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How To Price Your Virtual Assistant Services with Donna Toothaker

How To Price Your Virtual Assistant Services with Donna Toothaker

Pricing your Virtual Assistant services can be very difficult, no matter what your level of experience is as a VA. There is really no clear cut matrix that you can follow.

Do you charge by the hour, per project or on a monthly basis? Most importantly, how much?

To gain more clarity on this, I’ve interviewed Donna Toothaker on the topic of pricing your Virtual Assistant services right. In this blog post, she:

  • defined the difference between pricing your VA services per hour vs setting packaged services and its pros and cons.
  • gave us the best formula to use in setting up package services and pricing
  • gave tips on how to transition from charging per hour rates to packaged services pricing model
  • discussed how personal branding plays a role in setting up your pricing
  • answered the question – Can new VAs use package pricing?

Plus, if you read until the end, you’ll know how you can get an exclusive 50% off for Donna’s e-course for creating packages. 

Donna Toothaker is a speaker, author and the online success coach who guides entrepreneurs in how to build successful, thriving, and rewarding online businesses. She is the CEO of StepItUpVA.com, and the coming soon, DonnaToothaker.com, and she is the creator of several popular programs such as the 6 Steps to 6 Figure Success System, The Mindset, Mapping and Meaning Retreat, and the Growth and Success Live Workshop.

Donna got her start as a solo VA and quickly grew her business to include a team of 15, becoming THE go-to VA company for entrepreneurs all over the world. Since 2010 Donna has been coaching other VAs in creating highly successful businesses. 2015 is an expansion year for Donna and she’s excited to add mindset and life coaching to her business as well as the expansion of her market to include all entrepreneurs, not just VAs. Donna is a sought-after online business expert for interviews, webinars and speaking engagements. Personally, Donna loves to travel, with her latest international stop being Sydney, Australia. She’s also a softball and snowboard mom and wife to another cool entrepreneur.

Now let’s jump right in to the interview:

How did you get started as a Virtual Assistant?

I started as a Virtual Assistant back in January of 2004. At that time, I was a stay-at-home mom. My kids were 3 and 4. I kept thinking to myself, they are going to be in school pretty soon and I have to go back to work at some point. But, we had moved further out in country after my last corporate job. I was thinking, if I went back to that company, I’ll have a really long commute.

I thought, “What can I do to stay home and work from home?” What I researched was opening a typing business and that is when I came across Virtual Assistance. I jumped right in. I had a client before I even had a website and I took it from there.

Will you please define the difference between pricing your VA services per hour vs setting package services. What are its pros and cons?

Working by the hour is just that – you are getting paid for however long it takes you to do the work. Working in a package model or what I like to call the “value-based business model”, you are getting paid by the project, the work, the month but not based on how long it takes.

It’s based on:

  • the value that it’s worth
  • the benefit to the client
  • the information that you have that the client doesn’t necessarily have

It is all about these factors rather than getting paid for your time or by the hour.

In my opinion, there are not a whole lot of pros to working by the hour, at all. The cons are:

  • you are many times getting paid less than someone who is new, just starting out or who is really slow

So, the efficient, seasoned VAs , who has done this work for a long time, are quite often getting paid less than the newer VAs. That makes no sense at all.

I think getting paid by the hour is what an employee gets and not an entrepreneur. In earning potential, the sky’s the limit for an entrepreneur. But not if we are working by the hour. Because there is really so many hours in the day.

Having said that, the pros to working by the package or in a value-based business model is that you really can have unlimited earnings. Then, there is also a great benefit that VAs don’t have to track their time.

In my business, when I was in a very busy point, tracking the time in my big team was like a full-time job in of itself.

You don’t have to watch the clock. For example, if a client bought a retainer package, you don’t have to check in with them and ask if you can go over those hours.

VAs get paid for what they know and not necessarily how long something takes.

What’s the best way/formula to use in setting up package services and pricing?

It’s that age-old question. It’s really hard sometimes. There is really no hard and fast formula or a way to determine a package price. In my case, we were lucky because we were doing this for a long time when we moved to this model. We already knew how long things took us to complete.

I remember thinking to myself, “what would I be really happy about earning per hour?” (At that time, it was $100 per hour.) And I said, “could I really try this?” So, I did a little experiment. I created this 5 hour package at $100 per hour. I made it $497 so people wouldn’t try to calculate.

You have to remember clients doesn’t know how long things take. But $497 for them to get to the end result we were giving was worth it to them. Some people double their regular hourly rate. You can experiment. It’s really about the value.

But it’s quite often hard for people to determine the value unless there is something tangible. What I always say is you really need to know how long things take. For example, social media set-up is 5 hours, you still need to base your package pricing off the hour. Even though, you never talk hours or time with clients, you need to know. Because you want to make sure that you are making more than what you’d be making if you are still working by the hour and not losing any money because something takes longer.

So you really need to know how long things take and sometimes build in a little cushion into your package pricing so if something takes longer, you still don’t lose money.

Do you think personal branding plays a big role in setting up a package pricing?

In my experience it was somewhat easy for my VA company because we had name recognition and we had so many referrals. Being in the business for quite a long time made it easier for us.

There certainly has to be a level of trust and credibility. But actually, I think it is the same too for someone working by the hour. Someone is not just going to hand over money to someone they feel uneasy about.

Personal branding plays a role in letting the clients know that they are paying for what we know.

How can a VA who has been charging per hour rates transition to package services pricing model? What’s the best way to approach your client that you’ll be changing your pricing model?

If you are approaching your client that you’ll be moving into a package pricing model, just make it all about the value and the benefit that they will be getting now, in this new model. If you tell a client that I’m going to work for you until the work is complete, then, they would really love that. So, for them they are seeing that it is not really about the time but about the work and providing value.

I’d like to share my experience when I moved into this model, there were clients that were so easy, so wonderful. I looked at it at a client by client basis – which clients are just perfect and they can stay how they are, which clients do I feel like it’s a constant battle of checking in and this and that so moving into this model is going to benefit both of us. Then, there were some “take them or leave them” clients where if they don’t agree to this model, that’s okay, if they don’t want to be my client anymore, it’s fine. If they do, that’s wonderful too. But when I moved into this package, every single new client was a package client. I really embraced it.

I also made a conscious choice to offer services that fit nicely into packages.

Can new Virtual Assistants use a package pricing?

I would love that all VAs, as an industry, start in the package model. But it is sometimes difficult for new VAs because they don’t have an idea yet how long things will take to finish. I prefer a package pricing but I understand it can be difficult. So if new VAs start with an hourly pricing, I hope it is very temporary.

How can VAs get in touch with you?

Since 2010, I have been coaching VAs and they can find me at www.StepItUpVA.com. It will soon be DonnaToothaker.com but they can still find me there. Or they can email me at donna[@]stepitupva.com

I won’t have any new programs until January but I’d like to offer your readers, my e-course for creating packages. It’s a 3-week ecourse about all the nuts and bolts of creating packages and pricing packages.

It’s currently $97 but for your readers, I’ll offer a 50% off!

Just visit www.stepitupva.com/creating-packages and use coupon code Gwenn

For more Virtual Assistant tips to success, subscribe to my newsletter!

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Gwenn Doria

Founder and Author at Virtual Success Avenue
Hey there, awesome! I started this blog because I understand the challenges of starting out and thriving as a professional working from home. My aim is to empower aspiring and fellow Virtual Assistants by sharing tips, inspiring stories and lessons learned about the Virtual Assistant industry. Get to know me more by visiting the "About Me" page. 🙂 Cheers!