Pricing

Question: What is the one element of your business which ensures you will fail if it is not correct?

Answer: Pricing

This was inspired by a topic on the main forum regarding call answering, which had me, erm… a little “strident”!   And this one from newbie VA Anne Marie Hendry.  Pricing, and in particular positioning of pricing, is one of my main bug bears about and it makes me cry in frustration when I see one advertising themselves as “Cheap virtual assistant available for hire”.
But it’s clearly one of the most contentious VA issues surrounded in secrecy and myths.   So I’m throwing the question out there – how do you price yourself?
  • Discuss your own pricing strategy
  • Are your prices on your website?
  • How do you deal with client objections when they say “I can get an offshore VA to do it for half the price”?
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6 Comments

  1. Monika Kowalczyk on 13 February, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I am strongly against posting prices on one’s website. No architect, freelance photographer or copy-writer (in their sound mind) will flash their fees in your face. Why? Because this closes the door to any real negotiation and it is important to tailor not only your services but also your prices to the client’s individual needs.

    For example, if I get an interesting request from someone doing charity work and who otherwise would not afford to pay for my services, I may agree to charge them below my standard rate. If my fees were displayed on the website, chances are such clients would never even approach me in the first place!

    I do of course research the market, know my worth, stick to some basic pricing rules and chase late payments with grim persistence, but clients’ satisfaction has a value in itself.
    And another thing to remember is that good business is not about offering the lowest prices, but about providing the best value for money.

    • Caroline on 14 February, 2011 at 8:05 am

      That’s an interesting point – I suppose the flipside to people contacting you to ask about pricing is that a number of people may never contact you because they assume you are too expensive… It would be interesting to see what the numbers are – but I’m not sure how you’d measure it!

  2. Monika Kowalczyk on 14 February, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Hi Caroline,
    From my experience, more clients come from referrals by other happy clients and from networking (real life more than online) than from the website itself, although I must admit – quite a few people have checked it out and I had several successful enquiries from the website as well.

    All I am saying is that VAs don’t have to jump on the “show your fees” bandwagon, when very few other freelance professions seem to find it necessary. Cutting the client’s costs is an important marketing mantra for sure, but at the end of the day it’s the quality of one’s work that matters (especially as the client will make reasonable savings anyway – at least when compared to employing permanent staff).

    Again, the worry that pot clients will not bother with contacting a VA only because she/he does not have prices listed on the web, feeds on a common misconception that clients will always choose the cheapest instead of the high quality service.
    Personally, I strive to offer my clients the best deal and this not always (although there are exceptions) comes with the lowest rates.

    Let me give you an example to better illustrate what I mean. Let’s agree for a moment that you wish to commission a photographer for a wedding shoot. You go to various websites, and get to like the pics and the general style of a particular professional. No fees to be seen anywhere, but you know from what you’ve read and seen so far that this person would do the shoot the way you imagine it done. Will you not contact him/her?
    It does not cost you to call, describe what you want done and ask for a no obligation quote. All you are risking is that their fee’s too high but then who said you can not negotiate?

    (P.S. I’m not trying to convince you, it’s just my point of view.)
    M.

  3. Holly on 31 January, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    I was just researching VA pricing and came across this page, so I thought I’d add my perspective as a potential client. Many freelance professionals (including VAs) *do* place their fees on their website, so I would tend not to trust someone who doesn’t. Graphic designers post their prices, as do photographers, translators, etc.

    Today, I ran a search on VAs, compared several sites, and kept only the sites where fees where posted. I deleted the pages that did not share pricing. If I’m running short on time and need a VA, then why am I going to waste time on an email, or worse, a phone call?

    This is not because I’m looking for the cheapest deal, on the contrary. I judge freelance workers first by the quality of their website and also by how much they charge: I wouldn’t go with someone who undervalued their services by charging a low hourly rate.

    Hope this helps! 🙂

    • Caroline on 31 January, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Interesting perspective Holly – thanks for sharing!

  4. Annette on 10 June, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I’m just about to set up. To prepare for this I went on a business development course. Even the instructors were split on whether to put prices on the website or not.

    When I was commissioning work as an employed PA/HR Manager, I found that I was interested in price but, more importantly, I was looking at the presentation of the website. I wanted a service provider who could put an apostrophe in the right place, spell and make the dialogue interesting and appropriate. when buying a service the most important thing is to get a quality product – at a price you are willing to pay.

    I plan to put a very general statement about pricing in my initial blurb. Depending upon how my initial pricing strategy works, I might put some prices on my website once I’ve built up my business, but this detail certainly won’t be used as a USP.

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