Many people would like to hire a virtual assistant but believe it’s out of their budget. In actual fact, practically every small business owner and executive can afford a VA. Whatever your budget, there is someone available within your price range.
The Cost of Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Search for virtual assistants and you’ll see rates ranging from as little as $3 an hour to as high as $75 an hour. The huge disparity is actually logical: the cost of a virtual assistant depends on numerous factors, including experience and skill set. Pay more and you’ll receive higher quality along with either a broad range of services or some specialist services.
To figure out the cost of hiring a virtual assistant, then, it’s necessary to figure out what you’re looking for in a VA.
1. Type of Virtual Assistant
Some virtual assistants offer a wide array of services, whereas others specialize in a particular area. You can find virtual assistants for:
- Administrative tasks
- Data entry
- Internet research
- Customer support
- Social media management
- Digital marketing
- Tech support
- Graphic design
- Video production
Virtual assistants who provide admin support and other tasks that require less skill tend to be available at a lower price point than those who offer a service that requires industry knowledge. Many VAs even offer a core set of services (such as calendar management, correspondence, and social media posting) along with one or two specialist services.
In fact, the same virtual assistant may charge a different rate according to what you ask. For instance, they may be willing to charge just $20 for data entry but ask for $50 for digital marketing, programming, or tech support.
2. Years of Experience
Virtual assistants who are just starting out usually charge a lower amount than those with a few years of experience. If you have a limited budget, this could be a good opportunity to receive work at a lower rate than average.
Bear in mind, though, that the virtual assistant may not produce work to the same standard as someone with more experience. The VA may also longer to complete tasks, meaning the cost difference is negligible. In addition, VAs with less experience will require more guidance. This means you’ll need to be willing to put in more time for training and explaining tasks to avoid mistakes.
Having said that, you may find candidates who have no experience working as virtual assistants but who do have the relevant skills. For instance, they may have worked in an office environment before. Whereas there may be a slight learning curve with these VAs, it will be much less than with recent graduates, people taking up VA work to supplement their income, and anyone else who is otherwise just starting out.
3. Knowledge of Software and Tech
You can expect to pay a higher rate for virtual assistants who are skilled at using industry tools and technology. The more difficult the software, the higher the price increase.
This extra expense could be be worthwhile if you choose a VA who has experience in software that is relevant to your needs. For instance, if you’re already creating your own graphics, it may be useless to find a virtual assistant who is charging more for knowledge of Illustrator or Photoshop. However, if you want a VA who can do basic accounting, someone with knowledge of QuickBooks or FreshBook could be ideal.
4. Urgency of the Task
Many VAs have other commitments, perhaps working as a virtual assistant at another company, studying at college, or maintaining a full-time job. If you’re able to offer flexible deadlines or give your VA more notice than just a few hours for a simple task or just a week for a larger project, you may be able to gain a lower rate.
5. Your Work Style
If virtual assistants judge that you are difficult to work with, they may ask for more. This could be the case if you have a reputation in the virtual assistant community or if the projects you have tend to require numerous revisions.
To avoid receiving high quotes for work, strive to improve your management skills. Know exactly what you’ll need in the moment you reach out to a virtual assistant and provide your VA with clear requirements throughout the course of the project. This should include guidelines about how your virtual assistant should get in touch with you in the case of any doubts.
If you hire a virtual assistant from the U.S. or Canada, expect to pay more than if you outsource from abroad. At the low end, you’ll pay $15 in North America, whereas rates overseas drop to as low as $5 an hour. However, if you want an expert in something like digital marketing, accounting, or programming, you can expect to pay at least $40 no matter where the VA is located.
How to Pay Your Virtual Assistant
You also need to figure out how you’ll pay your virtual assistant. You have a few options.
1. Pay Per Hour
The most obvious way to pay a virtual assistant is by the hour. After all, we’ve been assessing how much a VA costs by the hour.
If you do choose this option, it’s worthwhile investing in some time-tracking software. This will show you much time your virtual assistant is working in different documents, browser tabs, and types of software. The tool can also tell you the percentage of time spent actively (calculated by keystrokes and mouse movements). Most experienced VAs will expect you to ask for time tracking if you are paying by the hour.
2. Pay Per Project
For more complex work, virtual assistants often prefer to be paid by the project rather than the hour. This is particularly common for services like social media management, where you may pay for the setup of accounts, per a particular increase in followers, and per post. It’s also possible to pay by the project for things like formatting documents, editing web copy, and similar activities.
3. Task-Based Payment
A similar option to the above is to pay per task. Rather than paying for each task individually, you create a list and pay a set amount. For example, if each activity on the list takes 10 minutes, you’d pay the VA’s hourly rate for the completion of six tasks.
This system means you need to have an accurate idea of how long each task should take. Of course, if you’re used to carrying out tasks yourself, you will already know this. If you’re unsure, the VA can tell you and you can decide if it sounds reasonable.
The task-based payment method has the advantage of eliminating the need for time tracking. This means you can hire a virtual assistant with less experience without needing to worry that the VA will take too long on simple tasks.
4. Subscription Plan
If you use an agency to find a virtual assistant, you may have the option to pay a subscription plan. Typically, the agency will have between three to five plans to choose from, each providing you with a different number of hours per month (or week) and covering a distinct range of services. The higher-priced plans may also have some added benefits.
Paying Through an Agency or Contracting a VA
A reputable agency gives you a secure method of payment. Virtual assistants can be confident that they’ll be paid and you will not need to release any funds until the work is complete. However, the main benefit of an agency is that you gain access to a pool of virtual assistants. There’s no need to set up a contract or monthly retainer — if your VA decides to leave you for a new client or a different job, someone else will immediately pick up the work.
Plus, if the agency initially assigns you a virtual assistant who is a poor fit, you can switch to someone else. This is also useful if your needs change over time and you want someone to support you in a different set of tasks.
The benefit of contracting a virtual assistant on your own is the chance to choose the individual you want to work with. Your best option is to use a freelance platform, where you can compare different VAs in terms of skills, experience, reviews, and, of course, price. Platforms usually have built-in payment protection for both you and the virtual assistant, meaning there is no need to pay anything up front.
Whatever your responsibilities, if you want to decrease your current workload, a virtual assistant will be able to help. VAs can carry out practically any type of work where no physical presence is necessary. Knowing how much a virtual assistant should cost will ensure you find someone within your budget and who is charging a reasonable price for the services you need.