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Best 3 Writing Gigs on Retainer

Steady paychecks month after month. Easy writing assignments because you know the audience. Happy clients who value you and your writing. These are just a few of the benefits of writing on retainer.

Editor’s Note: The following content is provided to Writer’s Digest by a writing community partner. This content is sponsored by American Writers & Artists Inc.

Steady paychecks month after month …

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Easy writing assignments because you know the audience …

Happy clients who value you and your writing …

These are just a few of the benefits of writing on retainer. Last week, I shared seven reasons why you should consider these arrangements —and why, as a marketer who hires lots of writers, I’m a big fan. (If you missed it, you can access the post here.)

And today I’m going to share with you the best retainer deals for writers. They may not be the ones that first come to mind …

In fact, in my experience, these three deals are the ones most often overlooked by writers. (Which means great opportunity for you!)

1. Social Media

Social media is a top pick for two reasons …

For starters, most businesses have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to social media. They know they need to have a presence. But they don’t understand why.

But more importantly, it gives you an inside edge on other writing assignments that are necessary for an effective social media marketing strategy. Which means along with having a steady gig, you’ll be able to develop a list of other assignments you can pitch your clients — from landing pages and email campaigns, to online content and Pay-Per-Click ads, all of which come with additional writing fees.

Typically the writer’s role includes:

  • Managing the various social media communities.
  • Writing messages/updates.
  • Writing advertisements to build follower numbers and increase engagements.
  • Leading discussions.
  • Turning engagements into content (which is often priced in addition to the retainer deal).


  • Upwards of $2,000 a month, depending on how much you do.
  • New content is often priced separately.

How to land:

  • Get involved in their social networks.
  • Identify how they’re using them (customer service, sales, etc.).
  • Research and join similar groups to see what their competition is doing.
  • Present the client with solutions for achieving their goals and taking advantage of missed opportunities.

(Learn more about doing social media on retainer here.)

2. E-newsletters

E-newsletters provide a valuable marketing channel for many businesses …

They provide an inexpensive way to develop a relationship with prospects, and they allow a company (or service provider) to position itself as an expert in the industry.

But here’s the catch …

Once a business starts sending out an e-newsletter, their prospects and customers expect it to show up on a regular basis.

Which is great for you. Because it means they’re going to need good e-newsletter content written on a consistent, ongoing schedule.

Typically the writer’s role includes:

  • Researching the industry.
  • Developing an Editorial Calendar.
  • Writing the e-newsletter content.
  • Developing a single voice for the company.
  • Managing the list and disseminating the e-newsletter.


  • $900 to $2,000 per issue (length is typically 1,200 to 1,500 words).
  • Plus thousands to set-up an e-newsletter from scratch.

How to land:

  • Focus on a particular niche.
  • Review newsletters in the industry.
  • Put together a few sample issues.
  • Prepare two Project Proposal templates: taking over an existing e-newsletter, and starting a new e-newsletter.

(Learn more about writing e-newsletters on retainer here.)

3. Online Content

Companies spent more than $118.4 billion on content marketing in 2013 — yet many writers don’t think of online content as a retainer deal. They approach the projects piece-by-piece.

Which always surprises me … Because companies need content on an ongoing basis!

Google now insists that a website have quality content (and a constant stream of it) or its search engine rankings will suffer. And, if a business can’t be found on Google … well, they may as well close up shop.

Content marketing is essentially “selling without selling.” Instead, businesses educate their readers with stories, metaphors, and simple advice in the form of new articles, blog posts, emails, and so on.

Ultimately, these pieces of content are moving the reader toward the sale …

But in the meantime, content gives the company the opportunity to build a relationship with the reader, and demonstrate their expertise, so that when the opportunity to buy does appear, the reader is open to it and ready to take action.

Typically the writer’s role includes:

  • Researching the industry.
  • Writing blog posts in the voice of company executives or experts.
  • Conducting interviews for case studies, press releases, or articles.
  • Developing different pieces that will move the prospect through the sales funnel (emails, video scripts, slide shows, etc.).


  • $100 to $500 per piece.
  • Fees depend on length and complexity of topic.

How to land:

  • Read content on websites of interest.
  • Determine who their audience is and what they’re trying to ultimately sell.
  • Put together a list of relevant topics.
  • When pitching, keep in mind the intention of the company.

(Learn more about writing online content on retainer here.)

Remember, retainer deals can be put in place whenever there is an ongoing need for a particular type of content or copy.

And while this list really only scratches the surface, hopefully it helps you spot other opportunities to build a steady ongoing income stream as a professional writer.


Next week, I’ll show you how to structure and set up these deals …

So decide which ones you’d like to pursue, and then join me for some best practices you should follow to ensure you land and execute them with ease!

To your success,
Rebecca Matter

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