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  • Writer's pictureNicole Papaioannou Lugara

Proposal Pro Tips: 4 Must-Haves

Early in my freelance career, I treated inquiries as job interviews. I spoke to clients as if they were hiring managers. I provided cover letters with hourly rates. I was trying to prove my worth instead of share my value. I was acting like an employee rather than a business.

Fast forward a bit, and I landed on a solution that works much better for me-- inquiries require pitches, which lead to proposals.

There are tons of different proposals formats out there, and in this post, I'll share some of the features that I find most impactful.

Executive Summary

Now, not everyone believes in the Executive Summary for a proposal, but I like to include one because I think it shows my client that I understand their business and their problem right from the start. I keep the summary short, no more than a brief paragraph or two with just a few sentences.

Example (names omitted):

LANDMARK recently revealed their $165 million observation deck renovations, and now, they are ready to renovate their curriculum. Through remarkable learning experiences, they aim to fascinate children with the amazing history of the LANDMARK and MAJOR CITY, creating lifetime enthusiasts.

Curricular content will likely be used by educators to help create their case for field trips to LANDMARK. For this reason, the curriculum needs to meet national education standards for K-12 public education, as well as STATE regional standards. It must also meet the requirements outlined by The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Sections 504 and 508.

Project Goals

What's the benchmark for success? I state it right up front. Again, this helps my potential client see that I'm hearing what they're saying and coming up with a solution that directly addresses their needs.


Your Instructional Designer will design a multi-layered virtual training solution that empowers CLIENT'S clients to use the DASHBOARD efficiently. The larger goal is to reduce unnecessary support tickets / direct-to-team inquiries by 30%.

Detailed Project Scope

Some folks like to keep their SOW high level, but I try to detail every major task and subtask in a project. This is especially important when I'm working with a client who is unfamiliar with working with creatives and/or instructional designers. It helps them to understand just how much really goes into the end product, demonstrating the value in working with me.


Needs Analysis

  • Content area research

  • 30-minute Discovery call to gather preliminary data about the subject matter and learners

  • 2-hour Kickoff meeting with key stakeholders to set project goals

  • Interviews with authors (up to 3)

  • Interviews with learners (up to 3 parents and 3 children)

  • Data analysis

  • Develop Internal Content Playbook (branding, colors, tone/voice, key words) in collaboration with Authors and Producers


The proposal is an opportunity for to land the job, but it's also an opportunity for potential clients to negotiate rates. Sometimes, if I get the gist the client doesn't really know what they want, I will offer different packages with different pricing options. This is a great time to lay it all out.

There's a lot more you may choose to include in your proposals, but I truly feel that these four items are critical to landing more projects.

Is there anything you'd add? Let me know in the comments below.

And of course, I suggest that you hold a 30-minute Discovery Call prior to sending off a proposal for any sizeable project. This will help you get a clearer idea of the complexity of the work and be better able to scope effectively.

Need help holding an effective Discovery Call?

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