“Is this a blip or the beginning of the end?”

That’s what Tiffany Estes, of Whole Brain Creative, said to me last year during a particularly quiet month in her business. The anxiety that accompanies the inherent unpredictability of being self employed is inevitable for most of us, unless we decide to put some stability in place.

Tiffany made that decision last year. She wanted less anxiety and more stability in her workflow (and cash flow) so she’s been proposing retainer arrangements to selected clients with whom she has strong relationships. (This is one of 2 ways to secure retainers that I wrote about recently.)

It’s been 6 weeks since she made that decision and, so far, her results are promising: two of her clients are on board, 1 is in negotiation, she has proposals to write for 2 more and one full week per month is covered. If they all agree, the majority of her monthly income requirement will be covered by retainers, which means she can be more selective about what she takes on for the rest of each month.  Shutterstock_64028809

In this podcast, Tiffany walks us through her step-by-step process:

  • Looking at her numbers to determine which clients are qualified
  • Deciding which clients to approach (and what criteria she used to decide)
  • How she approached them and explained the mutual benefits
  • How she is structuring the agreements (i.e. case by case) re: hours and fees/rates, etc.

Retainer arrangements not only improve your cash flow. For certain types of clients, they can also position you as a strategic partner rather than a pair of hands. This leads to a more value-based structure for the retainer arrangement. In the podcast, she explains how she thinks about that and how she plans to propose that to clients.

So if you want more stability in your work-life, listen to how Tiffany approached her clients about a retainer arrangement…and see if it would work for you. And if you need help, let me know.

Here are a couple resources if you’re interested in pursuing retainers.

 * Cash flow image, courtesy, Shutterstock.