You run a freelance writing business, but now you’re looking to expand your client base.
Maybe you’re looking to add more clients, or perhaps you’d like to switch over to higher-paying projects.
Either way, you’re going to need a process for finding and converting prospects into (hopefully, long-term) customers.
One method we recommend is using proposals. If you’re cold-emailing prospects with pitches and you get a reply of interest, then you need to be ready to create a winning proposal.
But if you’ve never created a proposal or feel you need to improve your proposal writing skills, then this guide will help you do so.
Let’s get to it!
Things to Do BEFORE You Send a Proposal
How would you feel if someone you never seen or talked to sent you a proposal? Likely, you’d throw it in the trash.
Well, you can expect the same reaction if you send a proposal before taking the proper steps.
Let’s take a look.
Build a Relationship with the Prospect
What are the chances that other freelancers are targeting the same companies you are? Pretty high.
If the client you’re contacting didn’t publish an ad looking for a freelance writer, then it’s critical to build rapport with them.
(If they did, you could skip this step!)
By doing this one thing, you can increase your chances of getting chosen for a project.
So how do you go about building a relationship? Well, you can start by making an introduction. Email, LinkedIn, and other platforms are excellent for making first contact.
It’s non-invasive and allows them to respond at their convenience.
But before you write your intro email/message, take a look at the next step.
Be a Person First and a Professional Second
It’s evident that if you’re reaching out to a company that you’re looking for a beneficial relationship. But the idea is to ensure you’re aim is to present a mutually beneficial relationship.
Otherwise, you’ll look like a sleazy salesperson with their hand out.
When you make your introduction, try to relate to them in some form or fashion. For example, you can talk about a post written on the company’s blog that you found helpful.
Or maybe they tweeted about an event you attended or topic you’re into. You can bring this up in your message to add a personal touch.
Many of these companies receive generic introduction emails and guess what happens to those!
You can also slide in a sentence or two about being a freelancer in their industry. But no need to pitch anything here — just put the word out.
You can follow up with them the following week to ask whether they’d be interested in your services.
Then use this in your pitch email.
If you get a reply with interest in your freelance writing services, then it’s time to send that proposal!
Here’s what to do.
How to Write a Winning Proposal
Now, the most important thing about writing a proposal is that you personalize it. You can use a template (which we suggest to quicken the process), but don’t use a templated message.
You’ll need to demonstrate your research skills on the company and how they can benefit from your services.
After reading your proposal, they should feel a strong desire to hire you right away.
You can use a template from Prospero to help lighten your load.
Here are some tips to turn that template into a proposal your clients can’t deny!
1. Don’t Sell Yourself
It’s hard not to toot your own horn when you’re trying to prove they should pick you.
But there’s another way to demonstrate your expertise — show…don’t tell.
You know the saying — and it couldn’t be any more accurate in this case. If you want to convince prospects to hire you for a project, then you need to showcase your skills.
For example, you can show a similar project you recently did for another client. If you have a link to this project, include it in your proposal.
If not, upload the project to Google Docs or your personal website/portfolio.
Include several samples of your work to show prospects what you’re capable of. You should place these somewhere near the top of your proposal.
Another way to “show off” without showing off is to offer valuable advice or suggestions. Maybe you notice the content on their blog is too short, non-optimized, or inconsistent.
They’re hiring you for your expertise so let it shine!
2. Talk About the Client
It’s important that we reiterate this point — talking too much about yourself is a big fat NO.
It’s hard to gain trust for someone who’s always talking about how great they are and how they can make you great too.
Put your money where your mouth is by talking about the client, their problems, and the solutions and benefits you offer.
Like they say in sales — you have to sell the sizzle, not the steak.
To pull this off, you need to do your research. You can do this by interviewing the client, sending them a questionnaire, or good ol’ internet research.
Look at their market and competition. How can you create content that positions them as an authority in their industry? Find the shortcomings and how to leverage it to gain a competitive edge.
It’s also good to learn about their customers’ pain points so you can develop content that resonates and converts.
Portray all of this knowledge in your proposal so the prospect sees you know your stuff and feels confident you can help them.
3. Don’t Make it Too Long
There’s a lot you can say and show — but don’t. Keep your proposal short and to the point.
Mention your expertise in the industry, show your samples, and talk about the customers’ problems, your solutions, and the benefits of using them.
Tie in any data you found while doing thorough research on the company and its market.
There’s no set length to target since it depends on the project. So just try to keep it as short and sweet as possible.
4. Ask Questions that Give Valuable Insights
There’s only but so much you can learn about a client through their website or job ad. If you really want to get into their heads, you can interview them.
But don’t just ask basic questions, dig in so you can get insights that can make your proposal stand out.
For example, what are the most pressing concerns they’re dealing with?
What hesitations do their customers have?
What are their goals for this project?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can incorporate them into the proposal. Detail how you can help them overcome their top problems.
This will show your attention to detail.
5. Add Testimonials for Social Proof
You claim you’re great at what you do — but what do others say about you?
Think of how you shop for products and services. You likely turn to Google and social media to find out the experiences and opinions others have of the brand.
Make it easy for your clients to get this information by inserting it into your proposal. Show your top 3-5 testimonials preferably from clients with similar projects and industries.
6. Highlight Qualifications that Set You Apart
Alright, so now it’s time to toot your horn a little. When you’re giving details about your background, it’s a good idea to include your qualifications.
But don’t list all of your credentials — just the ones that matter. Think in the shoes of a client — would it matter if your pest control guy had a Master’s degree in biology? Or would you care more about him having 7 years experience in pest control?
Likely, the latter.
When highlighting your qualifications, focus on those that directly relate to the project at hand.
7. Include Your Prices
Yes, prices — as in plural. If you want to lock in a prospect, then you’re better off offering more than one price option.
For instance, you can create three different packages for your services.
It would look a little something like this:
A) $500/mo for 4 monthly blog posts, SEO, and CMS management
B) $750/mo for 6 monthly blog posts, SEO, and CMS management
C) 1,500/mo for 10 monthly blog posts, SEO, and CMS management
Make sure to spell out what the prospect gets in each package.
By offering more than one estimate/quote, you allow the prospect to take control and choose according to their spending limits.
So no need to ask the awkward question — “What’s your budget for this project?”
Get Started Creating a Proposal that Converts
Writing proposals is a part of landing long-term clients. But if you’re making common mistakes and leaving out critical information, then you’ll continue down the same dreary path.
With the right tools (like Prospero), you can ensure you’re creating a proposal that’s professional and appealing.
So if you’re ready to start crafting a proposal, then you have only one small investment left to make.
You can sign up a free 14-day trial at Prospero today!