Keys to Effective Web Design Proposals
Being able to draft an effective proposal is an essential part of staying busy and keeping money coming in as a freelance designer. In order to land client work you will need to be able to break down what you have to offer. Working on proposals is often an intimidating part of the process for new freelancers, so we’ll take a look at some things that you can do to improve the effectiveness of your own proposals for client projects.
Here are some keys to proposals that will help you to land the client’s business.
Meets the Needs and Wants of the Client
Before submitting a proposal to the client you should take the time to get to know their project and specifically what they want and need. A proposal that matches up with what the client wants will obviously be the most effective in terms of landing the business, but some designers tend to rush the initial stages of getting familiar with the client and project. This often leads to a proposal that doesn’t really fit with what the client wants, and it results in lost business and missed opportunities.
In addition to covering the things that the client wants, if you have identified some things that the client really needs you should include them in your proposal, and explain to the client why it is in their best interest. This will help the project to be more successful for the client, and if they choose not to follow your advice at least you have done your part by advising.
Specific Line Items
Clients often get overwhelmed when they see the total price of a project. Sometimes this is due to the price being higher than they expected, but most often it is because they don’t see everything that is involved in getting to the final product. Even if your proposed price is higher than the client is expecting (or hoping for) it’s still possible to land their business by justifying the cost. The best way to do this is to break the proposal down into line items. This way they can see the specific steps or parts of the project, and each one can have it’s own cost, which adds up to the total price.
As an example, rather than quoting a web design project by simply giving a total price, present line items for things like wireframing, design and layout, HTML/CSS coding, backend development, testing, etc. It’s helpful to also provide an estimate as to how many hours of work will be involved in each line item. When a client sees this it shows that you have given considerable thought to their project and it helps them to see how much is involved in the whole process. When it is broken down prices often look more reasonable and justified to clients, and less like you are just pulling a number out of the air.
Easy to Understand
The most effective proposals will be clear to the clients. If they can’t understand it they may feel uneasy about agreeing, or there could be conflicts later if they were under false impressions about the details of the project. Write proposals in language that is easy for anyone to understand and avoid industry jargon whenever possible. If you spent time getting to know the client and the project before preparing the proposal you probably have a good idea about the level of understanding, and you can draft the proposal accordingly.
Make sure that you take the time to ask the client if they have any questions about the proposal or if anything is unclear, and straighten out those issues before moving forward. If the client is able to feel comfortable with the proposal and with your willingness to be upfront and to take care of anything that is unclear, they will likely feel more comfortable about working with you and trusting you with their project. If the proposal is confusing to them and makes them feel like you’re trying to slip something past them, getting their business will be unlikely.
One of the purposes of developing a proposal that is specific and detailed is to set the scope of the project, rather than leaving it open ended. You may also want to mention some specifics that are not included in the fee quoted in the proposal. Again, this helps to avoid unnecessary conflict later, and it helps to protect you from scope creep.
Consider Multiple Proposals
In some situations, certainly not all, you may want to consider giving the client an alternative option. An example of this would be if you’re working on a proposal for a client who has a budget that doesn’t match up to everything that they want to include in the project. If their budget is significantly lower than you can charge for everything that they want, you may consider developing two proposals: one that incorporates everything that they want and comes with a higher price tag, as well as an alternate proposal that matches their budget but doesn’t give them everything. This way you can give them an option in their price range and they can decide if they can live without certain parts of the project in order to stay on budget.
If your proposal is way over their intended budget it’s easy for them to walk away, but if you give them another option it shows that you’re attempting to work with them and they may decide that it includes everything they really need.
Accompanied by a Conversation
Ideally you will be able to have a conversation with the client to go over the proposal and explain anything that may surprise them. There may be times when a client has hesitations, but being able to talk through them can help to work out the differences. Also, a conversation may allow you to identify areas of concern for the client, and you may be able to make small adjustments to the proposal to address these issues. If you don’t discuss the proposal with the client it is much more difficult to identify the specific aspects of the proposal that concern the client.
Many clients will not make a decision right away. For this reason you’ll need to be pro-active and follow up with clients if you haven’t been able to secure the business. Just because you haven’t heard from them doesn’t mean that you have no chance to get their business. Many clients hesitate to move forward, so don’t just assume that they have hired someone else and they no longer have a need for your services.
All you need to do is send a simple email, or make a phone call, to ask if they have made a decision. Also, ask if they have any questions regarding the proposal. In order to encourage clients to move forward more quickly you may want to consider adding an expiration date to your proposals. For example, you could mention that your proposal is valid for 60 days and then after that time you would need to re-evaluate the project. Since your prices may increase in the future and since your availability may change it is perfectly reasonable to do this, and it can also encourage the client to make a decision and take action.
Create Your Own Proposals with the Freelance Starter Kit
At Vandelay Premier we offer a bundle of resources called the Freelance Starter Kit. The bundle includes things like contract templates, identity sets, interviews, e-books, and more. The identity sets include templates for proposals, so you can easily present an attractive and effective proposal to your clients. As of the time of this post being published, we are currently collaborating with MightyDeals to offer a $10 discount on the Freelance Starter Kit ($19 instead of $29). See the details of the deal.
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