Retainers are a popular strategy for working with freelance marketing talent. Here’s what you need to know.
Many companies pay freelance talent, like writers or designers, by the hour or by the project. Each of these models has its advantages. But if you find yourself regularly relying on a freelancer each month, putting him or her on a retainer can offer significant advantages. Retainers typically are a set fee that’s paid to a freelancer on a monthly basis in exchange for a set number of hours or his or her ongoing availability. Here’s a closer look at why a retainer might work to your advantage and how to structure one. Reserving time: One of the biggest benefits to paying a retainer is ensuring that your desired talent is available when you need them. If you rely on their availability for one-off projects, they may or may not be available when you need them most. When outside talent is essential to getting your work done, reserving that person’s time will ensure that you have what you need—when you need it.
Create a contract: Do you have a contract with your freelancers? If not, it may be time to consider rolling one out. Basic contracts outline the terms of doing business, what’s expected on both sides, and how much you’ll pay. For a retainer, be clear about the scope of work. For example, your scope of work might include a certain number of projects completed per month or hours dedicated to your brand. Be clear about your expectations and what steps you’ll take if a project isn’t delivered to standard or to deadline.
Do periodic check-ins: Retainers can have a different set of parameters than one-off projects, which are clearly completed—or not. Regularly check in with your freelancer to see how he or she is doing. It’s also helpful to take stock of your own projects and workload to ensure you’re getting maximum value for your investment and that everything you expect to get done is being completed. Especially early on in the relationship, take time to give clear feedback so you can get into a rhythm that prioritizes a healthy working relationship moving forward.
Consider the freelancer’s perspective: When you’re developing a retainer agreement, many marketing managers are focused on maximizing their value and return. While this makes sense, it’s important to consider the relationship from the freelancer’s perspective. Are you asking for things that are reasonable within the context of the relationship? Have you provided fair compensation? Ask how he or she is doing and whether you can help provide him or her with a better experience working with your company.
Having essential freelancers on retainer is a great way to get the marketing talent your organization needs without taking on additional overhead. Take the steps today to ensure you have the support you need while providing the best possible experience for your freelance partners and team.