How a Creative Services Retainer Works

creative services retainerA creative services retainer is a fee paid up-front for a specified number of hours of work within a given time period. Usually it’s monthly.

This means you pay a monthly fee for a predetermined number of hours for a creative to deliver a set amount of work each month.

The details and scope of work are clearly outlined within a contract.


How a Creative Services Retainer Agreement Works

A retainer fee works like a monthly fee. Since its purpose is to “retain” the creative professional, it is paid up front before any work is ordered.

With an agreement for design services, you’re basically pre-ordering the designer’s time. He/she anticipates work coming from the client, and blocks out the appropriate amount of time in his/her schedule to accommodate said work.

The client still needs to provide appropriate notice to the designer about work coming down the pipeline. Otherwise, additional last-minute rush charges/fees can apply.


Benefits to a Creative Services Retainer

Having a retainer in place can free up time so that you may focus on running your business. They can ensure website updates or perhaps SEO are not being neglected.

Retainers are for ongoing needs and can vary depending on what they creative offers. They generally can pertain to:

If other large-scale projects* pop up, you already have an open line of communication with a designer. This fact alone can save you time and the headaches of having to search for a new creative.

* Important Note: 
Additional work beyond the scope of an existing Retainer Agreement such as a new project must be negotiated separately. In that case, it will require a separate contract.


What a Retainer Agreement Isn’t

Creative Services Retainer agreement

A Retainer Agreement contains parameters which are based on a collaborative, professional relationship of business equals. One where mutual respect, courtesy and consideration are expected.

“Mutual respect is the foundation of every solid relationship — and the best way to create mutual respect is to first show respect.”

So please understand this: whoever the creative professional may be, they are NOT a subordinate, NOT an employee. As business owners themselves, they are EQUALS. Think strategic partners rather than just a “hired-gun”.

Communication is key…
Due to what is often the virtual nature of the business relationship, communication is key! More often than not, this communication takes place via a digital space such as email. Clients need to respond to questions, requests or other inquiries from the creative in a timely manner.

Clients also need to recognize the creative professional is a business owner who serves other established clients. Thus it requires fair, realistic notice in order to attend to their requests and other client’s projects as well.


A Solution for Your Ongoing Creative Needs

To reiterate, a creative services retainer is paid up-front for a specified number of hours within a monthly time period. They offer a viable solution for businesses who do not require a creative employee but have ongoing needs. A retainer can assist in managing your print or digital assets and assist with your marketing efforts in support of growing your business.

Note: studios may differ in the actual length of a retainer agreement. It can be a minimum of a 3-6 month contract.

Think a retainer may be a good fit for your business?
Contact Future Primitive Graphics to learn more.


If you enjoyed this post, also consider:

The negative impacts of bad design.
Is being a DIYER really saving your money?
Website maintenance for optimal performance.


eco-conscious graphic designer barbara rogersWritten by Barbara Rogers of Future Primitive Graphics. Helping businesses grow through better design and search visibility solutions. From creating your business identity, designing and maintaining your print/digital assets to the importance of SEO for your website.

Creatively collaborating with those who genuinely want to make the world a better place with their products or services.