Do you have a sudden opportunity to work with a new client?
Has your potential client asked you for a client proposal or consultant proposal – leaving you scrambling to appear professional and capable?
A well-written consultant proposal template can give you a winning edge and money in your pocket, and you don’t need a fancy designer or years of experience to create one. In this article I’ll give you a DIY, Google doc-style consultant template you can use to seal the deal.
The first time I closed a freelance client for $1,000, it changed my life.
Here it was, a thousand bucks, given to me for something I had created all by myself, not as a paycheck. The idea that I could go out and get money when I needed to changed my perspectives on personal finance permanently.
Whether you're a young professional exploring a side hustle, or an established freelancer or entrepreneur ready to kick things up a notch, your ability to write a pitch in the form of a proposal can make you more money.
You can certainly use the consulting proposal template we'll be discussing in this post for offers that are under or over $1,000 in price. I find that $1,000 is a great benchmark; it’s a substantial amount of money, and your client needs reassurance and confidence that you’re going to deliver before they actually hand over that kind of coin to you.
Here's some good news: You don’t need a fancy logo, years of experience, or a big website. What you actually need is a single well-written document that shapes and manages the expectations of the decision-maker you’re pitching.
Before we talk about the 5 components you need in a sample consulting proposal, let’s get on the same page about the different types of services that consulting proposals are good for.
Types of Services That Consulting Proposals Are Good For
In most cases, consulting proposal templates or project cases are best for services: Offerings in which you exchange time and knowledge for money.
How should you package and position your services? Here are a few different tried-and-true approaches.
A project proposal is probably the most popular use of a proposal template. In this approach, you offer a flat price to complete a standalone body of work for your client, sometimes accompanied by a consultancy proposal sample.
Perhaps you build your client a new website, or you come in to a corporation, conduct an audit of a department, and report your findings back to decision makers.
In a project proposal, completion of the project itself is the main objective; as long as the project gets done well and on time, your client doesn't care about the nitty-gritty details. They don't want to think about it; that's the reason they're paying you!
This brings up a theme that will be in all of these proposal types: A focus on results.
When your client is focused on, say, your hourly rate (Which I don't recommend), they fixate on efficiency and are more likely to micromanage you.
By leading instead with more project-based pricing – "You will have X result for X dollars" – it's easier to stay high-level and keep your prospects focused on desire.
Block of sessions proposal
If you've ever purchased a package of 10 classes at yoga studio to save a few bucks, or a package of 5 massages to use over the next year at your discretion, you're purchasing a "block of sessions" services proposal.
In contrast to a project proposal, a block of services proposal *is* time-based, but incentivizes prospective clients to purchase several sessions with you at once. In most cases, having more time with your client leads to better results.
Example: Barry's Bootcamp is an upscale fitness studio. They have blocks of drop-in classes available for purchase; the larger a block you purchase, the more discounted the classes become.
In a retainer, you serve your client with a set amount of work and support each month until they cancel. We love retainer agreements because they create recurring revenue, helping us to get out of "feast or famine" mode.
A retainer model can also be combined with one of the previous models (Project proposal or block of sessions proposal). Perhaps your project needs to be refreshed or revisited every month, or you want to offer a block of sessions and have them expire at the end of the month.
Let's use our Barry's Bootcamp example one more time here. In addition to blocks of sessions, the studio also offers a recurring membership that gives you a set number of classes each month.
Notice how these classes are less expensive. That's because there is less flexibility here; if you don't use your classes, you lose them. The monthly recurring revenue helps a studio have more steady revenue.
"Brain On Tap" Proposal
In many cases, prospective clients don't need your help all the time. They need your expert eyes or insights for short periods of time here and there; offering to be available on "speed dial" is a valuable offer in itself.
Many coaches and consultants have built successful business simply by letting clients pay a monthly rate to ask them questions or get feedback. If you know a lot about a certain industry, brain on tap is a great way to monetize that expertise.
When pursuing brain on tap, be sure to set clear communication boundaries with regard to response time and availability.
Example Consulting Business Angle: Freelance Writer
Here's another consideration to keep in mind: You can probably create consulting proposals for several different pain points within your industry.
I own a marketing company that specializes in writing. Over the years, I’ve offered consulting services and collected consulting fees for all of the subcategories listed below.
As you skim through these, think about how your skill set could apply to several different client pain points as well.
Business owners and lifestyle entrepreneurs want the language of their website to feel like them. But they don’t quite have the same command of language that you do (Or they’re really rusty since they’re focused on other stuff); their zone of genius is in other areas. Business owners want to sound great; hiring a writer helps them achieve that goal.
Companies that have a long-game marketing strategy want to get in front of as many new interested people as possible.
Leads that come in for free through Google, Pinterest, or YouTube are some of the best leads a business can get, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is what makes content appear at the top of search results.
If a writer is good at blogs and knows your way around SEO, they can sell this opportunity to business owners.
Email gets a big return on investment, and 4 out of 5 businesses say email marketing is their number one priority for online marketing. Again, many business decision-makers are not writers, so the idea of this writing being off their plate sounds very nice.
If the words on a sales page get twice as many people to click, the person who wrote them literally doubled the company revenue. What other services get that kind of return?!
A copywriter knows how to persuade people via the written word, and can help businesses make more money. Notice how this is *different* than any of the previous subcategories mentioned, even though this service also involves writing.
Social Media Captions
Social media is practically a must-have for companies these days. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have become a huge digital footprint in our modern economy, so businesses and personal brands need their brand voice to come through in social media captions.
Get the idea? The quickest way to get paid is with consulting proposals because you can listen for exactly what your prospective clients want and then offer it to them on a silver platter.
A Quick Word on Proposal Pricing
I know you’re thinking about it, so let’s address the question on everyone’s mind: “What rate should I charge?” Charge what’s called your happy price.
In a 2014 article for Forbes, Michael Ellsworth discusses using a series of gut checks to find a price that feels worth your time and energy, motivating you to put yourself out there.
If you were to help a client solve a certain problem, what steps would you need to take to make that happen? Inventory all the steps. Then start asking yourself prices. Would $500 for that effort be worth your time? $600?
Go up incrementally and feel for the energetic shift from “Not worth my time” to “Yeah, I would do that.”
(And please don’t be cheeky and try to start at $10,000; obviously that’d be a happy price for a lot of us.
You’re looking for the price point in which your energy shifts from no to yes. This number rises over time with experience.)
Since the consultant proposal templates we’re discussing today are usually individualized pitches, and not bidding contests, you don’t need to worry about undercutting the competition.
Also know that your past experience or credibility markers can increase your prices. This is part of why I teach people how to pitch their own media opportunities.
Saying “I’ve written for Business Insider and Fast Company” lets me charge higher prices because there is a premium perception of my brand.
In summary: Find and charge your happy price.
Consultant Proposals: Post Outline
- Your Consultant Proposal Template: 5 Components
- Consultant Proposal Template Component #1: Overview And Potential
- Consultant Proposal Template Component #2: Responsibilities
- Consultant Proposal Template Component #3: Phases
- Consultant Proposal Template Component #4: Timeline
- Consultant Proposal Template Component #5: Overview And Acceptance
Your Consultant Proposal Template: 5 Components
If you know how to open and start writing in a Word doc or Google doc, you can create a $1,000+ proposal. You can even do it on your phone if you want!
Here’s the cover page for an old consultation proposal example of mine: a strategy package that included a 1,000-word SEO article, with revisions, for $1,250.
I know what you’re thinking: “Wow dude, that proposal is UGLY.” And you’re right! But it doesn’t matter, because I’ve put together a clear, customized proposal that outlines both the exact problems my prospective client has and my compelling solutions to those problems.
Your proposal needs five components, though some may be more built out than others depending on what you offer. Here's what they are.
Component No. 1: Overview and Potential
What outcomes and benefits will happen as a result of you and your client working together? And what will you be proposing in the subsequent pages of your proposal? Start by giving us a one-page summary and review. Here is the copy from one of my proposals that you can directly swipe if you want.
This proposal outlines scope, recommendations, proposed timeline and bid for an SEO content marketing package with [COMPANY NAME]. [NAME] sits at the cusp of tremendous opportunity in capturing market share through top-of-funnel, organic marketing approaches. SEO-optimized written content that communicates the quality of the [NAME] brand experience can cement the brand’s position for dominance in the [NAME].
I propose a 20-day ‘small batch’ package that partners with [NAME] to produce a single piece of SEO-optimized blog content. This includes:
>> A 30-minute strategy call to present proposed SEO content package and potential multimedia supplements (video sources, design options for imagery)
>> Creation and delivery of a 1,000-word blog post on instructive content
>> External research and keyword recommendations for blog post (See attached portfolio for past writing samples.)
>> Availability for up to 45 minutes of interdepartmental touch-base calls as needed
>>Publication recommendations and next steps
The opening paragraph gets your prospective client excited. Then a series of bullets and proposed timeframe help to create clarity right away. I include calls and a capped amount of support in most of my packages; you can adjust the line items for whatever it is you’re offering.
Component #2: Responsibilities
Even if you’ll be doing everything, stating expectations in writing puts the receiving party at ease.
Also, doing this step is key for your own sanity; your happy price may shift when you actually write down all the different steps you’ll be responsible for. Will you need access to any accounts or past files in order to complete the job? List all the components here so everyone has a good sense of how to move forward.
Here were mine.
>> Provide schedule availability for onboarding call
>> Support on design needs for completed image and video assets from creative team (Or provide design reimbursement for subcontractor)
>> Publish and distribute completed SEO campaign
>> Measure initial engagement analytics
>> Complete initial keyword research
>> Schedule and complete initial 30-minute strategy call with [COMPANY]
>> Produce draft of blog piece for discussion and revision recommendations
>> Submit design brief and recommendations to company’s creative team or subcontractor for supplemental image and video content
>> Deliver final draft of 1,000-word blog article
Component #3: Phases
This is the meat of your proposal in which you present the steps you will take and the order you will take them in to get your client awesome results. Outline the distinct phases of your project here.
Even if the task at hand is something that can be completed in a week or two, identify the different phases that your project will require. Try to keep this “summary process” to five phases or less.
An important component of any winning proposal is that it illustrates the steps that will take place and in what order to achieve the desired results. For example, if you were going to write or refresh the copy for someone’s website, your phases might be to:
- Do an initial strategy call with your client,
- Do a few phone interviews with your client’s clients to hear how they talk about their pain points and how working with your client’s business has helped them,
- Deliver a draft of the new copy, and
- Have a final call to discuss any requested edits and upload the copy to a website.
Component #4: Timeline
The previous step is often mentally taxing since you are working through logic. Luckily, this next timeline step is often the exact information you just stated in your process step, but with specific timing checkpoints on your different line items.
If you outline your process phases first, your timeline will already be 75% done. Here’s how a recent timeline of mine shook out:
>> Schedule and complete initial 30-minute strategy call
>> Identify keyword elements and instructive post topic
>> Introduce Nick to pre-existing content resources (1:1 video, etc)
>> Produce draft of blog piece for discussion and revision recommendations
>> Submit design brief and recommendations to creative team for supplemental image and video content
>> Receive completed image and video assets from creative team
>> Deliver second draft of 1,000-word blog article and discussion
>> Publish and distribute completed SEO campaign
>> Measure initial engagement analytics
>> Hold whitespace window for any post-publication edits
>> Discuss retainer options for future content packages
Pro tip: Look again at that last bullet. I seed the idea of the client and I working together regularly from the very start because recurring revenue makes everything easier in business.
Also know that you’re doing a timeline for the client, but you’re also doing it for yourself. There’s nothing worse than a client not following through on their deliverables; if you get into a situation where your client is not cooperating, bring back up the agreed-upon proposal as a receipt to help reset expectations.
Component #5: Overview And Acceptance
Summarize what you’ve presented and restate the outcomes and benefits of the package. Then present your proposed price.
I always phrase my price as a “package bid”, even if there isn’t anyone else bidding for this person’s business; this language gives your prospect feelings of power and choice around their decision.
To save yourself some time, copy the bullets you created for step one. Here is the language of my closing page.
Summary and Acceptance
The package outlined above includes:
A 30-minute strategy call to present proposed SEO content package and potential multimedia supplements (video sources, design options for imagery)
Creation and delivery of 1,000-word blog post on instructive content
External research and keyword recommendations for blog post
Availability for interdepartmental touch-base calls as needed
Publication recommendations and next steps
To be completed within 20 business days.
Package bid: $XXXXX
Over time, your proposal process will sharpen and improve. The first time I put together a proposal in this way, it took me a couple of hours to iron everything out. But when I got that yes, and the money arrived in my bank account, it empowered me tremendously.
So now it’s your turn! Whether you’re looking to explore a side hustle or want to take your freelancing skills to the next level, consulting proposals will help you do it.
Get in touch with some decision-makers, follow the steps above, and you’ll be well on your way to making a grand or more for your next freelancing pursuit. 🙌🏽
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