How to write an effective freelance proposal

Discover the key elements of a successful freelance proposal, including how to effectively communicate your value and close the deal.

Craft Author: Craft Team
Craft Team
Discover the key elements of a successful freelance proposal, including how to effectively communicate your value and close the deal.

Freelance work is great for artists, writers, developers, marketers, and creators of all kinds looking to run their own schedules and be their own bosses. However, being a freelancer also means you’re responsible for finding clients, and that’s where proposals come in.

So, how do you write a freelance proposal that catches your client’s eye and sets you apart from other freelancers?

What is a Freelance Proposal?

A freelance proposal is a pitch to a potential client that details everything you can do for them. Also known as freelance offers or quotes, a proposal is a document that gives the client a good idea of who you are, what you can do for them, and how you price your work.

What Should a Proposal tell your Target Client?

An effective freelance proposal includes as much important information as possible in as few words as possible. Think of it as an introduction to your portfolio: the proposal outlines what your target client needs to know about you and your work. It should also include any relevant former projects in your portfolio, access to your website, and information about how you price your work.

What Should be Included in the Proposal?

Regardless of what medium you specialize in or your particular field of expertise, a typical freelance proposal includes:

  • An Introduction of Yourself and Your Experience: like a cover letter, your freelance proposal should start with an introduction and a brief overview of your job as a freelancer.
  • How you can Help your Client: this section should detail how you can help solve your target client’s current problem and when you can start working.
  • Your Project Proposal: in a few sentences, explain your potential solution for the client’s project and how you’ll approach any problems.
  • Relevant Experience and Supporting Documents: now’s the time to link to your website and portfolio and include references from previous clients.
  • Your Prices: detail your payment guidelines, including your hourly rate or rates based on project type and size.

Best Free Proposal Templates for Freelancers

What are the best freelance proposal templates out there? Here are three of our favorite freelance template providers:

Craft Proposal Templates

Craft proposal templates are sleek, streamlined, and fully customizable, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to find the perfect layout for their pitch. We offer various types of proposal templates, including standard design, minimalist design, and rich design, all for free.

Proposal Template Rich
Use one of Craft's free proposal templates

PandaDoc Proposal Templates

If you’re looking for a simple template layout with some visual flair, try PandaDoc. They offer three main templates for freelance proposals: one for artists, one for writers, and one for web designers. While these are the most popular freelance positions, there are tons of other freelance jobs in various industries.

Bonsai Freelance Templates

Bonsai covers the industries that PandaDoc doesn’t, with tons of templates for various freelance jobs. On the sidebar, search for templates via industry, or create an account for a more personalized list. To use these templates, you’ll have to make a Bonsai account and fill the template out on their browser-based software. Bonsai mixes free and paid proposal templates, so make sure the one you want is free to use! Proposal Templates takes its proposal templates differently, focusing on client needs rather than a particular field. Browse SEO templates, web design templates, eCommerce templates, and more on their site. To narrow your search, use the search bar at the top of the page or check off tags you’d like to see on the page’s sidebar.

How to Write an Impactful Freelance Proposal in 5 Steps

Now, this begs the question: how do you write a freelance proposal? To make one that truly stands out above the rest, we’ve got a five-step plan on how to create a freelance proposal that’ll set you apart from the competition:

1. Understand the Project Description

To start, you’ll need a complete understanding of a project’s description and needs. As great as it sounds to copy and paste a pre-written proposal to every client, showing them that you know the specifics of a project and understand what they’re looking for is a better way to demonstrate to potential clients that you care about their specific project.

Make sure you read through a project’s description and fully understand it before providing your solutions to their problems. That way, you can provide a solution for each issue your client needs to cover in their project.

2. Find What Sets You Apart from other Freelancers

When you start your pitch, ask yourself: “What can I bring to the table that most freelancers can’t?” The answer to this question will be the core of how you advertise yourself. Make it clear to the client what you are capable of and what skills set you apart from the competition. If you can, implement these skills in your proposed solution.

3. Be Specific

Broad, cookie-cutter responses are bound for the shredder. Clients needing freelance work often read and evaluate dozens of proposals every day and don’t want another generic proposal that doesn’t solve their problem.

To make your freelance proposal stand out, tailor your proposal to their problem and company specifically and concisely. With this in mind, try outlining the “solutions” part of your proposal based on a question-and-answer formula. If a client needs someone who can cleanly paint backgrounds for animation, explain how you create clean backgrounds for traditional or digital animation using your favorite tools.

4. Make Pricing Clear

Make your pricing statements clear, and try offering a range of different pricing options, for example a ‘starter’, ‘regular’ or ‘pro’ pricing structure. Giving your client some choice can help bag a job that you otherwise might have missed, or help you upsell your services.

5. Add Testimonials to Strengthen Your Case

In addition to your portfolio and website, adding references and testimonials from previous clients helps add credibility to your proposal. If you’ve got permission from a client to use a piece in your portfolio, consider asking them to be a reference for you as well; that way, prospective clients can view your work and see what the previous client thought of your process. When including testimonials, try to include a reference’s contact information, if possible. You can use Craft's portfolio template to create a free portfolio site: 


Freelancer Portfolio Template (Gradient)
Create a beautiful portfolio with Craft's free portfolio template