When you hire someone, not only do you have to pay them every hour they’re at work, whether they’re working or not, but you have to give them days off, provide a desk, a fancy chair, a computer and thousands of dollars worth of software. If they’re lucky, you even give them some insurance and a 401(k). That all costs a lot of money. And I hate to say it, but you get what you pay for. If your situation allows you to afford $15/hour, or even $20 or $25/hour, you’re almost certainly getting a mediocre web guy who isn’t good enough to make more. (There are obviously exceptions, but not many.) I’ve seen this several times. You’re not happy with their work, the guy you hire is all stressed out, everyone hates coming to work and you go out of business. Well, maybe that’s a little extreme, but it’s true that you rarely get a really good web guy if you hire him.
My experience tells me that the workload of an average full-time (40 hours / week) webmaster takes someone like me FAR less. If you have a high maintenance website that needs constant work, retainers make perfect sense because you get top notch work done quickly. Here’s how it breaks down.
5 Hour Retainer = $375 ($75/hour)
10 Hour Retainer = $700 ($70/hour)
20 Hour Retainer = $1300 ($65/hour)
40 Hour Retainer = $2400 ($60/hour)
80 Hour Retainer = $4000 ($50/hour)
I do retainers on a three month contract to start. After the first three months we usually know each other pretty well and can tweak it as necessary. After the initial period I much prefer a twelve month contract, but can be talked into six months.
Retainers make sense for you in a few other ways too.
- When you call, I jump, meaning retainer clients bounce straight to the top of the mound of work always piled in front of me.
- No paying me to “figure out how to do it” because I’ve probably already done whatever you want 100 times. Like that little product slideshow in the middle of your competitors home page? Yeah. Not a big deal. You want your Facebook feed to show up on your website, but not look like every other Facebook feed in the universe? No problem. I’ve done that too.
- No sick days. Even when I’m sick, I still work. The only other one in my office is my computer, and Macs don’t get viruses, so I can cough on it all I want. (Honestly, I haven’t had more than sniffles in about 5 years. Probably because I don’t work in an office…)
- You know exactly how much your website is going to cost you on a monthly basis. Easy to budget.
- You already know you’re going to be spending the money, so why not take advantage of it? Tweak the text, change that dark red to a light red, just because you can.
- And last but not least, maybe you know you’re going to need work every month so why not pay a lower rate?
Oh, on that last part, if you have a 10 hour retainer, but you need 15 hours worth of work in a given month, I bill you the additional 5 hours at the same rate as the retainer; not my normal bill rate. See? Still saving you money.