Freelance: how to write a proposal

Like invoicing, writing proposals can be intimidating when you’re fairly new to the process. Let’s break it down and look at the basics you need to know to write a proposal as a freelancer.

What is a proposal?

In a proposal, you are explaining to your client what to expect if they hire you for this project. You use this document to outline the terms of the project which will be included in the contract, such as how long it will take, what will constitue completion of the project and what work is (and isn’t) included.

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Before the client agrees to hire you, your proposal will make it clear for both parties what they are hiring you to do.

What needs to be included?

  • As with all business communications, your business name, logo and contact details should be included. If you have a standard letterhead, this part will be easy.
  • Your client’s contact details should also be included, making it clear who your proposal is for.
  • Before outlining the project, it may be a good idea to make note of the project’s purpose – this is a good way to ensure both you and the client are working toward the same outcome.
  • In your project outline, you’ll want to be as specific as you can. Explain the timeframe you expect it to be completed in, as well as any milestones along the way.
  • If your client is responsible for providing content or other elements, make this clear in your outline of the project. The fewer unexpected surprises that arise when signing the contract (or worse – after signing), the better.
  • Depending on you and your client, you may want to add pricing information, or you might hold out until you get to the contract stage.

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Optional extras

You may or may not want to include these extra details:

Next steps: Clearly explain the next steps for your client to take. This might be getting in touch with you to discuss the project further, or making the first payment if you’ve created a proposal that acts as a contract as well.

Different options: If your project meetings so far have been inconclusive and the client is looking to you for guidance, you might want to include more than one option – perhaps a comprehensive project outline and a more basic, low-cost option.

Expiry date: Some freelancers add expiry dates to their proposals. Not only does this push your client to make a decision, it prevents them from coming back to you later on and requesting your services at the quoted price.

What have I missed that you would include in a proposal? Leave a comment below and let me know.