Writing a project proposal can be a regular task for freelance professionals. In some industries and especially with larger clients, proposals are a standard process to go through before a new project. Yet they can remain a daunting proposition for many freelancers.
When you don’t know how to properly write a project proposal then you’re likely to receive negative or zero feedback from a potential client. They decline your services and choose a competitor instead. This means wasted hours researching and putting together proposals which are doing little to develop your freelancing career.
Knowing how to write a great project proposal, on the other hand, can swiftly enable you to work on the most exciting projects and for the freelancing rates you desire.
So how do you go about writing the perfect freelance project proposal?
What to do before writing proposal
Before writing a proposal it’s important to make sure you have everything you need. Trying to write a project proposal without all the information and tools will lead to frustration, poor results, and ultimately a waste of your time.
Research and ask questions
Always ensure you understand exactly what the potential client needs and their expectations. Most proposals will be written after you’ve gained all the information you need to accurately assess the scope of the project.
If you have any doubts or you don’t fully understand what the prospect wants, then it’s imperative to get back to them before writing a single word.
Decide on length
How in-depth does the project proposal need to be? Unless otherwise specified by the client, it’s preferable to be succinct. One or two pages are perfectly standard lengths. Most business owners will not want to read a lot of text.
Use a nice template
Invest in a nice project proposal template design. It’s the words that matter most but when they are framed in an attractive document, then it all helps showcase your professionalism as a freelancer. Match the design with your personal brand.
Project proposal structure
Most project proposals follow roughly the same structure. There are a few variations depending on the client’s industry and freelance services being provided.
The standard format looks like this:
Section 1. Describe the current situation
Begin your proposal with a brief overview of the intended project. This is geared towards showing you understand what their business is all about, their goals, their problems, and what they want from you. This section is basically relaying what you gleamed from your initial meeting.
Section 2. Explain how you can solve their problems
In the next section you want to write about how you can solve their problems and provide the solutions they need. Detail why you are the best skilled freelancer for their project. You can mention previous experience especially if connected to the client’s industry or requirements. Note particular results you achieved for your previous clients and how your expertise can benefit the new project.
Section 3. Detail what you will do.
The research and questions you ask your client all help you develop a plan of action. You know better than anyone which of your skills and services need to be employed for a particular project. During the initial consultations with your client, you will have mapped out together what needs to be done and why. All these details need to be included here, albeit it succinctly.
Section 4. Detail the Cost and Time Involved
Together with the project details, you also need to include costs and time estimates. These need to be as accurate as possible. You can also provide price and time ranges, depending on whether you have more meetings scheduled to discuss such matters.
Section 5. Terms & Conditions
The Terms & Conditions section needn’t be as daunting to write as it sounds. This is basically where you note specific points related to things like payment methods, deposit information, signature requirements, delivery systems, and intellectual property rights etc. Also include contact details.
Create a written template
Just like with a design template, you can also create a written template. This allows you to use the same wording for various sections of the project proposal over and over again. You can then simply change paragraphs and sections that need unique content relevant to a particular client project.
This helps you speed up the proposal writing process while still maintaining high standards. You boost your freelancing productivity, which is vital when you’re a busy freelancer.
Simple and professional
It’s important to remember that a project proposal is not a contract. The writing of a contract happens later once the proposal has been accepted and further details are ironed out.
Project proposals should be professional in tone yet not filled with corporate-sounding jargon. It’s important to sound confident but not arrogant or overly-salesly. The whole point of the document is to show the client you understand their business and you know what’s needed in order to achieve the results they desire.
Avoid making your writing stilted and devoid of character. Be yourself. The more likable and personable the reader deems you to be, the better. This is especially the case when the proposal’s content really connects with their business goals and aspirations.