Since when did secretaries start earning $40 / hour? That was what I thought when I first started pricing out a virtual assistant. I took the cheap way out and outsourced.
The job was simple: promote my blogs 3x / week to my social media channels. After numerous spelling mistakes, missed deadlines and poorly placed posts, I stuck to my three strikes rule and gave him the boot.
I also tried Fiverr, an experience I’ll sum it up as “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” Um, it’s called Fiverr. Why is an extra line of text $10, again?
One Fiverr lady deleted my job after I refused to give her a five star review. (It took her seven edits to spell my tagline correctly.)
There is no deficit of virtual assistants. They run the gamut from copywriters to graphic designers. Which one does your business need and how much should you pay?
Outsourcing Means Learning to Communicate Directly
Most new businesses start by hiring a VA from another country – referred to as outsourcing. In my experience:
- You need to communicate very clearly
- Misspelling is common & frustrating
- It takes longer to train these professionals
- Cultural differences make reliability an issue
On the positive side, they are very inexpensive. If you are able to get a referral (I did) they may start out competently, but then begin asking for more money or become unreliable (mine did.)
Assess What Tasks You Need Completed
The amount you pay a VA should also come down to what tasks you need completed in your business. If the job requires them to cut & paste, or simply do data entry, there’s no need to hire someone at $40 / hour.
See if a friend has a college student who can help you. Consider posting an ad on Craigslist or reach out to stay-at-home moms you might know. A marketing assistant fresh out of college starts at $12 to $14 / hour, just to put these tasks in perspective.
If you post on Facebook, (or what the job is so you can rule out the expensive firms.)Â “Business coach needs a VA to program posts into social media via Hootsuite. Up to 4 hours / month.”
Do the Work Yourself First & Know Your SystemsÂ
VAs usually help execute marketing strategies – blog posting, project management, answering emails, scheduling, etc. Do the work yourself first until you have the system established.
Pay attention to how long it takes you to do these tasks. This will tell you how much you should be paying a VA to help you. For example, I can create a Canva graphic in 10 minutes; I’d expect a VA to take no more than 15.
Some VAs may charge a higher hourly rate because they are faster. Knowing how long a task should take helps you establish if your VA is as efficient as they should be.
The Time Versus Money Discussion
I hear time & time again that you need to hire a VA for the tasks that take up the time you should be serving clients. This is accurate. However:
- You need to be billing during time your VA is working
- Your income-generating time needs to be maxed out (i.e. if you spend 3 hours a day playing on Facebook, do you really need a VA to help you? Journaling helps you become accountable for your time.)
- You should have a consistent business income
You have a choice in business. You can have time or money. (Time is money!) You pay someone to do the work, or you take your time to do it.
If you spend 4 hours watching TV a night, is there any reason that you can’t do a few admin tasks yourself? But if you are running around every week to several networking events, pay a VA to do the work.
The Impact of a VA to Your Bottom Line
Pay attention to the big picture of how much overhead a VA is costing your business.Â If you are paying $1,000 or more per month to have your VA do XYZ for your business, are you getting the ROI you expect for this amount? Could you have someone in your office with you for the same rate of pay?
Further, is $12,000 / year the value you are earning back because of the work your VA does for you? As a coach, how many clients do you need to book to earn $12,000?
At some point, you will need to pay someone to manage your business. They’ll answer your calls, book appointments, program your social media, and much, much more. Just don’t overindulge too soon.
What Is YOUR Hourly Rate?
Let’s do the math again real quick. If you bill at $100 / hour, and you work for clients 10 hours per week, you earn $1,000 / week. If you pay a VA $40 / hour, every $100 you earn is equivalent to $60.
What if you worked a bit less and it gave you the time to do the tasks your VA was performing for you? Would this make more sense than paying out 40% of your income?
I say this to play devil’s advocate. The reality is your business will have a tipping point when 10 clients paying you handsomely means you can easily pay a VA. Be aware of where that line is for you; you don’t want to be working more just to pay other people.
Always Pay for What You Don’t / Won’t Do Yourself
The exception to any of this VA chatter is that you MUST pay someone to do the things you hate in your business. Whether this is a bookkeeper or a Hootsuite post scheduler, you will avoid the tasks you hate.
Paying someone to get them done holds you accountable & makes sure your business continues to run smoothly. You can’t put a price tag on getting the job done.
How Does eMarketing Copywriter Work with VAs
I have recently started working with a VA firm that charges $25 / hour. This is about $5 more than I wanted to pay, but I was very clear about my budget to get started.
I’ve assigned one small task; programming my tweets into Hootsuite. (Yesterday, I woke up to 20 notifications on Twitter, so there’s traction already.) I write the content & they program it in for me (a cut & paste task.)
Moving forward, I’ll also have the VAs:
- Send my newsletters
- Promote my webinars
- Proof & promote blogs
- Answer emails / messages
- Create memes in Canva
I will not ask my VAs to do graphic design work for me, and/or web programming. I believe in spreading out budget resources (i.e. working with more than one vendor) & the VAs charge $65 / hour (for this rate, I would prefer an expert in web programming on my team instead.)
I also feel that, as a consultant & a personal brand, it’s absolutely imperative that my content is my own. My thoughts, ideas, impressions & experience are what clients pay to hear. I will continue:
- To write my own content calendars
- To provide the messages I promote
- To interact personally as much as possible
Now, some of my philosophies will work beautifully for you. Whatever you decide for your business, just make sure that you maintain the ability to understand the “big picture” of why you are making that decision for yourself.
Elspeth Misiaszek is the innovator behind eMarketing Copywriter. She believes you deserve to profit from your passions & has dedicated her business to mentoring others to do what they love & love what they do. Grab your 10 Free Email Marketing Templates to really rock your writing.