How To Write a Graphic Design Proposal

by Terri Scott 10 Minutes

ID-100204049Doodle-dee, doodle-all-day. Oh what fun it is to sit in front of your computer and doodle for a living! At least, that’s what the average graphic design client often thinks about their designers.

So, is it any wonder that some might balk when you present them with a bid for services that makes them question every red cent that you ask for?

It has to be frustrating to you, because like most professionals, you know that you’re worth the money that you’re asking for. You know why your services are valuable, and you understand how your client can benefit by hiring you.

But here’s the rub: If you’re not explaining your services in a way that makes your potential client understand your value proposition, then you’re going to continue spending your energy reserves on convincing clients why they should hire you or your agency team members.


The Plight Of The Commercial Artist

Certain marketing functions are more quantifiable than others. While it might be easy for, say, a digital marketing agency to quantify their value proposition with hard-cold numbers and data, it’s a lot more challenging for a graphic designer to quantify their value…at least, at first.

But, don’t fret: You can learn how to produce a killer proposal that will allow you to build your client list, while allowing your clients to take your work seriously.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to do in order to achieve both goals:

a) Present your clients with a comprehensive proposal that answers the question “What’s in this for me?”

b) Present your proposal in a style that looks clean, professional, sleek, and is easy to digest.

When you accomplish both of these goals, then your prospects will start taking what you do a lot more seriously. They’ll start treating your proposals with the attention and the respect that they deserve.

Let’s face it: You’re not earning money by clicking the “send” button all day, every day. At the end of the day, it’s not always about the number of proposals you sent out. It’s about the quality of the proposal. One great, knock-it-out-the-park proposal could possibly be the difference between acquiring a high-quality, legacy client, or not.


As a graphic designer, you don’t earn a living by selling products and services, per se. You earn a living by earning your client’s trust. This means that in addition to selling tangible products and services, you’ll need to learn how to sell all the reasons why your clients should choose you over another vendor.

“But I didn’t invest years of training to become a sales person!” you might protest. In theory, you might not have, but the moment that you decided to go into business for yourself, the word salesperson became a crucial part of your job description.

Since this is the case, it would benefit you to learn how to sell your services to prospects in a manner that gets them to respond affirmatively to your queries and your bids for work. And, hopefully, that’s what you’ll learn after reading this guide.

Hopefully, you’ll understand how to write and produce a proper graphic design proposal. You’re going to learn how to produce a quality proposal that is going to help you to build a healthy stable of clients, hopefully for years to come.

Best of all, you’re going to learn how to become so confident in your proposal writing skills, you’ll look forward to the sales portion of your job. If you’re ready to learn how to properly ask for your client’s business in a manner that could only be taken seriously, then get your thinking cap on and get ready to digest some serious information.


First, let’s get a confession out of the way: You  might be a bit frightened about fleshing out a proper proposal out of fear of push-back from the client. You might have a hard time explaining how all of those fonts and colors matter to your client’s bottom line, although you understand the concept in your mind.

Articulating creative products and services is never easy, and that’s why it’s important to create a seductive value proposition from the start that does a great job in preventing client push-back. Here’s a quote from Osku Blog that will help you to articulate the type of services you offer in a way that sounds professional and timely to your prospects:

Graphic design is a large part of a marketing package which can critically affect the success of a business.

But, first, it might be a great idea for you to lead with a proper definition of what a graphic designer is:

A graphic designer is a professional who provides their skills and services from a foundation of years of training and experience.

Now, don’t you already feel as if you have a guiding mantra of sorts that allows you to present your service as part of a client’s viable marketing process? The fact is, it’s all about taking a step back from the creative process and learning how to present yourself in a manner that allows yourself to frame a professional conversation.

And, here’s a quote that best sums up why learning how sell by framing your conversation in the right way works:

Your sale is reached by how well educated the client is and how they see the value in you as a web and graphic designer.

Speaking of value, let’s talk about value propositions for a moment


What’s The Value Of Your Proposal?

Let’s face it: No matter how much you try to impress your client with the funkiest fonts and color schemes, they want to know one thing at the end of the day: What’s in this for my bottom line?

As a graphic designer, you have a hearty task of explaining how all that visual creativity translates into dollars for your client. What’s more, you’ll need to explain why they should trust your skill and your level of creativity over another artistic genius selling the same skills.

You’ll be able to do all of this and more as you delve into the following sections of your proposal. Let’s take a peak at areas you’re going to address:

  • The Problem Statement: You’re going to state your client’s pain/needs.
  • The Proposed Solution: What’s your unique plan in coming through for your client?
  • The Benefits: This section is like music to their ears.
  • Pricing Information: This is where you’ll assign monetary value to your work
  • Call To Action: Put your foot down and ask for the sale!


The Problem Statement

In order to convince the client that you’re more valuable than your competitors (And, the competition is very stiff in your field!), you can’t send your clients a half-hearted proposal statement like this one:

We’re going to create graphics on x websites, selected x colors, and help you to create a brand.

There’s several problems with generic statement such as these:

  1. When the prospect reads a statement like this, their first thought might be “Okay, so?”
  2. The client might not understand the connection between color selection and branding. Worse, you haven’t done anything to connect the dots between abstract concepts such as these.
  3. How do you know if your prospective client understands what branding is, or why branding is important?

How about addressing their problems with a statement such as this:

Over the last year, ABC Company has found themselves left behind in the face of increasing competition. One of the reasons is because ABC company hasn’t had the opportunity to engage in specific functions such as branding in order to create their own marketing and value proposition.

ABC company requires a graphic design campaign that allows the company to create a unique identity their their industry space. The campaign should offer exceptional, unique, and memorable graphics for marketing and advertising campaigns.

Once a prospective client looks at a problem statement such as this, they’ll probably think to themselves, “Yeah! This is exactly what the problem is. They get me! Let me keep reading to see how they propose to resolve my problem.”

Presented in a way that demands their attention, the prospect has no choice but to read further. When you reach out to your prospects, think about what issues need to be addressed.

What are your prospect’s concerns regarding their brand? After looking at their marketing materials both online and offline, where are the gaps? What’s missing? Where are they going wrong?


The Proposed Solution

When you experience physical pain, you don’t want for people to toss around ideas on how to make the pain stop. You want exact instructions regarding how to make the pain stop, now! This is how your prospective client feels about their professional “pain”. As such, you should come to them with solutions such as this:

In order for ABC Company to create a brand that imprints your company’s essence on your website visitors minds and within your sales collaterals, ABC Company will require a graphic design campaign that is exceptional, unique, and is most importantly, memorable.  

This will include meaningful visuals and text that clearly convey your message within your online and offline advertising and marketing campaigns. We’ll create a visual and tangible representation of your brand. 

Here, you’ve answered the following questions:

  • What does agency graphic design include in order to create a comprehensive marketing campaign for the clients?
  • What part does the graphic designer play beyond creating pretty images?
  • How does the images play into the client’s bottom-line?

And, in order to add more value to your proposal, you should discuss ideas such as perpetual site design (or redesign) to keep up with the client’s new product offerings and upgrades in technology. Touch upon design within mobile apps, and social media, too.

Let the client know that you can create designs that are unique to their industry needs. Of course, applicable upgrades would apply to the design of the client’s offline media, if applicable.



The Benefits

Now, you’re warming up! Now, it’s time to let the client know what outcome they can expect after they invest their hard-earned revenue (or their start-up capital) into your services.

Consider presenting benefits such as these:

We’ll work with ABC to create tailor-made visuals and text that clearly conveys your message. We’ll also create universal and memorable branding recognition for your company by creating tailored graphics, fonts, and colors. 

All of these work together with the consistent application and use of your tailored branding logo to create a memorable brand that unifies both your online and offline marketing media with creativity and style. 

Does all of this read in a manner that is professional and beneficial? If you placed yourself in the prospective client’s shoe, wouldn’t you want to pay attention to a proposal such as this?

Now, compare that to a proposal that simply states what can be done, but doesn’t inform the client why they’d benefit from hiring you. Is it any wonder that you might not be winning your bids or proposals? Your proposal should fully explain what an agency graphic design package includes in order to create a comprehensive marketing campaign for prospective or current clients.

It should completely explain what part the graphic designer plays beyond creating pretty images. It should practically burst at the seams with value, in order to allow the prospect to understand how those images play into the client’s bottom-line.

At least, that should be the perception!


Pricing Information

One of the hardest things for creative professionals to do is to ask for money. But, as a freelancer or as an agency, you need to take a stand for your brand. You’ll need to take a stand for your reputation as a professional. Assigning financial value to your work in the pricing information section allows you to do just that.

The pricing information section allows you to clearly state your fees without hiding behind the creative aspects of your package (another thing that creative professionals are prone to do). It comes down to confidence, clarity, and transparency. Even if you’re just starting out, know that you wouldn’t have started the business if you didn’t believe that you are good enough to offer services.

Fight for your right to earn the client’s business. Believe in your service. Believe in your right to ask for a client’s business. Fight for your revenues. Ask for the money, plainly.

You can do this when you make the layout of your pricing area simple for the client to read. It’s best to break up your price points into sections-this allows for easy comprehension. It’s only fair that your client fully understands what they are paying for, along with why they’re paying for it.

And, do yourself a favor: Be sure to include a section for payment milestones if the scope of your project requires their use.


The Call To Action

Now, you’ve gone and done it! You’ve gone and created a proposal that will allow you to confidently allow you to stake your claim and ask for your client’s business.

And, it’s crucial for you to close out the proposal by asking for their business. You’d be amazed at how often creative professionals forget to take this vital step!

“But I went through all of this explaining! Shouldn’t the client just know that I want their business?”

Sorry to burst your safe bubble of assumptions, but the client has a ton of other things on their mind. One of those things might be considering your competitor’s proposal! So, doesn’t it make perfect sense to wrap up your job-worth proposal with an “ask”?

Try to close with something like this:

ABC Company should take the following course of action in order to proceed with the project:

  1. Approve the proposal as is, or discuss any desired changes or additions. We will provide strategic adjustments as the project commences.
  2.  Finalize and sign the contract.
  3.  Submit the initial payment of the first monthly fee. Once the contract is signed, then we’ll set up an initial meeting to discuss specific creatives.

Instead of hiding behind assumptions, you’ve gone out on front for yourself (or, your agency) by leading your prospect towards a buying decision. You’ve told them the specific steps that they need to take, and now, your pitch is complete.

Now, you can take a deep breath of relief! You’ve earned your way to new business by learning how to write a proper graphic design proposal. But, it stands to reason that you wouldn’t want to submit your high-quality proposal in a sub-par format. We’ve got you covered on that front, too!

If you want to start knocking out client-winning proposals even faster, then using proposal software is the way to go. Using the software is going to take much of the guess work out of proposal formatting. It looks professional,  which allows you to add even more value perception in your prospect’s minds.

In other words, you won’t be perceived as the flaky artist who designs websites in their mom’s basement!

Best of all, you’ll gain a competitive edge over those who don’t draft proposals!  If they want to take a chance on winning clients with poor proposals (or no proposals), that’s fine for them. This simply allows you and your agency to line up projects and cash flow by implementing a proper proposal scheme, with Bidsketch’s proposal software.

* All photos are courtesy of





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by Terri Scott
Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time. You can view her work at, and she'd love to hear from you: