Writing a freelance proposal is an art and skillful task. All freelancers should learn this skill and art of writing freelance proposals to win the maximum number of freelance works and contracts. An impressive and carefully drafted freelance proposal will help freelancers to establish a strong first impression on the client and improve the chances of securing the job.
Table of Contents
What is a Freelance Proposal?
“A freelance proposal is a quotation or a proposal that the freelancer submits to the client. It clearly defines and establishes, what is offered at what prices and at what terms and conditions”. The compulsory components of the freelance proposal are pricing, the scope of work, timelines, exclusions, and terms and conditions.
Importance of Freelance Proposal
The first step of every freelance job starts with preparing and submitting the proposal. It is the most important step and document, since based on your proposal client, decides to award the job to you or not.
Whether you are applying for online freelance work at Upwork or submitting it in person to your clients, it is deemed necessary for a freelancer to prepare and submit a proposal to the client.
If the proposal is professionally prepared and submitted to the client, then half of the job is done already to secure the job. Your first impression to your client is your proposal and if you successfully impressed your client with your proposal then you will be considered for the negotiations and award of work.
Your proposal reflects your abilities to deliver the work successfully as per the client’s expectations. And if your proposal fails to mark an impression, the chances of getting the work reduces.
Therefore, pay full attention and think like a professional while preparing the proposal. You should learn how to write a bid proposal for freelance work.
The main components of the proposal shall be complete in all aspects, and it should clearly define and specify the scope of work, prices, timelines, exclusions, and terms and conditions.
Now let’s discuss in detail and learn to write a freelance proposal and its qualities and strengths to make it a professional, impressive, and winning proposal.
How to Write a Freelance Proposal?
The process and steps of preparing a freelance proposal are the same as preparing any other business proposal.
To understand the preparation process, first, you need to understand the sections, components, and requirements of the winning freelance proposals.
Sections/Components of the Freelance Proposal
- Scope of work
- Detailed Specifications
- Project Timelines
- Project Pricing
- Payment Terms
- Other Terms and Conditions
Let’s clearly understand all the above sections and start step-by-step preparation of the freelance proposal.
Summary / Covering letter
This section is the executive summary of your proposal. In this section, you need to summarize your freelance proposal in one or two paragraphs.
Write small paragraphs with the title of the work that describes the scope of work, prices offered, and the completion period.
Scope of Work
In this section, you need to clearly define the scope of work. It defines services and products that are included in your proposal. It is advisable to use bullets to clearly define the scope of work.
This section is a very important part of your proposal. If the scope of work is not clearly defined, there will be ambiguities, and it will increase the chances of conflicts during or after the award of works.
A client may expect some inclusions while you have not included the required expected works therefore, pay attention to the details, highlight and define the complete scope of work in your freelance proposal.
Start with the Title of the project (summary line of the overall scope of work) and then define all inclusions in the scope of work you offered to your client in bullets.
This is also a very important section of your proposal. This section clarifies the specifications and sources of your offered products and services.
It establishes authenticity and clarifies the ambiguities regarding the origin, quality, and sources of offered products and services.
In this section of the proposal, you need to define the timelines of the project. There are two ways of defining the timelines, 1) total completion period, 2) Detailed step-wise completion.
It’s up to how you want to define your timelines. The professional way is to define stages of completion and provide a detailed schedule of the project so that you and your client can record and discuss the progress.
The detailed schedule helps in avoiding delays and resolving conflicts in case of a delay. It is relatively easy to identify the cause of delay if you submit the detailed schedule to your client and keep submitting the progress report.
If the client has requested any changes or there is additional scope of work, you can change the timelines, and it helps you revise the schedule and set and meet new deadlines for completion.
This is the key section of your proposal. You need to mention your prices for the complete scope of work. It depends on the requirement of the client how he wants the prices to be mentioned.
For example, he may request you to provide a detailed breakup of item-wise cost or a total Lump sum cost. If nothing specific is requested, then it’s up to you to decide how you quote the price.
The tip is when you foresee the possible changes in the scope of work, keep your pricing item-wise so that you can easily delete or add new items and request additional prices for new additions in the scope of work. If you want to hide your item-wise profit, then always quote Lump-sum prices for the whole job.
In this section, you have to mention the payment terms. How and when do you want the payments. You have to specify the mode of payment and payment timings or events when the payment is required.
Mention everything in the payment terms to avoid any misunderstanding in the future. If everything is specified in your payment terms, your client shall arrange the payment accordingly.
Tip for the section is always try to tie your timelines with the payment terms to establish the importance of timely payment.
There are no hard and fast rules for payment terms. It varies from project to project and client to client. You must develop a payment plan according to your cash flow to avoid any cash flow problems during the execution stage of your project.
In this section of the freelance proposal, you should mention all the exclusions which are not considered as a part of services. Anything that affects the overall cost or price of the project should be mentioned in the exclusions section. It is very important to mention exclusions to avoid conflicts.
Many freelancers do not focus on this section and face problems and conflicts during the execution stage of the project.
If you do not mention the exclusions, your client may assume or expect services that you may have not considered in the total cost of the project. Therefore, it is very important to include this section in your freelance proposal.
Other Terms & Conditions:
This is an optional section of the freelance proposal. If there is a need to include this section due to the nature of the project then you should include this section.
Mention all the terms and conditions that you want to be a part of a contract or services. This will help your client understand the conditional works and avoid any conflicts during the execution of works.
If you have a freelance business or freelance brand, then you must have the standard terms and conditions of your business. You can also mention in this section as Standard Terms and Conditions are applied to the contract. Attach your template of Standard terms and conditions of your freelance business with your proposal.
The appendix is again an optional section of the proposal. You may need to provide additional information in some projects like Bill of Quantities or Diagrams etc.
If it is required to submit appendixes, or you think there is a need for additional information to support your proposal, you should attach appendixes. You can also attach Schedules, Bill of Quantities, Initial Designs, Catalogs, Brochures, testimonials, and any other informational document to support your proposal.
With this last section, our freelance proposal is completed. Now review your proposal, remove all mistakes and add more information if required. Proofread again and again before submission to remove any mistakes, since it may produce a negative impact on your client if the proposal is sent with mistakes.
Even spelling mistakes can spoil your reputation and leave a negative impact of negligence on your client. Since there is a chance of a mistake therefore it is advisable to ask your colleagues or any other person to proofread the proposal before you finally submit it to your client.
You are all set to submit your freelance proposal to the client. Just proceed with the submission and prepare yourself for negotiations.
You can use the same proposal for Upwork submissions and for your own freelance business.
Strengths and Qualities of a Professional Freelance Proposal
Follow the above-explained process, steps, and guide to prepare the freelance proposal and include all sections in your proposal. Your proposal is a solid foundation, now add more strengths and qualities to your proposal to give it a more professional appearance.
If your freelance proposal has the following qualities, it is considered an impactful and professional proposal.
- The proposal should be printed on letterhead. If you have a freelance business, print the proposal on your business letterhead. If you do not have a business, and you are working as a freelancer, then try to develop your letterhead with your logo and details.
- A freelance proposal should include as many details as possible to keep your client informed of every aspect of the project.
- There should not be any mistakes in the proposal.
- All information should be clearly and easily identifiable and browsable.
- Include a Table of Content in your freelance proposal.
- There should not be any type of conflict in the information.
- There should not be any ambiguity in any of the sections of your proposal.
- Nothing should be left for assumptions, and every aspect of the project is mentioned in the proposal. If there is an assumption made during the preparation due to unavailable information, it should be mentioned in your proposal.
- For your client to make an informed decision, you should include all exclusions and inclusions in your freelance proposal.
Tips for a winning freelance proposal
- Avoid mistakes
- Provide details
- There should not be ambiguities
- Mention Assumptions (if any)
- Keep everything transparent
- Use sections & headings
- Use Lists & Bullets
- Provide Executive Summary
- Provide Testimonials
- Attach Profile & Brochures
Example of a Freelance Proposal for Web Developers
To understand the process and steps clearly, let’s take an example of the preparation of a freelance proposal for website development.
“It is our pleasure to submit our offer for your valuable requirement of the website. Our prices for the complete scope of work for the development of the website shall be US $2,000, complete in all aspects in 4 weeks. We hope our prices will meet your requirements and expectations”.
Scope of work
Purchase of Domain, hosting, and Development of Business Website by using WordPress, Free Themes, and Free Plugins. SEO optimized and complete in all aspects. (if it includes any special feature mentioned in the title)
- Purchasing of Domain Name – 1 Year
- Purchasing of Shared Hosting Plan – 1 Year
- Domain and Server Settings and installation of WordPress
- Installation of Free WordPress Theme
- Development of Website Pages – 4 Nos
- Installation of Free WordPress Plugins
- SEO Optimization
- 5 Revisions
- Domain Name will be purchased from Hostinger
- Shared Hosting will be purchased from Hostinger
- Website will be built on WordPress by using Elementor (Free Version)
- Any free WordPress theme as selected by the client will be used. Options shall be provided later.
- Free WordPress Plugins included shall be Jetpack, Wpfence, Lite speed Cache, etc. (Mention all plugins you proposed to use)
- The website will have 4 pages including Home, About, Products & Services, and Contact Us
- Up to 5 revisions are included if required
- Domain & Hosting – 7 Days
- Development of website – 14 Days
- Revisions and Approval – 7 Days
The total cost of website development shall be US $2,000
- Domain – US $ 300 per year
- Hosting – US $ 500 per year
- Website development – US $ 1,000
- 1-year maintenance – US $200
- 50% Advance
- 30% upon purchase of domain and hosting plan
- 20% upon completion
- Premium domain name not included
- Dedicated IP and server not included
- E-commerce functionality not included
- Any other item not mentioned in the scope of works
Other Terms & Conditions
- Our Standard Terms and Conditions are Applicable and also attached for your reference.
- Appendix A – Link to Shared Hosting Plans
- Appendix B – Link to Premade available Website Templates
- Appendix C – Our Portfolio and testimonials
Templates and Samples of Freelance Proposal
You should try to develop your own templates for freelance proposals. The templates will help you to be more productive, and it reduces the time to prepare the proposal. Once you find an opportunity to quote, use your template and submit it before the submission timelines.
Start developing the templates as you progress in your career. Start with one or two and continue developing more templates with the passage of time.
Every new job has a unique requirement, and it may not be possible to use the template, so try to develop multiple templates with its application that increase your productivity to prepare the freelance proposal.
You can also download and use pre-made templates. Microsoft Office has some very nice proposal templates that you can use for your projects as well.
Download the samples and templates here from our collection of templates and samples.
- Freelance Proposal Template (Editable Doc File)
- Best Proposal for freelancers sample (Pdf)
- Upwork Proposal sample (Pdf)
- Upwork Proposal Template (XLS)
Freelance Engineers and Freelancers at Upwork and independent freelancers can also use the above freelance proposal templates for their submission requirements.
Freelance proposals are important documents, and you should follow the above steps to prepare impressive, impactful, professional, and winning proposals for Upwork or your freelance business and brand. A nicely drafted proposal increases your chances of winning the projects and becoming a successful freelancer.