Working with a Designer

Posts to help you work seamlessly with your designer or pick up some DIY tricks yourself!

4 Benefits a Designer on Retainer Can Bring to Your Company

If your organization lacks its own design department, you might be constantly scrambling to work with freelancers to get your projects tackled. The endless cycle of bidding work out to designers, making the decisions, signing contracts, getting new people up to speed, it can be exhausting and lead to disjointed work. If your company needs 6 or more major projects tackled per year, it might be time to consider getting a designer on retainer.

End the Admin Work

It takes a lot of effort on both sides to set up a new project, between the scope of work, estimation process, proposal or contract, plus all of the emails that are going to ping-pong back and forth. If you’re shopping around for a designer each time, the work multiplies even further. Having a designer on retainer, especially if you have a pretty good idea of what you’ll need for a period of time, cuts all of that work out. With one well-written scope of work and contract, you’re set for the next 3-12 months, depending on your agreement. Less paperwork makes everyone happy, right?

Really Grasp the Corporate Climate

A designer on retainer is basically like having a design department you aren’t paying benefits for (but you can feel free to invite us to your holiday parties anyway!). If you’re working with one person or one firm all of the time, the designer(s) are going to get to know you and what your company needs like the back of their hands. Whenever I work long-term with the same client, I really understand their needs and the direction they want their materials to go in. I also really get my contacts’ working styles and can anticipate what they’re going to need extra help with, without them even needing to ask. We develop a shorthand, projects move more efficiently and things turn out better.

Develop Serious Style

When you’re working with the same designer over and over, your materials are going to feel more united, because they’ll be approached the same way every time. Having a cohesive strategy helps position your organization better with your audience, because familiarity breeds trust. Repeating brand styles, layouts, visual elements can make a huge impact in how people perceive your company, and funneling all of your output through the same designer or team really strengthens your materials.

Lock In Rates and Schedule

Even if you always approach the same designer about your work, you may miss out on being able to book them when you need them. Freelancers have to fill their schedules when possible, so unless they know for sure that you’ve got something for them coming up, they may be packed and not able to take on your projects when you get a chance to ask. I’m able to give my retainer clients priority because I know I have regular work coming from them, so I’m never overbooked to those clients. You also may benefit from reduced rates or at least lock in current rates for a freelancer. If I know I’m going to have a substantial, steady amount of work from a retainer client, I can offer a reduced rate because that’s a number of hours I know I’m not going to need to fill from individual clients and that’s worth something to me. Also, if I have signed a year-long contract with a client, even if I am looking to raise my prices 6 months later, they won’t be affected until the contract is up.

So there you have it. A retainer agreement between companies and designers can cut out paperwork, create a great working relationship, make your materials the strongest they can be, and ensure that you’re not left in the lurch when you need a project tackled.


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