The Breakdown of A Winning Freelance Proposal

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Regardless of the industry you have cemented your niche, most of us can agree on one overarching point: freelancing is hard work! Unless you are fortunate enough to be working closely with an agent to represent you, or receive enough referrals to keep a steady stream of clients coming your way, majority of your time is spent finding new jobs and landing new clients. A well-crafted proposal for freelance work, like this one from PandaDoc (check this and this out, as well), can help to propel you to the head of the pack of your competitors by providing you with an opportunity to showcase your professionalism. Let鈥檚 take a look at how to write a winning proposal for freelance work.

Parts of the Proposal

If you鈥檙e new to the proposal process, you may be wondering what the point of a proposal is, as well as what to even include. Basically, a proposal shows that you understand the potential client鈥檚 ask and needs, highlights your relevant skills, and outlines your plan. Exactly what you include can vary by your industry, but here鈥檚 the gist of what you鈥檒l want to include:

A summary of the project. This is where you demonstrate your understanding of the potential client鈥檚 ask, and your solution.

A cost estimate. Be as detailed as you can be here鈥攏obody likes surprises when it comes to money. If you鈥檙e bidding on something like an interior design project, which can be difficult to put an exact price on until the job specifics are fleshed out with your client, include your rate (hourly or otherwise) and a rough budget for materials, etc., while noting that the actual price may change.

Breakdown of the process and timeline. One question every client is sure to ask is 鈥渨hen will this be done?鈥 Provide a detailed project outline and tentative completion timeline for each task.

Provisions and payment. You鈥檒l likely delve into this more with an official contract, but include any provisions (how many revisions are included, etc.) and payment specifics (how much is due when) so your potential clients know what to expect.

Signatures and contact info. Let your readers know how to get in touch with you, and provide signature lines for you both to accept the proposal鈥檚 terms. Consider sending your proposal electronically and allowing potential clients to agree with e-Signatures. This will expedite the process and could give you a competitive edge.

It鈥檚 Not About You 鈥 Completely

If you鈥檙e one of the 60 percent of American freelance workers who made the jump to freelance by choice, you鈥檝e probably got some skills鈥攁t least enough to be confident that you can go it alone and be successful. Sure, those amazing skills are your bread and butter, and your potential clients should know about them. However, when you sit down to draft your proposal, think about the potential client first. Instead of immediately focusing on all of the tools you have in your toolbox, focus on the client鈥檚 problem and what鈥檚 going to resonate with them.

Do your research and figure out exactly what they鈥檙e looking for. Look through the company鈥檚 website, staff directory, and check out their competitors. If you know their business, competitive landscape, and what skillsets their team members already have, you鈥檒l know how to present yourself and your services in your proposal, and you can include some points in your proposal that show you鈥檝e done your homework.

Showing Your Skills

While demonstrating that you understand the client and their problem is key, you鈥檒l also want to introduce yourself to the client. Consider including an About section, and be sure to sell your skills in the intro.

It鈥檚 tempting to show potential clients everything you can do, but ultimately they only care about what鈥檚 relevant to them. If you have an RFP or job description, study it and make sure you highlight any relevant skills, experience, and/or degrees you have. The knowledge you gained while researching the client can help you decide what experience and skills you should tout. You should also consider including some social proof鈥攃lient testimonials go a long way. And, of course, relevant samples speak for themselves.

Show That You Care

Part of landing any job is showing not only that you can do it, but that you want to do it. For example, if you鈥檙e a freelance writer, mention some points you鈥檒l include in your work or provide a rough outline of the blog that you鈥檇 like to create for your freelance client, and use a tone similar to theirs. You don鈥檛 need to do the project for free, but show that you鈥檝e given it more than a little thought. This will demonstrate that you have the skillset, and that you鈥檙e a self-starter.

Make It Shiny

Nobody likes to read boring stuff, and the world is full of skimmers. You have a lot to convey in your proposal, but try to keep it brief and make it engaging. Subheads, bulleted lists, images, and the like can help make the information in your proposal more digestible.

And remember, even the most well-written proposals will benefit from looking good. Make sure yours is on-brand with your logo, brand colors, and other relevant brand-recognition aspects. Ensure that it鈥檚 well organized, well thought-out, free of spelling and grammatical errors, as well as maintain a polished look. Customizable templates can help you make sure all of your documents look professional, and can be easily saved and re-edited the next time you need to send out a proposal. By delivering beautifully-constructed proposals, you鈥檒l gain plenty of clients and keep your freelance business rockin鈥.

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