Fixed Cost Clients vs. H̶o̶u̶r̶l̶y̶ ̶C̶l̶i̶e̶n̶t̶s̶ vs. Retainer Clients

In this post, we’ll explore three different payment options that most agencies use. And the one that The Unglitch will no longer be offering come Fall of 2022.

Fixed Cost Payment

Fixed cost is exactly what it sounds like. Your price is agreed upon in advance for the project. The final cost will not change, regardless of hours spent. To arrive at the billable amount, there are a few different paths. If you are a newer freelancer or agency you try to calculate time and cost to calculate the fixed fee. You’ll do this if you’ll allow the client to do most of the creative direction. The Unglitch is a strategy-first agency and provides 100% creative direction so that my clients meet their goals. I research and collect target market and consumer data to present to you. I do this before we work on larger projects like brand name, logo, branding, website, marketing, and more.

That way you get only 1 honed-in bullseye hit – as design is subjective. You could look at 100 different good designs that you like. But without the data and proof to back up that this name, this logo, this website, this marketing strategy is the best option to meet your goals; you’ll fail at your goals.

In other words, why would you pay someone to throw darts at a board blindly? Strategy for fixed-cost projects is what gets us the “win”!

Hourly Rate

The most common out there is paying hourly for services. I myself have done this for the past 7 years. While pay by the hour is certainly fair to the client. It may not be the most efficient method for time-sensitive projects. Volume may be inconsistent as goals are not always defined as they would be in a strategy-first fixed-cost project.

Also, this payment method it’s not fair to a highly efficient creative. When you pay an employee hourly and they get more done than your other employees, you should give them a raise. However, when a freelancer or agency gets more done in the hour for you, they get paid…less.

They are also not guaranteed work, therefore, he or she is not required to prioritize time for the client’s needs. This is more like an open-ended contract that either party can walk away from after any payment cycle. Which many clients like to stick to. But if you find a freelancer, agency, or any contract worker in any industry that you like and always want to keep around. Consider that this hourly pay is unfair…


This is where The Unglitch is moving to for all clients who have ongoing needs. This type of fee is based on the old hourly rate. But specifies the number of hours and weeks I am to be retained. For example, if you find that you email me with your creative, marketing, SEO, or other needs during the week and need about 2 hours of my time each week. We’ll agree on a retainer of 2 hours per week x my hourly rate which you will pay every 3-6 months. 2 x $___ x 12 or 24 = what you’ll pay ahead of time. This ensures I’m always available for your needs the minute you need them.

Should the client wish to exceed the weekly retainer hours, their contract should detail an alternative arrangement for additional hours of work that are billed weekly for anything extra. Work that has not been completed within the weekly retainer hours can roll over to the next week if the client wishes or if there is a rush to get that task done they’ll be billed extra that week. So it’s always best to utilize The Unglitch so you always better your business and keep marketing efforts going. If you do not use your preset hours for the week they are not like rollover minutes. They don’t get applied to the next week So use them!

While retainer structures vary, this payment method is commonplace in other industries. Lawyers, consultants of all kinds, and even seasonal professions like snow removal, are all often paid by retainer.

After 14 years in the industry and 7 years running The Unglitch, this is what I’ll transition all my current returning customers to. While I understand that some clients are always looking for “a deal”. Consequently, I’m looking to be paid fairly.

If you are a current client or would like to try out a small retainer agreement please email me (Jacquelyn) at so we can work together to customize our retainer agreement.

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