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 to understand your market.
We’ve all wracked our brains at one point or another regarding how much we should charge for our services. There is no shortage of advice out there. Ask 10 different people, you’ll get 10 different answers.
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You wouldn’t just slap a name on your business so don’t just slap a price on your services.
Before you figure out how much you should charge you need to ask yourself this: “Are the services that I am providing services that I am well versed in?”
In other words, are these services things that you are known for being awesome at? Don’t offer presentation creation if you’ve only created 3 presentations in your life and they were so-so or worse, you’ve never created one from start to finish having only dabbled in PowerPoint.
Don’t offer copywriting if your own copy sucks. That just doesn’t make any sense. And you certainly shouldn’t offer design services if you don’t have any design work to showcase. One of my biggest pet peeves are VAs who offer design work but their website ain’t nothing to write home about. Don’t do that.
Back when I was an EA (executive assistant) I was a black belt calendar ninja (swords and all). I managed calendars for so many people and managed so many logistics that it would make most assistants heads spin.
Once I became a virtual assistant I focused on the areas I was an “expert”. There were plenty of skills (not just calendar management) I was damn good at, so those skills got the focus.
I wasn’t good at creating presentations and I went down that rabbit hole and got screwed. So take it from me, don’t say you know how to do something and charge good money for it only to produce less than stellar results. It will only bite you in the ass and hard. I wrote a post about that here. Read it.
Don’t let the word expert freak you out, either. When you know more about a subject than someone else, some might call you an expert. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
So let’s fast forward and assume you have the services that you’re going to market and you’re ready to price those bad boys.
Here are my two tried and true ways for getting to that magic number.
Feeling it out
Grab a piece of paper and draw a line graph. On one side of the linegraph write down the lowest rate you would offer for your services. At the other end of the line graph write down the highest rate you would offer. This high number makes you nervous, because you’re saying, hell, I’d never be able to charge anyone THIS much.
Then pick a low ball number, something that feels way too low.
Now, pick a number between the low and the high that feels right to you. The one rate that you feel in your gut as the one that makes the most sense.
THAT is you’re your magic number.
Start with the end in mind
When you start with the end in mind it means you can’t afford to play with your income. You need to know each and every month how much is coming in because your livelihood depends on it.
Start with the end in mind and work backwards. Do a monthly budget and see how much money you have to have each month to live. Then break that number down like this:
Monthly cost of living = $3k
What I’ve got to earn each day (we’ll take an average of 22 days per month) 3k / 22 = $136.36 per day
$136.36 per day / 8 hours a day = $17/hour.
This is just an example. You’re personal situation is different so you’ll need to do this breakdown according to your situation and charge accordingly.
That’s the pricing method for when you’re trying to figure out what to charge by the hour. But what if you’re ready to start charging by the package?
Let me start by saying that if you’re a new virtual assistant I don’t encourage you to charge by the package until you have worked as a VA with several clients and have gained some solid experience.
Then you can start thinking about packaging up your services into packages. Services packages work well for virtual assistants who know exactly what they do and what they don’t do. They know without a shadow of a doubt how long it will take them to do the job.
Let me give you an example. I always use a graphic designer as an example because it’s a real world example that we can all relate to. Graphic designers charge by the project. Either you’re getting a website or some design work. They quote a price and do the work. If it takes them more time than they expected because of something they didn’t think of, tough. The client doesn’t have to pay more because they didn’t create a project quote that made sense.
The same thing applies with the VA industry. When you give a quote for a project you’ve got to be able to quote a price that makes sense. That means you know how long it’s going to take to get it done. You’ll get there with experience. That’s why you should hold off with packages or project work until you’re ready to offer something you know how to do with your hands tied behind your back standing on one leg.
Here’s a great quote to remember as you work through what to charge, “price is what you pay, value is what you get” – Warren Buffet
Talk to me below in the comments. How do you feel about your current prices? Do you think they make sense or do you feel like you need to adjust?
Let me know below.
22 thoughts on “How To Price Your Virtual Assistant Services”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good luck, Denise!
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!!!
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.
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
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
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!
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.
[…] How To Price Your Virtual Assistant Services […]
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?
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. 🙂
Tiffany I am so happy you left this comment. Thank you!
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!
please excuse the errors above as I am typing this from my phone! 🙂
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 !
[…] 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. […]
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!
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.
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!