I frequently see these questions come across the forums I belong to.
- How much should I charge?
- How can I compete with overseas companies?
- How do I get paid what I’m worth?
- How do I calculate my rate?
… and many more.
Recently another VA asked a similar question and was concerned that her 30 years admin experience might only be worth a few dollars per hour because in doing her research she discovered companies from overseas charging so little, and this was my reply to her …
“When I first started my business I started pretty cheap. Not realizing what was really necessary to run a business and make a living. I was killing myself. I was plenty busy, but not making enough money to get by. That my friends is insanity.
I no longer charge that way and haven’t for a long time, and I feel so much better. It was nerve wracking when I first started upping my rates. I was worried I wouldn’t get any clients, and I did in fact have some tell me I can go to ***, wherever they would for this much or this much. It’s a fact of being in business there will always be those who are not willing to pay you what your services are worth because they DO NOT see the value. That’s where the problem comes in. Raising my rates allowed me to get better clients not just more money.
These clients see what my services are worth. They appreciate and respect my expertise. They actually ask for my opinion or allow me to assist them with recommendations and such without just throwing out orders and not communicating with me.
It is what it is. People are people. For some reason the amount equates to worth/value in their eyes and if you are only charging piddling’s then you will often not receive the respect you deserve. You will be overworked, stressed out, and unable to keep up and you won’t be able to pay someone to assist you because you aren’t making enough to pay yourself.
Charge rates that are truly commensurate with your skills and don’t feel guilty about it. You won’t regret it.
I’m adding this because I don’t want to lump every client who seeks a lower rate into the cheap client category. Sometimes, clients really cannot afford to pay higher rates. I had a lot of great clients all through my business including the early days. If the issue was really money and not just bargain shopping sometimes we’d work something out that was helpful to both of us but be careful with that option too. You have to set limits on how much of this you do because you run the risk of taking on more than you can handle again. Keep these types of arrangements to a minimum.
I have one non-profit I do volunteer/pro bono work for, I have one client I barter with for some of my time and when I increased my rates I did not increase theirs this last time because their spouse lost their job, and the rest of my clients pay my rates.
It’s a play it by ear kind of thing. Go with your gut when deciding these things. It’s really nice to get paid for what your service is worth, but it also feels really good to help others who are in need regardless of the pay. At least it does for me, and I think many of you can relate. This is why we have to guard ourselves from getting overwhelmed. We cannot, simply cannot afford to give away the farm or we won’t be able to survive ourselves.
So charge those rates, don’t feel guilty, and help others when you are able and don’t feel guilty if you are not able.”
It’s super important to charge your what your services are worth, do some research, do the math, and know what you need to survive. There is no set rate for your services and you can ultimately charge what you want, but … I believe in being fair to everyone including myself. Trying to compete with other companies on rates is not going to accomplish that. Instead it will render an unhappy you and if you are unhappy in your work then you will be of no use to anyone. Clients will come … and when they do they will value you for you and realize your worth.
Saying all that I also want to add that when I’m speaking of worth I’m speaking of the service you provide and not your personal worth. The measure of a person is not counted in dollars and cents but rather in one’s value to self and the community. Remember we were all created by God, and as we often hear children chiming from Sunday school lessons “God don’t make no junk.”
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