Freelance proposals: a guide to creating a better freelance proposal

Freelance Proposals

The life of a freelancer can be an exciting one.  You are able to choose your own hours, work from anywhere and your earnings aren’t capped.

However, the downside is that unlike a 9-to-5 job, you need to constantly promote yourself. You need a system for finding new clients and convincing them to work with you.  This means sending out a lot of proposals.

The better your freelance proposal, the higher the likelihood of winning a contract.  Notably, most businesses and high paying clients will insist on a proposal.

In this article, we’ll show you how to create excellent freelance proposals that win you more work.

Exclusive download: Get our free freelance marketing proposal template.

Freelance proposal structure

A proposal which is too long will simply not get read.  It should be straight to the point and easy to read.  Read it out loud to check that it flows nicely, and sounds convincing.

One area freelancers fall short is making the proposal about themselves.

Your client only cares about what you can do for them. It should answer 3 questions:

What can you do for me?

State how your work will make a measurable difference to their business- whether that is more traffic, clients or revenue. You can back this up using results from previous clients.

If you don’t have relevant work, you will need to place more emphasis on how your skills make you the best freelancer for the job.

A proposal which is too long will simply not get read. 
A proposal which is too long will simply not get read.

Why are you the best person to do this?

Seeing is believing; therefore, add relevant images or video to your proposal.

Ask for permission from previous clients. Again if you don’t have relevant samples, you will need to create a clear picture of what you can provide. For instance, you could take them through a plan you have in mind, and how it will bring the results they want.

Some proposal templates, like this one, allow you to add video and other interactive elements. Personally, I have seen a 50% increase to my business by incorporating videos. This is because potential clients can clearly see what I can do.

Plus, it shows a degree of professionalism, and determination to win the job. If you are camera shy, a voice over with a screen capture is fine.

How can we proceed?

Make it clear what the next steps are. In most cases you will need some files from there. Split the project up into milestones, and set deadlines. This ensures that you get the files you need on time, so that the project can be completed on time.

Include the cost, and your payment terms. Some clients will try to change the terms later.  The clearer they are, the better for you. It also helps to stop the client from contacting you everyday about deliverables.

Your proposal must be tailored to their problem.
Your proposal must be tailored to their problem.

How to make your proposal extraordinary

The points I have discussed above are used by top level freelancers; however, you want your proposal to be so good they can’t say no. Right?

Solve their biggest problem

Your proposal must be tailored to their problem. This is why I am not a big fan of templates. They reduce the time it takes to create a proposal but at the expense of effectiveness.

This is what separates freelancers scraping to get by from those who live amazing lives.

The bigger the problem, the higher the freelance rates you can charge. And if you are a good freelancer, your work will get them results. Give them a good idea of the return on their investment

Notably, most freelancers focus on price when writing a proposal. They try to undercut other applicants. And sure, some clients will pick the cheapest. However, I have lost count of the number of times when a client has come to me after a cheap freelancer has produced work they can’t use.

Notably, it is difficult to build a freelance career on clients who only focus on price. You will end up working longer hours, and bump into more problems.

Predict their questions

An excellent proposal leaves the client asking “Where do I sign?”. They need to believe that you are the only person who can complete the task. What I like to do is to annotate my proposal and predict questions, such as “Why does stage 1 cost $1000?”.

This gives me an opportunity to highlight the work and research involved. In some cases iWork with other freelancers in order to produce great work. Managing and paying them obviously increases the cost.

The more questions you answer in your proposal, the easier it is to win projects.

Final thoughts on freelance proposals

I hope you found this article useful, but I would like to end with some more tips.

A key part of being a freelancer is staying determined. You will come across a lot of rejection and rude clients. However, if you don’t keep finding opportunities, and sending out proposals you won’t win any work. Sure, you can use freelance jobs sites; however, they are designed to attract clients who only focus on price. As a result, all the time you spent crafting your proposal could be for nothing.

Many of my close friends work as freelancers full time, and make a good living out of it. A similarity they all share is that they find their own clients. One of them sends out 20 video proposals a day. This might seem like a lot but each proposal takes about 5 minutes to create. Setting daily marketing targets ensures that you have a constant flow of clients, work and most importantly, money coming in.

Freelancing isn’t about working less, as some ‘influencers’ would like you to believe. In fact, freelancers tend to work longer hours than 9-to-5 workers. The challenges of freelance work are overshadowed by the freedom it brings.

Freelance proposals: conclusion

Just to recap, here is what we covered in this article about creating a better proposal:

  • Plan out your proposal so that it is easy to read.
  • State the benefits of working with you.
  • Show that you can solve their problem.
  • Use visual elements to make your proposal more attractive and professional.
  • Send out proposals on a regular basis. The more you send, the greater your chances of winning work.

And don’t forget – download our free freelance marketing proposal template.

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