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VIP Days, Single Projects, or Retainers: Which One is Right for You?

VIP Days, Single Projects, or Retainers: Which One is Right for You?

When you started your business, we bet you accepted most, if not all, new clients who popped up in your inbox or DMed you on Instagram. Work is work, and you wanted happy clients that would  lead to referrals and more clients. But maybe your biz is more established now, and structuring your business that way is starting to get a little shaky.

It may be time to sit down and consider what type of services you want to offer. Do you want to stick with single projects for one-and-done clients? What about VIP Days or working on retainer? How about all three? Let’s talk about it below.

What are VIP Days?

VIP Days go like this. You sit down and work with a client one-on-one during a dedicated period of time, usually one or two days (Which is why they’re also called “day rate services.”) However, you can also offer more days, even up to a week! It’s your call. 

Your VIP Day client gets to have you for that time so you can work together on a singular project or goal. You’ll see VIP Days offered by coaches a lot, but graphic designers, copywriters, commercial photographers, virtual assistants, and other biz owners offer them, too.

(Psst…You can learn more about VIP Day services in this blog post!)

What about single projects?

If you’re a freelancer or work in a certain industry, you may be used to doing single projects for clients already. Just like they sound, single projects are one-and-done gigs. You get hired to complete a goal or produce a deliverable, and once you do, that’s it. That same client may hire you again in the future, but there’s no guarantee or ongoing contract.

For example, photographers who get hired for singular events — wedding, senior portrait, maternity shoot — are finished once their photos are received by the client. Compare that to a commercial photographer, who might have a VIP Day with a brand to regularly shoot their new products.

How do retainers work?

When you work “on retainer,” your client pays you in advance for a specified number of hours each month. You’re paid whether you actually get assignments or not. You might chip away at a long-term project, or your client pays to access your services on a regular basis. 

Social media managers, content creators, web security — if you offer clients ongoing help, having a retainer might be a good idea. To create your fee, you’d give clients a reduced hourly rate as your retainer, either in recurring payments or in a lump sum up front. Your client gets a discount, and you get a steady paycheck. Win-win!

Which one is right for you?

Now for the big question: Which service is right foryou

Pros and cons of VIP Days

VIP Days bring in the big bucks. We know money conversations can get awkward, but we’re not afraid to say it! Offering VIP Days can boost your cash flow. You and your VIP Day clients can also strengthen your relationship the longer you work together. They can count on you for consistent high-quality work, and you can count on them for predictable, stable work.

However, VIP Days can bedraining, even if you plan them the best you can. There’s pressure on you to deliver to your client thanks to those high rates, so you may find yourself working past the hours you initially sold. They can also be difficult if you work with worldwide clients virtually.

If you decide to offer a VIP Day service, make sure your contract has these:

  • An outline of the services you’ll provide
  • Availability, VIP Day agenda, and deliverables
  • A payment plan and late fee clause
  • Communication preferences
  • Everything you expect to have from your clientbeforeVIP Day and what you need from them the day of

We have a  VIP Day Contract Template for you that takes care of it all.

Pros and cons of single projects

If a client turns out to be…well,  not so nice, then you don’t ever have to see them again after your single project is completed. They might be a good fit for you if you like the excitement of tackling new projects and working with new people all the time. 

That benefit can also be a drawback, though. If almost all of your cash flow comes from single projects, you’re likely hunting for new clients and promoting your biza lot, which can be exhausting. And if your one-and-done client wants more than you agreed upon, without your approval or the appropriate compensation, you might have todeal with scope creep.

If you like the sound of single projects, make sure your contract has these:

  • The start and end date of your agreement
  • An outline of the services you’ll provide
  • Communication preferences
  • A confidentiality clause
  • A payment plan and late fee clause
  • A discussion about who owns the work you create
  • Terminating or canceling the contract

We have contracts for all sorts of businesses, but if you need a standard contract as a freelancer or consultant, take a look at our  Independent Contractor Contract Template.

Pros and cons of retainers

What’s one of the biggest fears we all have as small biz owners? Not getting enough business to keep going. Retainers are awesome because they provide a steady, reliable source of income. You don’t have to worry about finding and keeping new clients all the time. You strengthen your professional relationship with your retainer clients, too.

Working on retainer sounds like a dream, but it’s not perfect! Deadlines, schedules, and workload can be inconsistent, which may make it hard to plan around. You are also offering a discounted rate since your clients are essentially buying in bulk from you, though it will probably even out in the future.

If you go with a retainer-relationship, make sure your contract has these:

  • Availability and work hours expected
  • Communication preferences
  • A payment plan (will you be paid up front, monthly, etc.)
  • A discussion about what happens if time is not used (whether it carries into next month or is lost)
  • What services are included 
  • What additional services or work would cost

If you’re a  copywriter,  social media manager, or  website designer who offers retainer agreements, we got you. Work in another industry? Find your contract template  in our shop.

No matter what, establish boundaries with a solid contract

So, in a nutshell:

  • VIP Days are one to a few days of work with a single client, which works well for singular deliverables like new graphics or large copy projects. They can be exhausting, but they do boost your bottom line.
  • Single projects are a great fit for websites, photoshoots, and other one-and-done gigs. You’d like them if you enjoy meeting new people and doing new projects, but irregular income and clients who come and go can be tiring.
  • Retainers benefit you and clients that need regular help. If you’re in social media, content creation, or web support, you’d enjoy reliable work and steady income, but deadlines and workloads can be inconsistent.

VIP Days, retainer agreements, and single projects aren’t for everyone. That’s kind of the beauty of being a small biz owner, right? You can decide what’s best for you and your business. Don’t feel pressured to offer all threeorstick with only one service. You’re the boss.

The most important tip we can leave you with is this:have a contract. No matter what type of service you offer, protect yourself and your business with a contract! We’ve got contract templates for all kinds of businesses, so grab yours now.

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