Skip to content

The Monthly Retainer Agreement Email Sample Template

By Rob Williams

Monthly retainer agreements are the gold standard of freelance client work.

Why? Because they take care of one of the biggest pain in the butts of freelancing: the feast of famine cycle.

And there’s a common situation that is a perfect opportunity to offer a monthly retainer agreement… few freelancers take advantage of.

What is it you ask?

It’s when a client asks you something like: 

“Can you update thing X on my website?”

Yup – that’s right.

It may not look like it, but this client is begging you to offer them a monthly retainer agreement.

That’s why I wrote the email below to use in situations like this…

Here’s a monthly retainer agreement email template you can use to offer a retainer:

“For small maintenance updates like that it would probably be best to do some sort of small retainer.

For example, some of my clients pay $X00 every month to have me on call for up to 4 hours. This way they have my time reserved just for them, no matter what.

Otherwise, I can still do the update (at my normal $X00 hourly rate) — but you would just need to wait in my queue if I have other clients.

For companies of your size I usually recommend option 1 because I can sometimes be booked weeks or months in advanced, and in that case, updates wouldn’t be as quick to get done.

The small retainer is discounted so it’s a better deal, but more importantly it ensures you get everything done quickly.

Why this email template results in monthly retainer agreements…

When you send this off it radiates professionalism.

You’ve not only answered their question, you’ve taken the initiative and provide two options for them.

It doesn’t stop there.

This email also positions you as the in-demand freelancer you are, while also exhibiting a desire to remain flexible to your client’s needs.

It’s great to have a handful of clients paying you thousands of dollars every month in retainer agreements because you can count on that revenue coming in.

In fact, recurring revenue like this is a great way to kill the feast or famine cycle in your business.

Like I mentioned above, one of the key mistakes freelancers make is failing to recognize these opportunities completely.

When they arise we’re unfamiliar with them so we miss our chance.

Instead of looking for a new client this week what if you focused on making more money from your current clients?

Specifically what if you tried to create a recurring revenue stream that you could depend on even during dry spells?

Since you would be focusing on clients you already trust, this would also mean happier outcomes. But how?

Value comes in a lot of forms. It’s easy to think that you create and define value for your clients. That’s false. The truth is that your client defines what is valuable.

It’s your job to identify how you can deliver that value. Sometimes we miss out on these opportunities. Sometimes we don’t even recognize them as value delivery opportunities.

For example, when a client asks what it will cost to make a change to their website sometime in the future, what they’re really asking is for you to provide value in a new way.

They want to feel they can trust you and feel confident you won’t disappear the minute you hand off their project or get left out to dry.

When we don’t pick up on these desires and address them directly, our clients suffer. That’s why you have to read between the lines of what a client is asking you.

A sign you’ve failed to do this is when a question appears annoying. You’re a professional, of course you’re not going to leave your clients hanging! Of course you want repeat business! Of course you’re going to take care of them.

But a client doesn’t know these things intrinsically. We have to spell it out. This creates a perfect opportunity to up sell a retainer agreement because you can position the retainer as a premium way of ensuring you’re available to them if they need help.

More common client questions and situations begging you to offer a retainer agreement

What happens when I need help down the road?

Will you disappear on me?

What if I need to make changes?

How will I be able to update the site after the project?

What if I need to make changes in the future?

How do I make sure you won’t leave me out to dry?

What happens after you hand-off the project?

Who should I email if I have questions or need a change?

What if I want to make sure I get on your schedule?

How can I guarantee you’ll be available?

Who’s going to take care of the website?

Can I email you if I have questions or need an update?

Is it ok if I send some questions over next week?

What if I need small updates going forward?

Can I hire you next month on a small project?

What if I need to update something on my website?

Any time a client asks one of these questions it’s an opportunity to use the email template above and offer a retainer agreement.

About Rob Williams...

I run Folyo which helps freelance designers find the work they were meant to do. I also host Freelance a podcast about how to be more effective at independent work featuring remote companies like Disney, Basecamp, YNAB, ConvertKit and more.