Write that Winning Design Proposal Now

by Ruben 4 Minutes

Seasoned creatives will be the first to tell you that a well-written design proposal spells the difference between success and failure. You may have an impressive design portfolio, but it won’t do much good without a strong proposal to back it up.

The problem is that writing a proposal can be a very stressful ordeal for creatives, particularly those that are just starting in the industry. This article breaks down the basics of writing a compelling design proposal that will get you noticed by clients, and eventually land the job.

The Importance of a Design Proposal

This is probably the first question that any creative may have in their mind. After all, shouldn’t a design portfolio be able to give the client an idea of your ability to get the job done?

Well, not exactly.

A design proposal does more than just showing your creative skills and talents. It helps you sell yourself as a graphics designer or developer by giving you a clear and solid presentation of the solutions you have to address the clients’ needs, and how they can benefit from each of these proposed solutions.

Another reason why strong design proposals are vital when bidding for a design project is that it gives you the opportunity of communicating to the client that you’re the right person for the job by providing sample designs of your proposed ideas and testimonials from previous clients.

Before Writing a Proposal

Whether you receive a Request for Proposals (RFP) from a potential client or not, you don’t just simply go ahead and start writing your design proposal. You need to take some time and do quite an extensive amount of research about the company.

Agreeably, this is not exactly the most exciting thing to do for creatives, but this is one of the most important tasks—if not the most important task—to complete before writing a proposal. Not all clients will give you all of the information that you need to develop a design proposal that addresses all of their needs and wants. In some cases, you’ll need to sit down and interview them to get a clearer understanding of exactly what they want you to do for them.

Once you get that, the next thing you need to do is to research on who are the competitors of your client. What are the things that they are doing better? What areas are they in the same field as your client? Where does your client have the upper hand? The answers to these questions are going to be critical once you sit down and begin to write down your design proposal.

Finally, you also have to research about who the target is your client’s target market. Try to picture the ideal customer that your client is aiming to reach. Doing this will help you be able to come up with an effective strategy you can propose to your client.

Writing the Design Proposal

Once you’ve gathered all the information, it’s now time to write your design proposal.  This, for many creatives, is the trickiest part.

There are two ways on how to approach this. The first is to do everything from scratch. The problem going down this route is that this can take quite a lot of time on the part of a creative, especially for someone who is just starting in the industry.

Another way to write a design proposal is to use a design proposal template as a guide. Design proposal templates are written and designed by creatives who have had experience submitting proposals and winning the bids.

The nice thing about using a design proposal template is that it already contains all the elements for a strong design proposal. It also contains a little bit of text to give you an idea on how to write the information that goes underneath each heading, making writing a proposal so much easier for you.

After Writing the Design Proposal

Perhaps the biggest mistake lots of creatives do when they submit a proposal is to send this as soon as they finish writing it. There is still a few more things that you need to do before submitting your design proposal to a potential client:

1. Proofread Your Design Proposal

Don’t think that just because you’re writing a proposal for a graphic design or web development project, your potential client won’t get turned off by spelling and grammar errors. Nothing is worse than spending a great deal of time developing your design proposal, only to be rejected because of poor grammar and spelling mistakes. Get someone to read through your proposal before sending it to your client.

2. Appearance Counts

As the saying goes, “first impressions lasts.” Make sure to take your time to add an attractive cover page to your design proposal. Not only will this help it stand out from the sea of other proposals submitted. It also gives your potential client a glimpse of your talents and skills as a creative designer.

3. Include a Copyright Statement

Since the information that you share in a design proposal are your own ideas, adding a copyright statement can help protect you from other people who are trying to steal design ideas from others by posing as potential clients. Inserting a copyright statement also gives your potential clients a sense of security that you value intellectual property and not someone who’ll just willing share information with others.

4. Provide Your Contact Information

The goal of submitting a proposal is to get a potential client interested enough to meet and discuss the project more with you. Don’t forget to include your contact information in areas of your design proposal so that it is easier for your potential client to get back to you.

5. Add a Deadline

Many creatives might find this a bit too aggressive, but it isn’t. Adding a statement specifying the expiration of the terms and payment you include in your design proposal will give you the opportunity to make some changes in your rates or project schedule in the event that the client may take some time to get back to you with your design proposal.

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by Ruben
Ruben originally founded proposal software, Bidsketch as a one-person company while working as a software developer for a billion dollar payroll company. Since its early days as a “company of one,” Bidsketch has grown to help over 2,000 paying customers win billions of dollars in new business and save thousands of hours in the process.