10 things to include in your graphic design proposal

Brian
July 6, 2009

Look around the web for information on what to include in your graphic design proposal, and you'll come across things such as “executive summary,” “current situation,” “competition,” etc. Hogwash.

A proposal is just that — a proposal and not a contract. With so many prospective clients “playing the field,” it does not behoove you to spend a ridiculous amount of time preparing proposals. This is what you need in your proposals — and this is ALL you need. If your proposal requester needs you to research specifics, then they should pay a down payment and formally hire you. Proposal-seekers are one thing; clients are another thing entirely. Here's the scoop:

  1. Contact information
  2. Client's contact information
  3. Date
  4. Goals to be achieved
  5. Summary of work to be performed
  6. List of deliverables
  7. Fees estimate (Note: this is an estimate, and not a set-in-stone flat price. Charge hourly)
  8. Payment terms — when payments are due, and how they are to be submitted
  9. Legal terms — A quick summary of copyright retentions/transfers, NDAs, dispute resolutions, and other legal agreements that will be required in the contract. Again, this is a summary; the contract will spell these out specifically
  10. Mini-portfolio, including past work, clients and testimonials

What else could you really need? Sounding formal sounds stuffy. It's a new age of enterprise, where being cool and concise is a business. There's no reason why a proposal has to extend beyond two pages for most projects.

For smaller projects, include your legal information and turn your proposal into a work order, actionable as a contract upon signing. This streamlines the process even more.

This one's open for debate: How do you write your proposals?

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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