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So you have been freelancing for a while. You have honed your skills and you feel like a better writer. Better than from when you started at least. 

The problem is you are still earning the same and your clients are happy to keep it that way. Everyone wants to save money right?

According to ZipRecruiter, virtual assistants in the US earn an average of $40,013 per year. As of March 2020, freelancer salaries ranged between $73,500 and $13,000.

Average Virtual Assistant Salary Across the U.S.

Salary Range (Percentile)
25% 50% 75%
Annual Salary $ 25,500 $ 40,013 $ 49,000
Monthly Salary $ 2,125 $ 3,334 $ 4,083
Weekly Salary $ 490 $ 769 $ 942
Hourly Salary $ 12 $ 19 $ 24

Source: ZipRecruiter

Now, you may be looking at these figures and wondering “What do I do to earn this much?” “Why do I earn so little?” 

You feel it’s time to ask for a raise but unsure how to go about it. Asking for a raise as a VA is fairly straightforward. But just like in a traditional office environment, you will need to prove that you are worth an increment. 

How do you convince the client to give you that much-deserved raise? 

Here are some great tips to help you earn more and increase your hourly rate

How to Ask for and Get a Raise 

1. Provide High-Quality Work

This is not just about delivering a high standard of work. It’s about CONSISTENTLY providing high-quality work. 

Your content should meet and exceed the clients’ expectations. This is no easy task. It means you have to diligently put effort into all your work and make sure it meets their standards. 

Tips to Improve Your Work

  • Meet Their Expectations

Simply put, you need to know what a client expects before you can deliver what they want.

As a freelancer, you will probably never meet the client. This makes it easy for a disconnect to form leading to a breakdown in communication. 

To avoid this, make sure you ask for a complete checklist of what the client expects you to deliver. Do they need increased readership on a blog? Do they need basic site population? Are you required to deliver higher rankings in SERPs? 

Before proceeding with any work, restate the expectations. Express your views on how viable they are. If some seem impossible to achieve, offer reasonable alternatives. 

Be sure to review these expectations from time to time, especially if it is a long-term project.

Upon completion, ask for feedback. This will guide you when working on the next project.

  • Deliver on Time

When discussing the above expectation, you will have set a deadline for delivery

Meeting these deadlines is the easiest way to create a good reputation. It shows you are reliable and you take the job seriously.

Before agreeing to a deadline, ensure it is attainable. Unrealistic deadlines will only hinder your productivity. 

During discussions, give yourself a little extra time to cater for emergencies. This will also give you time for thorough proofreading in the case of detailed written projects. Once agreed upon, confirm the deadline in written form. This will ensure there are no misunderstandings. 

  • Deliver Error-Free Work

As a freelancer – especially content/copywriter – it is essential to provide 100% error-free work. 

Proofreading is the final step of copywriting, and possibly the most important. By making content “error-proof after reading it”, you ensure clear delivery of the message.

 Common errors which can be avoided with comprehensive proofreading include: 

  • Spelling errors
  • Grammatical errors
  • Misplaced/ misused words
  • Punctuation mistakes
  • Inconsistent document formatting
  • Capitalizations errors
  • Numbering errors

Submitting work that has not been proofread will damage your reputation with the client. It will seem unprofessional and show you do not value your work.

2. Know What Your Work is Worth

Determining the worth of the work you provide is key in determining if you are eligible for a raise. 

Because freelancers do not earn a set salary, it may be difficult to calculate how much you are worth.

Each freelancing project is unique so you need direction on how to determine your worth. 

Tips to Determine Your Worth

  • Research Your Freelance Salary Range

Start by researching online to find what the market rate is for your type of work. This can be difficult for freelancers because there is no set office or business which can be used for reference.

It is, however, a starting point to give you a range of how much you should charge and how much other VA’s earn

Reach out to fellow freelancers for advice on how much they earn and use it as a comparison. 

  • Consider Your Level of Experience

Naturally, the higher your level of experience, the more money you can ask for. A larger, more expensive portfolio means you are knowledgeable in the field. This translates into a higher salary. Work to constantly update your portfolio. It shows clients you are capable of a high-level of work.

  • Use Online Tools to Calculate Your Freelance Salary

Several online tools are designed to help you calculate your ideal salary.

Beewits.com, a resource for web designers offers an easy to use hourly rate calculator. This app makes it easy to calculate how much you should be charging per hour. It uses information about expected income and expenses to work out a salary range.

Beewits salary
Source: beewits

Contently has created an ever-growing salary database. Here freelance writers submit information about their projects. The tool combines the data to create the Freelance Rates Calculator. The calculator provides a baseline for freelancers to gauge their rates.

  • Consider Your Personal Expenses

Before determining what your freelance rates should be, you need to examine what your current expenses are. How much are you currently spending per month?

Break down the following expenses per month. 

  • Living expenses
  • Business expenses
  • Taxes
  • Retirement savings
  • Emergency fund
Set Rates Virtual Assistant
Source: thevirtualsavvy.com

From this figure, you can calculate your desired daily and hourly rates.

Watch this video to learn how to set your hourly rates:

3. Become an Expert

There are hundreds of different jobs, all of which fall under the scope of freelancing. From copywriter to graphic designer, to app developer or customer service assistant, the options available to virtual assistants are endless. Below is a summary of the more common types of VA positions available online.

Types of Virtual Assistants
Skills
Description
General VA Administrative tasks, secretarial duties, email management, research, social media management, travel bookings, calendar management, data entry
Content Writer/ Copywriter Article writing, spinning
Web Developer Blog/website creation & management, custom programming, web page layout,
Graphic Design Assistant Create visual communication materials
Transcriptionist Transcribe recorded dictation
Customer Service Agents Deal with customer queries, provide information
SEO Specialist Blog management, social media management, keyword research, page optimization,

Although this may seem like a positive thing, it may become a hindrance if you do not have a specific skill to sell. Often freelancers find themselves dabbling across the scope of many different fields. 

It is advisable to choose a field and become a niche expert. Many clients are willing to pay a lot of money for content from experts. 

How do you become an expert and command higher rates? 

Tips to Becoming an Expert

  • Find a Niche

This applies mostly to freelance writers. The highest-earning content writers usually have a freelance writing niche.

They are experts in their field and focus on a specific topic, industry or field. They have inside knowledge and are constantly learning about their chosen topics. 

Finding a niche makes you indispensable and you are more likely to earn more for your services.

  • Take Some Online Classes

Learning is the starting point for all successful experts. 

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin

Freelancers should be willing to constantly increase their knowledge base. This makes them a valuable asset to clients and they can offer specialized content.

By taking online courses, you can hone your skills and become certified in specific areas.

These include training on how to become a virtual assistant or an e-commerce copywriter

You can also take more general courses and learn some essential online blogging techniques which will form a solid foundation.

4. Be Confident

Tips on What to Say When Asking for a Raise

  • Reiterate the Benefits You Offer

You need to be able to clearly state the benefits that the client gains by working with you. Make a list of the value you provide based on previous projects. 

If you have had testimonials from the client, subtly remind them of their positive comments. You can also hint that you are working for other clients who have given you glowing recommendations.

Show how you met and exceeded their expectations in the past, and how you foresee the same in the future. 

Be sure to personalize your value by mentioning how well you understand the clients’ business and how your services save time and money.

Do not be afraid to boast a little. So long as you can back it up with evidence. 

  • Choose the Right Words

You do not need to have a script when asking for a raise. It is, however, important to be clear and specific

Because a freelancer’s request for a raise is usually in written form, you have the opportunity to prepare the words. Make sure they deliver the message you desire. 

Be clear and do not use a lot of fluff. Use a simple greeting, then get straight to the point. 

  • Express Gratitude, Enthusiasm & Be Polite

Gratitude goes a long way in flattering your customers. Be thankful for the opportunity to work with them. You do not have to lick their shoes though. Simply appreciating the position you have in the business goes a long way before asking for more money.

Be enthusiastic about your future goals as well as those of the company. Make sure the client sees that you are invested in the company. 

You must be polite. This is obvious. 

What Happens If the Client Says No?

There is the possibility that your client may refuse to give you the raise. Reasons for them refusing include:

  • They do not have the budget.
  • They do not consider your services valuable enough to increase your pay.
  • They consider the raise to be too steep.
  • They just gave you a raise.
  • They are cheap.

So what now? What do you do when your request is denied?

You may consider lowering the amount you are asking for. Be willing to negotiate and find an agreeable middle-ground. 

Ask the client why. This will help you understand their reasoning and guide your future actions.

Set a future date when you can revisit the issue. This will work to put the client at ease and give them time to think of your request. They are more likely to agree if you keep producing quality work.

If you are frustrated and feel the money you earn is not worth the effort then simply stop taking any more projects. Politely decline any more work offered by the client and let them know this is because the pay is too low. Stand your ground but be respectful. They might capitulate and agree to your request in the future so keep yourself in their good books.

Start Earning the Salary You are Worth

Freelancing does not mean you work for free. You are running your own business and you are its biggest asset. 

It is important that you value yourself as well as make ends meet. Even better; make them meet and have a little (or a lot) extra for leisure.

“When you learn how much you’re worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts.” — Karen Salmansohn

Do not feel guilty about asking for a raise. If you are worth it, you have every right to demand it. 

The tasks virtual assistants do are essential to the business that outsources them. When you realize your worth, you will be able to confidently ask (and get) that much deserved raise.

Photo by Sharon Mccutcheon / CC BY

Katrina
Author

I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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