Outsourcing any part of your small business is a big step. Heck, I remember when I hired my first VA for a few hours per month. I was intimidated, had no idea what the process would look like, and was worried about releasing some of the control I had over my business.
Handing-off something as vital as coding pieces of your design projects can be even more intimidating. Not only is this part of your business, but your client is depending on you to do a good job.
Luckily, most people who bring a developer on for a monthly retainer package end up learning what I learned when I hired my first VA. It’s not nearly as intimidating as it seems, they’ll lead you through the steps to get started, and it’s a huge weight off your shoulders.
Today, we’re going to take some time to decide whether having a developer on retainer is a good choice for you and your design business.
What having a developer on retainer means
We covered it in detail in this post, but as a quick recap, working with a developer on retainer means you have them reserved for a few hours each month. This can be especially valuable since good developers tend to book out for months at a time. No waitlist for you!
Some of the more common tasks designers tend to use their retainer hours for include:
- Advanced coding features
- Custom page templates
- Client support and maintenance
- Small coding tweaks
- Setting up test sites
- Transferring test sites to live sites
But don’t let that limit you, you can use your retainer hours for almost anything that relates to the coding and techy pieces of websites!
The benefits of having a developer on retainer
The benefits of working with a developer on retainer really depend on the current struggles you’re having and what you intend to use your monthly hours for. But let’s go over some of the benefits I’ve heard from my own retainer clients!
For an inside look from a designer’s perspective, check out Nikki’s post on why you should have a developer in your back pocket.
More time for design
The biggest bit of relief I’ve heard is that when you’ve got a developer on retainer, you’re not stuck Googling solutions to coding problems late into the night or trying to learn new techniques. That piece right there can be one of the most frustrating pieces of offering websites as a designer.
Instead, you can pass those things off without a second thought, knowing they’ll be done right, and spend more time focusing on creating gorgeous designs and ensuring your clients have a great experience. No more worrying about issues that you just don’t have time to deal with.
Easy access to an expert
When you’re struggling to figure something out on a website, your first thought is to probably email a couple people who know more than you and post in a Facebook group to see if anyone can help you out. But generally, that leads to crickets or big fees from people who are willing to help out as a rush project.
Instead, having a developer on retainer means you have an experienced developer available to you at all times. You can rest assured that whenever something comes up, you have someone who can jump in and help out.
You can offer more quality design work
When you’re not working closely with a developer, you likely find yourself designing “around” your abilities.
You get to a spot on a homepage mockup that you’d love to do something cool with, but then have to sit back and consider if you and Google will be able to team up and figure it out.
When you’ve got a developer on your side, you don’t have to limit yourself anymore. You can be confident that if it’s possible, they can get it done, giving you the freedom to design whatever you’d like and give your client a better end-product.
What having a developer on retainer could mean for your business
Not only can working closely with a developer give you peace of mind you didn’t know you could have, but it can lead to some serious up-leveling for your business.
Reaching the point where you know that collaborating with others can provide your clients the best work you can offer is huge. No more days where all the pressure is on you and you can now pull experience from other experts whenever you want to.
Time is money. The less time we waste doing things we’re not experts at, the more time we have for the things we’re meant to do. Think of what even 5 hours per project could allow you to work on in other areas of your business. (And I bet you’re spending more time than that dealing with code per project!)
And last, you can set yourself apart with more quality design work. No more worrying about being limited to the pre-made templates that already exist and your coding abilities. You can start to create unique designs that set you apart from the rest.
Is it the right time for you?
It’s hard to tell when you’re meant to bring on someone else to your team. Especially for such an important role. But if you’re looking to…
- Spend more time on design
- Give your clients the attention they deserve
- Waste less time stressed out searching Google
- Know exactly who to go to when you have a tech question
- Design what you’re envisioning, rather than what you can code
- Uplevel your business and bring on a new team member
…then, it’s time to give it a try!
Here’s what a couple others have said about working together on retainer
I can’t believe that only took you 12 minutes. That would have taken me HOURS. That’s why everyone needs you. They just don’t know it.
Katie Williamsen, Web Design Strategist | Katie Williamsen
Before working with Krista, I struggled to get web design projects wrapped up with clients and I wanted more time in my day to do things besides learning new coding skills. With Krista, I have a new-found peace of mind that work is getting done – and getting done beautifully and quickly!
– Amanda Creek | Amanda Creek Creative, Designer
It was the launch week of a clients website and I ran into some coding issues that I could not fix. Time was ticking and I had only a few days to sort out the problem. I reached out to Krista and lucky for me she came to the rescue. On short notice she was able to solve my coding problem in less than a day and I couldn’t have been more thankful. The whole process was smooth, reliable and EASY. Needless to say I’ll be keeping her in my back pocket for future projects!
– Nikki Corcoran | Night Owl Studio, Designer
If you’re ready to team up and get rid of some coding and tech work, learn how we can work together on retainer here.