How to write a bid proposal

In the expanding gig economy, employers are increasingly outsourcing work to independent contractors, freelancers, and gig workers. Unlike traditional working relationships, where there’s an established salary and potentially contractual terms, freelancers — such as those who create content, develop websites, or provide marketing expertise — typically solicit work by submitting a bid proposal or business proposal to potential clients.

People who submit proposals — and the companies that request them — should be familiar with the characteristics of an ideal proposal, which means focusing on more than just costs.

For those requesting these proposals, they provide a glimpse of what it may be like to work with the people submitting the bids. If you study them carefully, you may discover clues about whether it’s a good fit or not.

For those submitting proposals, maximize the chances of attracting the right client by including the following must-have components.

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Comprehensive details

Make sure the prospective client’s request for proposal (RFP) includes specific guidance that outlines how you should approach, complete, and deliver on the project and the proposal. If they don’t include that, ask them for it. Your bid proposal should include a cover letter and executive summary that outlines the main project description.

The rest of the proposal should provide substantial detail about the project and how you will manage the work. Ideally, your proposal should also include sections that describe the project’s timeline and process, responsible parties, deliverables, and payment terms. Finally, the proposal should describe the outcome and impact of completing the project.

Persuasion and influence

While you might think of a bid proposal as a document that just lists key facts and project details, it should fill a deeper need. The purpose of this proposal is to convince prospective clients that you’re the best freelancer for the job and would do the work better than any other independent contractor.

The writing should be persuasive and focus on qualities, skills, and experiences that set you apart from the rest of the field. An effective bid and proposal letter package also demonstrates that you understand the prospective client and the needs of their project.

Your bid should be relevant to the client’s specific problem and address the prospective client’s needs and pain points. Use the proposal to prove that you understand the connection between your proposed solution and the company’s existing priorities and initiatives.

Alternative bid proposal approaches

First impressions are everything. A good proposal should reflect what you — if selected — might offer the prospective client, so your bid proposal must look professional. Jotform’s bid proposal template can serve as an alternative to writing a bid proposal from scratch.

Numerous proposal examples and bid proposal templates are available, and they can ensure that you present your bid in an attractive, readable format. These examples help you organize the information in a way that’s easy to consume and retain, and they include formatting for bulleted lists, visuals, and short paragraphs. Creating sufficient white space on the page allows the content to take center stage and avoids the confusion of clutter.


While it’s good to start with a template to ensure a readable format and clear structure, it’s important that your final product isn’t generic. Instead, make your bid proposal compelling by tailoring it to the prospect. A personalized proposal includes detailed research related to the prospect’s industry, external and internal environment, track record, and needs.

This includes acknowledging the key decision makers and influencers from the company as well as their focus — whether it’s the service experience, cost savings, or an operational need. Alternatively, the focus may relate to some type of social responsibility or community, diversity, or inclusion effort.

Whatever the case, the more the bid is aligned to each specific client’s thinking about a particular project, the more likely it is that you’ll stand out as the right freelancer for the project.

Value proposition

An investment in a contractor must deliver a return. Therefore, an effective bid should outline the value proposition you bring to the table. This value must transcend your core capabilities and demonstrate the additional benefits the organization would realize from working with you.

The best bids show a connection between the freelancer’s expertise and the added value that expertise delivers for the prospect. A strategic proposal includes statements or examples that illustrate how your efforts have helped deliver measurable results for other clients — such as an increase in site traffic, social media shares, or sales.

A quality focus

It’s important that your bid proposal doesn’t contain grammatical mistakes or typos. The document should prove that you are meticulous and that you take the time to proofread and ensure high-quality writing. Failure to proofread the proposal could indicate a lack of professionalism and would reflect poorly on you.

The winning bid proposal

The winning bid proposal is usually a standout presentation that shows that the freelancer understands the needs of the client, provides differentiating factors that show why they’re the best choice, and demonstrates a commitment to professionalism, which is often best illustrated by a detailed, well-written, and properly formatted document.

If you want to create a standout proposal and collect e-signatures with one tool, consider using Jotform, which has many proposal templates to choose from. Our templates are fully customizable, so you can tailor them to fit your needs.

If your proposal needs to go up the chain of command, you can designate a signing order with Jotform Sign so every time someone signs, the proposal will automatically be sent to the next person in line. Every document you send for signature automatically becomes part of an approval flow and includes an audit trail, so you don’t need to manually track your documents.

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A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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