How to Write a Winning Proposal For Your Freelance Business

Pop the question to potential clients using these effective proposal strategies.

In the freelance world, how you position yourself at the beginning of a business relationship can be just as important as the work you will ultimately deliver.

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression, and one of the key moments for making such an early impact is via the business proposals you submit to prospective clients. Crafting proposals might seem like a straightforward task, but there is always room for improvement. By putting some time and effort upfront to hone your proposal-building skills, you’ll receive more work, higher pay, and a project that runs smoother for both for yourself and the client.

We’ve introduced a proposal tool within our AND CO from Fiverr app that is intuitive to navigate and comprehensive, ensuring that all elements of a winning proposal are hit so you can save yourself the headaches and get straight to the work you love.

Set an accurate scope

One of the most important aspects of running a business is establishing fair and legitimate terms with clients before kicking off a new project. The Freelancers Union reports that 70 percent of freelancers have been stiffed by a client at least once and only 28 percent claim to always using a contract, likely due to the cost associated with seeking legal counsel.

As depicted in the images below, we ask freelancers to provide details upfront surrounding the scope of the work including project timelines, deliverables, rate, and any deposits they require prior to beginning a particular project. This will help you ascertain that you are completely clear as to how much your services will cost.

Stuck when it comes to how to set some parameters? Think back to similar projects you’ve done in the past. How long did similar tasks take? If you aren’t able to do this, spend some time breaking the project down into smaller tasks and make estimates for how long each will take. When doing this, be sure to not overlook time for revisions and other feedback conversations with your client. Time spent for these things can and will add up. This said, it is always best to overestimate how long a project will take as opposed to underestimate.

Establish payment terms

Some freelancers require an upfront deposit at the beginning of the project start date. Within AND CO’s proposal tool, you can automatically create and send invoices for the deposit that can be paid upon signing. We’ll even incorporate e-signatures to save you time (and paper).

Get a contract signed as part of the proposal process

Freelancers and business-owners need to protect themselves, which is why you should never begin work without a signed contract in-hand. AND CO’s proposal tool offers the ability to attach a standard freelance contract to your proposal with details such as late payment fees, project termination notice period, ownership rights, and more. This is a simple, yet important step that helps you manage risk and establish a common set of objectives for yourself and your client. You want to set the stage for a favorable relationship, and striving for clarity from the onset is a fantastic way to do just that meanwhile proving your professionalism early on.

Make your proposal your own

Demonstrating your qualitative value is equally if not more important as offering quantitative value.

That’s why our tool allows you to add your own branding, images, and custom slides that sell you and your work. In doing so, you can check all of the necessary boxes and wow prospective clients with a professional touch. It is one thing to know you are a fit for the work and capable to meet your client’s goals, but what will really help seal the deal is to kick off the professional relationship by demonstrating an elevated and professional brand.

Bonus: Add supporting creds to your proposal

If you really want to go above and beyond, you can use this opportunity to share client testimonials or references and work samples. You could also consider offering free “value added” services. Our tool provides two ways of uploading these documents: dragging and dropping it onto the page, or more traditionally, selecting them from a folder on your computer. This will make your proposal more attractive to a potential client, by helping sell you and your business in an effective yet subtle way, and won’t put a drain on your business’ budget. It’s a win-win.

Whatever you choose to include, keep it relevant and simple. There’s no sense in customizing a proposal if the most hook-worthy elements are buried deep in the proposal, or if there are too many details that the client winds up confused. The same rules of thumb of any business writing apply here in that everything should be written and styled in a way that is clear, concise, and straightforward so it is easy to read and understand.

Always review before hitting “send”

Your proposal should also convey your seriousness and dedication to achieving an optimal outcome. If you’re sloppy or come across as too laid back about the work in the proposal, it can rub a possible client the wrong way and be a major red flag that the work you’ll deliver will also be sloppy.

After filling out all of the necessary details of your proposal, give it a thorough edit, as typos and mistakes can also contribute to a perception of carelessness. You’ll want to pay particular attention to numbers as overlooked errors in this respect, such as a missing 0 or decimal point could translate into an inaccurate quote and an awkward conversation down the line.

Follow up to keep things moving

The proposal process isn’t over after you’ve provided your signature and hit “submit.” AND CO’s proposal tool facilitates the follow-up process including functionality to set up smart alerts and automatic reminders to keep both parties moving swiftly through the process. With these, you can stay updated on when proposals are viewed and signed, and set reminders so these key action steps don’t fall through the cracks. This will show your client that you are responsive and attentive to milestones.

While mocking up a business proposal is no easy feat, the rewards by giving the process its proper attention and care stand to pay long-term dividends. Think of it as an investment in your business—you can’t grow without expanding your client base, and you won’t get clients if you don’t win them over with your proposal.

Still have questions about how to craft a kickass proposal? Find the answers you need on Fiverr Elevate!  

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