Elance Blog

Create the Complete Package For Your Proposals

The best Elance clients are busy people: they have a business to run or a lot of creative ideas they want to turn into income. So you don’t want to waste their time.

Suppose you’re one of five candidates they’re interested in. Does that mean they’ll be perusing five Elance Portfolios looking for appropriate samples? And then checking through five Job History sections to see the testimonials of past clients for their particular type of job?

Often buyers say: “Please include samples.” Sometimes they add (and I’ve seen this several times): “Don’t make me search through your Portfolio.” But whether they say it or not, it’s helpful for them if you include samples with your proposal. Don’t just say: “You can see a variety of logo designs in my Elance Portfolio” or “Please see my Portfolio for manuscript editing samples.” Instead, attach one or two (or even three, depending on the project) appropriate samples with your proposal. Then you can add: “For additional samples, please see my Elance Portfolio.”

As for testimonials, you could say, “Please see the Job History section of my Elance Profile for comments from clients,” but it’s better to include, at the bottom of your proposal, a few client comments that are from similar projects. Choose testimonials that are specific rather than general. Rather than “Great work!” choose one that’s more like: “Surpassed expectations once again...highest quality writing within time and budget" or "Creative design and quick turnaround on our identity package. Very satisfied.” After each testimonial, I put the client’s initials (whether they use their real name or their Elance identity). And if you like, you can add, “For more client testimonials, please see the Job History section of my Elance Profile.”

So that’s the complete package: proposal, samples, and testimonials.

But let’s take a step or two backwards. Before you can quickly create proposals with great samples, you have to do two things: 1) create appropriate samples for each of the types of work you do and 2) file them in your computer in such a way that you can readily grab a couple of samples to attach to your proposal. If you do a lot of different types of work (for example, writing e-books, writing web content, manuscript editing, academic editing, etc.), this can take some time and organization. Also, you want to have appropriate testimonials readily available so you can do a quick copy/paste at the bottom of your proposal.

So how do you that in a way that makes it quick and easy for you? After all, you’re just as busy as your clients (hopefully) so you don’t want to waste your time either, and you don’t get paid by the hour for creating proposals.

I’ve tried it different ways, but here’s what works best for me:

For samples, I create one Samples folder and then have a number of folders inside; for example, one folder each for press releases, sales letters, e-books, etc. – or whatever it is you do. Then I can just go to one folder and grab a couple of samples to attach to my proposal. How long should written samples be? I find that in most cases two or three pages work fine – just enough to get the point across. But depending on what you do, you may want them longer.

For testimonials, I go through all the client comments in my Job History and create one Testimonials document with all the best comments. I divide the comments into different categories according to the type of work; for example, business plans, editing, manuscript editing, e-book writing, etc. I end up with ONE document that has a bunch of different headings, each of which has a number of testimonials/comments under it. Then when I’m preparing a proposal, I peruse the Testimonials document, go to the particular category, grab a few testimonials, and paste them at the bottom of my proposal.

In the proposal, it might look like this:

“Attached are two editing samples with Microsoft Word Track Changes. Also, please see below several testimonials from clients. (You can see many more in the Job History section of my Elance Profile.)”

So what you end up with is a concise, professional package that gives your would-be client the full picture of what you have to offer – and he doesn’t have to go searching through your Job History or your Portfolio, a factor that may be particularly attractive if the buyer is challenged for time and just wants to get going on the project. In any case, providing the complete professional package can put you one or two steps ahead of the competition, and that’s where you want to be.

About the Author
Cathy Reed
has been writing and editing on Elance for 2 ½ years and to date has worked for clients in 35 countries. She loves the variety of the work and the opportunity to be immersed in the global economy that we now live and work in. She lives on the British Columbia coast and when she’s not working she loves to hike, cycle, kayak and ski.