The project proposal template that will help you win your next design job

July 23, 2021 · 8 min read

Got your eye on a new freelance client project? Or perhaps you're proposing a new project for the company you work for? Whether you’re working on a marketing, branding, social media, or design project, you'll need a solid project proposal to win that new client or get buy-in from company stakeholders.

Using a project proposal template to create your design proposal will ensure you include all necessary project details. We'll walk you through, step by step, how to write a successful project proposal that will win your next bid.


What is a project proposal?

A project proposal states precisely how you’ll complete a creative project, including the project scope, deliverables, timeline, pricing, and any other details necessary to help the client understand the project’s moving pieces. It also provides information about why you’re the right marketer, strategist, or designer for the job in terms of the client’s needs and goals. 

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Just like you wouldn’t propose to a person on the first date, you wouldn’t create and deliver a project proposal until you’ve made sure the client is a good fit for your services.  

Have a conversation (or two) about their design project needs, goals, and expected outcomes. Ask about the project budget if that's important to know before building and sending over the proposal.

No one wants an unsolicited proposal, so once you’ve determined the client is a good fit, let them know that you will send over a proposal for them to review. An effective design proposal is a summary of what you talked about on your call with additional details such as what deliverables you’ll provide, the timeline for the proposed project, and how much you’ll charge.


Why is a project proposal important?

Project proposals enable prospective clients to see how you can help them achieve their project goals. The proposal also helps you get buy-in from any decision-makers on the team, especially those you’ve not spoken with directly, by giving you the opportunity to explain the specific details of the new project and give some insight into what it’s like to work with you.

Sometimes companies will put out a request for proposals (RFP) to gather bids from other designers or firms. This opens up a “competition” against other agencies or individuals for the same project. In this case, your proposal is essential as it shows the prospective client why you are the best fit for the job.


How to write a project proposal

There are many types of proposals and proposal formats out there, but we’re going to dig deeper into proposals for design or branding projects. Let's talk about how to write a design proposal that will help you win your next project.

1. Basic information

Start by providing some basic information at the top of the proposal or on a separate cover page. Include the name of your business, the business or client for which you're creating the proposal, the date, and your contact information.

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2. Project overview

The project overview should summarize the project and how you’ll help the client achieve their project goals. This is similar to an executive summary in a business plan — its goal is to clarify how you can help.

While you don't want to include too many details (like deliverables or timeline — you’ll get to that later), go beyond just the basics to show your understanding of the project.

For example, instead of writing: 

"I will design a new logo for your business."

Try something like:

"Your business needs to represent its mission through the visual elements of your branding, and your long-term goal is to become a recognizable brand in the skincare industry. You need a memorable logo that resonates with your target audience and communicates your dedication to eco-friendly beauty. I'm going to help you stand out in your industry and become a more recognizable brand by creating a beautiful logo that communicates your company's vision."

The first version doesn't quite convey the value that you're providing. It also doesn't include any specific details that show the prospect you understand their needs and goals. The second version demonstrates you're listening to the client and are ready to help them achieve their project and business goals.

Depending on the project, you may want to include a problem statement or summary of design challenges in this section. This is ideal for strategy or consulting proposals as you will be helping the client solve a very specific problem. It's important to outline the issue early in the proposal to show the prospect that you understand what's at stake with the project. 

Here's an example:

"Company X is experiencing a drastic decrease in engagement across marketing channels, which corresponds to a decrease in sales. This project will help reverse those results and achieve your annual revenue goals."

3. Why me?

The "why me?" section of the proposal is one of the hardest to write, yet it's also one of the most important. You should always assume that the prospect is considering other agencies or individuals for the same project. In this section, communicate why you are the best person for this job.

Include any relevant experience and speak honestly about why you're excited to work on the project. Are you passionate about the industry? Why are you excited about the client's products? Do your values align with the client? These are all excellent starting points for crafting this section.

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4. Project scope

The project scope (or project charter) is the section where you will provide specific project plan details, such as the project timeline, goals, deliverables, and pricing. Here is where you get into the nitty-gritty details of project planning.

Include any details that are important to understanding the project lifecycle, such as milestones you will achieve along the way, checkpoints during which you’ll need approvals from the client, and which team members are responsible for each part of the project. 

(If you’re looking to hire additional creatives to work on specific aspects of a project, be sure to check out NYC Creative Council.)

5. Terms and conditions

This section is essential as it sets expectations around payments, intellectual property, and other legalities. It’s critical to provide this information in your proposal so that the client knows when to expect the contract and provide any changes before the project starts.

In this section, discuss payment terms such as when and how you will be paid. Are they paying in full for the project upfront? Do they owe you a 50% deposit in the beginning and the rest when the project is complete? Also, include how you accept payment and what the penalty is for paying late.

You may also use this section to set boundaries around your time. For instance, give details on how many revisions are included in the project price. Include how and when you will provide support. Will you only answer questions through email, or can you jump on a call? What are your workdays and business hours when the client can contact you?

What's next?

At the end of the proposal, make clear how the client can work with you. What steps do they take after they've read the proposal and made their decision? Here's an example of what that might look like: 

  • Sign this proposal.

  • Make a 50% deposit through PayPal.

  • I’ll send over our contract—please sign.

  • Schedule an onboarding call.

  • Let’s get started!

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Design project proposal template

Ready to create a proposal to win your next design project? Here’s a project proposal outline you can use:

 

Prepared for [Name of Company] by [Name of Agency/Freelancer]

​​​​​Date Submitted: [Date]

 

Project overview

[In this section, summarize what the project is and how you can provide value in the process.]

 

Why me?

[Here is where you will provide details on why you are the best fit for this project and how you will help the client achieve their goals.]

 

Project Scope

[Provide all the project details here, including (but not limited to) the information below.]

 

Timeline

[Provide a roadmap for when each section of the project will be completed.]

 

Deliverables

[Make a list of all the deliverables that the client will receive throughout the project.]

 

Pricing

[Detail your pricing for the project here, making sure to include rates for every service or deliverable provided.]

 

Terms & conditions

[Include a list of terms and conditions that must be met if the client will work with you.]

 

What’s next?

[Provide clear details on what next steps the client needs to take to move forward with the proposal and get this project started.]



Adjust this simple project proposal template to include any other pertinent or requested information. For example, for a web design proposal, you might include links to websites you've designed or case studies from previous projects.

Want to see what this looks like in real life? Here’s a great branding project proposal sample and a web design sample proposal that both include the elements we've discussed.

Once you create a project proposal template specific to your needs, keep this document in your brand hub so you can re-use it for new clients. Check out Air’s brand hub resources for additional templates you can use for your business.

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