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Free Monthly Retainer Proposal Template

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What is a Monthly Retainer Proposal?


As with any proposal, a retainer proposal outlines the services being offered by an independent contractor to a prospective client. 

A monthly retainer proposal outlines the details of a proposed recurring agreement to provide your freelancing services to a client. It’s much like other proposals, but it offers services spanning over a longer period of time. 

It outlines the services on offer for a monthly, recurring fee–a fee decided by you. Retainer proposals are often issued following previous experience with a client, and it’s likely something you’ll discuss in person before drafting the proposal.

These proposals are extremely beneficial for both the freelance service provider and client trying to take their brand to the next level. In many ways, a monthly retainer is like a subscription to your services—you are guaranteed paid work and the client is guaranteed your services. 

Note: Sign up to Bonsai today to gain access to this monthly retainer proposal template and many other business documents to help you with your day-to-day freelancing.

Benefits Of Having a Monthly Retainer 

​​You might be thinking that retainer proposals are not necessary as long as you have a wide network and stable work. Your reputation will surely do the work for you–clients will be signing up left, right, and center–right?

Wrong, proposals are key for transparent working relationships–and the benefits of having clients on retainer are easy to see.

One of the greatest benefits of being a freelance service provider is the freedom that comes with the lifestyle. We’re sure you’ve heard that with freedom comes great responsibility—in the case of freelancing, it’s the responsibility to balance 50 plates at a time. 

Alongside having to manage everything from resolving legal issues under the governing law to ensuring a super high quality of service, freelancers also need to ensure they’ve got enough work to keep them going. The uncertainty of income sources might end up becoming a huge issue if you are not adequately prepared. 

Finding clients is substantially easier than keeping them, but a solid retainer proposal helps seal the ongoing deal. Clients already know you do good work—the retainer proposal aims to convince them you’re a keeper.

Here’s a brief list of benefits you get from having clients on retainer:

Secure and stable income

A retainer proposal helps bring stability to your expected monthly income by securing ongoing work. It makes sure that you have consistent income every month—even if the client’s project is at a standstill. 

With a retainer relationship, you can even proceed with your plans of adding new members to your team. Bringing on staff is difficult without consistent or secure income, but retainer agreements often give you the resources to bring in new team members. 

Long term projects and value

As a freelance service provider you understand that the joy of working on an ambitious and fulfilling project is one-of-a-kind. With a monthly retainer agreement template, you get to see who’s serious about your work. 

If a client expresses concerns over signing a monthly retainer proposal they’re likely not interested in contracting your services for long-term projects. If you are someone who enjoys working on ambitious and detailed projects, a retainer proposal can also act as a job filter.

One of the most important aspects of freelancing is maintaining a stable and good relationship with clients. 

A monthly retainer also makes it easier to build trust with your clients. Since both parties agree to the proposal details, there’s space to work together on projects—a different approach than the standard draft and edits dance. It makes way for long-lasting business relationships that focus on present and future value.

Better work life balance

Managing a consistent work schedule is a challenge for every freelancer and their business. We are not claiming that a monthly retainer proposal will suddenly bring balance to your life—but it can create the groundwork for you to create a more consistent workflow. 

With a retainer agreement, you get an idea of what you need to do on a monthly basis. You can plan your weeks accordingly, and make space for friends, family, and everything else that matters in life. 

Retainer proposals help you begin to plan out whether you can take additional projects or not, by giving you an idea of your upcoming availability. Of course, the proposal is just the first step—clients need to accept your offer and sign a monthly retainer contract before anything’s set in stone.

Increase in revenue

The most obvious benefit of a client on retainer is increase in revenue. However, that is not just due to the monthly amount that the client pays. The consistency of work helps you deal with other projects better. 

As a freelancer, it is very common to end up juggling new clients, projects, and expenses. With a retainer agreement, you’ve got one less thing to juggle–the client’s locked in for the duration of the agreement. That way, you know exactly how much other client work you can take up. 

A retainer proposal is perhaps the quickest way to boost your monthly earnings. That being said, not everyone knows how to write an effective monthly retainer proposal to secure retainer clients to begin with. 

While proposals are business documents, you still want to add a little flair–it’s a reflection of your business, after all.

What To Include In The Monthly Retainer Proposal Template


With Bonsai, creating a retainer proposal is a walk in the park. If you’re going it alone, however, you’ll need to know how to draft your own.

Before we get into that, here’s what you should know about the contents of a monthly retainer proposal: 

Project scope

A monthly retainer proposal template should provide details on the services being contracted—a breakdown of what you’ll provide month-on-month for the proposed fee.

When creating a retainer proposal, make sure to precisely define the scope of work. It’s very easy to fall victim to scope creep on retainer-–it’s a lot easier for clients to push for more work when you’ve got an ongoing business relationship. 

Ensuring you’ve covered all bases helps avoid any unremunerated work—the client can always request more monthly output for a higher fee. A precise scope just ensures you don’t end up doing extra for free. 

Payment details

Your payment details should clearly outline the recurring fee, payment method, and any additional payments, such as advance payments or extra retainer fees for keeping you on. Retainers aren’t typically charged at an hourly rate, so you’ll likely be working for a fixed fee.

Make sure to only add your freelancer charges after discussing it thoroughly with the client. The proposal can be modified, however you want to swiftly move from proposal to contract as soon as possible. 

Once it’s in a signed contract, you can’t really do much about increasing your fees before the agreed upon term is up. The client’s business isn’t likely to agree to pay more for the services provided if it doesn’t have to.

You should also include details how you can take the recurring payment—can the client pay via cash, card, or any other payment form? Make sure to discuss this beforehand with a new client—it’s essential the client agrees to the payment terms.

Note: Some freelancers charge ‘retainer fees’. These are fees that the client pays in order to secure the freelancer on a monthly basis—a commitment fee of sorts.

Terms and conditions

It’s important to be meticulous with the terms and conditions. This is where you include details on the agreement and how any issues will be dealt with. 

No project lasts forever—and for good reason. Make sure that your retainer contract has provisions for how to go about ending the agreement—for both you and the client. 

Also consider how to go about prematurely ending the relationship–are there termination fees or just X months written notice? Include it here, any objections can be discussed before finalizing the agreement.

How To Write A Monthly Retainer Proposal  

It is essential for freelancers to know how to write a proposal. It’s not easy to come up with a persuasive retainer proposal if you’ve little to no experience creating one.

One option is to hire a professional retainer proposal writer, but that might end up costing you a lot if you need multiple proposals for different clients. Plus, with a little effort it’s definitely something you can learn to do on your own-–it just gets time consuming.. 

Here’s how you can start writing your monthly retainer proposal:

  • List all of the client requirements and expectations. From this list, figure out what fits into which section. Once you do that, you have a solid idea of what to write.
  • Practice writing persuasive pitches. A retainer proposal is indeed a pitch that you are making to the client. Learn the fundamentals of composing good pitches in order to persuade the reader.
  • Follow a template. With Bonsai, for example, you get free retainer proposal templates that are optimized for their individual purpose. Bonsai has helped 500,000+ freelancers create thousands of proposals and other key business documents. With a template, the process of creating a retainer proposal becomes a lot easier and quicker.

Here are a few more pointers to keep in mind regarding the contents of your monthly retainer proposal. 

Find out exactly what the client wants

When you know exactly what your client wants, you can shape your retainer proposal accordingly. To fully understand your clients’ expectations, the first thing you need to do is have a detailed conversation about how they want the agreement to go. 

List down everything that they expect from your services. Then, consider your output capabilities and consider how the two match up. If they do not, see if the client is open to any changes and consider whether you are either.

Once you are done with the process of assessing expectations, work on a retainer proposal that addresses the needs of the client specifically. 

For instance, your client might ask you to deliver Y number of assignments every week. In your retainer proposal, mention that number and assure that you will be able to deliver it consistently.

Once you have a retainer document that appeals to the client personally, the chances of them agreeing to it increase significantly. Knowing what the client wants is the first step towards creating a winning retainer proposal and building long term relationships. 

Highlight what sets you apart

Your retainer proposal should focus on your specific skills and expertise, and convince the client that you are the right person for the job. 

Make sure to talk about the skills you bring to the table and the expertise you’ve spent years developing—what sets you apart from other people in your field and what services are your strong suit.  

At the same time, keep the tone professional and remain humble—nobody likes a show-off. 

Bonsai top tip: Make sure you’re covering all the right bases by first understanding the document you’re drafting. Proposals are different to contracts which are different to quotes—make sure you understand what you’re trying to do with each document.

Why Use a Monthly Retainer Proposal Template


Having clients on retainer is a no-brainer if it’s on the cards for your business—but why bother with a monthly retainer proposal template? Here are some of the reasons you need a comprehensive monthly retainer proposal template for your business projects:

  1. It’s quick and easy: using a template for any business document saves a lot of time and energy for you and your team. Monthly retainer proposals often include a wider offer of services, and end up being longer than standard proposals. Having a template on-hand with all the right sections makes it easy to add your specifics quickly and easily.
  1. It’s consistent: consistency is key, especially in business. You want to be sure you’re sending out a stellar monthly retainer proposal every time. A template ensures you can easily iterate your retainer proposals, and keeps them in line with the rest of your brand.
  1. It’s professional: highlight your professionalism by customizing your proposal template with your branding and logo. This enables you to deliver high-quality retainer proposals to prospects, and increases the likelihood of them accepting your offer.

Overall, a template is quick and easy in comparison to drafting your own proposal from scratch. As a service provider, you need to be ready to send out proposals at the drop of a hat—templates enable you to do so.

Creating A Monthly Retainer Proposal Is Simple With Bonsai

Bonsai is not just a free template tool for creating your retainer proposals—it’s an all-in-one suite for freelancers to take care of all the paperwork that comes with freelancing. With Bonsai, you can focus on your work without worrying about documentation and contracts.

Writing retainer proposals with Bonsai gives your document a professional touch and helps in improving your professional reputation. In today’s competitive market, no one wants to work with an unprofessional freelancer—clients are bored of missed deadlines and unreachable contractors. 

Bonsai streamlines every aspect of your business—from time tracking to invoicing–and enables you to focus on the work you love.

Top freelancers across a wide variety of sectors choose Bonsai when it comes to writing all kinds of proposals, including retainer proposals. With proposal, contract, and invoice templates for every industry, Bonsai helps you create proposals that connect and convert. 

Without Bonsai, you could end up wasting your time writing retainer proposals that still won’t end up getting the job done—talk about disappointing.

Over 500,000 small businesses and freelancers have changed their professional lives with Bonsai. With a 14-day free trial and access to hundreds of bespoke business templates, it’s your next big business breakthrough. 

Sign up today to take your freelance business relationships to the next level with crisp and efficient retainer proposal templates from Bonsai. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Do all projects need a monthly retainer agreement?

No, not all freelance projects need retainer proposals or retainer contracts. They’re only really for long-term projects where you agree to complete a given amount of work on a monthly or weekly basis. 

Do all clients prefer retainer contracts?

For short-term projects, the client may not see the point of a monthly retainer contract. However, most clients would be glad to sign monthly retainers if it adds long-term value. If you feel that the client is avoiding signing the retainer contract, it might be a red flag to watch out for.

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