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.
Would you like to discuss a potential retainer agreement with us? If so please email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the quote form below.