Writing Proposals That Win You Projects

In this section we cover everything you need to know about writing and winning high-value proposals.

Our templates, advice, and case studies are applicable for:

  • Web Design Proposals
  • Graphic Design Proposals
  • Mobile Application Proposals
  • Web Development Proposals
  • WordPress Proposals
  • Marketing Proposals
  • SEO Proposals
  • …and more

Our views on proposals:

  • You must demonstrate the tangible value that you provide your clients. Find out how.
  • You should try to setup ongoing retainers whenever possible. Find out how.
  • You should package your offering wherever possible, so that the question becomes “A or B (or C)”, and not just “Hire or don’t hire.” Find out how.

Whether through 4+ years of in-depth articles, premium courses, the conferences and events I host, or my podcast, my #1 goal is to help you become a more successful freelancer.

Brennan Dunn
Founder, DoubleYourFreelancing.com

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The 3 Steps You Need To Take To Start Packaging Your Services

Last week I fired my accountant. He wasn’t just my accountant — he’s also my father-in-law (make note I waited until AFTER the holidays.)

I’m not going to get into why I let Jeff go, but I want to tell you about why I ended up hiring Jason — and how you can apply the same exact technique Jason used to get me as his newest client.

My initial consultation with Jason was fantastic: he didn’t waste my time talking about tax law. He focused on my needs as a client. He asked me how I wanted my life as a business owner to change (for the better). He dug into why I was transitioning accountants, and wanted to know how the value Jeff delivered fell short of the cost. He was singularly focused on figuring out what I valued.

Going into my consultation, I had no idea what Jason charged. Like the other accountants I’d worked with, I figured he billed hourly. But a few days after our first consultation he presented three packages, each with a monthly price.

Accounting options presented as packages

I didn’t even think about the cost, rather I thought about relative cost. “Option 1 is 3x the cost of Option 3…But is it three times more valuable to ME?”

You see, if you present one rate — like $100 an hour — clients will focus just on that number. But when you pitch a lineup of packages, the Science of Price Anchoring will kick in and people will naturally start comparing you with yourself (i.e., your other packages), instead of you against all of your competitors.

Productizing your services…

Can help you close more deals because you’ll be speaking directly to each client’s unique values and needs, instead of: “Buy me for $X”

Can make you more money per hour by pricing according to the value you’re delivering for your clients. Can you create a premium package that’s 3x as valuable to a client for 2x the time and effort?

Get started packaging your services:

  1. Determine what your client values. Is it more time to hang out with their kids? The need to look more professional than their competitors? More customers?
  2. Think of three packages that reflect these values, ranging from the lowest amount of value delivered to the highest. The accounting packages I was presented with ranged from “We’ll do it all for you” to “You’ll do most of the work” (Jason appealed to the fact that I value my time.)
  3. How can you price these packages commensurate to the value they bring your client? My buddy Nathan wrote a great article on this that you should read.

Packaging is so effective that I’ve decided practice what I preach and use it to help sell my next book. A staggering 55% of all pre-sales revenue has been for the highest priced package.

Why? Checkout the packages I’m selling…

  • Do-It-Yourself: Just the book. Learn the strategies and techniques, write your own headlines and copy, do your own peer research.
  • Website Jumpstart: Learn the strategies and techniques, but get sample content that you can apply directly to your current website. No experimentation and creative copywriting required.
  • Client Avalanche!: Read the book and arm yourself with the knowledge you need, but — let’s face it — your time is limited. You could be billing. You want more clients, but you don’t want to spend a lot of time getting that.

Can you see how I’ve developed packages that are directly aligned with the value buyers place on their time? After interviewing with hundreds of freelancers and consultants over the years, I knew “I don’t have the time” was a huge concern for many.

Next week on my newsletter I’ll dive into some actual packaging examples that you can use as a web designer, developer, or writer (sorry, accountants!) This is lifted directly from my upcoming book, so you won’t want to miss this.

6 Tips To Help You Create Better Estimates

Estimating is hard, risky, and usually imprecise. But it’s something developers and designers need to produce before winning a contract. I’ve probably sent out about 200 estimates in my career, and have closed at least half of them.

Regardless of whether you bill hourly or flat bid your projects, every client is going to have a number in mind and a project budget set aside. If scope is added to your project or things change course, they’re still going to keep that number in mind – trust me. So it’s important for you to arm yourself with an reliable estimate, and cover your bases in the event that things don’t end up as peachy as you imagined.

Here are 6 things that I’ve learned over the last few years that have helped me mitigate my risk (no one should ever lose money on something they were hired to do!), and have assisted me in producing happy clients who come back for more.

Double your initial guess

Most of us are optimists. We like imagine the future in ideal days: the sky is clear, birds are chirping, our code works just as we intended, and there are no distractions. Yeah right!

I’d always rather come in under budget than over, and the best way to do that is to estimate according to the Laws of Nature: the time we spend writing code or designing is not linear to our progress.

Hindsight is 20/20

I rarely come across anyone who does post-mortems on their projects, and assesses whether they were too liberal or conservative in their estimates. If you don’t do this, you really need to start. What I like to do (and what Planscope does for me) is to compare the time estimated with the time actually worked, and develop a ratio of assumption : reality. Overtime, I can start allowing this to influence my estimating, so that the deviation between the estimate and the time actually logged is negligible.

Don’t eat more than you can chew

The bigger the project, the harder it is to be estimate accurately. This is why I prefer dividing projects into digestable milestones, with each milestone containing a set amount of tasks.

Imagine if you were going to walk from San Francisco to New York. If I asked you where you’d be after a month, you’d probably reluctantly point to someplace in the Midwest. Now if I asked where you might be in three days, the room for error is going to be significantly less. We should do the same with our projects, and encourage our clients to not dwell of big ideas, but instead of realistic, small milestones.

Identify what’s subjective

Whenever there’s a design component of what you’re doing, remember that design is subjective. The gulf between “Implement a reset password feature” and “Design the landing page” is huge. The first is pretty straight forward, and leaves little room for interpretation. The latter, on the other hand, is only complete when the client thinks it’s complete.

If you are going to work on a fixed bid basis for development, if you’re asked to do anything subjective – like designing a landing page – ask to bill that hourly, and explain why. Each hour you spend revising means lower profit, and your client might think they have the right to constantly revise until they’re 100% satisfied.

Never assume anything

I worked on a project a year ago that wanted users to be able to join user-created groups. Simple enough, I thought. Immediately I started thinking about join tables and the technicals of what happens when clicking “Join Group” or “Leave Group”. But what I missed was that my client really wanted a feature that included moderation, group owners being able to send out invitations, and so on.

I sold the feature based on my naive assumptions, and paid for the consequences later. Never assume you know exactly what your client wants unless you actually do.

Don’t offer free estimates

When you think about the product of your work, you’re likely to think about the obvious: the code or designs that you produce for your clients. Most estimates (unless you’re handed a spec sheet and wireframes) are the product of leveraging your expertise as a consultant to convert some wishy-washy idea of what your client wants into clear deliverables. And this is valuable.

I let my clients know that they’re more than welcome to take my estimate (or “roadmap”, as I like to call it) to any developer they want. But I’m not going to invest hours and energy into delivering value with no guarantee that I’ll be reimbursed.

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