Benefits of a Graphic Designer retainer

Happy business people shaking hands after striking deal

Happy client and designer people shaking hands after striking a retainer deal











A retainer is a fee paid for a pre-determined amount of time or work. Most commonly the retainer is paid up-front at the beginning of the month to retain design services for that month.
A retainer benefits both the designer and the client…

Benefits of a Retainer for the Client

•    Guaranteed amount of work, often given priority over other non-retainer clients.
•    Can usually ask for and get a discounted rate compared to normal fees (hourly or per-project).
•    Simplified accounting, paying a set amount each week or month for the duration of the retainer contract.
•    Establishes a long-term relationship with a designer, avoiding the need to continually interview and brief a new designer or design team for each project that comes up.
•    Other benefits can include discount on print products, which over the course of a year can save the client a lot of money.

For the client, a retainer guarantees that a graphic designer will provide a certain amount of work, and potentially prioritise that work. With freelancers often pushed and pulled in many directions, it gives the client consistent hours from a designer. In addition, clients will often get a discount on the designer’s normal hourly rate. Since the client is pre-paying and guaranteeing a certain amount of work, a discount is often given in return.

Benefits of a Retainer for the Graphic Designer

•    Guaranteed regular income over the course of the retainer contract.
•    Specific amount of work for the fee agreed upon in advance.

For a graphic designer, a retainer is a safety net, a guaranteed amount of income over time. For this reason, it is recommended to always have a contract spelling out the terms of the agreement. With much of a Designers income often being based on ad-hoc projects, a retainer is an opportunity to know how much money will be made from a particular client, significantly improving cash-flow.

Common Retainer Arrangement

The most common retainer agreement is monthly whereby the designer is paid a monthly fee in advance for a certain numbers of hours worked. The designer tracks hours and bills the client for work beyond the amount agreed upon, either at the same discount or a full rate. If the designer works less than the agreed amount, that time can be rolled over or lost.

No matter what the specifics of the arrangement are, a retainer is often a great way to guarantee some ongoing income, while often giving the client a discount and establishing a long-term relationship.


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