Over one billion people are freelancers worldwide, with 59 million from the USA alone. The number isn’t surprising at all. Freelancing, after all, gives people flexibility. You can work anywhere you want as long as you can deliver your output.
But there’s a downside to all of this. Since freelancing is becoming a way of life for many, the competition is getting fiercer, too. Freelancers need to up their game if they want to land clients. They have to be able to properly articulate the value they can bring to prospective clients to get the job.
In short, you need a freelance proposal that stands out.
This article elaborates on eight key things a freelancer needs to nail in their proposal.
Write a compelling introduction
A good proposal introduction, i.e. an executive summary is what your potential client will interact with first. Therefore, this must be accurate and precise but most of all, it needs to be engaging. This is the part of the proposal that should invite the reader to continue reading. It should also be conversational and personal. The client wants to feel that they’re working with a human being.
In it, you should let your client know that you’ve listened, understand the problem they are facing and know how to fix it.
Don’t overdo it, your introduction shouldn’t be too long. One page is enough. Just make sure it prepares clients for the compelling proposal.
Pitch your strengths that align with the project
As a freelancer, you might have various skills under your belt. Having many skills can make you a successful freelancer, but you don’t need all these skills at the same time. Projects vary, and with each project, you need a particular set of skills. In case you get a project and your skill set not matching with it, you can easily turn for help from an essay service, where writers have different stacks of skills.
When writing a freelance proposal, ensure you just highlight your most outstanding strengths related to that project. Cramming your freelance proposal with all your skills without curating them will confuse your potential client.
Ideally, you should find three strengths that are your strongest and are very relevant to the type of project and then elaborate on those. It should be clear how these strengths you’re selling make you the best choice for the client.
For instance, if you’re a freelance writer, you might want to highlight your research skills, the ability to adapt your writing according to the brand voice, and your quick turnaround time. These strengths should align with the job description and address the client’s major concerns while working with a freelancer.
The example above highlights what the writer considers their strengths and how they plan to use them to benefit the client. They highlight their research, SEO, and personalization capabilities.
To prove that you’re the perfect fit for the project, present evidence from other projects that you have undertaken. Whether it’s education certificates or a business license make sure you include all this evidence.
Applying for projects as a freelancer requires you to put your best foot forward. The client, in most cases, will be receiving hundreds of applications. They only have limited time to go through all of them. Therefore, your project proposal should stand out. Ensure you highlight your strengths and back them up with sufficient relevant evidence to stand above everyone else.
Include relevant work samples
Before a client hires you as a freelancer, they want to be convinced you can get the work done. In the earlier section, we discussed highlighting your strengths. After introducing them to what you’re strong at, you need to show concrete proof you can deliver on their project.
Showing work samples in your freelance proposal convinces the hiring client you’ve dealt with projects similar to what they’re hiring for and that you’ve accomplished them. Since you only need to convince the potential client, you don’t need to include all your projects. Include only your relevant work samples.
So, if you’re a digital marketing freelancer applying for a job, make sure your proposal includes the marketing emails you’ve written for a previous client. For example, if the potential client is looking for someone to write emails for an email drip campaign.
Elaborate on how the work you’ve shown helped the client achieve their goals. It’s important to do this because it shows potential clients that you don’t just finish the task at hand. Your output also produces results for them.
With platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, for instance, you can easily demonstrate the response your work attracts. You can include an analytics screenshot like the one below if you’re applying for a project that requires writing social media posts.
But what if you’re new in the freelance arena and don’t have enough work to show? You can volunteer and get some evidence under your belt.
Add social proof for credibility
Before a client trusts you with their project, they require a lot of convincing. This is understandable because they will need to spend. Therefore, before someone hires you, you must demonstrate that every dollar spent is worth it.
A good way to do that is with social proof. Social proof is the psychological phenomenon that sees people following what other people are doing. So, including social proof in your proposal typically means including testimonials from previous clients that can convince potential clients to work with you.
You can include these testimonials in your portfolio pages. They confirm to the hiring client that the work samples attached are from real clients you’ve been able to satisfy with your work.
Or you could include all the testimonials on a separate page in your freelance proposal. Check out the example below:
The testimonials are from a compelling proposal template of a photographer. Notice in the example that while the testimonials are all in favour of David, they’re still arranged in such a way that the first testimonial a potential client sees is the one that is more likely to get David the job.
Social proof in your freelance proposal shows your potential client that you’re capable of handling the job. You’ve done so in the past, and your previous clients are happy with your work. That means if they hire you, you can make them happy, too.
Anticipate and provide solutions
As a freelancer, you probably have experience with unique situations. All these experiences should help you better understand your work area and clients’ needs so you can articulate these in your freelance proposal.
Let me explain. When prospective client sets out to hire a freelancer, they might know what they need. However, they might not comprehensively understand the minute details the project requires.
For instance, if a client wants a blog built for them, they might not understand every technical detail that goes into developing blog posts like SEO; hence, their project description could be lacking.
Therefore, it is upon you as the freelance expert to be able to know these technicalities and offer to address them. So, as a freelance writer developing a blog, for instance, you could offer to optimize the blog posts for SEO even if that wasn’t included in the project description.
When you highlight these problems because of your expertise or previous experience and provide a solution to them in the proposal, you increase the client’s confidence in you as the best fit for the project.
Make sure to include a detailed timeline of your work and explain week by week what you’ll be focusing on.
Create a detailed pricing list
A crucial part of the deal-winning proposal is pricing. You should provide a detailed pricing list that will help you justify your charges, hourly rate, and what qualifies as extra services. If you write down the total amount the client might get confused. That’s why it’s better to list everything and provide the total price at the end.
Check out the example below. In the proposal, even the charge for the Skype call is specified as well as the length.
As you can see in the example, the words used to describe the pricing list are Coaching Services. The words you use in this section are very important. As research shows – naming this section ROI or investment increases your chances of conversion. This is because words like expenses and cost create negative emotions and make your document look like a regular invoice.
When specifying your rate, note that your freelance proposal doesn’t need to have the lowest one. You should understand your value and set your price accordingly. Whether you do graphic design, creative writing, content strategy, government proposals, or marketing campaigns.
If your pricing is above the potential client’s allotted budget, it’s okay. The services you’re offering in your proposal, however, should justify that pricing.
Include other important elements and CTA
When writing your freelance proposal, you should let potential clients know how you work. That tells them that you value transparency. Besides, when you specify how you do things and the potential client likes it, you might even end up landing the job.
That’s not all you should include in your proposal. If you can, specify your relevant deliverables and the amount of time you can produce these (for instance, if you’re a freelance graphic designer, an X amount of infographics in Y months). This is something the potential client will appreciate because it shows that you already have a set goal for yourself you’re determined to accomplish.
But the deliverables and the time frame required for you to produce them should be based on actual historical data. Don’t promise you can produce X in Y months without actually having done so in the past.
Make sure to include your payment method in the proposal as well. If you’re using a web-based proposal tool, this will be integrated into your proposal.
Finally, like in the example shown above, your deal-winning proposal needs a clear call to action (CTA). You need to let the client know what steps they should take if they decide to hire you. Be as specific as possible. You can also include a digital business card for when they need to contact you for other matters.
Pay attention to the tone
How you set the tone of your proposal is crucial. You need to research your potential client to know what tone they would appreciate. For instance, if the client requires a freelance writer, you should read their blog. You can also do some research on social media, and learn the tone they use in their communication.
Some clients want to be strict and professional, while others do not mind being casual and quirky as long as the job gets done. For instance, Skittles teeters towards the humorous quirky spectrum.
You need to know who you’re working with to curate your terminology. Besides, when you use their preferred tone, you increase your chances of getting hired because you show you can meet them at their level.
A comprehensive proposal is the lifeline of a freelancer as it determines whether they get hired or not. Therefore, it is paramount that a freelancer, whether a proposal writer, content producer, content writer, or contract writer, knows how to create a powerful and customized proposal that lets them get more clients.
Essentially, a converting proposal should highlight a freelancer’s strengths, which are demonstrable through their relevant work samples and social proof. The comprehensive proposal should also include detailed pricing and others like anticipated problems and solutions.
If you’re looking for a way to speed up your proposal writing process, sign up for a free 2-week trial with Better Proposals. Their customizable proposal templates will help you make your sales documents in no time.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer
Austin Andrukaitis is the CEO of ChamberofCommerce.com. He’s an experienced digital marketing strategist with many years of experience in creating successful online campaigns. Austin’s approach to developing, optimizing, and delivering web-based technologies has helped businesses achieve higher profit, enhance productivity, and position organizations for accelerated sustained growth.