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Per Hour or Per Project? How You Should Charge as a Virtual Assistant

Per Hour or Per Project? How You Should Charge as a Virtual Assistant


What makes a Virtual Assistant an attractive proposition for businesses is that he or she is paid based on productivity. The client is able to match the expense with the output produced by the Virtual Assistant. The client knows that every cent that goes into funding the services of a Virtual Assistant is validated by actual effort.

Virtual assistants accept payment via 2 options: pay per hour or pay per project. Pay per hour means the Virtual Assistant is paid per productive hour or on time spent for actual work done. Pay per project means a price has been agreed upon on a specific project and payment will be made based on mutual agreement.

There are some pay per project arrangements that are based on the accomplishments of pre- determined milestones. For example, 25% payment will be released once 25% of the project has been completed. This is similar to the progress billing system that is practiced in construction.

Are there advantages to either system of payment? How should you charge your client as a Virtual Assistant?

With a pay per hour option, there has to be accurate tracking of hours worked. There are many software programs such as TimeDoctor or SalesForce that can provide time- keeping. The advantage for the Virtual Assistant is that he or she is guaranteed compensation for the actual time spent on the client’s project.

A disadvantage would be if too many tasks were assigned during the pre-determined work shift. In effect, the Virtual Assistant would be foregoing potential income on these projects had they been assigned separately.

If the parameters of the project were clearly identified such as number of words per article, a pay per project option would be more advantageous. However, in the absence of parameters or benchmarks, it would be difficult to quantify effort with productivity.

For example, if you were asked to mine some data how many entries qualify for payment? And if so, how much time would you need to fulfill those entries?

As a Virtual Assistant, you must always be ready for any situation. You should have payment options available for your clients. At the very core of these options is your number one priority: meet the deadlines and standards required by the client.

In your schedule of fees prepare 2 sets of rates; one for pay per hour and another for pay per project. Indicate the types of projects that fall under these rates. Your basis for determining the rates is your best-effort ability in getting the job done for a client without compromising quality.

For example if you are a content writer, you can charge $15 per hour for a blog that requires:

  • Maximum 1,600 words (excluding title)
  • Keyword research
  • Correct keyword density
  • Links to references
  • Up to 4 revisions
  • Pass Copyscape

You and the client can agree on the number of hours to be spent on the project including for revisions and edits.

If the project involves an e-book, you can work out a pay per project arrangement based on milestones. For example, you can agree on a contract price of $300 for a 10,000 word e-book. Schedule of payment shall be upon completion of the following milestones:

  • $75 for first 2,500 words
  • $75 at 5,000 words
  • $100 at 8,000 words
  • $50 at 10,000 words

Milestones allow time for the client to review the work for edits and revisions.

When preparing your rates, always operate from the platform of a win-win proposition. Remember that if you take care of your clients, they will take care of you as well.

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