Proposal templates

Welcome to our gallery of proposal templates. You can search by industry to find a proposal template specifically for your freelance profession.

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Additional templates are only available within Bonsai.

What Are Proposal Templates?

A proposal template is the skeleton document you adapt to win business from new and existing clients. Your proposal template includes all the specific information your prospective client needs to know how you will solve their challenges, and the goals you want to accomplish with them. All you need to do is adapt your proposal template for each client.

With business proposals, you introduce who you are, what your business does, and what you’ve achieved. You also run through the details of what you’re planning to accomplish for your potential client. Proposals can look however you need them to, they can be a fully-fledged business plan, a design proposal, or even a marketing proposal—it depends on what you do.

Proposal templates are a great way to streamline and improve your proposal workflow. Having a proposal template on standby makes your life easier, business ops smoother, and ultimately helps you close more business.

Why Use a Proposal Template?

There are some obvious reasons why you should use a templated proposal:

  1. Creating a reusable document saves precious time and energy
  2. It allows you to be consistent with your tone and messaging
  3. You can add your branding to the document, to make you look more professional than the competition
  4. It provides clarity to your prospective client, laying out exactly what you can do, the duration, and how much it will cost
  5. You can track and monitor the pitches you send, adjusting as you go, rather than starting from scratch each and every time

But a proposal is so much more than simply a list of your services with prices attached.

Firstly, it’s your opportunity to lay the groundwork for a potentially fruitful working relationship. By using a proposal template, you get to establish smooth lines of communication, define expectations, and demonstrate that you understand the needs, goals, and ideas of the client.

That last part is crucial because, if you’re responding to an RFP (“request for proposal” — sometimes called a “request for pitch”) you need to show that you’ve read and understood the initial brief. If you can’t do that, you’ve fallen at the first hurdle.

Then there’s the aesthetics. Your proposal should be an extension of your brand, and, as Jeff Bezos said, “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

By using a proposal template, you can control how your brand is perceived every time you pitch for new work. And by positioning yourself right, you can charge higher rates and work with a better quality of client.

Finally, your proposal can act as a framework for your contract. It’s your chance to clear up any misunderstandings, ask the right questions, and (importantly) get the answers to those questions.

Once your prospect accepts your proposal, you can then take the milestones and costs they’ve approved, and simply sweep them into your contract. Seamless.

8 Common Mistakes to Avoid While Using Proposal Templates

While it’s undoubtedly true that using a proposal template can speed things up when it comes to pitching for new work, there are still some pitfalls you need to avoid.

By understanding what these are, you can tweak your template to make sure you aren’t making common mistakes. That’s the downside to a template — if one error slips the net, you’ll end up repeating it every time you make a new proposal.

Luckily, at Bonsai, we’ve worked with over 150,000 freelancers, many of whom are firmly in the top 1% when it comes to earnings and reputation.

We’ve asked them to share their top mistakes, and how best to avoid them:

1. Placing too much focus on your experience.

Many freelancers get this wrong when writing a proposal. They get so swept up in selling themselves that they forget what it is their prospect wants to know: “How can you help me?”Yes, it’s important to instil confidence that you’re the right person for the job. But don’t drone on about all your accomplishments and experiences. Make it clear and concise that you know what you’re doing, then move onto the task at hand, which is, of course, selling the solution. In short, make sure your proposal isn’t all about you. A short blurb and a few bullet points should be enough to capture all the relevant info.

2. Being too salesy

The flipside to mistake number one is that some freelancers tend to overcorrect. Instead of talking about themselves, they jump straight into sales mode, which can set the wrong tone from the outset.Most successful freelancer-client relationships come about due to the fact that they’re framed as partnerships. You’re going to work together to overcome these challenges and deliver results.To do this, you need to make a connection with your words. You need to treat your prospect as a human being, build trust, and get to know them better. If you fail to do this, you can come across as a sleazy salesperson trying to make a quick buck, rather than a focused freelancer who truly cares about their client’s goals.

3. Using the same cover letter over and over

Another downside to using a template is the temptation to write something once and never change it. This is especially true of your cover letter. While other parts of your template can stay the same, you should spend some time tweaking (or rewriting) your cover letter to make sure it meets the client’s expectations.It’s your opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve read and understood the brief, setting the tone for the rest of the proposal. If it appears generic, there’s a good chance your pitch will be dismissed, no matter how good your proposed solution.

4. Sending long proposals

By now, it’s probably apparent that the key to a successful freelance proposal is balance. You might think that pouring hours into creating the perfect proposal will enhance your chances of winning the bid, but in most cases, the opposite is true.If you make your proposal too long, you’ll fail to engage your prospect. Short and to the point will almost always win the day. Remember, you’ll have plenty of time to dig into the detail when you win the job. This is about making a quick and meaningful connection — not writing War and Peace.

5. Not sending a proposal quickly

You’d think this would be a slam dunk when you’ve got a proposal template at your fingertips. And yet, some freelancers are still slow out the blocks when it comes to sending a proposal.When a potential client reaches out, whether it’s informally through social media or via your website, or formally with an RFP, chances are they’re excited to get going. They’ve got an idea, and they need your expert help to make it happen.If you’re slow in sending your proposal, you’re effectively failing to match their excitement, and that’ll show. Clients want to work with freelancers who want to work with them.Don’t allow the fact that you’ve got a template to lure you into a false sense of security where time is concerned! Your competition won’t hang around. Snap to it.

6. Using the wrong language around price

This is something the top 1% nail time and again — value language. When you’re creating the pricing section of your freelance proposal, it’s your opportunity to frame the tricky subject of cost in a positive light. By using the word “investment”, you’re moving the focus away from “money spent” to “money invested”.It really is that simple. With one minor switch, you’re able to provoke a different psychological response. An “investment” suggests that they’ll see benefits or results, whereas “cost” is simply money out the door with nothing in return.

6. Using the wrong language around price.

This is something the top 1% nail time and again — value language. When you’re creating the pricing section of your freelance proposal, it’s your opportunity to frame the tricky subject of cost in a positive light. By using the word “investment”, you’re moving the focus away from “money spent” to “money invested”.It really is that simple. With one minor switch, you’re able to provoke a different psychological response. An “investment” suggests that they’ll see benefits or results, whereas “cost” is simply money out the door with nothing in return.

7. Failing to highlight ROI (return on investment).

Just because you’ve tweaked the language in your pricing section, don’t assume that every potential client will understand the benefits of working with you. Your proposal needs to hammer those benefits home.To that end, make sure you include a section that highlights precisely what your prospect will get in return for working with you. If you can demonstrate that, by purchasing your service, they’ll receive benefits far in excess of the cost, you’ll put their mind at ease — and stand out from the competition.

8. Forgetting to follow up.

Many freelancers think that sending their proposal is the end of the conversation–it couldn't be further from the truth. Once you've edited your proposal template and send it on its way, you need to follow up.

Did your prospective client receive it? Do they have any questions? Perhaps, they've simply not had time to look at it yet and will be grateful for the reminder.Sending a few emails after a proposal is the best way to follow up on it, but remember that your proposal–however fantastic it is–is not their only priority. After all, your client has a business function to run. So, send an email 24hr later asking to confirm if they've received it, and if they have any questions, maybe even let them know when you're expecting their response–in a subtle way.By following up on it, you show your interest, and by being respectful of their time, you show them that you understand the time constraints their business has–and all of this proves to them you're someone that would be a great partner to them!

Note: Bonsai's proposals actually save you the headache of remembering to follow up. You can track when your proposal has been viewed and make accepting as easy as possible with package selection and electronic approval.

What a Good Proposal Template Includes

Now that you know some of the benefits of using a template, and some of the most common mistakes you need to avoid, let’s take a look at the key elements of a proposal template.

For starters, every template will require certain information that will remain the same, including:

  1. A cover page; with your name, your freelance business name and address, and your logo or business branding
  2. Short personal statement; outlining your background, experience, business and maybe some of your team members
  3. Executive summary; a brief summary of what you’re about to present
  4. Goals and objectives; what you’re trying to achieve with the proposal and how you plan to solve the client's challenge
  5. Scope of work; the nitty-gritty details of the project or business proposal plan
  6. Timeline; time is money, and clients will want to see how long your work will take
  7. Previous projects; you're only as good as your past achievements, so showcase them. Add customer testimonials
  8. Return on investment (ROI); what revenue goals do you believe your solution will obtain for the client
  9. Payment terms; accepted forms of payment (i.e., do you accept credit cards?) and when you expect to be paid (15 days, 30 days, etc.)
  10. Terms and conditions; including late fees, confidentiality, and copyright, etc
  11. Final CTA; let them know how to contact you and the following steps

Next, you need to include sections for the information that you’ll adapt as per the brief. This ensures that your format will remain consistent, even if this info changes from one pitch to the next.:

  1. Client reference number; for your own records (include the date)
  2. A cover letter; outlining your understanding of the brief and how you plan to solve the client's problem
  3. Resources needed; A list of the resources, client assets and information you need to deliver your work
  4. Acceptance date; a date by which the proposal must be accepted.

When you’re creating your proposal using an editable template, you need to be meticulous when it comes to spelling and proofreading. If you profess to have “an eye for detail” while your proposal is riddled with errors, it (and you) won’t be taken seriously. Get someone you trust to check it over when you think it’s ready.

When to Use a Proposal Template?

The way in which you pitch your services is a reflection of you and your business.

You could simply draft a few lines in an email, add an estimated cost, and hit send, but you’ll appear uninterested in the client's project.

You could also open a blank document and try to write a full proposal from scratch, but you might miss key information, or write too much and miss the point of the brief entirely. Structure is just as important as the content.

Now, imagine the alternative. Instead of doing too much or too little, you simply produce a polished proposal that covers all the key points and guides the prospect through your solution.

It’s not too long. It’s not too short. It’s just right. And if you do that, you’ll come across as professional, considered, and in control. With that in mind, you can use a proposal template whenever you’re pitching for new work:

  1. Formal response to an RFP; gather information and insert it into your template, building a professional-looking document that demonstrates your knowledge and understanding of the task at hand.
  2. A less formal, cold pitch; you can use your template to once again build out a considered solution to a problem the client may not even realize they’re experiencing. Seeing it laid out in a proposal document would make it far more compelling than if it arrived in a short, easily dismissed email.

Either way, a template can bring structure to your pitching process and help you win more than you lose.

Advantages of Proposal Templates

There are plenty of advantages in using a free proposal template and even more when using one of Bonsai’s! Take a look:

  • You can turnaround proposals quicker than if you were writing them from scratch, which increases your chances of winning business. You can respond to a client’s request sooner than the competition
  • Templates provide complete consistency. By using a template, you can produce several proposals in quick succession, and tailor each for a specific brief
  • Templates can also encapsulate your brand. From the colours you use to your logo, font, and tone of voice, you can position yourself in whatever way you want to be perceived
  • They help free up your time — time that can be spent on other important freelance tasks
  • It becomes a repeatable process, and one you can tweak and improve as you go. You don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel each and every time you send out a new proposal. You’ll soon have an idea of what works and what doesn’t.
  • A quality proposal template sends a positive message about your business. It screams professionalism, integrity, and reliability

The Benefits of Using Bonsai’s Templates

Writing proposals can be time-consuming: you need to add information about yourself, your previous work, your proposed business or project, payment information, and more.

Once you have the hang of creating and writing a freelance proposal, the next step is to join the top 1% in using a dedicated online system.

This will do much of the heavy lifting for you, including adding and removing sections with a click, calculating fees instantly, sending reminders, and tracking when the proposal is opened.

And if you’re looking for an all-in-one freelancing tool for professional-looking proposals, look no further! Bonsai offers a 14-day free trial.

There are several key elements to note with a Bonsai sample proposal:

  1. You can emphasise your professionalism by adding your company branding to the document
  2. Each template has a clear structure, incorporating all the important sections of a client-winning proposal
  3. An easy-to-understand fee summary, with an option to choose between packages

It’s crystal clear, easy to read, and looks professional. But that’s not all. If your prospective client is sold on your solution, they can accept your proposal from within the document. No need for long email chains or time-consuming back-and-forth.

How to Create a Proposal Using Bonsai Templates

Super simple. Bonsai makes creating, saving and sending proposal templates easy. Here's how:

  • Sign up to Bonsai for free
  • Choose the proposal template that reflects your industry from our gallery
The top row of our proposal template gallery (we have plenty more!)
  • Start editing your template
  • Download and send to your client. Job done.

Bonsai vs Generic Proposal Templates

Bonsai beats generic proposal templates in many ways–but we know you can’t just trust our word, we need to show you:



Fast, automated workflow
Create, customize and send professional invoices in minutes.
Get notifications when clients view or pay your invoices.
Automatic reminders
Optimize automatic reminders by choosing the right time to email each client.
Preferred payment method
Use any payment system and get paid securely: Bonsai supports credit cards, bank transfer, PayPal and more.
Partial payments
Get paid for the part of work that you just completed. Split your invoices as needed for any project.
Automatically late fees
Set up late fees on your invoices to charge clients automatically for overdue invoices.


Time spent creating and sending professional invoices.
2 mins
2 hours
Time spent following up with clients for late payments.
0 mins
4 hours
Time spent by clients to pay your invoices.
1 min
30 mins
Time spent creating invoices for late fees.
0 mins
2 hours