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As any freelancer will tell you, time is of the essence. How freelancers use their time determines the amount of money they make. Many freelancers seem to be ever oscillating between a cycle of feasting and famine. The goal of each freelancer should be to enjoy more stable and consistent income generation activities throughout the year. The good news is they can achieve that goal. All that is required is to open their minds to new ideas without throwing all the old ones completely out of their lives. 

Retainer agreement sample template
Image Credits courtesy of: proposalkit.com

Why Use a Retainer Agreement Template

A retainer agreement is simply an arrangement whereby the client pays you a certain amount each month. The client does not pay you to do nothing. Instead, the client pays you as a way of retaining your freelancer services. To avoid a situation where you just wake up and take off, the client requires you to sign an agreement or contract. The agreement is however not one-sided. It protects the client and freelancer equally.  It ensures the client has access to topnotch freelancing services. It ensures the freelancer has a constant flow of money each month. 

The agreement revolves around two pillars, which are: 

  1. You provide your freelancer services for a specific amount of hours
  2. You provide your freelancer services for the duration of a specific project

Why Use a Retainer Agreement Template

Preparing the retainer agreement may be an uphill task for the freelancer who hasn’t done it before. Luckily, freelancers can learn a lot from the agreement template. This will allow them to prepare good agreements that will allow them to reap the benefits.

Retainer agreement template is worth studying closely for this simple reason – success. Yes, the template can take your freelancing career to the next level of success. It opens doors you hitherto never thought, or knew existed. It gives you the peace of mind that helps your business to take off and explode. It gives you an edge over the competition since you never have to worry about money. You are assured of fresh income each month, which you can use to settle your bills or expand the business depending on the actual amount you receive. 

All freelancers need economic stability. Often, freelancers worry about a lot of stuff. For example, a newbie freelancer might worry about getting the first client. After getting the first client, the new freelancers then worry whether they have the skillset required to retain this very important person. Many freelancers also worry whether they will lose their clients plus the money they earn. These kinds of worrying can distract freelancers thus rendering them unproductive. An unproductive freelancer does not earn any money. 

So, how else does the agreement template help? 

A good retainer agreement template provides guidance on industry best practices when it comes to such agreements. By ensuring that the agreements address all the necessary aspects; freelancers are able to reap the benefits of retainer agreements. Therefore, by extension, the templates provide other benefits too.

Thriving in a gig economy requires a unique set of skills. It requires one being suave and up to date with the latest freelancing trends. It requires investing in research to know what is happening in the specific market or niche in which the freelancer operates. Signing a retainer agreement often means a willingness to take the initiative. Taking the initiative could be in the form of offering clients great discounts for the repeat business they bring. Yes, retainer agreement template could make your business quite popular with clients. 

A client can also establish a long-term relationship with a specific freelancer. It is never easy to find the right client or freelancer. Some clients are unwilling to pay on time as agreed. Some freelancers never seem to take their work seriously or guarantee quality every time. A client who finds the right freelancers is willing to pay top dollar rates to retain their services. Similarly, freelancers who get the best clients are often unwilling to let them go. Clients and freelancers can expect these benefits by investing in drafting the best agreement template

Retainer agreements help to establish a degree of familiarity, which is never a bad thing. Clients can only expect the best from freelancers who are familiar with their businesses and operations. Clients do not need to explain a lot of stuff to freelancers with whom they have worked for a long time. They understand that the professionals they hire do not require close supervision or handholding. Clients who value their time are often willing to do whatever it takes to stop wasting it. A retainer agreement offers the perfect opportunity to do just that. 

As you will see on the retainer agreement template, there is no ambiguity or question regarding the role each party or signatory plays. The agreement clearly spells out what the client does vis-à-vis the responsibilities of the freelancer. By doing this, the agreement guarantees stability and consistency. Additionally, the agreement also guarantees the client easy access to reliably topnotch freelancing services and expertise. What is more, the agreement deals with issues of delayed or messed up schedules decisively. 

What about the freelancers or service providers? Do they gain from the retainer agreement? 

Yes, they do. Freelancers who once worried themselves sick about their monthly income projections can now breathe easy. They now realize that the clients will honor their side of the deal by paying them a retainer based on the contractual agreement. No longer do the freelancers have to worry about being at the mercy of somebody else within the client’s organization who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and decides to cancel an arrangement. 

consulting retainer agreement template
‍Image Credits courtesy of: freewebtemplate.net

Retainer agreement template removes all worries regarding: 

  1. Unfulfilled promises
  2. Tons of speculation
  3. Lost or destroyed hopes

Freelancers need more control over the work they do. They need to be in charge of the services they provide. Often, this can present its own set of problems. However, the retainer agreement spells out the freelancers’ role clearly. The agreement gives freelancers more control over their schedules and workflow. The agreement makes it easier for freelancers to prepare a roster of what to do each day, week, or month. With such complete control over the pace at which you work, what can prevent you from enjoying a successful freelancing career? Absolutely nothing!

As mentioned earlier, all freelancers could do with a bit of consistent flow of cash. A retainer agreement guarantees them the cash flow they need for operating their businesses. What’s more, the retainer enables freelancers to enjoy some semblance of stability in their finances. It could also help them to show more interest in matters to do with bookkeeping. Freelancers need to show more interest in their personal finances and learn about bookkeeping as much as possible. 

However, there is a downside to retainer agreement. 

Unfortunately, you cannot notice this downside by looking at the retainer agreement template. What is the downside? A retainer agreement can make some freelancers a bit relaxed. They relax because they are guaranteed pay at the end of the month. They are not working hard to bring in new clients since there is plenty of money to take care of all their financial needs. Luckily, freelancers can offset this by simply planning. Proper planning and fiscal discipline will help the freelancers to avoid some of the pitfalls associated with having a retainer. 

Be Clear On The Payment Details

The agreement should state how much the client would be paying the freelancer each month. It should also be clear on the date the client will be sending money. How the client will send the payment is also worth including on the agreement. There are different methods of sending payment. Clients have to talk and agree with the freelancers regarding the most suitable method of sending and receiving money. 

The client cannot sit and decide on behalf of the freelancer, especially if they are in different countries. Similarly, the freelancer cannot select a method of payment that the client has no access to. Some methods of sending money are only in a few regions. Other methods are new and untested; hence, presenting more of a risk. The fee involved in sending the money using a specified method will also determine whether the client prefers it or not. Some of the methods or tools of payment the freelancers should discuss with their clients about include: 

  • PayPal
  • Payoneer
  • Skrill
  • Check
  • Direct Bank Transfers

Put it in writing

Get everything you agree upon in writing. This has to do with more than just payment terms. Any discussion between the client and freelancer should also touch on the project. Here, the goal should be to clarify the scope and nature of the freelancing project. The reason for clarifying such an obviously important issue is to meet and surpass the client’s expectation. The other goal is to ensure the freelancer receives the retainer for a job well done. Apart from these, the two parties should also put their agreement regarding the following in writing. 

  1. Dates for starting and ending/completing the work
  2. Where necessary, the conditions that necessitate terminating the contract

Freelancers who set up their retainer agreements well are likely to earn more from their best clients. The agreement can make them more productive, focused, and committed to a client thus giving their best all the time. As earlier indicated, freelancers no longer have to worry about going through the annoying fluctuation where one minute there is work and nothing the next moment. For this reason, freelancers should study the retainer agreement template and use it to draft their own agreement with clients. 

Example of Retainer agreement
Image Credits courtesy of: agreementstemplates.org

List The Services In Your Retainer Agreement

As you will again notice on the agreement template, freelancers should indicate the list of services they intend to provide. If clients find the list agreeable, they will have no problem signing and sending the first payment. The agreement suits some services perfectly but not so with others. Therefore, freelancers should do a bit of research and consult with the clients before asking for a retainer agreement. Ask for the agreement if you are the only one who can provide freelance services. 

You are eligible for the retainer agreement if you are: 

  1. Ready to be on call for emergencies 
  2. Ready to guarantee fast turnaround times for routine and not-so-routine tasks
  3. Ready to consult on planning or strategy for the client
  4. Ready to handle recurring work

Be Clear on The amount of Time You Will Put In

Again, learn from the template to know how to write the agreement. Remember this: whatever you write under the services should only be what you already discussed with the client. Do not forget to outline or specify the work you intend to do. In addition, the freelancers should indicate how much they plan to commit to the arrangement. It is important to write the exact number of hours you intend to avail yourself to the project per day, week, or month. Do this to prevent a situation where the client asks you to put in more hours than you are willing to. 

Freelancers should only ask for and sign the retainer agreement if they are willing to put in the hours. The agreement is only for individuals with a track record of dependability. Freelancers who constantly over-deliver have a right to ask for the agreement. In fact, clients usually consider putting any freelancer who has been over-delivering and being 100% dependable before anybody asks them. Confidently ask the clients to consider putting you under such an arrangement by guaranteeing complete commitment to them. 

Retainer agreements help clients to save money too. 

Point this benefit – and many others – to your clients during the negotiations. 

In summary, do not ignore the retainer agreement template. Get it and study it in detail. Use it as the basis or foundation upon which you will write or draft your retainer agreement too. The agreement is proof of commitment, dedication to the clients, and willingness to work for them. Similarly, the agreement is a tool through which clients indicate their willingness to hire, work with, and retain you as their freelancer of choice. Once they hire you, do all that is in your power not to disappoint them.

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