To negotiate rates is to negotiate relationships

 (comic from here)
I have a special preference for translation agencies – at least for now. They are clients who (usually) understand the business of translation, they know what I need to get the work started and done, and they go for the final clients, which is something that requires time and patience. So every now and then I have to negotiate the terms of collaboration with a new agency. Including rates. There are a few agencies which allow me to set the rates right from the start, and in my experience, these are delightful clients, and I don’t mean that because they gave me the freedom to charge what I feel my work values. They know that, if I charge 1 euro per word (not my real price, people), that means I worked hard to set this rate, which includes many years of academic study and money spent on specialized training, conferences, tools, among other things. And if they value me as a professional, they know our relationship will be based on mutual respect, so we have all odds favoring a long lasting relationship. 
In my experience, agencies that fight for every penny make lousy clients – of course, there are exceptions. But they often delay payment, many times because their final client has not paid them yet. They also tend to make absurd discounts “for quality problems”, because their in-house proofreader who speaks European Portuguese changed a term or two, or made stylistic changes – and they never send me the file so I can comment on the “quality problems”. When this happens, I know it is time to let them go. 
While negotiating my rates, I consider a few factors – how long will it take for payment to reach my pocket, the means of payment the agency uses, what is their discount policy (this says SO much about their ethics and how we’ll get along). The longer a client takes to pay me, the higher I’ll charge. 
Another factor that counts is the current professional season – was I very busy during the last couple of months, or am I about to miss my rent? I think through very carefully, because I build relationships with my clients, and do my best to meet their needs – so will I hate myself for compromising? I usually make good decisions, because absurd offers are meant to be denied. Keep in mind you are a professional. And even if you’re starting now, do you want to get stuck with a client that pays you 2 cents in 90 days from invoice, and makes insane discounts? Thinking in the long run while negotiating usually helps to avoid this kind of thing.

How do you usually negotiate? Do you prefer to be the one to mention a rate, or wait for the client to say a number?

(comic from here)

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