56% of Americans had at least some experience with freelancing in 2020. That’s a staggering 36% of the overall population in the country. And as more people discover the appeal of working for yourself and getting to choose your clients, the percentage of people who forgo an office job for being more independent is bound to increase even more.
But despite the numerous perks of being a freelancer, the career path doesn’t come without its drawbacks. And perhaps the most stress-inducing challenge of freelancing is maintaining a steady income throughout the natural fluctuations that come with clients leaving.
The good news is that there’s an effective solution that can help you predict income much more accurately: the monthly retainer. If you can get clients to agree to a retainer partnership, you can be sure that they will pay you a set amount each month and can plan your income and workload accordingly.
But how can you get your clients to transfer to a monthly retainer plan? Let’s look at a few key steps below.
Send a Strong Proposal
If you want your clients to commit to working with you long-term, you have to be able to lay out a compelling argument for why it would be beneficial in their situation. And the best and most structured way of doing that is sending a well-crafted proposal that lays out your terms in an easy-to-understand and visually compelling way.
There are many proposal templates you can choose from, mixing and matching different elements until you put together something that fits your personal brand, the services you offer, and the client’s expectations.
By sending out a proposal, you can also get ahead of any misunderstandings and address all potential objections your client might have. That way, they can feel more secure about committing to a retainer since they know exactly what the agreement will entail.
Build and Nurture Lasting Relationships
Freelancing is a business. And just as any business, it’s built primarily on the types of relationships you can nurture and grow with your clients. That’s why it makes sense to put in the extra effort to ensure that you remain on the good side of your clients for as long as possible.
Part of that comes from delivering excellent quality services consistently, but smaller details can also have a big impact. For example, even a friendly gesture like sending holiday gift boxes with a personal note to your best clients can go a long way to ensuring that your relationship is more than just a business transaction.
Then, you can leverage that relationship into a more committed business arrangement as well, making it much easier to transfer to a monthly retainer plan when you can be sure that you’ll get a steady stream of work from the client for the foreseeable future.
Make Your Services Irreplaceable
Retainers are great for freelancers because they provide stability. But they can also be very lucrative to clients if they know that the services they’re getting are integral to success. That’s why providing top-tier services is an integral part of moving to more predictable partnership models with your clients.
After all, you need to have something valuable to offer if your clients will even consider taking on a retainer. And you need to be already working on a lot of projects that come with a predictable or measurable workload which you could use as part of the proposal.
Then, you can create a retainer plan that includes what you’re doing now, adds a few additional perks, and provides a good value in terms of cost. And that can be an appealing proposition that is hard to turn down, even if the client would have to commit to paying you a fixed amount.
If you’re working with entrepreneurs and business owners, they are very good at measuring the ROI of every dollar they spend. They simply have to be good at it, or their business would crumble, as it’s very easy for spending to get out of hand if you’re not carefully monitoring where the money is going.
Therefore, when you make a proposal to transfer to a monthly retainer, the first thing your clients will ask themselves is whether the return on investment they are getting justifies paying you that money each month. In other words, they will try to put into numbers how much value you create and what it means for your business.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a way to showcase your results and prove that your services enhance performance or make their lives easier. What’s more, you should be able to show how your services are hard to replicate and replace and how working with you is not just beneficial for the outcomes but for the time saved as well.
Booking a long list of retainer clients is a dream scenario for any freelancer. It enables better time management, a more stable income, and not having to worry if the next month is going to be as good as this one.
The steps listed above will help you develop lasting relationships with clients and increase the chances of them saying yes to your monthly retainer offer.