Typically, a freelance proposal is the first communication avenue between the freelancer and the client. It serves as the written meeting ground between the services the provider is willing to offer on the project and the cost the client can reasonably pay for said services. Therefore, a comprehensive freelance proposal has to be in layers, with the first essential layer dealing with estimates from both ends.
In other words, we can define it as:
A freelance proposal is a document in which the freelancer submits to receive client contracts and projects.
It is typically in response to an RFP (Request for Proposals) by the potential client and ultimately seeks to harmonize project cost and the freelancer’s expertise.
Freelancers basically require a proposal to secure gigs and projects. However, developing an effective freelance proposal demands significant resources. Therefore, it helps if the prospective freelancer understands the fundamental components it needs for a higher success chance at the employer’s desk.
One of the other essential layers the freelancer needs to take a holistic approach to in preparing a proposal is to understand the client’s needs in the proposal is that it equips him/her better in delivering the most value on the job. In addition, since the research on the client’s needs takes place before the proposal got written, the final submitted document reflects a deep understanding by highlighting the client’s needs inside out.
Alternate names of the freelance proposal
Some of the other names a freelance proposal goes by include: an “offer,” “quote,” or “proposal.” These are synonyms that are interchangeable depending on context and the industry kind.
Also, the freelancer should seek to understand the proposal format types. Generally, the proposal could come as a product of an online proposal software or regular email. The client organization may also prefer a bid that follows a freelance contract template. Overall, it is imperative to carefully consider the client’s identity and requirements when preparing a proposal, as it helps to point the freelancer in the right direction.
What Should a Good Proposal Address to the Client?
From the start, a good proposal needs to outline the service boundaries in clear terms. It is also supposed to give the impression of better service quality than competing providers. A feeling of better service delivery provides the freelancer with the leverage to charge higher rates.
Furthermore, a proposal should contain the project’s goals, ideas, and needs as the customer envisioned them. It tells the customer that the freelancer has a better understanding of the desired development timeline.
Lastly, the potential client should see that the freelancer can deliver the necessary services at such a competitive value and with the right compromises.
Proposal Format and Structure
Freelance proposals have to follow a particular format for the client to consider them. A suitable design makes the document look organized and structured. It also lets the freelancer’s professionalism shine through, thereby putting negotiations in better stead.
Some of the mandatory information which should appear in a freelance proposal includes:
- The subject line in full: This should be centralized in the document, and further signify the proposal descriptions
- Personal and professional details: It should include full name, business name/logo, and address. This information in the proposal should appear at the top-most part of the document and take up no more than four lines.
- The client’s full name and address: These details should appear as would in a formal letter.
- The client’s proposal number and current date: Include the proposal number and the date of writing. The proposal might be a variation of the current date or a unique code that the freelancer develops.
- Service scope and a full description: The service scope should be one or two lines detailing the industry and activity modes. A full explanation should follow in brief paragraphs.
- Net price estimate: The total projected price after deducted taxes, expenses, and discounts should be clearly stated
- Applicable discounts and taxes: Some of the optional and permitted discounts and taxes should appear in the document, subject to the freelancer’s discretion
- Total estimate amount: The total estimate amount should appear at the document’s concluding end. It could either be in a range form or a single estimated number.
Optional additional information
Below are some of the other information that counts as optional on the proposal:
- Project duration: The estimated time the freelancer hopes to finish the project, should he/she gets it. It needs to reflect the estimated time the client expects to have the job completed.
- The freelancer’s notes and recommendations: the freelancer should include observations from the freelancer’s findings on the client and the job. The notes and suggestions should tie in precisely with the job’s objectives.
- Miscellaneous conditions, e.g., copyright statements, additional fees, and payment channels: Additional information on the job resources and other components shared between the client and the freelancer.
- Pitches and reasons why the freelancer is the best fit: Clear statements on the freelancer’s suitability for the job could be specified. They may exist as standalone paragraphs or as sentences throughout the whole description section.
Freelance Proposal Templates
Here are some customizable options of great freelance proposal templates that you can download and modify.
Tips for Writing a Great Freelance Proposal
A freelancer can make use of handy tips to develop a better converting freelance proposal such as;
Project description and client’s know-how
Writing a freelance proposal has to be in line with the client’s needs. It means that the freelancer has to pay keen attention to the description as given by the customer. They might also need to go over the details multiple times to get the most precise picture of the client’s desires on the project. Also, the project description analysis determines the style to employ in the proposal you will write, such as the proper formal tone and formal vocabulary.
Carrying out a proper analysis has the advantage of improving service delivery in the long run. In addition, since there is a firm (and sometimes cordial) relationship between the customer and service provider, the value proposition becomes unique and harder to find elsewhere.
Make a strong entrance
It is essential to make the best impressions with a proposal in the initial paragraphs. To do so, the freelancer has to be aware of his/her strengths, especially as they relate to the project at hand. Recognizing key strengths further allows the service provider to state them more uniquely.
Furthermore, a strong entrance stays hinged on how well the freelancer can grab attention with the first few sentences. After that, he can use unconventional methods such as writing a slogan or expressing his enthusiasm for the job without wandering from the project boundaries.
Cold emailing is one of the conventional strategies that can work effectively for the purpose. For example, a freelancer could write a short, concise email on how to help a specific company with its needs. More than anything, cold emails give the impression of well-researched intent on the project – a virtue all clients invariably desire.
Cold emails are also an avenue for the service provider to showcase his creativity and familiarity with the proposed job. It might entail taking extra steps, like providing written or developed demonstrations (a demo web framework, sketch, article outline, etc.) in exchange for an increased chance among other contestants. These are forms of opportunity management that have a long-term advantage.
On the whole, a solid opening quickly gives the impression that the freelancer did enough research. It would, in turn, elicit commendations from the client and confidence to expect actual value delivery on the project. In most cases, the customers’ decision to make the hire gets determined by how quickly the freelancer convinces them in the proposal.
Sell your strengths
A step further from identifying related strengths is to placing focus on them during gig pitches. The freelancer must tailor his core strengths towards the job for which he’s applying; it’s about “putting the best foot forward.” However, since it is such an important aspect, freelancers need to have the proper confidence levels; motivation might be necessary to get into the necessary mindset.
Selling related strengths can be effective, but there is the temptation to include more strengths in a freelance proposal than necessary. As a result, the freelancer could mention an unrelated or irrelevant skill, which would immediately hamper his chances of getting the job. So instead, the recommendation is to outline a few strong qualities and expound on how they could significantly help the client.
Clients tend to describe the project from their point of view, and competing freelancers perceive it differently. As a result, the main description component of the gig becomes ambiguous, leaving a typical freelancer to guess the intended message.
While it can mostly be a drawback, service providers should be requested to capitalize on the situation and show quick and reciprocate thinking that answers such queries of the freelancers and communicate clearly. It significantly helps when the freelancer anticipates and identifies vital problems and offers proactive solutions. As a result, clients appreciate such a display of expertise.
One quick way to show anticipation in a freelance proposal is by considering previous related works and deducing how to replicate the positive results. Clients value service providers who can immediately proffer solutions in the proposal.
Include relevant work samples
There is only so much explanation a freelancer can make in a proposal, as it needs to remain brief. Therefore the other way to boost credibility is by including relevant work samples. These samples often do a better job at convincing potential customers of a proven experience which would positively impact the project at hand.
However, it is impractical to chug a proposal full of too many samples, as they quickly lose their value and renders the proposal useless. So instead, the freelancer has to select his most successful works, which are very much related to the project he’s applying.
Attractive visual layout
The freelancer must make the right first impression, whether using a wholly personalized proposal or a template-derived one. The whole document needs to look visually appealing while looking well-organized. Typically, customers form their first impressions even before they begin to read the proposals. The provider can either go for a fuss-less, formal look or a sophisticated look. In general, Proposal layouts are dependent on the project’s nature.
Furthermore, clients get to feel more comfortable with a visually appealing proposal. It allows them to expect an excellent delivery, which they’d get by reading through the document further. Also, the freelancer could grab and hold the customer’s attention for much longer than the average during the consideration process.
Humans do have a short attention span, and for customers going through numerous freelance proposals at a time, it takes mere seconds to make it or break it. It means for a freelancer that it takes sheer wit to grab the client’s attention and make the cut for the job. However, using techniques such as personalized second-person nouns and pronouns could show effort on the freelancer’s side, which might eventually pay off.
Be professional and friendly
There is the tendency to go overboard in the expression manner throughout the proposal. As the freelancer tries to express strengths and pitches, he can misplace the tone and sound too rigid or informal to elicit the proper response from the other end.
It helps when the proposal writer pays attention to the opening and closing manners. It is imperative to keep the balance between professionalism and friendliness. Opening terms like “Dear Daley Maguire” and closing ones such as “Best regards” often have the most effective results.
Utilization of timeline
It often helps speed up the process if the freelancer clearly states his intended work relating to the project and has a well-defined vision. Being specific would take the combination of excellent outlines and the correct use of words. Some quick solutions include itemizing the proposed plan step-by-step and linking each step with a projected timeline.
A specific proposal indicates that the freelance service provider took out the time to think things through. Also, the freelancer could include a price tag if the proposal requirements allow for it. He/she could also consider a price tag inclusion if it would help their hiring chances. However, it is essential not to come off as cheap, desperate, or overpriced.
Spelling and proofreading
An excellent freelance proposal is one with no grammatical and spelling errors. While it is human to make mistakes, documents with significant grammar faults would most likely get thrown out of consideration. Therefore, the writer must manually go through the proposal; spellcheck and grammar check software is not recommendable as they are not 100% efficient. Furthermore, documents that use these applications tend to sound robotic and filled with errors prevalent with articles devoid of human proofreading.
Printed or digital
In today’s digitalized world, freelancers can maintain communication with customers over digital media. As a result, they can share documents virtually as well; it is not out of place for a freelance proposal to get sent over an email or other applications. However, asking the client if a printed version of the document would be necessary is a good practice.
Looking for printing quality/paper
If both parties agree to share a printed proposal, the service provider has to ensure that the paper with which to print the document is standard and high-quality. Also, it shouldn’t bear any printer defects which might damage the aesthetics.
Following up the potential client
Freelance proposals aren’t a one-time affair, at least not if the provider wants the best results. Therefore, it is essential to do a follow-up on the potential client after proposal submission. Typically, it would come when there hasn’t been a response from the potential customer in a while. The freelancer can send a follow-up email or put a call through to ask if his proposal got read. Furthermore, he could use the opportunity to reiterate his commitment to discussing whatever the client’s needs might be.
Usage of templates
Templates are a great way to write a freelance proposal, at least for the first time. However, the freelancer needs to include personalized sentences and paragraphs to avoid sounding like an imitator. The recommendation is to develop a personalized proposal that reflects the customer’s needs and requirements from scratch. Well-explained solution outlines can quickly convince a potential client and make a unique proposition overall.
Some of the most effective tactics to create a unique proposal include the networking strategy, which works physically and over the internet. The plan immediately opens the freelancer to clients with related problems to which he/she has service solutions. Cold email strategy may also work, for the times there is the need to “go hunting” for clients instead.
Templates are an excellent option for the freelancer to set a unique foundation for the proposal. They’d help him/her build on the core necessities for a proposal while saving considerable time. Also, freelance templates’ modularity means that the final product remains unique amongst the competition.
Related: 5 Free Freelance Invoice Templates
Starting strong is the one crucial goal for freelancers seeking to pitch for jobs with a proposal. The aim could be to either get higher-paying clients or to validate a given service model. The above guide would effectively help new and existing freelance service providers develop a suitable proposal that most certainly gets them the job.