Once you’ve decided to become a VA, you’ll have to set rates for your services. Setting your prices can be one of the hardest things to do, and so many new VAs set their prices very low hoping to pull in more clients. But, setting your rates too low can actually hurt your business goals.
Why? I’ll admit, you may get more interest initially, but this can backfire because non-ideal clients tend to hire based on your price alone.
You want clients who understand the value you’re offering them. Your overall package includes your time and creativity.
Setting your rates to reflect your total value to the client will lead to better business relationships and a more satisfying VA career.
The last thing you want is to feel that being a VA doesn’t pay enough.
Here’re some ideas on how you can better set rates that attract quality clients.
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See What Others Are Charging
It can be helpful to look at what other VAs charge when you’re setting your prices. Some virtual assistants post their rates right on their websites.
If you review other VA sites, the rate info is usually listed under the “services” or “hire me” pages.
Check the end of this post for additional resources.
Please be sure you’re comparing prices with VAs who do your type of work!
Comparing rates between a VA who specializes in web design and a VA who specializes in social media posts won’t help you accurately set your prices as the rating for these skills is vastly different.
You can also research rates in virtual assistant Facebook or LinkedIn groups like VANetworking. Check previous posts on the subject of pricing your services or start a thread and ask. You’ll be sure to get lots of answers!
To give you an idea, North American VAs generally charge $25–50 per hour.
Estimate Your Expenses
As a VA you’re an independent contractor or freelancer (usually). Being a freelancer means you’re responsible for paying taxes (as much as 30%), continuing education, computer maintenance and so on.
It would be best if you made allowances for these deductions in your rates. Accounting for your expenses is normal and expected for any business owner.
Let’s say when you worked your office job, you made $20 an hour. When you’re setting your VA freelancer rates, you should allow for at least 25% over that to account for the expenses mentioned above.
Otherwise, you’ll end up making way less than $20 per hour after costs are taken out.
Hourly Rates vs. Fixed Price vs. Retainers
Next, you need to understand how VAs set their rates. There are three common ways to do this. Some virtual assistants charge a fixed price per project while others charge an hourly rate. Others use a retainer-based system.
The hourly rate is helpful when you’re new. It gives you the space to learn how long it takes you to perform specific tasks and determine which projects your clients value the most.
As you progress or even right from the start, you can set fixed rates based on the project or scope of work.
For example, if I’m new to VA work and my client has me setting up a social media profile, if I charge $25 an hour and the process takes me 4 hours to complete, my client is paying me $100 for that project.
Now as I develop my skills, it only takes me 2 hours to handle the same social media set up. If I’m still charging hourly, I now make $50 instead of $100. So I’m losing money because of my inexperience!
The way to overcome a problem like this is to offer a fixed price. I can charge a flat-rate fee of $100 for each social media profile set up which will reflect my expertise and experience. If it happens to take longer than expected, the client pays that same rate.
Many clients like the idea of paying a fixed amount. Hourly billing rates can add up quickly, and the client could end up with a larger invoice than with fixed pricing!
Retainers come into play when you charge the client one lump sum on an ongoing monthly basis. All of that client’s tasks are covered under that one fee.
A lot of VAs offer a discount to retainer clients, anything from 5-25%. Just make sure that when you do this, you’re still making enough to cover your time and expenses.
Be Confident In Your Pricing
Once you’ve decided on a rate, you may still feel uncomfortable saying the price out loud to potential clients! I know this can be difficult, but this is where you explain why your rate is what it is (your expenses and taxes).
Also, if the client were to employ someone, they’re required to pay taxes and will likely have to provide benefits and train that person.
You, as an independent contractor, relieve them of having to pay these additional expenses.
In other words, think about how you’re saving the potential client money AND the cost of doing business.
Most clients (being entrepreneurs themselves) won’t have a problem with your rates, but you may have to explain your prices to a few.
Some VAs offer a trial period to make sure the collaboration is a good fit. The trial period can run from 2 weeks to a month. You can do this before the contract is signed or you can include it in the wording of your agreement (if you use one).
You may also offer free services, but I’m not a fan. I once worked (for free) on five projects over two weeks for a client, and in the end, they kept me hanging, ultimately deciding they didn’t need my services after all.
Were they unhappy with my work? No. They told me they loved it AND they USED it!
Devastating, but it happens. 🤷🏾♀️
The only times I feel you can work for free is if you’re gaining knowledge/testimonials in return, it’s a close family member or friend, you’re guest posting, or it’s for a non-profit you support.
Feel free to offer discounts. However, if the client expects you to work for free “just to make sure,” this may be a red flag. Trust your instincts.
Asking for a Deposit
It’s a good idea to ask for a deposit from your clients at the start of each project.
Requesting a deposit protects you if you start working on a project, but your client has to cancel it for some reason.
You’ll still have the deposit which should cover the time you’ve already invested.
A deposit also protects your client. It means they’ve booked time on your schedule and ensures their project is a top priority.
Most clients understand this and will gladly pay the deposit.
If a client has a problem with this when you bring this up, they may be more interested in test driving your services than making an actual purchase.
You’ll Be Okay ( :
At the end of the day, it all comes down to what your client can afford and how much you need to charge to be successful.
Setting your rates when you’re first starting your virtual assistant business may feel overwhelming. You may think that you’re not entitled to the prices you’re setting (you’re totally worth those rates!)
As long as you’ve reviewed the market and made allowances for your business expenses, you’re on the right track. It’s natural to be nervous at first, but that feeling will go away after you’ve worked with a few clients.
Resources for this post:
VANetworking is an excellent resource for VAs. They have a ton of free services including forums and articles on how to set your VA rates.