5 Steps to Writing the Perfect Freelance Proposal (and a Free Downloadable Template)

5-Proven-Steps-to-Writing-a-Perfect-Freelance-Proposal

Whether you’re new to the world of freelancing, a seasoned veteran in your field, or freelancing while working full time, convincing potential clients that you’re the best fit for the job is always a major hurdle.

Writing a strong freelance proposal that can beat out experienced competitors, is instrumental to winning the best projects and increasing your income as a freelancer.

If done right, a truly great freelance proposal will make your potential clients want you, even more than you want them.

To help you get started on the right foot, I’m giving away my proven freelance proposal template for free.

Free Download:

Freelance Proposal Template (PDF + MS Word)

Now, beyond just the actual format of the template you’re using, you should always strive to put together a freelance proposal that’s designed to provide meaningful solutions for your potential client, not one that just lists out your service offerings like a menu for them to choose from.

And on top of that, in order to stand out from the crowd in a busy inbox, you’ll also need to perfect your cold email outreach strategy.

Even more importantly, you need to communicate your personalized solutions in the way your potential clients wants to read it. Whether that’s in the body of an email, through online proposal software, or via mail, you need to have a strong understanding of who your client is before you even get the ball rolling.

This deep understanding of your potential clients is a core foundation that’s been reiterated many times by highly successful freelancers and entrepreneurs in the business books they’ve written and online business courses they’ve taught.

Long before you approach your potential client, you should have a very clear understanding as to why they should hire you for the job. This will challenge you to understand the project, the client’s unique needs, how your strong suits will fit into the equation, and exactly how you can deliver the most value. By time you actually reach out to them with a proposal, your goal is to understand their needs inside & out.

Considering that more people than ever are going it alone as freelancers and solopreneurs (54 million in the US alone), your freelance proposal needs to do an incredible job at selling your services and winning new clients.

In such a cutthroat environment, anything less than your absolute best probably won’t get you very far.

To help you write more effective freelance proposals and win higher paying clients, I created an online course, Writing a Winning Freelance Proposal (you can also pick up my free downloadable freelance proposal template over there).

Writing a Winning Freelance Project Proposal Online Course Inline Blog Image with Ryan Robinson Entrepreneur

With that in mind, pulled straight from my own business as a freelance content marketer (and online course), here are my five proven steps to writing the best freelance proposal you’re capable of.

1. Making a Strong Entrance.

What are you doing to wow them straight out the gates? What makes your email different from everybody else throwing their hat into the ring for this gig?

A captivating entrance that excites, shows you did your research, and delivers actual value, is what will kindle an immediate interest in your potential client’s mind. Start by finding the right remote freelance gigs on sites like Contena (if you’re a freelance writer) and Remote.co, and read through my Ultimate Guide to Landing a Remote Job.

Then, if you’re able to reach your potential client quickly after they’ve posted their request for help, you’ll significantly increase your chances of landing the job.

If you’re a freelance writer sending a cold email to open up a line of communication with a potential client for your blog post writing services, start with a subject line like, “My 6 Steps to Driving Traffic for [Company Name].”

This gives them the instant recognition that you’ve already spent some time laying out a proposed strategy, and that you’ve likely done your homework on their business & industry. Need to track down the email address for the ideal point of contact? Check out The Email Lookup Guide from Graeme Austen at Cultivated Culture.

In this initial email (a couple hundred words maximum), you’ll touch lightly on each of your steps and continue to weave in how your proven experience and strengths in doing this in the past, will make you the obvious choice for this job. This post on Guru.com, gives you more tips on how to keep your reach out emails short and to the point—and remember to avoid any unnecessary business slang that doesn’t add to the conversation.

Since a freelance proposal is effectively a form of an elevator pitch, explaining why you’re qualified for the job, quickly showcasing your strongest (relevant) abilities is essential to the conversation. You also want to convey confidence in your ability to get the job done without coming off as arrogant.

Best Freelance Proposals Examples and How to Write the Best Freelance Proposal with Ryan Robinson on ryrob

Making a strong entrance also means demonstrating your commitment towards the project. You want to show you’ve already got some skin in the game.

This can come in the form of crafting a quick and dirty wireframe for a web design project if you’re a freelance developer, writing a 100 word outline for some proposed blog content if you’re a freelance writer, or sketching out potential logo design concepts if you’re a freelance designer.

Sound like too much work up front? Well, the reality is, this approach is how I consistently win nearly every project I bid on. What you lose in uncompensated time, you make up for by demonstrating your creativity and desire to work with the client, which will only increase your chances of nailing the bid. This is a form of what I like to call opportunity management.

2. Selling Your Strengths.

Whatever the task you’re applying to do for a potential client, it’s your job to tailor your strengths to that particular job. Learning how to highlight your most attractive abilities for the specific needs of an individual client is an invaluable skill, and one of the most frequent pieces of advice I give to freelancers who want to start a business of their own. If you need a boost of confidence, take a quick break and browse through my list of motivational quotes that’ll get you into the right mindset for pitching your A-game.

If you have the marketing skills to really sell yourself as a strong content marketer, and not just a freelance writer, then lean on those strengths—give them proof of the results you’ve driven for previous blog posts.

If you’re targeting a logo design project, make sure you elaborate on your creative skills first. Show them that your previous work aligns with the design aesthetic you think they’re going for with their rebrand.

If the project is to proofread a highly technical neuroscience paper, focus on your relevant degrees, and if possible point to other papers within this space that you’ve edited in the past.

5 Steps to Writing the Perfect Freelance Proposal with Ryan Robinson on ryrob

Don’t make the mistake of focusing on unrelated or irrelevant strengths (and always keep your proposals as short as possible).

Attempting to cram everything you know about writing or marketing into your proposal is an easy shortcut to landing in the reject pile. Consider listing two or three of your best qualities in terms of how they relate to this particular job, and elaborate on them one by one.

There’s an art to providing just enough detail to help a client understand how your strengths are useful to their business, but not going too far and giving them a full resume highlighting every positive asset.

Writing a Winning Freelance Project Proposal Online Course Inline Blog Image with Ryan Robinson Entrepreneur

3. Anticipating and Answering Questions.

Unfortunately, not every employer provides a thorough list of expectations or questions for you about their project.

While vague project descriptions can be a bit confusing, you should capitalize on these opportunities by demonstrating your knowledge and experience right off the bat. Show your client that you can identify their problems and propose solutions proactively and you’ve already taken a big step toward closing the deal.

For example, a common question that I was frequently asked when applying for new projects, was if I had done this exact type of job in the past. Now, I anticipate and answer this question before they even have the chance to ask me directly. In my initial reach out email, I’ll include a link or two over to examples of successful campaigns I’ve ran in the past (demonstrating my ability to replicate these results).

To help anticipate what your potential client may ask of you, try and imagine yourself in their shoes.

What sort of unspoken problems or issues might they have experienced up to this point? If you’re seeking to help with a website rebrand, take careful note of existing disjointed branding, poor quality images or logos, and offer up your quick thoughts on the direction you’d want to take, if you’re hired on to help.

Place a metaphorical warm blanket around them by addressing concerns with this project, that they may not yet be aware of. If they’re looking to hire expert help, chances are they may not fully understand what goes into designing new website features, creating a brand book, or crafting compelling blog content.

If you’re already experienced in your domain, you’ll know what sort of expectations a client might have and what typically goes wrong when it comes to the type of work you handle.

How to Write the Best Freelance Proposal with Ryan Robinson ryrob

Nothing will make a potential client feel more at ease, than hearing concerns (and advice) from a well-versed freelancer who’s been there and done that—even if this is just your side hustle and you have another job that commands more of your time. If you craft your answers with your experience in mind, it will place you squarely ahead of the pack.

4. Selecting and Including Relevant Samples.

It’s essential that your portfolio and proven work examples speak for themselves. Make sure you cherry-pick only the best and most relevant samples to include with your freelance proposal.

Employers are eager to see that that you have formerly worked on something similar to their project. It makes sense, if you’ve done this exact type of job in the past, they have a sense of reliability that you’ll be able to replicate or exceed your results from before.

Pick a couple of great samples and link off to them in your reach out email and within your freelance proposal. Briefly explain in a sentence or two, how your contribution helped the previous client accomplish their goals.

If you’re new to freelancing and don’t have any relevant samples to send over, then the best you can do is create some of your own. Build a portfolio website, write example blog posts, design your own logos, crunch sample data.

When you send over a link to your portfolio that shows you can accomplish for yourself, what they’re seeking to have done within their own business, you’ll immediately peak their interest. If you’re still looking for the best places to find great freelance gigs and remote jobs, check out my ultimate guide to landing a remote job.

5. Using a Visually Appealing Structured Layout.

First impressions are everything, which is why a winning freelance proposal should be aesthetically pleasing, crisp, and well-organized.

5 Steps to Writing the Best Freelance Proposal on ryrob dot com with Ryan Robinson

Even before potential clients start reading your proposal, they will certainly form an attitude towards the content of your work, solely by the looks of it. Depending on what you’re proposing, you might need nothing more than a simple Microsoft Word document to state your case, or you might require something snazzier to sell your services.

In my own freelance business, I choose to use apps like Bidsketch, which I feel give my freelance proposals a visual edge above the average proposal. Bidsketch has an awesome free trial, so you can check it out for yourself risk-free. Here’s the Bidsketch free trial.

If you prefer to send proposals purely in the body of your emails and want to avoid fancy-pants online tools, I’d recommend at least using an invoicing tool like FreshBooks.

If nothing else, using a more advanced visual layout tool gives me the opportunity to communicate that I place a high value on personal branding and maintaining high quality deliverables.

Utilizing these five steps to create your freelance proposals, will ensure you’re doing all you can to set yourself apart from the competition. Whether your goal is to land higher paying clients for your existing business or validate your idea for a service offering to get into, starting with a solid foundation of being able to pitch yourself is essential.

For much more, including 90+ minutes of video instruction, step-by-step tutorials, and proven freelance proposal templates, join my online course, Writing a Winning Freelance Proposal today. Or, just head on over there and pick up the freelance proposal template for free.

Writing a Winning Freelance Project Proposal Online Course Inline Blog Image with Ryan Robinson Entrepreneur

About The Author

Ryan Robinson

Entrepreneur, writer, and content marketer. Join me here, on ryrob.com and learn how to start a business while working full-time. Follow me on Twitter.

59 Comments

  • Binay Shah

    Reply Reply March 26, 2016

    I am looking for some free template for online gaming. for a country where there is no regulation for the online gaming.

  • Bilal

    Reply Reply May 16, 2016

    Hello,

    Since last few months I have started bidding on Up-work site and freelancer site as a freelancer but i didn’t got any project. Can you guide me to write best proposal.If possible provide me a sample proposal. What should write in “Outline your approach to the job, or ask for more info.” part of the proposal. This part is most confusing for me.

    Please reply me.

    Thanks.

    • Ryan Robinson

      Reply Reply May 16, 2016

      Hey Bilal,
      You can actually download my (free) proposal template right here ? http://www.ryrob.com/freelance-proposal-template/
      When you download it, you’ll get my email address so please feel free to ask any questions about it and I’m happy to help!
      Ryan

      • Khalil ahmed

        Reply Reply May 22, 2016

        Please freelincer proposal guide me.

      • Perdana

        Reply Reply August 20, 2017

        Hi Ryan,

        can i download it too?
        it will be very helpful for me.
        thanks.

        Regards,
        Perdana

    • Sherryn

      Reply Reply May 9, 2017

      Hi Bilal,
      If you are bidding for English projects, you may need to brush up on your writing, grammar and basic sentence structure.
      I have a feeling it is due to that that you are not getting any jobs.

      It is just a suggestion.

  • Graeme Austen

    Reply Reply June 23, 2016

    Awesome stuff Ryan!!

  • Pastel Nail Art

    Reply Reply September 17, 2016

    Thank you, I’ve recently been searching for information about this subject for a while and
    yours is the best I’ve came upon so far. However, what in regards to the bottom line?

    Are you certain concerning the supply?

  • Dalida Jongsma

    Reply Reply September 19, 2016

    This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for sharing!!

  • Samuel Terwilliger

    Reply Reply September 22, 2016

    Great info Ryan!

    • Ryan Robinson

      Reply Reply September 26, 2016

      Thanks, Samuel! What type of freelance services do you offer?

  • Empresas

    Reply Reply September 29, 2016

    This is exactly what I was looking for. Let’s see if it works.

  • little time today

    Reply Reply October 12, 2016

    Hello I am so delighted I found your weblog, I really found you by
    mistake, while I was looking on Digg for something else,
    Anyways I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a marvelous post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have
    time to go through it all at the moment but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I
    will be back to read much more, Please do keep
    up the fantastic job.

  • Wendy

    Reply Reply October 16, 2016

    I intend to write a proposal to an airline to be part of their cabin crew team on trial basis with part salary.
    I need your opinion and insight on how to go about this. Thanks

  • Britney

    Reply Reply October 20, 2016

    Hey Ryan,

    I am a new freelancer with nothing on my portfolio and unfortunately I can’t boast of years of experience as I am only eighteen. I sent out a proposal and got a response to it via the freelance message which even earned me an email.

    The client at this moment is requesting a resume. I have a few weeks experience from internship, volunteering and so on. How do I go about drafting up a resume for him?

    • Ryan Robinson

      Reply Reply October 20, 2016

      Good for you! At eighteen, you’re miles ahead of where I was. Can’t wait to see what you make happen over the coming years.
      Regarding your resume: As you’re building it, keep in mind that the purpose is always to do your best to illustrate what you *can* do for the client/employer who’s considering hiring you.
      Here’s a site that has a lot of great resume advice and a ton of free templates you can download to use in Microsoft Word (http://www.hloom.com/download-professional-resume-templates/). Simple is the name of the game. Just communicate your value propositions (as they relate to the specific project) by focusing on what you can best help them with. Right now since you don’t have a ton of work experience, I’d think that you’ll want to fall back on excellence in particular classes, sports, the internships and volunteer work you do have. Don’t short change yourself, that’s all very valuable experience and you can use that to communicate what you’ve built your skills at so far.
      Good luck and please stay in touch!

  • rabi

    Reply Reply October 23, 2016

    Ryan Robinson
    I am a new freelancer with nothing on my portfolio and unfortunately I can’t boast of years of experience. Since last few months I have started bidding on Up-work site and freelancer site as a freelancer but i didn’t got any project. Can you guide me to write best proposal.If possible provide me a sample proposal. What should write in “Outline your approach to get the job”
    Please replay………….
    Thanks.

  • Byron Chan

    Reply Reply October 29, 2016

    Hello Ryan,
    I have been sending proposals to employers who needs a video editor and I have been giving them out my sample works, my skills and stuff but out of approximately 40 proposals, I was only hired by 3 employers and I don’t know what’s wrong in my proposal. I know I am capable of the job but it’s in my proposal that is the problem.

    This is an example:
    http://imgur.com/a/Rm3l6

    I hope you can help me with this. I am only 17 years old though but I am quite expert in video editing.
    Thanks

    Byron Chan

    • Ryan Robinson

      Reply Reply October 30, 2016

      Hey Byron,
      It sounds like you’re quite experienced for your age, so don’t knock yourself on how impressive that is! You’re miles ahead of where I was at when I was 17. I checked out your portfolio and I like your Mind Olympics video, the motion graphics are great.. keep building your skills and pushing yourself to experiment more—you’re on the right track to become a great video editor.
      I also checked out your proposal, it looks like in the screenshot that the copy gets cut off after just a couple of sentences, so I couldn’t read the whole thing. That being said, based on what I could read, one area of improvement for you that’d make a big difference in landing a higher percentage of your proposals would be by altering your approach so that you’re speaking in value language.. instead of making the conversation primarily about you, make the way you speak in your proposals all about the value your client will get out of choosing to hire you for the job—and do what you can to provide value up front.
      An example of that may be, “Hi there, I’d love to help out with your project. I’ve done a lot of video editing that’s similar to the style you want to accomplish and I could really envision [___insert a specific idea/edit sequence/creative motion graphic that’ll get them excited___]. Here are a couple of portfolio pieces you can check out [link] for now and I’m really looking forward to kicking this off with you.”
      By leading with something like that, you’re bringing a very specific idea to the table (a huge value) before you’ve even gotten hired for the job. Winning client work is all about providing value, and if you establish right from the beginning that you’re going to be proactively bringing value to the table, that is going to separate you from 95% of the other freelancers out there who are focused on selling their past work. Having relevant past work is great and indeed very important, but if you can take your proposal a step beyond that and offer up some serious value.. that will give you an edge above the competition.
      Keep up the great work, Byron and please stay in touch. I’m more than happy to help—you can always reach me by email at ryan@ryrob.com too!
      Ryan

  • Jazz

    Reply Reply October 30, 2016

    Hi Ryan,
    I recently started a design business, and at the moment I run on the side to working full time. I have been working for this business for five years, and what to put together a proposal to them (so I can leave, so it’s kind of a resignation letter…), that I could continue with my current job (social media marketing and graphic design), but as a freelancer. Obviously this is better for them, as I will be a sub contractor and they won’t have to pay me sick pay etc. But I can’t figure out how to word it! Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks, Jazz

    • Ryan Robinson

      Reply Reply October 31, 2016

      Hey Jazz,
      You’re talking about a very different kind of freelance proposal, albeit a very exciting one. Personally, I think this is a conversation best had in-person, face-to-face with your boss so that you can convey your sincerity in wanting to continue on working with them and that your change in classification won’t have much of a disruption on their business. They most likely care most about the change this will have on your deliverables & any change in cost for having you.
      If possible, keep the conversation focused on how little things will change day-to-day (highlight the changes you do want to make with this transition—going to the office, working different hours, pay change, etc—but frame them in a way that shows they won’t change your performance/deliverables). You should, in my opinion, charge 25% +/- more than what your current pay rate since your employer will be incurring less costs in terms of employment tax, vacation days, sick days and other internal requirements (I’m speaking from a U.S. perspective). You’ll also incur more taxes yourself on self-employed income, so keep that in mind.
      One thing you may want to consider is starting with a trial period where you work remotely for a few days per week for about a month to help show them that there won’t be any change in your performance once you switch over to working as a contractor.
      Also, keep in mind that there is a possibility that they may instead choose to end your employment after you bring this topic up with them. There could be unforeseen reasons why they might prefer to have a full-time employee instead of a contractor for your particular role. It could be easier for them in terms of accounting than managing an hourly contractor, they could like that you come into the office every day without having to worry about paying you more when you stick around past 5pm. There are lots of potential reasons why you shouldn’t automatically assume they’ll see you transitioning over to being a contractor as “better for them” so just be prepared for their reaction to be different than you necessarily expect it to be.

  • Responset

    Reply Reply November 4, 2016

    I am trying to get maybe some examples of response to questions from Vendors that submitted their proposal and I am rating Evaluation criteria.

    Please any help I would appreciate i am struggling this is my first time.

    thank you.

    • Ryan Robinson

      Reply Reply November 4, 2016

      Can you explain this a little further? Try throwing me a specific example of what you want to accomplish.

  • Rahul

    Reply Reply November 8, 2016

    Hello,
    Ryan

    I have gone through your website and understood very well but i have a question that to please suggest me content or sample or format like which should be header Nav footer OK which i will use to send proposal
    i hope you get my point very well

    • Rahul

      Reply Reply November 8, 2016

      and Please notify me by email so i will review your suggestion immidiately

      Many thanks
      Rahul

  • yujaysworld

    Reply Reply November 28, 2016

    Hello Ryan,
    Thank you so much for this awesome job and for giving links to your samples. I have been Freelancing in nearly 2 years but things seemed to suddenly go downhill. I hope to build a better portfolio following the lead you gave.
    Regards.
    Yujaysworld

  • Dave

    Reply Reply December 3, 2016

    Hello Ryan
    Thanks for your great article, just created an account of recent on upwork and freelancer and my skills is web design, but my fear is that i dont have any pofolio yet, although i have thought html and css. Pleaee can you help or suggest a good proposal that will best fit my case?
    Thanks for your time once again

  • Sumit

    Reply Reply December 31, 2016

    Hi Ryan,

    I just stumbled upon this post, I found it truly awesome. I was really confused about making effective proposals to build my freelance writing business. Your free downloadable proposal template has given me a headway. Also, your suggestion about BidSketch and Proposify were also great. Thanks a lot for the post!

  • Deepchand

    Reply Reply January 5, 2017

    Hey Ryan,
    Greetings for the day !!!
    Hope you are doing well.
    I would like to write a proposal for advanced excel based jobs for freelancing.Request you to help me out with this.Would like you to provide me with an most acceptable way of impressing clients with my proposal.Any sample proposal on Advanced excel and data entry work would be preferable .
    Thank you .

  • Pavithra

    Reply Reply February 12, 2017

    Hey Ryan,

    This was what I was looking for. But, I am still finding it a bit difficult on how to begin with a proposal as a Food Consultant (Freelancer). Could you please help me on how to begin with the most attractive or Catchy way?

  • Mary

    Reply Reply February 13, 2017

    Holla Ryan, I really need advice on how to start and accomplish a successful freelance writing career, being only 18 years. I have written few articles for a Content Mill, all of which were approved and published in the marketplace. So I thought I could move higher by writing for clients. Problem is, I have no resumé nor portfolio to show clients, as I can’t say I have enough experience. I only joined the content mill precisely a month now, but so far, so good. Still, I need help with the resumé and portfolio issue………Warm Regards,

  • same body

    Reply Reply March 1, 2017

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I found your web site by accident, and I
    am stunned why this twist of fate didn’t happened
    earlier! I bookmarked it.

  • Olamide

    Reply Reply March 30, 2017

    Propose The Role Of Data Processing In The 21st Century

  • Edika

    Reply Reply April 19, 2017

    Hi Ryan Robinson,

    Thanks for your information. I will learn. I am a new freelancer in one month always lose in a contest and not get a job in a bid. But I still not give up yet. I will try to study hard. If you free can you check my profile in Freelancer edika13

  • Thanks for this content. I really appreciate because i found it when i needed it. I need to write a proposal on a freelancing sites that just approved me, i need to build my portfolio from there as a social media manager.

    Thanks, Hope to get more from you in Future

  • Olojede Tolulope

    Reply Reply May 24, 2017

    Hi Ryan Robinson,

    I am just starting my freelance writing career and I have no experience as to what is needed to compete with others, like I have seen in your previous conversations,can you pls put me through getting started?
    That’s aside from this great writeup on proposals.

    Thanks
    Tolu

  • Angelica

    Reply Reply June 1, 2017

    Hello Ryan,
    I am looking to write a proposal for a Waxer/Skin Care freelance.I have a passion for skin care/ waxing. but I have a full time job and I have 2 kids (6 and 4) so I can only do 2 evenings and 1 weekend a month.
    can you assist me?

    thank you!
    AU

  • Mihir

    Reply Reply June 7, 2017

    Hi Ryan,
    I have gone through your templates and article. I am working on upwork for last 3 months and I am not getting more job. can you please help me how to use that template and how will I get more job?

  • Juan david

    Reply Reply July 12, 2017

    Really helpful information, it is not generic like the others in search results. This helped me to create my first proposal as I am new freelancing.

  • Anand Singh Bisht

    Reply Reply August 23, 2017

    Sir,

    I have written many proposals for Upwork and Freelancer but not able to clear a single bid. Help me out to make a successful bid.

  • Gaurav Gupta

    Reply Reply August 30, 2017

    Thank You ryan Its helping me alot

  • I want to convey my gratitude for your kind-heartedness supporting those people
    that really want help on this particular area of interest.
    Your real commitment to getting the solution up and
    down appeared to be astonishingly informative and
    have continuously made employees much like me
    to arrive at their goals. Your helpful tips and hints signifies much to me and even more to my fellow workers.
    Warm regards; from all of us.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field