Dear Danielle: Am I Charging Too Much?

Dear Gritty VA:

I have been scouting ads and looking for people who are looking for a Virtual Assistant, and I keep coming across ads where people are only willing to pay $12.00 an hour. Is this normal? No one charges $12.00 an hour do they? –MB

I’m curious about the ads you are looking at and where? In my area, Virtual Assistance is still basically an unknown commodity.

Are you really finding ads where business owners are specifically asking for Virtual Assistants? That would be awesome, but I have a feeling that the ads you are seeing are looking for traditional employees.

$12/hr is an employee’s wage, not the fee of someone who is in business as an independent professional.

And why are you scouting employment ads anyway instead of networking and building relationships with people who could be clients and referral partners?

When introducing people to the idea of Virtual Assistance, the biggest benefits we offer are the cost-effectiveness, the convenience and the high quality skill sets a Virtual Assistant is expected to have.

Employees cost an employer much, much more than their mere hourly rate. And they are making more than just that hourly rate when you figure in benefits such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, vacations, sick leave and any other perks offered.

They are paid for being physically present, whether they are productive or not, and we all know that there is all kinds of downtime in a job such as being caught up and having nothing to do, coffee breaks, watercooler chit chat, sick days and vacations.

But all in all, comparing employee wages to an independant professional’s service fees is apples and oranges—two completely different animals. You’ve got to get out of the employee mindset and start thinking like a business owner seeking clients, not employers. Network with people in your target markets. Emphasize the value, benefits, quality and cost-effectiveness of our services.

Set your rates with an eye toward what will profitably sustain your business and provide the income level you desire. I would worry more about your rates being too low because not only does that send a negative message about the quality and level of your services, low rates won’t allow your business to be profitable.

Otherwise, you won’t be in business long, and you’ll be back to the employment ads looking for a J-O-B.

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