Retainer arrangements for creative services are not new, but they’re also not very common for freelancers and small firms — and they should be. It’s one sure way to instill a sense of stability in what is otherwise a bit of a roller coaster ride when it comes to income, time management and workload.
Retainer arrangements are committed relationships and they shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Plus they’re not right for every client. So you have to be intentional and choosy about whom you pursue – but they tend not to fall in your lap, so you do have to actively pursue them.
- They evolve out of an existing relationship where the work is fairly consistent and the working relationship is a healthy one. This is most common. So look at your current clients to see which ones are primed to be transformed into a more stable arrangement. Then approach them about it. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation. (If you’re not sure what to say, take advantage of my free session and we’ll brainstorm it together.)
- They are pursued strategically. What type of work that you do is characteristically ongoing and regular? Once you’ve identified that type of work, you can go get it. For example, a retainer is not likely to evolve out of a simple web site refresh, unless that web site is part of a larger campaign or rebranding. On the other hand, content marketing is good fodder for retainer work because it has to be done regularly, like a monthly newsletter or annual sustainability report.
What other types of projects are conducive to retainer arrangements? Share what you’ve noticed or learned in the comments.
And here’s another podcast on the topic of retainers with a small firm that positions itself as a company’s “virtual marketing department” – which is perfect for retainers.
* Win win image, courtesy, Shutterstock.