154: EP89: The Proposal Show

In today’s show I share my process for writing proposals and estimates and the tools I use to get the job done.

Episode 89: The Proposal Show

Mike Murphy Unplugged
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Show Notes Episode 89:

How do I write freelance proposals?
How do I organize the proposal template?
What questions do I ask clients?
What tools do I use?

  1. My process for creating a freelance project proposal
  2. The tools I use.
  3. Key terms & definitions
  4. What questions to ask
  5. The proposal template (organization)
  6. Tips & Red Flag Warnings

Future Shows to cover:
Pricing & Contracts/Invoices

Definitions & Key Terms :

Estimates are a ball-park figure of what it will cost the client for you to do the job.

Quotes are bottom line price of what you will do the job for. If a client accepts your quote, then that is the final price for the job.

Bids are competing with several other businesses all trying to get the same job. Bids are common in construction and trade jobs, etc.

Proposals are the complete package and a detailed document explaining the details of the project, what solutions you can offer, why you are best for the job and quotes and estimates and timelines for what it will take you to get the job done.

Proposal >: What does the client need? How are you going to get the job done and for how much? And what makes you the best person for the job?


Writing a proposal or estimate is an art form and just like everything in life, it takes time and experience to master it.

3 Questions modified from Gary Vee:

How are you judging me?
What do I need to do in order to meet your expectations and consider my role a success? This helps me know if I am the right guy for the job and tells them that I care about their project and understand what my role is.

What results are you looking for from this project?
You can never assume you know what the people really want or why they want to do the project even if it seems obvious.

What are your struggles or obstacles are in their business?
This will help you create better solutions if you can pull out the real issues. Are sales down? or are they not getting traffic to their website? or any number of things.

Keys to a good proposal:
Asking questions, listening for obvious and underlying cues and then offering a solution or course of action that you can deliver on because you are the best person for the job and this is what hiring me is going to cost you


Step 1:
Gather contact information and create master folder.

Tools Used:
Google Forms
Google Drive

Step 2:
Set up a 30–60 minute phone or Skype call or an in-person meeting and make it all about making a connection, identifying the what and whys of the project and listening to their explanation of the project and asking as many questions as possible.

Tools Used:
Google Calendar

Tip: Take good notes

Tip & Red Flag Warning:
Trust your gut and instincts.

If the prospective client only wants to know the price and does not have the patience or time to give you the necessary information to prepare a proposal or estimate, say thank you, but you are not the person. Walk away. It’s scary especially if you are strapped for money, but it is the right thing to do sometimes.


Tool I Use:
Google Docs.

Design Tip:
Nice Presentation and simplicity of a proposal are important. Try to keep everything easy to scan or glance over and break each major sections up so it is very clear to read.

Top of the proposal
I have the client name and information, project name and then I have prepared by: Mike Murphy and the date as and if there is a completion date that must be done by, put that up top. Prepare your proposals as a template so you can use over and over again.

Next Segment is Description & Project Scope:
Define the project and summarize everything.
Spell this out clearly.

This is what the project entails.
List goals of the project
List steps or tasks

Detail the Process
After the summary and scope, get very detailed and specific with steps and explaining what everything meant and why I think that would be the best option for them.

Define the steps in laymen’s terms so everyone is on the same page and it gives you an authority boost.

I listed the social media sites that would be best for them and provided examples of what types of content would help them achieve their goals and genuinely tried basically made a blueprint that was easy to follow and clearly showed I had their best interests in mind.


line items on the very last page

Break everything down into major tasks like website design and then put all the subtasks underneath.

Show much work is really involved
Pay attention to detail

At the bottom of all the line items, add up the totals and that is your fee to complete the job.

How long will this job take to complete?

How Can I Help You? (aka, I’m a Freelancer ;D)

or would you like to collaborate?

I create content and help people figure things out.

I make podcasts and videos that teach people how to make better content.

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My name is Mike Murphy, I’m a one man band and podcaster.
Learn. Create. Move Forward.
@mikeunplugged on Twitter or Instagram

Podcaster, Tutorial Maker & Problem Solver. I Help People Figure Things Out. Email: mike@mikemurphy.co Podcaster Support & Content Creator @Simplecast.