POLL: Do You Struggle to Earn Well?

For those of you in the administrative support business, how is business going?

19 Responses

  1. Hello Danielle, Just Voted! I can definently be honest on this poll and vote that I definently don’t make as much as would like to in order to support my family.

  2. Yeah….I’m fairly new to the industry and I feel like I should just take what I can get, for my family’s sake. But it leaves me resentful. 🙁

  3. Carolyn, are you finding clients/work? Or is it more of a case where the clients you’re finding (or who are finding you) balk at what you’d like to charge?

  4. Thanks for sharing, Ashley 🙂

  5. I think they’re silently “balking”. :)It seems they all already have an idea of what they want to pay. Usually around $10.00-$11.00 an hour. Like I said, I’m new to this and maybe they’re right.

  6. Ashley – your face was familiar so I viewed your website (turns out you look exactly like someone I went to grade school with). I definitely don’t mean to step on Danielle’s toes here – she’s amazing! But I peeked at your rates, and I think that to be profitable, you’d probably need to charge double or even triple what you’re charging now. You’re not an employee – you pay your own taxes, insurances, supplies, retirement funds…the list goes on and on and on.

    Danielle – if I’m out of line for posting this, please accept my apologies and feel free to delete. Thanks.

  7. No, they’re definitely not “right.” It’s an issue of perception. One of the biggest problems is the term “virtual assistant.” When they think you are nothing but an assistant, they only expect to pay you like they would pay an assistant.

    Along the same lines, another part of the problem is that the virtual assistant industry itself at large has miseducated clients and branded itself as the cheap labor pool of flunkies, gophers and jacks-all-trades (the kiss of death) instead of a skilled profession of those who specialize in the expertise of administrative support.

    Have you signed up to be on our conference call next week? I think I could open your eyes to a lot of understanding in this area and in turn change your marketing around. Here are the details: http://administrativeconsultantsassoc.com/teleseminars/2011/082511.html

  8. Nope, you’re not out of line. And definitely, rates are an issue. You won’t get what you don’t ask for. But the other side of that coin is that clients aren’t going to pay a professional’s proper fees to someone they only view as an assistant or a gopher or a jack of all trades. Our industry clings to this idiotic term of “virtual assistant” when it is hugely responsible for making it extremely difficult for people to earn well.

  9. And the mere comparisons so many in our industry constantly make between a va and an employee or a temp agency only serve to cement the idea in clients’ mind that va’s are merely offsite workers, which again, vastly influences what they are willing to pay. I don’t know about you guys, but that’s certainly not what I am in my business to my clients. I am a professional hired for the expertise of administrative support (and guidance where needed). That’s a significant difference.

  10. Kendra Barger says:

    I have one client that I definitely do not get paid enough by, but I have others that are more than fair. It’s all about what you accept. That took me a long time to realize.

  11. @Sheryl M. Snitkin – I attended Murphy High C/o 2005. alot of people tell me I look like someone they know or knew, LoL. But I have 2 clients on a fixed rate/like per task and they pay a lower fee than what I have now on my website. So no, I don’t make what I would like with those old rates.

  12. Dashya says:

    I strongly agree with Danielle- because so much of the VA industry contains the “anything and everything for less” type of conversations and advertising I am re-tooling my business cards, website and company docs to remove VA and replace it with the “Administrative Consultant” tag. Maybe then I will stop getting the “what can you do for me in an hour?” or the infamous “I only pay my people $11 an hour” mentality (and yes ladies I helped him out the door and let him know that is a figure that is NOT in my vocabulary, perhaps he should go to the expense of hiring another employee).

  13. Jonathan says:

    “It seems they all already have an idea of what they want to pay.”

    Caroline, this is totally not true. If you think your clients know more than you do on what they want to pay you for your services, then you are not doing enough to position yourself properly in the eyes of your prospects.

    If all you give on the table is a low price, to any prospect that comes along, they will view your services like a commodity and for sure they will pit you against all the other cheaper VAs on oDesk (and frankly, most other cheap VAs only know this kind of selling approach). Like Danielle and other veterans have always said, these are the type of people you definitely won’t want to work for.

    It’s how you position yourself and your services as an indispensable and unique value to your client that can really give you the ability to command your prices. This works really well when you do niche marketing (ie. specialize in a particular industry or business area). Ever heard the phrase “make more by doing less”?

  14. Debbie Mitchell says:

    Danielle, wouldn’t you say that if you pick a niche for your business (Coaches, Authors, Lawyers) or only do tasks that would normally earn more money in the corp world (marketing, website bldg, acctg) that you should be able to make more money? I am currently starting up my AC business so I am far from being an expert on the subject.

  15. Hi Debbie 🙂

    First let me clarify… what you should do, that is, what will really, really help you is to first decide on a target market. A target market is a field/industry/profession. Then within your chosen market, drill down even further to identify which particular, very narrowed subset of that target market you want to work with. That is what a niche is. So, for example, if your target market is attorneys, what KIND of attorneys do you want to work with, meaning, what practice area are they in? The more clearly and narrowly you define this, the easier it will be to find them, talk with them, creating a more attractive, compelling message for them as well as your offerings. This is the key step that will give you direction and focus and yield the best, most effective results for all your time and efforts. Without that, it’s like shooting in the dark. AND your business and work becomes easier with a target market as well and this is one of the things that leads to the “make more by working less” effect that Jonathan mentions.

    One thing I would add is to not think in terms of tasks. What you want to think of is “support.” How do those in your target market run their businesses? What kind of work do they do? What is involved in the administrative side of their business? Of all this work, what functions/roles/areas can you help them with? Where do they get stuck and backed up? What do they hate dealing with? What are their business goals, objectives and challenges? You get these answers by studying and learning all you can about your target market… actually finding people in it to talk with and interview. The answers to these questions then form the basis of your marketing message and your solution offerings. Trying to get people to buy into nickel and dime tasks will only get you transaction-minded clients and it’s an extremely difficult way to earn a living and much more labor and administration intensive. So if you wanted clients who want monthly support, not piecemeal/one-time or sporadic tasks, you want to focus your marketing message on attracting those folks.

  16. The other problem with the VA term is that even if you have professional rates, even if you focus on a value-based message, even if you are doing everything right in your marketing… if clients already have wrong conceptions and have been completely miseducated due to the term, it doesn’t do you any good to cling to that term. By using a different term, you don’t have to deal with any of the preconceived notions and misconceptions that so many come to the table with. It really saves a ton of time and energy on that whole part of the discussion and you get better clients because of it.

  17. Debbie Mitchell says:

    Thank you for responding back to me. I really like what you say and how you say it. I just found your website today and can’t wait to read all your articles/posts.

    Talk to you soon!


  18. Nica says:

    Three years ago, I started working from home as a virtual assistant. But now I find myself back in an office using the skills i learned as a VA. Why? Because my clients take their own sweet time paying invoices. It takes them at least two weeks or a month to pay up and I find myself borrowing money just to make ends meet. At one time, my client refused to pay the full price and we had to settle at half the amount to get paid. This made me rethink my whole business model as a VA. Now, I am taking a step back from my VA business and focusing on working at home.

  19. Nica says:

    ohh that should be from the office, Danielle. 🙂 Anyway, I voted that I want/need more clients. Great poll!

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