The connection between marketing and hourly rates

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2011 Freelance Industry Report 41% of translators surveyed spend less than 2 hours per month promoting their businesses

This according to Ed Gandia’s 2011 Freelance Industry Report in which 1,204 freelancers worldwide representing 37 professions participated in August 2011. Translators represented 9% of respondents, or roughly 108 people.

One could say such a small sampling is not representative of the highly pixelized translation profession (disclosure: I did not take the survey). Nevertheless, a closer look at some of the data Ed Gandia collected does suggest much of the information is probably pretty accurate.

To wit:

“Translators are also heavily concentrated (26%) in the $30-39/per hour category” (p.23), but beat other professions hands down in billing on average 80% of their work hours each week. Though the number of years of experience influences average hourly rates earned, the chart on p. 24 shows a fairly even distribution up to the $100-150/per hour range, where freelancers with 10+ years of experience dominate.

Unfortunately, the report does not present a cross-analysis of hourly rate/profession/experience – information that would tell a richer story. Ed, can you add it to next year’s questionnaire?

Billing 80% of your working hours

Sounds great unless:

  • It means focusing on quantity rather than quality
  • It indicates a pattern of working predominantly against the clock
  • It leaves no time to promote your business and develop a solid marketing backlog

Spending less than 2 hours a month on marketing

If you can barely spare 9 minutes a day (2 hours/22 working days) to promote your expertise, your work and your business, your dependence on those who currently provide the bulk of your work is dangerous.

If you can only invest 9 minutes a day on marketing, then it should be no surprise raising your rates and landing better projects are a huge hurdle (complaining about lousy translation rates is a recurring – and oft sterile – theme on-line).

If you can only invest 9 minutes a day, it means you’re are not driving your business, it’s driving you. And isn’t greater independence one of the main reasons one chooses to be a freelance professional?

11.2% of translators surveyed invest 16 hours or more on marketing

And about 4% (an estimate looking at the chart on p.23) of translators surveyed earn between $100-200 per hour. Is there a direct corrolation?

I believe so. Contrast with copywriters, about 25% of whom bill over $100 per hour and 26% of whom spend 16 hours and up per month on promoting their services.

One a day

“One apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Walking one mile a day keeps you fit.

What could marketing one hour a day do for YOUR business?

P.S.: The International Freelancers Day On-line Conference is September 23rd. I’ll see you there (if my recently grumpy Internet connection permits).







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