If you’re looking for advice on how to earn a lot of cash or “make bank” in your VA business, this is not the blog post for you. You may want to check out this post on earning more with affiliate marketing or some of my other content.
This post is about how to actually get paid, like how to bill your clients and receive your money each month, for the brand new or aspiring virtual assistant who isn’t sure where to start.
By the end of this post, you will know three different ways that you can use to charge your clients for your services, send your invoices, and receive payment in your virtual assistance business. Let’s get into it!
Monthly Prepaid Hourly Packages
Using prepaid hourly packages, you’ll charge your clients on a certain date each month for a predetermined amount of hours based on their needs (as assessed by you in your discovery call).
If you use more hours than the client has prepaid for, you bill them for the extra time. If they lose less, I usually roll over the extra hours into the next month. (But if the client is consistently using less than they pay for, you may need to have a chat with them to help them let more work go!)
I use this prepaid hourly package system. And I’ve got my prepaid hourly packages set up so that clients get a little discount for purchasing a larger package, which can be a fun bonus for your larger clients and encourage them to invest in time with you and take more off their plates.
If you and your client are working on a variety of projects each month together and not every month is the exact same, I think this model works well for you both.
A retainer package is similar to a prepaid hourly package, but a little different. The monthly fee is a fixed, predetermined amount that the client will pay you ahead of time regardless of how many hours are worked, and the hours are not rolled over into the next month.
You’re sort of “on-call” for a certain number of hours per week or month and the client can count on your availability.
If your client has a business that slows down during certain months of the year so that they can make sure you’re holding that predetermined amount of time for them each month and they don’t lose you to another client and quickly pick up during their busy seasons.
With these types of packages, you’ll come up with a set of clear deliverables for each week or month and then decide what it will cost to deliver these services to the client (based on estimated hours to complete). Then, you’ll charge that flat rate no matter how long it takes you to finish. For example, if you offer social media, you can charge a monthly fee of X amount for daily content on 3 social media platforms and that doesn’t change whether it takes you 10 hours or 15 hours to complete.
The benefit to you is that as you improve and get faster, you’ll make the same amount but spend less time on the project. And the client doesn’t need to worry about running out of time each month, they can just trust that the work they need to be completed will get done.
This can be a great model for some, but I think this works best with specific, clear projects, such as social media or an editing/proofreading package because when there are a lot of different projects this is just more difficult to navigate smoothly.
Alright, so you’ve decided how you’re going to package your time, now you need to send your clients an invoice to receive your payment. There are a whole bunch of options out there with their own pros and cons.
One thing you might want to consider before picking your invoicing tool: Do you like the time tracking features and reporting?
There are no perfect tools or systems but it will help you a lot to think of what you would love to have and what is non-negotiable.
I struggled to find an invoicing tool that broke down the time reports in the ways that I wanted until I found Harvest. You do not have to have time tracking and invoicing together, but I like using one tool for both. One thing that’s great about Harvest is that it integrates with project management tools like ClickUp and Asana. Harvest also integrates with QuickBooks, which is what I use for my bookkeeping. You can check out Harvest here.
With Freshbooks, you can send your invoices and track time, like you can with Harvest. And you can do your bookkeeping with Freshbooks as well.
This is a great tool that I’ve worked with through my clients for years now. If you don’t care about the time tracking tool integrating with a project manager, this is a wonderful option. Check out Freshbooks here.
If you just want a very simple, low-cost way to send invoices, a Paypal Business account will allow you to do this and it will allow you to set up subscription services. More on PayPal in the next section…
Dubsado is much more than a tool for invoicing and time. Virtual assistants and other online business owners love Dubsado because it can be used to automate your client onboarding as well as scheduling and more.
This tool is a great option if you want a tool that handles a lot of work for you in addition to invoicing and don’t mind the higher price point. Check out Dubsado here.
When I first started my business in 2014, there was Paypal, but not a lot of other options. Fortunately, accepting payments online has gotten even easier since then.
Paypal has been around for a long time and is an easy and reliable way to accept payments from your clients.
I recommend setting up a Business PayPal account. As I mentioned above, you can send simple invoices using PayPal alone. That’s how I started!
The fees can be a little frustrating, but they’re comparable to other services.
Stripe is another great option. Set up your Stripe account and you can send out invoices similar to Paypal. The feels are very similar to Paypal. The big advantage I see with Stripe is that you can set up an automatic payment in Freshbooks if you’re using Stripe but you can’t do this with PayPal.
If your client is open to this and you’re offering a fixed amount, like with any of the packages we discussed above, setting up a direct deposit is a great way to go since you’ll do away with the transaction fees, if you and your client are in the US.
There could be international transaction fees depending on where you and your client are located, so you’ll need to do some investigating into the rules for your country.
Okay, I hope that helps as you start to put together your virtual assistant packages.
I’m so excited for you to get started with your new business. Feel free to ask a question in the comments if anything is unclear.
Also: Please pin this post to reference later!
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