What is a Creative Proposal?
A creative proposal is a document that freelancers and consultants in creative industries, like writing and graphic design, use to pitch projects to prospective clients.
It includes information about the project scope, timeline, pricing, and services, to demonstrate why a client should choose to work with you over a competitor.
A creative proposal may also be referred to as:
- A company proposal
- A business proposal
- A corporate proposal
- A project proposal
What to Include in a Creative Proposal
A creative proposal should include a variety of different elements, such as:
1. A cover page
Since your business proposals need to convince potential clients to work with you, they need to make a good first impression. The first thing your professional proposal needs is a well-designed cover page.
Whether you use a proposal template like Bonsai’s, or you make your own using a Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign, make sure that it has:
- A title (for example, Web Design Proposal)
- The client’s business name
- Your name
- The sent date
While the cover page for your business proposal doesn’t have to be professionally designed, it should be clean, clear, and easy to read. Avoid overwhelming design elements, use white space, and choose a simple font to keep your cover page looking crisp and to the point.
2. Client and freelancer details
Every business proposal needs to have basic information about the parties involved. To get started, you’ll need the client’s personal or business name as well as their contact information, like a phone number and email address.
You should also include your name, professional title, business name (if relevant), and your contact information as well. Make sure that your email, website, and phone number are easy to find so that when a client decides to accept your business proposal, they’re able to let you know.
3. Information about your freelance business
Including an “About Us” section in your proposal template gives you an opportunity to highlight the skills and experience you bring to the table. You should customize it for each client and tailor the content to:
- Reflect the industry the client is in
- Use examples of work experience from similar projects
- Showcase what sets you apart from competitors (experience, pricing, etc.)
While this section doesn’t need to be any longer than a paragraph or two, it should give the client a feel for who you are as a professional creative business consultant so that it leaves them feeling confident you’re the right choice.
4. A project description
Next comes the project brief. This is where you outline the project details and scope of work. For example, in this section, describe:
- What the objective or goal of the project is
- How you will meet it
- Which services you will provide
- What the work process will look like
For example, here’s what a finished project description could look like for a logo redesign:
The purpose of this project is to design and apply seasonal painting to the client’s commercial storefront to engage customers, advertise seasonal promotions, and attract foot traffic through an appealing, engaging, and professional design.
[Freelancer] will work with the store manager to review design preferences and specifications, such as promotional material and branding guidelines as well as marketing trends. [Freelancer] will provide a minimum of three drafts based on a brief provided by the client that includes any requested promotions, logos, taglines, colors, or images. Once a draft is selected and any adjustments are made, [freelancer] will have the display completed by [date].
5. A project timeline
One of the most important elements of a professional proposal is a timeline. Especially if the client needs the work done quickly or it’s a large project that requires significant planning.
Develop a reasonable timeline that you can fit into your current schedule. When possible, include specific dates and proposed deadlines. For big projects, break up the timeline into smaller segments.
For example, provide an outline of what a client can expect from you in the first week, the first month, and after three months.
6. Work samples
Work samples from previous projects help to prove you have skills and experience in a given area. It’s important to include client feedback, testimonials, and examples of similar or recent projects in your proposal.
If you have a case study or professional portfolio, feel free to include them as well.
Remember to customize the work samples that you use for each company you submit a proposal to. The more that you tailor your pitch to the client and their industry, the more likely you are to meet success.
7. Pricing information
Every business proposal should include pricing information similar to a formal quote. This helps a client to determine whether your services are within their budget and what exactly they’ll be paying for.
It’s a good idea to attach a detailed pricing breakdown as opposed to just a standalone number because it shows potential customers how their money will be used.
For example, you can use pricing tables to detail:
- Your hourly or per project rate for each element
- What it includes
- Any additional fees or discounts
- A total cost estimate
Be sure to note any important payment details as well, such as whether a deposit is required before work can begin.
If the client does decide to accept your proposal, you can use this section to inform your invoices in the future.
When to use a Creative Proposal
A project proposal is typically given to a client before they decide whether to sign a contract with you. You should use a creative proposal when:
- You are pitching a project to a corporate client
- You know that a client is getting quotes from more than one contractor
- You really want to impress a specific client
- You want to give your consulting business a more professional edge by following formal administrative processes
Since business proposals are time-consuming and require a lot of work, you don’t have to use them for every single client. For example, they’re typically not necessary for small, one-off projects or clients with low budgets.
Who should use a Creative Proposal?
General creative proposals are meant to be used for creative projects that don’t fall into a specific category like writing or graphic design.
For example, you can use a creative proposal to pitch a project to design and paint a window display for a commercial storefront or make a custom scrapbook.
You should use a creative proposal if:
- You’re offering creative services to a client that don’t fit into a specific category
- You’ve been asked to do a one-off creative project outside of your typical freelance services
- You want to pitch a project that’s a mix of a variety of creative services in one proposal
How to Write a Creative Proposal
When creating a proposal from scratch or using a proposal template, you can boost your chances of success by following these tips.
1. Have a kickoff meeting
Before you draft your business proposal, meet with the client to figure out exactly what they want. Make sure to ask probing questions to really get to the heart of the issue. When you leave the meeting, you should know:
- What problem needs to be solved
- Whether your skills are a fit for the project
- What the budget is
- Whether the client has any hard deadlines
Use this information to inform your proposal content so that you can customize it to reflect the client’s needs and goals.
2. Highlight what sets you apart
You should have a good idea of who your competitors are, and, if not, it may be time to do some research. In the body copy of your proposal, make sure to explain why you’re the best freelancer for the job.
For example, are you more experienced in the client’s industry? Do you specialize in this type of work? Or do you offer lower rates than other contractors?
Consider what’s important to the client and why you’re a great match for their project.
3. Build a creative proposal template
Instead of having to draft a proposal from scratch every time you need one, create your own creative proposal template to save time. While the content will change based on the client and project, build a template that you can easily edit and update on a regular basis.
4. Pay attention to design
While the content of your proposal is certainly the most important element of your template, the design also plays a major role in whether or not it impresses a client.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to make a visually appealing proposal, but you should keep these design tips in mind:
- Save your proposal in a print-ready format, such as a PDF
- Use the same font throughout
- Stick with a clean, modern design
- Use a standard format with letter-size pages
5. Avoid jargon and watch for typos
Your content can still be engaging and intriguing without going over the top. Use plain language so that your proposal is accessible to anyone who reads it. Sell yourself and your skills by summarizing your past experience and what you bring to the table. Keep your content straightforward and to the point.
When writing your creative proposal, be mindful of the words you use. Stick to a professional tone, avoid using too much industry jargon, and review your creative proposal for typos and spelling errors before you send it.
Customizing Creative Proposal Templates is Simple with Bonsai
Professional proposals help you to save time and sign more clients. That’s why Bonsai makes it easy for you to create, customize, and send your proposals, giving you a professional edge and taking care of some of the administrative footwork.
Simply create a free account, choose your creative proposal template, customize the content, and share it with a client. Bonsai even allows your clients to accept your proposal online, making the process easy and straightforward.
Creative Proposal FAQs
How can I make my proposal more attractive?
If you’re confident in the content of your proposal, but not the design, consider using a template. For example, Bonsai’s templates are visually appealing and pre-formatted so you can type in your content quickly and easily without having to waste time choosing a font or placing a background image.
You can even upload your logo, insert pricing tables, and customize your cover page.
Many word processors, such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word offer free proposal templates that you can use as well.
How should I send a creative proposal?
Most creative proposals are either sent digitally via email or printed out and given to a client in person. Regardless of the format you use, make sure to save the final version of your proposal as a PDF so that it maintains its formatting and design elements whether it’s downloaded or printed.
How do I end a creative proposal?
To boost your chances of signing a new client, end your proposal with a call-to-action. Make sure to tell the client what the next step is, whether that means accepting the proposal via email or scheduling a meeting to go over it.
Base your sign-off on the client and project. For example, if you know they’re in a rush and need the project finished sooner rather than later, let them know that if they get back to you before the end of the weekend, you can have the project booked for early next week.
Or, if you know they’re on a tight budget, motivate them by offering a discount if they sign on before month-end.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Take a look at these related documents to find a template that works for you:
- Website proposal: Use this document to pitch website redesigns and updates to new clients.
- Social media marketing proposal: Use this template to outline social media marketing plans to potential clients, such as schedules, posts, and ads.
- Graphic design proposal: Use this template to propose graphic design projects to potential clients, like logos and branding packages.
- Content writing proposal: Use this template to propose content writing projects for website copy, blogs, articles, and more.