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What would you do with an extra thousand dollars in your pocket? Would you like to make $1,000 USD or more from one pitch? And are you just getting started with writing as a side hustle?

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. Today I’ll give you a DIY, Google doc-style consultant proposal template you can use to seal the deal.

I was flat broke for years. So the first time someone accepted a $1,000 proposal of mine, it transformed my life. Not because it was an earth-shattering amount of money — Most of it went to taxes, a credit card payment, and maybe a new pair of sneakers because I was feelin’ myself — but because I knew if I did it once, I could do it over and over again.

Here it was, a thousand dollars, given to me for something I had created all by myself, not as a paycheck. Whether you sell writing services or something else, your ability to write a pitch in the form of a proposal can make you more money.

You can certainly use this proposal template for packages or 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.

Like I said, you don’t need a fancy logo, years of experience, or a big website. What you actually need is to shape and manage the expectations of the decision-maker you’re pitching. Before we talk about the five components you need, let’s get on the same page about different types of writing you can sell.

consultant-proposal-template

Types of writing you can sell

“What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.” – Derek Sivers

You’d be surprised at how much a company values writing and would love to outsource it. If you have a way with words, there’s no limit on the number of people who want to pay you to have something written for them, regardless of what’s happening in the economy. Over the years, I’ve sold writing packages for all of the following categories:

  • Website copy – 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. Millions of people want to pay you to make them sound great.
  • Blog articles – 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 you like writing blogs, and know your way around SEO basics, you can sell this opportunity to business owners. (I am self-taught on SEO; there are loads of free courses online. Moz has some great resources to get you started.)
  • Email newsletters – 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. As I’ve written about before, a welcome email sequence is a great idea for anyone looking to grow an online audience — sell that.
  • Sales pages or other sales copy – If the words on a sales page can get twice as many people to click, you’re literally doubling a company’s money for them. What other services get that kind of return?! If you know how to persuade people via the written word, you can make money writing sales copy for business owners worldwide, all from the comfort of your laptop (Or even from your smartphone if you wanted). Sales writing is very lucrative.
  • Social media captions – Does a company want to post every day on Instagram, but have no idea what to say? Do they take 30 or 60 minutes to try and figure it out and still spit out mediocre captions? Social media has 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, and they need you to write it for them.

Are you good at writing one of the assets listed above? If the answer is yes, you can make money (or more money) writing, and the quickest way to get paid is with proposals.

Never wonder what to write about again

Get the go-to template and tips I use to write articles for places like Entrepreneur.com with this free 10-page PDF.

A quick word on 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 re-write five pages of someone’s website, 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 (Which is why I recommend and teach people how to land articles in media outlets. Saying “I’ve written for Business Insider and Fast Company” lets me charge higher prices, and the same will work for you.) In summary: Find and charge your happy price.

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 my cover page for a recent proposal I did for a single-article trial at $1,250.

consultant-proposal-template

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. The components are an overview, a list of who will do what, the phases of the proposed project, the timeline of the project, and your quote for payment. Let’s go through each in detail.

Consultant proposal template component #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.

Overview:

“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

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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.

Consultant proposal template 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. Again, really ugly! But also really clear.

Responsibilities:

[COMPANY]:

  • 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

Responsibilities: [ME] 

  • 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

Consultant proposal template component #3: Phases

Good news: This section of your proposal is almost exactly like writing an article. This is the meat of your proposal in which you work through and present your logical approach. 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. Mine include a collecting phase, where I’m collecting information and doing research; a production phase, in which I actually do the writing and editing I’ve been hired for; and a completion phase, in which the client and I discuss final edits and any other integrations that need to take place.

Try to keep this “summary process” to five phases or less. For example, a first draft, second draft, and third draft could all be bundled together as one writing phase. Fewer phases will make it easier for the prospective client to grasp your process.

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 (1) do an initial strategy call with your client, (2) 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, (3) a draft of the new copy, and (4) a final call to discuss any requested edits and upload the copy to a website.

Consultant proposal template 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:

Timeline:

Week 1: 

  • 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)

Week 2:

  • Produce draft of blog piece for discussion and revision recommendations
  • Submit design brief and recommendations to creative team for supplemental image and video content

Week 3: 

  • Receive completed image and video assets from creative team
  • Deliver second draft of 1,000-word blog article and discussion

Week 4:

  • 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.

Consultant proposal template 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 of 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

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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 write full-time or just explore writing as a side hustle for some extra cash, the way you frame your skill set can make all the difference. Get in touch with some decision-makers, open up a new doc, and follow the steps above, and you’ll be well on your way to making a grand or more for your next writing pursuit.

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Ready to write articles worthy of big publications?

Get the go-to template and tips I use to write articles for places like Entrepreneur.com with this free 10-page PDF.