Having a designer on retainer is the closest you can get to having a designer on staff without bearing the responsibility of employment and pay checks, and there are huge benefits to having the dedication and availability of a creative on your team. (I mean more than feeling super legit and self-satisfied when you say, “oh, I’ve got someone on retainer.”)
The worst feeling in the world is when you’re ready to launch your business baby into the world only to find that all of experts you need are booked for the next three months and you’ll have to either scrap your way through the project yourself, or just sit on your hands for 90 days while your excitement (and that potential revenue) dwindles.
With a designer on retainer, any idea you have can be tackled immediately! (Assuming it’s within your agreement and budget.) In a world where ideas move fast and your goals do, too, this is gold.
Another benefit? Your designer will be able to prioritize edits and tweaks immediately, too.
Even if moving fast isn’t a priority for you, having a steady partner who understands how your business works, who your customers are, and what your vision is — that’s important to all of us. Feeling supported and encouraged is something I think most business owners feel is in short supply, especially when our businesses can grow and change quickly and when contractors come and go. But there’s another important advantage to having a steady partner:
You save a lot of time and money, and you gain a stronger brand.
Having a designer on retainer means that you’re not having to onboard and train a new designer every project or every few months. While there’s always a bit of a learning curve coming onto any project, designers on retainer get their traction quickly and then keep it. Plus, working with a consistent style means that your brand will be even more recognizable and trustworthy to customers.
Since your designer is working with you for longer stretches of time, they’ll have a clearer view of your past work and will be able to contribute ideas to your long-term vision. You’ll even be able to start working on projects or goals that are further down your timeline, developing ideas together and testing things out.
Having a set of design eyes on your business for a long period of time can also help you determine if your visuals need to shift in any way, and can help you regularly audit all of your business materials and platforms.
Who doesn’t like a great deal? Keeping a designer on retainer often means a discounted rate on their normal fee. But even if you don’t get a discount, just the fact that your designer is familiar with you, your business, and your brand style means that he or she can work even more efficiently on your projects, saving you some cash 🙂
P.S. Story time: We offer design retainers, and it was the first service I wanted to provide when I started this business! I wasn’t seeing many designers offer this and I think it’s the most important service we can provide. It’s the reason one of our core values is “get dirty” — because helping our clients with their everyday needs and their long-term dreams is what makes us better at being designers in general. We get to see how brands and customers act on a daily basis, what their needs are, and how they use what they’ve given. I’m a huge proponent of them because not only do business owners benefit, so do the designers 🙂 Learn more about what a retainer looks like by clicking here.
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"She saved me from even more toil and trouble trying to bootstrap my branding and transformed my business. With her design magic, Nicole helped me bring to life a brand that I could only dream of!"