Retainers – Why They are a Must

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For the first year and a half of our existence, Sutton Creative Studios didn’t require retainers from our clients. Perhaps we were naive, but we chose to believe the best of our clients. In other words, we chose to believe their intentions were good and we would always get paid. Just as in many other aspects of life, however, we learned a lesson…

Money! by David BeyerRetainers are a must.

To back track a tiny bit, I must say that in a case or two our clients DID have awesome intentions. Unfortunately the client experienced a financial crunch and just couldn’t pay in a timely manner. But retainers cover you in the case of a client cash crunch. In order to resume work when the cash crunch is over, the client must simply replenish their retainer back to original, agreed upon, balance.

Unfortunately not all clients have good intentions. Some are simply looking to get quality products and/or services without paying any money. This is why you must protect yourself, and is the reason why retainers are a must.

Following are several suggestions regarding how to structure your retainers:

  • Flat Rate Project: Require 1/2 of the project be paid for in advance, with another 1/4 due halfway through and the last 1/4 due before the final product is delivered.
  • Hourly Project: Depending on the terms of your project, require that 2-3 weeks be paid for in advance. If your contract states your client has two weeks to pay an invoice before work ceases, require two weeks be paid in advance. If three weeks are allowed, require three weeks in advance. As long as your client is paying his/her weekly invoices in a timely manner, you should always have an active retainer available in case of emergency.

If you have a new client who is unwilling or unable to pay a retainer, you do have an option: Elance. Ask your client to hire you through a freelancing service like Elance, but notify them up front that there will be a charge (from Elance) added to your hourly rate. Do not discount your hourly rate to allow your client to pay the same amount. You are allowing the client to work with you despite their reservations/inability to pay your retainer by going through a third-party service. This service will delay your payment(s), so you should not be sacrificing your pay for their convenience. Consider it a client convenience fee.

Have you had issues getting a client to pay? What have you done to resolve the situation?


Wedding DressKim Sutton is a founding partner of Sutton Creative Studios, an agency specializing in social media management, graphic design and virtual assistance.  She is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Architecture. In her free-time, Kim cherishes the time she gets to spend with her husband, Dave (her business partner), and three children. She also enjoys reading, knitting and writing. You are invited to follow Sutton Creative Studios by following our blog, subscribing to our newsletter, or following/liking us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or Pinterest. In addition, please comment and/or contact us with any questions.

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Say Goodbye to Facebook Games

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Candy CrushCandy Crush, Pet Rescue Saga, Farmville… These are just the first three that come to mind. And if you’re on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve heard of them as well. Business owners beware, however – they are very addictive and highly time consuming. If you’re trying to grow your business. it’s probably time to say goodbye to Facebook games. Continue reading

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Things to Never Tell a Client

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When it comes to owning your very own small business, talking to your clients can be very much like talking to former employer(s). While on the job/clock or under contract there are certain things you should never say to a client. Believe me, if you say any of the phrases off my “Things to Never Tell a Client” list you might as well kiss your contract goodbye. Continue reading

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5 Reasons You CAN Afford a Virtual Assistant

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Hiring support within your business, whether a full-time, in-house employee or a virtual, part-time consultant, can be scary for any business owner. One of the biggest concerns is often, “How will I be able to afford to pay them?” Because I hear these questions all the time, I’ve prepared a list of the 5 reasons you CAN afford a virtual assistant. Read on… Continue reading

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Know the Scope

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Scope by PantoDXYou’ve probably already figured out that a lot of what we write about on our blog is based on our own first-hand experiences. This article is no different. The lesson today is Know the Scope (of work).

Here’s what prompted this article… Continue reading

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March Anti-Madness

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I don’t know about other parts of the world, but in the United States the Spring and March Madness go hand-in-hand. Considering I have never watched a basketball game beyond when my boys were little and playing at the YMCA, I hold no interest in all the Hoop-la. (Yes, pun intended) March Anti-Madness, however, has a firm grip on my attention span.

L5Spring Clean by kcxdWhat is March Anti-Madness? Let’s define it as spring cleaning for your business.

During the course of this March and every March thereafter, I challenge you to take the necessary steps to clean up and better your business. Continue reading

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What Does Your Meta Content Description Say?

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This afternoon I had an “SOS – Emergency” Skype message from a client. In short, a social media post went out for one of her clients that had information relating to their old company and business partner. While the post we had written referenced the correct company name and URL, the URL shortener we used pulled from a meta content description which hadn’t been updated since the client and their former business partner split. This was bad. Continue reading

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