For translators who work with clients outside their home base countries, choosing a pricing currency can be an important business issue. For the past year or so, pricing in euros (or if you’re European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, pricing in “euro”) has seemed attractive for those of us based in the U.S. When the euro was pushing US$1.60, it wasn’t hard to decide which currency was more attractive for pricing.
For better or worse, the dollar has been steadily rising, and today’s mid-market exchange rate is at to US$1.33 to the euro, meaning that the 2,000 euros that you charged a client three months ago would have resulted in a payment of about US$3,140 then and about US$2,660 today. So, is it better to price your translation services in your currency, your client’s currency, or some other variation?
A complicating factor is that when the dollar was doing poorly against the euro, for example back in March when the euro was at US$1.57, many translators decided to offer their services to European clients at attractive rates, in euros. As the dollar seems to be regaining strength, it brings up the question of who should absorb the difference; should the client pay the equivalent of what the translator was earning in dollars, or should the translator continue to earn the same amount in euros? And of course there’s the overarching issue of where the dollar is headed in general, with many economists predicting an almost worldwide recession in 2009.
It’s a tricky situation, and one that is probably best served through diversification and translator-client communication. As many other translators have commented lately, the more choices you have about who to work for and how much to charge, the better off you are when the economy is unpredictable; a good mix of clients in your country, other countries, agencies, direct clients etc. is the best protection against economic fluctuations. Likewise, it’s definitely acceptable to tell clients, especially new clients, that your rates and/or availability may change depending on the currency situation, i.e. “Right now, that rate in euros would equal my base rate in dollars, but if the dollar continues to rise against the euro, I might not be available at that rate in the future.”
Feel free to contribute your own suggestions as well!