Charging for Virtual Assistance Services: Monthly Fee vs. Packaged Flat Fee Pricing

Pricing is one of the top questions I get when it comes to becoming a virtual assistant. How do you know what to charge your clients? What if your pricing is too high or too low? Do you need to charge hourly or should you be charging a monthly flat fee?

Pricing and charging as a virtual assistant will be completely broken down in this post.

Identifying your business model

I don't believe that there is a one size fits all answer when it comes to pricing your virtual assistance business. 

If you are an absolute beginner, I do recommend using an hourly rate for now, until you get an understanding of how long certain tasks will take you and whether your clients need the boundaries of setting fixed hours. Over time, you can switch to a flat fee or a different way of receiving payment, but if you are completely new, definitely start with an hourly package.

A flat fee is good if you are a designer, social media manager, or the type of virtual assistant with a clearly defined role.

You can write down how much work you are willing to do "up to" per month, whether anything rolls over to the next month, and then charge a fixed fee for it. 

Let's break down the hourly pricing vs. flat fee pricing.

Hourly Packages

This is how I normally break down hourly packages:

  • $15/hour - Completely brand new and needs all the training and patience
  • $25/hour - Has has at least 2 clients in the same industry, previously, but still rather new
  • $35/hour - Strong competency and requires little management.
  • $45/hour - Expert level and requires no management, if any.
  • $55/hour+ - Certified expert and industry leader. Requires no management.

I've seen experts charge more than $100/hour but just because you see someone else doing it, doesn't mean that it would work for your audience or your business model.

Don't try to charge high just because you see someone else doing really well charging high but don't charge low just because you think you can't compete any other way.

Instead, choose an hourly rate that you feel best matches your experience level.

Clients are very hesitant to pay someone inexperienced a higher fee but if you're an expert and can get the job done with minimal direction, clients are happier to pay you a larger fee.

More time than money = clients will pay less but give you more elbow room to figure things out on the job (these clients are excellent when you're brand new),

More money than time = clients will pay more but have less tolerance for mistakes or taking too long to get work done.

Creating Hourly packages

When you've figured out your hourly rate, you want to put them into "packages" for your clients to choose from.

I know it's popular to do a "small, medium, and large" tier but in my experience, having a small and large option works best, without a middle ground. 

When you have more than two options, people start getting overwhelmed easily. They usually choose the middle option, feeling that it's the safest, and end up needing much more or much less hours, but instead of upgrading or downgrading, they stay in the middle ground "just in case."

This really put a strain on my monthly hours because there would be awkward, "Well, I didn't really use all my hours..." conversations or clients begging me to add more hours into our calendar, because the tasks were taking up too much time.

So, I made a small page of 8 hours per month and a larger package of 20 hours per month. There was no middle ground.

This helped speed up the decision making period for a client because it polarized who each package was for and drew a hard line in the sand. If you're a beginner or need small tasks done, you get the 8 hours. If you need me all the time, you get the 20 hours.

You may choose different hours besides 8 or 20, but that's what worked for me. (Eventually I moved on to doing 8 hours or unlimited hours.)


Monthly flat fee pricing

When you start figuring out what your clients are looking for, you'll start to see certain patterns. 

As a designer, maybe you're noticing that clients are hiring you to design PDF's, workbooks, and social media graphics. Instead of charging hourly, you can charge "up to 3 workbooks (10 pages each), 6 social media graphics, etc." Outline what is included in each month.

As a tech virtual assistant, I have daily maintenance tasks that I do, such as managing Ontraport, customer support with Teachable, and webinar set-up. I outline that while I am in my office from 10am-4pm, I check in on these tasks daily as long as I am given a 48 hour in advance heads up. (Note that I only offer this to trusted clients who won't take advantage of my flexibility.)

With flat fee pricing, I definitely still recommend the two-tier model over the three tier or having too many packages.

I've seen some virtual assistants that I wanted to bring on to my own team with 6-10 packages and I was so overwhelmed by the amount of choices, I just left their page. 

When you design packages for your virtual assistance business, make sure that each package is clearly defined and strongly different from the other ones.

You can technically have 6-10 packages, if each one stands out from the next.

If you are a social media virtual assistant, you can design a small package that offers:

  • Up to 4 sets of blog graphics per week
  • Each set includes:
    -1 horizontal Twitter image
    -1 vertical Pinterest image
    -3 Instagram images (1 title, 1 quote, 1 animated)

Then you might contrast that with a larger package that offers:

  • Up to 6 sets of blog graphics per week
  • Each set includes:
    -1 horizontal Twitter image
    -3 vertical Pinterest images
    -3 Instagram images (1 title, 1 quote, 1 animated)
  • Daily checking of your social media accounts to engage with followers
    -1 Facebook account
    -Up to 3 Facebook groups
    -1 Twitter account
    -1 Instagram account
    -1 Pinterest account
    -Up to 3 Pinterest groups

I put the words "up to" so potential clients don't ask for discounts for not having more than 1 account that fits that need, but it is also inclusive of clients who do have up to 3 accounts. They pay the same price.

Make sure that you cover all of this inside of your virtual assistance contract. If you need a contract, you can click here to grab a copy of mine

How to invoice your client

I am a believer in getting 100% payment up front if it's for a project or monthly work. If you are on a long term contract, I suggest getting 50% up front and 50% at the midway point.

Some software you can use to invoice your clients are:

You should send your first invoice with the first contract.

So is it hourly or flat fee pricing for you?

Let me know in the comments below!