Working On Retainer: Tell Us Your Stories

Freelancers: have you ever been on retainer (or a ‘contributing editor’ contract, which we assume is similar)?

What a deal. You agree to be available for X number of hours per month. In exchange, you get paid up-front for those hours, usually at a slightly discounted rate, and whether or not the client uses those hours, you keep the money. It sounds like a sweet deal. You get a guaranteed income, and the client gets an on-tap pro for anything they need, without having to negotiate each project individually.

These arrangements are popular in law firms and with doctors serving the rich. But in the media world, retainer arrangements are a little like unicorns—often talked about but rarely, if ever, seen.

If you can land one, though, are they a freelancer’s dream come true? What about contributing editor contracts? We’d love to hear your experiences — good or bad — with these arrangements. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!