A freelance retainer agreement is a legally binding contract between a freelancer and their client. It outlines the scope of work, pay rate, and payment terms for professional services to be rendered.
Some freelance retainers cover a single project, while others establish a periodic payment for a certain number of hours or tasks on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.
Retainer agreements may continue indefinitely, while others have a set end date or time period. Freelancers and clients benefit from a stable retainer agreement, which allows freelancers to secure a regular income while clients enjoy dedicated services from a reliable contractor.
When To Use
A freelance retainer agreement works best for freelancers providing long-term services on a per-project basis. Unlike a freelance contract agreement, which relies on an hourly rate, a retainer agreement allows the freelancer to charge for specific services, tailoring the contract and scope of work to the client’s needs.
What Is a Freelance Retainer Fee?
A freelance retainer fee is a price paid in advance by the client to secure the freelancer’s professional services. The retainer covers specific services at an agreed rate for a set time period. A freelance retainer fee provides stability for both the freelancer and the client.
What Does the Fee Cover?
A freelance retainer fee covers the services outlined in the retainer agreement. A clear scope of work is critical to ensure a good working relationship between the freelancer and the client. You may also benefit from including a fee schedule for additional services that clients may request outside the contract’s scope.
By clearly establishing the services covered and rate calculations, you can prevent misunderstandings or legal issues that could compromise your business relationship.
Clients who work on a retainer basis enjoy easy access to professional services from a freelancer with whom they are familiar and comfortable. Freelancers also benefit from retainer agreements in the following ways:
Improved Financial Security
Freelance work can be inconsistent. A retainer agreement guarantees the freelancer a certain amount of income for services provided, which reduces the financial insecurity common in the field.
A retainer agreement for freelance services also allows freelancers to set specific rates based on the project or services provided rather than depending on an hourly rate that may not cover the required work.
Better Client Relationships
A retainer agreement helps build a stable working relationship between the freelancer and their client. The client receives consistent, reliable work from a dedicated freelance service provider. They can provide feedback and communicate concerns easily without constantly re-training service providers as needed.
Freelancers with a retainer agreement can invest time and energy in learning about a client’s needs. This allows them to provide better services tailored to their client, further strengthening their working relationship.
Easier Work Scheduling
When freelancers know what work to expect in advance, they can schedule their work more efficiently. This allows them to dedicate time and attention to each client without distractions or rushing. The client enjoys better quality work, while the freelancer has much-needed stability.
Scope creep occurs when a client asks the freelancer to work outside the contractual agreement. If they are not careful, a freelancer could find themselves doing twice the work for the same pay.
A retainer agreement with a clear scope of work, payment structure, and fee schedule for additional services can reduce the potential for scope creep and help you maintain a healthy long-term business relationship.
Simplify your freelance contracting process by downloading a free freelance retainer agreement template in PDF or Word format below: