddily-done project.


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