Typing it is what it is

Typing this is the basis of my job as a Virtual Assistant. My aim was to open up a business providing typing services and I have been able to do that, for the past 18 years.

I have always loved to type and I am quite happy to sit for hours on end, days on end, typing. I don’t care what I type, from contracts to reports to flow diagrams or business presentations or books, I am doing the job I love so whatever the typing is I don’t mind doing it.

Everyone wants to do typing from home, but it is not that easy to get into the field and to get typing. I have made sure that my business name is out there far and wide, I have done the marketing and advertising required and I still do it and network often to show that my business is still running and current.

They key is finding the right clients that provide ongoing typing is to know your niche and target markets, know the types of clients you want to work for, actively look for clients that you can assist, never give up, always be positive. Positivity brings rewards. There is loads of potential clients in the work place, it is just the case of you looking and finding the clients that are the right fit, for what you want to do.

Not everyone is computer literate or likes to use computers, some people still like to do things the old-fashioned way and write on notepads, not everyone has to like and use Computers, Tablets or Laptops. Not everyone has time and sometimes it quicker to just write up notes here and there as they can, and these notes need to be typed up at some point.

When looking for typing work look towards the people who would produce typing, maybe people who write often, people in the training field who produce manuals, reports etc. Look towards Speakers as they need to write notes and produce PowerPoint Presentations. New businesses need documentation they need procedure manuals to run their businesses. There are many clients out and about that need typists it’s just a case of looking and approaching them.

Typing Part 2

You have to look at what the typing is, is it just copy typing of text say a 1st to 3rd year student assignment, a book with text, contracts, agreements, etc they are plain copy typing with tabulation for the bullet points. A document with many bullet points or staggered bullet points is just plain copy typing. It is easy giving advice using my own experiences as this makes the problems more realistic to the other VA.

When you type for students doing MBA, Masters or PhD etc. then there is much more involvement with the typing, references need to be a set in a specific way, the manuscript, dissertation, university guidelines/styles must be adhered to, like the Harvard Business Method or APA etc. A point to note: some students are given bursaries which covers their typing, proofreading and editing costs of their Masters, PhD’s etc.

But not all typing is plain copy typing; often you get documents with tables, charts, graphs, maths, graphics etc. You have to look at what is the best way to do these and how long does it take to do a page. Look at what is involved, never quote blindly.

Word Processing

Word Processing covers many tasks – from graphics to graphs, tables, flow diagrams etc. Most things that you must create are not just plain copy typing, this is word processing and it can be very work intensive and time-consuming.

Can you create the chart in Excel and then copy it across into Word, can you do the graphic in word or must you go and create it in Photoshop; Paint and then copy it into word etc. Sometimes with manuals you may need to use the services of a Graphic Designer and these often quote per graphic involved, depending on what must be done to that graphic. So, beware and don’t under quote if graphic design is involved, as you will need to include in the graphic designers charge too. You will need to ensure you explain this to the client, clear and concisely. Sometimes you might have to scan a graphic and copy it into the document. Just check what is involved before doing the work.

A complicated table, chart or graph might take some time to create. When you start look at the item you must create, then you need to look at the length of time it takes to do this. Therefore, is it viable to charge say R10.00 per page if the job is going to take you long, NO! it’s not viable. Price realistically for the job

You need to look at how experienced you are at doing things, i.e. an experienced person can create flow diagrams quickly whereas a person who is inexperienced could take quite a few hours to create the same diagram. Consider your experience when quoting a job.

Maths typing; typing of equations; signs and symbols is time consuming but you need to look at the manual as a whole and not just the sections. From there you work out how long you think it will take you, what software you will be using (whether it be Maths Software or MS Word and the MS Word Equations option). This is all very time-taking and should factor in when you are quoting a job.

These days with the economy being what it is you need to look at the client. What do you feel in your gut that a client can afford to pay. Don’t push the boundaries too low to get the work where it is not cost effective to do the job, also don’t push the boundaries and charge the client too high a price, you simply won’t get the job.

With most typing work look at what is involved, there is a difference in time with experienced typists and new typists.

Bulk Typing

Manuals are bulk work so you could very easily go down to R15 to R20 per page or a price per manual, taken on how long it will take you to type it. When you do manuals, check out what is involved; often you can give a lower price because it’s bulk work for you and becomes more cost effective.

Formatting Documents

The best way to go for formatting is using an hourly rate. You never know how long it is going to take to format a document until you start working on it. A document that has been set up by someone else other than yourself can often give all sorts of problems; let the client know this as its often not straight formatting. Often when you start formatting, everything will jump out of alignment, including tabs etc. so it can take twice as long to format than it would to retype.

Columns, tables, graphics tend to come out of alignment very easily. Table of Content can become completely messed up and that can take a while to unravel and put right so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to work on formatting documents. Keep track of your time and charge an hourly rate. If you charge per page you will find some pages can take much longer to format than others and you really have to look at the time that is spent formatting to price this properly. You can charge per page but might be better to go via an hourly rate.


With all work, never quote blindly. How can you quote when you have no idea what the job/task is, you have no idea how long it will take you or what is involved. Ask the client to send you a sample. How can an architect quote on a job he has not seen! You need to look at the task at hand then decide what is involved, how long it will take you and get a full description of client requirements before quoting. No matter how urgent a job is, surely the payment is the most important thing in the end, the job is important to the client, but they should understand that you do not quote blindly.

Ask for an example first; check it out – see if you can do the job in the time frame given. You can also negotiate as you know, how you work and how long jobs take.

My advice would be do not take on an urgent task without seeing what is involved first as its quite easy to undercharge. Make sure you clarify the clients’ requirements and write them down or record them or get the client to email you further – as clients often forget or change their mind and lay the blame on you. Email them a copy of their requirements and get them to reply before you go ahead, make sure that everything is ok.


Do not PDF a document unless your client’s specifically asks you too. Do not think that by saving to PDF that you are forcing the client to return to you, that is not the case, they can simply get it done elsewhere, simply convert it online and edit it themselves. Most clients want the work typed up and then they want to be able to edit it themselves.

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