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Virtual Assistant Rates: How much to Charge?

What are appropriate Virtual Assistant rates?

Determining your virtual assistant rates just takes a little thought and research. This was one of the first questions I had and is one of the most challenging questions new VA’s ask themselves, but is one of the most important too!

Today’s economy is making this decision more difficult than ever. Only you can decide what you are willing to work for and how much you need to make a profit. You are going to be a business owner and working for yourself; therefore, you do have to make a profit.

Recently I have been asked to help some struggling business owners who really couldn’t afford my rates, and we bartered services. This is a great way to handle the poor economy if you both can be of benefit to each other. While I personally have not raised my rates due to the economy, I haven’t lowered them either. I feel I offer the lowest rate possible for the level of service I provide. While I sympathize with struggling new businesses, I have to support myself and pay my bills as well. Keep this in mind when determining your rates.

Remember business owners know you get what you pay for and if your rates are too low, they may just wonder why. Charging what you’re worth conveys confidence and portrays you as a business owner who knows their worth and is confident in the quality of their service.

You also need to determine whether you want to charge by the project or monthly retainer agreement. You will need a separate contract for each and need to be clear about exactly what is included and how your client will be charged.

It is tempting to charge lower rates when you are just starting out because you may be a little insecure. When new in business, it can take some time to learn to value your work. You are providing a great service so don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth!

Determine what your financial goals are and how much money you need for you and your family. What salary will give you the freedom and lifestyle you are wanting by starting your own business. Figure these costs in your business plan.

There are several factors to keep in mind when determining your rates:

  • You no longer have company benefits and will have to cover your own medical expenses as well as fund your own retirement. 
  • You have to pay for your own equipment, maintenance costs, office supplies and utilities: phone and fax services and internet connections.
  • You have to pay for all of your marketing expenses: website and print advertising, business cards, stationery and networking events.
  • You need to make sure you charge enough to cover all of these basics with profit left over to pay yourself a livable wage.
  • One way to found out what your services are worth is to research what others in the industry are charging. Typically virtual assistant rates today are between $25 – $75 an hour, depending on the services offered and any special skills or certifications they have.

    This standard; however, offers some flexibility for you to determine the appropriate rates for your services and skill level. Some industries, for instance the legal and financial industries looking for virtual assistants with specialized skills, are willing to pay more than other industries.

    A major factor in determining your rates is the target market you are going to serve. Who are your clients and what are they willing to pay for your services?

    If you have specialized skills, a professional certification and/or many years of experience, it may be appropriate for you to charge more for your services.

    Another factor to keep in mind is the unsteady nature of this work. Especially in the beginning as you are finding clients, the work flow will be unsteady and you need to be sure you can survive during the slower times.

    Do some research and see what typical virtual assistant rates are in your location.

    You can also visit the websites of several Virtual Assistant Associations and get an idea of what is the typical rate for the type of services you will charge. Remember your goal as a VA is to establish a long-term collaborative relationship with a client. You will be better off finding a few clients willing to pay your rates, than trying to get many clients at a lower rate. You only have so many hours in a day and want to make sure you are able to provide quality work for your clients.

    Have confidence in yourself and don’t underestimate your services.

    This means that you are confident in your pricing and are willing to keep the set dollar, no matter what the circumstances. Don’t undersell yourself or this industry by charging rates that are too low. Other professionals don’t let customers haggle over price. Does your hairdresser, plumber, mechanic or doctor let you set the price? Charge a fair rate for your services and expect the clients that value your work will pay for your expertise.

    Should I start at the low end of Virtual Assistant rates and raise my rates later?

    This is a common strategy for many new virtual assistant business owners and is acceptable, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

    It’s always difficult to raise your rates – to both existing and new clients. Times are tough and everyone wants to pay as little as they possibly can; however, it is possible to raise your rates as you gain more experience and expertise.

    If you are working much more quickly and efficiently and you have gained more skills and/or certification, you may be quite justified in raising your rates. I would caution you, however, not to try to raise your rates too drastically. It is tempting to start your business with lower rates than your competition in hopes of gaining a few clients quickly, but I suggest you not start out charging rates too low. Stay within the acceptable range for your skills and services so that if you raise them in the future, your rate change will not be too drastic.

    Keep in mind you need to charge enough to make a profit.

    There is always someone who is cheaper, but you don’t necessarily have to compete with them. Concentrate on the quality of your services and the overall value you provide to your clients and charge a fair rate. With enough effort, you can find clients for your business at a fair rate.

    Learn More…

    Getting Paid – Payment Processing

    Start out with a Business Plan

    Avoid Virtual Assistant Job Scams

    Who is your Target Market?

    Do you need training?

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