You're a web designer working with excellent clients, but you want to do more.
You've been thinking about working with a developer and have even checked out possibilities like purchasing a monthly development retainer.
But maybe you're not sure how much time you need or what a developer can even do for you.
What Can a Developer Do For You?
First up, if you need a web developer to build out an entire project for you, a retainer is not what you're looking for.
Think of a retainer as the perfect way to outsource the boring or tricky tasks you regularly deal with when creating websites for your clients.
To give you an idea of what a developer can do for you through a retainer, here are just some of the things I've done for clients in the last month:
- Full site audit (speed/performance, SEO, UX/UI)
- Change text on product "Sold Out" labels
- Customize cookie banner
- Change the "read more" text on blog posts
- Change background colors on different index pages
- Find and fix broken links throughout the website
- Proofread content
- Change text on the "Shopping Cart" page
- Change color of links on dark background pages
- Re-order content on pages
- Change business address in Squarespace
- Hook up Google Search Console
- Style the plain Mailchimp newsletter forms
- Fix domain issues
- Set up Google Analytics
- Add custom fonts to the website
- Optimize images
- Set up 301 redirects for new page URLs
- Set up multilingual pages on a Squarespace site
- Update plugins on WordPress
Think of all the little things that you need to do when you design a website. Most of those tasks can be passed over to a developer, especially the trickier tasks that take you longer than you'd like.
You can also use your retainer hours to offer maintenance packages to your clients without actually having to do the maintenance work yourself.
Or even better, use those retainer hours to give your own website a little love.
How to Decide How Many Retainer Hours You Need
So now that you know what types of tasks you might be able to pass over to a developer, how do you decide how many hours you need on a monthly basis?
My recommendation? Start small. Build up.
If you're keeping track of your time and have details on how much time you spend on the tasks you dislike, then that gives you a rough idea of how many hours you might need. But I would recommend rounding down when you outsource so that you don't waste any hours.
You can usually work with your developer to add more hours on if you really need them. For example, many developers offer a prepaid package with a few hours included for designers who are just looking to test the waters.
Don't forget to build these hours into your own prices. You get to spend more time on making the difficult design decisions and your clients benefit from that!