Category Archives: Rates

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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Pricing Structures for Virtual Assistants: The Great Debate

There are three ways that virtual assistants bill for their work. By the hour, by the retainer or per project. In this post, I am going to talk about the pros and cons of each so you can figure out which payment method to use for your virtual assistant business. By The Hour PROS BillingContinue Reading

12 Responses to Pricing Structures for Virtual Assistants: The Great Debate

  1. Kirri says:

    This was a great overview! I was undecided as to how I wanted to present my rates, and this helped me to sort it out in my mind. I’ve worked with hourly and project clients mostly, but definitely interested in building retainer work! Thank you Reese.

  2. Debbe says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful and informative information. I’ve wondered about the other payment structures, now I know more about each.

    I use hourly, because it’s what my client wants.

  3. Kim Scott says:

    Great breakdown! I prefer a mix of these. I do some hourly work, which I bill for on Mondays if at least an hour of work has been done. (This was a preference of a past client and I like it so much I implemented it for all. It really cuts down on the worry that someone won’t pay up on a month’s worth of work.) My different clients are at different rates, so it can be a bit confusing though. I’ve slowing been moving current clients (and all new clients) over to a project base, and with my specialties that works out best. I have built a team and now my team works mostly on a per-project basis as well, so I know how much of a profit I will make off of something based on how much I am paying my team. I really like that I don’t have to worry about someone taking twice as long as I think it should take to get a piece of the project done. There are always a few small projects that I simply haven’t been able to convert though, so these tend to be billed hourly at least until we have enough of it under our belt that we know how much it will cost to do it per package. I am also going to be moving my hourly clients into a bit more of a retainer where they are purchasing their choice of hours up front and then when they run out they will just buy more. Some may be on a set amount monthly and others will be at their own discretion.

  4. Thank you for breaking down each type of pricing and the pros and cons. As usual, you provide a ton of useful and helpful info! For carry-over hours on retainer, I have a “carry-over up to 10 hours” in my contract. If I didn’t, I might have to give away a month for free!

    • Reese says:

      Hey, my friend! Glad you found the post helpful. I hear ya on carryovers. As I said, there is no “right” way to do things. You have to do what’s right for you and it sounds like you’re doing just that. xo

  5. Jemma says:

    I currently charge by the hour and it works well for both my clients and I but I would like to move towards retainers and packages in the future. Retainer especially as I tend to have long term clients so this would assist budgeting for all parties.
    Thanks for a great post!

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A Step by Step Guide To Eliminate Hearing “You’re Too Expensive”

  {You can highlight any line of this blog post and tweet it out, so give it a try} You’ve just had the most amazing potential client conference call and now it’s time to discuss your rates. You quote your price, and your prospect lets out a long sigh which means you’re about to hear something like:Continue Reading

5 Responses to A Step by Step Guide To Eliminate Hearing “You’re Too Expensive”

  1. Bernice says:

    Excellent post, Reese. Really makes me think about my unique selling proposition or USP. Thanks!

  2. Great post, Reese! I learned early on that people love it when you treat them like they’re special. No matter what business you’re in, it totally works!

  3. This is going in my Potential Client folder, so I always have it on hand when I need it. Thanks!

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How To Price Your Virtual Assistant Services

  One thing that I talk about over and over with virtual assistants and my private coaching clients is the issue of rates or pricing. Pricing your VA services takes a lot of thought. You have to take a holistic look at your entire life experience, not just your work experience. You also need toContinue Reading

22 Responses to How To Price Your Virtual Assistant Services

  1. Kelly Mann says:

    Hello Reese,

    I’m about to start my VA business and most of what I want to do is WordPress websites, but I’m good at excel since my background is being an analyst. I know how to package websites, but don’t know how to charge for excel work since it’s very fluid as far as complexity and possible issues that arise. Charging as a retainer seems like the way and I need some advice.

    Thank you.

    • Reese says:

      I’d be very cautious about charging a retainer for excel work because as you said the work is very fluid. I always encourage new VAs to stick with hourly based rates until you are more confident in how much time it takes you to complete projects. Hope this answer was helpful!

  2. […] Charge what you’re worth – If you’re making less than $15 an hour as a freelancer, you aren’t charging what you’re worth. That’s a low rate. Many VA’s start out charging $20 an hour just for administrative skills. Social media, graphic design, copywriting, and other specialized skills are in high demand and worth a lot more. Charge what you’re worth. If you’re not sure what your services are worth, check out this guide. […]

    • Reese says:

      Hi, Amber! Thank you so much for linking to my pricing guide on what to charge as a virtual assistant. I really appreciate it! Love your site, BTW! It’s so beautiful. Well done!

  3. Ghalib Sanni says:


    Great article! However, I still need guidance to figure out how I am going to charge for my services. My focus is in the construction field such as, building construction, photography, documentation & offering virtual assistance to landscapers or masonry contractors, etc.

    I am working with my first client right now, who is a property manager and he does not know how many hours he will need me per week. Eventually, he will get very busy but right now, I need to figure out how I am going to charge him since I am working on some assignments for him.

    What I am doing for him is taking care of invoices, contracts/proposals. Currently, I am creating these documenets for him, such as writing & editing them. I will also have to modify it for each of his clients, right now and in the future. However by that time(few months from now), I will have created all the files for him, having better knowledge of his business & all I would have to do at that point is just edit, either add or remove words/paragraphs, pricing, etc. then send send it out to his clients.

    Details: It takes me roughly an hour(+|-) to write a contract/proposal, editing, correcting and doing the math, depending on the client. For the invoices, it involves more math, which I do on excel, but also double check my math via calculator. I would say it takes me roughly 30 mins(+|-). As I get more involved, the amount of time it takes will decrease since I will be very used to it.

    How do I charge in this case when you do not know how many hours you will need to put in ?

    Should I charge by percentage of amount of contract per each client / property?
    Hourly ? If so, how do I go about it ?
    Fixed Price ? Will this be fair to my business or client ?

    AT this point, I am lost and confused.

    Please help, I am very open to advice of anyone that has an idea.

    Thank you so much !

  4. Kimi B says:

    HELLO! My normal VA business is very task driven and I charge per hour. I have recently been approached by a previous sales trainer where I used to work to help him to create an online training course based on written material he has amassed over years of training agents. He has asked me to research websites,attend webinars, look at methods to record, edit, etc (to get ideas on what his web course should look like). Then be the TECH person who gets this all up and running (Design to Delivery, etc. What in the world do I charge? When I brought up hourly He alluded that when I research how to build online courses and other websites/webinars that my pay is… “You’re getting a first class education you can use in your own life”. “If you had to pay for all these courses it would cost $$$” “You can use these to start your own business one day”.

    For the website/course research – what to charge?

    What do I charge for more task driven items: For the actual creation of the course (create PDF/handouts, Recording (mov,pdf,mp3 etc), Editing, Building website course (picking one of the websites I’ve researched), transcribing of meetings etc… Hourly? Per TAsk? HEWP!

  5. Tiffany says:

    I am really learning a lot from your website. Your “What to Charge” webinar has TOTALLY changed my way of thinking on pricing. My mentor actually referred me to your site. Thank you so much for providing all of this information. It is really helpful to me. I am building now and will be fully functional at the beginning of 2016. I am temping as administrative assistant right now. I have been temping for years and I have decided when this assignment ends in December, it will be my LAST 9-5. Keep up the good work. I am really enjoying your site. 🙂

  6. DENISE says:

    Hello, Reese. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. I am just looking into the Virtual Assistant employment community. I have worked corporate as an admin and admin specialist for upper level management for years. It was suggested that I consider VA when I found myself uprooted and dislocated following a natural disaster. Reading your blog is definitely blowing my mind. It makes me nervous. What services would be required for a rate of $45 dollars per hour? Please, give me an example. I am skilled, but how skilled do I have to be for that rate. What is expected?

  7. […] How To Price Your Virtual Assistant Services […]

  8. Jemma says:

    I love your take on VAs who offer design work yet their site sucks… I’m still in my start-up phase so have been trolling through countless VA websites for inspiration and I am baffled by the number of bad sites I’ve come across! They offer design and branding yet theirs is terrible; proofing yet they have spelling & grammatical errors throughout; website maintenance yet their links don’t work.
    It’s crazy!! I am determined to do my own site as I want to learn but there is no way it’s going live until it looks professional and represents exactly who I am and what I can do. The scary thing is that many of these are seasoned VAs who have apparently been around for quite a while!

    • Reese says:

      Jemma, it is crazy! Glad you’re putting one foot in front of the other and focusing on your business. I’d love to see your site when it’s ready.

  9. Erin says:

    Hi Reese- Have just stumbled across your blog and am feeling so grateful!! I am launching a VA business in a couple of weeks and am finding it tricky to find advice like this.
    This was super helpful and I look forward to learning more from your blog!
    Erin- Brisbane Australia

    • Reese says:

      Welcome, Erin and thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. I’d LOVE to see your new VA business once it’s up and running. OR if you’d like I can take a look at things before it’s up and running. You know where to find me! xo

  10. nandini says:

    a very useful article. I was thinking about fees and how to go about it this article has made me clear on my thoughts. Thanks much for posting this.

  11. Excellent article Reese and I am way past the point of undervaluing my services any more! I plan on splitting out my services, packaging them up and pricing them accordingly and PROPERLY for the new year after severely undercharging for the past year and a half. I’m not upset though because I have learned so much during this time, what I do and don’t want to do and who I do and don’t want to work with, I’m ready!!!

  12. Denise Oliveira says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post as I am currently struggling with finding that “feels right price” to charge my clients. Thanks for the tips. I am going to give it a try.

  13. Lee Drozak says:

    Another honest and to the point article from you Reese. I too use the backward method for pricing and packages because it makes sense to do so. What some forget though is you need to factor in expenses.

    I got a chuckle from the line “Don’t offer copywriting if your own copy sucks”. This spoke to me because while I don’t completely suck, I don’t enjoy writing copy for myself let alone anyone else. So offering that as a service makes no sense no matter how in demand it may be.

    • Reese says:

      Thanks, Lee! Great seeing you here on the blog. What an honor! I love that I caused you to laugh with my copy writing comment. You’re at the point in your business where you are keenly aware of what you fires you up and what deflates you. It just doesn’t make sense to work on projects that you’re not passionate about or feel like it’s a chore/struggle and the sooner VAs realize this, the better.

      • Julie Daugherty says:

        Hi Reese, I just stumbled on your website while surfing the web. I’ve been working for the same client for the past 7 years, and gradually increased my rate from $20 per hr. to $45 per hr. over that time. The increase happened as my skill set increased and as more responsibility was asked of me. The relationship with this client, however, has become increasingly untenable and it’s time to move on. The problem is, I feel my skills have developed solely in response to his needs and I don’t know if what I have to offer will fit other clients’ needs. I also don’t feel I’d be able to charge $45 per hour elsewhere to start. Any suggestions on how I can gain the clarity to know exactly what I have to offer and the confidence to know what I can charge? Thank you.

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