your projects (part III)
by Rachel Goldstein owner of Allfreelancework.com
- 1000s of freelance jobs
week we looked at setting hourly freelance rates. Now,
let's see how they can be applied to pitching for work.
people call it a bid and others call it a quote or proposal.
But no matter what you call this process, make sure
that the document is concise, powerful, and easy to
understand. Why? Because preparing a quote is an integral
part of a freelancer's business and must be mastered
in order to land work. Consider the proposal as a final
step of the sales process. Would you buy a computer
if you hadnt read all the sales copy, and didnt
know how much it would cost? Of course not. Use the
proposal to introduce yourself, sell your services,
and focus the client's eye on you.
first rule of thumb is never to bid blind. In order
to obtain all the necessary information from your client,
create a standard form that you can hand out at initial
contact. Take a look at this form to see the sorts of
questions I ask. Don't feel like you have to use this
form -- use your creativity to develop a form that works
best for you. You might want to give a form like this
to your potential client:
generally unprofessional to bid on the spot. Instead,
take all the information youve gathered back to
your office to create an all-inclusive estimate. If
you bid immediately, youll usually seem over-eager
and unprofessional. However, this isn't always true.
There are some situations where you can bid immediately,
Bidding online at a site such as elance.com or allfreelancework.com.
These sites are built on the idea of bidding on jobs,
so obviously this is what you must do.
When you sense that a bid is merely a formality.
if you do bid on the spot, make sure to slightly overbid
to compensate for anything that you might have overlooked.
Make sure that the client understands that this is just
a preliminary bid, and that when all materials are reviewed,
a formal quotation will be sent to them.
that you have all the information related to the project,
its time to start the estimation process. It takes
time and discipline to calculate the figures accurately.
The most effective way to prepare an accurate estimate
is to map out the entire project and all of its components
in a Flow Chart. Although, at first glance, this might
seem to be a waste of time, believe me when I say that
this is the best way to get the most accurate estimate.
Youll find once you gain some experience that
you can bypass this step with simple projects. However,
with complicated projects, this step will always be
necessary to obtain an accurate quote.
order to estimate the time and resources youll
spend on a project, youll need to visualize each
stage of the job. In order to visualize a project in
its entirety it is necessary to bring all the information
together in a concise way in your flow chart. In order
for your estimate to be accurate, you will need to make
sure that the chart is comprehensive - have someone
else review it if you can. Heres a sample project
that youve completed your Flow Chart, review the
information. Are you able to visualize how much time
each stage of the project is going to take? If youre
still unsure, ask yourself what steps are involved in
each phase of the project. I can easily break down each
stage of the Flow Chart into 10 different stages. Then,
once youre confident of your estimation of the
time and resources involved in each phase, take a look
at this estimation worksheet.
your Flow Chart carefully and write the amount of hours
youve estimated for each stage of the project
into the appropriate categories on the estimation worksheet.
If you aren't sure how many hours should go in specific
categories, consider raising your estimated hours a
little (its better to make a mistake in your favor
than the clients, don't you agree?). Multiply
the number of hours by your hourly rate to calculate
your total production time.
what supplies or services will you need to complete
the project? Will you need to mail anything? Will you
need to print anything? Make sure to mark up these items
by 15% or more -- buying supplies, going to the post
office, and other small tasks all take time out of your
day, and youll need to be compensated for this.
review your Flow Chart to see whether youll need
to outsource any work to a freelancer? If you do, youll
need to contact a freelancer and request their bid
once you have this, youll be able to complete
your bid. Its difficult to work with other freelancers
on a project, and for this reason, Id mark up
a freelancer's bid by at least 20% for the extra time
that communicating with, and managing the contractor
it is going to take. Now add up all the figures to calculate
the total estimation for the project. Does the number
you came up with look right to you? If not, review your
estimation sheet to see what could be amiss.
that youve completed the estimation worksheet,
youre ready to begin to write your proposal. Keep
in mind that a good proposal demonstrates your complete
understanding of the client's needs, your ability to
satisfy those needs, and the action that you are going
to take in order to achieve those needs. Every proposal
should contain these elements:
A Cover Letter
cover letter summarizes:
youre sending the proposal
the proposal is for
will be done next and when
differences between what the client asked for, and what
you have proposed
proposal is the meat and potatoes of the package. Aim
for a concise yet powerful and persuasive document.
Make sure your proposal is easy to understand, is arranged
in a logical order, and answers these questions:
What will you do?
will you do it this way?
will you do it?
much will you do it for?
will you do it?
proposal should begin with an introductory paragraph.
Summarize any information that has already been discussed
in conversations or correspondence with the client,
to convey that you understand the client's needs and
wants. Next, summarize what the proposal will include.
next few paragraphs will contain the solid content of
the proposal. Include:
A description of the actions youll take in order
to meet the needs of the client, and what the outcome
of this will be.
explanation of your skills and talents (as appropriate
to the particular job), and why youre perfect
for this gig.
outline of the total cost of the project.
estimation of your time estimates for the project.
on how youd like to be paid, and what payment
schedule youd prefer.
might want to send some supporting documents along with
the proposal package, such as:
about your business
client list and testimonials
that youre ready to write the proposal, you might
want to consider "dumbing it down" a little.
Us computer geeks mightn't realize it, but not everyone
knows what cgi or asp is. If
you think a particular word might be over your client's
head, don't use it, or explain what it means (but be
sure not to insult your client's intelligence!).
at things from the client's perspective. You might even
want to put yourself in his shoes and write a proposal
that you think he would like to hear, however, never
lie. It might be tempting to embellish your skills,
talents, education, or experience, but this is illegal,
as well as immoral.
to use a conversational yet professional tone in your
proposal. Translate your services clearly into client
benefits. All potential clients want to hear how you
can raise their profit margin or cut the cost of something
here or there. Take this approach throughout your proposal.
Not only will it make you look knowledgeable, but it
will also help justify in their minds that they need
to hire you.
youve written the proposal, review it carefully.
Have you met all the criteria that the client will be
sure to look for?
you checked for spelling and grammatical mistakes?
the proposal clear and concise?
you addressed all major concerns?
you outlined all the major benefits of hiring you?
everything that you have written accurate?
to help you begin work on your pitch, why not take a
look at the following proposal template...
finish, heres an example of a proposal, which you
can easily develop to your own requirements. Good luck
with your next pitch!
999 Ithaca Park
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33066
999 Hunt Drive
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33066
our phone conversation, I have researched all aspects
of the Website that you are interested in developing.
I am happy to say that I have come up with a solution
that will not only improve your customer retention,
but will also raise your profit level. The site Ive
proposed will be the only Website out there that sells
this product, and it will allow customers to buy your
product for a lower price than theyd pay at your
competitor's stores. Below you will find my ideas for
developing this innovative Website.
5 years experience as a programmer, I have the
capabilities to provide you with the requested Web development
work. I can complete this project well under your budget
of $5000, and in less time then you have scheduled.
Also, I will develop your online store with the latest
innovative software. For just $200, we will be able
to have customized control of this software, saving
you at least $3000. With the saved funds, we will be
able to market your site to the full extent that you
described at our first meeting.
summary, Ive found a way to save you $3000. I
will be able to complete the backend of the Website,
Web graphics, design, marketing, and installation of
the product software for $4200. I will be able to start
the project on January 09, 2002 and I will have the
project completed no later than February 28, 2002. If
youre interested, please feel free to contact
me. I look forward to hearing from you.
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