Deciding How Much to Pay a Virtual Assistant

Posted by Owen McGab Enaohwo

At first, I titled this article, “How Much Should I Pay My Virtual Assistant?” But then, I realized that there are so many different variables that I could not possibly offer a set rate here. So instead, let’s examine the issues that will go into determining how much you will pay a VA.

First, you need to understand that there are different kinds of virtual assistants. Some are simply freelancers that you hire for a very short-term project, such as creating a series of company brochures. But there are also virtual personal assistants who become a more permanent part of your business team. This second person, you’ll probably pay more than the first, simply because you will want her to consider this her “job.”

Obviously, the pay rate will be negotiated by two people. You and the virtual assistant you want to hire; only you can decide how much you can afford to allocate for the job.  And only he can decide if it’s something he can afford to accept and still make enough money to live on.  Hopefully, somewhere in your negotiation is a “sweet spot” that you can reach, where both you and the VA will make a profit.

As you’re deciding what you’ll pay your virtual assistant, keep in points in mind:

  • The VA will often come with her own rate set in her mind. If this is more than you can afford, don’t give up too soon. Talk with her and find out if there is some wiggle room in there. Some people also do some “bartering for services” to make the virtual assistant’s rates more affordable.  For instance, one magazine publisher hired a virtual assistant just as a book / CD / movie reviewer….and a small part of his pay was free books and CDs.
  • If your choice comes down between two or three candidates, and one’s rates are way below everyone else’s, don’t be so fast to hire him. Sometimes, a lower rate indicates that the person has determined that his skill level is not high enough to be able to charge any more than that. In other words, many times, you really do get what you pay for. Not always, of course. Sometimes, it is possible to get a top-rate assistant at a low, low price. This is especially true if the person is just starting out and keeping their rates low to get clients. That creates an ideal situation for you, because then you truly are getting a good worker at the lowest cost to you. And they don’t feel abused for working at that rate. Be careful, though. If the person’s fee seems too good to be true, let that serve as a signal to investigate further.  Talk with the person and see if you can find out why their rates are so low. Demand references or previous samples of work.
  • Start off by thinking about what you would pay for this service if the person worked in-office with you as a fulltime employee. Remember that one of the points to hiring a VA is that it allows you to operate at less cost than if you have an office full of regular employees.  This means that if you wind up paying the virtual assistant more than you would pay an office-based assistant, you’re defeating your purpose.  However, you also have to remember that the virtual assistant will be aware of how much she could get if she worked a regular job.  Here, the key is to find a balance between your desire to pay less than you would pay a fulltime office assistant and her desire to make a rate that is competitive with what she would make as an employee.
  • Even though I said I won’t tell you how much to pay your VA, I will throw out some numbers. For instance, we offer our Philippine based VAs to clients for as little as $5.5per hour; I’ve also seen some home based virtual assistants paid $8 or $10 an hour and others paid as much as $30 an hour. The difference is based on several factors ranging from the skill level required of the VA to others such as whether they’re based in the United States (which has a higher cost-of-living than other countries, and people therefore expect higher pay – and rightly so!), or whether you’re hiring for a short-term freelancer’s assignment or for something more long-term. In summary, when deciding how much to pay your virtual assistant, always choose a “Win-Win” pay rate that leaves both parties happy.

Question for you:

  • Given your line of business and what tasks you need done for you, what do you think would be too little to pay your virtual assistant and what would be too much?