Some VAs are constantly booked solid and can’t work with all the awesome clients they get.
How to use their good fortune to your advantage?
Become a virtual assistant subcontractor!
In this post I share everything you need to know about becoming a sort after VA subcontractor. You’ll find info about how much to charge, where to find clients, how it works, answers to FAQs about VA subcontracting etc.
It is the only guide you need to start subcontracting and making money without overwhelm.
What is A Virtual Assistant Subcontractor?
A virtual assistant subcontractor (which is also known as an associate), is a type of VA that works under more established VAs. They don’t bother finding clients or any of the business side of things. They just wait for the VAs they work with to find the clients for them while they focus on providing the best possible service they were hired for.
So as a Virtual Assistant Subcontractor, you do not work directly with clients and won’t have any contract with them. Instead, you’ll have a contract with the VA you work with.
Virtual Assistants who work with subcontractors usually have more work than they can complete on their own. So outsourcing some of their work helps them take on more clients, and make more money.
3 Amazing Reasons Why You Should Consider Becoming a Virtual Assistant Subcontractor
1.) Gain Priceless Experience
Working as a Virtual Assistant Subcontractor allows you access to more established VAs. The VA you work with will provide you with the tools and systems you need to complete your job instead of having to figure out everything on your own.
Any subcontractor I work with has the freedom to ask me anything about their business or the VA industry generally. Others have to get answers to their questions by booking a VA power hour with me.
So when you become a VA subcontractor, it allows you to learn from established VAs for free. That said. If you’re a new VA looking to build your confidence and not able to get your own clients yet, and would benefit from expert advice, you should become a Virtual Assistant Subcontractor
2.) Escape The Backend Work Completely
A lot of work goes into running a Virtual Assistant business. Tasks like content marketing, getting clients, handling discovery calls, on-boarding clients, answering their questions, dealing with difficult clients etc. You won’t get paid for working in your own business.
It falls under what is called ‘non-billable hours’. Non billable hours is the time you spend working in your own business. Not working in your own business is one of the most common mistakes virtual assistants make.
If you don’t want to do all that backend work, consider becoming a virtual assistant subcontractor. A lot of new VAs take this path because dealing with all the moving backend work might be overwhelming. It might feel like you are working but it doesn’t count for anything because it is not spent on client work and no one pays you for working in your business.
So it makes sense to have someone else do all the back end work and bring the best clients they can find to you.
3.) Great Option When You Only Need Part-Time Work
Do you already have a 9-5 job?
Are you a stay at home mum?
Or you are very busy with little time to invest in your business?
Consider becoming a Virtual Assistant Subcontractor.
It will help you avoid the backend work I mentioned in point 2 above. You’ll avoid all the draining part of running a business and make maximum use of your precious time completing clients’ work
These are the 3 primary reasons why a lot of people choose to become Virtual Assistant Subcontractors. So if any of them sounds like something you need, you should take the opportunity to become one.
What To Expect As A Virtual Assistant Subcontractor
Have realistic expectations from the get go so you don’t get disappointed when you get in. You are not guaranteed consistent work from a VA because you are an independent contractor, so plan accordingly. Every subcontracting job you get will be different depending on the type of service(s) you’ll be providing. and if you are working with a VA or an agency.
When working with a VA, you might be required to:
- Get on weekly, biweekly or monthly calls with the VA you’re working with for progress reports and strategy for growth
- Read/watch stand operating procedures (SOPs) on how to complete tasks inn a clients’ business or how to use tools you are required to work with.
- Use an email address provided by the VA for your communication with clients. I provide an email address for subcontractors I want to have direct access to my clients. It is usually something like subcontractor’s name [at] the rosepreneur [dot] com
- Check the VA’s project management system for upcoming projects, tasks to complete etc.
When working with an agency, you might be:
- Assigned to a particular client
- Be required to create an account on their platform
- Be required to hold 1-on-1 discovery calls with clients to get clear on what they need
- Have to track your time within their platform or with a browser extension if they work hourly
That said, all VAs and agencies are not the same. So their processes will differ. The points I gave above are just to give you an idea. The more organized the contractor (VA or agency) is, the better.
How Much Should You Charge As A Virtual Assistant Subcontractor?
You’ve been waiting for this part, right?
Maybe you even scrolled to find this part while researching how much to charge per hour as a virtual assistant subcontractor.
Well, you’re in luck because I am a benevolent queen and I do not disappoint.
The short answer is this:
It depends on how much you charge for your services.
There’s no universally accepted rate I can tell you.
You have no know how to price your virtual assistant services first. When you know that. Then you can know how much to charge for your work as a VA subcontractor.
Because the amount you charge as a subcontractor is about 50% to 80% what you normally charge.
If you want to charge per hour, use my free hourly rate calculator to know your hourly rate.
So if you normally charge $25 per hour, as a VA subcontractor, you’re looking at $12 to $20 per hour.
If you charge $200 for social media management for one month, that means anywhere from $100 to $160 per month.
On the other hand, what the VA earns might also come to play. If you decide to partner with a VA who charges $10 per hour, the 50% to 80% can still be used.
So 50% to 80% of $10 is $5 to $8 per hour. In this case if you want to charge higher, then go for VAs or agencies who charge premium rates.
20% to 50% for the VA is only fair because they bear all the risks and do all the backend work required to get and keep clients. While you just focus on working.
As a rule of thumb, try to avoid VAs who want to pay less than 50% and only accept 50% if you won’t hate yourself. A good baseline is 30%.
Where to Find Work as a Virtual Assistant Subcontractor
It is not enough to know you want to subcontract and know how much to charge. If you don’t know where to find clients, your subcontracting dreams will never come true. So here are some places you can find work as a Virtual Assistant Subcontractor.
1.) Research online to find busy and booked-out Virtual Assistants
Research for VA websites that offer the same type of service you’re looking to provide. Or at least a complimentary service.
This can work to your advantage in two ways because, sometimes these VAs might NOT need you to work as a subcontractor. They might need you to be their own virtual assistant. More on that later.
I’ll explain this with examples to make it easy.
Let’s assume you provide canva design services. You can research for virtual assistants that are social media managers or course launch VAs.
A social media virtual assistant will need canva graphics to do their job.
A course launch VA might only be focused on building the learning management system. So if you pitch your graphic design skills, they’d offer it as an add-on to clients to design the slides they need for their course. It’s a win-win
To carry out an organized research use the following steps:
1.) Make a list of all VAs you’d like to partner with.
This can be on a note book if you like planning on paper like me, or on a spread sheet. On the sheet create 7 columns for their:
- Website URL
- Primary social media handle
- Service(s) you are looking to provide
- Benefits of working with you
- Something personal you want to mention so they know it is not a generic pitch
- Other relevant info.
2.) Once you have all the info you need, it’s time to subtly call their attention to yourself.
Some VAs do not trust you to have their best interest when you work with their clients. So they’d be more comfortable working with you if they know you a little before receiving a pitch. You can move to the front of the line really fast by:
- Visiting their websites to know more about them, their goals and why they started
- Reading their blogs and leaving thoughtful comments
- Joining their email list and replying when they ask a question or something
- Interacting with their posts on social media etc.
3.) After you have made your move to the front of the line, it’s time to make your big ask
- Don’t call them out of the blues and ask to get hired.
- Send a custom email instead. See how I made the word ‘custom’ bold? Because I get pitches from subcontractors (and even guest post pitches) that are very generic and sometimes automated. I once got an email were the person introduced himself with one name, signed off with another name and the custom email address he used also had a different name. Those types of emails go straight to the trash folder never to be read again. So don’t send the same generic email to all the VAs you are pitching to. Make it personal and let the VA feel like you wrote it just for them.
- Do not send too many pitches at once. If you send out 100 pitches and 15 say yes. Would you be able to handle subcontracting for 15 VAs at once? Even if you gathered 100 prospects during your research, batch your pitches. You can always go back to your master list if you need to.
- Follow up with the VA at least 3 times. Sometimes life gets in the way. Reply the first pitch with a follow up email and make your emails a thread. Don’t send a fresh pitch. This will call the VAs attention to your emails.
Don’t stop interacting with the VA if they say they are not ready to have you onboard.
- If you stay top-of-mind, you’ll be the first person they call whenever they are ready.
2.) Research for Valuable VA Groups on Social Media
There are a lot of VA groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Research for valuable groups, read their guidelines and join.
Some groups do not want you pitch your services as a VA or subcontractor, they only want clients and VAs looking for subcontractors to pitch. So follow rules or you’ll be kicked out.
When you’re inside the group be sure to connect and make yourself useful. If someone asks a question you know the answer to, help out. It just takes helping someone out or sharing your experience to get someone who needs that expertise (and likes your vibe) to hire you.
3.) Apply at a Virtual Assistant Agency
This is the third route you can follow. Try this if points 1 and 2 don’t yield the results you want. Before you apply find out if they have a preferred method of application. And if they need VAs in a specific location, with specific skills, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions about Working as a Virtual Assistant
Now you know what a virtual assistant subcontractor is.
Reasons why you should consider become a subcontracting, as well as how much you should charge and where to find VAs to work with.
A lot of people get excited when they discover all the awesome benefits of working as a virtual assistant subcontractor and just keep clicking on links and reading stuff.
They sign up for freebie after freebie and never really achieve anything because on the other side of all that research lies information overload.
Analysis paralysis kicks in and before you know it, that initial excitement is replaced by overwhelm and zero action.
That’s why I decided to share some frequently asked questions about working as a VA subcontractor to make sure you have all the info you need and don’t keep Googling “how to work as a virtual assistant subcontractor” when you finish reading this post.
Let’s get to it
1.) Can I still have my own VA clients while subcontracting for another VA or agency?
Absolutely. You can also have your own Virtual Assistant Clients while you subcontract. If you have the capacity to work with 5 clients at once and only have 2 clients, you could become a subcontractor for another VA and still hit your income goal. It will give you more experience because you’ll be learning from what’s working for them and what’s not. You’ll get a front row sit on how a successful VA business works.
2.) Can I use work I completed while subcontracting on my resume/portfolio?
It depends. I used to have this question early on in my career and couldn’t find a clear answer online. I had to get a lawyer’s perspective and this was her advice.
Follow what your contract with the VA says. “But what if the contract didn’t mention anything about resume/portfolio use?”
Then ask the VA. If you get the green light, write it in this format “Work I did” for “Clients’ Brand” in partnership with “VA brand”
So if you worked with me on a project for Microsoft, you’d say Website Designer For Microsoft LLC in partnership with The Rosepreneur LTD.
Don’t ever list a client on your portfolio or resume if you don’t have the contact details of the client (or someone on their team) who a potential client could call. And even if you have their contact details, make sure they know you enough to say nice things about working with you.
She went ahead to share an experience where a lady applied to work with a really established brand. She had the skills they needed and work experience to match. During the verification process they called a brand she claimed to have worked with and no one knew her or had even heard of her. She had only worked as a subcontractor for another agency. Needless to say she didn’t get in because she was not completely honest from the beginning.
3.) What if a contractor doesn’t want me to work with competitors: Virtual Assistants that provide the same kind of services they provide or work with the same kind of clients they work with?
This is a dicey situation. Do not sign a contract until you have had a lawyer vet it. Some contracts might be too broad and to your disadvantage. If a VA is in a broad niche like health and doesn’t want you to work with competitors, they have to be specific. Health is comprised on fitness, food mental health etc. So using the word “health” is too rigid.
4.) Should I sign a non-disclosure agreement?
Yes. As long as you are comfortable with the terms.
5.) Should I present the VA with a contract? Is it the VA’s responsibility?
It I usually the job of the VA to draft the contract. But in the event that the VA doesn’t (which is very rare), the onus falls on you. It is better to draft a contract than get into a work relationship without a contract. To get an ironclad Virtual Assistant Subcontractor Agreement/Contract, go here.
6.) How much money do Virtual Assistant Subcontractors make?
Firstly, it depends on the services you provide and how much work you’re able to complete. A VA subcontractor who provides website design services will earn more than a VA who provides data entry services.
Secondly, it depends on the VA you work with. Like I mentioned earlier on, VAs pay 50% to 80% what they charge their clients. So if you work with VAs who pay the lower end of the range, you’ll earn less than a subcontractor at the higher end.
Thirdly, it depends on how much a VA charges their clients. If the charge low, 50-80% of what they charge might be very low. So to reach your income goal, you’d have to work more or find VAs who charge higher rates.
7.) How long does it take to get VAs to partner with?
Some subcontractors get work from their very first pitch, some get offers from VAs who are building their teams and some take a long time to find a VA.
I reached out to the very first subcontractor I worked with. She had stayed top of mind (but never pitched). When I got a client that needed the service, she was the first person I thought of.
So have it at the back of your mind that some subcontractors get their first gig almost immediately and then wait months to get more work. While it takes ages for some to get VAs to partner with but after that initial lag phase, they get a steady stream of partners.
8.) What do I need to set up and how much does it cost to start?
Again, it depends. You can find all the information you need about basic tools you need and the cost implications in this blog post.
Becoming a Virtual Assistant Subcontractor might be your chance to comfortably earn a living working from home. You can gain the much needed experience and confidence you need before sourcing for your own clients. I hope you found this post helpful.
Still got questions? Leave them in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to update the post with more information.
Featured image: freepik.com