Frequently asked Questions
I get asked loads of questions, as I have time I will add them to this post and republish, come back often.
Question (Q): I truly love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you develop this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own personal website and would like to find out where you got this from or what the theme is called. Appreciate it!
Answer (A): Thank you for the comment. My theme is from the WordPress own themes. All the content on the site is my own words, There may be an occasion article on the website from a few others, it is 90% my own content.
Q: Could you list of all of your shared sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?
A: I do post info about my articles on twitter, linkedin and facebook.
Here are the links: Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amftyping Blog: http://alison-fourie.blogspot.com
Emails: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Q: Do you have a basic pricing structure for your clients?
A: Before you start your business you need to plan your pricing/rates structure, this must be in place before that first client contacts you.
- Ring around and get an idea from other more established VAs or look to VA websites, some VAs will state their rates. You need to research this. Look to the VA associations as they often have this type of information and it might be available to you. This should be part of your business plan. Look to recruitment companies, and the services you offer and look at the people with these services and look at the salaries they are getting offered, this is very helpful in finding your hourly rate. Work out your costs per month. Look at your previous salary and work out, do you need to earn the same or more, work it down to your hourly rate and use this rate to form your hourly rate or per package rate. Handy excel worksheet to help service based businesses figure out their hourly rate.
VAnetworking: Our “VA in a box” product which sells well plus has a good payout being a higher priced item. Includes 30 day digitized member area and everything you ever needed to start up a VA business including made for you website/hosting/domain name.
Q: Do you charge an hourly rate or do you price each service different.
A: Some services you can charge an hourly rate others you can’t, it’s dependent on the service and what is actually involved.
- Take VA administration tasks, take an office administrator and check out what they earn, research this online, calculate their salaries down to an hourly rate and see if that rate is suitable for you, if not, adjust it accordingly to suit you. We are doing similar tasks in administration. You can offer a client with VA services a retainer package, offer them a few hours a day or week and offer a discount. A retainer can work well with jobs like this.
- Some jobs are hard to research like data entry as most jobs out there are scams but we do occasionally get in real data entry, with this you take an entry see how long it takes you, what is involved with the task, what are the requirements and price accordingly maybe per entry or per an amount of entries like 50 to 100. You can approach the client and ask for an example so that you can better work out a price for them. You can even get your hourly rate down to an entry.
- Transcription can be charged on an hourly rate. You charge for the size of transcription and for the amount of time it takes you to transcribe and proof read the work, usually 1 x 4 so if you have 1 hour of transcription tape you will times that by 4 to 6 depending on various factors of how many people are speaking, content of tape, background noise, multiple speakers, interference, language etc. Have a scale of prices for this and judge the tape/file on this, a one on one interview is great to transcribe and can be done quickly but others which are more complicated with multiple speakers and language and background noise well this will take a lot longer and this has to be taken into consideration with your pricing. Ask lots of questions before quoting on transcription as there are many of the above factors involved and you don’t want to undercharge.
- Typing is usually charged at a per page rate. Some VAs charge on double or single space others don’t, its personal preference. Typing is also dependent on content. You can here take your hourly rate and break it down to how long it takes to type a page depending on content, and use this charge as your per page rate. Work it out on an average A4 single space or double spaced plain copy typing. Work out what you type per minutes and price accordingly looking at your A4 page and then you will be able to estimate a per page charge. Typing rates are also very dependent on location, Cape Town and Durban rates are far cheaper than rates up in Gauteng, even rates in Pretoria are lower than Johannesburg and its suburbs. We can’t change this; it’s not for the lack of trying. Rather ask a higher rate as then you can negotiate it down, doing it this way is much easier, then negotiation on a medium to low rate as then it could end up being not worth doing. Clients will and often try to negotiate you down, if you know what you are worth and know what service you will provide stick to your views, if the client wants you to do the work they will agree to your pricing. When a client wants a quality job done they want go for the cheapest price. Never underestimate what you are worth, and don’t let a client dictate your price, the odd few clients will have a price and ask you to do it at that price, you can speak up and say no that is not worth it to me and then explain to the client why and what is involved, they can and do change their minds when they see you know what you are talking about.
- With services like event organization, you need to see exactly what is involved and give a cost estimate, get as many details as possible from the client and then start researching the people, accommodation, food, expenses, travel etc that are involved. An hourly rate can be used successfully here or you look at the costs of the whole package and take a percentage of the final cost to the client for the work that involves your company. Event organization will depend on each function/event that you organize as they each will have their own requirements, so each will need to be priced per event.
- Telephone services, providing service to a company by taking their company calls or making their calls to clients, this can be done by using a retainer package and giving the client a block of your time or you can cost it down which really is not the way to go as you will barely make anything charging per call. This involves doing your research on call costs via the different telephone companies, Telkom, MSN, Vodacom etc. The best with this is to take a rough estimate and add on your time and give this price to the clients for calls national and local, cell and landline, give a set price for all. I am doing telephone services at the moment and charging my client an hourly rate as it is easier.
- Typing of CV’s. Charge a set price per individual CV to a client and a set price for bulk CV’s from a recruitment company.
- Proof reading services do your research and check out companies that offer this services via the internet, companies are charging per a set amount of words to proof. The going rate seems to be from R15 to R30 for every 100 words you proof, prices seem to be in the R15 to R30 bracket, i think though if you research this you might find prices higher, so do your research for a basic price first, research this well before pricing there is a big price difference country wide.
- Presentation slides, flow diagrams, spreadsheets, graphs etc, look at how easy or difficult, the content, what is involved, this is different to copy typing as you are creating and might be using other software to do this. Have a basis set price for easy and then add for the difficulty level with this, I’ve loads of experience at doing these and am quite happy to help/assist you prepare a quote on it.
- Internet Research, check out with companies like Post-net and research companies, internet cafe’s etc, see what is being charged for this and price accordingly. I price this on my hourly rate, as I find it usually takes me a few hours, but I’ve broken it down into 15 minute segments like the internet cafe’s do.
- Looking after a client’s diary, making appointments (Client services), and here I would block charge and give a retainer package, I wouldn’t individualize tasks as then you really will be lowering your price.
- Typing of assignments for students, look at student background, race, location, the assignments are normally long, lots of editing by student, lecturer often changes font, size requirements half with through assignment, don’t under-price yourself and give this service away for free as you think the student can’t afford it, often students can, otherwise, they would simply do it themselves, you are freeing them up so they can carry on with their lives. And it’s not always simply copy typing, watch out for this often there is graphics involved and flow diagrams. Please don’t charge prices like R5 to R10 for this, as it really is not worth your while to do, don’t fall into this price bracket, surely your services are worth more and you are sitting for hours doing this, the student is not. Typing of books for authors is also very much like this, there is lots of editing involved; you are the one sitting with the typing for hours on end. I’ve typed up books that have taken months to type, and believe me for R10 per page it’s not worth it for your time and effort. This is something I did when I first started out, now the price is much more as I’ve learnt the hard way. Authors receive nice pay cheques for books these days. Everyone has a fancy for typing for authors but you must make it worth your while to do.
If there is questions that I’ve not covered that interests you, please contact me.
Q: Do you panic if a client rings you and wants a price from you without you seeing the work, as they don’t always send the work through for you to view?
A: Speak to the client and explain to them that you do not quote blindly, ask if they can send you an example of the work, to give you an idea of what is involved. I have never had a client refuse to do this, this has happened to other VAs though, these types of clients are often looking for the job to be done cheap. Clients will send an example and that gives you an idea of what you need to do to then prepare a proper quotation. Giving a client an Estimated Quotation is a better idea as often there is more involved than what you see in the example. They can typically send you through the pages of a document with just text and then you find out once received that there is tables, graphics etc and they are out of format and this takes more time, so often its a good idea to go with an estimated quote.
Q: Do you panic regardless when a client contacts you?
A: Try not to panic, you know your job, you know what you are doing, the client might not know and this gives you an advantage. Be friendly, project your interest, ask lots of questions. Ask the client about themselves, ask about their companies. Be assertive but not to assertive and ask positive questions.
- You are on the same level as clients, treat them as equals, don’t be frightened of them. If you come across as not confident this shows especially with women clients, they will talk down to you, that is for sure. Women clients you will find, like to appear in control and you need to also appear in control of what you are doing to be seen by them as peers and as equals.
- As a VA you are running a business and providing a service, so that puts you on the same level as that client who needs to use your services. Don’t let a client treat you like a secretary, you must come across as confident in what you are doing, know what you are talking about, and know your job inside out. A stuttering, I’m not sure VA will be treated as secretaries as that is what you will come across to the clients as.
- It is very nerve wracking dealing with the first client but after that you will find with each new client your confidence will grow. You can tell the potential client that they are your first and that you are nervous and they will understand, as they have been there themselves. Be open, friendly and honest with clients.
Have ready a:
- Rates listing as then it’s easier to price more complicated jobs, look at what is involved, the time it will take you, how complicated, look at all the factors first before pricing, can you meet that deadline, if not, ask for more time, you can do this, always look at the bigger picture before pricing a job/task. Look at the work you have currently, look at how you would schedule the work in, ask as many questions as you can. You can give a price estimate and let the client know the price might change slightly here or there when you actually receive the work and look at it, Clients will accept this. If you are unsure you can always ask on our Tavasa email forum for assistance, we have lots of experience in doing this.
- I work from a basic price list all the time, I check what is involved with the job, how long it will take me, can I fit it in, what is actually involved with doing that job, if I’ve got typing I look at what the content is, does it have in graphics, tables as these are time taking and I will adjust my pricing to cater for doing this, you can’t just copy a table you must create it, then put in the info this is time taking and the more complicated the table the longer it takes. With Graphics you might need to scan them or insert them from online, this costs you extra to do it in time and money so make sure you compensate yourself for this. Very rare do I get a document that is just plain copy typing, I get in horrible documents for typing, so therefore I don’t skimp on my pricing, I know what is involved and the time it will take me, so if you need help and assistance on this please shout, I’ve the experience and don’t mind helping.
Q: Asking a client for an example of work?
A: When a client refuses to send you work, often they are looking for cheap pricing, if they want a quotation from you, ask all the relevant questions you can think of for that kind of service. It would help you if you make up a list of questions for each service you are offering to ask potential clients. If they want it cheap then maybe that is not the job for you, don’t underestimate your worth to clients. A cheap job is not worth it in time and money and is a sheer waste of you time. Don’t just take the job for the love of getting the work that is not the way to run a successful business.
Q: Have you researched pricing on the internet for overseas clients?
A: With overseas pricing, do your research, check out what the prices are via the internet, check out overseas VAs, Transcribers websites, some display prices, some don’t, then prepare yourself a list of pricing for your services that you offer so that they are equivalent to your overseas counterparts. Do not offer your service at your Rand price, that is not the way to do this, otherwise the client will think they are getting a very cheap service and they will be and then we will be thought of as no different from Indian, Chinese and cheap overseas labour. We should be compatible with our overseas competition. I do have some price listings of overseas work.
Q: Do you know how to prepare a quotation?
A: To prepare a quotation, you need to know what is involved with the job. You then need to work out what it will cost you to do this job, the more information you get on the job the easier to quote. Prepare a quote on company letterhead and attached email back to the client, this gives a professional look. If you need assistance with this or a copy of my quotation form to customize, please contact me. See forms below, these forms can be customised for any VA, Transcription or Services based task/job.
Transcription Job Request Form VA Estimate Quotation form
Setting Hourly Rates for the VAs