The freelance writing circuit is competitive. For every job you apply for, there are likely hundreds of other, equally qualified writers applying for the same gig!
As a freelance writer, standing out is crucial – and one way you can stand out from the crowd is to create a winning proposal.
Your proposal may be the first exposure a freelance writing client will have of you, your writing and your brand. Wow them from the first word of your communication.
Here are my five proposal must-haves that are needed at a minimum to allow you to compete in this market:
1. A Professional Portfolio or Website
In today’s modern, digital age, it’s difficult to become a successful freelance writer without a professional online portfolio. When you apply for a job and send off a pitch, or email a proposal to a potential freelance writing client, you need to include proof of your experience, and the best way to do this is to have your own personal portfolio website.
We writers may be more verbally inclined and not so super tech-savvy, so I know to some, this might sound a little daunting. But, it doesn’t have to be.
Creating your own online portfolio is simple. Template-based sites like Clippings, WordPress, Wix and SquareSpace make setting up a site fast and affordable. Simply add a bio, gather your best clips and links, and upload them to your website. These done-for-you template-based websites provide the simplest route to getting a professional-looking portfolio website online.
2. Related Content
The best way to snag a new freelance writing client is to show them that you’ve already completed a similar job successfully. This entails sending over content that directly relates to the project you’re applying for.
For example, say your potential client needs content for a new auto dealership website. To show off your chops, send that client automotive-focused content. Maybe that’s a flyer or marketing brochure for another dealership; maybe it’s a series of blog posts you wrote for a local mechanic, or maybe, if you’re lucky, you wrote for another similar dealership site. Whatever it is, show them you have experience and knowledge in their space, and you’ll instantly catapult yourself over the other candidates vying for the job.
If you don’t have any experience writing for this industry and you really want the gig, consider writing a small related sample to show off your skills and ability to write in the industry.
3. A Custom Cover Letter
You’re a professional writer, so putting together a well-written, persuasive cover letter shouldn’t be that difficult, right? Well, you’d be surprised how many writers I see using cookie-cutter, template cover letters. They write one email, and then they send it out to dozens of potential clients all at once – sometimes even BCCing them all on the same exact message!
Sure, those clients don’t have the writing chops you do, but they will spot a canned message from a mile away. Sending canned messages is a sure-fire way to get turned down for the job.
When I am hiring writers, the first thing I do is throw out the canned messages. The canned message signals to me that the writer is not passionate and detailed enough to put some effort into it, which means that this person may not be the best candidate for the job.
If you want to lock down a freelance writing client, craft a customized, personalized cover letter for every single proposal and application you send out. Address the client directly, send over hand-picked clips and links, and discuss the client’s exact demands and needs. Take it from me: Template letters never work!
4. A Time and Cost Estimate
Regardless of what the project or task entails, there are two things every freelance writing client worries about: how much the project will cost and how long it will take.
While you might not be able to give a detailed cost estimate right away, you don’t want to leave the client wondering either.
If possible, give the client your rates, a rough time estimate or, at the very least, ask questions so that you can quote as accurately as possible. Clients will appreciate your honesty, and they’ll like having your information on hand when making a final hiring decision.
5. A Fast Response
You know how people run to the stores on Thanksgiving night and try to get first on the line to snag all of the best deals? Well, that’s exactly how you have to be when looking for freelance writing jobs.
There are two facets to responding:
1. Send in your proposal or pitch quickly. When you see a job posting or a call for pitches, don’t file it away for later. The client is in need of your services now – not this weekend or two weeks from then. If you wait too long, you might miss your chance or give up the job to another qualified writer. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, set aside time every couple of days to apply for jobs and send off proposals. You might not always have something to apply for, but at least you’ll have the time blocked off in case.
2. Respond to the client as soon as possible. After you send off the proposal and the client responds back, make replying a priority. They need that content now, and they’re ready to get to work. Don’t make them wait. Show them just how interested you are in the job, and respond as quickly as possible. They’ll appreciate the urgency you offer, and you may even beat another writer they’re considering as a result!
Go Win Those Clients!
When I’m creating a proposal or pitch for a potential client, these are my 5 must-haves and they should be top on your list, too.
What else do you recommend for your freelance writing proposal?
Don’t forget to check out my other posts about freelance client management.