• Katie Stone

How much does a Virtual Assistant cost to hire?

Yep- we’re onto the bigger questions about V.A.’s this week – and in a (hopefully) post-COVID world, one decision that business owners of all levels are having to make is where to invest cash, because – let’s face it – there wasn’t loads to begin with, and with a 20% fall in the UK economy reported yesterday, it’s clear that the next few months, and probably years, are going to be lean.

In simple terms of outlay, there are a few different answers to this question, dependent on which kind of V.A. you decide to hire.

It’s helpful to think of it in terms of ketchup (I know, but bear with me). All ketchup is made of the same essential ingredients, but depending on which brand you buy, the price will change.

If you go for the own brand, white label-type ketchup it can cost mere pennies. A mid-level brand will cost a bit more, and then your premium brand, 51-varieties posh stuff will cost the most. Now. Hold on to that metaphor, because I’m going to come back to it.

V.A.’s come in levels of expense too, so let’s have a look at them from cheapest to most expensive.

The own brand ketchup of the V.A. world are those who you can find on places like or Fiverr. They generally come from second or third world counties like India or the Philippines and are able to offer their labour for as little as £5-£6 per hour.

The mid-brand V.A.’s are generally sole traders or associates of larger firms, and tend to be based in countries like the U.K. and the U.S.

They usually have English as a first language, and because they have more experience and education (and a much higher cost of living with taxes and pensions etc to cover), they charge more.

At the moment the price of this type of V.A. averages between £25-£35 per hour, though this is likely to rise a little in the next year, perhaps by a pound or so as cost of living, insurance etc goes up.

The 51-varieties brand of V.A. doesn’t tend to differ much from the mid-brand ones in terms of where they’re from or cost of living, but they do tend to be highly specialised.

They will have many years of practical experience in this specialisation, as well as lots of qualifications.

It’s very hard to put a price on these V.A.s as their cost usually depends on their specialisation, but you can expect to pay £50 per hour at a bare minimum, and usually much more.

Alright, so we’ve looked at the simple answer to the question, but (as ever) there are complexities to choosing which type of V.A. is best for you.

Lots of V.A.s will tell you that you get what you pay for, and that going for the bottom level V.A., the ones whose prices we simply can’t match as they fall below minimum wage, will bring you only tears, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.

Back to ketchup (stop looking at me like that – I like ketchup and it’s relevant!) We love ketchup in our house, and it’s one of those things which is constantly on my shopping list. I’d like to say it’s because the kids won’t eat a meal without it, but if I’m being honest, my tastes also tend towards the ketchup-covered. In fact, I’m famous in my family for having ketchup with everything.

I buy all three brands of ketchup, because there’s a time and a place for each, and the same can be said of V.A.s.

I get the cheapest, white-label brand when one of my kids has a birthday party and we’re doing something like burgers or hot dogs. Yes, the quality of ketchup isn’t as good, but I have to cater for twenty screaming five year olds, and they’re going to be so hopped up on sugar and dinosaur games that they won’t notice the difference, whereas my wallet will.

Similarly, when you go for the cheapest hire of V.A. you are making a trade-off. There are likely to be issues with communication, both due to the time difference and the fact that the V.A. is likely to speak English as a second language, so things will, as a matter of course, get lost in translation. Because of this the quality of work is not likely to be as high.

But there are times when this trade-off is fine. If you have a big bulk of simple work to be done such as data entry into a spreadsheet which is just a case of copy-pasting, or you just need someone to send out template emails based on a few key words – or you simply want someone to act as a phone answering and message taking service, or similar could well be the place to look.

The ketchup brand I mostly get is the supermarket’s mid brand. It’s great for the every-day, and although it costs more than the white-label it tastes better. I use it as a dip and in recipes, and it does really well for both. Yum.

Your £25-£35 V.A. is similar. They have a broad range of experience, and usually have a good level of education. They can turn their hands to most general admin tasks, and also usually have a niche – which could be an industry, or a task-type (or both!)

As an example, I am an ex-teacher, so I tend to specialise in the education sector because it’s where I have a great deal of background knowledge and experience.

Because they are likely to work in your time zone, and speak English as their first language, you can expect communication to be much easier, especially if you are able to clearly explain exactly what it is you need (there’s going to be another blog on this later in the month).

This type of V.A. is certainly not cheap, but in the outsourcing world, as with ketchup, you get what you pay for.

I would love to buy the 51-varieties ketchup all the time, but my wallet simply won’t sustain it. So I tend to have a bottle of it for the occasions when anything less simply won’t do (like a grown-up hot dog).

I think the same applies to the premium-brand V.A.s. They offer a level of experience and ability which come only from a long time spent learning a trade.

If their specialism is web design, then you can bet that they could be working as a contracted web designer – they are that good. They will be choosing to do it freelance for reasons of their own.

Their time is precious, and their skills are in demand, and so…again, you get what you pay for. They are fantastic for when you have a job that you need a specialist to perform.

Well, I hope that this has given you a better idea of what you can expect a V.A. to charge and why they charge what they do. Hopefully you have a better understanding of how each type of V.A. is valuable, and how you might choose to use them in your business.

If you have any more questions, please do get in touch – I’d love to be able to help, and I promise to answer as honestly and without bias as I can.
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