Stuck in a Revenue Rut?

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You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to reach the conclusion that there’s a cap on the number of hours you can work in a day.

And without cloning yourself, that won’t change.

Yet, you want to earn more money.

You’re just not sure where to start.

As a Virtual Assistant, there are many ways to increase your earning potential:

1. Increase your hourly rate. 

Assuming you’re a general VA who’s stuck with the hourly rate model, your first port of call could be to increase it.

But of course, there will eventually be a cap on that figure also. Price yourself too high, and unless you’ve got an extremely good USP, you’ll price yourself out of the market.

  • Pros – you’ll immediately see an increase in revenue.
  • Cons – there’s only so much raising your hourly rate you can do before hitting its ceiling.

2. Specialise to increase your hourly rate. 

If you haven’t already specialised in a specific type of task – bookkeeping, website design, author services, marketing, etc. – this is a great way to up your hourly rate.

  • Pros – you can be more specific in your own marketing and justify the rate you charge through your expertise and credentials.
  • Cons – inevitably there’s a cap on your earning potential here also.

3. Offer retainers. 

Create a variety of retainer packages where the client can buy X number of hours up front.

This is generally on a sliding scale system e.g. 1 hour = an hourly rate. 10 hours = slightly reduced hourly rate. 20 hours = bigger reduction off hourly rate. Etc.

  • Pros – a guaranteed number of hours per month. Being paid in advance.
  • Cons – potential grey areas when hours aren’t fully used leading to possible frustrations if they can’t be carried over to the following month. Can create more work through tallying up hours each day / week / month, as well as through chasing clients to fulfil hours. Getting paid the same rate regardless of task – data entry earning the same as creating a new advertising campaign, though the skillset differs vastly.

4. Expand by hiring sub-contractors. 

As we’ve already established, there are only so many hours you can physically work in one day.

So if you decide to scale-up by gaining new clients, you’ll eventually need to take on sub-contractors to fulfil each client’s requirement. By taking a slice off the top of what you pay them, your income levels will start to grow.

  • Pros – you gain new clients. You only have to pay your sub-contractors for the work they complete. The income potential is huge.
  • Cons – managing multiple sub-contractors is time consuming. You’ll need to find reliable trustworthy sub-contractors. You’ll need to complete quality checks to ensure each piece of work reflects your business well. You’ll need to decide whether to give direct access between sub-contractor and client, or all via you. And finally, it could be a slow process to increase your own revenue substantially.

5. Create packages. 

Grouping specific tasks together as an attractive offering to clients for a fixed price.

  • Pros – you’re outside the time restriction parameters which means the earning potential gates are wide open.
  • Cons –  the perception of value to your clients that packages offer.

Which should you choose to get out of your revenue rut?

It really depends on your business. A relatively new VA may think differently to someone who’s been in business ten years. A VA who’s specialised may think differently to one who isn’t.

And in fact, you may decide that a combination of these is the best option, depending on the client or the task.

But having extensively researched this topic to increase my own earnings, my recommendation (if you don’t want to create the type of business with sub-contractors or employees) is to package up your services.

Create a product that your client can purchase. Off the shelf, so to speak.

Through this method, you can get over the perceived value issue.

Here’s how …

A client is looking for someone to take over their social media. They’re not entirely sure what they want exactly, but they know that they should be on social media and they don’t have the time to learn or do it.

They get in touch with two VA’s.

Let’s call our first VA, Sophi.

Sophi will happily take over the client’s social media. She reiterates the client requirement to be on social media, gives an outline of what that involves and states her hourly rate.

The client says that they have a budget of £150 a month.

“No problem”, says Claire. She can track her hours and ensure she doesn’t go over that figure each month.

Now it’s the turn of our second VA. Let’s call her Jess.

Jess will also happily take over the client’s social media. She has the same amount of experience and skills to do the job as Sophi, but has created social media packages that are listed on her website at a fixed fee.

Since Jess is already aware that the client isn’t too sure what they need, she outlines what she can do for their business through her social media activity. And through this process, how she will help the client achieve the results they want.

Jess states the end result, which is ultimately the benefit to the client. Or more specifically, to the client’s business.

Her packages could be as follows:

Social Media Starter Pack, £180

  • Evaluation of business type versus social media channels to determine which channels present the best opportunity to meet objective
  • Creating a structure social media plan to meet objective
  • Setting up well-optimised account profiles
  • Creating account on social media scheduling software and integrating account profiles
  • Scheduling starter posts on each channel

Social Media Lifestyle, £250 per month

  • Creating a monthly social media schedule
  • Sourcing and scheduling weekly broadcasts
  • Monitoring activity and interaction
  • Increasing channel numbers to widen activity reach
  • Tracking results
  • Providing monthly review report

Which offering looks more attractive to you?

Of course, some clients will stick with Sophi and her hourly rate. But for the clients who want social media to work for their business, they’ll choose the perceived specialist VA.

As I said earlier, neither Sophi nor Jess are more specialist than the other, but by outlining her social media package, Jess has positioned herself as the specialist.

Therefore the perceived value that Jess offers is greater than Sophi.

Oh, and in case you hadn’t figured it out yet, packaging up your services and charging a fixed fee will work out higher than charging by the hour (assuming you’ve done the maths right in the first place).

Create multiple packages and streamline your processes, and your earnings could grow significantly in just a few short months.

Have you switched from hourly rates to packaged services? Or perhaps you’ve increased your income another way, we’d love to hear how. Share them in the comments below or on our Facebook group here.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is a really insightful article, thank you. I have 2 clients which I provide VA PA services which are primarily email management and diary management for 15 and 20 hrs a month plus another for general admin for 10 hrs a month. I would love to get away from tracking time for these and wonder if you have any suggestions how I could even tackle that. If you or anyone has any ideas that would be useful.

    • Hi Barbara! For the email and diary management, you could certainly try packaging that up. For the general admin, you may want to try the retainer route, although you will still need to track hours to make sure you’re on top of how many hours have been used. For the package options, I’d suggest spending time ensuring you really know the number of hours you spend on this for each client. Then think about what additional service you could include – so the client thinks there getting incredible value by agreeing to the packaged service. Then work out the rate – what you do already, plus the additional service, plus a buffer. And finally, sell it to them. This may be hard if you’ve been working with the client a long time and they aren’t keen to increase their spend. So you’ll need to come up with a persuasive email or script (if you’re doing it via phone) that outlines the benefits for their business. Then it’s down to you how much you enforce the new package. If the clients don’t want to switch and you don’t want to lose them, you may decide to continue as you are and just use the new packaging system for new clients. But if you’re prepared to stand by your new pricing structure, the client may not want to lose you and will therefore agree, or you’ll part ways. There are many ways of going about this, so don’t forget to ask in our Facebook group as others may have some great ideas. Just think it through and make sure you’re confident of your offering and have made a decision what stance you’ll take depending on the client response. Good luck!

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