The Fool-Proof Formula For Freelance Writing Proposals That Convert

Aug 31, 2023 | Get High-Paying Clients

Are you a freelance writer looking to land more clients? Then let’s get personal for a second. Eight years ago, you’d find me refilling ketchup bottles and juggling plates as a waitress. Fast-forward to today? I’m making a comfy six-figure income, working part-time, and setting my own hours — all thanks to developing my sales and copywriting skills so that my proposals convert!

In this article, I’ll share with you my fool-proof formula for crafting freelance writing proposals that actually convert. By following this simple formula, you’ll be able to present your skills and value in a way that resonates with potential clients, increasing your chances of getting hired. Say goodbye to writing proposals that fall flat and hello to a more effective approach that will help you stand out in the competitive freelance writing market.

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Understanding the Freelance Writing Proposal Process

As a freelance writer, the proposal process plays a crucial role in securing new clients and projects. A well-crafted proposal not only showcases your writing skills and experience but also demonstrates your ability to understand and meet the client’s needs.

Trust me, if you nail this, you can sidestep those tedious back-and-forths and negotiations. It’ll be an easy “yes” from the client, saving you time and stress.

Before we delve into the key elements of a successful freelance writing proposal, it’s crucial to highlight the importance of conducting a discovery call with the potential client. This preliminary discussion serves as an exploratory phase for both you and the client. It should happen before your write up the proposal and send it off to the client.

In my own freelance journey, I found that bypassing this step led to missed opportunities and misaligned expectations. A discovery call provides a nuanced understanding of the client’s needs, enabling a tailored proposal that addresses specific pain points and objectives.

During the call, prepare a list of essential questions to gain insights into the client’s business goals, target audience, and budget considerations. This information is invaluable when crafting a proposal that stands out.

Defining the freelance writing proposal

Let’s define what a freelance writing proposal is. Simply put, it is a document that outlines the scope, deliverables, and terms of a writing project. Having had your discovery call or initial conversation, the proposal then serves as a way to further demonstrate your expertise and convince them that you are the right fit for the job.

The importance of a well-crafted proposal

So why is a well-crafted proposal so important? Let’s break it down:

  • Sets the Tone: A thorough and professional proposal demonstrates your commitment to high-quality work right from the get-go.
  • Highlights Your Skills: Your proposal is your platform to showcase your unique skills and how they align with the client’s specific needs.
  • Differentiates You: In a competitive market, a well-structured proposal can make you stand out and increase your chances of winning the project.
  • Clarifies Expectations: A detailed proposal ensures that both you and the client have a clear understanding of the project’s scope and objectives.
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Understanding the significance of a good proposal is crucial. In my own journey from waiting tables to a six-figure writing career, mastering this element made a world of difference. A well-executed proposal can often make negotiations smooth and straightforward, leading to quicker project approvals.

Key components of a successful freelance writing proposal

Now that we understand the importance of a well-crafted proposal, let’s take a more comprehensive look at the key components that make a successful freelance writing proposal.

Researching the Client and Understanding the Project

You’ve got to do your homework on your client — no shortcuts here! I learned this the hard way when I first started and pitched utterly off-brand ideas or just didn’t understand what they truly needed. So like I said earlier, that discovery call is a must! After you meet – but before you start writing a proposal – thoroughly research the client and the project:

  • Review your notes from the discovery call.
  • Make sure you understand the client’s requirements and expectations.
  • Clarify the purpose of the project, the target audience, and any specific guidelines provided.
  • Conduct background research on the client to gain insights into their industry, values, and goals.

All of this will help you tailor your proposal to their specific needs and showcase your understanding of their business.

Craft an Attention-Grabbing Introduction

You’ve got about 30 seconds to grab your client’s attention. The introduction of your proposal sets the tone for the entire document. Summarize the client’s needs and goals to demonstrate that you have accurately understood their requirements. This shows the client that you have taken the time to carefully read their project brief and are genuinely interested in helping them achieve their objectives. It can help to use the “problem-agitate-solution” (PAS) framework to help you craft this brief introduction in a way that’s compelling and primarily focused on the recipient and their needs.

Present a Strong Value Proposition

Your value proposition is a crucial element of your proposal — it’s where you can really shing! A value proposition refers to the unique value that you bring to the project and the benefits the client can expect from working with you. Use this section to spotlight your one-of-a-kind selling points such as industry expertise, performance metrics, or specialized training that sets you apart from other writers. Explain how your skills and niche experience align with the client’s needs, and emphasize the outcomes and results they can expect from working with you. By focusing on the value you can provide, you are more likely to convince the client to choose you over other freelance writers. Help them end their search by being the obvious choice!

Outline a Clear and Realistic Project Plan

Now, I’ve learned from experience that a well-laid plan can be the difference between a dream project and a never-ending headache… To give the client confidence in your ability to deliver the project, it’s important to outline a clear and realistic project plan. Break down your plan into bite-sized milestones or deliverables and provide a realistic timeline for each task. This demonstrates your meticulousness in planning and managing the project. Additionally, clearly define the communication and feedback process to ensure smooth collaboration throughout the project. You also want to set the stage for easy, breezy communication, so make sure you outline how you’ll keep the dialog flowing throughout the project.

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Showcase Relevant Writing Samples and Portfolio

Establish credibility by showcasing your relevant experience, highlighting any past work that is similar in nature to the project at hand. This is your way of building trust by saying, “Look, I’ve done this before, and I can do it for you too.”

One of the best ways to demonstrate your writing skills and versatility is by providing relevant writing samples and a portfolio. Select samples that showcase your ability to write in different styles or on various topics. This demonstrates your range and adaptability as a writer. If you’ve got a professional portfolio website, now’s the time to link to it. This allows the client to see your writing samples firsthand and gain a better understanding of your capabilities.

Address Potential Concerns or Objections

Let’s be real, nobody likes surprises — well, except maybe on their birthday. So it’s crucial to tackle any potential concerns or objections the client might have right in your proposal. Think like the client: What would make you hesitate before pulling the trigger? Maybe it’s timeline worries or quality assurance. Whatever it is, address it here in a sort of FAQ section, and offer solutions or guarantees to ease those concerns. This proactive approach shows you’ve thought things through and it helps build a bridge of trust between you and the client.

Determine a Fair Pricing Structure

Ah, the moment of truth — pricing. My advice? Keep this section toward the end of your proposal. You want to build up all the awesome value you’re offering before you hit them with the numbers.

Pricing can be a delicate subject in freelance writing proposals. Knowing the client’s budget can help in determining a pricing structure, but it’s not entirely necessary. On your discovery call, simply ask if they have a budget in mind. This can help you avoid overpricing or lowballing yourself.

In general, consider the complexity and scope of the project, as well as factors such as research, revisions, and additional services. I recommend offering 2-3 tiered pricing options or packages to cater to different budgets and project requirements. By providing transparency and flexibility in your pricing, you are more likely to find a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Include Terms, Conditions, and Contractual Details

To protect both yourself and the client, it is essential to include terms, conditions, and contractual details in your proposal. This also helps to avoid “scope creep” (when the client starts asking for more than what was initially agreed upon without offering additional payment). A well-defined terms and conditions section outlines what is expected from both parties and creates a binding agreement that serves as a point of reference for the duration of the project.

Here’s what you should cover:

  • Payment Terms: Define when and how you’ll be paid. Will it be a lump sum upfront, or will you require milestone payments?
  • Deadlines: Be clear about the project timeline, including deadlines for drafts, revisions, and the final submission.
  • Revision Policy: Specify how many revisions are included in the initial price, and what additional costs might apply for extra revisions.
  • Confidentiality: If applicable, include a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) or a clause that outlines confidentiality expectations. This is often important for ghostwriting projects.
  • Termination Clause: Detail the process and conditions under which either party can terminate the agreement. This should include any penalties or refunds.
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All this legal jargon is your safety net. You’re essentially putting in writing what you’ll do, what you expect the client to do, and what happens if things go south. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but it’s a lifesaver if you do.

Work from home woman waving money

Make it Easy to Say “YES!”

When you’ve put in all the effort to create an irresistible proposal, the last thing you want is to lose a client because the signing process is a hassle. Investing in a platform like DocuSign or PandaDoc streamlines your proposal signing process, making it quick, efficient, and virtually hassle-free for your client. The easier you make it for them, the faster you can get down to business.

Once your new client has e-signed the proposal, it’s champagne-popping time, right? Almost! Before you dive into the project, there’s the important matter of securing that initial payment.

I’ve learned the hard way that you should NEVER dive headfirst into any project without at least getting a deposit. Maybe you’re a half-now, half-later kind of freelancer, or maybe you’re like me and prefer the whole payment upfront.

Whatever your style, there’s a golden rule: make it painless for clients to part with their money.

I rely on Harpoon for all my invoicing needs. Designed just for freelancers, Harpoon automates virtually everything related to money:

  • Automated Invoices: No more setting reminders to send out invoices. Harpoon does it for you, whether it’s a one-off project or a monthly retainer.
  • Overdue Reminders: In an ideal world, everyone pays on time. But just in case, Harpoon automatically nudges those clients who need a little…reminder.
  • Cash Flow Tracking: Stay on top of your earnings and expenses like a pro. Harpoon lets you know how you’re doing financially, in real time.
  • Tax Time Reports: When tax season rolls around, you’ll be glad you have all your financial data neatly organized. It’s almost like having an accountant in your pocket.
  • Financial Goal Tracking: Ever set a revenue goal for yourself? Harpoon helps you keep track, so you’re always aware of how close you are to that dream vacation or down payment on a house.

So, instead of shuffling through spreadsheets and stressing over unpaid invoices, keep the momentum going and focus on what you do best: writing. Trust me, just make it as easy as possible for clients to say “yes” and take the next steps! Try a risk-free trial of Harpoon.

Follow-Up and Keep the Faith

So you’ve sent that killer proposal—what’s next? Don’t forget to follow up! If you haven’t heard back within a week or so, a gentle nudge in the form of an email isn’t a bad idea. Let them know you’re still interested and excited about the possibility of working together. And if they say no? Hey, rejection isn’t fun, but it’s also not the end of the world. Thank them for their time, ask for any feedback, and use it as a learning experience for next time. If negotiations are on the table, don’t shy away from fine-tuning the terms until both parties are happy.

So there you have it, folks. The freelance writing proposal is more than just a document; it’s your ticket to new opportunities, better clients, and yes, a more lucrative freelance career. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned pro, remember to infuse your unique value proposition in every proposal and to adjust each one to the specific client you’re wooing.

Keep refining, keep improving, and don’t forget to make it super easy for your client to say “YES!” Trust me, with some real-world practice, you’ll get the hang of crafting proposals that don’t just impress but actually convert.



Hi, I’m Desiree! The writer behind this site. I’m a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer who’s been making a living with words for nearly a decade. I’m here to help you achieve your writing dreams while making a great income so you never have to miss out on life’s precious moments!

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