Bid Proposals: How to Write, Types, and Template

8 min read

Want to make the perfect bid proposal for your next contract gig? Impress potential clients with a clear outline of your plan and showcase your qualifications. Freelancers and agencies will benefit from this guide to writing a great bid and proposal.

What is a bid proposal?

A bid proposal is a report that subcontractors and freelancers use to outline their services and pricing to potential clients. What is the purpose of a bid proposal? A bid proposal showcases your skills and expertise for a specific job you want to do for a potential client. 

A bid proposal usually presents these key elements: 

  • Descriptions of the products or services you provide

  • A plan for how you intend to successfully meet the client’s objectives

  • An estimated timeline for your work

  • Proposed pricing for your deliverables

Technically, a bid proposal needs two elements: the proposal and the bid. The proposal is your strategy to meet the client’s needs, while a bid is the price point you’ve set for that work. 

Many companies and individuals in various industries use bid proposals to acquire new clients. Freelance workers that commonly use bid proposals include:

  • Construction subcontractors

  • Apps developers

  • Business consultants

  • Suppliers

  • Marketers

  • Social media managers

  • Merchandise distributors 

Is a bid proposal the same as a contract? No, a contract is only established once the client accepts your bid after the bidding process ends. Even an accepted proposal technically isn’t a contract.

The contract cements all of the conditions that both parties agree on, such as the scope of work and project timeline. You’ll usually negotiate with the client before settling on the final terms and prices that both parties agree to in the contract

Types of Bid Requests

Large companies and government agencies seeking suppliers or contractors will create a document asking for bid proposals. However, not all forms of bid solicitation are the same. They vary based on intent, industry, and stage of the project. The primary forms of bid requests are: 

  • RFP: A Request for Proposal is the most common type of solicitation. It seeks contributors for a specific project. The publicly posted document describes the job and asks for contractors to submit their proposed plans.

  • RFQ: A Request for Quote is not a public posting but is sent directly to potential suppliers or contractors. The document asks for pricing and timeline estimates for specific supplies or services.

  • RFI: Procurement teams can create a Request for Information to research vendors’ products or services. They’ll store the info in a database to use when planning future projects.

  • IFB: An Information for Bid solicitation seeks financial bids rather than strategy proposals. IFBs are more common in industries where vendors differ in pricing more than the quality or nature of their deliverables. Typically, the contract is inflexible and will only go to the lowest bidder.

How To Write a Compelling Bid Proposal

Ready to impress some business owners? Here’s how to write a top-notch bid proposal.

  1. Do your research: An effective proposal requires a thorough understanding of the client. Your pitch will miss the mark if you don’t know their needs, expectations, and values. Before drafting your proposal, learn everything you can about the client, their project, and the job you’re offering to fulfill. Don’t be afraid to ask for additional information on project details.

  2. Understand the objective: You can make your proposal more compelling by focusing on delivering stellar results from an end-user perspective. Understand what the outcome of the project will be and what will satisfy your clients. 

  3. Identify your competition: Don’t create your proposal without considering your competition. Find out who the main contenders are and what they offer that could overshadow you. After analyzing your competition, consider how you can uniquely fulfill the project.

  4. Go above and beyond: A great way to stand out during the bidding process is to assert that you can outperform what the solicitation is asking for. Offer an additional service free of charge as a bonus for selecting you for the project. What extra perks do you offer in your industry that you can leverage as selling points?

  5. Offer options: Present multiple pricing options instead of a single plan. Scale your services to three tiers: a “budget” option, a “standard” option, and a “premium” option.  It may feel like pitching 3 bids in 1 proposal, but this shows potential clients that you can adapt.

  6. Emphasize your experience: A client may favor your proposal if you show a solid track record of similar work. Include testimonials from satisfied clients. Present samples or data that illustrate your work’s quality.

  7. Double-check everything: Typos can doom even a great proposal, so fix all errors. Consider using a proofreading tool like Grammarly to catch your mistakes. Have multiple people proofread your proposal before you submit it. Do the numbers add up? Are there writing errors? Does everything make sense? 

  8. Don’t waste your time: Writing a proposal and estimating costs take a lot of time, so you don’t waste that effort on a proposal that you’re not likely to win. Only spend your time applying for contracts that you’re a viable candidate for; that way, you have more time to focus on your best possibilities. 

How long does it take to write a bid proposal?

The amount of time you spend writing a bid proposal depends on the complexity of the proposal as well as the scope of the project. A simple bid may take you 2-3 hours to compile if you already have the data you need. On the other hand, a comprehensive proposal for a major project may take a week or longer to create.

What To Include in a Bid Proposal

Bid proposals vary widely based on the industry and specific project, so there isn’t a uniform list of components. In most cases, a business proposal should include: 

  • A cover letter

  • Your contact information

  • Basic client information

  • Job name or project title

  • Summary of project

  • Intent of your proposal

  • Services or deliverables that you’ll provide

  • Estimated costs for services or deliverables

  • Estimated project timeline

  • Required terms and conditions of the agreement

  • Signatures of both parties

These items apply to most bid proposals in addition to any supporting documents you include. 

Pro tip: Include an overview of your firm in your proposal file. This gives the client a clear understanding of who you are, what you do, and who’s on your team. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce the client to the people who would be working on their project. This is especially helpful if your team will be augmenting an existing staff.

Bid Proposal Template for Freelancers & Agencies

Follow a basic proposal template like this one when drafting your bid. Then, enhance it with any necessary addenda for the project. 

Your information: 

Name, address, phone number, email address

Client information: 

Name, address, phone number, email address

Date: 

Date that you’re submitting the proposal, not the date of your first draft.

Job information:

Name of job/project, location of job, name of project manager. Get this from the bid request.

Job summary:

Summarize the scope of work. Describe the specifications of key goods or services and how you’ll use them to complete the project tasks.

Proposed cost: 

Estimated financial plan for delivering the goods and services described. If unfixed, explain what factors may alter the price.

Terms and conditions: 

Any requirements you have for your proposal to remain valid and any variables that could change or nullify it. Describe how you envision the results of the project once you complete the work. Mention any expected payment methods/arrangements.

Project timeline:

State the length of time that it will take you to complete the work. You can also state the target start and finish dates if you’re confident on them, but recognize that those may change before the contract is finalized.

Company profile: 

Your background, the type of work you do, and any team members likely to be involved on the project.

Client signature: 

A line where the client can sign and date the document.

Your signature:

A line where you or your company’s representative can sign and date the document.

Getting Started

Bid writing styles can vary widely based on the industry. A construction proposal can look very different than a website design proposal, which would benefit from a graphically-styled document. That’s why it’s helpful to look at sample bid proposals in your particular field. 

However, procurement confidentiality laws can considerably limit your access to actual accepted proposals, as most of these are not shared with the public. If you need a hand getting your proposal started, you can:

  • Work with a consultant who has experience writing proposals in your industry

  • Ask other professionals in your industry to proofread your proposal and give you feedback

  • Use a template

Most companies don’t expect all proposals they receive to imitate the same format, so personalize yours to make it stand out.

Connecting the Best Freelancers with Top Companies

The bidding process can be a big pain for all parties — especially when you don’t find the right candidate. Why not let someone else find the best people for the job? 

MVP Match specializes in connecting organizations with top-tier freelancers of all backgrounds. Make your next project a success with the help of freelancers from our comprehensive roster of professionals. Contact us to get started.

Want to join our community of freelancers? Become part the MVP Match network, and we’ll connect you with a team that needs your expertise.

About the Author

Match wants to bridge the perspectives of talents and companies, and Marta’s job is to blend all the elements without burning the engine. She translates backstage know-how into practical insights and stories. What can’t be written on a blog will land on socials as a meme. She believes that shaping the #futureofwork is all about transparency and courage in communication. While collaborating with writers and authors from all over the world, she makes sure that everything that ends up on the Match blog makes the bridge stronger than ever.