How to write a winning proposal for freelance work
According to the annual study commissioned in 2017 by Freelancers Union & Upwork, freelancing is expected to be the majority of the workforce in the United States by 2027. Freelance workers grow in numbers, and for now, they are already more forward-thinking workers in comparison with those employed in the traditional market. So, if you’re suggesting that freelance workers will have a more precise understanding of the future, you’re probably right. They are already better prepared for the challenges the future job market will offer them.
The same report by Freelance Union & Upwork states that almost 60 million people in the USA have experience with freelancing in 2017. That’s approximately 1 in 6 people. And this trend is accelerating.
Also, the following trends in 2017 are worth noting from the report by Freelance Union & Upwork:
- Millennials are engaged in freelancing more than any other generations.
- Freelancers prefer having diversified sources of income rather than a single one.
- Freelancers are more likely to obtain and develop new skills.
- Freedom, flexibility, and possibility to earn extra money are among the top reasons to go freelancing.
However, freelancing is hard work, regardless of your industry. Unless you have some sort of agent or get enough referrals to keep a steady stream of clients coming your way, part of your time is spent finding new jobs and landing new clients.
Let’s take a look at how to write a winning proposal for freelance work.
How to write a job proposal
Writing a job proposal is the first step towards new work or even career opportunities. It will help any job seeker to show his/her skills, abilities, and relevant experience to employers. This is how you can present yourself and showcase why you are a good fit for this job.
If you are a freelancer, How to a write a job proposal question may concern you as well. It doesn’t even matter whether you are just starting your freelance career or you are already a five-star worker; whether it is a part-time job or this is your primary source of income; whether you deal with freelance writing or something else.
A well-crafted job proposal letter is a must if your goal is to get work and get paid. Considering that almost 1 and 6 people in the USA are engaged in freelancing services, this will be quite a tough job to do.
What is the starting point of any document? Well, its structure: you should know what parts will build your sample proposal letter. However, take into consideration that with the help of a proposal you will sell yourself, so use the sales proposal format.
Parts of the proposal
If you’re up to writing your proposal, you may be wondering what the point of a proposal is and what to include in it. Basically, a proposal shows that you understand the potential client’s ask and needs, highlights your relevant skills and outlines your plan. Exactly what you include can vary by industry, but here’s a gist of what to include:
A summary of the project proposal
This is where you demonstrate your understanding of the potential client’s ask and your solution.
A cost estimate
Be as detailed as you can be here – nobody likes surprises when it comes to money. If you’re bidding on something like an interior design project, which can be difficult to project an exact cost 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 can change.
Breakdown of the process and timeline
One question every client is sure to ask is “when will this be completed?” Provide a detailed project outline and a tentative timeline for each task.
Provisions and payment
You’ll likely delve into this more with a 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 and the recipient to accept the proposal’s terms. Consider sending your proposal electronically and allowing potential clients to agree with electronic signatures. This will expedite the process and could give you a competitive edge.
When you are done with the outline of your freelance proposal, continue with basic components to present more about you.
Here are 4 of them.
1. It’s not about you … completely
If you’re one of the 60 percent of American freelance workers who made the jump to freelance by choice, you’ve probably got some skills, for example, writing skills – at 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’s problem and what’s going to resonate with them.
Do your research and figure out exactly what they’re looking for. Look through the company’s website, staff directory, and check out their competitors. If you know their business, competitive landscape, and what skill sets their team members already have, you’ll know how to present yourself and your services in your proposal, and you can include some points in your proposal that show you’ve done your homework.
2. Showing your skills
While demonstrating that you understand the client and their problem is key, you’ll also want to introduce yourself to the client. Consider including an About Us section, and be sure to sell your skills in the intro.
It’s tempting to show potential clients everything you can do, but ultimately they only care about what’s 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—client testimonials go a long way. And, of course, relevant samples speak for themselves.
3. 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’re a freelance writer, mention some points you’ll include in your work or provide a rough outline of the blog post that you’d like to create for your freelance client and use a tone similar to theirs. You don’t need to do the project for free but show that you’ve given it more than a little thought. This will demonstrate that you have the skill set and that you’re a self-starter.
4. Make it shiny
Nobody likes to read boring stuff, and the world is full of skimmers. You have a lot to convey in your freelance 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 effective proposals will benefit from looking good. Make sure yours is on-brand with your logo, brand colors, etc. Ensure that it’s well organized, free of spelling and grammatical errors, and looks polished.
Ways to create a freelance proposal
Luckily, if you’ve never created one before, there are several ways to create one.
1. From scratch
If you are new to the proposal writing process, from scratch can be the most difficult as you simply don’t know how it should look and what exactly you should include. At the same time, you can create an absolutely unique proposal that will stand out among hundreds of others.
2. Use online proposal software
Special tools can significantly help with writing proposals. You can use PandaDoc proposal software. It may take some time to learn the tool but it will pay off in dividends by helping you to win more freelance contracts.
Learn more about how to create beautiful proposals with the help of PandaDoc here:
3. Choose ready-made templates
This is the easiest way. Just search for a template and choose the one that meets your requirements. The template already includes content that is typical of standard proposal writing processes. Using a template is a great way to get an understanding of the commonly used structure and content and saves you tons of time.
Check out the PandaDoc Template Gallery as it offers a few freelance proposal templates that fall into two categories:
Types of documents
Freelance contract template
The freelance contract template covers everything you need to draft a contract. It includes sections where you can write your service and description as well as deliverables, schedule, and payments in seconds. Also, the template contains legal jargon like Terms and Conditions.
Freelance quote template
This template includes the basics: when the work should be done, what the deliverables are, and the price. But this information should work well enough in the freelance quote template when a potential client needs the bare bone project details.
Freelance invoice template
If your goal is to bill freelance services to clients, the freelance invoice template is a great choice. It is a short document where basic information like sections about freelancers and customers, description of services with the number of hours and hourly rates are included.
By specific industry
Freelance web design proposal template
This template allows freelancers to demonstrate relevant skills needed for any web design job. To personalize this freelance web design proposal template, you only need a few minutes. This well-crafted beautiful template will help you stand out among competitors and showcase your specific needs, skills, and experience in a perfectly structured manner.
Freelance graphic design proposal template
Make your proposal shine with the freelance graphic design proposal template. It will help you to present your credentials, customer testimonials, best work as well as project scope, delivery timeline, and pricing.
Customizable templates can help you make all of your documents look professional and can be easily saved and edited again the next time you need to send out a proposal. By delivering beautifully structured proposals, you’ll gain plenty of clients and keep your freelance writing or any other freelance business rockin’.
Remember that your success to get a freelance job depends on many factors. One of the most prominent of them is to attract the attention of possible employers with the help of a great freelance proposal. With the ideas and pieces of advice described above, you’ll increase the chances to be better prepared for future challenges in the job market.
Originally published December 7, 2016, updated October 30, 2018