What is a creative services retainer?

When one of my clients first asked if I’d be open to working on a retainer basis I had no clue what a retainer was. It turned out to be a win-win situation and we’ve had one in place for over five years.

A creative services retainer is an agreement you make with your designer (or other service provider) to hold blocks of time in their schedule for your project needs. It’s usually on a monthly basis.

Basically, you are pre-ordering and reserving time in a service provider’s schedule. (It’s called a retainer cause you are “retaining” their time. )


Who is it for?

A retainer is the perfect solution for any business that doesn’t have quite enough work for an official employee but has ongoing projects. It can be especially useful if you have seasonal peaks in your year (like events).


Benefits of a retainer:

  • you have someone to handle those time-sucking routine maintenance tasks (like your website)
  • instant access to a reliable person for when those last-minute jobs come up
  • fast turnaround time on repeat work like social media graphics or ads
  • access to an expert to ask questions or help plan projects
  • lower hourly rate
  • less paperwork for you
  • less back and forth communication frees up your time for all of the other zillion things you need to do for your event
  • you get someone who really knows and cares about you and your event


How does it work?

Everyone sets their’s up a little differently. My retainers start at a minimum of 6-months. Because I love small businesses and events the number of monthly hours available is between 5-30 hours per month. You pre-pay the month before to secure your time for the next month. At the beginning of the month we go over upcoming projects and deadlines. Random things come up, of course, but it’s never been a huge problem.


I love having retainer clients cause it puts me deeper into the work and we have closer relationships. I wish I would have thought of doing it sooner!


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