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HELP: Can I re-negotiate my rates with an existing client?

Active Member
Jing Jie N Member Since: Apr 26, 2016
1 of 8

Hello fellow upworkers,


currently I'm almost finishing my first job, however the whole project is still a long way from completion.


Even though I'm not new to translations, this is my first professional job, and I took the offer at a $12.50/1000 words not knowing better.


After doing some work and market research thereafter, I find that this amount is ridiculously low, plus the client will not be paying me for duplicate words. The total number of words is 23,227 but after taking out the duplicates, as per my client's calculation, it became 16,259.6 (I'm not sure as to why it's not a whole number). Basically for all this work I'm being paid $203.25.


After working on this project for about 2 weeks, I find that with the time I had to invest in this project, I'm not earning enough to cover my monthly expenses.


The thing is, the client is a nice person who is very understanding, and he is expecting me to work on the whole project coming May. This time I have to do a whole lot more translation for the whole project. The problem comes in here... While I'm happy to take on this project for experience, the rate is really too low for my comfort. If I have to work on it next month by investing more time, I will have to cut down on my hours that I'm working out of translation, with a physical job. I probably won't be able to even pay my bills then.


So now, will it be okay for me to reject the future jobs for this project? Will it reflect badly on me? Or, will it be unprofessional for me to re-negotiate the rates? I'm looking at about minimum $30/1000 words and I want to charge for the duplicates, because I still have to rephrase the sentence on my end. Or would this be too much?


I need some advice, thanks!

Community Guru
Scott E Member Since: Jul 26, 2015
2 of 8

There's nothing stopping you from renegotiating, but I personally think that it would be unprofessional to do so. It's not so bad if there are future projects... it's not uncommon to renegotiate once you've got a better idea of the work involved... but if you're quoting a fixed price based on a current project, then it;s pretty unprofessional to try and increase that price in the middle of the project. 


I'd take the hit, complete the work to the best of your abilities, hopefully get some good feedback, and then if he wants any additional/future work, consider renegotiating then. Explain to them something along the lines that "the work was more than I'd expected, and although I didn't think it was fair to increase the rate during the project and I wanted to honor the original price for you... I will have to recalculate my rate based on my better understanding of the work involved..." etc etc 

"Welcome, humans. I'm ready for you!"
- Box, Logan's Run (1976)
Active Member
Jing Jie N Member Since: Apr 26, 2016
3 of 8

Hello Scott,


thank you very much for your reply. Currently the job I have has a fixed price of $203.25 as attached here.


Does that mean that I can proceed to re-negotiate for subsequent jobs after this job is completed? Even though it's the same client with the same project?


Sorry if I'm asking a stupid question, I've been on this website for not even a month so I'm not really sure how this works.


Also, is there a way for me to submit the rest of the works to get the balance $203.25 - $51 = 152.25? I can't find the submit button anywhere.


Thank you again!

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 8

@Jing Jie N wrote:


Also, is there a way for me to submit the rest of the works to get the balance $203.25 - $51 = 152.25? I can't find the submit button anywhere.


Thank you again!

 The client did not fund the rest of the work..... They must fund it before you hand over any more of this.... Please, in future, do not start working on a part of a project until the client has funded the milestone.


As for re-negotiating - you can for future projects, but not for the scope you already agreed to (the current contract of X words for X Dollars)


Community Guru
Sandra T Member Since: Nov 26, 2014
5 of 8

Hi Jing Jie,


and welcome to Upwork.


I agree with Scott, renegotiating in the middle of a contract isn't very professional. It also tends to create an odd atmosphere in the client-provider-relationship and has the potential to lead to a not so positive outcome.


There are a bunch of strategies that help to prevent scenarios like you've described. First of all, not to bid at and agree to rediculously low price, and I'm glad to read that you are reconsidering your rates.


In regards to duplicates/repetition - my own approach is that whatever clients tell me about it, I usually don't care. I might give in a little if the work is done inside a CAT tool, but only 1/3 of the actual repetition, so if there is 30% repeat text, I might knock off 10% of the total cost. In any other format (Word, Excel, PHP, CMS...) my rule is that if I have to click, read, touch or think on it, the client needs to pay for that. And since nobody can predict how much touching or thinking will be involved, it all has to be at the same original rate. I might give an overall lower rate for highly repetitive work, but for that I will need a good look at the overall material. If the client can't provide a format in which the repetition is easily traceable, we're back to the usual rate.


EDIT to add:


If the client has funded 1 milestone for let's say 20k words, and you requested half the milestone for 10k words, there won't be another "submit work/request pay" button. By requesting partial milestones, you're putting yourself at risk and the mercy of the client in regards to the rest. It's therefore better to ask the client for several smaller milesstones if you want to request several partial payments for a larger job.


Your best strategy might be to finish this task and get your client to close the contract and leave feedback before you start renegotiating.



View solution in original post

Active Member
Jing Jie N Member Since: Apr 26, 2016
6 of 8

Hello Petra and Sandra,


Thank you both very much on the advice and suggestions! I'm glad that there are helpful people all around upwork.


I will get my client to pay me the rest of the balance as well as re-negotiate the terms!


Really, thank you again!


Edit: Say, my client wants to pay me on the balance, how do I go about it? Is there anything I can do on my part, or do I have to get the client to do it on his side?

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
7 of 8

Jing Jie, did you set this job up as a one-off payment, or did you agree to a series of milestones (which the client has to activate)?


As to duplicate words - the only things I calculate out of a translation word count are things like proper names, book/film titles, or repeated standard phrases.   

Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
8 of 8

Hi Jing Jie,


Please don't submit your work until your client creates and funds a Milestone for the agreed amount. You need to follow up with your client and if they need help, direct them at this Help Article or ask them to contact Support so we could assist them with creating another Milestone on their contract.


I strongly advise you to read the Help articles from the Getting Started as a Freelancer section, especially the Fixed-Price Protection for Freelancers one, and our "A Freelancer's Guide to Upwork". Please also check our educational videos and best practice advice shared by other users:


Freelancer Tutorial Videos

Want to get that first job? Then check this out...

Proposal Workshop Video


To help you work safely on Upwork, please have a look at tips and warning signs shared in this thread.