Sub-optimal rates: “better than nothing,” or not?

Thoughts On Translation

“The rate isn’t ideal, but it’s better than nothing.” “It’s not what I’d like to be earning, but you have to start somewhere.” “I wasn’t thrilled about the rate, but working is better than not working.” Stop me if you’ve heard this before… But the real question is: is this a valid way of looking at your freelance rates?

Ideally, here’s the situation you want to be in: you don’t even deal with low-paying clients, because you don’t need to. You are busy all the time at your regular rates, and if clients won’t pay those rates, you simply don’t work with them. Or, when you take on lower-paying work (let’s say a book translation, or work for a non-profit that you find meaningful), it’s for a reason: just because you enjoy it, or because you want to contribute to the organization’s mission, or bring a certain author’s work to…

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