What to Include in Your Client Proposal | See Girl Work

What to Include in Your Client Proposal

What to Include in Your Client Proposal

A client proposal can be sent as a follow-up to great meeting, response to RFP (request for proposal) and can even be used as a cold pitch to a new client.

When I was starting out as a freelancer marketer, I would only send quotes to potential clients. The quotes were easy enough to send, but then I’d have to spend a lot of time walking the client through each line item and justifying it’s value.

It became far more efficient to send a proper client proposal. Plus I was more likely to win the client with a proposal rather than providing a simple project quote.

Unlike a quote or budget estimate, a proposal is a project document that includes not only the project costs, but also a detailed description of the scope of work,  the project timeline, your process, payment terms and policies.

It should also show the client that you’ve researched their business and their industry, that you have a clear understanding of what their problems are and how your recommended solutions will help them solve it.

These are all important things for creative professionals to express when explaining the value of the services that they provide.

Your client proposal needs to be written in a way that makes it worthy of your client’s attention. The proposal you write must be clear and compelling. If you don’t do this right, there’s no chance of getting a “yes” from the client.

Client proposals are an important step in securing new work and new clients. However, if you’ve been in your creative freelance business for a hot minute, you already know how time consuming putting together a kick-ass proposal can be.

As you know I’m a big time user of FreshBooks (shout out to all my clients reading this who pay me using their FreshBooks link), so I was overjoyed and over-the-moon when they recently introduced their new Proposals Feature.

If you create your proposals in Word, InDesign or even Canva, then PDF them to email as an attachment, the whole process can seem unnecessarily cumbersome and time-consuming.

I love this new feature because now I can have all my client contact info, invoices, expenses and now proposals all under one umbrella.

In honour of FreshBooks new Proposals Feature and for those who are still not quite sure what to include in a proposal, I wanted to run down the essential elements of a professional client proposal.

What to Include in Your Client Proposal

Contact Details. Make sure your contact information is included somewhere on the proposal. You’ll want to include things like your email address and phone number, as well as your company website address.

Project Overview. Simply describe what this project is about. Are you designing a brand identity, a WordPress website, or writing an “about page” for a client?

Scope of Work. Your proposal should include an explanation or breakdown of what you’ll be doing for the client and how you’ll get the job done. This is so that the client knows what to expect and so they can see how much work goes into their project.

If you’re designing a logo you can write here what formats you’ll be delivering to the client. If you’re a writer or blogger, you can include how many articles you’ll be producing and how long each article will be in word length. If you’re a web designer you can include what pages you will be designing for your client. These are your project deliverables.

Project Timeline. The time it will take to complete the project. You can also include your start date if you are booking this client in advance.

If it’s an ongoing assignment, break down when elements will be delivered (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) or create milestones for when you’ll be delivering certain sections of a longer term project.

If you’re ghostwriting a book, perhaps you’ll be delivering chapters 1-5 by a certain date, then delivering chapters 6-8 by another date.

The Benefits of Working with You. Include something (it doesn’t have to be long) to assure the client that they’re picking the right person. Add in any testimonials from current clients or references for social proof.

Include Costs. After seeing all the hard work you put into a job the client finally sees the price and should be happy to work with you on this project.

Include Terms: If you require a deposit to begin work, then include those details in this section. Include how you prefer receiving payments—whether by credit card, PayPal, cheque or bank transfer. You can also outline how you treat late payments in your terms.

Next Steps. Provide clients with a clear idea of the next steps that you want them to take in order to get started working with you.

With the Proposals Feature, you’ll be notified when they open it and if they add comments to it. That way, you know exactly when and how to follow up to see if they have questions.

Consistent Branding. Of course, you also want to be using fonts, colour schemes and a design that aligns with your name or company. With the new Proposals Feature you can easily add your company logo.

These small elements should be subtle reminders of where your proposal came from. They should enhance the look and professionalism of your business.

Image: FreshBooks new Proposals Feature

Proposals can be sent as follow-ups to great meetings, responses to RFPs (request for proposal) and can even be used as cold pitches to new clients.

As new business owners looking to grow and expand the kind of projects that we work on, it’s especially important for us to thoroughly convey the value, scope, timeline and deliverables with the client up front.

A client proposal is probably one of the most important things your business needs in order to land lucrative clients, grow and succeed.

Providing a client proposal focuses on the value that your business is offering a client instead of solely just focusing on the services or costs.


Image via Stocky/Alto Images
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Alethea Robinson

Founder & Blogger-in-Chief, See Girl Work

Alethea Robinson is a freelance marketing & content writer who provides content strategy, blogging, and writing & editing services for creative agencies and small to medium-sized businesses. In addition to her freelance business, Alethea is also founder and blogger-in-chief at See Girl Work, an online community for creative, entrepreneurial-minded women. Before starting her blog and freelance business, Alethea worked in marketing and communications for over 15 years.


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