Virtual assistants have become a critical asset for many entrepreneurs these days. The question is, what are the standard rates for hiring a VA, and how much should you actually pay?
The fact is, hourly rates for VA varies greatly across the board, as every virtual assistant is free to set his/her own rates. However, clear differences emerge when you look at VA pay based on country.
In this post, I’ll provide some insight on how much it costs to hire a VA based on geography, and the best VAs to turn to based on the type of task you want help with.
VA Hourly Rates from Around the World Compared
To compile the below data, I looked at Upwork and Freelancer to see what VAs are actually charging right now based on geography. I aggregated the hourly rates of the top VAs on each platform (400 VAs in total sampled) to derive an average that should give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay for a high quality VA from different countries around the world:
|Country||Average Hourly Rate|
There’s a reason why countries like the Philippines and India are so popular for VA services- the cost savings can be significant for business owners. While virtual assistants from these countries might not be native English speakers, many of them have decent to excellent English speaking and writing skills based on my experience.
You don’t necessarily have to feel guilty about paying VAs from foreign countries less than you would in the US or the UK either. In the Philippines for example, the average minimum wage is $235/mon. By paying a Filipino VA $9.98/hr, it’s significantly higher than the medium already. And that’s for a really good VA.
That said, there are still plenty of scenarios where paying more to hire locally (if you’re based in the West) makes sense. Apart from mastery of the English language, local VAs are much better equip to deal with matters concerning the law, accounting, or real-estate in your home country.
What Type of Work Should I Be Outsourcing?
As an entrepreneur, your main job is to make your business grow. It’s hard to do this if you’re trapped doing tasks that you can delegate to someone else for a lot less pay per hour than you are making.
According to Chris Ducker, there are three things that you should delegate as a business owner.
- Things you hate doing
- Thing you can’t do yourself
- Things you shouldn’t be doing
Make a list of all these things that match and above and start outsourcing them to your VAs. Here are some of the tasks that a VA can do for you.
- Administrative Tasks – Handling incoming calls, email management, creating weekly sales reports, creating and sending out newsletters and invitations, calendar management, proofreading documents.
- Bookkeeping – Maintaining budgets, making purchases, keeping track of your expenses.
- Content Writing – Article and blog post creation, guest posting, creating brochures and infographics, publishing guides, translating documents into other languages, generating listicles.
- Digital Marketing – Search engine optimization, keyword research, creating landing pages, competitor analysis, monitoring Google Analytics report, email marketing, off-page optimization.
- Social Media Management – Creating and sharing posts on social networks, conducting a social media audit, researching key hashtags, engaging with the target audience, updating social accounts, running events, creating shareable media as part of the marketing strategy.
- Web Development – Ensuring quick loading times and ease of use, web designing, managing WordPress plug-ins, maintaining website security, performing regular backups, ensuring cross-browser compatibility, and maintaining payment gateway and ticketing systems.
- Audio and Video Editing – Splicing intros and outros, adding graphics and music, enhancing audio files, producing final cuts, doing basic graphics editing.
- Online Shop Assistance – Competitor analysis and market research, customer service, inventory management, listing creation and optimization, order processing.
Basically, anything that can be done remotely over the Internet can be done by a VA.
If you already have staff in-house, you can look at training them to be a VA in-house, though the most efficient way is to outsource the task to dedicated VAs.
Best Countries to Hire a Virtual Assistant from (in My Opinion)
When hiring a virtual assistant, your goal is to find the most qualified VA for a reasonable rate, not just cheap labor. I’ve found that VAs from different countries tend to specialize and outperform their peers in different niches.
In my opinion, here are the best countries to hire VAs from and for what tasks.
Best For: Content writing, customer support, data entry, administration, lead generation, digital marketing, e-commerce
India has a skilled English-speaking labor force that comes at an affordable cost, especially when compared to VA rates in the west. Aside from the relatively low cost of living in India, there’s also considerable competition between Indian VA companies and freelancers, so the rates stay low.
You’ll find that a lot of Indian VAs are affiliated with a VA company. This means that if you need a lot of help, an organized team that’s managed by one company can be easier to handle.
They take hierarchy very seriously. This means that as a client, you can expect utmost respect from Indian VAs. However, they prefer a less direct type of communication. To them, being blunt means being rude.
They also have a tendency to avoid direct confrontation. They tend to not speak up about early issues that can affect timely project completion. Make sure to do regular check-ups, so it can be ready on time.
Best For: Content writing, customer support, data entry, administration
Along with India, the Philippines is the most popular destination for VA services. For starters, you can expect very affordable rates thanks to the cheap living expenses in the country.
Filipinos have a high level of English proficiency since this is the primary medium of instruction in schools. In fact, they ranked 27th out of 98 countries in a recent English Proficiency Index. What’s more, compared to other countries that have English as their second language, Filipinos have a neutral English accent.
The Philippines also has a long history of colonization – by Spain, the US, and Japan. This means that they can easily adapt to social nuances from different countries. Aside from being easy-going, their culture is also “more western” compared to India.
You don’t have to worry about the time difference either. Though the Philippines is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time, you’ll find that most Filipino VAs are used to working American business hours.
One important thing to note is that, compared to Indian VAs, most Filipino VAs work from home. This can be a good or bad thing depending on your needs. Also, sometimes, there are electric and Internet outages due to tropical storms and poor infrastructure.
Finally, there’s a custom in the Philippines known as a 13th month pay. This is basically a Christmas bonus that’s worth a month’s salary. If you have a freelance Filipino VA, it would be considered very polite to give this bonus.
Best For: Digital marketing, image and video editing, web and app development, administration, translation
Ukrainians might not be as fluent as Indians and Filipinos in English, but they’re incredibly talented when it comes to IT, graphic design, and marketing. This means that if you’re looking for specific VA services at decent rates, Ukrainian VAs are a good option.
They are also proactive listeners with an extremely direct nature. They will ask all the questions that need to be asked to get a clear picture. They are sticklers to rules and prefer having the lines of communication open for suggestions and concern.
That said, as a country of introverts, it takes some time to build trust with Ukrainian VAs.
4. United States
Best For: Human resources, bookkeeping, social media management, content writing and editing, digital marketing, real estate, project management, legal services
If you’re looking for VA services with a great emphasis on English fluency, the best options are, of course, native English speakers.
The economic upheavals in the US in the recent decades, along with the tremendous Internet penetration, have made Americans highly interested in working from home part-time to supplement their income.
Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, some VA services related to law and real estate can be done better by VAs who are familiar with your country.
Depending on your needs, the higher hourly rates of American VAs might still be more cost-efficient than hiring from other countries.
Best For: Web and app development, customer support, content writing, administration, digital marketing, image and video editing
Serbia, along with Ukraine, is quickly growing to be one of the most trusted European VA service providers. They have good English fluency, especially those under 40. English training in Serbian schools starts from the first grade.
Serbians VAs are great in providing tech development, IT, and programming focused services since these are extensively taught in their country.
What’s more Serbia has a more favorable time zone compared to Asian countries if you’re an American or British entrepreneur.
In terms of work ethics, Serbian VAs are a bit more laid-back than their Ukrainian counterparts. While this is something positive, it also means that a lot of Serbian VAs are stubborn and lax when it comes to timeliness.
Best For: Administration, digital marketing, data entry, e-commerce, social media management, image and video editing
With a fast-growing urban population, Malaysia is in need of a lot of jobs. This is the main reason why a lot of the younger generations are turning to providing VA services to make a living.
This emerging challenger has world-class infrastructure matched by an affordable lifestyle that allows their VAs to offer reliable services at low costs. Malaysians also have a good grasp of the English language, which is a huge plus for easy communication.
You’ll find that Malaysian VAs are punctual, hard-working, and tactful. However, they’re not very expressive, so you might have to read between the lines and give more specific instructions.