Many translators don't realize that what we do is extremely valuable. The language service we offer is the avenue through which international business takes place; without translation there is no international business. Translation has become an essential service for a lot of small, medium and big sized companies but I still see a lot of colleagues begging to get fair pay.
Especially in my main language combination (English-Italian) there are a lot of people willing to work for so little, because they don't want to "fight" for what they are worth - do they even know what they are worth? They accept to lower rates in order to get more work. Sometimes I am faced with the ugly truth "Your Italian colleagues charge a lot less than you" and I wonder how they can possibly do that without hurting their bottom line. Is this really what we are supposed to do as professionals?
When people undercut their pricing all they are doing is putting money back into the pockets of big corporations who will pay as little as possible to get the service done and maximize profit. By lowering their rates they are giving money they should be earning back to other people, they are hurting themselves, their colleagues, the industry, and ultimately they are driving down the market overall.
Poorly paid translators are unhappy, end up venting on forums and social media about how bad agencies and other clients are but do you realize you are responsible for your own fate? Do you have professional respect for your abilities and talents? Do you know how badly the market needs you?
If we stop and think about all these factors, and all the training and hard work we had to do to get to the point of offering quality translation services, it is easy to get motivated to raise your rates and/or find better paying clients. With the end of the year approaching, I encourage you to take these things seriously and increase your financial goal for next year. This is a gift you'll appreciate for years!
Happy holidays and happy translating!