How to write a proposal as a freelance copywriter

Presented live on Tuesday, Feb 21, 2017 – register for our next tutorials

If you’ve treated your proposal – or statement of work – as just a legal document, you’ve been missing a huge opportunity. Your proposal is a sales page. In this tutorial, you’ll see how to use one of Joanna Wiebe’s favorite copywriting frameworks to shape your proposal into a persuasive document that’s more likely to get the YES.


There are people I know still filing in, so huddle in. We’ve got Lance here taking questions as well, if you have any questions you could just chuck them over and I will try to answer them as we go and if that doesn’t work, because [inaudible 00:00:31] then we’ll just take them up at the end, some can wait till the end, so Lance will be prioritizing those and doing his best to take you care of all of your questions. Okay so, as people file in, this is a tutorial, it’s Tuesday tutorial, I always get that backwards, it’s tutorial Tuesday. So we’re just going to kind of fly through this, it’s a whole [inaudible 00:00:53], it’s really good. So you should be seeing my screen, hopefully you can hear me okay, we are recording this session. I have the thumbs on on screen sharing and audio, so we’re good if there are any blips as we go, please just give it a second to see a connectivity thing on the internet, so just give it a moment, okay, cool.

Alright, let’s see we’re getting a couple [inaudible 00:01:21] I can’t help myself, okay so let me just quickly go through a very brief step together because I just want to make sure that this tutorial helps you to really understand some of the better ways to go about getting prospective clients to say “yes”. Now there’s a lot of training on this subject and there’s a lot more we could say, but this is some useful stuff where if you are having any struggles with you know, putting your proposals together, or getting clients to say “yes” to them, then this will help you. There are some people from my mastermind chatting now, so they’ve seen this part already, but it’s a quick review for them and for everybody else that’s new. Okay?

So let me quickly just break down some quick tests, so one of the bigger ones is this idea that when a client gets your proposal, by the time they get it, they should already know what’s on it. So if you’re wasting a lot of time in putting proposals together and then wondering if it will get accepted, you need to follow this rule. You shouldn’t be putting your proposal together where the client isn’t sure what they’re going to get when they receive it. So you don’t want to supply them with [inaudible 00:02:46] that’s a big one or what exactly is going to be covered in this project, what the timeline looks like, why they’re working with you, like all of these things should be discussed in advance. So before you send the proposal you should have a good conversation with prospective clients. Okay, big one here being, if the client doesn’t know the price you’re planning on charging, do not send the proposal until you’ve had that. You don’t have to have it down to the dollar, but having a general like between this and that, can work really well, I know [inaudible 00:03:20] master mind has said that as well, between 8,500 and 10,000, something like that. Where when you do send it and it’s $9,500, they’re not shocked. That’s the goal, we don’t want to like have a moment when you hit send on a proposal and then you wait, going like “are they going to accept it?”, “I don’t know, did I charge too much?”, you should all really have a good feeling for that. And clients that you want to work with will be used to having those discussions before a proposal from [inaudible 00:03:49]. You’ll be surprised to have a proposal arrive when they haven’t even, there’s been no discussion about price yet, how’re we getting this proposal. So discuss everything you can to avoid surprises okay?

Next up, the proposal doesn’t have to be a huge masterpiece right, it doesn’t have to be 8, 10, 12 pages long, it can be one or two pages, sometimes it’s really short, so just don’t put yourself through all of this effort to create this giant proposal when the client doesn’t need that much right where you need your terms and conditions area, the client doesn’t need to see everything that’s ever happened to you and everything you might possibly do for them. I’m going to show you a framework today that we use for our proposals, for proposals that are more likely to get “yes” but the point being here is to keep that proposal nice and tight, right, so people can just quickly ply through it. We also call [inaudible 00:04:49] that such is a proposal that requires you then put a contract together that’s not just a contract either which feels to like, [inaudible 00:04:59] like we’re in this if your client has to accept the contract or something or sign the contract. We call this Statement of Work and a lot freelancers and [inaudible 00:05:07] do this, so a Statement of Work is proposal that once it gets signed, it’s eventually a contract. Now others could say “no”, but that’s how we’ve always done it and it always works.

Okay, this is a big one, so if you are a freelancer, half of your job is the business side of things and that means that you are responsible for putting the Statements of Work together, right, that’s part of your job. If you can spend less time on the business side of your freelance or agency or consulting business, and more time on the client’s work, that’s billable time that you can, you can get more money out of that time. We want you to template as much as you can throughout your work but especially when it comes to something like this, just because it’s so topical because what I’m discussing right now, template as much as you can and we’re going to show you how.

Quick way, make it easy to say “yes”, right, that’s a big one. Then trim all the fat nice and tight, you’ve already discussed everything before hand, no eyebrows are being raised, nobody is wondering what’s going on. Easier to say “yes” than “no”, watch your step. Use the framework PAS, Problem, Application, Solution or Problem, [inaudible 00:06:32] whatever it still always the same thing. Prevent the problem, applicate it and then follow it. Usually a proposal starts with solving it, and that can be perfectly fine. If you know for certain that the client is like “great, we’re sold, how about you send me the cheque”, and you like “oh I have to go through this whole contract [inaudible 00:06:49]. Then you can skip the solution, if that is not true, then having the agitation solution framework can help those people, especially if the person who is signing off on your Statements of Work whose approving working with you, isn’t necessarily the one that reached out to you. So if finance actually has to approve it for some reason and they haven’t talked to you, then it can be good to have that problem that the business is having an application at the beginning of the proposal so that they know, that they can feel the same things that the business side of the business, the marketing side of the business usually sells and that’s why they reached out to you in the first place. [inaudible 00:07:31].

Emphasize their pain. Solve that pain with testimonials, any data-supported wins you have and don’t worry if you like “I don’t have any AB tests”. Well you have, if you’ve worked with any client, you’re a copywriter, you can find the message in there that’s going to be like, “oh you did that? Cool”. Someone just tried to, they just said, [inaudible 00:07:56] “OMG why didn’t I think of this before?”. Big aha moment. It’s so funny, I say this to Lance all the time, like I keep forgetting and I’ve been doing this a long time, I keep forgetting when I do something new in business and it’s all actually copywriting, like if you apply the rules of copywriting to everything you do, it works better right? So it’s not just like copywriting, it’s only going to work on a website on an email because it convinces you right, the way the frameworks are used, it convinces you. Cool. [inaudible 00:08:33] asked the question and I’m going to leave it to the end though unless Lance already answers it.
Right, make it hard to say “no”, this is if you can do this, we want it to be easy to say “yes”, hard to say “no”. Okay, so how do we do that?

Deliver it in person if you can. If you are working with someone local, or if you will be in the area where the prospective client lives, go ahead and deliver it in person, it is always harder to say “no” to somebody when they’re looking right at you. It’s very hard to and if you think that that’s not worth it, is this a contract that’s worth getting? How can you make it hard for them to say “no”? If you can’t, if it’s like a $30,000 contract and it makes sense for you to fly to where the client is in order to present it potentially. We want not a lot of us are necessarily working on those projects, so you don’t have to do that, I’m not saying you have to do that at all. If you can, awesome, big win, if you can’t, that’s the majority of us, so don’t worry about it, but it would be nice, okay. So what if you can’t? Then do as much as you can before you present the proposal or send it to them.

If you can’t do it in a skype or zoom session like say “okay guys I’ve got this proposal ready to go and I just want to run it by you, can we hop on skype this afternoon, so I can just walk you through it?”, and then if they say “no”, okay but you’re doing what it takes to help you get to a point where they’re looking at you when you present the proposal and you can have that discussion of not just about them sitting alone at their computer where it may be easier to say “no” to you.

Okay, and I almost never recommend that you give [inaudible 00:10:24] a price discount or any other incentive like the beauty of hiring you or if they’re going to get your skill set and they need that, but if it will close a real good deal faster, if you’re like “okay, we need to get this money in the bank, we have payroll to run or something else, taxes I have to pay”. Or if it’s a really good project and you’re like “that logo would look awesome on my site”, it will close a great deal faster, you can sweeten the pot potentially with an incentive which sometimes translates into like 5%, you’ll get 5% off your bill if you accept this project today. That way if they’re going to accept it, they’re more likely to accept it today in order to get that 5% discount and it goes along way right? Otherwise if they miss that and they come tomorrow and they find it, they’ve lost 5%. So these are all sorts of things in order to get to that place where you can get more “yeses” and make it really hard to say “no”.

Finally, some critical clauses to have in there. Every client you work with as a freelancer, as a consultant, as an agency, is there to help you get more clients, right that’s the job, not just to get you money, to help you get the next client, the better client, not that this client wasn’t great but to get really good clients, so, wherever possible you want to be allowed to talk openly about working with X client. So, that’s why we have the Case Study Clause. When you’re putting a proposal together, [inaudible 00:12:02] work together, in the terms and conditions, you should have a clause for case studies. I will show you that right away.

The pause clause, this one, the current pause clause comes from one of the members of our mastermind, Amy, she’s awesome, and simply what happens if we have to pause the contract, what happens if there is a delay as well as they don’t pay after they don’t get back to you in time which is a big problem for a lot of freelancers. Everybody is excited [inaudible 00:12:35] and when the work [inaudible 00:12:37] happens they have to [inaudible 00:12:39], where did they go?

So we have to that Cancellation Clause, what happens, how much time can you [inaudible 00:12:45] to protect yourself but also make it so that you don’t have to keep working for a client that you don’t really want to work with, so a 21 day cancellation clause , where they have to give you 21 days notice, can be great if you, it can protect you from suddenly being without that project, but it’s also problematic if you’re the one ending the contract and now you’re stuck with them for 21 days. That’s tricky. So the cancellation clause, make sure you get your numbers right there.

And finally, payment terms. Like you have got to have how’re they going to pay you. Actually what they’re going to pay you, is a no brainer, but how they’re going to pay you, how quickly they’re going to get that money in order to keep working with you, that’s critical, cool?

Right, so we’re going to switch over now to, one moment please, to a Statement of Work, a Statement of Work sample. So this is based on a template that we use, that we’ve put together previously and so we just pulled this together for you to show you what’s going on. So you should be seeing, there’s Tori’s screen, I’m just checking Lance’s, good, everybody can see it? Okay, so this is the PAS Statement of Work template, right? So this is an example of it filled in. We’ll begin with “The Need”. Their business need, that’s the problem, this is the whole where you discuss what you’ve learned about the company in that period of time building up to you getting this proposal together. This is where advocating happens as well as the problem and agitation all happens in here. Then you’re the solution, obviously your solution is the solution. So we go through and I’ll show you what these sections would do it or how do these sections together.

So what we’re really doing here is reminding them of your results, and now here I’ve got really more kind of like more impressive results, but when you look closely, they’re not that impressive, right, I’ve got so 64% more [inaudible 00:14:43] conversions for blood type hosting company. It could be a very small blood type hosting company, it could be a local group of people and 64% might be you bringing in more leads than before which I know we don’t want to do that but sometimes when you’re newer to you have no real choice and you get a lift, it might not be specifically confident but we’re just trying to, I know, the reason I say this is not because that you should be tricking prospective clients but I know that so many freelancers are like “oh no, I don’t have any data, I don’t have anything to say, I only brought in twice the business for that business, but it’s a small business”. No but it was twice the business you brought in for them with that one mailer or whatever you did. Just because it’s not a big name or it wasn’t thousands more, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a legitimate [inaudible 00:15:35] that you made happen for that business using your work.

So do your best to go through every client that you work with as you go and identify what win you got better, hopefully you got a lot of wins, sometimes you only got one win where it’s like “ah, we got a great [inaudible 00:16:01]” or we got [inaudible 00:16:04] but they didn’t have that many to begin with or something like that. But do go through and document those as you go and of course if you’re using [inaudible 00:16:13] and you document them as you go you can turn them into a card and then they’re available to you whenever your putting a proposal together, you don’t have to go with [inaudible 00:16:23] “ah what did we do? How did we win?”

Okay, so we just want to go through and this time “The Solution” but before we get into what we going to actually do for them, you want to make sure they know why they should hire you, and this is lean, right, this is not a lot of work for us 1700, that is legally in there as well and you’ll see the terms and conditions is like a big part of the project, Statement of Work, so we’re not going crazy here and again if the client is already sold on you, you can skip through a lot of it and go straight into Our Services and that works perfectly fine if you know it’s going to be an absolute “yes”. If you don’t know, problem, agitation, solution. Okay, so to get to that we have some testimonials in here, but use that into your services obviously then you talk about your team, and if your a freelancer, that might just be you or sometimes there’s a sub-contractor that you work with regularly, or someone who helps you even near the A if you feel like it can help you have that sense of a team that a client might need. Clients don’t always need this, we work with a lot of people that are single like freelancers, we pay them good money, we don’t expect them to be part of a team, we don’t even want all the extra like kind of fat that comes with working with a whole team, but just know, read your audience, know what they’re looking for and do what it takes and let our team really highlight that you have the expertise they’re looking for and the ability to get this job done. Okay?Then w

e talk through the Engagement Timeline and importantly if you do have more than one person on your team, helping the client understand who is driving what throughout this timeline, and who they should contact at every point in this so they’ll know that [inaudible 00:18:09] will want to discuss with Jessica Jones, okay, she’s always going to be their primary point of contact, but if someone comes looking at this and they’re like “oh I’m working with them on the launch and monitoring [inaudible 00:18:19] page test, and if [inaudible 00:18:23] for the client, whom I going to work with, oh, Jessica, okay perfect.” So if more than one person is reviewing your proposal, this can be really helpful [inaudible 00:18:31]. I know, Jessica Jones, yes her name just comes to mind all the time for me.

Then we get into the “Fee Summary”, the “Payment Schedule” as well. We already talked about some of these points in here, I’m not going to go through them line by line, everything that I said before is right here.

Next step, what should they do? When should they do it? What happens if they don’t do it by the time you specify it?

And then finally the “Terms and Conditions”, you can see it, it’s like huge part of this document. So a lot of this is a lot of the words are legally here which are really repeatable and then the rest of it is just really a kind of a simple, templating process. I’m going to show you how it works in Airstory. You can obviously do this in any tool you already use, but the good thing, the great thing about using Airstory for something like this, is the drag and drop nature of it. So we can begin, I’m going to do a live sample for you, new tab, in this current project, this project has all sorts of cards over here you might have noticed this as I was demonstrating that a bit for you. I already know this really well, this project really well, so I know exactly what I’m looking for in here, but there is this [inaudible 00:19:51] template, drag that, this is the entire template that I just showed you in card form, I can drag it around and just add it whenever I’m ready to and merge that, now I can work with the template and I go through and fill in all the primary bracketed stuff and what’s really interesting is when we get to the places where there are #results, #testimonial, activities, services, process, those are all tagged so I can search over here in my card library to really quickly fill this document in instead of going and looking through, Lord knows where you keep your data or where you keep those testimonials, did you move them, are they in the drop box, where are they? On the newest one I got added, did you put it in your drop box and send them to your mail?

So we just want to go in here and turn those all into cards and look for results, oh and this one, I didn’t have results because this would be one where you would come up with them on your own. So how would you try and put them on your own? As you’re going through and putting them together, if you have a proposal that already exists, where you want to use what you’ve got in there, you could just paste that proposal into Airstory, modify it and pull out the testimonial, the results, all that kind of stuff and turn it into a card and immediately fill up your card library. So in this case, I can go through, I can look at my, see what I have got here, highlight this in the last three years you have more than [inaudible 00:21:23] of our client. I can click this little icon here and turn it into a card and then I can call that result.

Now I’ve got this available, to me I can do that again here, bear with me while I find you can see what auto completing those tags as well, results, one more just to demo it to you and we’ll do one testimonial down here as well, and of course you can imagine, the more you have this already filled in but not going on any time you put a project together, you can just drag results down here, in the last three years, let’s say if we kept it that way, good. And now I’m going to merge all of those cards, I can do it just by check marks or like that, delete that, bullet that up and I need a testimonial okay, and now I’ve got a testimonial here, I’m going to drag this testimonial down here, merge it and if I have other testimonials elsewhere, I can go find those. Testimonial for Joanna, testimonial for other people for other things, so if I was to drag that in here, like pretend if this was for me or for this project, I will keep dragging those in here and find the one that is ideal for the prospect that I’m talking to. So I just keep adding that in, choosing the right ones, so I don’t like this one, I’m going to hit the X to get rid of it, I go back up.

You can see you can start filling this in pretty quickly. Our Activity, you see I’ve got all these activities, I don’t have to worry, I’m going to go into a current project, it will come up in all projects [inaudible 00:23:19] I just want to focus as much as possible on this, I’m going to pull these activities in, writing newsletters, nope I’m not going to do that one but I’ll do this one let’s say. So the whole way through, we’re filling this in and getting to places very quickly, we have our Statement of Work already put together and the more you’ve got, those little pieces put together, the better, right. The faster this all goes together, so it’s a big templated project. You can do this all on your own again in the tools that you’ve used before, if you put it together in Airstory now, going forward, all you have to do is look up those cards and drag and drop from scratch always, like you don’t have to start at the zero point, your page is blank, start dragging cards in and fill that [inaudible 00:24:10] Airstory is there to make your work like faster so you can get more done quickly and actually get back to doing things you want to do especially as a freelancer where we’re sold on this idea that you should have a lot of time and the freedom lifestyle or the more you’re sitting there like grumpily looking through how to put a proposal together, the less time you’re actually taking for yourself.

So this will make your life a lot easier. If you’re using Airstory or if you sign up for Airstory today, you’ll get this free, it’s totally free, you can use that until you’re ready to start creating your own projects. You can do this today, Lance I think is going to chat over the way in order to use this project and yeah, that’s really simply it. We will also send out a link to this afterwards with a replay of today’s tutorial. That will give you more details on how you can turn this what you’re seeing here into usable stuff for you, that’s unique to you. So we’ll send two [inaudible 00:25:13] watch for that email but I mean, are there questions other than that, I think we’ve walked through the basics of proposals that are more likely to get a “yes”, so let me see, are there questions?
Speaker 2: I think I got it covered so far, just [inaudible 00:25:31]

Speaker 1: Awesome, cool. Okay so we’re getting Lance has said no, he said no we’re good, I’m sure people are going to start filing in which they are already are we can see, please don’t worry you won’t see everybody but there will be a single line of people that will show up because it’s a shared project right now again [inaudible 00:25:47] Airstory you can share a project with a whole team, you can share it with a client whatever you want to do. So I’m glad Daniel, thank you, you have to, Tanitia, I hope I’m saying that right, that’s [inaudible 00:25:59] she’s newer to freelancing, she’s the [inaudible 00:26:01] Tanitia, says she’s new to freelancing so this has been very helpful, Kathy says, thanks for getting right to the point and covering the material without [inaudible 00:26:10], that’s what we’re all about, we want [inaudible 00:26:10] right? Cool and [inaudible 00:26:13] lots of great things.

Thanks guys that’s awesome. Okay, so I will wrap it up here and watch your email for more information about how to use the Statement of Work in your life, okay. Glad you guys liked it, thanks guys, bye.

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