Freelance work is becoming the most popular form of work as people adjust to both the demands of the gig economy and the need to work remotely. About 1 in 6 people have experience with freelancing, and that number is growing, according to Up-work. As the number of freelancers exponentially increases, it becomes ever more important to set yourself apart from the crowd. The first step to doing so is to write a winning freelance proposal.
On most freelance job boards, clients receive dozens if not hundreds of proposals. One of their chief complaints is that most of these proposals say nothing of value: The client doesn’t understand who the freelancer is or how they can help with the pro-ject. Even the most talented freelancers can send a proposal that doesn’t impress the client. How can you, as a freelancer, ensure that your proposal is effective? Follow this advice.
Put the Client First
While you may want to explain all your wonderful skills to the client, you can be sure that every other applicant is doing the same thing. Don’t confuse a proposal with a resumé: The client isn’t looking for a redux of your skills. They want to know how you, uniquely, can specifically solve their problem.
Try taking your proposal and changing every “I” statement to a “you” statement. Shift the focus to the client and explain how your skillset will benefit them. Be sure to use the language and key points that will resonate with them. Yes, it might take some research to achieve this. Check out the client’s website and read their project description carefully to get a sense of what appeals to them. Clients will be much more likely to respond and accept your proposal if they feel heard.
Demonstrate Your Understanding of the Project
Many freelancers send generic proposals that don’t reference the original job request. As we discussed above, it’s important to tap into what resonates with the client, and a good proposal is one that reflects their interests. A key part of that is to en-sure that your proposal directly addresses their project needs.
Don’t be too general in your proposal, e.g. “My skills can help you solve your problem.” Clients want to know details. Give specific examples of how you can leverage your skills to meet their needs. Demonstrate how and why you are the best free-lancer for the job.
Lead with confidence and passion
No client wants to feel like the freelancer just wants the job for money or to have something to do. And 9 times out of 10, a client will hire someone slightly less qualified if they show that they’re more passionate about the project. That’s because cli-ents want to feel like they’re getting someone who’s excited about the project, rather than someone who’s just going to go through the motions.
In your proposal, explain why you are interested in working on the project. Is the industry a passion of yours? Are you intrigued by the notion of doing something unique or impactful? Above all else, be confident: Any weasel-word language, such as “I can help you do X,” will not be as powerful as strong language, as in “I will help you do X.”
Include social proof
When you’re sending a freelance proposal, be sure that you include testimonials from similar projects. Even if you’re on a site such as Upwork, where reviews appear on your profile, it’s worth the bit of extra effort to highlight an endorsement or results you achieved in the proposal itself.
Social proof has a powerful psychological effect: People are much more likely to take action if they see that other people have taken a similar action. That’s why including (brief) testimonials or endorsements on your proposal is a good tactic.
State your terms upfront
Few things are more disappointing to clients than when they think they’ve found a great freelancer only to discover that their rate is way outside their budget or the freelancer has limited availability. That’s not to say that expensive or limited freelancers are not worth the effort: For some companies, they may be a perfect choice! However, clients need to find someone whose expectations and cost align with their needs.
That’s why it’s important to make your terms clear upfront. What are your rates? How do you expect to be paid? How often will you deliver work? How many revisions are included? Answer these frequently asked questions quickly and concisely. Re-member, the proposal isn’t a contract, but you still want to be clear on what clients can expect from you.
Don’t Oversell — Or Undersell
Never overpromise on results. Clients know that nothing is guaranteed, so you’re not fooling them by claiming that you alone can achieve the impossible. Keep the focus on what you can deliver that’s measurable and useful. Good clients understand that there are multiple factors that go into success. Plus, if you start to set benchmarks in the proposal (e.g. you’ll increase leads by 200 percent), you’ll end up locking yourself into commitments before a contract is ever signed.
By the same token, don’t undersell yourself. Even if you’re desperate for work, never go below what a client is asking in an attempt to win a bid. Remember, many clients are willing to pay what it takes to get quality results, so don’t feel like you have to go lower than their asking price to get the job.
A good freelance proposal is a work of art. It strikes a balance between answering the client’s needs and showcasing your skills. You should expect to spend a decent chunk of time on your proposal: Never copy and paste from one proposal to an-other. Clients can always tell when you’re using a generic proposal! By spending the time on a proposal that it deserves, you’ll be much more likely to send an offer that resonates with the client — and cut down on back-and-forth or missed expectations down the road. Being a successful freelancer depends on your ability to write an effective, compelling proposal. Take the time you need to create one that