New Media Capstone, Topic Posts

Proposals: Popping the Question (in Business)

Business proposals don't have to be as stressful as wedding proposals.

Business proposals don't have to be as stressful as wedding proposals.

Proposals are paramount to success as a freelancer.

Applying for a job is a pretty straightforward process that goes a bit like this:

  1. Fill out an application
  2. Nail the interview
  3. Get hired (hopefully)

This is standard protocol in anyone’s career search – that is unless you’re freelancing. The entire process of applying for a job is flipped on its head when you are looking to pursue a career in freelance media work. In a case such as this, there is an entirely different way of approaching a potential employer; thus, potential freelancers should know how to put together a killer proposal.

Proposals Defined

A simple definition for “business proposal” can be found on, which defines it as “…a written document sent to a prospective client in order to obtain a specific job.” In essence, a business proposal is a job interview on paper (or in this digital day and age, on a PDF). The best part about a business proposal is you get to think every answer through in advance, versus answer the questions of a potential employer on the spot. Moreover, you are able to formulate your own questions in a proposal. Sounds like a sweet deal, right?

Just because you know what a business proposal is, however, does not make you a shoe-in for a freelancing position. There is a standard set of procedures that take place within a proposal. This post will break down every facet of business proposals, starting with the simplest step…



The Cover: Your First Impression

The first page of a proposal is essentially what you decide to wear to an interview. This is your first impression, so you do not want to mess it up. A proper cover conveys your company title, as well as a logo if you are feeling fancy. Also on the cover is the name of the company you intend to work for and your contact info.


The Problem Statement: Show you did your homework

The problem statement of your proposal is pretty self-explanatory. Here, you describe the problems at hand, why they need to be solved, and the limitations you will work against. Obviously, you will want to laser-focus this section to just the problem you plan to solve rather than every problem the company currently has. You want to look like a professional, not a know-it-all.


Objectives, Strategies, and Approach: How will you solve the problem?

Here is where you get to show what you know. After writing an effective problem statement, you will want to explain how you plan to solve said problems. Additionally, you want to show why you are the right person for the job. Be as detailed as possible when elaborating on your approach to the project. You want your potential employer to think, “wow, why didn’t I think of that?”


Schedule and Budget: How long will this take? More importantly, how much will it cost?

Here is where things really get tricky. Your schedule must be as detailed as possible. You will not want to leave any holes in your game plan and risk your employer becoming concerned about the integrity of the project. In addition, you will need to be fair and specific about your pricing. Estimate the cost of the entire project, thinking about how much you want to take home at the end of the day. Again, be reasonable here – you never want to look greedy.


Conclusion: Bring it on home

Here you can be as creative as you want. List your team, your background, and anything else you feel necessary. Provide your employer with a lasting impression – leave them confident in your skills. Reiterate contact information, because they will need to know how to get in touch with you when they inevitably hire you.

A proposal is your recipe for success – your lasting impression on an employer. If you follow the directions listed above, you are sure to create a killer proposal. If you wish to see examples of proposals I have put together for my own clients, be sure to check out this page.


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