The Beginner's Guide to Retainer Projects

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One of my favorite things about running my design business is working on a range of projects with a variety of businesses.

However, as freelancers - we're often hustling to book that next project and land a new client.

One strategy to expand your monthly income is by setting up retainer contracts with your existing clients.

It’s much easier to work with existing clients than on-boarding new ones. Your clients are familiar with your project management system, they know your “boundaries” (your working hours, how to contact you, etc).

It’s also a win for your clients! Since you’re familiar with their brand and business inside and out.

If you’re a designer 🙋, you’ll know their identity guidelines or if you’re a copyrighter, you know their tone and messaging.

So, how do you go from one time projects to booking the same client month to month?

Whatever you offer as a freelancer, I'm SURE that you can package up your skills that businesses need each month.

  • If you're a copywriter, there's SO MUCH content that folks need each month. From blogs to newsletters to social media posts - a range of businesses (and their SEO strategy) can benefit from hiring you to write a number of posts per month.
  • Are you good with tech and systems? You can offer ongoing virtual assistance to established bloggers and entrepreneurs to setup landing pages, sales pages, email automations, etc.
  • If you're a designer, you don't have to send clients on their way after designing a brand and website. Businesses need graphics for social media, blogs, website updates not to mention the eBooks and case studies many companies put out each month. If you have web design or brand design skills, I'm 100% sure you can translate them into marketing design.

Structuring Retainer Packages

You can do packages in a few ways.

One strategy is to offer a number of hours. This can be straightforward for clients.

In my experience this works best for companies who have a larger budget to work with. Then you can send over weekly or monthly reports with what you spent your time on.

Or you can offer a "project" package. This works best for smaller businesses or bloggers. For example, you could setup a retainer for a blogger where you design the following on a monthly basis:

  • 4 blog graphics
  • 4 corresponding facebook ads
  • Monthly newsletter
  • 1 content upgrade (mini PDF)

 

A few other ideas to think about while setting up retainers:

  • Start out with a 1 month trial basis so clients can see how it works, then book in 3-6 months in advance.
  • Offer a % discount for however many months they book in advance!
  • Setup a regular meeting schedule to touch base and review upcoming/current projects.
  • Send over a “monthly report” outlining what you did.

 

This is a great way to relieve that “feast or famine” feeling as a freelancer and guarantee yourself consistent work each month!



Becky Kinkead is a designer focused on sharing easy to follow, step by step design, business and marketing advice to help you take your business to the next level. On the blog, you’ll find a variety of topics that help you succeed in online business, such as website design, branding, social media strategies, email marketing, blogging, business and online marketing.

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