Good question. We don't! We need to trust, communicate and see how it goes. Hopefully the content below will help you to get a real feel for what it's like working with me, and I've shared some genuine testimonials across the site.
My client agreement allows us both to exit the relationship with ease, so please don't think you're going to be tied into a rigid trap if things don't work out. I have only parted ways intentionally with 2 people since 2018 so I am confident that everything's going to be OK!
We're probably a good fit if:
You're a coach or therapist based in Ireland or the UK
You follow your vocation to help people
You love your work but it doesn't take over your life - you appreciate a great work/life balance (or aspire to make it even better by getting some help!)
You're ready and willing to delegate tasks
You have a clear plan of action (perhaps you're working with a coach?)
You're pretty organised
You have a good grasp of online working
You have a budget for support
You need help with email marketing and other 'techie bits' like your website
If you're nodding your head, do go ahead and book a call
We're probably not a good fit if:
You need someone to do lots of admin, diary/inbox management or social media tasks (sounds like you need a PA!)
You find it hard to trust, share or to allow someone else to do things for you
You need to be in control and check everything in minute detail
You're quick to temper and to blame people
You expect things to be done immediately
You want someone at your constant 'beck and call'
You jump around with no clear plan and often change your mind about what you're doing
If this is you, then I don't think we'll work well together.
What is a VA?
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a business owner who works remotely, online, and who provides support to other business owners. They usually work from home but they can work pretty much anywhere with a wifi connection.
How do we start working together?
If after our initial call we both agree we'd like to work together, I will send you a proposal outlining the elements of the project and my fee. You are welcome to take your time to read everything, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Once you are happy with the proposal, I drop it into our Client Agreement and send it to you by email with the initial invoice. All documents will be stored in your Client Portal which you can access at any time.
When you have signed the contract and paid the initial invoice I will advise on what I need from you to get started. Generally, you will set the scope of the work and I will plan out how the work is completed. We will agree on any deadlines.
It is important to spend time at the beginning of a project to agree exactly what you need, though I respect that a degree of flexibility is needed because things change.
Read my article on how to work with a freelancer or VA
How long do I have to sign up for?
I mostly do project work so we'll work together for as long as the project takes to complete and come back again if you need more support. For example, we might work together for a couple of weeks or months on your new website, then you might come back six months later for some email marketing or content support. Once you've been 'set up', you can come and go as often as you need my services. I love this way of working!
I do sometimes offer a monthly 'retainer' if you need ongoing support with regular tasks, for example, sending a weekly newsletter or uploading a regular blog post.
How do we keep in touch once we've started working together?
The best method of contact is via email, so that we both have a clear trail of what we've said. WhatsApp is also useful if you want to leave a quick message or a voicemail. A phone call or video call via Zoom can be scheduled for a mutually agreed time as and when required.
I aim to return calls and emails within 24 hours of receipt during normal business days (Monday – Friday). I am not usually contactable before 9.30am, after 6pm or on Saturdays, Sundays or Bank Holidays.
Is my work private and confidential?
Yes - this is very important to me. What is discussed is entirely confidential and any information collected remains the property of you, the client. No information will ever be passed on to a third party under any circumstances.
All documentation sent to me will be returned if required, upon completion and receipt of final payment. All login details, passwords etc are securely destroyed once our project is completed.
I am registered with the Information Commissioner's Office.
Are you insured?
Yes, I have £1million professional indemnity insurance underwritten by Hiscox via Policy Bee.
How much do you charge?
My hourly rate is £35. My time is charged at 15 minute increments. The minimum charge is £8.75 which is the quarter-hourly rate. I charge £45 per hour for Express tasks with less than two working days' notice.
How did you set your rates?
The average hourly rate in the UK for an 'admin' VA is £25. My services are more technical, so I charge £35 per hour which is the industry standard for the kind of work that I do for my clients. I bring over 20 years' experience and leading industry training to the table. You’re actually saving money by working with me rather than an employee; you don't need to pay for training, hardware, software, insurance, holiday/sick pay, pensions, nor do you have to worry about red tape, office gossip, hassle over timesheets, or whether my chair is comfortable enough. You’re not just saving money, but stress and hassle too.
How do I pay you?
I will send an electronic invoice via email. My preferred method of payment is by bank transfer, and you also have the option to pay by debit or credit card.
Payment terms are strictly upon receipt of invoice, unless otherwise set out in our agreement. Invoices are itemised and any additional charges will be charged to you.
If an invoice becomes overdue, unfortunately I won’t be able to carry out any more work for you until it is paid.
Urgent 'out of the blue' tasks with less than two working days' notice will be charged at an Express rate of £45 per hour and invoiced separately. Amounts are billed in United Kingdom sterling (GBP). The client is liable for any additional transfer fees when making an overseas payment.
Will prices go up?
I review my prices annually and will give you plenty of notice if rates go up (for example, due to inflation or other business costs).
Do you do discounts, 'mates rates' or skills swaps?
No. My hourly rate is £35 or £45 for Express tasks.
Do you charge for travel time?
Yes - I charge at the standard rate of 45p per mile. Travel time to meetings etc. away from my office will be classed as ‘additional’ and itemised on the invoice. Nowadays a call or video meeting is preferable to most clients, unless you live locally.
How and when do you work?
‘Normal’ office hours do not generally apply to me because I work flexible hours around other work (I also manage a small charity) and commitments.
I tend to do the bulk of my VA work on Thursdays, Fridays and occasional evenings, depending on what I have going on.
I am able to work in any location conducive to providing the service(s), though I usually work from home.
What about holidays?
I aim to give you at least 2 weeks’ notice if I will be unavailable whilst on holiday but reserve the right to take holidays at short / no notice (because things crop up!) I observe all United Kingdom national public holidays, including bank holidays, Good Friday, Easter and Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. During school holidays, availability may vary due to family commitments.
Please let me know if you are planning to go on holiday so I can plan my schedule accordingly and make sure I have everything I need from you before you go - I want you to be able to switch off and have a proper break!
What about illness?
Fortunately I am seldom ill but if this occurs I will let you know if I am unable to work and we can agree on a plan.
How is work planned and managed?
Depending on the project, I sometimes use software called Trello to plan and schedule tasks. If appropriate, I'll set up a new board for you when you become a client. I am happy to share your board with you and if you need help I will send you a demo video on how Trello works (it's fab!).
I use Google Workspace for my files, email and documents, so I can share project plans, documents and files via a shared folder.
I use Dubsado for client management and invoicing. You'll be given access to your Client Portal where all of your on-boarding documents (proposals, contracts etc.) and invoices are stored and you can access them at any time.
These are my preferred methods of organising my work, but I am happy to consider using whatever system(s) you use. If you insist that we use your system and I am not familiar with it, I may charge you for any training required to get up to speed.
How is work tracked and recorded?
When working with retainer clients, I use an old-fashioned but perfectly accurate method - pen and paper. I'll note the date and times when I start and stop work, and round up or down to the nearest fifteen minute increment.
If I sign up for a monthly retainer, how will I know when my hours are used up?
Hours used are shared with you as and when required. I will let you know if hours are close to being used up in a given month. Or we can agree on a certain date, for example, half way through the month, for me to give you an update.
Do unused hours get carried forward?
No - hours not used in a calendar month do not roll forward to the next month.
Do you need any supervision?
Absolutely not. You’re working with someone who doesn’t require any supervision. I'm competent and experienced in the services I'm offering. I'm not an employee, I'm a business owner just like you.
Are you working exclusively for me?
No and I would like to manage your expectations. I am likely to have other clients and commitments.
How do you manage deadlines?
I expect us to agree on realistic deadlines when we agree on the initial proposal. I plan my time as efficiently as possible and schedule tasks to agreed deadlines, allowing time for final changes and approval.
What if my deadline needs to change?
I work with many clients and need to efficiently manage my workload and plans, so please tell me as soon as you think your deadline will need to change.
Sometimes, a client will sign up but is unable to provide the things I need for the work to commence. This sometimes happens with new web design projects (usually because of a delay in getting the copy together.) If your project has not started or is held up due to a lack of action on your part within three months of the date on your Client Agreement, at my discretion, the initial invoice may be non-refundable, and I reserve the right to cancel the project.
I have an urgent task that's just cropped up - can you help?
I will if I can! I respectfully request that you have realistic expectations on turnaround time, but if I can fit you in, I will. If you've given me less than 2 working days' notice, I will charge my Express Rate of £45 per hour.
Can I see your qualifications?
Any time you like! I have a list of the qualifications I have and I'm happy to share dates and certificates etc. with you. No one has ever asked about this but I thought it was important to include it.
How did you decide which services to offer?
It's simple - they are in demand, and I enjoy them. Services that I don't currently offer are:
I can turn my hand to most things…I've been in business since 2018 and when I started I offered everything to everyone! Now, I believe that it is important to do fewer things well, and to enjoy the services I offer.
Do you offer bespoke services?
If you need a service that I don't currently offer, please still ask me, because I refine and change my services each year to make sure I'm up to date with what you need, to keep my skills fresh, and I love learning!
I'm also connected with hundreds of professional VA's and freelancers in all kinds of areas, so if I can't help you, I can probably put you in touch with someone who can.
If you have any other questions, just ask!
What makes you unique or different?
My niche is supporting ‘people who help people.’
This taps into my experience of therapies, self development and growth. I love working with coaches, therapists and healers.
There's always more to learn, so I take new and refresher training when I need it, so you benefit from my learning and skills.
I walk my talk - my services are all things I need and perform in my own business.
I understand the industry. I'm a former holistic therapist and still practice on myself, friends and family. I created some antiviral aromatherapy products during the pandemic (no one in my family got sick!) and I often create potions and aromatherapy blends for my diffuser, bath and massage oils.
I'm happy to pay for coaching and therapy when I need it; I enjoy a monthly aromatherapy massage, and I've had one to one coaching, talking therapy, transactional analysis (fascinating!) and grief counselling.
I enjoy a two-way relationship with my clients. I am lucky to work with many different types of coaches and therapists and they all have one thing in common - to help other people. I absorb their wisdom and advice and in turn, I help them with the tech and marketing advice and solutions they need to bring their important work to a wider audience.