Knowing how to write winning proposals is one of the essential elements to running a successful freelance business. If you are an experienced freelancer you know how challenging it can be to write a proposal that will land new clients and keep them returning for repeat business.
A lot of freelancers make the mistake of writing a generic proposal that they use regardless of the project description. While this may work on occasion, for the more lucrative projects that are bound to engender more competition, you must tailor your proposal to suit the specific requirements of the project if you are to stand a chance.
Here are some tips on how to write winning proposals that speak directly to the project you are bidding on.
Set Up a Meeting
If you are not familiar with the client and their company it makes it very difficult to write a proposal that addresses the needs of the project and the company. If possible, it is preferable to meet with the client to obtain background information before submitting a formal proposal.
Prior to your meeting prepare a list of specific questions for the client to help you understand the scope of the project. Ask the client about their company, their goals and objectives, what they plan to achieve with the project, their target audience, the product (if applicable), etc. Keep in mind that this meeting is part of the bidding process and that the client will be scrutinizing you. You have to put your best foot forward.
Draft a Cover Letter
The cover letter will act as a follow up to your meeting and will help break the ice before you present your proposal. The cover letter should not be too business-like and should be friendly enough to establish a rapport with the client. Make the letter concise and to the point.
Refer to the Meeting
Create a section in the beginning of the proposal that summarizes your meeting with the client and mention some of the key points that were articulated during the meeting.
Provide the Solution
Write the proposal with a section that describes how you will provide the solution to the issues you discussed with the client during the first meeting. Point out the issues that were raised during the meeting and describe the steps you will take to help the client achieve his or her goals.
A winning proposal should include a description of the different phases of the project and how you will accomplish them. The different phases should proceed according to a pre-defined timeline with deliverables so that the client knows what to expect from you.
Share Your Expertise
Highlight the aspects of your expertise that will bring value to the client’s business and explain to the client how your knowledge and experience will enhance the project. This doesn’t mean that you should relate your life history in this section however. Just be yourself and craft the description in a way that speaks directly to your client.
Provide samples that are relevant to the client’s project to demonstrate any practical expertise that you have in the particular area. Relevant samples reinforce your ability to handle the project.
Spell Out the Terms
Carefully detail the terms of the project by clearly itemizing the cost of the project, how payment is to be made, upfront deposit, guarantee, and a clause that states your terms if the description of the project changes along the way. You can add more terms depending on the project and spelling them out will protect you in case of any future disagreements.
When you write a proposal always craft it in a way that addresses the client’s needs. It’s not about your qualifications. It’s about how your expertise makes you the most qualified candidate for the project.
by John Sylo