Until you make it big in the freelancing sector (and sometimes even after), you’ll need to pitch to clients for work. But it doesn’t matter how great of a freelancer you are in your industry or field if you can’t convince clients that you’re the right man or woman for the job. Proposals templates are your opportunities to get work that can elevate you in the freelancing industry and ensure you make your bills on time.
However, there are good proposals and bad proposals. If you want to snag all the jobs you can, you’ll need to learn how to write a work proposal well and consistently. Don’t know how to write a service proposal? Here’s a rundown.
Why even bother learning how to write a work proposal?
Your proposals essentially serve as outlines for your project and the value that it can provide to your client. Think of it from a prospective client’s perspective; they don’t know your real talent, even if they take a quick look at your portfolio, and they may not be 100% sure if you’ll be the right freelancer for a given job.
Your proposal has the potential to set you apart from other freelancers that might be proposing similar gigs. Even better, it clearly outlines your project’s scope, budget, and deliverables, which makes negotiating over contracts and extra work easier if you draft the proposal properly.
In a way, your proposal sets the tone and stakes for a given project. A good proposal more often precedes a lucrative and reputation-boosting job than not. So learning how to write a work proposal or job proposal is critical.
How do you write a proposal for a job? You need a few basics. Every proposal regardless of the job or industry will need to contain these key elements.
Your pitch (also sometimes called the executive summary) is the part of the proposal designed to capture the attention of your potential client. It has all your best work proposal ideas. This will get them excited about your project and ignite their imagination, while also providing a quick look at what you can provide in terms of practical work or value.
Your pitch doesn’t need to be too long, but it should be descriptive and optimistic (within reason). All in all, the key goal of the pitch is to motivate your client to hire you and not the others who might be petitioning the client for similar work.
When considering how to write a design proposal, consider your previous work history.
Your proposal should also contain a short history or miniature portfolio of your previous successful projects. Naturally, these projects should be as close in scope and deliverables to the project you’re applying for as possible, although you can use any good work in a pinch.
More importantly, the historical part of a proposal establishes precedent and shows how former clients were pleased with what you delivered. Nothing shows a client you’re trustworthy more than former completed work, especially as it shows you can manage multiple projects at once.
It’s also a good idea to add a sentence or two describing how your previous work reflects on your ability to complete the advertised job.
As you think about how to write a work proposal for a new client, think of why you’re pitching to them in the first place.
Every good proposal also needs a quick summary of the requirements of the job and your proposed solutions. Restating things in this way shows that you understand the job at hand and have already come up with a general project outline that you can deliver on. It’s one thing to say you can handle a job; it’s another to say how you will handle a job.
Next, make sure that your proposal covers decision-making on both your side and the client’s side. State clearly that you’ll take responsibility for the work (or, if you’re working for a team, describe who that person will be).
Lastly, you can add any ancillary work proposal ideas or information to your proposal. For instance, details about your project’s idea or which team members will be involved can be added here for further client clarity and peace of mind.
One great way you can fast-track the proposal writing process is to use a freelancer tool suite like Bonsai. Our proposal tool, in particular, is a phenomenal resource that allows you to create, send and track various proposals to clients professionally and easily; it provides you with flexible templates and customization tools to make your proposal stand out and reflect your unique brand at the same time. If you're ready to experiment with this feature and the many other integrated ones, sign up for a free trial of Bonsai.
One big thing to remember when learning how to write a service proposal: always tailor writing to the client.
Whether you’ll make your proposals freehand or with a tool like Bonsai, make sure that you write the proposal for your audience. Don’t just copy/paste a basic work proposal and fill in the blanks. Demonstrate that you understand what your potential client is looking for by adding details about the industry, explaining elements of the industry you’ve already mastered, and more.
Furthermore, be sure to tailor your writing style to the client based on your information. You might already know from past jobs that they prefer a personal approach as opposed to a more professional voice, for example.
Wondering how to write a work proposal from scratch? Here’s a basic outline you can use for the majority of your work proposals.
Firstly, define your problem at the beginning of the proposal – this should be what you write immediately after your cordial introduction. Your client isn’t looking to mince words. State what you aim to provide their business by showing a problem or gap in their coverage. Then, show that you understand the problem by explaining how it hurts their business model. This creates an opportunity that you can use.
This step will have you present your solution in a concise and actionable way. Start by providing a general overview of your project and specifically highlight how it will solve the problems that you described above.
Another good idea is to anticipate questions or objections to the project by having the answers written out in this section already. Furthermore, it’s an even better idea to explain the larger impact of your project – what long-term value can you provide a client? Use facts and research-based data whenever possible, as this sways decision-makers better than pathos-powered arguments.
Deliverables matter, whether someone’s delivering a marketing pitch or talking about real, physical products.
Your proposal should next define your success and be specific about your deliverables (i.e. any actual content you’ll deliver to the client). This includes outlining your delivery date, the number of words, pages, amount of site code, or any other quantity of product you plan to produce and hand over.
Keep this well organized and summarize at the bottom of the section so the client can skim when returning to the proposal if they are considering multiple.
Go into more detail with your solution by thoroughly outlining your plan in a step-by-step manner. It’s also a good idea to summarize every step with a budget, then present a final proposed budget at the bottom of this section. Breaking down the budget this way shows the client what every dollar they spend gets them.
Do another summary and bring all your work proposal ideas together, restating the aforementioned problem, your proposed solution, and the project intended to provide that solution. Detail your budget and your step-by-step process and delivery date.
Learning how to write a work proposal is one thing. Making sure it’s airtight is another.
Many beginning freelancers don't proofread their proposals before sending them over. This is a terrible idea. Every proposal should be thoroughly proofread to check for typos, tone, and language. Remember, your proposal is also often a first impression, and you only get those once. It helps to go over every sentence you write and make sure the tone or sound of the proposal is particularly well-suited for the client at hand.
There’s no getting around it: learning how to write a proposal for a job takes effort. But the time you spend learning to write a proposal well will result in more (and better) jobs and more satisfied clients. If you're ready to take the next step and explore how Bonsai can help, now is the time to sign up for a free 2-week trial!
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?