Reality Blog: Attracting Retainer Clients

Above view of young consultant shaking hands with her client

Welcome to this month’s Reality Blog! Today I want to cover a topic that I get a lot of questions about: retainer clients — and how to get them!

As a reminder, my main goal for 2013 is to double my hourly rate.

I’ve had a few missteps along the way, but my web-writing business and I are starting to get into the flow of things. I believe the reason is that nearly all of my clients have become retainer clients.

If you’re not familiar with retainer clients — or a retainer agreement — it’s basically you receiving a set fee each month in exchange for a set amount of work.

While this may sound a bit restrictive, the benefits are:

  • A better understanding of your clients and their businesses.
  • More loyalty from your clients.
  • Putting you in the position of a consultant — rather than an order-taker.
  • A schedule that’s pretty consistent so you can plan out the months ahead of time.
  • And, my favorite benefit, money you can count on every month!
  • But how can you turn your past and present clients into retainer clients?

3 Steps to Getting Clients on Retainer

My “process” for attracting retainer clients is more like a way of doing business than a process … but I’ll try to break it down for you here:

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Christina Gillick


  • Great article Christina! Retainer work is definitely the way to go. Keeps the stress to a manageable level, and you know what your cash flow is going forward.

    I’ve actually had two new retainer clients pop up, which is great. One started right from the first day as a retainer client, while the other has a project to be done first, then wants a retainer agreement going forward. Both excellent for me.

    The thing I’m struggling with is the payment schedule with the first client. I initially did the 50% up front thing for the first month, and then am billing each month afterwards, but stupidly I made it for the end of the month, so I end up waiting TWO months before I get paid. Ugh, definitely not something I’ll be doing with future clients. The second client that I’m setting this up for understands that, and has no issues paying me up front. I’m trying to get that first client to switch to a pay up front schedule too, but it’s a little difficult. Definitely food for thought for the future.

    I like how you handle taking one project and turning it into an on-going relationship. I’m trying to do that with any prospects I have too. Anything to decrease the amount of marketing I have to do, the better! 🙂 I’d rather spend my time writing, thank you very much.

    • Thank you, Julia! I agree – the longterm relationship is always better/easier if you set your expectations – like getting paid upfront – from the beginning. It’s difficult to change your policies with previous or current clients.

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