Writing proposals as a Freelancer – Tips and Tricks


Freelancers often have to write proposals in order to receive projects. The same applies here at www.freelancermap.com. Writing proposals can sometimes be very tricky, but having a couple of things in mind can make a great difference in the way you approach this task and, more importantly, in the way employers evaluate your proposal.

Here are a few steps that will hone your proposal writing skills and increase your chances to get contracts.

If you want to ensure that a project is completed successfully both for the client and yourself, smooth communication is essential. Especially with large projects and huge budgets, you as a freelancer should make sure that every detail has been discussed and you have a precise agreement of what will be done and when it will be done.

An initial document will give a potential client an idea of what services you are willing to offer them and how much they can expect to pay for such services. Of course, the first proposal is simply an estimate, and a more precise number will need to be agreed upon once the project is discussed in detail.

This initial document is known as a proposal, offer or quote.

This is the best way to ensure that no misunderstandings might arise once you start working and to protect yourself with documentation if a client claims you did not properly complete your assignment.

What should a proposal tell the client?

A good proposal defines the services that will be provided in a professional and comprehensive way and should give the client a feeling that you will provide a high-quality product. This feeling will allow you to charge higher rates for the work to be done.

Therefore, it’s important that you offer shows that:

  • You understand the needs, goal and ideas of the customer
  • You offer the customer the best possible alternative with the best quality
  • You consider all wishes and ideas from the company or client

The proposed price results from great service and its quality.

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Proposal Format and Structure: How should my proposal look like?

With a well-designed proposal, you will increase your chances of success in getting hired.

It is not only important to consider the content of your proposal, but also how you structure it. It may therefore be very useful to present certain sections in a strategic order to break up all the information you are giving the client while maintaining their attention. Only this way, the potential customer will be able to absorb every detail of your proposal.

This initial quote should give the client the opportunity to understand the process and the information as quickly and easily as possible. Here is a freelance proposal example:

Mandatory information in a proposal:

  1. Your name, freelance/business name, address and logo
  2. Your potential client’s name and address
  3. Client number, proposal number and date
  4. Detailed subject line
  5. Scope of services / Description
  6. Estimate with net price
  7. Taxes / Discounts (if applicable)
  8. Total amount of the estimate

Optional additional information:

  1. Timeframe
  2. Personal recommendations
  3. Pitch on why to pick you
  4. Conditions (payment methods, rush/late fees, confidentiality, copyright, etc.)

Create, send, and track proposals with Bonsai – Improve your acceptance rate 🤝!

➤ Start with a proposal template
➤ Adapt it to your project
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➤ Allow clients to sign your proposal digitally

> Explore Bonsai proposals

Tips on how to write a great freelance proposal

1. Analyze the project description and get to know your client

The first and most important step to writing is to pay attention to the needs of your client and if you found the project online, the job description. To do that you have to pay a lot of attention to how a project is described. Here, every word matters and a thorough reading is in order. You cannot write a proposal unless you truly understand what your client wants.

Furthermore, the job description will help you decide on the style of your proposal. If the client is addressing you informally, you should cater to that. If a project is described using an accurate, professional vocabulary, you should answer accordingly.

Finally, the project description tells you something about the company you could be working with. Go a step further and do a background check of your own and get to know the client and his work. Maybe you relate to something you find, get impressed, or have ideas how something can be expanded – these details will get the client’s attention and significantly improve your chances.

2. Be aware of your own strengths

Before you start writing a proposal, you should think about what makes you a good candidate for that particular project. What are your strengths?

For example, if the client is seeking a PHP Developer, show him that you have done similar PHP projects in the past or you have shown keen interest in the subject in your free time.

List those strengths that fit the project. You don’t want to include irrelevant skills, even though it might be tempting. Furthermore, don’t just list the things you’re good at, prove it. Include little examples, like situations, that highlight a skill you have and how it can be useful. 

3. Start strong

Most big companies get a lot of proposals when listing a project. Therefore, a good start is crucial. If your first couple of sentences are unappealing or flat-out boring, you are likely to get sorted out very quickly. Forget about standardized beginnings.

Try to grab the attention of the reader and show him you are perfect for the job from the very first lines. Maybe you can come up with a slogan for yourself or express your interest and enthusiasm in a specific way – remember not to deviate too much from the style of the project description.

4. Be specific

It is important to add specific details about your work and your vision of the project. Name the steps you plan to do in order to accomplish the job. Better yet, combine that with a timeline. It can be quite difficult to determine how long you need for each particular step but try it anyway. This will convince a client that you have thought carefully about the project and how exactly it can be done.

Depending on your personal preferences and the project, you can choose to include a price tag as well. Some employers will specifically ask for these, others won’t. Just try not to over- or undersell yourself.

These steps will turn your proposal into an attention-grabber and reduce the chances of your proposal landing in the recycle bin after a quick glance.

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General tips for writing your proposal

  • Spelling and proofreading. There is nothing worse than spelling and grammatical errors in an offer. Keep in mind that most non-human spell checkers are not foolproof. Do it yourself; don’t rely on autocorrect.
  • Printed or digital? Generally, clients will be ok with a digital proposal, but it is always good to ask if they would prefer a printed version.
  • Paper. If the client prefers a printed version, use high-quality paper, and pay attention to the level of your printer cartridges to make sure it looks great.
  • Create your template. Use a template for all your offers to make the future creation easier. It also helps you stay more organized and to keep your branding consistent.
  • Follow up with the potential client If you don’t hear from them in a while; write a follow-up email or pick up the phone to ask if they have read over your proposal and let them know you are happy to discuss anything they need.
  • Be nice and professional, but remember: less is more! With the proposal, your goal is to give important information to the client, not just about selling yourself. Perhaps the client can’t physically see you, but this proposal is key to making a good first impression.

Free proposal template for freelancers

Time is money and having a proposal sample at hand is key for any freelancer. Generally, you will use the same documents over and over again, so having a template to work on is a great idea to save you the trouble of retyping what is essentially the same message every time you get a new project.

You typically send it once after your pitch, then a second, updated version after you discuss the project in detail with your client.

Here you can download our freelance proposal template for free (without subscriptions):

Freelance Proposal Template in Word, PDF and PTT

More freelancer templates:Order ConfirmationInvoices  Payment reminders

Read your proposals as many times as it takes until you are certain they will be remembered and convince the reader you are the right person to get his freelance project done! 

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Viktor Marinov

Viktor is the voice behind the freelancermap blog. Every week he comes up with helpful hints, checklists, and guides for freelancers and independent workers. If you would like to know how to find remote jobs online or how to niche yourself as a freelancer, don't miss his freelancer tips!

By Viktor Marinov

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