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Pay-per-Project or Retainer: How Should You Hire a Freelancer?

Pay-per-Project or Retainer: How Should You Hire a Freelancer?

As a small/midsize business owner, outsourcing work may sound like a great tactic on paper but cause some nervousness in practice. Some of the first questions you’ll need to answer are:

In this blog, we’ll tackle that last question and give you some pros and cons of each option. Let’s get into it to help you decide when to contract freelancers on a duration basis or utilize a pay-per-project approach.

Reasons to use a pay-per-project basis:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Hiring a freelancer on a project-by-project basis can be more cost-effective for those who only need one or a few projects completed at a time or those working within limited budgets. 
  2. Targeted Expertise: Freelancers are typically experts in specific types of work and, often, in particular industries. A project-by-project approach allows you the flexibility to hire different freelancers to work on the pieces they’re best equipped to tackle so you end up with higher-quality deliverables.
  3. Timeliness: While freelancers on retainer still work to deadlines, working on a pay-per-project basis can get work completed more quickly. By hiring a freelancer to focus on a specific project with a specific deadline, you get an expert who’s hyper-focused on a deliverable instead of one who can only give you a certain amount of hours per week. 

Pro tip: Don’t use the pay-per-project basis as an excuse to have rush jobs completed consistently. Repeatedly dropping emergencies on freelancers is a great way to ensure nobody wants to work with you.

Reasons to put a freelancer on retainer:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Yes, we listed this as a pro for the pay-by-project approach; however, contracting a freelancer for a set number of months is cost-effective for business owners with a lot of work to outsource. Paying by project can add up compared to buying a set number of hours of an expert’s time.
  2. Consistency: Keeping a marketing freelancer on retainer lets them learn about your business, offerings, and voice. You’ll also get more consistent materials that work together better than deliverables from various freelancers. 
  3. Take Advantage of Services: Retainers and the pay-per-project approach can work to complete specific deliverables, but contracts also open the door for services. Free up more of your time (and get better results) by contracting a freelancer to take over part of your business instead of just producing items you have to manage and distribute yourself.
We offer the freelancer plans suitable for your business needs.

In conclusion:

As you can see, these two freelancer hiring methods mirror each other in many ways. Both are cost-effective but for opposite reasons. Paying by project means you can hop from expert to expert and focus more on specific projects so they’re completed more quickly. Retainers complement this approach by helping you prioritize consistency and quality while being ideal for accessing services.

So, which way should you go about it? We must give you the unsatisfying answer: “It depends.” However, you’re now more equipped to tell which situations are ideal for each method.

Interested in outsourcing marketing work? Let’s talk about what our network of experts can do for you, whether on a project basis or via retainer.