When starting my virtual assistant business, the dilemma of what to charge literally kept me up at night. I had done my research, so I knew what the ballpark figures were that professional virtual assistants were charging. I also knew my value, but I’m just starting out. How could I possibly demand $25 to $60.00 an hour for my services? I thought, if I charge that, I’ll never get clients as a new V.A.!
Eventually, I settled on an hourly rate between the median price ranges. However, in my quest to obtain clients, I found myself accepting whatever the client wanted to pay, and soon became very disillusioned. Because I had to start earning some money, I began answering ads from people who wanted to pay hourly rates of $15, $10, and oh my gosh, I even accepted a job for $8.00 an hour. This was performing marketing-related services. I began thinking to myself, “I can’t do this.” Evelyn, what the heck are you doing?” I wasn’t that desperate. Was I? I cannot sell myself short. I haven’t made $8.00 an hour since I was a freshman in high school for God’s sake! If this is what it’s going to be like, I’m going to back into the corporate world, where I was at least paid a decent salary and received benefits!
However, my husband, who is my sounding board and head cheerleader, reminded me that starting this business is what I had been praying for and that I had to press on; but to be consistent and not to sell myself short. I have great skills. I’m good at what do. I have over 18 years of professional experience. I successfully ran programs with budgets of almost a half a million dollars. Sure, I was in business, but I didn’t feel proud of myself knowing I was allowing myself to be taken advantage of. I felt violated each and every time. I signed up for an account at oDesk, an outsourcing resource website. It produces great leads, but I haven’t secured an assignment through them yet. And the likelihood, is I probably won’t. This might be good for some, but I don’t think this is where my clients will come from. I was quite shocked at some of the hourly rates people wanted to pay and equally shocked at what some V.A. “professionals” were willing to accept. I’m talking as low as $5.00 an hour. I realized, very quickly, that many of the VA’s, as well as clients were in overseas countries such as India where fees like that are commonplace.
Now when I receive a call from someone interested in my services, I found out their needs, tell them my fees, and at that point, we either continue with the conversation, or they scoff. If the latter, I politely suggest that perhaps I’m not the V.A. they are looking for and suggest they post at oDesk or Craiglist, wish them luck, and disconnect.
I want clients that understand that V.A.’s are professionals. We are entrepreneurs and we are running businesses ourselves. I want the type of clients who view us as partners and potential assets to their company’s success.
Wouldn’t you be weary of a doctor who charged $30 for an office visit, or a computer tech who would repair your computer for $10, or a lawyer, who’s hourly fee was $20 an hour, a hairstylist who would wash, set, and cut your for $10.00, or, well you get the picture. What I’m saying is these are all professionals, who you expect to have to pay a certain fee to and so is the Virtual Assistant.
Those old adages, “you get what you pay for” and “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” ring very true. I have faith in my skills; faith in my experience; and faith that doors will open and clients will come….they have come. I WILL NOT sell myself short. There is no way, I am going to go backwards. I am realizing my dreams; I can’t give up, nor can I give in and neither should you.
My advice to V.A.’s starting out…. don’t sell your souls or your talents. Know your worth and stick to it. I’m not saying there’s never any room for compromise, but there’s a huge difference in compromising, and giving your services away!
I’d love to hear your thought and experiences.
Peace and prosperity,