Struggling to secure those freelance writing jobs you’ve been applying for? You may need a quick refresher on writing a winning proposal — your gateway to securing those exciting projects you’ve been dying to work on.
A winning proposal will provide value to the client, demonstrate a deep understanding of their project and needs, show them how you can be of service, and convince the client they should choose you over your competitors.
There’s an art to writing a convincing proposal, and once you’ve learned the formula you’ll be able to easily write brilliant proposals with confidence. To help you land that next writing gig, here are eight of our best tips on writing a proposal as a freelancer.
Before you start writing
Don’t start your proposal until you’ve gained a deep understanding of who your client is, what they need, and how you can provide value to the project.
To do this, take the time to conduct thorough research on the client’s business, website, blog, and social media channels. Know their story, industry, and target audience. Identify their strengths and weaknesses and note down any ideas or suggestions you have for improvement.
Do the necessary research and you’ll clearly see where your skills and experience can be of value to the client. This will let you approach the writing part of the proposal with confidence.
8 must-dos for a freelance writing proposal:
1. Give them value straight away.
You’ve just done all this incredible research on the client and their needs, so why keep it to yourself? Your proposal should include value for the client and give them a taste of what you can provide in the future. Doing this will show the client that you’re committed to the project, you understand their business and its needs, and you have the expertise to provide a solution.
Ultimately, your client is posting an ad or requesting a proposal because they’re looking for a solution. Whether that’s friendlier copy that speaks to their customers, more engaging blog articles, or an EDM that actually gets click-throughs, your proposal needs to show how you will be able to provide that solution.
Note down absolutely everything you have considered while conducting your research and prepare something of value for the client. This could be anything from article topic ideas, to a content audit and suggestions, or even just general ideas and feedback.
2. Use a catchy subject line.
Sometimes the hardest part is attracting the client to your proposal in the first place. If you’ve taken the time to create something of value for the client, use that to your advantage and dangle that information in their inbox.
Rather than using a standard subject line of ‘Proposal for [Company]’ go for something striking like ‘My 7 Blog Ideas to Increase Engagement for [Company]’. This will immediately pique the client’s interest. Who doesn’t want to read ideas someone has for their business?
Stand out amongst the sea of other freelancers make use of the email subject line to show clients you’ve taken the time to prepare a custom strategy.
3. Don’t be afraid to boast.
Okay, maybe not boast, but… Written an article that got 10,000 shares? Mention it. Have a super-quick turnaround? Tell the client. Whatever it is that makes you a fantastic writer worthy of hiring, be sure to mention that in your proposal. Your client needs to know why they should be hiring you in particular, and that’s where your skill set and confidence need to shine through.
At the same time, be careful not to talk about yourself too much. While the client needs to be convinced they’re hiring an experienced professional, they want to read a proposal that’s about them and not you. A great way to handle this is to create an ‘About Me’ section. Include a link to your ClearVoice CV or portfolio to show examples of your work. List all of your achievements, notable previous clients and skills there, and keep the rest of the proposal about the client.
4. Explain your process.
Your proposal should show the client exactly what deliverables they will be getting from you and give them a thorough understanding of your process, timeframes, and how you work. The more information you’re able to provide here, the more convincing you’ll be to the client.
Here are some elements to consider including in a freelance writing proposal:
- Your process for conducting competitor research, content audits, industry research, influencer research, image mood boards, and anything else that you typically provide.
- If and how you intend on measuring your success through analytics, KPIs, clicks, or something else.
- The quantity of your work—whether that’s how many articles you intend to deliver per week or month or how many emails you’ll write for the quoted cost.
- What’s involved in your content calendar creation process and how often your calendar will be refreshed.
- Whether or not you source imagery, upload blog articles to WordPress, etc.
Here’s where you can also add some fancy tables and charts. A deliverables chart with timelines works brilliantly in securing proposals and shows clients exactly what they can expect from you.
You can set your deliverables chart out as such:
- Week 1 – Content strategy delivered via Google Docs
- Week 2 – 500 word blog article and image sourcing via Pexels
- And so on for the remainder of your planned engagement.
5. Talk business.
Continuing on from your process, a convincing proposal would also include operational guidelines regarding communication and your general business structure. All of this information will help the client see if you are a good fit, as well as showing that you’re serious about how you run your business.
Some elements to consider include:
- How would you like to communicate with the client (Slack, Email, Zoom, etc.)?
- How frequently would you like to communicate?
- Do you use task management systems?
- Do you intend to schedule regular brainstorming or strategy sessions?
- Do you have preferred working hours?
- How many revisions does a client get for each article?
- Will you require a deposit to get started?
To ensure there are no misunderstandings, you could even attach your standard contract terms to your proposal. That way, all of your important conditions are covered, and when the client signs the proposal they’ll also sign the contract so you can get moving straight away. A tool like AND CO’s can help with this—providing a standard freelance contract template and e-signing to move things along faster. Plus, it’ll automatically setup a new client, project, and invoice for you if you win the pitch, so you can get going on tracking tasks and time, and you won’t forget to invoice the client when the time comes.
6. Make it pretty.
As a writer, you know that people don’t want to read big, long walls of text. Make your proposal attractive to the client at first glance with a neat, organised layout, clear headings, and an aesthetically-pleasing design. This will not only make you look more professional but demonstrate that you take pride in your work.
7. Offer a freebie.
You don’t necessarily have to give a discount on your services, but freebies or in-kind offers are often used as part of a proposal to make you a more attractive candidate to the client.
Typically this would involve adding on extra services at no cost to the client, giving them extra value for money with the project. As a freelance writer, freebies you can offer your client could include sourcing images, uploading articles to WordPress, writing social media posts to promote content, and so on.
8. Follow up.
The process isn’t over once you hit send. Schedule some time in your calendar or via an email reminder service like Boomerang so you don’t forget to follow up. A professional and friendly message that keeps you top of mind and shows that you’re available should the client have any questions could be what closes the deal.
Worth the effort
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because writing a winning proposal does take a lot of effort. But going the extra mile means you’ll win more jobs, which means you won’t have to create as many proposals in order to keep your client pipeline healthy. As you build up your portfolio, you’ll be able to increasingly go after the clients that really excite you — and certainly that is worth the effort.