How You Can Afford A Virtual Design Assistant
We've all heard that phrase, good help is hard to find, and Lord don't I know it. I have been where you likely are right now, and I know bringing on a new team member is not an easy decision. In fact, it can be just plain scary. I can assure you however, the investment is worth it. It was only once I started investing in my team that My Design Assistant was truly able to grow. So, now that I have you open to the idea of hiring a virtual assistant, how do you afford one? I'm glad you asked.
Determine your need-
Are you looking to hand off renders? Administrative support? There is a virtual assistant for whatever need you have. Determine what it is that is taking you the most time. What is it that you put off until the last minute, that you find you tend to make errors on or that you just truly don't find joy in doing?Those are the things you can hand off to a VA. The easiest thing to hand off to a VA is something like email management (ahem, coming to you soon from MDA), the cost is low, but the impact is high. If you inbox is stressing you out, this is a great way to go. Added bonus, you can have all your project emails stored in one nice and easy to find location.
The next thing I have found is the easiest for designers to hand off is floorplans and renders. Many designers see this as a value-add tool. They can charge their client for it, it makes them appear more professional and helps to sell the design to the client. Even better, you hand over the necessary details, and in return, you get the final product. For VA's that charge by service package,there is no ongoing cost, which makes it easier to budget for since it's as needed or requested by a client.
If you are needing ongoing admin support, the budget requirement is a bit higher and it can require a more time commitment from you, which can feel intimidating, but this, as you probably assumed, tends to be the most impactful.
Assessing your rate-
This area is approached differently depending on your comfort. We have some designers who charge for the work we do at their standard design rate. The obvious benefit to this is that rate of return you recieve even when you are not personally doing the work. Some people don't feel comfortable charging their design rates for administrative tasks, but I have found that as long as this is clear in your contract, there does not appear to be much push-back from design clients. Charging for our time at this higher rate not only helps alleviate the cost of benefiting from VA support, but also provides the budget to allow for other business development items, such as research, social media scheduling and graphic design that may not have otherwise been in your budget.
Other designers choose to charge separate administrative or junior design fee. While some choose not to choose their client for our work, we would never encourage it. Whether you are doing the work personally or it is being done by us, the truth is that it is being done on behalf of your firm for that client. If you are charging a separate administrative or junior design fee, a good rule of thumb is to set the rate at double or triple your contracotors fee. Our current rate for package clients is $30/ hr, but will be increasing to $40.00/hr in November. With this rate in mind, the administrative or junior designer fee should be no less then $60-$80/hour. This allows time for training, regular check-ins and for you to fully explore the potential of your VA realtionship without the fear of it taking away from your bottom line.
If you got anything from this post, I hope that you have found that you no longer have to be in this business alone. You can get help and you can afford it, no matter what stage of your design business you are in. Did this post help you? We'd love to hear your feed back!