What is a bid proposal?
A bid proposal clearly outlines the scope of work proposed by the freelancer to the potential client. Once the bid proposal is created, the client reviews, asks questions, and advises on any changes required. This is the scope of work outlined before a legally binding contract is developed.
There are many different circumstances in which a bid proposal is used. For example, a construction bid might be submitted by multiple companies for the client to review and determine timelines, resources, and expenses associated with a project. This project summary is helpful for both parties to get on the same page about working together before formally kicking off the project. New clients want to see professional-looking templates before making a decision.
Note: We’ve looked at thousands of bid proposal templates and pulled all the most important elements into one you can use for free! Check out our bid proposal template here.
What to include in the bid proposal
To start with, a bid proposal should include the key points mentioned in any earlier discussions between the prospective client and the person submitting the bid. Before a freelancer can include all the necessary details in a bid, they will use a kickoff meeting or phone call to ask essential questions. Knowing as much as possible before creating the project summary helps freelancers write an effective bid proposal. A business proposal or statement of work should be compelling, easy to read, and showcase that the freelancer has thoughtfully approached what it will take to pull off the project.
Basic details like company information, the name and/or business entity of the contractor, and contact details for everyone involved should be included on the bid proposal at the top. You can find this in most template proposals.
The client should have a general idea of how long the project will take. Including a project timeline lays out when certain milestone targets should be achieved. This can also be tied into the payment schedule for the freelancer included later on in the bid proposal template.
Important details to include with the project timeline include the following about the specific project:
- A kickoff date
- Key deliverables for the project
- A review/drafting/midway point for all parties to check in
- A target completion date
- How any delays will be handled
- A grand total of how much the project will cost the company
- Estimates for any extras contractors or special requests
A budget proposal
It’s certainly true that clients care a great deal about the estimated cost for the entire project. Once you’ve included a clear project description and timeline, use a budget proposal template to lay out the possible labor costs and all other expenses. A professional bid proposal should take into account all necessary costs for the entirety of the project, using a range when specific numbers are not available.
Although a bid proposal template is not a contract, if accepted, this same information with any adjustments from the client will be turned into a contract. It’s important to scope the project accurately in terms of pricing information.
A budget proposal should include:
- A preferred payment schedule
- Details on upfront deposits required, if any
- Information on late fees for unpaid invoices
- Details about “kill fees” for situations in which either party decides to cancel before the project is complete
- Pricing information for any extras that the client might not need, but could add
Intellectual property assignments
For freelancers using a bid proposal template to provide services like website design or graphic design, it’s almost important to consider including elements of intellectual property ownership. The primary question here is, “Who owns what when we’re doing working together?” The easiest way to approach this is by including any concerns you have in the proposal template. This is because you can simply copy and paste them over to the contract when you’re done. In addition, this puts a client’s mind at ease if they want to know in advance that they will own all elements of the finished product.
If you have different estimated costs based on these factors, make sure to mention them in the business proposal. If you already have client information about specific wishes they have regarding intellectual property, calling it out can put their mind at ease.
Next steps for the client
The client will know that your proposal is an estimate, but this does not mean either one of you has agreed to work together yet. As such, make it simple for them to understand what the next step is after they have reviewed the contract.
If they have questions, offer a followup call to address those. If they are ready to move forward, your proposal should include instructions about how to indicate their readiness to move into the contract stage. This is why it’s so helpful to include details about things like deposits in your payment terms so that there are no surprises when you present a contract or invoice request.
On your end, you can also follow up after the company has had some time to review the proposal. Providing the next step, however, makes it very clear how to get started. This helps clients who are ready to move forward right away and can increase your conversion rates as a freelancer, too. For example, just as a construction contractor might list “sign invoice now and then we’ll purchase supplies,” a freelancer can include action steps, too.
How to write a bid proposal
Write your bid proposal in two steps: find out what the client wants, and then highlight what sets you apart. Using a bid proposal template makes this simple and cuts down your time that you would otherwise spend writing custom proposals for each new client. Make your bid proposals compelling and clear so that you stand out from the competition.
Find out exactly what the client wants
Use a kickoff call to ask questions about what the client is looking for in a bid proposal. They might not have answers to all your questions, but you can learn a lot by giving them examples and guiding them through what to expect.
Even if a client can’t give you concrete details, for example, about what elements they want on their finished product, they can give you words that push you in the right direction. You can also use this kickoff call to send them example deliverables in advance to ask which ones they prefer. This works extremely well for freelancers providing visual deliverables like design or content writing. You can send two examples of different styles and ask what they prefer to help you get more information about their end goals.
Start writing your bid proposal by reviewing all the information you’ve collected from the client so far. This includes:
- Background about their company
- Examples of finished products they do or don’t like
- What the finished product will be used for
- Concerns they have about the project (for example, are they on a tight deadline?)
Highlight what sets you apart
Using a bid proposal template makes this all easier becuase you can avoid unnecessary content and only include the most important information for the job at hand. Bids should be easy to read and flow in a logical format; use a bid proposal template to make this easy for you.
Addressing the specific requirements of your prospective client isn’t enough; you need to stand out from different contractors. Calling attention to what sets you apart greatly increases your chances of being selected as the winning bid. What you include in this portion of the bid proposal template will vary depending on your experience and unique offerings. Some examples of what to include are:
- Details about awards or industry recognitions/certifications you’ve earned
- Quotes from past clients raving about what it was like to work with you
- Sharing your average online review score (Example “4.9 rating average out of 59 Google reviews!”)
- Guarantees or promises you can offer clients
- Why working with you makes life easier for the client
You can manually call these out with different formatting in your business proposal so that they catch the client’s eye during the review process. Reading through a lot of bid proposals can be difficult for the client, so anything you can do to clearly call out what you can offer is recommended.
Creating a bid proposal is simple with Bonsai
A lot goes into creating a great proposal, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Using a proposal estimate template makes it simple to provide a professional look while also including specific details about the client and project at hand. This increases your chances of winning the bid when you’re up against different contractors.
Bonsai makes it simple because our bid proposal template lays it out for you so that you can focus on writing a great proposal without worrying about style, layout, or format. Using a bid proposal template is a great idea because it saves time and includes all the information you and your client need to move forward.
Bid proposal FAQs
What’s the difference between a proposal and a quote?
A quote is usually a rough estimate given by a freelancer before they have a firm sense of the scope of the project. A proposal, on the other hand, is usually drafted as an in-depth document. Using a proposal template makes it easier to carry over the most important information from a phone call with a client into a full proposal.
What if I don’t have enough information to create a bid proposal?
So long as proposal submissions are still being accepted, contact the person managing this project to ask for another conversation or clarifications on details that remain unclear. It’s far better to ask for additional help. Submitting a vague proposal makes it easier for the client to decline working with you altogether; they might assume you didn’t care enough or know enough to go into more details.
What if I need a specific kind of bid template?
Whether you’re looking for a construction proposal template or a sponsorship proposal template, it’s also a good idea to use a general bid proposal template to compare against. Specific templates are helpful when you’ll be gathering and sharing the same information over and over again. Project details will vary based on your industry, but most bid proposal templates have the same general format. We have plenty more templates available here at Bonsai to help you target your next freelance job.
Examples of bid proposal templates