What Should be Included in a Project or Service Proposal

Business Tips + Tools

April 17, 2023

There are a number of things you’ll want to include in a client proposal. Think of it as a very rough first draft of what will ultimately become your working contract

As a freelancer or solopreneur, sending a proposal to a potential client is an essential part of the process. A proposal serves as a preliminary draft of the contract, and it’s where you begin negotiations on all aspects of the project or service working agreement. A well-crafted proposal can help you win over a new client, secure work, and build your reputation as a professional.

So, what belongs in a proposal? Let’s take a closer look.

Customized introduction

The introduction of your proposal is where you get the client’s attention and make a lasting impression. Start by addressing the client by name and mentioning their specific project or service needs. Show that you’ve done your research and understand their business, industry, and goals.

It’s a good time to establish some boundaries by laying out a sense of how you work. You’ll get much more specific and in-depth in your contract that follows, but now is a good time to set the tone of your interactions.

In this section, you can also include a brief overview of your business and your experience in the industry. Use this opportunity to highlight your skills and expertise and establish your credibility as a professional.

An Explanation of the Timeline

When working with a client, it’s important to establish a clear timeline for the project or service. Be specific about when the client can expect the first draft, the first round of edits, and the final approval. This will give them a realistic idea of when the work will be completed and help manage their expectations.

You’ll also want to include details about your process and how you plan to complete the project or service. This will give the client an idea of what to expect and help them understand the value you bring to the table.

The Names, Prices, and Descriptions of What’s Included in Any Packages You Recommend for Them

Offering different packages to clients is a great way to showcase your services and provide options that cater to different needs and budgets. Be clear about what’s included in each package, including the services you’ll provide, the timeline, and the price. This will help the client make an informed decision and choose the package that’s right for them.

Include any add-on services here that clients can choose from to enhance their package. Showcase your flexibility and willingness to work with clients to create a customized solution that meets their unique needs.

A Testimonial or Two from Former Clients

Including testimonials from former clients in your proposal is a powerful way to build trust and credibility with potential clients. Choose testimonials that highlight your skills, work quality, and professionalism. This will give the potential client confidence in your abilities and help them make a decision to work with you.

Include links to your portfolio or case studies that showcase your work and demonstrate your experience in the industry.

An Explanation of What’s Next

After the client accepts the proposal, it’s important to keep them informed about the next steps in the process. This should include sending a contract and invoice for the deposit, scheduling a kickoff call, and setting up a project management system to keep everyone on the same page.

Be as clear as you can about the next steps and keep the client informed throughout the process. 

Helpful tools

Now that you know what to include in your proposal, how do you actually do it? Lucky for the freelancers of the world, there’s a whole niche of apps designed around managing the entire customer relationship, aptly called Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Let’s take a closer look at three popular softwares that do just that.


Dubsado is a CRM that offers a massive amount of features and customization for freelancers and solopreneurs, including proposal templates. With Dubsado, you can customize your proposal with your branding and add your own content. You can also include a contract and invoice for the deposit in the proposal, making it easy for the client to sign and pay in one step (hot tip—Virtualcopia’s sites at the Breakthrough level on up already have this built-in).

One of the unique features of Dubsado is the ability to create custom workflows for each client. This allows you to automate the proposal process, from sending the proposal to following up with the client, and even sending reminders for payments and deadlines.

Dubsado also offers a client portal where clients can log in and view their proposals, contracts, and invoices. This can help streamline communication and keep all project-related documents in one place.

Overall, Dubsado is a great option for freelancers and solopreneurs who want to streamline their proposal process and automate their workflow.


HoneyBook is another popular CRM that offers proposal templates and a variety of other features for freelancers and solopreneurs. With HoneyBook, you can customize your proposal with your branding and add your own content, just like with Dubsado.

They also offer the ability to create custom packages and add-ons, making it easy to offer different options to clients. Again, like Dubsado, you can include a contract and invoice for the deposit in the proposal, streamlining the process for the client.

One of the unique features of HoneyBook is the ability to set up payment plans for clients. This can be especially helpful for clients who may not have the budget to pay the full amount upfront. You can set up automated payments and reminders to ensure that you receive payment on time.

HoneyBook also offers a variety of other features, including project management tools, lead capture forms, and client management tools. You can get 20% off your first year of Honeybook with our link.

Canva Templates

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, Canva offers a variety of proposal templates that you can customize to fit your brand and content. Canva is a graphic design tool that’s easy to use, even if you don’t have any design experience.

With Canva, you can choose from a variety of proposal templates and customize them with your own content, images, and branding. While Canva doesn’t offer the automation features of Dubsado and HoneyBook, it can be a great option for freelancers and solopreneurs who want a simple, easy-to-use solution.

In conclusion

Sending a proposal to a potential client is an essential part of the process for freelancers and solopreneurs. By including a brief introduction, an explanation of the timeline, the names, prices, and descriptions of what’s included in any packages, a testimonial or two from former clients, and an explanation of what’s next, you can create a professional and effective proposal that will help you win new business.

If you’re looking for a CRM to help streamline your proposal process and automate your workflow, Dubsado and HoneyBook are great options. For a more budget-friendly solution, Canva templates can be a great option as well. No matter which solution you choose, creating a professional and effective proposal is essential to your success as a freelancer or solopreneur.

Matt Ogden

Matthew Ogden is a Minneapolis-based copywriter and content writer and editor. He’s written for national retailers and lobster roll companies alike. When not writing he can be found nose deep in a book, writing and performing music, or nerding out about guitar tone.

P.S. This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services that we would use ourselves—we’re not just in it for the money.

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