One of the hardest things most newbie virtual assistants face is setting their rates. I know it was definitely a huge struggle when I started out, particularly because I had no idea what the value of my work even was!
Is this rate too expensive? What if they can’t afford me? What if I’m charging dirt cheap prices compared to other virtual assistants? What if they think I’m not good at what I’m doing if they see my prices are too low?
These are just a few of the questions that plagued my mind when I was just getting started. I was so nervous to get it wrong that I almost decided not to even respond to my first potential client.
If you feel like this resonates with you, keep reading! Here are some of the most important questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re pricing your virtual assistant services properly.
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What are other virtual assistants charging?
You might want to take a look at what others are charging to give you an idea of what to charge depending on the services you’re offering. This is by no means a determining factor, but it’s a great way to start getting an idea of what you could be charging.
A great way to do it is by doing a little online research. Many VAs have their own websites in which they list their rates, and you could even join a few Facebook groups and ask others what they would be willing to pay for your services (oh, this is also an excellent way to get networking!).
How Much Is Your Time Worth?
A great question to ask yourself (and be honest here), is how much do you want to make per hour. Maybe you’re choosing to leave your office job to get the freedom freelancing gives you, and in that case, take a look at how much you should charge to earn the same or more than you are at your current job.
Next, take a look at how long it takes you to complete a task and set a rate. For instance, your goal could be to make fifty dollars an hour, and if it takes you two hours to transcribe an hour-long audio, you can then charge $1.60 per audio minute.
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How Are You Going To Charge?
You have two options here: either to charge an hourly rate or on a package/per-project basis, and both come with their own pros and cons.
Charging an hourly rate is a good option because it ensures you won’t accidentally underestimate the project and wind up working way more hours than you originally anticipated without earning a penny more for them.
The downside, however, is that clients usually want to get an estimate of what they can expect to pay when the project is finalized and this is where it can get tricky. My advice is to quote a range. For instance, make an educated decision and quote a range (i.e. 3-5 hours).
If it looks like it might take longer as you go, make sure you let them know before you proceed. This isn’t uncommon and it generally happens when the client comes back with lots of revisions.
If you prefer to charge a package/per-project basis, decide how much you’d like to earn per hour, calculate how many hours it will take you to complete the project, and multiply them.
Again, the downside of this is that you might wind up working longer hours than expected, and this usually happens if the client wants many revisions and changes. This is why I recommend setting a per-project rate and noting that your price includes “up to X number of revisions.”
Know that your virtual assistant prices can change
Your rates aren’t set in stone and you can charge differently based on the tasks you’re taking care of.
This can be the case if you’re skilled in different areas. When I was getting started, I was charging a client $15 per hour and I was charging other clients up to $45 per hour. This is because the tasks were so different. The first client’s tasks required little to no skill, whereas the second client’s tasks involved my area of expertise (graphic design).
Moreover, you can totally change your rates down the line. Take your first year as a virtual assistant as a learning experience and evaluate from there.
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Evaluate your goals
If you want to get started with lots of clients, then set your rate a little below what your competitors are charging and rise them a year later.
BUT PLEASE HEAR ME OUT HERE: Don’t go too low. If you see most VAs are charging $20-25 for the same services you’re offering, don’t try charging $10 out of desperation to book a client. Don’t undervalue yourself. It’s okay to go a little bit under market value, but don’t abuse yourself and your time. The right client will come along, you just have to be patient!
If you’d rather position your business as an exclusive provider, don’t be afraid to set your rates above market value.
Many VAs are afraid to charge too much as it will scare clients away (I know that was the case when I was starting out), but the truth is a higher price can give the impression that you’re an expert in your field and the right clients will appreciate and be willing to pay for your time.