How to Write a Winning Proposal

Freelancing gives you an incredible amount of freedom that you simply can’t achieve from your typical nine to five job. That’s one of the reasons why we love it!

Don't be fooled into thinking you can sit back and wait for the clients to roll in (that is, of course, until you have enough referrals to keep you in business).

You need to get out there and make yourself known to potential clients.

One of the best ways to do that?

Go and chase down the projects you’re interested in!

There are a ton of projects out there waiting for someone like you to add your expertise. But with potentially hundreds of like-minded freelancers gunning for the same positions, it can be a real challenge to stand out.

That’s why writing a head-turning proposal will help you stand out and win more work.

How do you get started?

1. Read the Job Description Thoroughly

Understanding the scope of the project helps you AND the client: you can discover whether the position is right for you and your skill set, and the client gets better fitting freelancers applying to work on their project.

But the importance of reading the description thoroughly can be underestimated; it means you have less chance of missing small details that other freelancers might miss. Clients appreciate attention to detail!

2. Make Note of Resources to Include

Depending on the job you’re applying for, the client may ask you to include examples of past work - an audio recording, or something else from your portfolio.

When writing your proposal, don’t forget to include these vital pieces of information if the client has asked for them! Chances are, the client won’t reach out to you and ask you for them if you forget - they’ll more likely choose someone else who already included everything they need.

Just jot down what you need to include as a mini to-do list to check off before you send your proposal.

3. Mimic Their Tone of Voice

Without realising it, we warm more to people who share our outlook and speak the way we do. Whether formal, relaxed, fun or stiff, the client will be drawn to freelancers who mimic their tone of voice in their proposal.

Why?

The client will feel like the freelancer ‘gets’ their business more - if it’s a fun business looking for someone with a can-do attitude, they’re more likely to opt for the freelancer who chooses flowing, upbeat and positive turns of phrase as opposed to boring, stiff, and formal language.

4. Introduce Yourself

Your introduction is your first impression - make it count!

The client will likely receive dozens of applications and the first couple of lines can make all of the difference.

Avoid the typical ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ and instead use their name if they included it in the description, followed by a couple of snappy, to-the-point sentences about why you’re applying. Here’s an example of a good and bad intro:


BAD

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you as I wish to apply for the above advertised position. I feel that my skills as a developer may be what you are looking for and I think the knowledge that I have gained over the past ten years in my career would fit the position that you’re looking to fill.

GOOD

Hi there, Janelle!

I hope you’re having a wonderful day so far.

It was so refreshing to see your project listing, as you really seem to care about providing a fantastic service to your clients! As a developer in the non-profit space for the last ten years, I understand just how vital that is. My extensive knowledge in developing systems specifically for this industry, along with a passion for learning new programming languages, means I’m ready to grow with your business!

5. Explain Why You Fit

There’s no need to launch into a two-page bio about your entire life (unless that’s what the client has asked for!).

Keep your proposal relevant; if you went to school, highlight details that would be applicable for this position. Only include past work experience if it boosts your suitability for the role. Be really effective with explaining your achievements and responsibilities, too: don’t just say what your past duties have been, but explain what effect they had.

Instead of ‘I was in charge of marketing’, say ‘I created and managed a marketing campaign which increased revenue by 50% in Q3 2016’.

Explaining to the client why and where you can add value in their business will set you apart from the other generic applications!

6. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Writing about how awesome you are at what you do might feel a bit awkward at times. Many freelancers suffer with imposter syndrome, that feeling of being a fraud, or that you don’t deserve great opportunities.

To convince clients to have faith in you, you must have faith in yourself! Don’t be defeatist in the language of your proposal as it’ll come across negatively and might make the client doubt your abilities.

Don’t write: “I don’t have much experience in editing for pet magazines”

But instead, say: “I have plenty of magazine editing under my belt from work in the education sector - skills which easily transfer to your pet publication.”

See? Just rephrasing the sentences to highlight what you CAN do instead of what you CAN’T makes for a more positive proposal.

7. Include Examples of Your Work

This works especially well for creative jobs like writers and designers, but is valuable for results-driven jobs like marketing and sales, too.

To bolster the achievements and skills you’re listing in your proposal, why not SHOW them what you’re made of?

You can attach examples of your web designs or published articles from your portfolio, or even screenshots of the statistics that your campaigns have improved. Clients love proof of your work!

8. Include a Call to Action in Your Sign Off

When you’ve crafted your proposal, checked your writing for typing errors and attached everything you need, it’s time to sign off.

Just like your introduction, the way you end your proposal can leave a lasting impression, so don’t leave the client hanging or abruptly cut off. Instead, give the client a reason to contact you!

Avoid a generic, passive sign-off like: “I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience”

And opt for a call to action like: “My messages are open if you need clarification on anything I’ve included. I can’t wait to discuss the project further with you!”


Now you know how to create a winning proposal that clients just can’t refuse.

Put your new skills to use the next time you want to land that dream job. And don’t forget to share this blog post with your freelancer friends if you found it useful. 😉


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