This tutorial will show you how to get started in Hectic by creating your first client proposal.

  • If you'd like to create an invoice first instead, click here.

  • If you'd like to create a project first, click here.

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 forms

Hectic™ makes the proposal process easy and enjoyable. We also 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. Proposal draft

  2. Customize your proposal with your brand elements

  3. Add content to your proposal

  4. Add deliverables and timelines

  5. Setting contract and payment terms

  6. Sending the proposal

  7. Comments and edits

  8. Turn a proposal into a contract

1. Proposal draft

Select the client that you want to send a proposal to or create a client. Once you have chosen the client or prospect that you are writing your proposal for, choose the "Proposals" tab of the client file.

Since you're reading this article, this is probably your first proposal (also, hi! Welcome. We're glad you're here). Choose "Fresh start" to create your first proposal. When you level up to the pro tier, you'll be able to save proposals that you use over and over again as templates for future use.

2. Customize your proposal with your brand elements

When you create your first proposal, it automatically includes:
1) Default header: in the below example that is the header "Proposal for Services"
2) Client's name: "Darryl Kelly Photography" (populated from the client file you created)
3) Your name: "Michelle Lee" (populated from your legal name in your account settings)

Customize the style of any proposal in the following ways:

  • Custom font

  • Custom cover image (or no image)

  • Include your logo (or not)

  • Dark or light color schemes

Adjust font settings

Customize your font styles (both heading and text) by clicking on "@ Font settings." 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 image

Add a stock image, your own image file, or remove the cover image. Begin by clicking "Cover image" or using the edit pencil icon in the top right of the cover image itself. Search for a stock image or upload your own. If you prefer no image, choose "No image."

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 Hectic.

Toggle your logo on or off (if desired)

Remove the logo by opening the cover image editor and toggling "Show logo" near the bottom.

Dark or light color schemes

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

3. Add content to your proposal

Edit any of the text by clicking into it's text box.

Some common blocks will be created in your proposal by default. They are all fully editable. Other types of content blocks that can be added are:

Text block for static text information about you or your client.
File attachments used to attach any file type, with a size limit of 50mb.
Image with caption or Image centered
Deliverable packages for the projects and deliverables you will complete for your client. Once your proposal is signed, the selected package will be added to project management.

Edit, delete, or move default blocks by clicking them. Once you've clicked the block, you can edit the text. Use the arrows on the left to move the block up and down or the trash can icon to delete.

To add a content block, hover over the area where you'd like to add a content block and click "Insert block."

Pro tips for client needs and proposed solutions:

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

💡 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."

Show your client that you can solve their problem. Offer solutions to each problem and the reasoning behind your methods as well as the quantifiable benefits of each solution.

4. Add deliverables and timelines

Within the deliverable packages you can add one or more projects with specific deliverables that you’ll provide the client. Once the contract is signed, this project and deliverable will automatically be created in your client file. (You can adjust that feature in your account settings > preferences if you do not want to auto create projects.)

To add a deliverable, hover over where you'd like to add the block and select "Insert block" and choose "+ Start from scratch" or use your deliverable package templates (if you are on the pro tier). A block with the default heading "Deliverables & Timeline" will be created. Update that header to the project name.

Click "Set up fees" to set clear expectations up front for what it costs for your services. Choose hourly, fixed price, or retainer. Be as specific as possible with hour estimates to be clear in your communication and avoid scope creep.

Set a fixed due date for your project completion or opt to set a due date at a set amount of time after the proposal has been signed.

Scope creep is an all too common problem for freelancers. The good news is that it is totally preventable when you set clear objectives and expectations.

Create multi-select deliverable packages

Give your clients the option to choose one package, several options, or all options by adding multiple deliverables. Toggle this setting by clicking the blue text under the deliverable block.

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


5. 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.

Hover over where you'd like to include your terms and choose insert block. Choose "Contract terms." These terms will auto-populate if you have previously set up terms in your client file. To edit the terms, click in the box. Choose your payment terms. You can opt to include legal terms as well.

Note: The contract template provided by Hectic was drafted by a lawyer for Delaware law, 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 your own lawyer.

If you’d like to include a contract terms section, but would prefer full control over the language included, you can choose to convert the terms to editable text.


6. Sending your proposal

Sign your proposal by clicking in your box under "Signatures." You can type or draw your signature. You can also add a title under your signature.

Send your proposal by using the "Share" button in the top right corner. You’ll be asked to finalize the proposal before you send it. Use this as an opportunity to make sure you are satisfied with the entire proposal, then click the "Finalize" button.

You can choose to send your proposal from a Hectic email (replies go to your account email), copy a link to send to the client manually, or print or download a PDF.

If you send through Hectic email, use the drop down box in the "To" field to choose or create a new contact. The subject line and message in the Hectic email is fully editable; just click to edit. Your proposal will also be available in your Client Portal.


7. Comments and edits

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. This is what your client sees when you send your proposal.

If your client leaves a comment, you will receive an email notification as well as a notification in your homebase. In order to make changes to the proposal, you’ll need to unlock it by choosing "Edit proposal."

8. Turn a proposal into a contract

Once the proposal has been signed by you and the client, congratulations: it’s a contract! You will receive a notification in your Hectic account. Invoices will automatically generate for your review (they have not been sent to your client until you review and send) per your proposal terms. You can update that in your account settings > preferences > proposals.

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. High five!

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