Lessons from a Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant who actually does the work:
Whether you’re just starting your side hustle as a VA, or you’ve been working online in digital media for a while, you need an efficient way to track the time that you work for your clients. Thankfully, there are quite a few apps and tools out there that make it easy to track your work so that you are charging your clients correctly. In this post, I’ll share four popular time tracking tools for virtual assistants.
Why Tracking Your Time is Important…
As a virtual assistant, there are two main ways that you will usually bill your clients. Most likely, you will either charge a single “package” price plan, or you will track your task hours and bill your client for the actual time you’ve worked for them.
Established VAs sometimes offer a flat “package” price to clients, especially if they are offering a specialized service or one-time project. For example, $xxx/month to manage a client’s Instagram account, or a single charge of $xxx to set up a new Pinterest account, with pin templates, etc. Everything is included in this single charge that the client agrees to pay up front.
Why You Need to Know the Hours…
Many times, though, a unicorn digital marketing assistant does a lot of different tasks for a client, which can vary each month. So it is easier to track your time and bill your client per hour for the actual work that you’re doing.
This is especially true if you are very involved in your client’s business from a lot of different angles. One day you might spend several hours setting up for their course launch, and another day you might spend the entire morning planning out content for their social media. You need to be flexible.
Knowing the time it takes to do certain projects and tasks is valuable to YOU so you can prepare yourself to move away from hourly rates and into project pricing.
This is especially important if you’re new to the freelance business, or are just establishing yourself with new clients, there can be a lot of unknowns. Tracking your actual time makes it fair for both of you – a win-win.
In fact, even if you offer “package plans” to your clients, you should track your time for your own benefit. That way, you have the data you need to find out how much time you’re actually spending on each client. Then you’ll know if you’re not charging enough for the package (or maybe you’re even charging too much!). You can calculate how much you’re really getting paid per hour and decide if it is worth it. Nothing is more frustrating than offering a service for a flat fee and later realizing that you’re actually spending way too much time on those tasks for the price.
It’s also valuable for your clients to be able to estimate monthly expenses. It’s helps them create budgets and forecast costs with their dream projects. You’re doing your clients a disservice if you’re not sure how long projects and tasks take. Especially if they are in growth mode and going to hire additional teammates.
And watch out for this….
Heaven forbid you get a client who doesn’t trust you or questions your work ethic, what you’ve accomplished and wants to see a rundown of your completed tasks, you’ll have documentation of your time that will come to your aide. I’ve seen it happen.
It’s also a trust-building tactic to account and report your work.
At the same time, you are an independent contractor and NOT an employee, so keep this in mind at the end oft he month when you’re deciding what to deliver to your client.
I highly suggest using a contract to protect yourself and your scope of work, you can download my free contract checklist here.
Podcast Alert: Let’s talk different freelance pricing models for your business
So here are the time tracking software for virtual assistants:
Toggl is one of the most popular time tracking apps for VAs, and for good reason. It offers a free plan that covers all of your basic time-tracking needs, such as designating projects by client and recording type of task for each timed activity. You can access your account from the web browser, or download their app onto your mobile device. You can track in real time (marking when you start and stop), or go back and manually enter times. And for less than $20/month, you can upgrade to one of their premium plans which includes more ways to analyze your workload and report your time with clients and team members. Free for the basic plan, $10/month for the starter plan.,
Are you familiar with Asana? It’s a project management tool that makes it easy to collaborate with team members and plan work tasks with your clients. Well, Harvest is a time tracking program that is built into the Asana platform. So that can make it easier to track your time if you’re already using Asana with your clients. And it’s built for collaborating, so it can be helpful if you’re tracking your time along with others on the same project. It also offers easy time tracking capabilities for free, with the ability to upgrade to paid plans. Free or $12/month
Clockify gets kudos from a lot of VAs for being one of the best options for a completely free plan. If you’re just starting out your digital media business, and want to keep your expenses low, this tool can give you the option to track an unlimited number of clients and projects for free, without upgrading. It’s simple and covers all of the basics that you should need.
Another popular service, MyHours also offers a free plan that can get you started with your clients. Even their premium paid plan is 6/month. They offer email support with their free plan, which can be helpful to new users. They also offer training included with their 30-day free trial of their premium plan.
Other freelancers and virtual assistants in my FB community recommended:
- Rescue Time
- Top Tracker
And don’t forget you can expense that time-tracking app or program!
Check out more of my top tools and resources for digital marketing assistants here.
The Takeaway: Get the time tracking tool that works best for you
Time tracking apps are like everything else – what works best for me as a VA might not be best for you. The basic features are similar for each program. The differences are in the details.
Some virtual assistants are very visual, and need a clean, interactive interface. Others prefer more options and lots of data on their screen at any given moment. Maybe you want all the bells and whistles and are willing to pay a bit extra for it. Or maybe you just need a very simple, basic, free app that’s just a step up from your Excel spreadsheet.
The best thing you can do is take advantage of the free plans and trials, and play around with several different options. See which one feels the most intuitive for you, and fits best with your work style.
Of course, once your VA business is established and your client workload is booming, you might consider upgrading to a full-service CRM (Customer Relationship Managment) program. These are programs, like Dubsado and Zoho, that allow you to do everything from tracking your time to invoicing your clients. Get the list of four recommended CRM services for VAs and see if it might be worth upgrading to one!
10 Different Tasks & Services That You Could Be Tracking in Your App… and getting paid for!
One of the biggest benefits of tracking your time with these tools is that you can also see what tasks you were working on for each client. Which can be pretty eye-opening to see where you spend all your time, especially if you’re feeling stuck in a rut. Curious about what other services you could be charging clients for each month? Check out my list of 10 popular tasks that online businesses need help with the most!
These are the tasks that new clients are constantly asking for help with, and skills that they really need to find in a virtual assistant. Get access to this free download right now. Then make sure your own VA toolkit is up-to-date and relevant, and decide where you might need to invest in new growth and development for your biz.
I hope this blog about time tracking software for virtual assistants was helpful.
I hope to see you more in the online space!
-Emily, Digital Marketing Consultant and Implementer
4 Ways we can work together
1. Do you need to acquire digital marketing implementation skills? Check out the Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School. (It opens twice a year so jump on the waitlist)
2. Already doing the work and have clients? But need more clients and a better a referral network? Apply for my Digital Marketing Workgroup.
3. Maybe you don’t need to learn the hard skills but need help setting up your independent contractor business? Don’t spend $1300 on a “typical start-your-VA business-course.” Learn the quick steps in my Freelance Biz Kickstarter only $297. Inside you’ll get a contract to use with your social media clients and services. 4. Need to hire a Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant? Submit your job opportunity here. I’ll share with my workgroups totally free.
4. Need to hire a Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant? Submit your job opportunity here. I’ll share with my workgroups totally free.
“I WILL MAKE AN ARMY OF VAS WHO CAN HELP THESE TRIBE PEOPLE!!!”
I have a Facebook community for digital marketing assistants, come join us here!