How to write a proposal that wins clients over

How to nail your freelance project proposal: A quick guide

Reading Time: 8 minutes

As a freelancer, proposals can make or break your chances of getting hired. Follow the framework mentioned below to create a more compelling project proposal that wins clients.


An impressive project proposal is the best way to communicate to clients how serious you are about the project and also, flaunt your expertise and experience.

Although writing a proposal before every project might seem tedious, it is well worth the effort. You can use it as a reference document throughout the project. It acts as an outline which gives you direction and ensures you don’t lose your way. Moreover, once you have a framework in place, it is much easier to write a proposal. On the whole, it makes you appear reliable.

As for potential clients, it gives them a chance to evaluate the problems you have identified and your proposed solutions, the timeline for the project, the budget required, and much more.

Ultimately, sharpening your proposal writing skills is crucial to getting more clients. And that’s what this piece is all about. We will be covering everything from what it is to the essential elements of an impressive proposal. Let’s dive in.

What is a freelance project proposal?

A project proposal is an initial document that a freelancer makes and submits to a potential client offering to perform a project. 

It is expected to provide an outline of the problems you have identified and the proposed solutions, a plan of action, a timeline, your budget requirements, and much more.

Your proposal should clearly communicate the value you bring to the table and convince the potential client that you are the right person for the job.

What to do before you start making a project proposal?

To write an impressive project proposal, you need to be well-prepared. That extra effort is what’s going to separate you from the rest.

Moreover, it makes the writing process easy. As you are already done with your research and have the necessary information in one place, you can get started quickly.

Here’s a list of things that you should do before you start making your freelance project proposal:

  • Read the job description thoroughly at least two or three times. Understand the client’s demands, requirements, and objectives clearly.
  • Check out the client’s website and their social media pages. Find out information that would be relevant to you. For instance, if you a freelance writer, visit their blog and understand their tone, style, and so on.
  • Review your pricing structure. Evaluate if your rates would be suitable for the client, and adjust it accordingly.
  • Understand the needs and demands of your potential client and where they are in their journey. Then, come up with things that can immediately add value to them.
  • Get testimonials from mutual connections or similar type of clients. Adding them to your proposal can significantly improve your chances of getting hired.
  • Get your doubts clarified from the client. It will save time and ensure that you are not basing your plans on assumptions.
  • Create a rough outline of the proposal. Decide on the sections that you are planning to include and make a brief note on each.
  • Draft an excellent cover letter for the proposal. It should set the context and give the client a brief overview of the proposal — your plan of action, pricing structure, and timelines. Wrap it up by explaining ‘what to do next’.

Here’s an excellent cover letter template to draw inspiration from:

Cover letter project proposal

Source

How to write an impressive project proposal?

Before you start, be thorough with the project description — what is it about, the requirements, and so on. Having a clear picture makes it easy to build an impressive proposal. 

You can write it in a variety of ways. There are no set rules to it. Freelance project proposals are heavily dependent on the type of work and the nature of the client. Furthermore, the terminologies and the style may vary according to the online tool you are using or the proposal template you are following.

To make your life easier, we’ve created a simple outline that you can follow. We have listed down and explained certain must-have elements of a good project proposal.

infographic - the key elements of a high quality project proposal

1. Cover page

It is the very first page of the proposal document. Ideally, the cover page should include — your logo (if any), a background image, client name, job headline, delivery date, and your name.

The aim is to get the prospect to scroll down the document and read more. Ensure it looks professional and intimates readers what the document is about.

Example:

Cover image - How to write a project proposal that wins clients over

Pro-tip: Don’t clutter your cover page. Keep it attractive, concise, and straightforward.  

2. Context and Objectives

Setting the context clearly makes your proposal more impactful. Start with a summary of the problems faced by or the needs of your potential clients. Besides the obvious advantages, it conveys you have a thorough grasp of the situation.

Example:

Context - How to write a project proposal that wins clients over

Source

Pro-tip: Write the introduction like a letter. Use the client’s name if you know it. Thank them for expressing their interest in working with you. 

After that, explain what you will bring to the table. State your objectives, the services you are prepared to provide, and the measurable goals.

Example:

Objectives - How to write a project proposal that wins clients over

Pro-tip: If you have faced similar situations as the client in the past, be sure to mention it. Personal anecdotes highlight your familiarity with the circumstances — the challenges and demands inherent to it. Also, it makes you more relatable.

3. Plan of action

Don’t worry, you don’t have to list every little thing you are planning to do. The idea is to retain the client’s attention and impress them, not to bore them out. The best way to do it is — keep it concise, and be specific.

For instance, talk specifically about certain pain points and how you plan to solve them. When the plan of action is vague, generic, and full of jargons, potential clients get turned off quickly. And you will end up losing your chance to stand out.

An ideal plan of action should include:

  • The most effective path(s) to reaching your client’s goals.
  • Proposed campaigns. Give examples if any.
  • The research involved and how you are going to undertake it.
  • How you intend to measure results and key performance indicators.

Example:

Plan of action - How to write a project proposal that wins clients over

Pro-tip: Communicate why you have an edge when it comes to solving the client’s pain points. It could be due to your experience, a certain certification you have, and so on. 

4. Project timeline

State the approximate time required to complete the entire project. Then, break it down further by mentioning the start date, the milestones involved, the phases involved and the tentative timeline to finish each phase, and so on.  

Example:

Timeline - Plan of action - How to write a project proposal that wins clients over

Pro-tip: Mention possible delays and other contingencies — how it can impact the timeline, and how you are prepared to overcome them. It shows that you are prudent.

5. The investment involved and fee structure

One question every client ask is ‘how much do we have to pay if we hire you’. That’s what you answer with this section. Provide them with a detailed breakdown of the total project cost. It can include items such as:

  • The cost of each service you offer.
  • The cost of any additional service that you offer.
  • The type of budget — phase-by-phase or task-by-task.
  • The payment system that you follow — hourly rate, based on task completion, in installments, and so on.
  • Your preferred mode to receive payments.

Examples:

a. Project budget

Project budget - How to write a project proposal that wins clients over

b. Task-by-task

task by task -How to write a project proposal that wins clients over

Pro-tip: Give clients multiple options to choose from. For instance, option A can be four weeks to complete the project at a price of ₹50000, option B can be seven weeks to complete the project at a price of ₹30000, and so on. This allows clients to choose one that fits their needs and budget.

6. Why choose me?

There is nothing wrong in engaging in a bit of self-promotion, especially when you can back it up with quality work. Ultimately, if you don’t tell potential clients how your service is better than your competitors, what’s the incentive for them to choose you?

Here are a few tips for writing an impressive ‘why choose me’ section:

  • Talk about what you have achieved in the industry. For instance, if you are a freelance writer, explain how your blog posts helped a client improve their organic traffic. Be sure to add data to back you up.
  • Mention relevant certifications you have obtained. It establishes your expertise and makes you trustworthy as well.
  • Flaunt samples of work you have done in the same niche or for similar clients.
  • Include testimonials from former clients, mainly the ones from the same niche.
  • Explain how you are different from the rest. Focus on your values, how you go above and beyond for clients, certain special provisions you offer, and so on.
  • Be sure to add a link to your portfolio, makes it easier for prospects to learn more about you.

Example:

Why me - How to write a project proposal that wins clients over

Pro-tip: Write a case-study based on your work with a former client, someone who faced similar problems as the potential client. Explain how you solved their problems and the results it fetched. If you are new to freelancing, you can write an imaginary case-study.

7. Terms and conditions

Regardless of whether people read terms and conditions or not, they are crucial to protecting your business. There are no legal requirements as such to include terms and conditions in your freelance project proposal. Nonetheless, it makes the proposal trustworthy, professional, and thorough.

Here are a few tips to build a comprehensive terms and conditions page:

    • Terms of transfer of ownership regarding all the work you have done or the assets you have created for the client.
    • Spell out when the payment should be delivered.
    • Establish terms of access with regards to client’s website code, scripts, data, and other reports.
    • Iron out details regarding the termination of the contract, confidentiality, service location, the liability involved, the relationship between parties, and so on.

Example:

Terms-and-conditions-How-to-write-a-project-proposal-that-wins-clients-over

Source

Pro-tip: Make sure to personalize terms and conditions for every prospect. You can’t assume every prospect is the same as the previous one.

8. Next steps

Okay, so the potential client has read the whole document, now what? You can’t leave them hanging. That’s where ‘Next steps’ comes in. Tell them what to do next and how to get in touch in touch with you.

Example:

next steps - How to write a project proposal that wins clients over

Pro-tip: Add signature lines for you and the client at the end of the proposal. This way you can accelerate the process and move on to the next stage quickly.

Final thoughts

Always be ready to follow-up. The prospect may not respond the first time around you send the project proposal. Don’t take it personally. They may have been caught up with something else or forgotten about it. Often you will see people replying to the 3rd or a 4th follow-up email. So, you have to keep at it.

To further enhance your freelance career, sign up on TapChief. We are a platform where you can get your expertise verified, share your portfolio, find open projects, interact with potential clients, build relationships with fellow freelancers, and much more.

 

Sucheth

Sucheth is a Content Marketer at TapChief. He is a marketer by day and an avid reader by night.