FREELANCE KNOWLEDGE RESOURCES

Pro Freelancer Fundamentals: Proposal Customization

April 12, 2021
Preston Lee

author:

Preston Lee

Back when I had a 9-5 job, I reached out to a few freelancers and agencies to ask for bids on a project at work.

The majority of proposals I received were cookie-cutter, copy-paste jobs. I could easily tell they had simply sent me a 4-page PDF document explaining their process and adding my name and the project price to a blank 5th page.

What a disappointment.

Of course, you have to automate as much as you can in your freelance business, but cutting corners when it comes to your proposals is never a good idea.

It’s no wonder that businesses who use customization in their marketing, see as much as a 19% increase in sales, according to one study.

As a freelancer, that kind of increase can make a huge difference in your business.

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re still sending cookie-cutter proposals to your clients, you’re missing out on revenue.

So in today’s Pro Freelancer Fundamentals article, we’re going to show you how to send customized, professional proposals and win more clients for your business.

Balancing Automation vs. Customization

As a freelancer, your time is critically important to your business.

If you’re not billing, you’re not making a profit. And you can only bill so many hours in the day.

So, when it comes to proposals (something that can take up a LOT of billable hours if you let it) it’s important to balance automation with customization.

Automation will save you time, but customization will bring in business.

Your goal, then, is to find the best of both worlds: 

  • time-saving proposal creation 
    and
  • business-winning customization.

That’s why we’ve built proposals right into the AND CO app, making it incredibly simple to create, customize, and send proposals with just a few clicks.

How to Customize Your Proposal & Win More Clients

Whether you create your proposals with AND.CO or some other way, there are a few critical elements each customized proposal should focus on to boost your chances for closing the deal.

We’ll review some of our top picks below:

AND.CO Proposal Creation

1. Give it a modern, professional look.

Whether you’re on a date or pitching a client, studies show you have less than 30 seconds to make the right impression. After that, it’s pretty hard to change someone’s mind about you.

The same goes for sending a freelance proposal.

If your proposal is sloppy, disorganized, or outdated, it’ll take a lot of unnecessary work to win back the points you lose on the first impression (if you can recover at all).

That’s why it’s critical (before anything else) that your proposal has a modern, professional look to it.

For example, when creating a proposal with AND CO, you deliver a simple, professional, easy-to-read proposal like the one shown below.

How to customize this portion of each proposal:

Just because you want to look clean and professional, doesn’t mean you have to use the same freelance proposal template every time with zero changes. 

Here are a few ways you could consider customizing the look of your proposal while still keeping it professional:

  • Adjust colors to match your brand or your client’s brand.
  • Add your client’s logo next to yours for a more personalized approach.
  • Start with a custom salutation and name-drop of your client contact.

2. Focus on pain-points with matching solutions.

After you’ve got the right professional feel for your freelance proposal, it’s time to think about the messaging. 

Despite the fact that you’ve already engaged with this potential client, remember: a proposal is still a marketing tool. In fact, it might be one of the most important marketing tools you have since it’s often the final step before the client hires you.

This is your moment to convince them it’s a good idea to hire you.

Ideally, you really sold them on your services during the pitch meeting but your proposal is still a fantastic opportunity to remind them you can solve their biggest pain points.

For example, if you’re using the AND.CO proposal tool, you can easily attach a PDF or create custom slides outlining exactly how you’ll solve their biggest challenges.

  • If your client previously told you they’re getting zero traffic to their blog, your pitch should include your ability to write search-optimized content that gets visitors via Google.
  • If your client complains their last photoshoot didn’t provide enough images, highlight that you’ll send them 100+ quality images for their project.
Social Media Consulting Proposal

How to customize this portion of each proposal:

This is the portion of your proposal that can really tip a potential client over to hiring and working with you. Here are a few customizations to consider:

  • Include a list of solutions based on specific pain-points your client has identified previously.
  • Show brief testimonials from previous clients for whom you solved similar pain points as a sign of social proof.

3. Answer questions before they’re asked

Every good salesperson knows the key to closing a deal is to address questions and concerns before they’re ever asked.

The same goes for your proposal. In addition to the obvious questions a proposal should answer (How long will this take? How much will this cost?) you should also address any questions that might cause a client to think twice before hiring you.

A few such questions could be:

  • What happens if I need to make a mid-project change?
  • Do I have to pay upfront, or can I make smaller payments?
  • After the final delivery, can I make any changes?
  • How many options will you send us?

You can easily address potential questions by adding custom slides, additional text, or PDF documents. You might also consider including the contract (see image below) for clients who are really concerned about the details of your agreement. All of this is extremely quick and easy when creating a proposal in the AND CO app.

Service Contract Proposal

How to customize this portion of each proposal:

Along with addressing pain-points, this section is where the customization of your freelance portfolio really kicks into high gear. Consider doing the following:

  • Include a section of responses to questions you anticipate this particular client will have. If they seemed really hung-up on deadlines in your pitch meeting, address that.
  • Highlight sections of your contract that address specific questions you anticipate your client will have. Then use the AND.CO app to attach your contract directly to your proposal.

4. Make it incredibly easy to say “yes” to.

Finally, you want to make sure it’s as easy as possible to say “yes” to your proposal.

That means, a 40-page proposal outlining every small detail often is the wrong choice.

In addition, employ extreme clarity in outlining exactly what your client is getting for their money, when you’ll deliver it, and what they can expect after delivery.

Clarity in a proposal leads to a faster “yes” from a client.

You might also consider signing your proposal before sending it to show that you’re dedicated and excited to work on their project.

Proposal Signature

You’re also more likely to get approval (and payment) if your client can pay directly from your proposal. 

Consider adding an “Approve and Pay” button of some kind to your custom freelance proposal which links your client to a payment portal.

Proposal Payment

Of course, digitally signing your proposal, getting a signature from your client, and allowing them to pay are all made extremely easy in the AND.CO proposal tool and will speed up your proposal creation and acceptance process.

How to customize this portion of each proposal:

Consider taking the following actions to customize your proposal in a way that will increase your chance of getting to “yes” with a client.

  • Add a hand-written note to the end of the proposal expressing how excited you are to work with your client.
  • If your client expressed concern about paying 100% up-front, customize the payment schedule to a monthly fee or offer to let them pay a portion upfront as a deposit so they’re less hesitant to approve and pay.

Test, Adjust, and Move Ahead

Above all, remember the point of customizing your proposal is to win more business. 

Experiment with the suggestions we’ve made above and when something works, keep doing it. If something doesn’t work well after a few tried, ditch it.

Every client situation and freelance business will be different. The key is to find the right strategy for your business.

Preston Lee

Preston Lee

Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team help freelancers find remote work so they can live anywhere and do work they love. If you’re ready to take the leap into freelancing, join their community of freelancers at Millo.co.

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