How to Determine Your Virtual Assistant’s Salary

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Thinking about bringing on a virtual assistant to help with your business? If so, you’re probably trying to figure out what the typical virtual assistant salary is these days.

Knowing how much to pay your VA is one of the key considerations when it’s time to outsource, and with good reason: it puts you (and your business) on the hook for a significant amount of money every month.

It’s smart to take a look at your business budget, your income projections and the ROI that a virtual assistant can offer.

So how do you figure out how much to pay your virtual assistant?

This is a seemingly straightforward question with a less straightforward answer. Let’s dive in!

Short Answer: It Varies

There’s no set virtual assistant salary, no chart, no spreadsheet where you can do an official calculation, get an official number and then go find a VA to bring on board. (Not sure where to start? We specialize in well-trained virtual assistants around here!)

There’s a huge variety of skills and value that VAs bring to the table – the virtual assistant role is anything but a one-size-fits-all, and same goes for their pay.

What you pay your virtual assistant should be influenced directly by these factors:

  • Experience level
  • Complexity of tasks
  • Level of expertise
  • Past results
  • Value of your time being returned to you

There are other factors to consider as well, and those vary from business-to-business and from role-to-role. In general, though, as you begin to evaluate your VA candidates, you need to keep an eye on what they’ll be bringing to the role and how much you value that.

Let’s Talk Real Numbers

As I said before, there’s no pre-set virtual assistant salary range.

However, there are some trends in the industry, and generally speaking you’re going to see a big divide between VAs who offer general administrative support and VAs who take on more specific, highly technical or deeply complex tasks.

These types of roles are pretty common for first-time outsourcers, and our VA Finder service is a great place to start your search!

In other words, you’re going to pay a lot more money to someone to set up and run your Facebook ads and build out a sales funnel than you are to someone who’s going to send invoices for you.

Generally speaking – very, very, very generally – an administrative virtual assistant (which is what people typically think of when it comes to VAs) will charge between $20 and $40 per hour. There are VAs with years of experience who charge more for administrative tasks that might fall more along the lines of Executive Assistant roles, but they typically won’t call themselves VAs.

Virtual assistants who specialize in social media management typically charge at the higher end of the range – between $30 and $50 per hour. Tech VAs, who help you with webinars, WordPress monitoring and maintenance, adjusting website design, etc., may start at $50/hr and go up from there, depending on the complexity of the technology they’re working with and their degree of expertise.

We’ve put together a list of 150 services that a virtual assistant can offer. But as an business owner looking for a VA, you can use the list to get some inspiration on what services you can outsource.

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News Flash: There’s No Such Thing As a Virtual Assistant Salary

Can we split hairs for a minute? It’ll help, I promise.

Coming from a business perspective, it’s natural that you would approach the idea of compensation using the word “salary.”

If you’re hiring a virtual assistant, though, you aren’t dealing with salaries at all.

Salary is an element of traditional employment, where you agree to an annual compensation package broken into payroll periods.

Most VAs, however, are independent contractors and not employees, so their compensation isn’t salaried. The obvious exception is if you’re bringing on a remote employee, in which case the VA has access to all employee benefits but isn’t really a VA.

Most businesses who hire virtual assistants are looking for freelancers, and the compensation structure is typically hourly, project-based or a retainer model. Going into the process using the term “salary” is a sign that you’re new on the scene.

So with all of that said, how do you decide on compensation?

Establishing Your Virtual Assistant’s Compensation

When it comes to determining the compensation for a virtual assistant, you should be ready for the VA to have a say.

You, as a business owner, can offer an hourly rate you’re willing to pay for the role, or your prospective new team member will provide a proposal.

In fact, many virtual assistants set their own compensation, and you (their client) can choose to accept it or not.

If the offered packages and rates don’t work, most will also be glad to put together a custom proposal for you after getting a sense of what you specifically need.

And while the “cultural understanding” in business is that the first person to say a number “loses” the negotiation, it’s tremendously helpful if you can provide your budget for the VA to tailor a package that will work for you.

ROI: The Big Consideration

Whether you’re hiring someone to respond to customer inquiries or you’re bringing someone on to help you run your technology, you need to think about the return on your investment.

The key factor of ROI in this case is what your effective hourly rate is, and how that will be boosted once you eliminate the tasks you’ll be outsourcing. Think about your VA’s hourly rate as the amount of money you’d be willing to pay to have an hour of your time back.

For example, let’s say you’re spending two hours a day managing your inbox. If you had those two hours back, you could spend them doing work that generates $1,000 in additional sales per week.

There’s potential for some serious ROI there.

If you hired out your inbox management to a VA for $30/hour and the VA spent eight hours a week on it, you’re spending $240/week to free yourself up to bring in an extra $1,000, which puts you $760 ahead (before taxes and other expenses).

Time = Money, but What About Knowledge?

When you outsource some of your work to a VA, what you clearly gain in return is time.

For simple tasks, it’s easy to see the ROI of offloading them for a much lower hourly rate than whatever your earning potential is. But as you begin to think about how outsourcing can benefit your business, you may end up looking at things that carry a much higher value.

Think about the tasks that you know are important, but aren’t getting done because you don’t know how to do them. It could be video production. It could be social media. It could be advertising on Facebook or Pinterest.

It takes a specific skill set to learn how to do any of those revenue-generating tasks correctly, and it takes time to develop that skill set. You can choose to pour hours of your own time into learning all of these different things, or you can outsource. The main consideration for you to make with these more complex tasks is the value of expertise.

Again, ROI is the way to approach this consideration.

Think about one task you need to start doing – for example, engaging on social media. Not only does it take time to do the engagement itself, but it takes time to learn the most effective strategies for each individual platform. It also take extra time to come up with the content to share and even more time to analyze the results.

How many hours would it take for you to figure all of this out on your own? (Hint: lots and lots of hours.)

But if you decide to outsource your social media management, you could recapture that time, free yourself of the mental burden of not doing it and start reaping the benefits of an effective social media strategy… all for the cost of a monthly retainer with a social media manager.

This is a potential big win for your business, because good social media means more leads and more business for you, with less dragging you down, which frees you up to do even more income-producing activities.

In other words: yes, outsourcing some high-caliber tasks may come with a bigger price tag than you’d like, but how valuable are the results they bring to the table (much more quickly than you’d be able to)?

It All Comes Down to Value

Many people who aren’t accustomed to working with virtual assistants might look at these hourly rates and be surprised. After all, what in-office administrative assistant makes $30/hr in your typical corporation?

On the surface, VA rates might seem egregious. If you look a little deeper, you may find these rates make sense.

The annual salary of an admin doesn’t factor in the costs associated with having that employee full-time. There are the benefits, staff time and resources devoted to supporting the role, overhead costs and more. The admin doesn’t bear the costs of doing business – the company does.

A virtual assistant, on the other hand, is the one who bears the costs of doing business, and those costs must be factored into their rates. VAs typically pay for their own computer, software subscriptions, payment processing, work space and even the portion of income taxes that the employer would otherwise be paying.

Those costs factor into the virtual assistant’s hourly rate.

In a sense, you’re paying for some level of freedom when you hire a virtual assistant. You pay a little more to avoid the carrying costs of an employee.

Add on the value that freeing up your time and resources brings to the business, and it becomes clear why hiring a virtual assistant is a true investment! Your costs related to working with the VA are pretty much limited to what the VA bills you, but the benefits are capped only by your own earning potential (which, ideally, should be increasing).

The Final Word on Setting Your VA’s Salary

While working with freelancers isn’t really a “salary” issue at all, it makes sense to do your research when you’re looking into outsourcing.

What rates will the typical virtual assistant charge for the services you want to hire out? What are the results that come from outsourcing, and will they put you ahead in your business? And how much value do you place on your own time and reduced stress?

All of these factors go into what you can expect to pay your VA.

There isn’t always a straightforward answer to what you should be paying, but when you begin a search for some help with your business, keep in mind the value of what you’re doing, and not just the price tag.

Be smart, of course – it usually makes no sense to take your business into the red just to get some stuff off your plate – but look at the full picture, not just the compensation, when you’re looking at outsourcing.

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