Learn how to get regular gigs from your clients this year. Use our expert freelance retainer marketing guide to scale your business while lowering your acquisition costs.
As a freelancer, landing regular gigs is essential to your success.
It provides you with a steady income, helps you build your business, and gives you the freedom to work on projects you’re passionate about on an ongoing basis.
And thankfully in this blog post, we’ll share seven strategies for getting regular gigs from your existing clients, plus two free downloadable checklists to help stay organised and scale with ease.
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Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
- Brand yourself to be appealing to potential clients.
- Create tiered services to enable clients to only pay for what they need.
- Communicate the value of your services with a compelling value proposition to win clients’ buy-in.
- Use upselling strategies to get prospects to sign up for your retainer services.
- Create a risk-free situation for clients with limited free trials.
- Implement a customer feedback loop to get actionable insights on how to improve your retainer services and keep your clients for as long as possible.
- Exceed customer expectations by offering bonus services and doing what your competitors are not doing.
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Understanding Freelance Retainer Marketing
A retainer is a deal between a client and a freelancer where the client agrees to pay the freelancer a set amount of money regularly, usually monthly or quarterly. It’s a great way for freelancers to earn a steady income and for clients to get access to the freelancer’s services on an ongoing basis.
It’s the holy grail of freelancing.
From our experience, it helps freelancers keep their acquisition costs lower and saves them from the stress of looking for new clients. Plus, it guarantees them steady income and financial stability.
However, landing a retainer agreement is not as easy as it sounds. And we believes that’s where retainer marketing comes in. It’s an action plan and strategic move to build a lasting relationship with existing clients to engage them on an ongoing, long-term basis for a monthly retainer fee.
Retainer marketing allows for a continuous and proactive approach to the client’s needs, fostering a deep understanding of the business objectives and enabling the freelancing team to implement sustained customized strategies.
Now, let’s explore ways you implement these strategies.
7 Ways to Get Steady Gigs (Retainer) From Your Existing Clients
A retainer marketing strategy can help you land steady gigs as a Nigerian freelance from your existing clients. Here are some of our favourite strategies for doing that:
- Brand yourself
- Create tiered services
- Craft a compelling value proposition
- Upsell existing clients
- Entice clients with free trials
- Implement a customer feedback loop
- Share customer success stories.
Now, let’s begin…
1. Brand yourself
Clients are more likely to stick with you for the long haul if they see you as a brand, rather than just a person. The reason is simple – people feel more secure dealing with established brands than they do with individuals.
So, the first step to landing retainer gigs is to build your freelance brand. And we have written extensively on how to pull that off. But here’s a recap:
- Pick a freelance niche and specialise.
- Take courses and training to grow your skills and become an industry expert.
- Create a unique brand identity, like logo, vision, and mission statements, to stand out.
- Build a strong social media presence.
- Design and launch your website to tell your stories and take charge of your brand messages.
- Leverage social proof to inspire trust and demonstrate credibility.
- Separate your brand from your person.
- Learn to exceed customer expectations.
What You Should Right Now: Download our free freelancer branding toolkit to build a brand your clients will love.
Download free freelancer branding toolkit
Brand yourself as an expert freelancer today. Use this free toolkit to build a brand your clients will love.
2. Create tiered services
Tiered pricing is a big part of how SaaS companies retain their customers. SaaS is a huge industry, worth around $237 billion in 2022 and projected to reach over $908 billion by 2030.
Tiered pricing can work great for your freelance business too, if you use it right.
For starters, it can help you tailor your offerings to your clients’ needs. Plus, tiered pricing lets you build scalability into your services. It allows clients to only pay for what they need and scale up easily as their business grows.
And here’s how you can create yours:
- Identify your target audience and their specific needs.
- List all the services you offer.
- Categorise your services into basic, intermediate, and premium levels.
- Outline the features and deliverables for each tier.
- Set pricing, ensuring that each tiered is priced proportionally to the value provided.
- Create a professional web page to promote your tiered services.
- Develop a marketing strategy to promote your tiers.
- Design a streamlined onboarding process for each new client, including welcome materials and documentation.
- Develop a customer support system to address clients’ inquiries and concerns.
3. Communicate value
It’s not enough to create tiered services.
We observed that most clients are not comfortable with the idea of a subscription service or retainer agreement because they are not sure if they will get their money’s worth. They may be concerned that they will not use all of the services or that the services will not be as good as they expect.
But you can win clients over with a compelling value proposition.
And here’s how we recommend you go about it:
- Identify your target audience and understand their needs, pain points, and desires.
- List the features and benefits of your services.
- Identify what makes your offerings unique.
- Translate those features into customer-centric benefits, demonstrating how it solves a specific customer pain points or improves their lives,
- Clearly states how your services are different from the competitors.
- Include quantifiable benefits to your value propositions if possible.
- Use visual elements and social proof, especially customer success stories to enhance your value proposition.
- Reinforce your message with social proof.
- Align your value proposition to your brand identity.
- Use strong and compelling language to craft your value proposition.
- Split-test (A/B test) your value proposition to selected audience segments.
4. Upsell existing clients
It’s one of the most straightforward ways to land retainer gigs as a freelancer.
The best part is about 10 to 30 percent of eCommerce revenues come from upselling and cross-selling. The good thing is you can reap similar benefits if you do it right. What is more? Companies that are good at upselling can experience up to 75% increase in their customer retention rate.
And I guess you want that.
So, we recommend upselling relevant tiered services to your project-only clients based on their needs.
Get it done with these steps:
- Analyse clients’ current needs and challenges.
- Identify where each tiered service can provide value.
- Segment your clients based on their needs and challenges.
- Develop personalized upselling strategies for each segment.
- Set up email drip campaigns as part of these upselling strategies.
- Ensure to highlight your value propositions and customer success stories, set clear expectations, and leverage urgency and time-sensitive promotions as part of the drip campaign.
- Provide flexible payment options.
- Design your follow-up system.
Download free retainer marketing checklist for freelancers
Supercharge your freelance success with our exclusive downloadable Retainer Marketing Checklist, your ultimate guide to staying organized, impressing existing clients, and securing a stream of steady gigs.
5. Entice clients with free trials
Some clients may still be reluctant to commit to a long-term relationship.
One way to address these concerns and make clients more comfortable with a retainer agreement is to offer a free trial period. It allows them to try out the services and see if they are a good fit for their needs.
Other benefits include – building brand trust, improving conversion rate, lowering customer acquisition costs, improving customer engagement, and retention, and gaining access to feedback for product improvement.
Here’s how to use free trials the right way:
- Define trial duration and features.
- Develop a user-friendly and seamless onboarding process.
- Implement time-limited access.
- Provide support and resources.
- Create and launch onboarding email sequences.
- Develop strategies to upsell clients to paid plans.
- Offer incentives for conversion.
- Provide a seamless upgrade process.
- Implement a customer feedback loop to collect actionable data to improve your service.
- Create a landing page for your free trials.
- Use paid ads to reach additional prospects besides your existing customers.
- Implement analytics to collect user data and track metrics.
6. Implement a customer feedback loop
You’ll also need to implement a campaign-wide customer feedback loop.
The feedback system for your free trial is designed to give you insights on how to improve your product and services and to increase your conversion rate. But this feedback loop is to collect data on how to satisfy your retainer clients, improve their experience, and keep them for as long as possible.
Follow these steps to implement your feedback loop:
- Define your feedback objectives.
- Identify the channels for collecting client feedback.
- Develop your feedback collection strategy (when and how you’ll collect feedback).
- Create the client feedback survey.
- Implement Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey.
- Develop methodologies for analysing feedback data, including how to categorise and prioritise feedback.
- Establish how to acknowledge client feedback and communicate the changes or improvements based on their feedback.
7. Exceed client expectations
Of course, there’s no guarantee that your clients won’t cancel the retainer agreement if they don’t get their expected value. So, lock them in by prioritising their satisfaction and exceeding their expectations.
The key is to do what your competitors are not doing. It makes them feel that they’re getting more value from you than they’ll likely get from somewhere else.
Here’s our recommendations for exceeding clients expectations:
- Understand clients’ needs.
- Set clear expectations to avoid misunderstanding.
- Keep clients updated on project progress, challenges, and successes.
- Respond promptly to emails, calls, and inquiries.
- Anticipate potential issues and address them before they become a problem.
- Provide alternatives and solutions when challenges arise.
- Deliver high-quality work.
- Go beyond the agreed-upon deliverables to provide unexpected value.
- Surprise and delight clients with bonus features or extra services.
- Personalise and tailor your services to each client’s needs.
- Aim to complete projects ahead of schedule.
- Seek regular feedback to improve your services.
- Provide exceptional customer service.
- Manage clients’ expectations transparently.
- Show appreciation by sending personalised thank-you messages.
Setting Up Your Retainer Agreement In 5 Minutes
Signing a retainer agreement when you land your clients can help you protect yourself and set clear expectations. But it’s not something you should rush.
Ensure to include these details in your retainer agreements.
- The scope of work and project timeline.
- Project deliverables.
- The key performance indicators (KPI) to evaluate and measure the deliverables.
- Responsibilities of both the freelancer and client.
- The amount you’ll receive each month and the payment methods.
- The invoicing procedures.
- Procedure for terminating or renewing the retainer agreement.
- Intellectual property rights.
- The confidentiality clause protects sensitive information.
- Approved communication channels.
- Indemnification rights and liability limits.
- Force majeure clause to address unforeseeable events.
- Procedures for dispute resolutions.
- Non-solicitation clause to prevent the client from hiring the freelancers’ employees or subcontractors.
- Procedures for updating and amending the agreement.
- Governing laws under which the agreement will be interpreted.
Download free retainer agreement checklist for freelancers
Stay organised with our free downloadable 20-point retainer agreement checklist.
What are the benefits of a freelance retainership for freelancers?
Some of the benefits of freelance retainers for freelancers include:
- A steady income: It provides freelancers with a steady stream of income, which can help to improve their financial stability.
- More flexibility: Freelancers who work on retainerships often have more flexibility in their work schedules, which can allow them to balance their work and personal lives more effectively.
- Increased opportunities for growth: Retainerships can allow freelancers to grow their businesses and develop new skills.
What are the benefits of a freelance retainership for clients?
There are also many benefits to a freelance retainer for clients, including:
- Access to expertise: Retainerships give clients access to the expertise of a freelancer on an ongoing basis, which can help them save time and money.
- Improved quality of work: Freelancers who work on retainerships are often more motivated to produce high-quality work, as they know that they will be working with the client on an ongoing basis.
- Lower overhead cost: hiring freelancers on a retainer can help businesses save costs on maintaining an in-house team and the stress that comes with managing them.
How do I get steady gigs as a freelancer?
Some ways you can get steady gigs from freelancers include:
- Build a strong portfolio: The best way to attract steady gigs from clients is to have a strong portfolio of your work. It shows potential clients what you’re capable of.
- Network with clients: Attend industry events, connect with clients on social media, and reach out to businesses you think you can provide value.
- Offer competitive rates: businesses are often willing to work with freelancers who offer competitive rates.
- Action the tips here: Following the tips in this post can help you improve your chances of landing steady gigs and retainers from your clients.
Final Thoughts on Retainer Marketing Guide
We have seen seven ways you can land steady gigs from your existing clients and draft a comprehensive retainer agreement that’ll help articulate your value proposition and protect your business.
Use the tips here to get started immediately.
It’s important to set clear expectations with clients before each project. It’ll help you to avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts down the road. Also, don’t forget to collect regular feedback from your clients to gain insights on how to improve to serve them better.
And download all the attached checklists to stay organised and implement your strategies more effectively.