For a few years, a sizable portion of my income while working from home was made as a VA (virtual assistant). While I did well and worked with some wonderful individuals (partners as well as clients), I soon became dispassionate about my work. I was stubborn and slow to accept and learn about blogging as an important facet of running a successful business and I was overwhelmed by social media in general. I’m not as stubborn as I formerly was regarding these common business tools, and while I still have so much learn about them, I am genuinely making the effort.
That being said, I eventually realized my passion really was helping others navigate their way toward owning their own home-based virtual assistant businesses. With a background in HR and Office Management for traditional brick-and-mortar companies, I recognized immediately the advantages to utilizing virtual office support to pare down costs and promote efficiency and productivity. I found satisfaction in expounding the virtues of virtual assistance while cutting through the objections raised by uninformed managers and employers bent on micromanaging employees. I also found gratification (and still do) in helping struggling entrepreneurial-minded individuals to recognize their own worth when it comes to compensating themselves for their contribution to the business world. In doing so, I have often been asked my opinion on how much VA’s should charge for their services. I don’t have a patented answer for everyone; but let’s work our way through this.
How much you charge as a virtual assistant (or any other service provider) depends greatly on your services and the value of your time. This varies for everyone (All right, that is my patented answer, but just for you I will elaborate).
Many VAs aim to yield an income comparable to their previous hourly wages as employees. While this situation may be suitable for a number of VAs and can attract the thriftier (ahem…just saying…) potential clients, be wary of being taken advantage of (often unintentionally) by such prospects.
When determining the value of my own time and services, I had to take into consideration that not only was I no longer an employee; but my new role now encompassed business owner, sales and marketing rep (a job I neither relished nor excelled in), office manager, researcher, administrator and so much more, and in my favor were the vast experience and advanced skills I now brought to my virtual support business.
Additionally, as I was no longer dependent on someone else for supplying the necessary office equipment and programs I used on a daily basis, I had to make sure that I took into account the inevitable maintenance costs, as well as those for software updates. This was very important to me, as I strove to keep up with the latest technology, which was necessary for the services I offered.
Not to be overlooked was the value of my time. By trying to attract clients in the early stages of my virtual support business by offering extremely low rates (Yes, even I considered it) I could have found myself feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and tempted to rush through the project just to get it off my desk and risk sacrificing quality, reputation and the business relationship (I’ve seen it happen). As a remote worker supporting the client’s business, it is important to remember that my time (and yours) is just as valuable as theirs.
What about those prospective clients shopping around who think your rates are too high? It happens. Move on. Whether you charge $10.00 an hour or $60.00 an hour, there will always be consumers out there who won’t see past the bottom line. These do not make desirable clients, anyway. Fortunately, there are those who do have the foresight into the latest trends of business conduct, and many will recognize the quality and convenience in the services you provide – that is, provided you do indeed offer quality and convenience. Your rates will mean nothing if you can’t back them up in performance.
Sadly, there are a number of entrepreneurial-spirited individuals out there who mistakenly believe that virtual support can be standardized, packaged and priced to sell for an easy buck. While this can be discouraging to those virtual support professionals who are serious about providing services they can be proud of, rest assured that these “canned VAs” will not last long. Like any haphazardly-put-together enterprise, they will absolutely fail; leaving the serious professionals standing (and working).
Ultimately, if you know your stuff; if you perfect your skills; and if you perform your tasks flawlessly, you should be compensated accordingly. Capisce?