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Proposal Templates 101

A freelance proposal is a quote sent to a client in response to a request for information (RFI). A proposal should include an outline of the work to be undertaken, note any specific important details, give an estimation of how long it will take to complete the project and how much it will cost the client. For larger projects, a proposal should specify milestones and milestone payments.  Any further terms and conditions and salient regulations should also be included. The proposal can be used by both the freelancer and the client as a checklist. Equally or even more importantly, a proposal is a representation of you and your brand through its look and “feel.”  Furthermore, a proposal is a critical tool for the freelancer to control the sales process, instead of being dictated to by the client, and to ensure a win-win result.

Checklist

Freelancers provide a plethora of services across a broad range of industries so there is no generic template for a freelancer. That said, here is a list of suggestions for what should appear in your template:


Freelancer name or company name and contact details
The potential client’s name and contact details
Your tax number and the client’s tax number if a company and GST/VAT registered.
The date the proposal was filled out.
A breakdown of the problem and objectives (good for trades freelancers)
Project outcomes to be achieved
A timeline for milestones and completion.
A price for the project and deposit requirements if applicable.
Payment terms and schedule (if not on delivery specify the days from delivery)
Space for both you and your client to sign
Date of signature (acceptance)

Optional extras to be included could be:
Proposal validity date or a deadline for the customer to accept.
Information about taxes applicable to the service.
Terms and conditions for price revisions

Whenever possible a proposal should be typed to keep it “clean” looking. This shows diligence and professionalism. Handwritten quotes can come across as messy and hurried or even illegible. Use clear headings and sections. If necessary, make use of tables and bullet point lists to explain the job at hand and the work processes involved. This approach will help build a professional image. 

NB: Not a contract.

Though similar, a proposal is not a contract, but rather a work order for what should be a run of the mill transaction, although it may in part resemble a contract. A proposal is most importantly an expression of good will and a signal to the client of your intention to act in good faith. The overall impression that a client should form from your proposal is that you are professional, honest and trustworthy. Larger, complicated work will require a contract written up by an expert or a lawyer. 

You-vertorial

Including a one page infomercial about you, your experience and possibly a contactable reference,  perhaps with a before and after photo, if relevant, can build a sense of your competence and have the effect of building the client’s confidence in your ability to do the work and that you are worthy of the price you are asking for. Many clients have never hired a freelancer before so think of what you would want to know if you were the client. If you belong to a professional body, tell the client as this will give them a level of reassurance about you. Another positive idea is to have a page of frequently asked questions with your answers. These may lead your client to ask more questions which is good. Ongoing communications is a positive way to build a relationship with a client as is presenting a professional proposal.

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