I've had over 20 sites negatively affected by the Penguin, so to recover them myself would take ages even if it is possible. I was at a $2000/month level before I got hit by Penguin so im prepared to pay decent money to recover them.
I've never used any paid backlinking services, but I got hit so oddly getting penalized is making me considering paid links for the first time ever. Way to go Google.
Would it be best to hire an SEO VA who can build backlinks gradually or do you think a service which builds links on a one-off basis such as backlink packages would be better suited?
There is all sorts of SEO companies promising the earth so I know you need to be careful about which one to hire especially as backlinks can even cause harm to sites now due to Google's misguided attempt to combatting webspam.