Outsourcing any part of your business is scary. But if you’re to grow your business you’ve gotta stop doing every little thing yourself.
Trust me, as a fellow control freak and perfectionist, I know how hard it is to let go. But I can also vouch for the fact that getting help really does make a difference.
Having someone on hand to take care of the things you don’t want to do, or aren’t particularly good at, or just to be a sounding board and give a little advice will not only give you more time to spend on the things you totally rock at, it can do wonders for your stress levels too.
Design is a common thing for businesses to outsource. That’s totally understandable; design is a specialist skill. It may look easy to whip up a blog image template or logo, but honestly, we designers just make it look easy because we’re trained to do this stuff and we do it all the time. When you try it yourself, you’ll likely end up frustrated with how long even a simple design takes you and ultimately dissatisfied with the results of all your hard work 🙁
So when it’s time to move on from DIY design, you need to find a designer to support you with all your creative work and make your branding and marketing visuals look amazing. And if you need regular support, working with a designer on retainer could make a huge difference to your business.
What is a design retainer?
A retainer – or support package – is an agreement between you and your designer to work together for a longer period of time than just on a one-off project.
Retainers usually involve weekly, monthly or quarterly work, and your agreement reserves time in your designer’s schedule at a set rate.
What type of work is done on a retainer?
Retainers are great for tasks that need to be done regularly, such as creating social media graphics or website maintenance and updates. But depending on your needs and the scope of your support package, they can include other things, like creating business cards, flyers or banners, or setting up landing pages and email funnels on your website.
Before setting up your package, you and your designer should have a chat about the kind of work you need and how often you need it so you can get a support package that fits your needs and budget.
What are the benefits of working with a designer on retainer?
There are obvious benefits for the designer about working on a retainer. Things like getting a regular and predictable income, and being able to spend less time chasing new clients and more time on design work. Nice!
But what about you, the client; what’s in it for you? Let’s take a look:
You get a simpler working relationship
When you work with a designer for the first time, you spend time getting to know one another. Your designer needs to familiarise themself with the style and personality of your brand before creating any visuals. And there’s a risk that they won’t get it right first time and you need a bunch of revisions to get the design spot-on.
And you need to go through this process at the start of every project if you work with different designers all the time.
But when you work together on more than one project, you can skip a lot of that. The longer you work together and the more projects you complete, the more familiar with each other you’ll be. You’ll get into a groove of working together so your designer can create things on-brand and get to the spot-on stage much faster.
Plus, you’ll be familiar with how your designer works and how to give them effective feedback so the longer you work together the more smoothly the whole process should run. It’ll almost be like you’re reading each other’s minds!
You might also like: 7 things to consider when choosing a designer
You get consistent style and quality
Every designer has their own style and way of working. Sure, some designers can do a decent job of imitating other designer’s style, but is that really what you want? Or what they want? That’s probably not playing to their strengths.
If you work with a different designer for each part of your branding and marketing visuals, you could end up with a jumbled mix of design styles, ideas and – eek – quality.
That could, at best, dilute your branding so that it’s not quite as awesome as you’d like it to be. Or at worst, it could be a confusing, customer-repelling mess.
But when you work regularly with one designer, the style and quality of the design should be consistent right across all your branding. And a consistent brand is a memorable one.
You might also like: Why your business needs strong branding
You get to skip the queue
With a retainer you’re essentially pre-booking and pre-paying for time in your designer’s schedule. That means your work should be a priority to them.
A good designer can get booked out weeks, or even months, in advance, and if you email them on the off chance that they can fit in your wee project sometime this week, you could be sorely disappointed. Either their schedule is full already and they can’t possibly squeeze you in for another few weeks, or they’re willing to work overtime to help you out but you’ll be charged a rush fee.
But with a retainer, you get to skip the queue. You’ve already paid for the work, so they should have time to fit in even those short notice projects you’ve got for them.
Note though, that the terms and conditions of your agreement will probably set out just how short notice your designer can be expected to work. If you’re a chronic last-minute type of person, make sure you cover this in your chat so your designer knows to expect that and can allow for it in your package and their schedule.
You get simpler budgeting
Budgeting, bookkeeping and accounting is boring. It’s a necessary hassle. Unless, of course you are a bookkeeper or accountant!
For the average business owner though, anything you can do to simplify the whole finance thing is fab.
When you have a designer on retainer it can really simplify your budgeting. You pay a fixed amount each month, quarter or year. It’s regular and it’s predictable. Unlike with sporadic one-off projects, you know exactly what you’ll be paying and when, so you can stay organised and plan out your budget.
You get less paperwork
Staying on the theme of being organised, having a designer on retainer means you have less paperwork to deal with. Yay!
When you work with a designer, or multiple designers, on a series of one-off, occasional projects, each one comes with a multitude of quotes, contracts, invoices and so on. That’s an awful lot of documents to keep track of. It can start to feel like you’re drowning in paperwork.
But with an ongoing support package, there’s much less paperwork to deal with. So you spend less time managing that, giving you more time to spend on more fun activities.
Is a design retainer right for you?
Working with a designer on retainer isn’t right for everyone. If you don’t need regular work, then sticking with occasional one-off projects may be more cost-effective and efficient for you.
But if you think a retainer might work for you and want to test the water, why not start small. Pick a few small-ish jobs that need to be done regularly and use that to create a mini support package with your designer. As you grow more comfortable with each other, you can increase the scope of your retainer so that your designer is handling more and more work for you, and you’re gaining more and more time to spend on other parts of your business.
If you’d like to chat about getting a design retainer for your business, get in touch. I offer support packages tailored to your needs, covering design work and/or WordPress website maintenance. I love doing this stuff so you can focus on the stuff you love!
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