How to Write a Winning Project Proposal

by on | 34 Comments | Freelancing Advice, How Tos

A project proposal is a statement you write with one goal in mind: to convince an Employer that you are the right person for the job. When you bid on a project, you are thrust into a highly competitive process, competing against other freelancers with similar skills. Unless you make your strengths and experience shine in your proposal, you could miss out on a great opportunity.

Fortunately one of our very own Guru.com freelancers has provided us with some fantastic proposal writing tips. Jennifer Reinoehl is a freelance author who has completed 20 projects on Guru.com in the last three months. So it is fair to say that she knows a few things about writing winning proposals! Follow her tips below to ensure that your proposal gets noticed.

Where to Start?

Writing a winning project proposal begins with you successfully matching your talents, interests, and skills to a project. Step one is to read carefully through the project and make sure you fully understand it before you bid. If you use the proposal templates (which I recommend) make sure you personalize your proposal for each job.

Make a Strong Entrance

The top two lines of your project proposal are your “selling” lines. When the employer gets your proposal, these are the lines that will make him or her decide to keep reading your proposal or skip it. If the employer requires a specific response to show that you read the entire project, put it on top. Do not try to creatively embed your response in a sentence. Chances are good that, if the employer does not see it immediately, he or she will not even read the rest of your proposal.

Sell Your Specific Strengths

What is your most marketable trait? Include it underneath any required responses. This trait may vary depending on the project. For example, if you are applying for a job that is academic, your degree will be the first thing you highlight. On the other hand, if the job requires a specific skill set, you want to focus on your experience. On rare occasions, such as when the employer needs a job finished within 24-hours, you can put something such as a time estimate near the top.

What other qualities do you have that make you a good fit for the job? Outline them in one paragraph if possible.

Answer Employer Questions

Next, be sure you answer any questions the employer might have asked. Sometimes these questions can be answered throughout your text (even at the top); other times you can just set them in their own paragraph.

Provide Estimates

After you have explained why you would be the best person to complete the project, then it is time to provide time and cost estimates. Be accurate or explain why you are unable to give a specific quote. Most employers do not like placeholder bids, so ask questions before bidding.

Don’t Forget Your Manners!

Finally, thank the employer for reading your proposal Make an impression, so that even if you are not chosen for that particular project, the employer might think of you for future projects. If you are awarded the project, you will be starting off on the right foot!

More Tips on Writing a Winning Proposal:

  • Only rarely should your proposal grow to be bigger than the box in which you type it. Try to keep it about that size, or in some cases less, without sacrificing quality.
  • Use your templates. Yes, you need to make individualized proposals. However, templates save time, and they prevent editing mistakes that can cause you to be overlooked for the job. Regardless of whether you filled in a template or wrote from scratch, you should always write in complete sentences and reread a proposal for errors before you post it.
  • Winning proposals are backed by winning profiles, and winning profiles alone can get you jobs.
  • Winning proposals have work samples attached even if you have them posted on your profile. If you cannot attach a sample, point employers to your profile and put samples there.
  • Finally, premium proposals are best used to draw attention to your bid on jobs that fit your profile perfectly or jobs where you are competing against many other freelancers. Of course you want every job to which you apply, but using premium proposals all the time can drain your bids.

About The Author

Jennifer Reinoehl

Jennifer Reinoehl is a jack-of-all-trades freelance author on Guru.com. Non-fiction and postmodern fiction are her favorite genres of freelance writing. When she is not writing, she can be found checking out stacks of books at the local libraries or contributing valuable advice and answers to the Guru Answers community. Jennifer holds both a degree in Biology and a degree in Theatre. In college, she performed biomedical research on a variety of topics, including the medicinal uses of insects. She has traveled across the United States, visited Canada, the Bahamas, and England, and lived in France. In her spare time, Jennifer volunteers with organizations that teach children and improve their self-confidence.

COMMENTS (34)

  1. Sadia

    Effective points. It would have been better if I could see a sample of a winning proposal.

    Reply
  2. Jagat Poudel

    Thank you for providing the tips.It would be better if we can see a sample of winning proposal.

    Reply
        • Anil

          Hi Anna,
          the templates seem to be devoid of formatting. Can’t a proposal have a formatting anymore? Did Guru do away with it?

          Reply
          • Anna

            Hi Anil,

            I’m not sure what you mean by “devoid of formatting”. Can you please specify, and maybe include a screenshot? Thanks.

          • Anil

            Anna, that’s a pretty quick reply. What I meant was, formatting the text..to emphasize a few points here and there..Heads, Sub heads. and the like.

            For example

            web site url dot com

            Profile

            Quote
            What is that box Placeholder bid, right at the top of the proposal box?

            Thank you for your time.

          • Anna

            Anil, We haven’t ever offered rich text formatting for the proposal text box, however that is something we can consider for the future.
            Something you might be interested in knowing is that, with the release of the new profiles, each proposal you submit will be accompanied by your Work Collections that fall under the same category, further supporting your applications. You do have the ability to add rich text to explain your Work Collections, so that should help.

  3. denis wodada

    I would love to know how to write project proposals in order to compete in this fast-growing world.

    Reply
  4. Paola

    I’m new in Guru, i start just now to study and understand these community-system, thank you for Your indispensable indications! When i read your article i understand: I have start in wrong way :) . I have some problem for write and i not speak good english, hope my illustrations is enough, and talking for me. Maybe it is useful to observe one of your proposals, not to copy but to understand better. tnx

    Reply
  5. Elinana

    I have seen the project proposals but i will be very grateful if you send for me the samples of the winning project proposals.

    Reply
  6. MELVIN SONGWE

    hello
    i am so pleased with your efforts in writing projects and i wish to learn more on how to write projects. hope this will go a long way to assist me in writing good projects.

    Reply
  7. Karthik

    Thought of changing my old proposal template and so customized and used your sample for a project in guru. Fingers crossed!

    Reply
  8. Mr Sing Thai No

    Hello there madam..! I hope you can also help me can I get a copy of a actual proposal… Thanks a lot :-D it would be much appreciated..

    Reply
  9. sonia

    where would an employer find a project proposal from a potential freelancer? The freelancer said that he send it to us a couple of days ago..thank you

    Reply
  10. www.youtube.com

    I do trust all of the concepts you’ve introduced for your post.
    They are really convincing and can definitely work. Still, the posts are very brief
    for beginners. Could you please extend them a bit from next time?
    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  11. ASHTORETH

    Thanks for giving me a way towards writing winning proposal. If all the points mentioned here are taken into consideration they can definitely lead to a impressive project proposal.

    Reply
  12. Juruga Amandu Moses

    I would like to know the general format for writing project proposal. We have an organization called Nyamillers intended to support the orphans, widows and elderly to which am the chairperson charged with the responsibilities of sourcing for fund.
    The organization members have high hope in your guidance and assistance. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Emmanuel

    I need you to send to me a sample of project proposal on intending project.

    Reply
  14. akshansh

    Hello Anna,

    It would be really great if you can share any proposal of IT freelancer Bid for Website Design or Mobile Application.

    Looking Forward to your Response !!

    Reply
    • Lawrence

      Could u pls give me an example of a project proposal on the topic: analysis of financial management as a critical element in profitability measurement in business

      Reply
  15. Ericka

    Hi to all, how is the whole thing, I think every one is getting more from this web site, and your views are pleasant in favor of new viewers.

    Reply
  16. sadig

    first i would like to thank you for your helping me . how to get the right step in writing project proposal. thank you very much and God help you in all your life.

    Reply
  17. Abhishek

    Hi,
    I m new on guru.com.
    I have applied many projects on oDesk & Elance. I m very comfertable with those.
    Now I wanted to work with guru.com.
    I saw many proposal related with my co. profile but I don’t know how to apply. There is showing to submit detail of expenses. So plz help me so that I can start my job with guru.

    Reply
  18. Theodore Watson

    What information do have regarding federal government proposal writing? Some of the same principles discussed seem to also apply companies bidding on federal projects. Good points made.

    Reply
  19. krzewy owocowe

    Whats up are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any html
    coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply

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