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Top 10 Pro Tips for Winning Retainers for Your Freelance Business

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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Starting a freelance business or agency right out of our academy can be a challenge. To move towards success, you must master the art of securing retainer contracts. Here are ten indispensable strategies that will empower you to not only win but also to grow retainer agreements, providing a steady income stream and allowing you to focus more on delivering great work rather than constantly hunting for new clients.

1. Expand Service Offerings

The key to growing your retainer base is to have a robust menu of services that cater to various client needs. More services mean more opportunities for upselling.

  • Review and list all the services you currently offer.
  • Create a comprehensive “retainer shopping list” showcasing these services to potential clients.

If web design is your staple, consider including additional services such as SEO, content management, or even branding to enrich your offering.

2. Use Pricing Psychology

Effective pricing strategies can significantly influence client decisions. Offering multiple pricing tiers makes your services accessible to a broader range of clients and sets the stage for upselling.

  • Introduce three pricing tiers: basic, intermediate, and premium.
  • Price your basic service at an entry-level point, your premium at the highest, with the intermediate priced to offer the most value for cost.

Position the intermediate option with attractive features that are less expensive than the premium but offer much more than the basic plan, making it the most appealing choice.

3. Highlight Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Clearly defining and communicating your unique advantages is critical in a crowded market. Understanding what sets you apart from your competitors can make your services irresistible.

  • Identify key differentiators that make your services unique.
  • Incorporate these USPs into all your marketing and communication materials.

Suppose your strength lies in user experience design. Highlight how your approach to UX increases customer satisfaction and retention for your clients.

4. Embrace Negative Reinforcement

While it’s often positive to highlight what clients can gain, it’s also powerful to show them what they stand to lose without your services. This approach can accelerate decision-making.

  • Focus on potential losses clients might face without your expertise.
  • Use data to support how your services prevent these losses.

Illustrate how without a robust SEO strategy, potential leads and revenue could slip through their fingers, giving real numbers to make the case stronger.

5. Manage Client Expectations

Setting and managing expectations is crucial for long-term client satisfaction and retention. Clearly outlined goals and deliverables help clients understand the value you provide.

  • Discuss and agree on clear, measurable objectives for your services from the outset.
  • Regularly review these goals with your clients to ensure they’re met and adjust as necessary.

For a digital marketing retainer, set expectations for metrics like click-through rates or conversion increases, and review these metrics during regular client meetings.

6. Make Lasting Impressions

Every interaction with a client is an opportunity to solidify your relationship. The impressions you make can greatly affect their willingness to enter into a retainer agreement.

  • Ensure timely and professional responses to all client communications.
  • Follow up promptly with any proposals, reports, or recommendations.

After a client meeting, follow up within 24 hours with a summary of what was discussed and next steps, demonstrating your attentiveness and professionalism.

7. Personalize Your Services

Customization is key in today’s market. Clients are more likely to stay engaged with services that are tailored specifically to their needs.

  • Personalize your service offerings based on client data and specific requirements.
  • Regularly update your service strategies to align with your client’s evolving needs.

Analyze a client’s website traffic and tailor your web design recommendations to increase user engagement specifically targeted to their audience.

8. Utilize Data to Drive Decisions

In a data-driven world, showing measurable results can significantly boost your credibility and help justify your retainer costs.

  • Implement tools and methodologies to collect and analyze data relevant to the services you offer.
  • Use this data to make informed recommendations and show the ROI of your services.

Present case studies where data-driven strategies have led to measurable improvements in client outcomes, such as increased sales or improved customer retention.

9. Know Your Competition

Understanding what your competitors offer can help you identify gaps in their services that you can fill. This knowledge allows you to position your services more strategically.

  • Conduct regular competitive analyses to stay aware of the market landscape.
  • Identify services that you can offer that are not widely available from other agencies.

If competitors are focusing on traditional web design, you could offer innovative solutions like voice user interface design or AI-driven UX, setting your agency apart.

10. Emphasize Human Interaction

In the digital age, personal touch still matters. Clients appreciate real human interaction, which can be a decisive factor in choosing your agency over others.

  • Make it a policy to engage in direct conversations with prospects, whether through phone calls, video chats, or in-person meetings.
  • Avoid relying solely on automated communications for client interactions.

Instead of sending an automated email response, call a new client to discuss their needs and how your agency can help. This personal approach can significantly enhance client trust and loyalty.


Securing retainer contracts is essential for the stability and growth of your freelance business or agency. By implementing these top 10 professional tips, you will not only win more retainers but also build lasting relationships with your clients. Remember, each interaction is an opportunity to demonstrate your value and commitment to their success. Stay proactive, be innovative, and continuously strive to exceed client expectations to keep your business thriving.

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