Why ‘How Many Clients Do I Need?’ Is The Wrong Question…

A common question I see asked in both my Free VA Training Vault and on Social Media: “How Many Clients Do I Need?” First, it’s not about the number of clients you need; instead, you should be focusing on:

  • Billable hours
  • Packages sold
  • Projects sold

Feel free to listen to this blog post instead of reading it. Simply hit the play button on the player below.

It all depends on how you bill for your services. If you’re not sure, this is your first step: decide. You can read my blog post about packages and retainers for a detailed description. 

A quick side note – you never want to put all your eggs in one basket when you’re a business owner. Remember, you’re not an employee; you should not be working for just one client. You want to have multiple clients, which gives you multiple revenue streams (various ways to earn money). 

3 Ways You Can Bill For Your Virtual Assistant Services:

#1 Billing By The Hour

It usually means you’re tracking your time and using retainers to bill your clients. If you’re tracking your time, then it’s all about billable hours. These are the hours you bill your clients to make money. When and how your bill is up to you, you must know your minimum billable hours depending on the frequency you bill. For example, I know I need to bill a minimum of 40 hours a week to earn the minimum income I need to keep the lights on.

How Do You Determine The Minimum Hours You Need To Work?

Well, you need to know what your baseline rate is. What’s that? It’s the minimum you can charge for your services and still pay your bills. If you charge less than that, you’re losing money, which is not a long-term strategy for staying in business. You’ve got to bill what you need to keep the lights on. Actually, it would be better invoicing more than that because who wants to make the bare minimum.

So there are two numbers that you need to know. You need to know your baseline rate, and you need to know how much you want to make, which is your goal. Those numbers should be vastly different. They should not be the same number. If you’re billing by the hour, your baseline number tells you how much you need to charge per hour. If you don’t know your baseline rate – watch my YouTube series on how to find it and download my free rate calculation sheet right here.

Stick With Your Prices

Pricing is a sticky subject. It’s both an art and a science. The best thing I can tell you is never to charge less than you need to make because then you’re not going to stay in business for long. And your pricing attracts your audience. Never lower your rate to get a client. They’re just not the right client for you – let them go. Stick to your rates and attract the right people for you. 

Don’t Ask Others What To Charge

Please don’t price by committee; in other words, don’t ask people what you should be charging for anything. They, first of all, don’t know what your baseline rate is. So they could be telling you to set a number way less than you can make. 

For example, there are VA coaches and trainers who will say that if you don’t know what to charge, charge $35 an hour. Sorry, awful advice. Why? What if you need to make more than $35 an hour to keep the lights on? It’s not a one size fits all industry; it’s not one size fits all for rates or pricing. If I just started at $35 an hour, I’d have gone out of business quickly. It’s just bad advice. 

Each person has their baseline number depending on their needs, bills, what they want to earn, what they’re offering, etc. Do the work to figure out what yours is. Don’t ask what you should be charging on Facebook or anywhere else; you can get a range, but you need to know your minimum and what you want to earn. Price based on what lifestyle you want to have. Don’t worry about anybody else, and I know that’s hard to do, but you need to think about that.

#2 Charge By Package

If you’re charging by the hour, I highly recommend you start thinking about moving to packages instead, except if you’re doing admin type work. It’s tough to package admin work because it’s not specialized; it’s very generalized. It might be time to look into learning new in-demand skills, such as the tools that your clients would use. For example, MailChimp, WordPress, or any social media tool because it will allow you to create service packages. 

It’s also going to allow you to scale. When you’re selling your time, sooner or later, you’re going to run out of time to sell. So the next step would be going from billable hours to selling packages. You can charge more for your expertise than your time. Because for some reason, the perception is time is worth less than expertise, even though it’s not the truth.

Package Price Calculation

If you’re selling packages, you need to take your baseline number and figure out how long it takes you to deliver each package to help you decide how you will price it. It’s not a simple A x B = C. You need to price based on your years of experience and expertise too!

Real quick – a package is an off the shelf package that is done-for-you. Clients are not buying your time; they’re buying a package based on your expertise. For example, it could be a WordPress or MailChimp package. A copywriting package or a social media package. 

Packages are: 

  • Not based on time
  • They’re expertise-based.
  • A bucket of hours is NOT a package – it’s a retainer.

#3 Invoice By Project

A project is a planned piece of work that has a defined start and end date—for example, a product launch or website build.

The difference between a package and a project is, for a package, you define what the client’s getting. A project is where the client tells you what they want and you provide a proposal. Simply put: 

  • For a package, you define the scope, 
  • For a project, the client determines the scope.

You would use the same formula to figure out how much to charge for a project based on your baseline number and the hours involved PLUS your expertise.

What You Need To Keep In Mind

So remember when it comes to how many clients you need, it’s not the number of clients.

  • It’s either the number of hours you bill if you’re charging hourly.
  • Or the number of packages you sell. 
  • Or the number of projects you’re working on and selling. 

That number needs to come from your baseline rate, which is the minimum you can charge for a retainer or a package or a project to keep the lights on. You need to have two numbers in mind at all times. 

  • How much you NEED to make
  • How much you WANT to make 

Strive to start making the money that you want to leave your soul-sucking job, or to go on vacation, or to buy an RV. There is no cap to what you can earn in this industry, except for the ones you set yourself; it’s all mindset. 

Don’t ask others what you need to charge. You can get a range, but nobody knows your specific circumstances or your particular rate. And don’t fall for those coaches and trainers who say, “Oh, just charge $35 an hour.” it’s lousy advice. Do the work yourself to figure out what your rate is and start there.

I’d love to hear your comments and questions, please take a moment to leave them for me below.

Enjoy your day – Susan

P.S. If you’re looking for an in-depth ‘How-To-Training’ about packaging your unique expertise, setting your rates, and more – don’t miss having a look at my Getting Started Training System.

Join the FREE VA Training Vault

You’ll have immediate access to more than 15 hours of how-to video information about the VA industry. Get to know The Techie Mentor™ and learn how to get started, find clients, and much more.

Written by Susan Mershon

Susan Mershon started The Techie Mentor™ in 2013 to teach Virtual Assistants her no-fluff approach to the systems and skills they need to build and automate a successful business.

With a strong base in project management, Susan brings her love of systems and teaching to offer in-depth training and mentoring to new and experienced Virtual Assistants.

She’s taught over 5,000 students her unique systems and strategies that focus on offering high-end skills that give you the freedom to work when and where you want.

To learn more about The Techie Mentor™ and the systems and skills she teaches without all the fluff or hype go to The Techie Mentor website.

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9 Comments
  1. Emily

    This is great, you information is the best I have found! I would love to see how to calculate for adding on an employee to work for me and how those costs would work into my hourly rate and profit.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Hi Emily,

      Thank you so much!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Do you have any suggestions for those calculations?

        Reply
  2. Lisa

    Loved the video and I completed the Rate Calculation Sheet. My eyes are WIDE OPEN.
    Before doing the rate sheet, thought I could work 18 hours a week, charge $45 per hour and make what I needed.
    However, this sheet proved me wrong. I need to work 40 hours a week in order to charge $45 per hour due to items that I never even thought about. Thank you!

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      You are welcome Lisa! I wish I had that sheet when I first started – I was WAY off on my estimates too!

      Reply
  3. Brandy

    Loved the video I will definitely revisit this when I get home and I look forward to using the rate calculation sheet . I am at the point trying to determine rate and i loved how you suggested to look at in terms of how many hours

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Brandy, let me know if you have any questions and thanks for watching!

      Reply
  4. Wai

    Thank you for your great reminder about including the hidden extras when going solo.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      My pleasure Wai and thanks for watching!

      Reply
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