As the world of virtual support expands to meet the needs of various businesses, especially those who market themselves online, independent contractor rates can fluctuate wildly. For example, virtual assistant services can be purchased for as little as a few dollars an hour – as long as you’re comfortable working with VAs from foreign countries who may speak English as a second language and have limited familiarity with the laws, regulations, business and social environment and culture to name a few.
While it’s true that super-cheap services like these may be fine for something like simple data entry, you are likely throwing away your money if you need the more advanced, technical services at which a quality virtual support team excels, such as:
- Website design and development
- Administrative support
- Internet marketing support
- Website copywriting and blogging
- Email marketing support
- Product launches
- Social media marketing support
Services like these, especially for businesses based in the US or UK, require support from contractors who possess the skills and talent to respond in a timely fashion, and who understand the online marketplace in which you’re doing business.
The Value of Knowledge and Experience
There is an old adage in sales and marketing that explains the difference between price and value: when the value of a product or service exceeds the price, a sale is made.
So, how do we explain value in the context of virtual support? With a bit of help from, of all people, Pablo Picasso:
One day, Picasso is sketching at a park. A woman walks by, recognizes him, and begs for her portrait. Somehow, he agrees and begins to work on a sketch of the woman.
A few minutes later, Picasso hands the woman the sketch she requested. She is elated, excited about how wonderfully it captures the very essence of her character, what beautiful work it is, and asks how much she owes him.
“5000 francs, madam,” says Picasso. The woman is incredulous, outraged, and asks how that’s even possible given it only took him 5 minutes.
Picasso looks up and, without missing a beat, says: “No, madam, it took me my whole life.”
While the act took mere minutes, the effort required to complete the sketch required a lifetime.
And, while the support you seek from a VA, copywriter, or website designer may take a very short time compared to you doing the work yourself, it has likely taken many years for them to acquire the training, knowledge, and experience to do the job well – within the time frame you require.
In other words, just like Picasso, the effort required to gain the training, knowledge, and experience to offer quality virtual support services has real value – far more value than just the time involved to complete a specific task – and therefore demands reasonable compensation… That is, a fair price for services.
The Practical Value of High-Quality Virtual Support
In most cases, after the client chooses a freelancer, he or she provides a quote based on the scope of work. In this case, let’s say the quoted rate is $100 per hour, with an estimate of 40 hours to complete the rebranding task given by the client. That makes a total of $4,000, and the work will take roughly one working week to complete, although these hours will most likely spread out over several weeks.
At the end of that task, there may be additional work required: a review process, revisions, and the usual back and forth until everyone is happy. After several weeks, or perhaps even months, the job is finished. The additional hours added a further $1,000 to the job, and the client got everything they needed after two months.
In short – Time spent: 2 months. Cost: $5,000
Now, let’s take a look at the same scenario with a much more experienced independent contractor.
The Real Value of Experience
Again, the client chooses a freelancer who provides a quote based on the scope of work. However, this particular contractor has over 20 years’ experience in the task requested. Because of this experience, the project will take around 4 hours to complete, it will be everything the client needs, and the charge for this is the same as the job above – $5,000.
In short – Time spent: 4 hours. Cost: $5,000
Yet, in this scenario, the client suddenly gets cold feet. Suddenly, the quoted rate is not $100/hr, but $1,250 per hour. That’s a staggering rate, higher than any lawyer or doctor charges. They don’t want to pay it.
But in this case, the client is missing the big picture – the real value of the work from the vastly more experienced contractor.
Because the client has a misconception of value, the experienced freelancer will not get the job because they are considered “too expensive”, despite the fact that the final cost is the same.
Of course, if you were to ask the client, “Would you like this $5,000 project completed in 4 hours or 8 weeks?” the answer would be blatantly obvious. They’d want the four hours. Because of the client’s inherent biases and misunderstanding of the value offered, they will sacrifice time and efficiency for a lower hourly rate. (Thanks to TheBalanceCareers.com)
If you’re struggling to come to terms with the value of virtual support services versus the independent contractor rates you’ve been quoted, take some time to think about these scenarios.
Better yet, consider the value of your own training, knowledge, and experience and ask yourself, “What would I be worth to my customers?” The answer may surprise you – and convince you to pay a bit more than you originally intended to hire an expert.