E39 How to Bill Clients as a Pinterest Virtual Assistant
On today’s episode, Annette is talking about Client Billing & an unbelievable Maple Syrup Heist! This will be helpful information if you have to bill clients for your work. If you haven’t listened to episode 35 with Mark the blog lawyer, it’s worth going back! He give LOTS of great legal advice when it comes to contracts. If you’re looking to HIRE a virtual assistant, then be sure to listen to Annette’s interview with Emily Perron in episode 31.
And don’t miss today’s Peculiar Pin—Maple Syrup Heist! The pin itself isn’t terribly interesting but the story behind it is fascinating—the largest maple syrup heist in history! Millions of dollars of maple syrup were stolen. And did you know a barrel of maple syrup is more valuable than a barrel of oil? It’s definitely worth checking out! You can find this and all our Peculiar Pins on our Peculiar Pins Board.
Billing clients is a vital part of any VA’s business, but that doesn’t make it easy. It can actually be a very stressful part of the job! Today we’ll dive into:
How to bill
When to bill
How to Set Your Prices
Many times, when someone starts a VA business they start asking around to see what others are charging. This is valuable to understand what market pricing is like, but there are some questions you should ask yourself when setting your own prices.
What can you afford to charge?
What’s your overhead?
What’s your profit?
Most (or all) of you, as VAs, are freelancers. This means you’ll pay taxes on your income (it won’t be automatically taken out like it would with an employer), which usually happens at the end of the year. Be sure to allow for this when you are setting your prices! A great rule of thumb is: whatever you would be paid as an employee to do the same work, double it as a freelancer. This is actually quite accurate in terms of what you should charge (remember, you’ll be the one to pay for those “employer costs” such as healthcare and taxes).
If that prices you out of the market, then see what you can adjust in terms of what you do, how you do it, streamlining, or adjusting what you offer.
There are many fantastic options for simple and convenient invoicing software. Some of the most popular include:
No matter what service you use, you’ll have to pay a merchant service fee. These amounts vary, so investigate different companies so you can get the best rates.
How Many Ways Should Clients Be Able to Pay?
This will depend on whether you’re selling a product or service (products generally need more options) and how you want to get paid. Annette uses PayPal and occasionally receives checks, but that’s about it. It’s really up to you and what works best for your clients.
Bill a Month Ahead
For contracted clients (who receive service every month), bill a month ahead. For example, you’d bill for service on September 1st for the work you’ll do in September. This avoids the problem of doing an entire month of work before getting paid. This is common practice (your cable company does the same thing), so simply train your clients to expect their invoices at the beginning of the month rather than the end.
PLEASE get all the contact information you need! You need to know who’s getting the bills and who to contact when there are billing issues. The client or business owner may not be the one actually paying the bills! Many people hire it out and it’s important for you to be able to contact everyone you need during the billing process.
Automate As Much As Possible
All the previously listed invoicing services offer automation—use it! This will simplify your life in a big way.
Get a Bookkeeper!
Unless you like it and/or you’re good at it and you don’t want to hire it out, I’d suggest hiring a bookkeeper. This is another great way to simplify (so you’ll like your business better!).
When Clients Don’t Pay
If you’re billing ahead and your clients don’t pay, then simply don’t do the work.
Sometimes clients just forget—people are busy and have a lot going on.
Reminder (10-15 days overdue)
Notice of service will cease (20 days overdue)
Notice of services cease (whatever day is specified in “will cease” letter)
Notice that to renew services will repeat onboarding costs
The most important thing to remember is to keep a high level of professionalism. It’s helpful to just pretend like you’re talking to a lawyer! This is a situation where the other party will likely use anything they can against you, so don’t give them anything to work with. Stick to the facts and what’s in the contract (and if you haven’t yet, go back and listen to the episode with Mark the blog lawyer). Contracts are there to manage expectations, so make sure your contracts are clear before you send them to clients to be signed. Legal action isn’t usually worth it unless the costs are high. And know that sometimes, unfortunately, you just have to let it go.
This is YOUR business and you have to be your own advocate. Help your clients pay you by having a smooth billing process (use a service!), have a clear contract so clients have correct expectations, have all the right information for your clients so the right person gets the bill, and automate everything you possibly can (make your life easy!), and have a system of reminders and notices to send when bills aren’t getting paid. Be willing to work with clients if they come to you with a concern about their bill.
Most of all, remember that it’s money. Things may get heated, but people are still people. Set your prices right and follow these steps to make your billing process as seamless as possible!
2:30 | Peculiar Pin
4:35 | Pricing
10:45 | Invoicing
14:18 | Contact Info
15:17 | Automating Invoicing
16:20 | When Clients Don’t Pay
20:25 | Billing Disputes
To see this episode’s and all the Peculiar Pins, check out our Peculiar Pins Board