Not again! Once more a freelance project proposal you created has been rejected. You spent a lot of time trying to make it perfect but for some reason the prospective client didn’t see it the same way. You’re feeling frustrated and wondering why more of your proposals than not are meeting with the same fate.
This is a familiar story for many freelance professionals. Strong project proposals are an essential component to a successful freelance career. Yet it can be difficult to pin-point what exactly is going wrong, when in your eyes, the proposal seems fine.
Much like with any marketing or sales document, all it takes is for one section or feature to be flawed, for the whole lot to then be weakened. Knowing what that weakness is can be difficult to self-diagnose.
To help you, we’ve collected together 10 of the most common reasons why freelance project proposals are rejected.
A poorly designed project proposal will create a poor impression of your professionalism. Appearances matter in business and clients expect an experienced and capable freelancer to present information in a neat and attractive format. If the design is haphazard or obviously put together in haste, then the words will be rendered meaningless.
Make sure there’s brand continuity in the colors you use and spend time ensuring the document is visually appealing.
Hard to read
When the text is hard to read, your message becomes diluted. Busy clients want to read your proposal quickly and with ease. If they’re forced to squint or zoom in on hard-to-read fonts, then this creates a negative impression. Long paragraphs also make it difficult for the reader to quickly scan through the document.
Use a standard easy-to-read font at an appropriate size. Check how it looks on different sized screens. Avoid garish colors and overly creative fonts. Break up long paragraphs into smaller ones.
A strong project proposal follows a particular structure people are familiar with. If your proposal looks back to front or appears like an essay or sales page, without the applicable formatting, then the proposal will lose its purpose. A client will simply stop reading and look elsewhere for a service provider.
Make sure your proposal follows the standard format. Begin by showing you understand their problems and business. Then follow through the order we have laid out in our previous article: How to Write the Perfect Freelance Project Proposal.
Poor understanding of the project requirements and business
A client will know very quickly whether you understand their business and the project requirements. If you write too generically and show you have a hazy understanding of what they need and desire, then the rest of the proposal will fall flat.
It’s imperative when writing a project proposal to convey to the reader that you comprehend exactly what they need. Ensure you get the answers you require from the client before writing a single word of the proposal. Otherwise you’ll be wasting your time and their time.
Dull text with no competitive differentiation or persuasion
When your proposal is boring to read and just like the majority of other mundane project proposals, you place yourself in an unenviable positive. The client is forced to make a decision based on factors such as pricing and time, all of which mean you have to lower your rates or work faster.
The best alternative of course is to write a professional project proposal which differentiates itself from the competition. Write a proposal that actively persuades the reader why you’re the right skilled freelancer for their business. This means taking time to understand the client, what they need, and to take your time in crafting a winning proposal.
Too little or too much information
When a project proposal has too little information, the prospective client is left with more questions than answers. On the other hand, too much information and multiple pages of unnecessary text can bore the reader and hide your most salient points.
Write what needs to be conveyed to the client as succinctly as possible, making sure you include all the important points you believe will persuade them of your suitability for their project. For most freelancers, a couple of pages will be more than enough.
Poor solution description
When reading your proposal, will the reader understand how you can solve their problems and provide the solutions they need? If not, then you’ll lose any chance of winning the project. When you’re not clear enough regarding how exactly you’ll help the business, then the whole proposal falls flat on its face.
Be as clear as possible about how you will fulfil the requirements of the brief and which of your skills and services will be employed to achieve the desired results. Also triple check grammar, spelling, and syntax issues, which can negatively impact on the message you’re trying to put across.
It’s important to present accurate pricing. If your prices are muddled, inaccurate, or the ranges are too broad, then clients won’t be confident you know what you’re doing.
Confirm pricing with the client before writing the proposal so they are not surprised or shocked by the figures you share. Make it clear what the pricing is for and present an easy-to-understand itemized cost breakdown.
No clear timeframes
In the same way as muddled pricing can confuse and alienate a potential client, so can unclear project timeframes. Your project proposal needs to convey confidence, trustworthiness, and clarity, so it’s important to be as accurate as possible when it comes to time estimates.
Again, confer with your client before writing the proposal about their desired timeframes and deadlines, then create a firm plan to match, based on your own availability and abilities. Make it clear in the project proposal document.
No clear benefits for the client
A proposal devoid of benefit statements is a proposal begging to be ignored. The reading client wants to know how your freelance services and skills will benefit them or their business. When you merely lay out your services and intended plan in a matter of fact way, you do little to inspire the client that you’re their ideal choice.
When writing the project proposal, highlight repeatedly the benefits each of your services, skills, or intended actions will bring to the client. Look to inspire interest, excitement, and enthusiasm about what you can deliver.
Attractive project proposal templates
Strong words need a strong and attractive framework. At Invoice Ninja we provide a range of fully customizable project proposal templates designed specifically for freelance professionals and small business owners.
Once you’ve modified a template to match with your brand identity, you can then use the same proposal template over and over again. The templates are professionally designed and can be fully adapted to suit your unique business and the clients you serve.