What is a proposal?

A proposal is a document that establishes the services you will provide as well as the timeline, cost, and terms of those services. It allows you to communicate rates and pricing structures, and any other expectations you want to set in writing.

Why send a client proposal?

You can use a proposal as a marketing tool to show a potential client (e.g., prospect) what you could do if they hired you, but it's also commonly used as a tool to get the freelancer and a current client on the same page.

Proposal documents and the terms within them are legally binding, thus protecting you and your business from undue liability.

But perhaps more importantly, a strong proposal will ensure the client feels that you understand their needs for the project and that the two of you are aligned on project execution, including agreed-upon goals and milestones.

Proposals make a huge impact; they're a powerful way to be a step ahead of the competition.

A note about Discovery Forms

The Hectic™ App makes the proposal process easy and enjoyable. There are several steps required to create a proposal. However, we recommend creating a Discovery Form before sending your proposal, especially if you have not already established a project plan with the client.

While a Discovery Form is not required, it is advisable because the first step in turning a prospect into a paying client is understanding what their needs are, that's exactly what discovery forms are designed to do.

The more proposals you send, the more clients you're likely to obtain and retain. Consider proposals to be seeds of opportunity. The more seeds you plant the more abundant the garden; the more proposals you submit, the more contracts will come to fruition.

There are several steps covered in this tutorial:

  1. Create a client file

  2. Start the proposal draft

  3. Customize your proposal with your brand elements

  4. Add content to your proposal

  5. Tips for writing the "Your Needs" block

  6. Tips for writing the "My Solution" block

  7. Add Deliverables and Timelines

  8. Setting contract and payment terms

  9. Sending the proposal to your client

  10. Comments and edits on proposals

  11. Turn proposals into projects

The first step in the proposal-creation process is to create a client file.

1. Create a client file

The client file is the center of all functionality in the Hectic App; everything starts and revolves around the client.

In Hectic, a "client" refers to either of these:

  1. Active Client: A person or company you are currently working for

  2. Prospect: A person or company you will potentially work for in the future

In order to send a proposal, you need to create the client file. The same process applies regardless of whether they are an Active Client or a Prospect.

To create a client file, navigate to the "Clients" section in the left sidebar.

Select the blue "Create your first client" button.

(Note that you can also select the "New client" button at the top right corner of the screen; you'll use this button to create subsequent new client files for any new clients after this one.)

Complete the fields in the "Create new client" box.

The Client Name is the only required field on this form. However, we recommend completing the entire form, because the "Primary contact info" fields within the red box below will auto-populate to the Proposal.

Select "Save."

2. Start the Proposal draft

After clicking save, the client file will open to the "Overview" tab.

Click on the "Proposals" tab of the client file.

Click "Fresh start," as indicated below.

3. Customize your proposal with your brand elements

Hectic allows you to add personal brand elements to create custom proposals. When you create your first proposal, it automatically includes a default header, which includes the (1) proposal name, (2) the client's name, and (3) your name.

However, you can customize the style of any proposal in the following ways:

  • Choose a custom font

  • Customize the header image or remove it altogether

  • Toggle your logo on or off

Once you customize the default proposal and save it, you can then clone your customized version when making future proposals. And you can then further customize these copies if needed.

Adjust Font settings

Customize your font styles (both heading and text) by clicking on "@ Font styles". Select the desired fonts from the drop-down menus. Click "Save".

Click here for a helpful article on choosing font styles for your business proposals.

Customize your cover photo

You have several options to customize a cover photo:

  1. Add a stock photo from Unsplash™

  2. Add your own image file

  3. Remove the cover image altogether (if desired)

1. Add a stock photo from Unsplash™

Hectic integrates directly with Unsplash, so you can search for a stock photo and add it to your proposal without leaving the Hectic app.

Click on the "Cover Image" button, then enter a search term into the "Background image" search box. Note you can scroll through multiple pages of images by clicking the < and > buttons.

Select your image. Then click "Save"

2. Add your own image file

To add your own image file, click on the "Cover Image" button. Click on the

3. Remove the cover image altogether (if desired): If desired, you can remove the cover image altogether.

Remove the logo (if desired)

If desired you can remove the logo by opening the cover image editor and toggling off "Show logo" near the bottom. Select "Save."

Adjust the color font scheme

To adjust the font color scheme, click on the "Cover Image" button. Then select "Dark" or "Light" in the top right corner of the editor.

4. Add content to your proposal

Edit proposal name

Edit the proposal name by clicking into the text box and typing.

Q. Can I change the Client name and my name?

A: Absolutely. However, these need to be changed elsewhere in your app. To change the client name, save your proposal then change the company name in the Client Overview tab. To change your name, save your proposal then go to your account settings and make the appropriate adjustments. If you update the name in the client’s info or your account settings, the form will update automatically to reflect the change.

After this, the content is organized into blocks.

Content options for your proposal

  • Text blocks are used to share information about you or your work with the client.

  • File attachments can be used to attach any file type, with a size limit of 50mb.

  • Images can include captions (“Image with caption”), or stand alone (“Image centered”).

  • Deliverables and timelines show the work you’re offering the client, along with a timeline and cost for that work. You can include multiple deliverables blocks; the client will be asked to choose one when signing the proposal.

  • Contract terms are legally-binding terms that establish payment expectations.

You can edit and delete existing blocks. You can also add new blocks, and you can rearrange the blocks on the page.

To edit an existing block click into the text then make your edits. To delete a block, select the trash can icon that appears when you click into the block. You can move a block up or down on the page by clicking the up and down arrows, which will also appear when you click into the block.

Once the text is complete for that block, simply click out of the block to move on.

To add a new block click any "+ Insert block" button.

5. Tips for writing the "Your Needs" block

This section provides a short overview of the client's company (who are they and what do they do) as well as the problems and objectives at hand.

How to define a client problem

Identify the problem's the client is having, how long the problem has existed, and the negative ramifications of the problem.

💡 PRO TIP: Transform the problems into measurable variables so that you can offer quantifiable solutions.

  • For example, a web designer might state, "Over the past 8 months, SDI has seen only a 1.5% web conversion rate and has also experienced an increase in bounce rate from 60% to 75%. Combined, these two problems have contributed to a 10% decrease in the company's growth rate during the past calendar year."

How to define a client objective

This is the client's goal for your project. What is the impact that your services will have on their problem, and what is the intended outcome of this solution.

  • Carrying on with the previous example, an objective might state, "Sustainable Solutions, Inc. is looking to revamp their website design to increase their web conversion rate and decrease their bounce rate, ultimately reversing the direction of their growth rate to positive outcomes."

6. Tips for writing the "My Solution" block

This is the heart of the proposal; showing your client that you can solve their problem. This section should include:

  • Solutions to each problem and the reasoning behind your methods

  • The (quantifiable) benefits of each solution

7. Add Deliverables and Timelines

Keep it clear, stay paid

Scope creep is an all too common problem for freelancers, particularly when working with relatively inexperienced small businesses. The good news is that it is totally preventable when you set clear objectives and expectations. Deliverables make this possible.

The deliverables and timeline block is the core of your proposal. This is where you’ll share what you can offer the client and the price you’ll charge for that work. Within the deliverable block, you can add one or more specific deliverables you’ll provide the client.

What is a deliverable?

A deliverable is an item of work you complete—it's a tangible thing that can be "delivered" to the client (blog, landing page, website, logo, etc.).

Deliverables = The items you complete.

Think finished product when you think deliverable.

Deliverables are eventually organized into projects. Once the client signs the contract, a new project will automatically be created for you in Hectic, with each deliverable and deadline included.

How to add deliverables to your proposal

To add a deliverable to the proposal, click into the Deliverable text box. Click several times until the deliverable editor appears.

Enter the Deliverable name, Description (be very specific here to avoid scope creep), and the Delivery date for this particular deliverable.

To add a new deliverable to this deliverable block, click the blue "+ Add Deliverable" link. Then repeat the process above.

How to set a rate for a deliverable or group of deliverables.

To set a rate for a deliverable click into the "$0/hr" box. Here you'll be able to choose an hourly rate, a set price for the whole project (or group of deliverables if you are doing multiple deliverable blocks), or a recurring retainer fee. The fee you choose will automatically populate in the invoice section of the client details, making it easy and painless to bill for your work.

How to create multi-select deliverable packages

You can also add multiple deliverables blocks to the proposal. If you choose to add multiple options, the client will be asked to choose one when signing. You can use this to offer package options, like a basic package and a VIP package with additional support or features.

To create another deliverable block, simply click the "+ Insert content" link. Then select the "Deliverables and timelines" block.

Title the new block. Then add deliverables to this block. Don't forget to set your rate in the top corner of the content block.

To configure whether the client will be able to select multiple packages vs choose only a single package, click on the text below the "Select this option" toggle.

Notice that you only need to do this change to one deliverable and it will apply to all deliverable text boxes.

8. Setting contract and payment terms

Adding terms to your contract is optional, but recommended. These terms are legally binding when signed, which helps protect you in case of non-payment or late payment from the client. It also sets clear expectations, so there’s no confusion for either you or the client.

If you choose to add this block, you’ll be able to set a deadline for payment (for example, “7 days after invoicing”), a payment schedule, late fees, and a deposit amount.

You can add additional legal language (including contract effective dates, rights to work, and more) by toggling the Include contract terms option to "on".

Note: The contract template provided by Hectic was drafted by a professional, however, it is not a substitute for legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this contract template or your finished contract as it relates to your specific business, please contact a licensed attorney.

If you’d like to include a contract terms section, but would prefer full control over the language included, use the “Convert terms to editable text” button.

9. Sending your proposal to a client

Before you send the proposal to your client, make sure to sign it. You can do this right in the editor, using the “Sign” button in the signatures section.

Once you’ve signed, it’s ready to send! Use the Send button in the top right corner to email a link to the contract to your potential client.

You’ll be asked to finalize the proposal before you send it; click the Finalize button if it’s ready to go.

You can choose to copy a link to send to the client manually, or send it through a link, or through Hectic email.

If you send through Hectic email, make sure you have set the correct default contact for the client, because their email will populate automatically. If not, you’ll need to add a new client contact in order to send the contract.

The subject line and message in the Hectic email is fully editable; just click to edit. Then hit send to share your proposal with the client!

10. Comments and edits on proposals

Ideally, your client will sign the contract right away. However, some clients will have specific needs, and may ask for a proposal to be amended before they sign. If so, they can leave a comment on the proposal directly. When this happens, you’ll get an email notification with the comment they added.

In order to make changes to the proposal, you’ll need to unlock it. You can use the Edit proposal button at the top of the page to make it editable.

11. Turn a proposal into a contract

Once the proposal has been signed by you and the client, congratulations: it’s a contract! From there, open the proposal in the client’s Proposals tab, then use the three dots button to access the Create project button.

A signed contract means it’s time for you to get to work, so you can deliver a high-quality, on-time project to the client.

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