Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. You’ve landed a great retainer contract and you’re feeling on top of the world. Fast forward a few months, and the shine has well and truly worn off. The client is constantly making last-minute changes, the scope of work is creeping ever outward, and you find yourself working all hours just to keep up. It’s a familiar tale, but one with a happy ending: there is a way out! Here are some tips for how to survive (and even thrive) when your retainer contract starts to feel more like a ball and chain.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
The first step is to get ahead of the game by being proactive instead of reactive. This means being proactive about your time management, setting clear boundaries with your client, and having difficult conversations when necessary. It’s also important to be proactive about your own mental and physical health; if you’re starting to feel burned out, take some time for yourself before things spiral out of control.
Set Clear Boundaries
It’s essential that you set clear boundaries with your client from the outset. This means being crystal clear about what is included in the scope of work, what isn’t included, and what kind of turnaround times you are realistically able to achieve. If the client tries to push those boundaries, stand firm. It’s also important to set boundaries with yourself; make sure you’re still taking time for your personal life and hobbies, even if it’s just a few hours a week. Otherwise, you’ll start to resent the contract that’s taking over your life.
If you’re struggling to keep up with the demands of the contract, it’s important to be honest with your client as soon as possible. They may be able to lighten your workload or give you more realistic deadlines. If not, at least you’ll have brought it up before things start falling behind. Likewise, if you’re feeling burnt out or like you can’t handle the contract anymore, don’t be afraid to tell your client that you need to renegotiate or terminate the agreement altogether. It’s better to do that than let things continue on in an increasingly negative spiral.
🍩 Just the Sprinkles
No one said being a freelancer was easy—but sometimes it can feel downright impossible. If you find yourself in the throes of a retainer contract from hell, don’t despair; there is light at the end of the tunnel! By following these tips for how to survive (and even thrive) when your retainer contract starts to feel more like a ball and chain, you’ll be back on track in no time.