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How to Set Your Rates as a Virtual Assistant

Establishing a business can be very confusing at the beginning. This is the time when you’re trying to figure out everything you need to know about your potential business. You’ve probably decided that you want to be a virtual assistant but aren’t yet sure about how much to charge your clients. So, let’s discuss one of the most asked questions …

How much should VAs charge for their services?
The rates for VA services depends on what you offer, your experience, and how much you’re willing to charge. Some VAs charge $30/hour (or much less) and some charge more than $100/hour. That’s a huge difference! Usually, people in countries where the average living cost is low tend to charge much less than those who live in countries where it is much higher. This sometimes creates an unfair competition in job boards which forces many VA to charge less.

Let’s now talk about how exactly one should determine how to charge.

Many VAs charge by the hour to have an idea of how long each project takes them and to make it easier to estimate their average earning. But, there’s a problem with this method.
By charging by the hour, you’re not taking your efficiency into consideration. As you gain experience, you would be faster at your job. As you get faster, you would be earning much less because your projects won’t take as long as they used to.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend this method. 

But, if you prefer to go hourly, I would advise you to charge at least $30/hour. As you gain experience, charge more ($50-$80/hour).

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To charge by the project, you may want to estimate how long a project may take you, add up whatever extra services or expenses you would invest, then set a final quote. Knowing how much to charge by the project will be much easier for you to determine as you gain experience. Also remember, not every task is the same, so judge them differently. Some tasks are harder than others. What you charge one client may differ from another. Always speak to your potential client (free consultation) about the details of the project before giving a price.

You have the potential to earn more with this one.

VAs usually charge for retainer packages at least a month ahead. It’s like a contract where both parties agree on a set rate (weekly, monthly, every two months, or more) for a variety of tasks to be done. This is perfect for those offering multiple small tasks.
I would advise you to time yourself every time you work on a project to have an idea of how long it takes and how much you earn on an average. As you get faster, you will see that your earning will also increase.

There are two times of retainers, one where your client determines the tasks to be done, and another where you specify exactly what you would do. 

It may be better to initiate the services you’re willing to offer so that you know exactly what you’re doing with every booked retainer package. It may also help you to focus on specific tasks, become more efficient, and gain expertise.

With retainer packages, problems that may occur are clients giving VAs more tasks than expected or VAs performing less than the money is worth. To fix this problem, it would be ideal to make sure that you have great communication with your clients. Email each other, set a time for chat, and if it helps, talk on the phone. Do whatever you can to stay on the same page.

I would recommend that you either charge by the project or by retainer packages and time yourself to have an idea of how long each task takes you. You may start setting your rate by charging by the hour, but remember that as you gain experience, it would be working against you because you would be faster at what you do. Instead of worrying about each minute or hour, make your goal to provide the best service while also being efficient. Make it a win-win situation on both sides.

And as always, it may take time before getting clients and gaining experience. So you may want to lower your rate (probably much below than the market rate) to allow yourself to build your portfolio. If possible, even offer some of your services for free with family/friends or as an intern for a short period of time (maybe 1 to 3 months) while you gain experience and free training.

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