Our turn to tackle this old pickle! – many freelancers have challenged this question over time. What may seem an impossible dream for freelancers starting out – getting your clients onto a retainer is actually not that hard to achieve.

Not every client will want or need a retainer and you don’t want to waste your time when your client agrees to 1 hour per month retainer. Client Retainers are usually 6-12-month agreements which may seem like a challenge and they have been paying you per hour so far so whats the big deal?

So how do I actually offer it to my clients?

It’s not an impossible task and can be achieved very easily – you will notice the rewards when you don’t have to chase payment each month. Try these 5 Steps below:

Build Trust.

No business is going to just pay for a retainer because their freelancer said so. You need to build serious trust as one of the first steps, showing them you are a legit business and not someone working form a bedroom – even if you are! Meet them in person or make yourself available to meet them. Show them your experience, previous clients, reviews and testimonials.

Create a Retainer Package based on their needs.

Client don’t want any waste especially with a retainer – Create a package based on their real requirements and what you help out with all the time, more importantly – what you will do when there is nothing to do! You will know the company and the personalities. Really personalise the retainer to suit their exact requirements and it will show that you understand their needs and objectives and not taking the piss.

Offer a (small %) Discount.

A lot of freelancers offer a % discount on a retainer purchase, for 100 hours, they will get 110 hours or you can offer some extras that won’t cost you more than your time – monthly reviews, meeting to discuss new trends, reporting, box of chocolates.

Make yourself one of the Team.

Become Indispensable – Use language in emails, phone calls, onsite meetings like you are one of the team – build deep and friendly relations with staff and managers. Introduce yourself to the directors and add you face to your name – don’t become known as “The Web Guy/Girl”  Join in on any banter and camaraderie within the organisation but at a safe(sane) distance, you don’t want to get embroiled in any company politics! Keep yourself updated with any company news and developments including the hiring and firing of staff.

Make your Client feel like your only Client.

Important Clients get Important treatment for a reason, they have money – and your retainer client who is entrusting you  should be no different, roll out the red carpet – tell them they will be the priority customer and any requests answered within a certain time frame, ahead of the rest. Offer a direct line of contact for any problems, monthly reviews and onsite meetings. Make them feel like they have nothing to worry about and they can trust you.

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