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Explaining Your Worth


I was asked an unusual question during a new client interview this past week. And one I hadn’t really put a lot of thought into…

“I’ve found that inexperienced VAs run between $15-20 per hour, most with a decent amount of experience are right around $30 per hour, but you are $40 per hour. How do you justify your rate?”

He asked it in a very conversational tone and while I am typically uncomfortable talking money, for some reason, I didn’t shy away from this. This is a big change for me. In the not so distant past, when someone would ask about my rate, I would immediately begin to sweat, stutter and offer a discount. But no more.

I have finally learned my worth and added tax…(Isn’t that the saying?)

Have you ever had to justify your wages? Your rate?

How I Answered

Thankfully, I was prepared and I was confident and I immediately dove into what would, in any other situation, feel like a prideful brag.

  1. I have been working as a freelancer for 14+ years and have dozens of positive client reviews available.
  2. I specialize in all things technology including web design, online marketing and systems integration and training.
  3. As a single mom of 5, I found a hourly rate that I am comfortable will support us in both good and bad times and represents the value I bring to the table.
  4. Finally, between my education and experience, my turnaround time is at least 1/2 of what a lesser experience VA can deliver. And, not to brag, but I don’t miss deadlines and I get it right the first time.

Our call ended shortly thereafter. And I was confident in everything I had said, including being clear on the boundaries I have begun to set as far as response hours, availability for certain tasks (ie calls) and how important having a strong work/life balance is to me.

I Got the Job

Today I got a message that I was hired…it’s a part time, long term gig. But I’m super excited about the possibilities and it comes right on the tail of closing out two other long term projects (4 month and 1 1/2 year long projects). So the timing is perfect…I started this week.

Here are his notes on why he chose to hire me…

– I really love your heart for others.
– I’m really impressed by your technical experience in software and project management tools.
– I really appreciate your professionalism. Thanks for having an LLC and signing NDAs with clients.

I am so blessed to love what I do, get to do it on my own terms and make a good living doing it.


  • Reply Kay |

    I don’t think mentioning your family status or how much of an hourly rate you need so you can provide for them is a great response to this question., because that’s really irrelevant. Job pay should be based on skill and what the actual job entails. The other answers were great though.

  • Reply Katie |

    I was going to say the same thing. Most of your answer was spot on, but the family thing is not. I’ve heard people trying to use that justification for asking for a raise, but companies should not pay someone more because they have more kids or they want a new car or they bought a bigger house, etc. More money should be paid because of the value that they get from someone’s work.

  • Reply Lisa |

    I agree. No one cares about your personal circumstances. Also interesting you said you are a single mom of 5 when 2 of them are adults paying you room and board. It worked out well for you this time but next time could just as easily cost you the job.

  • Reply Angie |

    Great job! I’d also see if you could slyly start collecting some added value stats from past projects. Customers can’t argue with hard numbers. Think of it like the STAR method for a resume. Ideas to get you started:

    – xxx increase in sales/engagement/customers since new website (or SEO updates, social media campaign, etc).
    – completed xxx project in xxxx days, record time allowing customer to meet strict deadlines.

    You should NOT mention, your kids, money situation, politics, faith, etc. Those topics should have no bearing on your worth to a business. It is illegal for an employer to ask you about your family status in a job interview for a reason. Do you think that a person without children, or a spouse with a high income job, should charge less? I think that using your single mom status has the potential to actually devalue you in some eyes. From a strategic standpoint, I would not blatantly throw it out there unless you were trying to connect personally to a client and/or business (ex. women/single mama owned business).

  • Reply Bluezette |

    I had the same reaction as Kay and Katie. When you started that sentence, I thought you were going to say that as a single mother of 5, you had perfected your organizational and time-management skills and learned to successfully multi-task or something to that effect.

  • Reply T'Pol |

    Ditto what everybody else said. A client or a head hunter cannot ask questions about marital status, domestic situation and etc. because it is not ethical and sometimes even forbidden by law. Why should it be OK for the candidate to use these in her/his favor?

So, what do you think ?