Five FAQS About Retainer Agreements

This week we’ve taken a look at the benefits of retainer agreements and three freelance writing opportunities that are ideally suited to setting up retainer agreements with your clients.

Today I’m going to answer five frequently asked questions that you may have about them …

  1. Should I talk about retainer agreements with every client?

    If you’re Jacksonville copywriter Cindy Cyr, you approach EVERY qualified client you come in contact with …

    “Every time I’m in a conversation with a client, I ask them if they’re interested in a retainer agreement. I give them three options: a 12-month agreement, a six-month agreement and what I call ‘A la carte,’ which is basically full price,” Cindy says.

    On the flip side, now in-house AWAI copywriter Jen Adams would generally work with a company for about three months to make sure they were a good fit for each other before asking them if they’d be interested in a retainer agreement.

    When you ask is up to you. But make sure you ask.

  2. Does it make sense to set up a retainer agreement for one article or blog post per month?

    It depends on your workload, but generally the answer is “yes.” Cindy has done retainer agreements for as little at $200 or $300 a month. While extra money is always welcome, Cindy says the big advantage is that, because you’re in an officially established relationship with your client, “they always come back to you with requests for additional copy throughout the year.”

  3. What happens if your client asks (or expects) you to do more work than the amount agreed to in your retainer agreement?

    Should this happen, there are two main options you can present your client with: 1) Carry the additional work over to the next month’s total; or 2) Charge them an additional fee.

    The key is to have this discussion up front. Agree on how they want to handle it and establish pricing for individual projects. This eliminates any gray areas or confusion later on.

  4. How do I market a retainer agreement to a client?

    Don’t market a retainer agreement solely as a way for your client to get a discount on your services.

    Stress the importance of having a writer and strategist who knows their products, services, and target audience inside and out. Someone who knows how they operate, who can quickly turn projects around, and who will also be able to offer strategy, tips and techniques that will make their business more successful.

    And then mention that, “yes, it will save you money, as well.”

  5. How much flexibility should I give my client?

    Cindy Cyr offers her clients a 90-day trial period, where they can get to know each other to make sure they’re a good fit. If they decide to cancel, they still get any agreed-upon discounts.

    If they wish to cancel, Portland-based copywriter Rachel Karl requires 30 days’ notice from her clients. She attributes the fact that few of her clients have cancelled in part to the easy-going terms she offers.

    So, it’s up to you, but being flexible seems to make good business sense.

I hope you found this week helpful. The next step is yours.

But, regardless of where you are in your freelance writing career, I highly recommend setting up some retainer deals for yourself. They’ll give your business some stability and allow you to rest easy month after month.

And remember, if you have any questions, I’m here to help. Simply post them here and I’ll be sure to get back to you.

Have a wonderful weekend!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: April 18, 2014

5 Responses to “Five FAQS About Retainer Agreements”

  1. Hi,

    I am still new to copywriting and haven't had any clients yet. So excuse the naivety of this question. It is concerned with putting the copy (that we write) on our client's website etc. Does the client do that final step, or does the copywriter do it? I've assumed that we just E-mail the copy on a PDF, but it just occurred to me I need to have that clarified.


    Guest (Lee)

  2. Do you also have a sample Retainer Agreement with all the basic terms and conditions for guideline or reference?


  3. Where do you find this type of work?

    Guest (Denise M)

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