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Graphic Design Business 101: Proposal Sending. Templates. Negotiating.

Design Business 101, Finding Clients, Pricing & Services | 0 comments

Getting interested prospects to say YES to your proposal or package deal is not a walk in the park. There are challenges that you need to be aware of and know how to overcome them.

Why most freelancers fail:

Client jobs are the life-blood of any freelance business. But most freelancers have never learned these 3 critical things:

  • Where to look for actual, quality clients and job leads.
  • How to pitch your services in a way that almost guarantees you a win.
  • How to convert your wishy-washy freelancing into a lucrative business.

Remember, your client is the king. So, you must understand that your point of focus should be serving your clients as opposed to your focus is on selling your service. 

Having a client-oriented vision wins you more deals. 

Your service comes into play only WHEN your client has problems, wants and needs which you and your abilities can help solve or fix.

Here are 5 simple (and proven) steps to go from proposal submission to generating the sale and working to improve your customers’ life and business.

Step 1: Craft a 100% custom proposal

Focus your solutions on their most significant needs, wants and desires. But to do this,  you need to listen, listen, listen to your customers.  Listening lets you understand what their real challenges are, which means that you’ll be able to solve them. 

Step 2. Keep a record system 

Keep all common services and descriptions in a document or system for easy retrieval and proposal building. Creating a simple system using Google drive folders and file management is a great starting point.

Step 3. Create a proposal framework/template

Create a proposal framework/template that is easily customized to win the client and seal the deal. You can buy or find ready-made templates online created by other graphic design freelancers or digital marketing companies. Ideally, create your own.

The first option is more comfortable as you won’t have to spend days trying to figure out what works and try to reinvent the wheel. Simply fill in the blanks and customize the template to fit your particular business, your offer, the client’s needs, and the delivery promise.  Ask yourself; “What makes my proposal different from every other freelance graphic designer?”

Your proposal says a lot about you and could be the one document that convinces a prospect that you’re the one that they want to work with. An aesthetically appealing (yet functional) layout showcases your work, so make it count. This means that whatever you do, make the customer realize that whatever you’re charging them is worth it and that they’ll see results from your work. 

It’s essential to get a work contract in place before you begin any work. Here’s an example that you can use; there are a lot of them freely available online:

An easy way of showing your proposals to prospects is by using Google Slides (similar to Powerpoint). The advantage is that prospects won’t have to scroll to read through it but use their keyboard, and more importantly, it looks better from a design standpoint compared to the standard Word document (or Google Docs). 

Step 4. Build a proposal price based on the value of client goals, not hours. 

Does it matter if I charge by the hour or by the project?

Well, when I first started freelancing, I automatically assumed that I would keep track of my time and then send an invoice with my time and hourly rate. My rates were low, so finding work wasn’t too difficult. However, I was working all the time, and not making much money.

As the projects seemed to get larger, clients were not as interested in hourly-based work. They wanted to know an actual number, or at least a price range, that they could use to budget. The problem was that learning curves and scope creep were into carving away at my profits. 

Both hourly and project-based pricing are good options, but you need to know when and how to use them. And, there are more billing options than just those two.

  • Hourly: You charge your client an hourly rate ($/hr) until you’ve finished the project. 
  • Project-based: You charge for your time based on the total of the project’s scope and the requirements.
  • Value-based: You base the project fees off of a percentage of the financial value that the product/service brings to your client.
  • Retainer: You enter into a monthly agreement with your client to perform specific tasks and be available for work up to a certain, pre-defined time limit.
  • Combination:  Combining any (or all) of the above options to create a unique billing structure. Say, for example, you work under a retainer for 20/hrs per month at $35/hr, but any work completed past the retainer agreement is billed hourly at $45/hr.

Each of these options has its strengths and weaknesses and depends on the needs of your client.

The easiest option to track is the hourly option, but it also becomes the most limiting from an earnings perspective.

Step 5. Negotiate to seal the deal

When a client wants to lower the price, ask them what features should be removed to reduce cost. You could decide to lower the price package, to avoid cutting your fees, and still win the client. Using multiple package pricing points is ideal if you want to reduce client denials, have more clients take you up on your offer, and increase revenue (and profit).

Or, calculating affordable payment terms to increase conversions and lower the risk on behalf of your clients is an attractive way to land more clients.

Negotiate a 25% to 50% advance payment with an agreement to pay the balance at a later stage. 

Going from proposal submission to deal-making and securing your dream client feels like a breeze when you implement these six steps. The key is to build trust and genuinely care about your clients’ projects. You’ll have enough confidence in yourself and your service, so get out there to approach new prospects with ease.

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