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How Freelancers Can Bill For More Monthly Retainer Payments

Updated on January 17th, 2022
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One of the biggest downsides of freelancing is having to pitch constantly and scramble to find work. Sure freelancing has it’s on and off seasons depending on which service you offer.

Still, you don’t have to start from scratch each month when it comes to working with quality clients. To build stability in your work and income, the best thing you can do is land monthly retainer clients.

A monthly retainer is a fixed amount that the client agrees to pay you for a service you deliver each month. Anything extra that you receive from the client is an added bonus but you will have guaranteed work. So how do land clients that allow you to bill for more monthly retainer payments?

Narrow Down an Ongoing Service Offer

A retainer is basically a client saying that they want to work with the freelancer on an ongoing basis. I have had quite a few monthly retainer clients that I’ve been working with for years. It’s great because I know that I have guaranteed work and a guaranteed income for the month.

However, being able to offer an ongoing service is how I was able to obtain the retainer. As a freelance writer and virtual assistance, clients often need articles written regularly or blog management services each month.

As a freelancer, you want to stray from one-time gig opportunities so you can start to bill for more monthly retainer payments. If you do SEO work, offer an ongoing maintenance service for new content. If you’re a web designer, offer a subscription-based service where you offer 1 to 3 hours of updates per month.

The possibilities are endless. Just think of a service offer your clients would like to utilize month after month.

Choose Your Clients Carefully

When trying to land clients that will allow you to bill for more monthly retainer payments, you want to choose your ideal client carefully. Learn how to realize whether clients are interested in a monthly retainer or can afford it early on.

Some clients may not have a need for an ongoing service. Or, they may not have the budget to work with someone regularly. This is why it’s best to find out where you stand and ask early on.

Ask if the client is interested in working together on an ongoing basis. Find out why this is or isn’t a need. If budget is a problem, perhaps you can offer a discounted rate for monthly retainers.

Get a Good Contract

All monthly retainer clients should have a contract. I once had someone reach out to me to write for their site. I submitted a test article and got onboarded for what I thought would be an ongoing monthly retainer.

At the time, the client said they were in need of 10 articles per month. I told them my max would be 8 articles. However, I never got anywhere close to that type of workload. During the first 2-3 months, I was given anywhere from 1 to 5 articles

Then the work suddenly stopped and I was back to square one. I learned to get a contract in place if a client claims that they need ongoing work. Freelancers are often left to the mercy of the client’s needs. However, if a client truly needs an ongoing service, they should have no problem signing a contract to ensure clarity and added accountability.

The contract can be edited to protect both the client and the freelancer. I know that things change in business so I am always open to having a clause where either party can terminate the agreement for any reason with a 30-60 day notice. Receiving a heads up is great and allows you to prepare your business for the workflow changes.


Being able to bill for more monthly retainer payments will help your freelancing business become more secure and stable. It can also help increase your income and regulate your work schedule.

In order to start getting more retainers, you need to prioritize them in your business. Stay away from one-off assignments and prioritize pitching clients to work with you long term. You’d be surprised at how many clients may be interested if you just ask.

Choncé Maddox

Choncé Maddox

Choncé Maddox is a debt expert. She helps ambitious millennials and Generation Z get our of the mounds of debt they are in following college. In 2015 she realized she couldn’t afford to do her own laundry, she was so broke. She had to make a change. Over the next three years she personally tackled $50,000 in debt and became debt free. She teaches others her passion since.

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