Working as a freelancer has many benefits, such as flexibility and the ability to set your hours.
The lack of a guaranteed income and reduced stability can make planning and paying bills a challenge — that’s where a monthly retainer comes in!
Repeat clients can shift from paying per project to paying you a monthly retainer for ongoing work. But how do these agreements work, and will your client agree to it? We break down:
- How monthly retainers work
- Benefits of monthly retainers for both freelancers and clients
- What to include in your retainer proposal
- Benefits of using a template to create your retainer proposal
- How to use Bonsai templates to create your proposal.
Let’s get started!
What Is a Monthly Retainer Proposal?
A monthly retainer services proposal is a document that can be used to propose an ongoing agreement with a client. It lists all the services they will provide in exchange for a monthly fee.
It’s a great way to add some stability to the client/freelancer relationship as the freelancer has a monthly guaranteed income. This is the ideal choice for repeat clients who purchase similar services every month.
Benefits Of Having a Monthly Retainer
1. Secure and Stable Income
A monthly retainer guarantees that the freelancer will get a pre-agreed-upon amount of money every month. This adds much-needed stability to the traditional ups and downs of freelance work, making it easier for the freelancer to pay their bills and manage their finances.
2. Long-term Projects and Value
Monthly retainers are well suited to longer-term projects or repeated tasks. Once a retainer is in place, the freelancer can commit to working on long-term projects and produce deeper, more high-value work.
3. Better Work-life Balance
It can be hard to relax and enjoy your free time when you’re not sure where your next paycheck is coming from.
The awareness that there’s a monthly, predictable income stream coming in reduces pressure on freelancers to take on every single project they’re offered, which means they can focus on picking and choosing projects that they truly enjoy.
4. Increase in Revenue
Monthly retainers can lead to an increase in revenue, as the freelancer is doing longer-term work instead of one-off projects. Opportunities or referrals are also more likely to occur the longer a freelancer and client work together.
How to Sell Clients on Monthly Retainers
The benefits for the freelancer are clear, but what about clients? Here are some ways you can sell your clients on shifting to a monthly retainer system:
- Showcase consistent value delivery: Demonstrate to your clients that a retainer system will allow you to prioritize them and deliver them your best work.
- Highlight cost-effectiveness: Explain the benefit and cost savings of continuously using your services instead of shopping around different freelancers. Repeatedly seeking bidders for projects uses up valuable time and energy, and with a monthly retainer, they can get better rates for smooth, streamlined services.
- Emphasize long-term partnership benefits: Monthly retainers foster a stronger relationship between client and freelancer, and by working together long-term, the freelancer will gain a better understanding of the client’s goals, challenges, and preferences.
- Provide tiered retainer options: Offering a variety of tiers of services shows you’re flexible and lets the client choose the plan that works best for them.
- Offer flexible services within the retainer: Clients can be wary of locking themselves into a contract, especially if they’re in a changeable industry. Including flexibility in the contract demonstrates that you can adapt to changing circumstances.
- Demonstrate past successes: Testimonials from other clients who have experienced success on a retainer are the perfect way to show the value a monthly retainer can offer.
- Establish trust and reliability: Ensure you propose guarantees and agreed-upon deadlines to show your clients you’re dependable.
- Explain the convenience of fixed billing: A fixed monthly retainer means the client can expect to pay the same amount for your services each month, meaning they can automate payments and avoid unexpected costs.
- Tailor retainer packages to client needs: Show you’re willing to adapt your services to fit the client’s needs.
- Offer clear communication and reporting: Keep your clients in the loop by offering set updates on the work you’re doing for them. Transparency is a great way to establish trust and show the clients that they’re getting value for money.
What to Include in the Monthly Retainer Proposal Template
1. Project Scope
The client first and foremost wants to know what they’ll be getting for their money. Use the project scope to outline what you’ll be delivering, including specific tasks, timelines, and other responsibilities. Defining the scope avoids confusion and ensures you and the client are on the same page. You can also define what is not included in the retainer, in case you need to bill any additional services separately.
2. Payment Details
In this section, detail the compensation you’ll be getting each month. This can include payment timeframes, payment amounts and any extras that you might charge that will be outside of the scope of the retainer.
Establish the timeframes for delivering the work to the client. In retainer proposals, it’s essential to clarify for the client when they can expect their deliverables.
4. Certifications and Qualifications
List any relevant certifications or qualifications that you hold. For example, if you are submitting a graphic design retainer proposal, list all your design credentials.
5. Terms and Conditions
Every proposal, whether it’s a graphic designer contract or a consulting retainer proposal, needs clear terms and conditions. This provides clarity on what your clients can expect from the contract, and can also help settle any future disputes.
How to Write a Winning Monthly Retainer Proposal
The best way to convince your client to accept your monthly retainer proposal is to ensure your proposal is of the best possible quality.
1. Find Out Exactly What the Client Wants
Tailor your proposal to what your client wants — ideally, this should be based on a detailed discussion with them beforehand. If you understand their needs, challenges, and pain points, you can ensure your monthly retainer proposal fits their needs perfectly.
2. Highlight what sets you apart
The freelancer market is highly saturated, so it’s essential to differentiate yourself. Emphasize your points of difference in your retainer proposal, and showcase precisely what makes your services unique.
Why Use a Monthly Retainer Proposal Template?
While you could write out your monthly retainer proposal from scratch, there are many advantages to using a template!
- Saves time: Using a template means you don’t have to do everything from scratch. Whether you’re creating a graphic design contract or an advertising retainer proposal, a template speeds up the process.
- Ensures consistency: Using a template gives a consistent appearance to your contracts.
- Professional presentation: Professionalism is important, and a template from a provider like Bonsai is a great way to demonstrate this. A well-organized template ensures your proposal appears polished and aesthetically pleasing.
- Streamlines communication: Using templates helps streamline the information presented, ensuring everything is easy for the client to understand.
- Simplifies pricing: Bonsai templates allow for streamlined, simplified pricing structures, which makes negotiations with your client go more smoothly.
- Enhances client understanding: A good retainer proposal helps your client to understand precisely what you’re proposing and what the benefits for their business are.
- Demonstrates preparedness: A well-put-together retainer proposal demonstrates professionalism, organization, and preparedness.
- Improves proposal quality: Bonsai templates are put together by professionals, so using them ensures your monthly retainer proposal meets professional standards.
- Increases efficiency: Using a proposal template is efficient, particularly if you’re proposing a similar arrangement to multiple clients at once.
- Boosts client confidence: Your client wants to be confident you know what you’re doing. When you present a professional, polished proposal, it boosts client confidence in your abilities.
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.
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?
Not all projects do! But if you have an ongoing relationship with a client who is ordering a similar amount of work from you regularly, a monthly retainer agreement is the perfect solution.
Do All Clients Prefer Retainer Contracts?
Not all clients prefer retainer contracts, but if you think your client would be a good fit, make sure you demonstrate the value they will get from shifting to a retainer agreement.
How Do You Propose a Retainer?
Create a detailed retainer proposal to show the scope of work, the payment terms, and the benefits a retainer will bring to the client. With a well-prepared proposal, you can approach clients to consider adding you as a retainer.
So you know you need to put together but don’t know where to start? No need to Google “how to write a retainer proposal”, try Bonsai’s easy-to-customize Free Retainer Proposal Template if you’re unsure what to include!