So your virtual assistant business is all set up.
Way to go!
Now comes one of the most interesting (and challenging) parts: deciding what services to offer, and how to offer them.
You may have a good idea of what services you want to offer, so that part might be pretty easy. (If you’re totally stuck, just offer the things that don’t make you want to run and hide. Focus on the things that you like or don’t mind doing, and avoid the rest. Or have a look at this list of 10 lucrative VA services you can specialize in.)
Back to pricing and packaging. Pricing is one of our very first questions as freelancers of any sort, cropping up before we even consider going into business. And usually pricing is spoken about in the context of hourly rates.
So how do you create and price packages?
How Pricing Plays Into Your Virtual Assistant Packages
The thing about packages is that they’re a flat rate. There’s no hourly charge, unless you have an a la carte option for add-ons. But if you’re offering a straight-up “20 hours of inbox management per month” type of package, you need to know what to charge.
Package pricing should be based on your minimum hourly rate for the tasks involved.
Hint: Your rate for some tasks won’t be the same as others.
So in the case of inbox management, you can come up with the price for 20 hours of work once you know how much you would charge for one hour of work. Take the hourly rate, multiply it by 20, and then reduce it a bit to a number you like. There you go!
The formula for putting together a package with multiple elements goes like this: decide how much each element would cost, add up however many hours of each task will go into the package, figure out the total cost, and settle on a package price.
But how do you decide what goes in the package?
Method #1: Start With A La Carte
In the very beginning, you might want to skip virtual assistant packages entirely and instead just offer a list of tasks that you perform for a set hourly rate. This frees you up to land all sorts of clients and get a feel for what you really like and enjoy.
Plus, you’ll get a ton of insight into your clients and business.
The more experience you get with an a la carte structure, the better you’ll have a sense of what tasks “go together” to provide the most value for your clients. You’ll also have a deeper understanding of how long each of these tasks really takes(and what kind of “mental tax” they place on you, too).
These insights will inform not only your packaging, but how to price it.
Method #2: Use Packages to Attract Your Ideal Clients
You can let your packages develop organically like that – there’s nothing wrong with that strategy. OR you can tailor packages that are specific to your ideal clients.
Building a package specifically designed for your ideal client is a great strategy to employ as soon as you know who your ideal client is. This will help you move into client work that you truly enjoy even faster. Plus, once you get established in that niche, you can begin to raise your rates even more deliberately.
So how do you figure out what kinds of packages will draw your ideal clients?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- If you’re currently working with a client you think is totally dreamy, start paying attention to what that client needs, wants, appreciates, and straight up does not care about. What moves the needle? What’s the biggest burden you relieve? How are you increasing productivity and what is that extra time being used for?
- Ask them! For current clients, try to get a sense of what tasks you’re doing that make the biggest impact on the client’s business, and what they wish they could also hand off (whether to you or someone else). You can do this in conversation, or you could even put together a survey and ask them if they’d be willing to participate. (Keep it SHORT if you do this!)
- Find people who could be your ideal clients, and ask if they’d be willing to have a five-minute conversation with you. If they agree, ask them what tasks are bogging them down, what they wish they could change about their business, and what specific things they wish they never had to do again. Those are some gold nuggets!
- Look around and see what your colleagues tend to offer. The ones who have been at this for a while will have some great packages put together. You can see what they do and don’t do, compare your own skill set, and go from there. (This will work even if you don’t have an ideal client.)
Some Sample Virtual Assistant Packages You Can Offer
There’s no right or wrong way to put together a package.
It’s all about what your clients want (and what you’re willing to learn).
If you like the idea of packaging but aren’t sure where to start, here are a few example packages to get you thinking:
- Social media marketing. You can offer a package of X number of posts across Y number of platforms, with an add-on option for image creation. Or you can burrow down into one or two different platforms and offer a specialized “done for you” service, from setting up/optimizing the profile to producing X number of custom images and posts for that platform per month. Fold in reporting and follower growth if you want, or make those a la carte.
- Link similar services. If you’re really good at emails, you might make a package for inbox management plus customer service. If you like all things blogging, you might bundle blog post editing, formatting, uploading, and publishing.
- Graphic design. If visual is your jam, consider offering packages of graphic design (think blog post featured images, pins, or social media posts).
- One-time service packages. If you’ve got skills that lend themselves to project-based work rather than ongoing work, package them up! Offer a package of three custom MailChimp templates, or setting up a new WordPress site.
- A starter package. Put together a list of services you can offer, and let the “package” be the number of hours per week or month you’ll work on any of those services. This lets the client experiment with outsourcing and get a feel for what moves the needle without them feeling “tied down” to any specific tasks. (Just be careful that you aren’t doing $40/hr work at a $20/hr rate!)
Going to the Next Level: Tiered VA Packages
Flat-rate packages are one thing, and they can be a very effective thing. But they aren’t the end of the story when it comes to packages. You can create multiple levels of each package, too. The higher the package, the more complex your role will be and the more you’ll offer to the client.
This is a pretty common strategy for a lot of VAs who are packaging their services.
It’s solid because it helps you deliver massive value to the client, you’re boosting your own income (and making it more stable or reliable, especially if your package is a recurring monthly one), and you don’t have to fiddle with time trackers and whatnot.
For example, for blog maintenance you might have a base package that includes uploading, formatting, and scheduling up to X number of posts per month; a middle package that adds on image creation and comment moderation; and a top-tier package that includes things such as sharing the post on social media.
Let’s take another example. Let’s say you love tech and you’re into integrations. You can offer a landing page package, with level 1 being creation of the landing page itself, level 2 being connecting the related services (like email with tagging/segmenting, webinar software, a shopping cart, etc.), and level 3 building out the autoresponder series in the client’s email service provider.
Here’s How Other VAs Offer Packages
It’s one thing to talk about how to put together a package. It’s another thing entirely to see what some of your virtual assistant colleagues around the web are doing!
- Sierra Schmidt offers a few different packages for her Pinterest services, and leaves a nice window for flexibility and negotiation in her monthly on-going package.
- Danielle Beauchemin has retainer packages as well as tiered one-time and ongoing packages for her services and website setup.
- Mallory Harte Underwood offers three tiers of varying hours for her services packages.
One Last Tip for Developing Your Packages: Ask!
I’m a big fan of asking. I’ll regularly ask for feedback, for referrals, and for information.
You can use the principle of asking for what you want when it comes to your packages, too.
There are two basic ways to do this: ask your current clients what services are most valuable to them, and ask prospective clients what services they’re looking for.
For your current clients, you can just ask them over email or with a quick survey (again, keep this short). For prospects, the easiest thing you can do is set up a questionnaire on your website. It might go on your services page, your contact page, or even every page. In the questionnaire, let the prospect check off the services that they’d be most likely to hire someone for.
This will be really helpful for two reasons:
- You can use that information to create a custom package or proposal just for that prospect, which will not only be impressive, but ideal. No one wants to pay for stuff they don’t need, including VA services!
- You can keep that data and use it to develop future offerings. Track the responses you get to see what tasks get lumped together frequently, and there you go! You’ve got the basis for your next package right there.
Armed with that information, on top of everything else you now know about putting together great virtual assistant packages, you should be ready to roll out your next (or first!) great VA package in no time.