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Good news–your dream client has expressed interest in working with you! It’s a wonderful feeling. At this point they’ve likely reviewed your website, portfolio, and pricing, if available. They liked what they saw and are ready to take the next step. Time to celebrate, right? Well… not yet. There’s one more important step to take before you can make the relationship official and pop the champagne. Enter: the project proposal.

A project proposal is an essential document that lays out the terms of a potential collaboration. The purpose of the proposal is two-fold. For one, it’s an opportunity to really sell your services to your potential client by making it relevant to their unique goals and situation. Secondly, it ensures that you and the client are on the same page regarding important project details, such as scope, timeline, and pricing.

Writing a project proposal can be nerve-wracking–after all, it’s your last chance to impress the client and convince him or her that you’re the best person for the job. However, if you do your homework and truly understand the needs of your client, writing a winning proposal should come easily, especially if you have a template to work off of. Now, let’s get into the essential components of a winning project proposal.

Before you begin writing your proposal, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What problem(s) will you solve for the client?
  • Why are you uniquely qualified to solve their problem(s)?
  • What are the project deliverables?
  • Who is responsible for each deliverable?
  • What steps will you take to complete the project (what is your process)?
  • Does the client have a deadline?
  • How long will the project take to complete, and can it be broken into milestones?
  • What is the project budget?
  • How will you measure success?

Once you’ve answered the above questions, the hardest part of writing your project proposal is over. The next step is to lay out the answers in a format that is easy to read and follow. The proposal should be brief and to the point. Make use of headings, bullet points and tables where appropriate to make it look organized and interesting. You don’t want to bore your clients to sleep with a long, wordy proposal!

My project proposals are organized into the following sections:

  • Basic proposal details — these include your name, the client’s name, the proposal date, and the proposal’s expiration date (optional, but it will help create a sense of urgency and fend off procrastination).
  • Project summary — write 2-3 sentences to sum up the aim of the project (the problem) and the services you’re offering (the solution).
  • Deliverables — make a list of the deliverables for the project. If multiple individuals are delivering items, then indicate who will deliver each item.
  • Process — divide the project into phases and write a short paragraph describing the steps involved in each phase.
  • Timeline — indicate the overall timeframe for the project, as well as a proposed deadline for each phase.
  • Budget — present your fee for the project and proposed payment schedule.
  • Closing — include a short note at the end to thank the client for their time and declare your enthusiasm for the project. Don’t forget to include your contact info.

Sometimes, you may wish to propose more than one option for your potential client. For instance, as a brand and web designer, I am often approached about either branding or web design, and if appropriate, I’ll throw in a second premium option that includes both services. This is a great way to up-sell your services if you have another skillset that you know would interest your client. However, I don’t recommend offering more than two options because you’ll risk overwhelming the client with decisions.

Once your proposal is complete, make sure to double-check it for spelling and grammatical errors–these minor details could make or break your proposal. If you’re new to writing proposals, ask a peer to review it to make sure it reads well and looks professional. Lastly, your proposal should match your branding. Incorporate your brand fonts and colors to make it recognizable to your client (who has likely already reviewed your website and/or social media).

There you have it! You should now be well on your way to crafting a winning project proposal and landing your dream client. If you found this post useful, please feel free to share it with your freelancing friends. Also, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for more helpful tips and to keep up with my latest blog posts. If you’d like personalized help with your proposal, contact me here, and I’m happy to take a look.

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