Pricing strategies: How to set your rates as a Kenyan virtual assistant

November 2, 2023
Pricing strategies: How to set your rates as a Kenyan virtual assistant

Becoming a virtual assistant has gained immense popularity in recent years, allowing professionals to collaborate with clients and offer support in areas like administration, operations, and marketing. A virtual assistant career brings not only flexibility but also a fascinating peek behind the curtain of various businesses, all while providing vital support.

The allure of this profession has drawn many newcomers into the field. However, one of the biggest challenges for those starting their virtual assistant journey is figuring out the right pricing strategy, especially for those coming from jobs with fixed salaries.

In this article, our primary focus will be on pricing strategies in the Kenyan context. However, the information is still relevant for virtual assistants from anywhere in the world. We will delve into the intricate art of setting your rates as a virtual assistant, providing you with valuable insights to navigate the complexities of pricing your services effectively.

This blog is a summary of our October 2023 virtual event where we had Conne Mumo from Virtually Yours by Connie as the guest.

Factors to consider when setting your rates as a virtual assistant

Establishing your rates as a virtual assistant involves a number of factors to consider. Your value isn't simply derived from a random number but rather from a comprehensive assessment of various crucial factors. These factors include your skill level, expertise, experience, niche specialization, understanding market dynamics, considering local living costs and business expenses, factoring in taxes, and aligning with your financial goals. These factors work together to shape the most effective pricing strategy.

Now, let's break down the essential factors to consider when setting your rates as a virtual assistant:

1. Skills, expertise and experience level

Virtual assistants encompass various skill and experience levels, typically categorized as entry-level, experienced, and executive. Being an entry-level virtual assistant doesn't diminish your skills but signifies a transition into this field, where existing skills can be effectively transferred to a new setting. The challenge lies in effectively marketing your pre-existing skills to justify your pricing.

For experienced virtual assistants, success hinges on packaging accumulated knowledge and remote work proficiency. Emphasize a transformative service approach, showcasing problem-solving abilities, concrete solutions, and past achievements. The depth and complexity of issues you address directly correlate with the fees you can command. More extensive experience in specific tasks leads to higher value.

To provide genuine value, find out the pain points of potential clients, discern what they are willing to invest in solving and how your skills and experience can help you solve these pain points. Address these needs with a clear understanding of your strengths to effectively market and price your services.

2. Niche specialization

Specializing in a specific industry or having a particular skill set can significantly enhance your value as a virtual assistant and enable you to set higher rates for your expertise. By narrowing your focus and finding your niche, you position yourself as a valuable resource within a particular field or area of proficiency. Clients often seek virtual assistants who not only understand their industry's unique demands but can also bring a depth of knowledge and tailored solutions to the table. This specialization allows you to stand out in a crowded market and build a reputation as the go-to expert, which, in turn, gives you the leverage to set higher rates for your services. 

So, if you're passionate and have deep expertise in a specific industry or have a unique skill to offer, you can use that to determine the rate that you charge your client.

Read this blog on How to find your niche as a virtual assistant to learn more about the importance of niching down as a virtual assistant and how that is going to help you set your pricing rates.

3. Market research

Conducting thorough market research is a vital step in setting your virtual assistant pricing. Begin by examining the pricing models used by other virtual assistants in your specific niche and geographical area. Understanding the rates charged by professionals with similar skills and experience provides a valuable reference point for establishing your own prices. In Kenya, hourly rates are commonly employed by many virtual assistants.

For instance, offers insightful data: entry-level VAs with under a year of experience earn an average total compensation of KSh 750.00 per hour, based on 9 reported salaries. Similarly, early career virtual assistants with 1-4 years of experience garner an average compensation of Ksh 900 based on 16 reported salaries. This data provides a clearer picture, ensuring that your rates neither undervalue nor overprice your services. Exploring platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and Indeed also offers a broader perspective on how virtual assistants price their services per hour, enabling you to fine-tune your pricing strategy accordingly.

By comprehending the financial capacities and willingness to invest of your potential clients, you can align your rates with their perceived value and needs. You can gain this insight through direct inquiries within your professional network or industry circles, shedding light on the financial landscape you are entering.

4. Cost of living and business expenses

As a virtual assistant, your financial considerations are twofold. On the personal front, you must account for everyday essentials such as groceries, rent or mortgage payments, and utility bills. These costs underpin your cost of living, setting a baseline for the rates you charge to ensure they cover your basic needs and provide financial stability.

Simultaneously, in the professional realm, investments are required in tools like a dependable laptop, essential software subscriptions, and resources for continuous self-education. These business-related expenditures are essential for enhancing your efficiency, skillset, and service quality. Recognizing these costs is crucial when setting your rates to ensure they not only meet your basic living expenses but also support the growth and sustainability of your virtual assistant business.

5. Taxes

When you're self-employed as a virtual assistant, you bear full responsibility for your taxes and essential financial commitments, including medical insurance, savings, and any government-mandated levies. In Kenya, this also involves understanding the withholding tax and whether you need to pay VAT tax for your services.

Accounting for taxes is vital to effectively manage your finances. It's wise to allocate a portion of your earnings to cover these tax obligations. A clear grasp of the tax landscape is crucial when setting your rates. This not only ensures that you cover your essential expenses but also prepares you for taxes and unforeseen financial demands, establishing a more robust and resilient financial strategy for your virtual assistant business.

6. Financial goals

When determining your rates as a virtual assistant, your financial goals and aspirations come into sharp focus. It's not solely about covering your essential needs but also about achieving the desired lifestyle you envision. Consider how much you genuinely want to earn each month, accounting for both necessities and the extras that enhance your life. Aligning your rates with these goals becomes a potent source of motivation, driving you to work diligently or even acquire new skills to reach new heights.

A critical element is understanding the equilibrium between your income aspirations and the number of clients you'll need to attain them. It's essential to carefully evaluate how your chosen pricing strategy harmonizes with both your financial targets and the time you can allocate to client work. This approach ensures that you neither undervalue your expertise nor overprice your services, safeguarding against burnout or excessive workload. Striking this equilibrium is pivotal in setting rates that not only meet your financial objectives but also support a healthy and fulfilling work-life balance, fostering both professional success and personal contentment.

Different pricing strategies for virtual assistants

When it comes to setting your rates, virtual assistants have several options to choose from. Here are some common pricing strategies:

1. Hourly rates

Hourly rates represent the most commonly used and transparent pricing approach among virtual assistants. This strategy is particularly well-suited for tasks with variable time requirements, such as administrative and operational support. If you're uncertain about which pricing method to adopt, starting with an hourly rate is a prudent choice. You can use tools like Time Doctor and Toggl Track to effectively monitor and manage the time spent on various tasks, enhancing both accuracy and accountability.

Typical hourly rates  for Kenyan virtual assistants range from Ksh. 750 to Ksh. 900 per hour, depending on your experience and expertise.

Advantages of hourly rates:

  • Transparency: Clients have a clear view of how their funds are allocated.
  • Flexibility: Ideal for short-term projects or clients with evolving requirements.
  • Accurate billing: Clients are billed for the precise amount of work completed.

Disadvantages of hourly rates:

  • Income inconsistency: Income may vary, making budgeting challenging.
  • Pressure to work swiftly: Incentives to speed up work may affect quality.
  • Timing challenges: Measuring the time for certain tasks, especially ambiguous ones, can be difficult.

2. Project-based rates

When tackling projects with well-defined scopes, project-based pricing emerges as a win-win solution for both you and your clients, providing a sense of predictability. The actual pricing, however, varies significantly, taking into account factors like project complexity and your specific niche. For instance, you might opt to charge Ksh. 100,000 for crafting a website design. Additionally, project-based pricing can be structured with milestones, enabling you to receive incremental payments upon the completion of specific project stages. This approach fosters a smoother and more transparent collaboration with your clients.

Advantages of project-based rates:

  • Clarity: Clients have a clear understanding of the total project cost.
  • No hourly tracking: Relief from the stress of hourly tracking; focus on completing the project.
  • Efficiency incentive: You're encouraged to finish the project promptly.

Disadvantages of project-based rates:

  • Risk of underestimation: The potential for projects to take longer than expected, impacting your income.
  • Payment timing & risk of delayed payment: Payment may not be received until project completion, introducing potential payment delays.

3. Retainer rates

Retainer rates involve an agreement where a client pays a set amount regularly (usually on a monthly basis) to reserve a certain amount of your time or services. The client is essentially retaining your services in advance, ensuring your availability for a specific number of hours or tasks each month. For example, you can charge Ksh 10,000 per month for 10 hours or Ksh 20,000 per month for 15 hours.

Retainer rates foster enduring client relationships by providing assurance that a specific number of hours will be dedicated to their needs each month.

Advantages of retainer rates:

  • Predictable income: A consistent monthly income stream with retained clients.
  • Client commitment: Clients commit to a defined period of collaboration.
  • Efficient time management: Streamlined work allocation.
  • Skill improvement without penalties

Disadvantages of retainer rates:

  • Limited flexibility: May not accommodate clients with sporadic needs.
  • Scope management: Ensuring that work stays within the agreed-upon scope is crucial to avoid over-servicing/over working.

4. Value-based pricing

Value-based pricing is a way of determining how much to charge for your services based on the value they bring to your clients. It often means you can charge higher prices because your services offer significant benefits to your clients.

To make value-based pricing work, you need to have good communication with your clients. You have to understand what they expect from your services and how much they can gain from using them. This way, you can set a fair price that reflects the value you provide to them.

Advantages of value-based pricing

  • Higher earning potential: Allows you to capture the value you provide to clients.
  • Client-focused: Pricing is directly tied to the client's perception of value.
  • Competitive advantage: Demonstrates your expertise and commitment to results.

Disadvantages of value-based pricing

  • Complex negotiations: Can be challenging to quantify and communicate the value that you provide.
  • Requires a deep understanding of the client's goals and metrics.

5. Monthly rates 

Monthly rates are akin to the consistent pay structure that salaried employees receive. With this pricing model, you establish a predetermined fee for a defined scope of services provided every month. Importantly, the work is not restricted or measured solely by hourly metrics, granting both you and your clients the flexibility to focus on achieving objectives rather than tracking hours. This approach ensures stability in your income while allowing clients to rely on a predictable and all-encompassing service package.

Advantages of monthly rates

  • Predictability: Clients know their monthly expenses in advance.
  • Opportunity for long-term relationships: Ideal for clients seeking ongoing support.
  • Clear expectations: Both you and the client have a clear understanding of the work to be done.

Disadvantages of monthly rates 

  • Potential overcommitment: If not careful, you might take on too much work.
  • May not suit all clients: Some clients prefer a pay-as-you-go model.

6. Tiered pricing structures

Tiered pricing structures provide a diverse array of service levels, each priced differently to cater to varying needs and budgets. This approach offers clients a clear distinction between the different tiers, making it easy to assess the value and benefits of each option in relation to the others. By presenting distinct tiers, clients can select the one that best aligns with their specific requirements and financial resources, ensuring that they receive precisely the level of service they need while maintaining a transparent and straightforward pricing model.

Here is an example of a tiered pricing strategy

Basic tier: Includes blog post writing and social media content for $300 per month.

Standard tier: Adds email newsletter creation and SEO optimization for $500 per month.

Premium tier: Includes all of the above plus infographic design and content distribution for $800 per month.

Advantages of tiered pricing structures

  • Appeals to a broader audience: Clients with various budgets can find a suitable package.
  • Value demonstration: Clearly shows the value offered at each tier.
  • Upselling opportunities: Clients might upgrade to a higher tier as their needs grow.

Disadvantages of tiered pricing structures

  • Complex to manage: Requires clear communication and organization to avoid confusion.
  • May not suit all businesses: Some clients may prefer customized packages.


These pricing factors and strategies serve as a solid foundation for establishing your rates as a virtual assistant. It's vital to bear in mind that your rates should not remain static; rather, they should evolve over time to stay competitive and reflect your growing skills and experience. This practice ensures that your pricing remains equitable and appealing in the ever-changing market.

Consider this scenario: you kick-start your virtual assistant venture with an hourly rate of Ksh.750 for administrative support. Fast forward a year, and you've amassed a wealth of experience and honed your expertise. A regular rate review might prompt you to elevate your pricing to Ksh. 900 per hour, aligning more closely with your heightened proficiency.

Keep in mind that your rates will naturally evolve in step with your experience. What's paramount is your commitment to delivering exceptional value and fostering enduring client relationships. With this in mind, set your rates confidently and embark on your journey as a thriving and successful virtual assistant.

Get involved with Runnovate

This article is a summary of our October 2023 event. We host one event every month and the topics that we cover are selected by our professional community members. Join the community and be on the lookout for our last virtual meeting this year later in November.

Are you looking to work with clients who are comfortable with your pricing strategies? At Runnovate, we match top virtual assistants with clients. Submit your application to join our talent pool.

Become a brand ambassador for Runnovate and help us spread the word and create more online work opportunities for Kenyans. Use this link to submit your application to become a brand ambassador

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