Old school typewriter with piece of paper fed into it, reading Job Application

How to Write a Proposal for a Freelance Writing Job

This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you purchase through links I provide. Read the full disclosure.

Many writers these days say that they can write but have no idea how they should go about getting people to hire them. Finding your first client can be the hardest part when getting started as a freelance writer. I know, I’ve been there. I’ve been a freelance writer for over 15 years now and have written thousands of articles, press releases, reviews, blog posts, web pages, and more for clients. But it took me about six months to get my first client. And maybe another six after that to get my second.

It was a bit harder to find new clients back then. Elance had just started (shout out to those who remember Elance!), so that made things a little easier, but I didn’t take advantage of the simple art of proposal writing. Even today, with numerous job boards and freelancing sites – like Upwork, PeoplePerHour, or Fiverr – that make it easy to find the right clients, the first thing you need is a good proposal.

I understand that writing any kind of proposal isn’t easy and that goes double if you don’t really know where you should start. That’s OK though because I’m going to give you some tips on just how you can write a job proposal to get your first freelance writing job. Your first step is to be well aware of what a proposal is and what you can hope to accomplish with one.

What Is a Proposal?

In order to understand what a proposal is, you must understand its objectives. Basically, a proposal is a document describing an idea, a plan, or a project. Your goal in writing a proposal is usually to get somebody to approve your idea or to actually provide funding for it. As a freelance writer, your goal will be to get an individual or an organization to hire you and pay you for your writing skills.

Who Is It For?

Consider who will be reading your proposal before you begin writing it. It may be necessary to include different information or to present your argument in a particular way, depending on your audience. Be sure to consider the reader’s perspective as you write your proposal.

What to Include in Your Writing Job Proposal

When you write your proposal, it’s important to include the following information:

  • A proper introduction that gives the reader a concise overview of what your proposal is all about
  • A breakdown of possible problems the reader might have that you are able to solve with your writing skills
  • Clear steps on how you will solve these problems
  • The benefits of your writing and how hiring you will benefit the client
  • The cost of your writing skills
  • Your timeline for a writing project
  • The next step(s) your potential client should take to start the project

Try a Template That Showcases Your Talents

Remember, making an excellent first impression is everything and will help ensure the potential client won’t forget you when the time comes that they need your talents. If you need some inspiration or a starting point to write your first writing job proposal, you can check out some great templates from Salescamp. It’s the perfect place to start because it can ensure that your proposal looks professional and has the desired impact.

Young writer sitting at his desk writing on laptop while drinking coffee
Photo by Tony Schnagl

3 Steps to Being a Successful Freelance Writer

1. Put the Necessary Time and Effort In

The more you work at your craft, the more likely you are to get hired. But that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice life and sleep. Be smart about it. Put a set amount of hours in each day – on writing, as well as your marketing strategy. Freelance writing can be time-consuming and sometimes a little frustrating, especially in the beginning. Remember that it will take time to get your first client. Nothing happens overnight.

Build up a decent portfolio that you’re proud to present. Research the types of clients you ideally want to work for. Take the time to craft your writing proposal, as we’ve talked about. Possessing a strong work ethic is actually one of the most significant qualities that any writer can embrace. And it will help you get the high-paying clients you deserve.

2. Be Realistic

Yes, it’s true that freelance writing can be fun and quite rewarding, however, it also usually means putting in long hours, as well as dealing with bad cases of writer’s block and clients with fast-turnaround deadlines. Be grateful for the clients who love your work right off the bat, but also be prepared for the more high-maintenance, demanding ones too. There will be clients who end up sending work back for endless revisions or just outright rejecting it (even after you’ve done all of the requested revisions).

As you build up a steady client base, you can afford to be pickier when deciding who you work with. But in the beginning, take what you can get. The bad experiences can be even more educational than the good, so use them to your advantage.

3. Join a Writing Site

Signing yourself up on a writing website that lists writing jobs, and acts as a go-between, is one of the best and least stressful ways of getting started as a freelance writer and improving your writing skills. They also handle all of the financial details for a small percentage of what the client pays. This way, the clients are depositing the necessary funds for each job with the writing site prior to any writing being done, so you can be sure you’ll get paid as long as the client accepts what you write for them.

The sites will rank you from beginner to expert or one to five stars, for example. Once you reach the expert or four or five-star levels, you’ll find that you have a steady stream of writing jobs to choose from in your choice of genres. Jobs generally range from open orders to special team orders, invitation-only orders, or direct orders. I also recommend looking for rewriting jobs on these sites because they’re good practice for honing your writing skills.

How to Promote Yourself as a Freelance Writer

In order to promote yourself as a freelance writer and start getting a regular stream of work, once you’ve put together your professional portfolio, here are a few more steps you should take:

  1. Design an eye-catching website and start a newsletter
  2. Sign up on Medium
  3. Promote yourself on LinkedIn

How to Stand Out as a Freelance Writer

Having an online presence is just the beginning. But if you really want to be successful as a freelance writer, you need to stand out among all of the others out there. Here are a few hints for standing out:

Write a Winning Proposal to Land Your First Freelance Writing Job

I know you’re probably thinking “I’ve done a little writing but nobody really reads it.” And, that’s exactly what I thought a few years ago, too. If you put in the time, without expecting the magic to happen right away, and you stay dedicated, you can turn a new freelance writing gig into a long-term, fruitful career.

As with any new endeavor, stick with it don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Research your ideal clients, write professional proposals, and pitch the heck out of them! You’re bound to land one of them soon.

Leave a Comment