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Top 5 Things to Avoid while Writing the Freelance Consultant Proposal

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November 19, 2021
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5 minutes
Gizela has almost two decades of experience within the Digital sphere and eagerly awaits the day she can be cloned so she can finally get everything on her daily to-do list done

Creating a pitch or a proposal for a project is never easy. Unlike punting a product, you are your product. Yet, as a consultant pitches and proposals will become an integral part of your life. It’s one thing to approach a potential client, but it’s quite another to land the contract. Most potential clients will request that you send them a pitch or proposal before committing.

What Should Be in My Freelance Consultant Proposal?

There are a few key elements to any proposal that must be included in the information provided:

  • The details surrounding the project (why you’re needed in the first place).
  • The to-do list (what needs to be done and achieved).
  • The timeline in which you as a freelance consultant can do it, taking client expectations into account (they might need to complete the project before the Christmas rush for example).
  • The expected outcomes and the metrics in which the success of the project will be measured once completed.
“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” - Mark Hunter

The Anatomy of a Proposal Document

While each of your proposals will obviously differ since it’s different companies and projects with different problems and solutions, the layout and structure of your proposal will remain the same. This is what your proposal should consist of when writing a consultant proposal:

A greeting

Even in a proposal, it’s pretty rude not to say “hi”. The only difference is that you’ll do it in a more formal manner.

An intro

As is the case with any good piece of writing, you’ll need an intro. An intro needs to be enticing enough for someone to want to read further. Your intro will usually be a summary or overview of the project as well as some information about you and what you bring to the table. But don’t write an essay. An intro should only be one or two paragraphs long.

The scope of the project

This is essentially your to-do list in bullet point format.

This section serves a variety of purposes such as outlining your responsibilities, managing client expectations as well as avoid any scope creep where you soon find yourself doing tasks that you are not being paid for. Needless to say, your to-do list should be incredibly specific.

Don’t just state “make calls”, state how many phone calls.

The objectives

This is essentially what you would like to achieve in terms of the various deliverables – the goals.

The deliverables

This is where you detail the end results/end product. Is it a business analysis report? Is it a brochure? What is it that you will ultimately leave your client with?

The timeline

In the previous sections, you have already addressed the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, so now you need to address the ‘when’. This should be incredibly detailed with breakdowns of tasks and at which dates they will occur or be completed. Your timeline will also outline the dates regarding certain project milestones.

The costs

The client obviously cannot expect all this value for free, so in this section, you need to detail your freelance consultant fees and when you expect payment.

The John Hancock

This is something that not a lot of freelance consultants think about adding to their proposals. Instead of waiting on feedback regarding the proposal and then wasting even more time with contracts in order to finalize the deal, include a space where the client can sign off on the proposal. This means that the basics of the contract have already been agreed upon and the work can start while more formal documentation is drafted (if need be).

Your Contact Details

Your proposal should always end with a CTA along with all the various contact details they can use to reach you.

5 Things to Avoid When Writing A Consultant Proposal

1. When You Shouldn’t Have Started in the First Place

This is a skill that often (and unfortunately) comes with experience. When starting your freelance consultant career, it might be very tempting to grab every possible opportunity that comes your way. But many of these are only masquerading as opportunities. You will receive many who are just putting out their feelers.

They will request multiple proposals from multiple consultants with absolutely no intention (or the funds) to actually hire any of them. Then you also have those trying to source high quality strategy proposals and then have another less-skilled and cheaper consultant implement it. So ensure that you only write proposals for potential clients who are the real deal.

2. You ignored your USP

One of the first things to remember when learning how to write a consultant proposal is to focus on your USP (Unique Selling Point) as a freelance consultant. Consultants are a dime a dozen, so why should a company choose you out of all the proposals they’ve received? Focus on what sets you apart from the rest of the consulting crowd.

3. Explain the benefits

Someone once tried to sell me an entire renewable energy home kit. The price tag was well over the thousands and the features included was a list as long as my arm. But no matter how much they explained in regards to how MUCH I’ll be receiving for the price, I only sat up and started to listen when they started talking about what each of the features do and how I’ll actually be saving more money within just one year of use. If you are not an expert in a specific field, it won’t matter how many features are built into your proposal – if they don’t understand how it can benefit them, they won’t care.

4. Check, then check again!

When learning how to write a consultant proposal, everyone will tell you that the number one thing to avoid at all cost is errors. This is not a text to your friend where you can blame autocorrect when it comes to typos, spelling and other grammar mistakes. When writing a consultant proposal it needs to be absolutely perfect. So once you’re done, check it and then check it again!

5. Don’t double tap

Always keep in mind that every potential client and their business is unique. Don’t copy, paste from previous proposals and especially don’t copy, paste things from other written material you find somewhere on the internet. Plagiarism is still a thing – especially when it comes to proposals where you are trying to sell your uniqueness and skills.

These are the key points to remember when learning how to write a consultant proposal. If you stick to these basics and some of our other helpful advice you’ll be able to get your freelance consulting career off to a flying start.