I often get phone calls from prospective clients or emails from new VAs asking what the ‘standard rate’ is for carrying out particular jobs. I do understand their question but they haven’t really thought about what they’re asking.
When you’re buying a product such as a book, software or other things then there are often ‘recommended retail’ prices for that particular item. However, when it comes to providing services, it doesn’t work the same way. It’s not like you’re paying an employee that is receiving a ‘standard’ wage – we’re all self-employed and bring with us a very wide range of differing experiences, skills and backgrounds. But it’s not only that.
Consider if the Virtual Assistant industry decided to collaborate and set a ‘standard rate’ for different services. How would that work (apart from being accused of price fixing)?
I don’t believe it could. And this is why:
- VAs the world over all have different skill levels and capabilities.
- Some are excellent typists, some are very good at transcription, some have excellent artistic skills so do well at desktop publishing, graphic design and so on. The ‘unskilled’ could not charge the same as the ‘skilled’.
- VAs live in many different countries and regions.
- It’s not just the currency differences but also the costs of living. From state to state in different countries the cost of living goes up and down. VAs could not charge the same rate even across the same country.
- Not all VAs provide the same services.
- There are different tax laws in each country.
- Some VAs only work part-time and others full-time and this can affect their rates.
- Some come with over 20 years experience in their field, and others only 5.
- Many VAs go it alone and don’t belong to VA networks or associations so how would it be policed?
I’m sure there is more we can add to this list but I’m sure you’ll agree that setting a standard rate is just not possible. When a client contacts me I tell them I’ll send out their request to my team so they’ll get several responses with quotes and turnaround time. That way they don’t have to shop around – they’ve only had to make one call and they get choices. I do sometimes remind them that ‘cheapest’ isn’t always best. For example if someone only types 40wpm and charges a low rate, then it’s going to take longer before the client gets the completed work back than from someone who types twice the speed and finishes in half the time. They might charge a higher per hour rate but in the end the job is often cheaper. It’s worth doing the math.