If you’re a new virtual assistant or a seasoned virtual assistant this is a topic that gets a lot of traction. Figuring out what your rates are can be one of the hardest things for both the newcomer and experienced VA.
Instead of telling you what you should charge I’ll share my experience.
When I first became a virtual assistant I worked for a company called Secretary in Israel. It’s a wonderful virtual assistant company that matches clients with virtual assistants. At that time, Secretary in Israel was charging $35/hour for senior level virtual assistant services and my share of that was $18/hour.
When I decided to branch out on my own I began charging $20/hour. In my eyes, it was an increase in my hourly rate but it was still way below the $35/hour rate. I thought that because I offered my services at such a low rate I was sure I would be able to get several clients.
I did get several clients from referrals and they never batted an eye at my $20/hour rate. After working at this rate for several months, I realized that I was getting more and more referrals and I didn’t have the time to handle all the work coming in. It was time to re-think my hourly rate.
I increased my rate to $25/hour and again, no one batted an eye.
The next time another potential client approached me for my services I told her that my hourly rate was $30/hour. Within 24 hours, this client suggested we move forward and she has been a client of mine ever since.
Eventually, I started asking clients for $45/hour.
Keep in mind that I got clients and raised my rates because I was really good at what I did. I solved my client’s problems.
I was so busy that I needed to evaluate how I was charging my clients in terms of the retainer packages I was offering. I had 3 options in my retainer package. The idea was if you purchased more time I gave you a discount on the hourly rate.
Here is how it looked:
10 hours of VA services – $45/hour = $450
20 hours of VA services – $40/hour =$800
40 hours of VA services – $35/hour =$1,400
Over time, the above options stopped working for me. That’s because I had a large client roster (and more work than I know what to do with). I didn’t need to discount my rates –so I stopped.
I started offering 5-hour blocks of time for $45/hour. Period. If my clients want to purchase 10 hours then they paid $450. It’s was that simple.
Today, I charge $150/hour for my services. I’ve been working in this industry for over 10 years.
My pricing now goes through a VERY methodical process and I never guess at how much I should charge.
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I feel it’s important to say that when you offer your clients too many choices they often time choose nothing. Do yourself a favor and pick one price point and stick to it. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers wrote a great blog about offering too many choices. While Derek’s post is about selling stuff online it can easily be translated into creating rate sheets for virtual assistants.
If you offer basic administrative services, as well as advanced services don’t charge less for the more basic services. Your profit margin will be higher for those basic services and that’s totally fine!
Take a look at these posts to take things a step further.
How To Price Your Virtual Assistant Services
So tell me, how much are you charging for your virtual assistant services and what information did you base this number off of?
Leave me a comment below.
219 thoughts on “Virtual Assistant Rates 2020”
Great post! I also started at $20/hour and after one client, I raised my rates to $30/hour. But, even at $30/hour, I don’t feel I’m charging enough. Thank you for the super advice. <3
You’re welcome, Deborah! The thing about raising rates is that you alone can decide how much and when and take no prisoners! A few months ago a former client got in touch and asked if we could work together again. After an hour long call I told him that I have raised my rates. He was working with me back when I was asking for $20/hour. As a favor to him I told him that while my rates are now $40/hour I’d be willing to give him a reduced rate of $30/hour (he’s in non-profit and I LOVE what he’s doing for women around the world). He is a super bright guy, Cornell graduate of Engineering and honors up the wazoo. He told me, “wow you have raised your rates by 50%” as if to tell me that it was unacceptable to raise rates that high over such a short period of time. I simply told him that my rates are that high because I am great at what I do, there is a high demand for my services AND I get paid the rates I ask for. Never apologize for your worth.
I am wishing there was a :Like: button for your response. 🙂
This was a real eye opener for me. I have 3 options in my retainer package wit the same idea if you purchased more time I gave you a discount on the hourly rate.
I still end up adjusting my rates based on a clients budget and feel like I always work out my prices to accommodate “their” needs and not “mine”, which is return requires me to look for more clients and then I cannot get all the work done on my own.
I “always” end up reducing my rate to get a client because I do not want to loose them. How do I STOP this self sabotage?? Any advice?
Michelle when you demand for the rates that reflect your value your clients will respect you. Believe it or not but people WANT to spend more money on quality work. Think about it like hiring a cheap contractor as opposed to one that gets the job done the first time. I can’t tell you how many clients have turned away because they couldn’t “afford” me, only to have them come back to me after they hired a VA at a cheaper rate who didn’t perform to their expectations. As a matter of fact just yesterday a potential client saw me at the park with my kids. I was too busy to chat with her. She was literally trying to chase me down to explain how her “cheap” VA just didn’t work out and how sorry she was for wasting my time. She even said “I hope you know I realize that you are the best, I just had to think about my budget”. Again when you hire cheap, you get cheap. Bottom line.
Thanks Reece. I had been sweating over this.
Since I decided that I am a business owner that offers VA services rather than a VA that has my own busines, I also have decided to go for the jugular with my rates. I’m going for what my 23 years experience is worth. The type of clients I am going for have not used a VA service before either so there is an amount of me educating them. Hopefully this will bring me the calibre of clients I want.
Rebecca, once again I will say that you should take no prisoners when asking for what you’re worth. If you don’t show yourself the respect you deserve your clients won’t either. Don’t be afraid to lose a client or two. You need to learn how to say NO in order to say YES. If you say YES to everyone then you’ll have no room for the clients who really appreciate you and fill you with a passion for the work you’re doing.
Absolutely. I really do think it’s a mindset.
Are you an business owner or an assistant? I am only just starting and have no clients yet. I have already knocked back two for those exact reasons! Some people may call me mad but I am sticking to my guns from the outset.
It reminds me of that saying… offer peanuts, attract monkeys!
Damn straight, Rebecca! Love that saying!
Hi Reese, love your article. Could you explain to me what are the services you provide to a client as a VA. I am interested in pursuing this line of work after I retire. This is the first time, I have read about VA.
Hi Loida – You can check out my LinkedIn profile to see my full service list. Obviously I have much more experience but I only highlight the areas of expertise that I am really passionate about. http://www.linkedin.com/in/reesevirtualassistant
Hello Reese, I am a private tutor, so maybe I am a little different. I sometimes charge the market rate and sometimes I don’t. It depends upon the client ( or students as I call them), if it a group or solo, and if it one-time only , or ongoing. Since my services are advertised to all levels, I don’t exclude anyone if the rates are too high. We discuss what it is.
[…] I came across a well-written blog post by a VA named Reese Ben-Yaacov of RBY. The article is Virtual Assistant Rates: How Much Should You Charge? I am always interested on new ways that VAs bill without having to compromise rates. This VA […]
Thank you Tess!!
I need to re-evaluate how I charge. I am a VA from the Philippines and I know that I am charging way lower than what I should but I am not comfortable increasing my rates at this moment. But I am slowly adding to my rates for every new client that comes in so I’m getting there.
But this also highlights one of the problems I have when dealing with clients from the US — they think that because I am from the Philippines, I should offer really cheap rates. Just now, a prospect told me that she can get articles $7 per article from US natives and that what I am charging is way to expensive. She ended with “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Any advice with this?
Nica, I am fully aware of how big the VA business is in the Philippines and I know that the rates are much lower than the US. In cases like yours you have to take into account several factors and geography is one of them. While you want to stay competitive with your colleagues around the world you also have to be cognizant of the standard rate for your country and work from there. Keep in mind I said “standard”. This means you could be on the lower end of standard of the higher end of standard as the word standard is a range, not a set amount. In addition you mentioned above that your clients think you should offer really cheap rates. If your work is top-notch and on par with someone in North America than you shouldn’t feel bad about an increase in your rates but make sure you don’t over charge for your geographic as this could pigeon hole you. The reason I say this is because someone looking for a VA would be more comfortable paying your rate to someone who actually lives in the country the business is functioning in and understands the local vernacular.
I just had a client say the same thing to me, and surprisingly 2012 advice is still relevant in 2016. thank you!
Pricing has been the most difficult part of getting my business going! This was very helpful.
Thank you, Susan!
I am still at starting stage and believe that VA biz is relatively new in Nigeria. Im still contemplating whether to take monthly charge/retainership or quarterly retainership, is it advisable?
Idika, I’d recommend sticking to a monthly retainer if you decide to go the retainer route. I would advise against a quarterly retainer. I’d love for everyone else to chime in as well and give Idika some suggestions…
Reese,what’s the workscope of a VA? Is it just as the ususal responsibilities of a EA or PA?
Do you need to meet your clients sometimes? I mean whether the client will have location requirement to VA. I would like to start while I have a full time job but don’t know how to find client.
Helen in my opinion the whole purpose of being virtual is so you don’t have to meet your client. That said, there are plenty of clients who do want to meet if the opportunity is there. For example a client of mine in Los Angeles came for a visit here in Israel and asked to meet for coffee. I jumped at the opportunity. It’s always great to meet your clients face to face but it’s not a requirement by any means. As for your question about what is the scope of work for a VA. It really depends on what you want to specialize in. In my beginning stages as a VA I would have defined the work I performed as the usual responsibilities of an EA or PA. I hope this answers your questions!
Thanks, Reese. You answered my questions. Vitual Assistant is very,very new in China, from your experience, I know it’s possible to work for a client out of China. The Israel Secretary you mentioned before is a company/agency which offers vitual work opportunities? Do you think it’s possible for me to get client there as start? I still have a full time job, don’t think the linkedin is a good way to promote myself…
Hi Helen,Yes Secretary in Israel hires virtual assistants living in Israel an outsources to clients in the USA and Europe. You can only work for Secretary in Israel if you are a resident of the State of Israel. Since you have a full-time job you could network with friends and colleagues and mention that during your evenings you are offering virtual assistant services. Have you create a website yet? That would be a great place to start. Focus on building a site and remember it does NOT have to cost you a great deal for a website. You could even build your first website using the free WordPress platform for starters.
Your post is very interesting and especially so for someone who is newly considering entering the VA industry.
I would love to get some more info from you on how to get started, sourcing work and from preferably someone who sounds so confident and who seems to have the experience of doing this a while.
If you can assist me in answering a few questions, please drop me a line at my above email.
I look forward to your answer.
Thanks a lot for this post… this has seemed to be of a great help to me.
Thanks for the informative post! I’m new to this industry and am working towards becoming a travel planning VA. I have no idea if it’s more sensible to charge by the hour, or set a price for each project (because I’m essentially providing services on organizing and executing travel itineraries, I feel the work is pretty straight forward so not sure if an hourly rate is plausible). What do you think?
Christina, first of all congrats on your decision to become a virtual assistant! I’m really glad you found a niche to be in. As for your question, I would suggest you charge by the hour. When planning travel arrangements you need to keep in mind that things can, and do change in an instant. These changes could take hours to complete due to all the moving pieces. I would advise you to stay away from charging by the project so you don’t pigeon hole yourself. As I mentioned in my post I charge my clients by the hour in 5 hour blocks of time and payment is required in advance. Give it a shot, if it doesn’t work you can always adjust!
Hi Reese – Thank you for the insight. I’ve been a VA for 3 years and I am still playing around with price changes. I tried the Retainer way but I am not sure I am doing that quite right. I genrally let clients know if they are seriously considering my services. I request a 3 month retainer fee of $300 up front. Does not include my hourly fee. I charge $30 p/h with a minimum of 8 hours per month. If they want more hours I will lessen my fee by $5. Is this something a lot of you do? Maybe I should re-visit my fees. Do you think I need to stop offering a retainer fee?
Tonia, I use a retainer fee structure but I charge my clients in 5 hour blocks. As with all retainers payment is required up front. I like 5 hour blocks of time because it’s just enough time to provide a ton of value to my clients but its still not a huge monetary commitment from the client’s side. I stopped discounting my rate if more hours were purchased. I don’t think you need to stop offering a retainer fee, but I do think you should reconsider giving your clients a discount for more hours purchased.
Thanks Reese – I have just come across you in “Linked In”. Congratulations on your achievements. If you ever need any help I would be more than willing to assist!!! (How’s that for cheek)? Kind regards, Lynne Siebrits (Katlyn Virtual Assistants)
Thank you so much Lynne! I love your cheek! 😛
Thank you so much for this article. I am just breaking into the virtual world and I am amazed at all the opportunity out there. Right now I am working on breaking into freelance for about a year while working on building my virtual assistant business. I figure this will give me some exposure and I can get a good rhythm going. Do you ever sub-contract? If so, I am definitely interested in being mentored by someone like yourself. (I’m sure you hear this all the time but I needed to ask). Your story is remarkable and I will continue to follow you.
Beverly, you are welcome for the article! I do sub-contract from time to time and thank you for the offer to work together! If I need anything I will let you know. xoxo
My problem is many people approach me, and think I am way too expensive and I have only one client who I charge $19 per hour which I am getting no where with, I have been operating for 5 years now and get many clients who feel that for a Merely $30 per hour is expensive. I am from Australia and many sites that I have applied to for Virtual Jobs also said that my prices are way to expensive and I seem to check too see who has won them, which if I choose to work for so little as $2.00 per hour I would not survive so how would I go about getting clients who do not think I am too expensive?
I found your blog thanks to a post you just made on LinkedIn. I currently have a three-tiered retainer package with discounts, but I’m not happy with the way it is structured — it is confusing and frankly, the formatting is a little ugly.
Would love your thoughts on this: I have heard a lot about how if you give three options, people usually take the middle one. I offer a set price for transcription (charging per minute of audio), but I need to give some more thought to my VA pricing structure. I have had info interviews with potential clients who showed more interest in getting a set project price than an hourly rate.
Hmm, lots of food for thought…..
Oops, my mistake, I just realized that the post on LinkedIn WASN’T made by you, but it DID direct to your blog. I noticed it as soon as I switched back to LinkedIn and saw that the picture of the person who posted didn’t match your picture, so I looked more closely at the name.
Shannon, your retainer packages are great but I hear you, it’s not working for you as well as you’d like. I received some valuable advice from a former client of mine. He told me that when a prospect inquires about rates it’s too confusing to deal with these tiers of retainer packages. He told me to stick to one price point. Sometimes my margin will be lower and sometimes my margin will be higher depending on the work that needs to be done. The single price point (while some may disagree) is much more attractive than offering too many choices. The more choices, the more a prospect chooses nothing. This comes straight from market research which you can read about here —> http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/27/your-money/27shortcuts.html?_r=0
Have you read Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven ways to be Persuasive? It talks about how we make decisions to buy. It’s fascinating ( and quick) reading that really helped me with pricing. Also try Derek Halerin’s Social Triggers podcast. I’m constantly learning simple ways to attract more targeted clients.
Hope the link works. Reese, you rock hard sister! I think we’re kindred spirits!
Hey Dina! I am a regular over at Social Triggers and love Derek’s work. I have recently taken his course blog that converts. If you read his posts than I am sure you know all about Sally Hogshead, author of Fascinate. Here is the link http://sallyhogshead.com/ check her out.
I just wanted to thank you for what you post. I just subscribed to your weekly and such newsletters/emails. You seem like a competent and kind person and resource for me, as I am just getting into this business. Thank you.
You are welcome, Jessie!!! Glad you are a part of my virtual assistant community and tribe!!!!
This is just what I needed to read! When I first started out 4 years ago I charged $20 per hour I am now up to $30 per hour. I was thinking of raising my rates in 2013 to $40 per hour but I didn’t know if I would get any business if I did. I offer several services like admin support, telephone answering, telemarketing and direct mail marketing services. I offer different rates for each of these services. I also offer discounts when clients purchased more hours. But like you said too many choices can leave some clients not choosing. Going forward I’m going to offer one rate for all services.Thanks for the info!!!
Here here Lakisha! Good for you!
I want to get started as a VA, but I don’t really have experience in the field. I have knowledge of social media, great written communication/ professional writing and organizational skills. However, I am not good at marketing myself and I am not sure how to market myself. I am a clinical social worker in private practice and I want to expand my income stream. Any advise on how to set my rates as a newby and how to get started especially in crafting a resume? Thanks I enjoyed your article and I am definitely taking your advise on the block of hours for a set fee per hour! Great approach.
Hi Denise! Have you taken a look at all the blog posts on my site? A lot of what I’ve written will address your questions. I get that self-promotion is hard but if you don’t shout it out from the rooftops about how talented you are no one else will! As far as setting your rates, start backwards. Figure out how much you NEED to make each month and go from there. You shouldn’t aim low because you’re new to this industry. You should set the bar high and believe in yourself and what you are capable of achieving!
Thanks! I will be check out your blog! I am excited!!
Hi Reese,Your article was very informative. Thank you. I am now in the process of starting up my virtual assistant business, on a part-time basis as I am currently employed full time in a Criminal Defence firm in Toronto. I really want to do this and would really appreciate any pointers you or the other viewers could offer….I’d really appreciate it.
Hi Reese, I’m considering getting myself a virtual assistant, but my main concern is whether my virtual assistant will be able to be 100% committed to me. How do you manage your clients and how many clients can you take at a time. Thanks for your time!
What an eye-opening blog post!
I come from the side where charging decent service rate from being a VA becomes not a big deal at all. Here in the Philippines, it is so apparent that earning more clients is much more important than earning decent means. Not to all VAs here, but, that results to insufficiency in many areas – time, focus, quality and earnings to name a few. With that said, I want to have a system from which I could excel in many areas, give the best of my services, learn more things around that would be more beneficial both to clients and myself and I believe one factor that would affect all these is to give VALUE to what I can do.
Thank you for such a lovely post!
I’ve been searching the web to find out more about VA home business. I’m trying to figure out how to start my home business and not sure where to start, I work full time but would like to start part time and see from there, any advice, ideas, etc…? I need help and any suggesting. Anyone? Look forward to hear from you soon. Thank you.
Hi Mel and welcome to my community! You’ve found the place to start your research about becoming a virtual assistant. The first step is to sign up to my email list. I send out a weekly email with a link to my blog with some pretty exceptional tips on how to break into the VA industry. So to help you dive in now, spend some time reading my most popular blog posts and then go and read as much as you can on my site. I started working as a VA part-time while I kept my day job and this is a great way to get started. I look forward to seeing more of you on the blog!
Love this article. I am a recent BBA graduate and I am currently working on my VA Business Plan to start my company in Vancouver, Canada! I am obsessed with being organized and love helping others organize and found that the virtual assistant is definitely one that I fit in to. As a beginner and still currently in the “figuring everything out” stages…what tips would you have for me? I’m currently trying to figure out what types of clients I would get, pricing fees, etc but I was just curious as to how you first started out and what were the main things you did even before attracting clients. Also, do you find this line of work rewarding? Thanks so much!
Karmen, congratulations on your decision to become a VA! This is a very rewarding career and I am honored to be of assistance to VAs like you. If you go through my previous blogs you will find answers to most of your questions. Start there and make sure to sign up to my email list to receive weekly updates! If you need more in depth coaching feel free to reach out to me via my “Work With Me” page. Rock on girl!!!! :)” p
Another totally insightful post. I am keeping all these pricing tips in my back pocket for when I am ready to launch.
This is an awesome site – thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!
On the topic of getting paid, would you mind sharing what service you actually use to receive payments (e.g., PayPal, etc.), and if you have any tips/advice, or service recommendations? Sorry if you wrote about it already and I missed it!
Since you seem to prefer retainers/payments up front, do you ever accept checks in these cases? I am thinking that most of my clients might end up being a distance from me geographically, so I’m not super excited about the idea of waiting for a check to come by mail.
In addition to your rates and retainer policy, do you have other policies that you post on your site? And PS – could you please share your other site’s link? I’d love to see it, and it appears that I am too much of a dork to find it mentioned on this site! 🙂
Thanks so much!
Hi Reese! I came across this article and I have to say, it’s very inspiring to know that we can grow and earn at the same time as a Virtual Assistant. Looking at your LinkedIn profile is like looking at the skills that I would love have and I would love to learn every single one of them! Can you please point me in the right direction? I would really appreciate your input. Thank you and God bless! 🙂
Hi Misty!! YES! You can work as a VA part-time like I did. This gives you an opportunity to pick up new skills and not stress about finding new clients. It also allows you to build your brand slowly once you’re more aware of the kind of ideal clients you’re looking to attract. As for learning more skills check out Alison.com and Natahalie Lussier’s website. She has some great free training videos!
Here is the link to Nathalie’s AMAZING free training videos! http://nathalielussier.com/archives
One more question. 😀 It seems like you started out doing virtual assistant work at night, in addition to your day job. That’s what I’m planning to do as well. Do you think there’s an immediate need to get a business entity, or is a sort of freelance/consulting/self-employeed method OK, too?
Also, do you recommend insurance for this type of business? At this point, I don’t want to go nuts when I’m still just getting into this and trying to figure things out and make some initial money. So much to wrap my head around! :O
Hey Sarah! Yes, I got started as a VA while working a day job and working a few hours a night as a virtual assistant. As long as you’re reporting your earnings to the IRS you don’t need to rush out to open up a sole proprietorship. When you say insurance for this type of biz, do you mean health insurance or business insurance? If you mean business insurance, no need at this point. As for health insurance that’s a whole separate ball game that I can address to you privately if you ever decide you’d like some one-on-one coaching.
Thank you so much for your quick and informative response! 🙂 This is very helpful.
You’re very welcome, Sarah!!!
Hey Reese loved your comment. Tell me, when I am working, is it possible for me to continue the virtual assistant search. how do you do it, where do you post it, if on linked in then you also have your colleagues in linked in. They will defintely get to know you are on the look out for another job. How do we handle this without the company knowing it.
Jassi – YES! Unless you have a contract that states that you cannot be a virtual assistant on the side then, why not? I highly doubt your current employer would take issue with you trying to make additional income on the side. Perhaps speak with your employer first to get their impression if that makes you feel more comfortable. That said, it’s not necessary.
I think the best concept is to have different rates, based on two things. (1) The work you are doing and (2) the clients ability to pay.
I also learned to charge by the task and not by the hour (generally speaking).
For simple tasks, l charge less than a complex task. But you have to be careful with this. Why should I charge a small amount for something that took a long time for me to master and that uses expensive software. A good example is making a pdf form with fillable fields, pull down boxes, and checkboxes that is just gorgeous and laid out perfectly. Just because you can do that in 30 minutes doesn’t mean you charge 1/2 your hourly rate. That skill is something that took a year to master and you use a $400 program to create that form.
I think the attitude should be that we are paid for what we know not for how much time it takes. When you go to a Doctor and get his/her time for 15 minutes and get billed $250 we think nothing of it. – – Because we are paying for his skills, experience and knowledge – not only his 1/4 of an hour.
Also I am going to charge Xerox a higher fee than the local non-profit around the corner.
Hi Reese! I’ve been looking to supplement my income and this would be great for me since I’ve been in the administrative field for the last 7 years. However, it appears that even though the Virtual Assistant industry is still new, it’s getting very saturated. You started at time when it was relatively unheard of. Are the certain industries/clients that tend to be more open to the idea of VA’s than others? How do you avoid hitting dead end roads?
Don’t forget that you need a system for paying income tax. If you do a decent amount of business you will be paying each quarter. Be prepared to mail away 1/3 of your income to Uncle Sam.. way easier to plan on it and do it each quarter than to wait until the end of the year
Reese, you are such a resource! As a very new VA, I was also considering 3 tiered discounted rates for monthly hours in excess of 20 hours a month. I love your 5 hour block idea. I’m used to being paid $40-45 an hour for onsite freelance contracts so I know I’m worth $30-35 virtually. Your insights have given me the confidence to go after what I’m worth.
I decided to remove my rates from my website so that I can sell potential clients on me and my services first.
Excellent!!! Thrilled that my post has inspired you to action, Joan!
Thank you so much, Reese, for posting this informative article! I am trying to get some things together to start my VA business, but it is so daunting and so big that I keep second-guessing myself: will I get the clients I need to pay the bills? Do I have enough education, or will clients want to know my education before sub-contracting me? Where do I begin!!!??? Well, you’ve helped ease some of my disquieting thoughts…lol… I will sign up to your email list! Thank you!
Thank you for reading, Sharee!
Thanks for the post and I read over this post everyday. However, I am having trouble with my pricing I’m very much aware of this. I know what I charge is very low and I’m making pretty much nothing in this market rate. First of all, I’m working part-time and I’m just getting started. I have know idea where to look for clients and it’s hard with no one to guide you or any help. I thought this would be easy but for sure it isn’t. Is their any help you can offer me and I could offer to my friends who is possibly looking to enter the world of VA.
Thanks for all your help
Gale M. Guevara
I’m just now researching everything I need to get started. I’ve worked in the legal field as a Legal Assistant for 14 years with various firms, and now I want to try VA work. Is there a place for my skills – I have many, but not sure if I want to stick with the legal aspect or branch out? I love your post about asking for your worth and stick to it. As a newbie, this is information is quite helpful. Thank you for your input on my question.
My pleasure, Jennifer! XOXO
Hi Reese!I just found your blog post and it’s very timely for me as well. I have been working off and on as a Virtual Assistant for over 10 years but my work has been primarily for a couple of clients. I haven’t gone out and marketed myself as much as I would have liked. Now, I am in the process of reassessing everything so I can market myself better and add to my client base so I can do this work full-time.
I have found that local people do not want to pay more than typical reception hourly rates for virtual assistants though so I have had difficulty getting clients from local networking. Do you have clients from different areas that are more likely to accept your rates with no question?
Thanks again for the information!
Reese, this is sooo helpful. I have been struggling so much with this issue that it has me completely stuck on getting going. Its the first thing clients will want to know really – what are you going to charge them? I’ve been throwing around retainer package ideas, and specific project prices (ie: building a website)…. I’m so stuck on this issue I am seriously spinning my wheels. I think a great place to start (and possibly, stay!) is just one hourly rate, and everything I do can fall under that. I may need to come up with something specific for website creation, but for now, this will really help me get unstuck. THX Reese!
Excellent, Donna! So happy I’ve helped un-stick you! XO
I have been in the Financial Services industry for 17 years and I am beginning a Virtual Assistant business. Someone suggested charging a flat rate of $2000/month due to my knowledge and expertise. My first thought: 10 hour minimum retainer at $500/month. I am not sure people would pay a flat rate of $2000/month. Overall, it is only $24,000 annually and I am not their employee. Interested in your thoughts.
Lisa, there is a great free book that I want to ask you to read. It will help answer this question of charging what you’re really worth without sticking to an hourly rate. It’s right up your alley. Here’s the link: http://breakingthetimebarrier.freshbooks.com/
Thank you for the information. I will definitely read the link.
Reese – great article and a great help… I’ve been a AA/EV & PA for the past 20 years but now I’ve moved to a new state in the US and have become my husband’s full-time caregiver… so instead of trying to find a job that will be flexible enough to fit my husbands needs, I’m planning to start my own Executive Services biz to area businesses & individuals (not going for virtual per se, but certainly can incorporate virtual for sure)… many say don’t sell yourself short with all the years of experience I have yet others say don’t price yourself out of work (ie: 1 client may want only filing done while another may want me to plan a conference for 50 in another state so I wouldn’t want to charge the same hourly rate for those 2 clients) Needless to say the rate issue has been a sticky point… Then you’ve got to think of not only your salary but Fed & St taxes, Social Security taxes, medical insurance, your overhead… Not to mention WHERE you live (NYC or LA verses TimbuckTwo Missouri)… You can drive yourself nuts!! Is there any trick to finding a balance where you’re not overpricing but not underpricing either? (sorry this is so long)
The pricing issue is a tough one which is why when I wrote blog posts on this subject they were always and still are the most popular posts on my website. Check this links out to help you find your footing. https://reesebenyaacov.com/2012/08/virtual-assistant-rates-how-much-should-you-charge/
The only way, from my point of view, how to make money online even on the “farm” such as oDesk is to specialize in Niche (unique) industry. When I go to “the farm” – oDesk, I bid only on jobs that are directly related to my industry, which is Freight Forwarding / Customs Brokerage / Supply Chain. I bid in USD – real $$$ money, regardless if 50 monkeys bid in peanuts. At the end I get the job, because I have 8 years of work experience in this field from the U.S. and Europe, while on the other hand majority of my “competitors” do only general admin for a buck/h and they even do not understand tasks needed to get the job done. The fast is, from what I see, that only Real Estate market has very developed Niche presents when it comes to online work, while something like what I do is almost even not heard of as an online service.Be unique and you will attract right clients! If you are looking into general admin that even my grandmo’ can do, then you will work for peanuts and compete with half of India and half of Philippines.
I am happy to find your information! I have searched several places for just such information, as I am in the process of starting my own VA business. You have a wonderful approach and your ideas match what I think but have not yet voiced. Thank you for taking the time to post such useful information! I will be following you for sure!Thank you!
Hey Brenda! Glad you found me! Stick around, it’s fun here! I look forward to seeing more of you in the comments. XO
I have a question about using a monthly retainer, in which client purchases x number of hours for a flat fee. What happens if the client doesn’t use all the hours – do they get carried over? What incentive would there be if you don’t carry them over (use it or lose it mentality)?
Thanks, and keep rockin’!
Cheryl, there are VAs who carry over the hours and VAs who don’t. It’s hard to plan your schedule month to month if your hours carry over. On the flip side it’s a great incentive for new clients to offer them hours that don’t expire. Then there is the middle ground – hours that expire after say 3 months. A client who purchases 10 hours should be able to use those hours within a short amount of time. So to answer your question, do what feels good for you. You can always change your policies with new clients as your client rooster fills up. 🙂
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Hi Reese, I just came across your site, and have to say I loved reading what you had to say. I just started my own VA service, and want to extend my gratitude to you for sharing your wisdom! It is a like a breath of fresh air. I have been in the office field over 20 years, and decided now is the time to become my own boss. I look forward to your blogs, and thank you again, for offering your expertise. Have a wonderful Holiday!
Lisa, you just made my day. Thank you! I love comments like yours because I am really passionate about helping women like you become virtual assistants so you can gain the kind of financial and personal freedom that I have. Make sure you sign up to get my exclusive email list and come back and let me know what you think of the rest of information I provide on my site. XO
Hi,This was very helpful information. I have just started my own VA business. I have over 20 years experience as an Administrative and Executive Assistant. I currently charge $25.00 p/hour but I’m finding out that it just isn’t enough. I have been struggling with what I should charge as retainer rates / package rates to benefit both my clients and myself, so this was very informative. I’m always open to suggestions.
Lorraine, a good way to figure out how much to charge is to start backwards and see how much you need each month to sustain your household. Break that number down far enough until you get an hourly rate. That’s what you need to be charging. Thanks for leaving a comment!
Been reading and watching your material for several months now. Great stuff (aka insight, useful information, candor and more) 🙂 Great article here as well. Going into #2014 my VA business is changing drastically in regards to fees, upfront payment etc. It’s high time I get paid for what I’m worth and the due diligence I put into my work (hence, non-payment from several clients at 90 days overdue). Enough rant… I’m also a part of your FB VA Tribe Group. Excellent conversations going on there. Thanks for the read as I redesign my payment system going into the New Year. If I can be of assistant to your business please reach out. http://www.linkedin.com/in/carladeter/ Regards, Carla Happy New Year, Reese
Thank you, Carla! So glad you’re with me here and over in the Tribe. Here’s to a POWERFUL 2014!
Hi, Reece. I’m starting to get a couple of clients who may need me to travel with them. How do you charge in such a scenario? Of course, they would need to pay or reimburse me for any travel expenses, but what about my time? Also, that’s not covered in your contract (which I purchased). Is there anything else you can think of which I should take into consideration?
Thanks so much. Have a fabulous Christmas!
Kate, if you have clients that need you to travel with them then you really need to sit down and figure out what your fees will be. I would put together a flat rate for travel (not including expenses) and work with that. You’ll need to put a $ amount on your time as well as time lost working for your other clients. Consider travel time to and from the airport as well. Make sure you’ve thought of everything and put a $ amount on it all. Write out an itemized list as this will help you see what you’re doing and how much to charge for it.
Hi :)I am working as VA 5 years, but through Elance. I have no idea how will I work if I start by my own? How can I have time for all those client when they start to contact me?
And, yes, how you asked for higher price? Didn`t you scare they say you NO?
Emilia, work to get great recommendations and highlight those recommendations on your LinkedIn profile and website EVEN if they are from Elance. Try to get your clients to write out as much detail as possible when recommending you. This is how you start to build social proof that you are excellent at what you do. Then build out your LinkedIn profile (my LinkedIn Training for Virtual Assistants will walk you through how to do that) so that you can start marketing yourself. Don’t worry about asking for a higher price yet, do the things I just mentioned first and THEN come back to me. 🙂
Hi Reese, I have one client now working for him full time and I can`t have more clients at the moment because of that. I am standing on one place, can`t earn more. I have great recommendations on my Elance profile. How can you focus on more client and have time for all of them?The problem is that if I know that secret, maybe I will do something different although is working as VA in my country is still not low regulate.
Emilia, I would encourage you to ask your client for a raise in your hourly rate. If your client is against that I would suggest searching for another client who will pay you at a higher rate. You can sit at one rate for a few months but then it’s time to up the price incrementally. Everyone deserves a raise at some point.
This is just the article I’ve been looking for! I intend to start my own VA business at the end of 2014. As with all new VAs, how much to charge is one of the most asked questions. I’m so happy I saw your post, because it really makes so much sense.
I can understand the lower prices when you’re new, but would a client know that if you didn’t tell them? And if the competitive rate for VAs is around $45/hr, most clients will probably expect that amount and accept it.
I’ve been seeing more and more articles where the discussion is about offering too many choices. I think I’ll do as you’ve suggested and offer one price. Seems like it’s a waste of time to keep upping the prices over time.
Thanks so much for sharing this very informative article with us future VAs. 🙂
Cynthia, I’m so glad you found me! To answer your question, no, a new client wouldn’t know any better regarding your rates so if you are confident about your value and what you bring to the table, go for the higher rate especially if charging a lower rate makes paying bills difficult! A girl has to eat after all, right? 🙂
Hi Reese. I enjoyed reading your tips about pricing it’s very interesting. Thank you for offering such help. I am in the process of setting myself up as a VA – after years of working as a PA/secretary for other people/companies and then trying other things which didn’t work out, I decided to use my talents and go back to something I know and become a VA. I am still trying to obtain clients and pricing is one of the most difficult things to get right but this has been very helpful. I agree that one of the main things is recognising your worth and not being afraid to shout about it. Thanks again. I have subscribed to your newsletter and look forward to receiving further tips.
Thank you, Julie! I’m happy you’re a part of my community of aspiring and new VAs. Can’t wait to hear more about what you’re up to. Keep me posted!
Reese, I came back to this post from Linkedin. I like the block of time, but do you have a project based timeframe. Do you recommend that new VA start out at a lower rate to get the referrals?
Cindy, I want you to make sure you know how long it will take you to complete a project before you start offering project rates. This is VERY important as you could actually lose money if you don’t. You could start out at a rate of $25 an hour. One of my tribe members charges that and she has more work than she can handle and as a result built a team to support her. She’s doing very well.
Reese, I am just now doing some research on being a VA. I have been approached by a friend who has a company that needs some assistance but doesn’t need to hire anyone full time. This article and subsequent posts have been very helpful as I had no idea where to even start on deciding what to charge. I have been out of an office situation for a number of years, as I have been a (rarely at home) stay at home/home schooling mom for the last 16 years.Due to my lack of recent experience, I am hesitant to charge very much as it might take me longer to complete some tasks that I haven’t perfected yet and I have much to learn.
I was thinking of starting out at $15/hour (I think my friend will think that is high) and telling him that I will be raising my rate to $18 in 6 months as my skills grow. Then as I add clients (that are not family friends) and my skill improve, I can charge more. I don’t want you to think I don’t have confidence or skills, they may just be a bit rusty.
What do you think?
Kathy, sounds perfect! Be confident in the hourly rate you charge. It’s OK to start out at $15/hour and slowly build up. I think it’s a great idea.
Great article, I’m glad I came across it. I’m a stay at home mom of 2 who’s been working for a prominent VA company for about 7 months, with 10 years as a business analyst before I had kids. I love the freedom of working from home but I need to earn more than I’m making so I’m considering striking out on my own; however ultimately I do want to return to work as an analyst. For this reason, I prefer not to update my LinkedIn profile with my VA work. Do you think this will be a major stumbling block to my being able to attract clients? I’d appreciate your thoughts on this…
Also, since I’m still employed by this VA company, I don’t think I can exactly ask my current clients for references. This would leave me with no references to provide, despite the fact that I’m very good at what I do. What would you suggest for this problem?
Looking forward to reading every page on your site :).
Aly, it’s hard for me to say. I want to tell you that I grew my virtual assistant business using ONLY LinkedIn. To this day I still get referrals from LinkedIn and I am not even actively marketing so it’s a real lead generation machine when used properly. That’s why I firmly believe that if you want to start your own VA business you should advertise to that effect on LinkedIn. When you go back to work as an analyst you can always re-write your Linked In profile. Nothing is set in stone.
I also disagree regarding your testimonials. You can and should get testimonials from your current clients regardless of the fact that you’re doing work with the prominent VA company. You can ask them to provide recommendations on LinkedIn and use those recommendations on your own website. You’re doing the work, you deserve the testimonial.
[…] I hadn't read that one before. Not sure if you've come across this one but it's really useful too: https://reesebenyaacov.com/2012/08/vi…ld-you-charge/ __________________ Alyson, aspiring independent […]
Hi Reese,Im super excited about starting this new adventure!!! Im curious to know your thoughts on requesting a retainer in addition to the block of time to retain services. For example if a new client wants to utilize my service, they pay a deposit (just like with an attorney). This is only required for new client services. I hope this makes sense LOL!!!!
Glad you’re here, Andrea. When a client pays a retainer he is paying for a block of time. My minimum is a 5 hour block but a client can purchase as many hours beyond that. You could offer deposit payments. I would suggest payment of 50% up front, then 25% to meet milestones and then another 25% when the project is complete. That said, it’s really hard to quantify how long it will take you to complete tasks/projects. That’s why I suggest new virtual assistants trade hours for $ so they can get experience. With more experience you can accurately charge by project rates once you are more familiar with how long things will take for you to complete.
Wish you good health
I am a VA from India, who have clients in US, UK and Dubai. They are basically ex-McKinsey employees, who require PowerPoint support of the same quality which they get from McKinsey BPO (India). I offer that, since i worked there
Currently i charge $13.50/hour – but what i feel, since this rate is too low when compared to $30.00 in US, am i not stealing jobs from people in US
So, planning to have different rates for different country clients. The fear of losing clients also comes into mind, specially when you got them after e-mailing hundreds of e-mails to companies
At the end of the day you charge what you’re worth. I have paid service providers in India much more than the standards there because I was paying for their expertise. Geography wasn’t part of the equation.
Will give it a try by charging $35.00 for US and $21.00 for Middle East new clients
If you require any additional hand in your work, please try my services if you wish
Sure! Leave your website below and I will check it out!
Website is http://www.anzdotsoft.com. Contact details given on website
My specialty besides producing high quality PPTs is, i can convert image of any graph without data to editable MS-Office graphs
Good Morning Reese,
I currently charge $25.00/hr and I want to package my services into so many hours at $25.00/hr without a retainer. Example: $25.00/hr for 20 hours 400.00. My question is, is this appropriate. I am good at what I do and I have a lot to offer my clients. Right now I have 2 clients that ask me to do a little be of everything and sometimes it gets hectic and hard to keep up hourly. Most times, I take the loss on time if that happens. I would love to be more accurate and I thought packaging together hours would help. What do you suggest?
Beverly, it’s definitely appropriate but why wouldn’t you charge a retainer? Don’t you want to get paid upfront?
You are so informative and helpful, thank you. I have a question about how you can receive payment for the services you provide as a virtual assistant? I know how much I want to charge but need a vehicle do you recommend in order to be paid?
Thanks for your insight.
PayPal is perfect, Katrina!
What types of “contract” agreements should be used between you and the client in case the client isn’t satisfied with the work provided? On average do projects take to complete per client?
Katrina, I have a contract that I use for my clients and you can grab it for yourself and customize it for your VA business.
I am researching the viability of leaving my full time, good paying, provincial government job to become a virtual assistant. I have a 7 month old son and hate the thought of leaving him for 10-12 hours/day! Your website has been very informative. The contract you refer to in your previous comment, is this only available if I sign up for your coaching? Also, is the $45 group coaching fee $45 American?
Thank you for providing all this information.
Hi Stephanie! The contract I mention is available to anyone. My coaching is charged in USD. Have a great day, Stephanie!
I enjoyed your article and found it very helpful. I have been doing VA work for over a year and a half. I’m trying to figure out how to make it more profitable. Is there a set guideline (or something close) to follow when it comes to the timing of rate increases? I’ve slightly increased my rates with new clients, but I have never raised my rates for current/ongoing clients. How long should you wait before increasing your rates? What is appropriate and fair to both parties?
Thanks so much!
Jill, you should increase your rates at least once once a year. That said, it’s totally individual. I raised my rates several times in one year. I always wanted to push the envelope and see just how high I could go. My magic number was $45/hour.
I just came upon your website and this is great information and advise. I am currently unemployed and have been in an out of the job market for years due to many layoff. I am an experience administrative assist and I want to market myself as an freelance administrative assistant. How do I start to market my skills? and Is there a particular way to list on my resume that I am a freelance administrative assistant?
Jessica, welcome! I think the first thing you should do is sign up to my email list and I’ll send you a TOOOON of information to help answer the very questions you just asked. XO
Hey! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers
and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be great if you could
point me in the direction of a good platform.
Hi there! I am using the Thesis Theme on WordPress. I love WordPress and hackers attack WordPress and non-WP sites. If your site is a target it doesn’t matter what platform is was built on. The key is to set up strict security from the beginning.
I have just joined your “tribe” and am so please to be part of it! I’m just starting my VA business in Melbourne, Australia and am working on my business plan and my prices. Thank you for being so generous with your time and expertise. I look forward to learning from you.
I am so happy that you’re now a member of my Virtual Assistant Tribe, Rebecca. Keep me posted on how things are coming along with your new VA biz. G’day my friend from down under!
Don’t worry, I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon and whine about how frustrating it is, or rant about why I think thingsshould be different. Events can be a great supplement
to your other promotional activities. You represent yourself competently
and communicate as much as you’re able to win new pals,
and in this social situation, Fans.
Hello, I am a beginner to VA, I have my first client who is a Realtor who owns there own Company she has asked me to tell her how much I am going to charge her, I am not sure how much to charge being a beginner. ANy help is apprecitated.
How do you charge out taxes if you are working for people in different countries/states? 🙂
Just work the cost into your hourly or flat fee rates.
Thanks, that what I thought. Also, do you have an expiration with regard to your 10 hour blocks of time, e.g. are they to be used within a 6 month period or something similar? I may be thinking of offering a 1 hour free trial too. Do you think this would be a good idea, and if so, what, in your experience, should be the type of service excluded/disclaimers (if any)? 🙂
Anita, I never expired my hours. I liked to be flexible with clients as I know how hard it is starting a biz. I definitely think it’s a good idea to offer a starters package. I wrote a blog post about it that might help you figure out how to offer your services to clients who are hesitant to hire a VA.
Hi there. This is exactly the answer I was looking for and wasn’t able to find anywhere else. Thanks for that.However, if there’s no expiration date on the hours, isn’t it hard to plan a monthly schedule? (for as far as it’s possible anyway). What’s your experience with it? I’m struggling to decide if an expiration date on the hours is a way to protect myself or rather to disadvantage my customers (which of course I wouldn’t want). I’m looking forward to your answer. Thank you so much!
Thamara, it is hard to plan ahead when you don’t expire hours so perhaps you could create a 3 month window of expiration OR something else that feels good to you. They key is to find the right decision for you and your business. Some VAs don’t mind the flexibility of not expiring while others mind very much. It’s very personal.
Great article, you’r being praised on one of the best newsletters I know – Draft (by Nick Disabato) http://draft.nu/
Niklas, wow! Thank you so much for sharing Nick Disabato’s newsletter with me. That just made my day. Sending you a virtual high five!
Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts aslong as I provide credit and sources back to your website?
My website is in the exact same area of interest as yours and my users would really benefit from a
lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this alright
with you. Appreciate it!
Hi Reese 🙂 I charge $25/hr. Started my business in March with my first paying client….now I have 9 ( my.goal was 10). I’m not sure if I should increase my prices to my existing clients bc they have not been with me for long, but I’m in the same situation you were in at the start of your VA career. I’m getting overwhelmed with the new prospects. Should I increase my rate to new prospects and keep existing clients at the same rate? Thanks for posting this!
I’m hoping to start being a VA after I get out of medical assisting school so I can be out on the road with my boyfriend who just became a truck driver and I was wondering if you could give me any advice on being a VA since I took secretarial classes a few years ago but never had the chance to use them.
I just “stumbled” into the world of VA’s. I’m a teacher that is burnt out with unruly, disrespectful, apathetic students. Thanks for all your tips! I have done casual editing for my family members for years. I don’t know if that’s enough of a skill to offer at first. What do you think, Reese? I also love to, and am good at, finding anything a person wants to buy at the best price. I’m very resourceful, I guess you could call it. Thanks!
I’ve only just signed up to your site Reese, but wanted to say “Thanks”, already I have taken onboard your points about rates and not giving clients too much to choose from 🙂
Reese,I enjoyed reading your post. I was a secretary for ten years in several different impressive positions. I quit to raise my own children. Then I became a transcriptionist from home. I now work as a freelance transcriptionist but would like to do more secretarial like I used to. I have been bidding on VA postings, but I’m not sure what rate to charge. When potential clients post their jobs, many times they give a price range, and it’s usually in the $10-$15 range for a VA. That was the rate for an Administrative Secretary at my old job that I quit eight years ago. I don’t want to be greedy, but I feel that my work is worth more than that. Do you suggest “ignoring” when they put that price range and just list my rate that is over and above that? I know I do excellent work, work efficiently on my own, have excellent accuracy, have great communication skills, and have a drive to make sure my work is perfect. I feel I’m worth more, but my husband encourages me to hold my rate back to fit within their suggested range. So far I haven’t had anyone choose my bid, but I have had many second interviews. My husband’s thought is it’s better to get some work at a cheaper price than to not get any work at all. What are your thoughts?
I loved reading your post and the responses. I totally agree with you and understand that I should be charging more for what I do.
In 2009 I decided that I would give this business a try because I was a new mother and I wanted to be here for my daughter as appossed to putting her in daycare. After a while I was a single mother, another story, but nevertheless have been trying to make this work. I have worked for many different clients, only one of which I still support sporadically and she does pay $30 an hour.
The problem I have is how do you find these clients who are willing to pay even a minimum of $25 an hour? I have to be honest, I am not doing this correctly. I don’t make anywhere near $40 or $50 an hour. I find it frustrating that after all this time I am still only making $12 to $35 an hour depending on the client. Part of the problem is that, I hate to say it, I’m a bit desperate. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on training unfortunately because I have to make sure rent is paid overall, bills are behind. As single mother, I am really struggling. My daughter has ADHD and ODD and because of that I am called to school to pick her up, called for phone conference in regards to the situation, etc. No employer is going to allow for so much time away from the office so that is why I need to continue to work from home.
I won’t ramble on too much longer, but I want to put this out there. Curently, I am working for a cleaning company in Florida, I live in Arizona. I am only charging him $12 an hour because that is all he can afford. Litterally the guy should not even be in business since he doesn’t have money for this and that. I take care setting appoints for him, acting as receptionist, calling potential new cleaners and schedule interviews, create invoices, montitor cleanings, call clients to get feedback, etc., etc. Basically, I am running the business. They guy even calls me to consult with me about his business. I know I am worth more than $12 an hour.
So I need help. Can anyone provide me some advice on how to do this right. I really want to make this business work for me. Part of the problem may be that I am not an online networker. I just don’t know what to say or who to say it to. I don’t have a problem speaking with people directly, my communication skills are excellent and I feel very comfortable talking with nearly anyone.
Anyway, any advice would be most appreciated.
It’s all about the marketing Simone. How have you positioned yourself in the market? Take a look at successful online business providers like graphic designers, virtual assistants and business coaches. What does their website look like? Take a look at their content, their offerings and pay attention to how their are marketing themselves. Start there. You CAN make more if you position yourself correctly and are confident in the services you provide. xo
Dear Simone, I have had the same financial challenges in starting a business but the key can be as simple as bartering. Ask your network of friends – by now almost all of us know an Internet Marketer, wesite designer, etc. Contact those people and ask their rates for what you need for your business and offer to give them free blocks of time in return. Most likely, they may need help with their bookkeeping, or email streamlining etc. There are so many free resources also for free training – youtube espectially. Go get ’em and don’t let fear get in the way Say yes and figure out how! – Cara
Cara, I agree. I also would push you and anyone else to try creating your own website. Today building a website of your own is just a matter of sitting down and learning how to do it. You don’t need to know how to code anymore. I built my websites and if needed the websites for my clients. I won’t deny that they don’t compare to hiring a professional graphic designer for a truly custom site but it’s absolutely enough of a site to launch a business and get a steady stream of clients. With the money earned, invest back into your business and hire professionals.
[…] https://reesebenyaacov.com/2012/08/virtual-assistant-rates-how-much-should-you-charge/ […]
Thanks for the mention in your blog, Kelsey! Really appreciate it.
Great post! Question: how long do your clients have to use the blocks they purchase?
Farrah I was always really flexible. That is, until it didn’t make sense. If a client didn’t use their hours and then out of no where request everything done ASAP, than I adjusted. 🙂
Great artice! I thought that maybe I should start with packages up front since changing from hourly/retainer seemed to be confusing for some clients. It looks like you recommend that a new VA start with hourly pricing until they get some footing with clients and switch over to packages. Is that correct?
As always, you hit the nail on the head when it comes to giving advice. Thank you!
You know Tammy, I’m sort of waffling about this point. On the one there are so many new VAs that just can’t grapple with the estimation part of creating packages. One day it takes them 1 hour to do something, and the next 2. It’s inconsistent and therefore I don’t recommend they create packages until they are certain about how long it takes them to do things (in other words, how experienced they are). That said, I’m seeing PLENTY of new VAs like you that are ready to start with packages. I guess I’m going to have to update my post with this bit because I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. Make sense?
I am in the process of starting a VA business. I am having a hard time pricing because I am just starting it seems like I should start at $15/hour. I thought this would be a great starting rate because my services are not known yet. I am confused about this part of the business. HELP!
This is such a great advice. I hope you can help me to find clients.
Thank you for the great and wonderful advise.
This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something that helped me.
I am so glad i got here.. i really need this right now. I learned about virtual assistance for quite long but wasn’t able to decide if i pursue until just recently because iv really no idea how to start. I keep on reading articles about VA’s and signed up to sites which caters virtual assistance but was unable to get clients. Can you impart some pointers on how to get it done? especially in dealing with clients/… thanks a lot.. your response will be very much appreciated.
Mabelle, start with my site. Read the blogs and get familiar with the VA industry as a whole. Good luck!
Dear Reese,I have been reading your posts and comments from people around. I live in Sub-Saharan Africa particularly Uganda and I feel this would be a great opportunity to start here. However, am not certain about how to introduce this to the people here to embrace it!
Susan, I’m so glad you’re here! I’m pretty sure you’re the first person to comment on my blog from Uganda! Because you work virtually, you can work with anyone, anywhere in the world. You’re not limited to Ugandans. That’s the beauty of working online. You’re not location dependent. 🙂
Hi reese, thank you for this post. I have been an office worker for 3 years now, but am planning to start exploring the world of VAs, after being offered with one service by a Doctor from California. May I know what specific services do you do as a va?
Hi Reese.I have recently added virtual assistance to my proofreading and editing business, and I struggle with what to charge. I have quoted $20/hour but I believe that is too low for the workload I am being hired to tackle.
I have a client who wants to hire me for the remainder of the year to assist with multiple assignments, including setting up speaking engagements and contacting clients. I am not willing to draw a 9-month agreement. I prefer to draw up an agreement that is renewable every 30 days. That option allows me to reject any assignment if my own workload becomes too top heavy with other clients.
Here is my dilemma: I like your idea of selling blocks of time but I am not sure if that is the best thing to do for this particular client. If I sell blocks of time, and use more than what she purchased, I know that I am to invoice for the remaining time. But, if she does not use all the time she purchased and she has paid for them, do I roll the extra time over to the next month when I draw up the new agreement, or do I refund the time not used and start over with the new agreement? I cannot help but wonder if I am selling myself short by selling blocks of time vs charging by the hour.
I think I am making this harder than necessary, but, I need someone to help me think this through.
Thank you for your help,
April, have you checked out the way other proofreaders bill? Start there and get a feel for the way it’s done. You want to make sure you’re not undercharging. In general when someone purchases blocks VAs either set an expiration date on the time you can use the hours OR they allow it to roll over. It’s a personal preference. I always allowed roll overs because FLEXIBILITY.
Hi Reese, I’m outsourcing virtual assistant services among others like IT and education. Seems you have more referrals than you can manage, so maybe you can refer them to us? We just launched our website but we usually got leads from online platforms like Odesk, Elance and People Per Hour but this is stale and not good for growth.We would really appreciate some of your referrals for future cooperation. Thank you!
Thank you Reese for what you do! The future is bright for we VA’s! The support out there for all of us is vital as our industry is growing by leaps and bounds and we need to help each other.
Thanks for being amazing!
Thank you, Cara. I really appreciate that!
I would like to traverse this career of being a VA. I am actually a newbie on this industry but I see so much potential in it. I am about to start with a company that over their Business Admin VA $2.98/hour. I thought of accepting this as this is my first time and I really need to load up on VA skills. I have been working in the corporate world as bookkeeper and a system tester. Then last year I quit that world as I needed to focus on my family. I can only afford to work about 4-5 hours each day thus this VA career struck me that quick. Do you have any advice on my situation at the moment? Is it just alright to accept this job I am about to venture into? Thanks in advance.
Hey Loi! Sorry it took me awhile to respond. Having a 4-5 hours a day is a lot if you know how to prioritize and market yourself. You don’t need to learn a whole bag of new tricks, just focus on the services you are an expert at. Don’t try to spread yourself too thin. When I first started as a VA I was a generalist. Over time I specialized in social media marketing and WordPress websites. You will learn as you go. Remember, jack of all trades, master of none.
Reese, I love following you! Just starting my business and I have my website up. I am just befinning to try to reach my first client. I understand the packages and a reduced rate for more hours, but if I charge hourly, do I estimate the time for a project and get payment upfront before I begin the work? How should I handle this?
Thanks in advance for your help.
Hey Dal! Yes, get paid up front. There is nothing worse that the first time you get screwed over so I advise all my clients to use retainer plans OR by project jobs where you can get a portion of the payment up front. Hope that helps!
Also do you recommend the idea of launching my business by offering a few hours free time or at a low rate to get my first clients?
Dal, it’s really not working for free when there is an end goal in mind. It’s called building relationships and showing your ideal clients what you’re made of with the end goal that that “free” work will turn into paid work. Don’t advertise that you’re working for free on when you launch. Just have a conversation with prospects and let them know you’re willing to do x, y, and z at no cost to show them your quality of work, expertise, etc. In fact, you can source people out who have specific problems that they are talking about online, offer to jump in and help at no cost and viola. Connection made.
Reese, thanks so much for the great advice! I appreciate receiving the detailed suggestions and I also always find your blog posts to be so helpfu. It totally helps new VAs like me to start our actual businesses sooner than would have been with the best practices to incorporate..
You’re very welcome!
Hi, My question was waiting for moderation. I have been watching for a response for a couple of days and now it seems to have totally disappeared.
Thanks for your response.
Hi Reese! Thank you so much for this helpful information. May I communicate with you through e-mail please? I registered my e-mail add. Thank you.
So glad you did!
Hi Reese! I want to say thank you for all your blogs and posts on being a VA!! You have helped me change my life 🙂 I’m new to your community and I have a question, how do you show your clients that they have used their block of time? How do you prove it to them? I know there are many time management systems but how do they work? Do they login and check or do we make a spreadsheet? What works best?
Michelle, it’s comments like yours that keep me going! Thank you! To answer your question, you should always keep track of your time. I recommend using Freshbooks. It’s an accounting and timesheet software and I love the timer. You just start the timer when you begin working and log the time as soon as you’re done. It allows you to know how much time you’re spending on any given task/project. Each week (or month) you export your timesheet to an Excel file and send it to your client. Full visibility! Super easy!
Hi, Reese! I read this post several months back and was inspired to make the switch from an hourly (for which I was charging too little anyway) to 5-hour prepaid chunks of time. So far, it has worked out great and I’ve found it has many perks I didn’t think of, such as increasing cash flow throughout the month, rather than famine until billing time at the end of the month (like I was doing before)–that’s a big bonus, in my opinion. However, now I’ve really been struggling with a clear and simple way to log the time my clients are using versus the time they’ve paid for. I’m a VA working more on the creative end, so Excel spreadsheets are so not my thing. Any advice?
Yes! Use Freshbooks and log your time with their timer onto a timesheet. It’s what I use and it’s easy.
Thank you! I will check that out 🙂
Hello, Reese.I offer retainer rates (based on percentages off of my hourly rate for hours retained) and was recently asked to provide a project rate for onsite work I will complete. I know that I would charge a travel fee of $0.54/mile (roundtrip). What are your recommendations for pricing projects? Should they be priced at the same discounted percentage as my retainer fees? Example, I am expecting the project to take at least two full 8-hour days. That would be 16 hours since that would fall in my 15 + hour retainer rate offering a 7% discount is that what I should charge? Or, are project rates typically higher or lower than retainer rates?
Thank you so much for all the wonderful advice and options you have been presenting us with 🙂
Maureen so sorry for the delay here! I typically charge my regular rate plus travel and per diem. To be more specific, you want to charge for your travel time, cost of travel (gas and wear and tear) and any meals you would need to buy while there. Hope this helps!
Reese, so glad to have come across this site, and hoping to learn about how to launch a successful VA career. I do work virtually in translation, but I’d like to expand to my main work area. Just based on your advice here about scaling rates, I know I’m with the right person to advise me! THANK YOU!
I am been working in VA field since 3 months don’t have that experience but steadily turning from amateur to pro your blog is helpful in terms of how to make proper earnings from Virtual Assistant will apply this forth on thanks Reese for this informative blog
You’re welcome, Jaffer!
I am working for $12 an hour right now, and not getting any where. I am not being given direct projects that need to be done, just bits and pieces. He told me it would be 8 hours a day, but I can not get 8 hours a day out of sitting and wondering what to do next and if I will have work the next day. I gave up a full time office position for this job and now very stuck. I have been making cold calls for him since July. Where can I find VA jobs? Only place I can seem to get close is a website I have to pay for!
Have you signed up to my free e-course? It will help you figure some much needed things out to get moving in the right direction
I love this article, such an eye opener for me! In the Philippines, our hourly rate is very low and disappointing as well. Although I know that our hourly rate may never be the same, even if I become the rockstar that you already are, at least I know that I shouldn’t lower down my rate just because I want to get a client. I have few years working as VA but equipped with a lot of skills already so it’s about time I work towards accommodating my needs.
I’m so glad I helped you come to this realization. It’s important that you give yourself the space to create the kind of business YOU want and ask for what you believe in your heart you deserve. xo
Tried to reach you on Twitter, but maybe this is a better option. Thank you so much for writing this article!I’m curious how much rates have changed since 2012?
Tried to reach you on Twitter, but maybe this is a better option. Thank you so much for writing this article!I’m curious how much rates have changed since 2012?
Hey, Wendy! Rates haven’t changed that much in all honesty. That said, the more experience you have the more you can charge so while the rate range is pretty static, that doesn’t mean you can’t charge on the higher side if it makes sense to do so.
Hi Reese,I have almost twenty years of experience in administration. I wonder if in your opinion there is a difference between VA and EA? Also, do you advise your clients how much time they need based on project? Or do they decide how much time they need? Do you ever find that there isn’t enough time for what has been asked?
An EA works for one business owner and is a salaried employee. A VA works for many clients and is an independent contractor. My clients have always purchased time each month in the form of a retainer. They know more or less how much support they need from month to month. As to be expected, there are months where business is slow and months where business is crazy busy. For example, my clients are coaches and they often launch programs a few times a year. During those launches they need much more support from me. As for not having enough time to complete what is asked of me, I budget my time accordingly AND I have a team that supports me so I can delegate tasks/projects. The whole point of having your own VA business is not to become a total slave to your desk so you need to have proper systems and back up in place.
[…] figures the median pay rate for Virtual Assistants is $16.06 in the US. Reese Ben-Yaacov states she started at $20/hr for senior level virtual assistant services and eventually raised the […]
Thanks so much for the mention in this blog post! You’ve written an outstanding post filled with such valuable information. Well done!
I’ve been a real estate admin/marketing person for almost 6 years. I see a shift in this role becoming more a la carte. I’m trying to draft up a list of packages but also a la carte services and don’t know where to start.
Start by writing down everything you do, in other words all your skills. I cover that in more detail in my free e-course “Your First Client“. I highly recommend you check it out.
[…] and I quote – “good enough”. Mind you, there are those out there who charge up to $50 an hour. I’d have to sell 25 books/hr just to pay her. Needless to say, I wouldn’t. […]
Thanks for linking to my pricing guide for virtual assistants! I appreciate it!
Hi Reese, thank you so much for this article, I’ve been working as a VA for a couple years with one client, who pays me $15 an hour, and uses about 2-3 hours per week. He’s a great client, so I still don’t mind, though my newer client pays $20. I’ve started to resent working for her because I’m on call a lot, I feel, and it’s hard to quantify the time it takes to spend the mental energy to respond to a text before getting back to other work, if I’m not already in the middle of her stuff specifically.
Also, I’m doing graphic design and marketing consulting for her, and I feel those are both much higher value than she’s paying, even though I haven’t been working in her particular field long enough to be super fluent in some of the things she wishes I was (writing to therapists and doctors, mostly).
I’ve applied to work with another woman (whose work I admire enrmously) who’s offering $45 an hour, which I also feel comfortable accepting for the work, based on the feedback I’ve gotten from clients so far, compared to them working with other people. I’m very, very strict with myself about only clocking in for actual work time, and working as efficiently as possible for the benefit of both the client’s budget and the free time in my life, but it’s biting me now at $20/hour.
I’m just about to talk to a new client, referred by my current client, who told the new client my rate was $20, that my rate is now $35 and the reasons why, because I can’t afford to trade an hour for $20 anymore.
I’m still not sure how to argue entirely with the “You haven’t been in this world (my particular industry) that long and there are areas where you’re lacking”except to say that that would be true with any VA who wasn’t already specialized in their field, and other local VAs (in Canada) are charging $45-$60/hour.
I’m fine to be at the lower or middle end, I don’t have the systems or experience you do, for example, and I am learning as I go, but I’ve got a good base, a good record, and a need to live and be valued in a way that gives me life and freedom instead of slavery to the desk, as you said.
Anyway, thank you for being a voice of self-advocation in this. I’m still fighting with the instinct to take on anyone who offers me money, and everyone who’s made it past that point and is willing to hold out a hand to us still down here helps so much.
Emma it sounds like you’re at a brink and you know what the next step is. For me it was simply a function of getting used to marketing my services and asking for a rate that I felt was in line with the work I was doing. In the beginning I was less confident, but that quickly changed. With each new prospect, once we started talking $$ I would quote a slightly higher rates. And why not? If you break down the hourly rate and add in taxes and the cost of doing business, you’d have to be off your rocker not to ask for more more. I found a fascinating article that I think will really help you navigate the road ahead and give you the confidence to charge something that is more in line with your experience. Good luck! xo
Hey Reese, I am working as a Virtual assistant from past 10+ months. Fixing my rates has always been a difficult task. The hourly rate calculator is great. It is giving me a perfect picture of how much I should be earning every month.
"What if I lose the client because of my increasing rates " is another thing that has bothered me most of the time. I think I should have more confidence in my skills and experience and scale my rates as per that.
Thank you for sharing your own story Reese. It makes the whole idea of " charge what you DESERVE" more realistic.
I am so glad you stepped into your value and have been asking for what you need!
Virtual assistants like any other services provider struggle with raising rates for the fear of losing a client. Start slowing if it makes you feel more secure by charging more in small increments every time you onboard a new client. Eventually, all of your new clients will be at the rate you need!