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