Wherever you are in your freelance journey, one of the most difficult parts of the process is persuading new clients you’re the right person for the task.
As more and more people choose the flexibility of the freelance life, intense competition means your proposal cannot be anything but outstanding or you’ll miss the boat.
What should be included in a proposal?
First thing’s first: what do you actually need to include in a proposal? Here’s a handy checklist to get you started:
- General information: Include your name or business name and contact information. Address the proposal to the client and their business. Also include the project title and the date.
- Goals: Address any goals mentioned in the client’s advertisement and demonstrate how you will deliver a solution that achieves these objectives.
- Timeline: Make it clear when you can deliver work, including any milestone dates if applicable. Also include any necessary caveats, like items that rely on previous work being approved or completed.
- Cost: Determine the project’s overall price or the price per deliverable.
- Next Steps: Outline what the client needs to do for the project to move forward. For example, you could request a signed contract and downpayment.
Writing a winning proposal
Beyond these general requirements for inclusion in your proposal, there are a few things you can include to give you more chance of winning the most lucrative opportunities.
Make a great first impression
Once you have found your ideal assignment, contacting your client as quickly as possible makes landing the gig much more likely. Use a compelling headline for your e-mail to capture the client’s attention.
The content itself should demonstrate that you have done your research into who the client is and what they do. This also provides you with the perfect opportunity to explain how your experience makes you an ideal choice.
A word of warning here… don’t try to look impressive by using complex business jargon. It can confuse your client, detract from the message you’re trying to put across and may ultimately cost you the contract.
Although you are probably really keen to sell yourself, there is a fine line between this and arrogance. The client wants to know you are 100% committed to their project. A good way to show this is to draft out some sample content or an outline of the work you’ll do.
Promote your strengths
Emphasize relevant skills in relation to their assignment. The key point here is relevance – people don’t have hours to wade through the waffle to find the good stuff. And freelancers who attempt to stuff their proposal with all of their skills and abilities will only result in something bloated and destined for the client’s recycling bin. Instead, make sure you tailor each proposal by picking two or three strengths that relate to the work, then elaborate on each one clearly, demonstrating how they can be successfully applied to your client’s problem.
Let the client see samples relevant to their project
Select your best and most relevant work to share with the client. Clients love to see freelancers who have completed a project similar to theirs – it demonstrates that you’re reliable and that your proposal is credible.
If you can, also refer to the results of your previous projects: how did your work help your client achieve the results they were looking for? Sharing previous work makes your proposal tangible for your client as they can easily see what standard of work they are likely to receive and they can be confident that you’ll be able to deliver similar outcomes for them.
Make sure that your freelance proposal is appealing and well laid out
You only have one chance to make a good first impression, so ensure your proposal presents you as professional. Something that is easy to read, laid out well and looks good is going to be much more appealing than an ‘off the cuff’ e-mail. Use your logos and branding where possible. AND CO’s free proposal software can help you create a professional-looking proposal in minutes.
So, how do you win more freelance gigs?
You may be reading all of this thinking ‘Gosh, this is a lot of work in preparation for something that may not necessarily land me work’. It goes without saying that the more effort you put into a proposal, the more likely you are to get the work.
Selling yourself well to clients is a vital skill required in freelancing. Once you’ve mastered the formula for a winning proposal, you’ll soon find out that it’s well worth the time you put in.