Reality Blog: The 7 Essential Ingredients of Writing a Winning Proposal

Colorful building blocks - fundamental skills concept

Last time, we looked at the four benefits of writing proposals for clients. So what’s the best way to structure a proposal? What are the keys to writing a winning proposal?

This time we’ll break it down into seven easy steps.

Just like your mother’s secret chocolate cake recipe, each ingredient is vital to ensuring you get the best possible outcome.

Step 1. Introduction

Start by thanking your prospect for the opportunity to submit a proposal for the project. Acknowledge you appreciate the opportunity to submit a price.

Keep it short and professional, and never ever try to lighten the tone with a quip or a joke. Your prospect will be thinking, “Is this person a professional or a comedian?”

Step 2. Background

Follow with a Background. Give a brief outline of who the prospect’s company is, what they do, and what copywriting services they need. Why is this necessary?

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Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

Andrew has traded the daily grind for a life on the road. He loves the lure of Australia’s wide-open spaces, solitude and isolation. Andrew and his wife Peta are experienced remote travelers, living the simple life on the road. They travel, work and live in their 4x4 truck camper. Andrew plans to build his Money-Making Website Top Wire Traveller to the point where it provides a regular income... enough to sustain their lifestyle on the road.


  • Nice, Andrew!

    I agree mostly with these points, except on negotiating. I think it’s okay to go back and forth a bit on a price to find something that works well for both. If a price is too high for the client, you can reduce the scope of a project so you’re making it more doable for them, but still making it worth your time. Ilise Benun has a really great video on this on YouTube called “The Worst Negotiating Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them.”) Really changed my mindset on the power of negotiating!

    I also like to think about whether I want to add a section asking for a single (or primary) point of contact. I’ve been in in-house situations where there were way too many cooks in the kitchen and any freelancer coming in would be totally overwhelmed and waste a lot of time juggling feedback from different people. So it’s worth thinking about if you want to ask to work with just one person to make it more streamlined.

    And, a little point that might sound obvious but can make a big difference – I include my logo too. Then I save and send the whole thing as a PDF document as opposed to a word document to make it look more professional.

    • Hi Rebekah,

      Good point on negotiating, which I should have covered in more detail. I agree you should always be prepared to negotiate. But I won’t negotiate on the price for that particular scope. If the price is too high, I send a revised scope, reflecting the reduced price and corresponding scope.

      The primary point of contact is a great one, thanks! I too have been in a situation where multiple people want to be involved. It’s confusing and so inefficient.

      And definitely, yes… include your logo and header, then send as a PDF.

      Thanks for the feedback!

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