Lessons from a Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant who actually does the work:
Whether you’re just starting your side hustle as a virtual assistant, or you’ve been working online in digital marketing for a while, you need an efficient way to track the time that you work for your clients. A time tracking tool can be a helpful addition to your digital marketing business. Thankfully, there are quite a few options 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.
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Why Tracking Your Time is Important…
As a virtual assistant or Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant, there are two main ways you’ll usually bill your clients. Time tracking tools for virtual assistants can be helpful in both cases.
Flat Rate Pricing or “Packages”
Established VAs are more likely to offer a flat “package” price to clients, especially if you 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 upfront.
If this is you, using time tracking tools for virtual assistants can help you track how many hours you actually work to deliver each project and help you solidify your pricing models. In other words, you can make sure you are charging your client appropriately.
When you’re just getting started and don’t know exactly how long things will take, you can track your time using time tracking tools for virtual assistants and bill your client for the actual time you’ve worked for them. Additionally, many times a Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant does a lot of different tasks for a client, which can vary each month. In this case, it’s easier to use time tracking tools for virtual assistants 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 and time tracking tools for virtual assistants allow you to do just that!
Why You Need to Know the Hours…
Knowing the time it takes to do certain projects and tasks is valuable to YOU so you can eventually 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 using time tracking tools for virtual assistants 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. Using time tracking tools for virtual assistants can help you determine 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 helps them create budgets and forecast costs for 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 … using time tracking tools for virtual assistants and having documentation of your time 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 of the 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.
Here are 4 time tracking tools for virtual assistants:
Toggl is one of the most popular time tracking tools for virtual assistants, 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 the 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 include more ways to analyze and report your time worked for clients and with 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 built into the Asana platform. If you’re already using Asana with your clients this can be a great option! Of all the time tracking tools for virtual assistants, this one’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 free, easy, time tracking capabilities and you can upgrade to a paid plan for more features. Free or $12/month.
Clockify gets kudos from a lot of VAs for being one of the best completely free time tracking tools for virtual assistants. If you’re just starting out your digital marketing 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 one, MyHours, also offers a free plan that can get you started with your clients. They offer email support with their free plan which can be helpful to new users. If you sign up for the 30-day free trial of their premium plan, you have access to training on how to use their platform. Free or $6/month for the premium plan.
Other freelancers and virtual assistants in my FB community recommended the following other time tracking tools for virtual assistants:
- 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.
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Get the time tracking tool that works best for you
Time tracking tools for virtual assistants are like everything else – what works best for me as a unicorn digital marketing assistant might not be best for you. The basic features are similar for each of the tools. The differences are in the details.
Some digital marketing 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 time tracking tool 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 time tracking tools for virtual assistants. See which feels the most intuitive for you, and fits best with your work style.
Of course, once your digital marketing business is established and your client workload is booming, you might consider upgrading to a full-service CRM (Customer Relationship Management) program. These programs (i.e., Dubsado or Zoho) allow you to do everything from track your time to invoice your clients. Get the list of four recommended CRM services for VAs and see if it might be worth upgrading to one!
I hope this blog about time tracking tools for virtual assistants was helpful.
I hope to see you more in the online space!
-Emily, Digital Marketing Consultant and Implementer
“I help smart women learn the in-demand digital marketing strategies and profitable tech skills to get hired as a unicorn digital marketing assistant.“
3 ways we can work together:
1. Do you need to acquire digital marketing implementation skills and build your workflows so you can solidly put yourself out there for work? Check out the Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant School. (It opens twice a year so jump on the waitlist now!… I also share job leads with my students so it’s a gateway for anyone who wants to build a freelance business that gives them flexibility and meaningful work).
2. Already doing the work and have clients? But need more clients and a better referral network? Apply for my Digital Marketing Workgroup. This is a tight-knit community of freelancers like you, supporting each other. Plus I’ve shared 1,500+ job opportunities with this community.
3. Need to hire a Unicorn Digital Marketing Assistant? Submit your job opportunity here. I’ll share with my workgroups totally free.
Yes, you really can work online.
Feeling overwhelmed and not sure how you can work from home and build your own online digital marketing business? Take a deep breath – you can do this. Start here with 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.