Sometimes freelancing feels like dancing on a financial tightrope, where each month’s income brings an unpredictable roller coaster ride.
Picture those moments when you anxiously checked your bank balance, hoping for an upswing, only to find yourself bracing for another financial dip.
But what if I told you there’s a way to escape this nerve-wracking cycle? A way to transform your freelancing career into a haven of stability and consistent income?
Pull up a seat, my friend, and let me tell you the story of how – like most great career achievements – fell backward into the world of retainer contracts.
Then I’ll show you how to lock them in… even if you’ve never had one before.
“I don’t know, nobody’s ever asked me that!”
The year was 2013.
My wife and I had spent the first 2+ years of our marriage struggling with the wild swings of income that plague freelancers.
After scraping together a solid living, my business was on life support. The last 3 months of 2012, I had pulled in $2500.
Total. Not per month. Total.
Little did I know, I was about to have a phone call that would change everything.
After another round of cold emails, I got in touch with the head copywriter of a finance company in Austin, Texas. They were looking for writers to add to their team – and for whatever reason, they liked me enough to talk.
That copywriter then booked a call with me and the President of the company.
The call was cordial and to the point. He had a great attitude, and I knew how to charm him.
Then, he dropped a question that I was completely and utterly unprepared for.
“How much would you charge if we put you on a monthly retainer?”
In that instant, it struck me—I had never had a retainer contract.
I had never even discussed a retainer with a client before!
The thought of consistent monthly paychecks sounded almost too good to be true.
In my endless pursuit of honesty to my own detriment, I blurted out the exact wrong thing: “I don’t know, nobody’s ever asked me that before!”
I think my bluntness was refreshing to him.
Fast-forward, and we sealed the deal—an agreement that brought me $5,000 a month, along with a 2% royalty on revenue generated by my copy.
The impact cannot be overstated.
That year, I crossed the threshold into a six-figure income. But more than that, I had found a sustainable path in the unpredictable world of freelancing. Since then, retainer agreements have become the cornerstone of my career.
The 4 P’s To Getting Retainer Contracts:
So, how can you follow in my footsteps and transition from the inconsistent income grind to the realm of financial stability?
Retainers aren’t just for seasoned pros.
Anyone can talk their way into them – here’s how I teach writers to do it:
- Plant the Idea: Early on, be clear that you want the relationship to move towards a retainer agreement. Don’t ask for one – just mention that it’s something you want to discuss down the line.
- Prove Your Value: Sometimes your portfolio will be enough. But if it’s not, do a project or two for the client on a flat rate basis. Build confidence in your potential client’s mind. If they trust you, they’ll pay you.
- Price It Out: Design a pricing structure that appeals to both parties. Bundle services for a discounted rate or offer comprehensive packages for a premium.
- Pitch with Impact: When the time is right, bring up a retainer agreement to your client. Emphasize the benefits—a break from rate negotiations, freedom from chasing payments, and the chance to focus solely on the quality of your work.
Retainers are a win-win… if you present it right
Clients don’t have time.
They don’t have bandwidth.
They just want someone to write copy so that they can run copy and make money.
If you can get them on a retainer agreement, you both are free to focus on what matters.
And of course, you get a regular paycheck.
This is where your freelancing career starts to catch a steady rhythm.
I teach writers how to get retainers – even if they’re just starting out.
This system works:
Do you want the freedom of freelancing combined with the stability of a paycheck?
Embrace the art of steady income, and let uncertainty be a thing of the past.
Lay the groundwork for your copywriting business in just one week of work. In this free guide, I hand you all the basics to get you started fast. No catch – just the cheat sheet.
Want a profitable, sustainable copywriting career? Tap into my 15 years of copywriting experience and build a $5,000-$10,000/month income guaranteed.