How To Compete With Overseas Virtual Assistants Charging Five Dollars an Hour

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You’ve seen them. The virtual assistants that market their services for five dollars an hour. There are even virtual assistants on that offer 3 hours of virtual assistant services for five dollars.

You might ask “why would anyone hire a virtual assistant at a higher rate when you can hire a virtual assistant for $5 an hour?”.

I’m not writing this post to knock anyone but I will say this, you get what you pay for.

Consider this…

At some point, we’ve all needed to search for an expert to repair SOMETHING, right? Be it our AC or our car brakes or a broken washing machine. There are usually significant ranges in price for their services.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have tried to find the most reasonably priced service provider, because why overpay when you can get the same service for less?

Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about the quality of people’s workmanship and what I’ve learned is this:

Buy cheap, buy twice.

And what usually happens is the second time you pay, you pay a higher price because you’re hiring the expert that can actually solve the problem that the “cheap” one couldn’t.

I’m speaking from experience. I’ve had my own business since 2010 and I’ve hired plenty of overseas virtual assistants.  I’ve hired virtual assistants at $5/hour and I’ve hired overseas virtual assistants at $35/hour.

Business owners need to work with virtual assistants who can execute and get the job done right the first time with little or no supervision.

The last thing we want or need is to have to go back and forth multiple times because of errors or lack of knowledge on how to execute.

Some time ago a colleague of mine who is an online business manager recommended a virtual assistant that she uses. This virtual assistant is based in India and charges $7/hour.

I gave the VA a small project to work on, the creation of a Word document that would be converted into a  PDF. It’s something that I have been meaning to create myself but I felt that this small project was better managed by someone else so I could free up time for something else.

When I give a VA (or any service provider for that matter) a project to work on, I expect them to review their work with a fine-toothed comb before they submit it back to me and say “it’s ready”. That’s just what exceptional virtual assistants do whether they live in India or the UK.

So I get this document back and I see not just one error but several. I tell the VA to fix it. He does and sends it back to me again for my review. There are more errors.

After a day of this, I’m annoyed because I’m wasting my time and money. I just don’t understand why anyone would want to turn work that is less than perfect. I mean whether you’re making $5/hour of $50/hour, you have a reputation and if your work is shoddy and full of errors, you’re not going to get repeat business no matter how inexpensive your services are.

By the time the work was done, I’d spent close to $50. What a colossal waste of my time and energy. I learned a lesson that next time I will hire a competent virtual assistant where the focus is not on how much he/she charges per hour, but on how experienced they are. Because I want the job done right the first time as does any other business owner.

When clients hire a virtual assistant that claims he/she can help support your business and they are only charging $5 or $7/hour, there is probably a reason for this.

Each and every virtual assistant that I’ve ever worked with that charges less than $10/hour has been unreliable. They don’t check their work. As a business owner, mother of four and wife, I don’t have extra time. I can’t afford to work with a virtual assistant that doesn’t save me time and energy.

And that’s the whole point. Business owners need virtual assistants that can give them back the most important and sacred resource on this earth…..time.

Time to spend with their loved ones, time to work on that project that’s been on the back burner. Time to create more offering so they can sell more of their services.

If you’re a virtual assistant and you’re worried about competing with overseas virtual assistants charging $5 an hour here’s my advice.

Focus on giving superior customer service and turning over work that is impeccable. If you can do this, your clients will be happy to pay you a high hourly rate because you’re saving them time and money and a huge headache of managing a virtual assistant that can never seem to get the job done right. In the long run, those $5 an hour virtual assistants will cost business owners more, not less.

And to all the virtual assistants of the world reading this that are charging $5/hour, it’s time to uplevel. If your work is impeccable and your customer service bars none, you could and should be charging more for your services.

I don’t care where in the world you virtual assistants live, all I care about is that you save me time and energy. I’ll pay you whatever you ask for if you can make my life easier. That’s money well spent.






24 Responses to How To Compete With Overseas Virtual Assistants Charging Five Dollars an Hour

  1. David says:

    Articles like this help motive virtual assistants to work better. I have been reading a lot of articles lately but found this most useful in daily life. Virtual Assistant is not an easy task, you have to get up and organize your tasks daily. Every day we are learning new things and making ourselves better. This blog will definitely boost virtual assistance to achieve their goals effectively.

  2. Melorna says:

    Truly happy for this! Sometimes I feel like it would be bad the charge say 35/hr but I always put my best foot forward and I should be paid accordingly

  3. Cheryl June Gamo says:

    Precisely! Quality of work comes with a rate.If you do it right the first time,it will make life easier for you and your client then possible repeat business and referrals will follow.

  4. Maria says:

    Hi Reese,

    This definitely hit a nerve. I am one of the assistants with a rate of 10/hr or lower. And even getting 10 an hour has been like hitting the jackpot for me. I have been doing what I do for a while, not THAT long, but a good 5 years. I live in Mexico, and I started with a rate of 3.5/hr on my very first job ever. I slowly made my way up in rates, but I still feel like I’m not worth more than 10/hr. I’m not beating myself up, but after reading your post I’m wondering… is my work impeccable? No. I make mistakes, as everyone does, but I want to believe I am reliable and professional. I always try to do my best and I do check my work, yet I still make mistakes sometimes, not big ones, but I’m insecure… I’m always nervous about messing things up. So, my question to you is… how do I know when I’m ready to uplevel, how do I know my work is worth more and that I’m not unreliable or shoddy? And, if it so happens that I’m not as competent as I should be to get a decent salary, what should I do? How do I get better?

    I know it’s a loaded question, but I’d really like to know your thoughts on this. Thank you!

    • Reese says:

      Maria, I feel you and I am so glad you asked! Firstly, we all make mistakes. The last time I checked, the only thing perfect in this world is g-d. We can strive to be perfect, but no one is. When I say impeccable, I mean work of the highest standards. Work that you can be proud of and that your clients feel makes a difference. While impeccable means “faultless” I’d reckon that there isn’t one single business owner that can say he/she has never been at fault for screwing something up. So, be kind to yourself. Don’t let your insecurity rob you of a brighter future. So, be kind to yourself. Don’t let your insecurity rob you of a brighter future.

      You’re ready to uplevel when the work you’re doing makes a difference in the lives of your clients and they tell you so. If you don’t know, ask! Ask for feedback, for a review….. I knew it was time to raise my rates because I was getting more and more interest in my work and I couldn’t stay at the same rate. I brought up my current clients to my new rate and charged new clients a higher rate. That rate just increased over time. The more years of experience under your belt, the more money you can command. Maria, thank you for writing to me. I really appreciate it.xo

  5. La Vern Harrison says:

    I totally agree that when people settle with a lower rate service, you get what you pay for.

    This is your baby, your business! Would you put your child in a $50 a week daycare that will halfway take care of your baby?

    I’m glad you wrote this article. I will post this on my page.

  6. GeorGene Nelson says:

    You are very correct. If you want quality, you must expect to pay a suitable rate.

  7. Cheryl McLean says:

    TRUTH sister Reese.

  8. Lori East says:

    This is an excellent commentary. We often fail to value our own work and talents and so don’t expect others to value them. Those who want to pay cheap are like garage sales, they are going to try and nickel and dime you to death. Even if they pay the low price, is that price one that really covers your costs as a self-employed person?

  9. Reese, You are absolutely right.
    Life is simple.
    Stop living in a fear-based reality and start realizing how much you are really worth.
    People who charge $5.00 per hour do not invest in their ongoing education.
    When you spend time and money educating yourself and keeping current, you are valuable.
    You are in competition but not with anyone else besides yourself.
    You, the person in the mirror, is the real competition.
    Ignore what is around you and work on what is inside.
    I charge $35.00/hour and am happy to announce that I will be, as of September getting 2 additional clients.
    I am proud to say that I work for 2 insurance brokers, 2 translators and 2 non-profit consultants (as of September).
    The really beautiful part about all this is how my business will grow by helping their businesses to grow.
    I will never be out of work. I am creating sustainability for myself.
    Right at this moment, things are quiet and I use this time wisely by brushing up on skills that I will soon need. Get ready September, here come the numerous requests.
    I am the virtual marketing assistant of various businesses and enjoy seeing where my life is evolving.
    Thank you G-d for the wonderful abundance that is coming my way.
    Have a super day!

  10. Migdalia says:

    Reese, this is such a timely blog.

    I’ve been the recruiter as well as the job seeker. It’s important to know the value of the role – not only the market’s worth, but also what it’s worth to the company needing the resource. Some people have no idea what many roles entail, and that’s how you end up with the low-balling.

    However, as you point out, eventually people become wise to the ways of the market, and they do appreciate value for money. It’s better to lose a client or talent who does not value the work needed than to accept them eating up time and resources. They won’t last long, but what worse is that they may exhaust you or ruin you in the process.

    • Reese says:

      What a well written and thoughtful comment, Migalia! Thank you for taking the time to write it. I agree with every word you wrote. After writing this post, I got an email from a VA in the Philippines that is charging $7/hour and what I loved was how she said “and I want to charge more because I’m damn sure I can provide top quality work!”. I can’t wait to help this woman do just that.

  11. Make a claim -> follow through.

    Saving time, energy, and headache for a client is saving money for that client. A good VA needs to be able to work autonomously, and produce perfect work – excellent results.

    Pricing is subjective. I could probably charge half my rates if I didn’t live in a first world (aka expensive) country.
    But, in fact, I wouldn’t because my work is worth what I charge for it. Nothing to do with where I live.

    This post really resonated with me Reese. I would be happy to work with a VA who charges less than $10 an hour. If I could find one that can work autonomously, produce great results, and not require micro-management. I am sure they must exist, somewhere 🙂

    • Reese says:

      Exactly, Elaine! Thanks for your comment. Great VAs who charge less than $10/hour do exist, but the good ones are hard to find and when you find one, give them a raise! 😉

  12. Brenda says:

    I totally agree. I never worked as a virtual assistant, only as a content writer; however, even working in this capacity, I try to deliver my best work. So, when I ask for a price, based on performance, I know I deserve it. Thanks again for the inspiring post.

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