What is proposal writing? Can it be a lucrative career?
If you’ve ever asked these questions, you’ve me to the right place.
I wrote this article to discuss everything you need about proposal writing and why it’s essential. I’ll also talk about how to become a proposal writer if it’s the career path you want to take.
Table of Contents
What Is Proposal Writing?
Proposal writing is an outline that presents an idea, a plan, and a request. Proposal writers have writing skills that allow them to draw up attractive proposals.
Most writers follow a strict proposal-writing process to ensure the proposal is professional and attractive (I will discuss how to write proposals later in the article.).
What is a Proposal Writer, and What Does a Proposal Writer Do?
A proposal writer is a person who writes proposals professionally.
There are two types of proposal writers: 1) freelance proposal writers and 2) in-house proposal writers.
You can be either of these two, and your career path depends entirely on you.
How to Become a Proposal Writer
What does a proposal writer job entail?
To become a proposal writer, you must meet a company’s requirements. Here are some things you should expect if you want to become a proposal writer.
Proposal Writer Job Description
Certain skills are more important than others, depending on the industry. The skill requirements also vary by company, but these are common skills that proposal writers should have.
- Writing skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Technical skills
- Creative skills
Responsibilities vary by company and position, but these are the core responsibilities of most proposal writers.
- Write effective proposals
- Learn about potential clients
- Meet deadlines
- Collaborate with making marketing materials
- Attend meetings
Some companies require proposal writers to have prior experience, while others don’t.
A proposal writer job can also be a freelance gig where companies pay you per project.
All proposal writing positions require four qualifications.
- Good at explaining
- Good at convincing
- Ability to meet deadlines (specifically tight deadlines)
How to Write a Proposal
You can write a proposal by including company information, detailing a plan, making a request, and explaining the results.
Proposal writers can be in high demand depending on their skills. There are a lot of proposal writers in the B2B industry because some businesses rely solely on contracts to make a profit.
To make a compelling proposal, you don’t need to be a certified proposal writer. While many proposal writers are highly skilled at making proposals, there are templates you can follow.
Note that the templates you use will depend on the type of proposal you are making.
Proposal writers follow a standard procedure when writing an effective proposal.
Here’s a step-by-step guide you should follow to become a proposal writer.
Identify the readers of your proposal. Your manner of writing will depend on your audience.
For instance, you must ensure your writing is professional when it’s an investment proposal. When writing a grant proposal, your tone should be more emotional and inviting.
The tone of your proposal can also depend on the industry you’re targeting.
If you’re writing to moms, you can use a more personal tone to connect with readers. If you’re writing to restaurant owners, you can use a more professional but creative style.
There’s a generic tone you can follow as a proposal writer. However, it’s more effective to adjust your style depending on your audience.
Write the Executive Summary.
An executive summary is a short but concise proposal explanation.
Your job as a proposal writer is to write a compelling and detailed executive summary because some people don’t have the time or interest to read lengthy proposals.
If your executive summary fails to capture readers’ attention, they are less likely to read your proposal.
As a proposal writer, you should spend time and effort crafting your executive summary. Doing so ensures you encapsulate the whole proposal and grab the reader’s attention.
Explain the Purpose of the Proposal.
Every proposal should contain an explanation of its importance.
Your job as a proposal writer is to highlight the proposal’s value and purpose. Simply put, you must tell readers why you wrote the proposal in the first place.
In this section, you, as the proposal writer, can introduce a problem to the reader.
As a simple example, let’s say you’re writing about a repair kit. You can mention how many shirts, dresses, and pants people waste and throw away each year.
To amplify the problem, the proposal writer can emphasize how much waste damaged clothes create. You can then highlight the significance of finding a solution.
Provide the Solution.
The proposal is all about the solution.
Your job as a proposal writer is to explain the solution in a thorough yet easily understandable manner.
Sometimes, the solution is complex. As a proposal writer, you can use visual representations of the process to clearly explain the solution.
You can only provide the solution you discuss in the proposal if the reader grants your request. As such, you must ensure the reader believes in the solution.
The proposal writer can also explain the solution in stages if the idea is highly complex.
The proposal has to show that the sender is the perfect solution to the problem. All proposal writers must be able to highlight the sender’s authority. The entire proposal process revolves around trying to convince recipients or prospective clients.
Your proposal must also display why the reader should believe the sender.
Proposal writers typically highlight authority by mentioning the track record of the sender. It could be the bachelor’s degree or master’s degree of the sender or their experience.
Some senders may not have a bachelor’s degree, another college degree, or a high school degree. It would be better to mention the sender’s relevant experiences in such cases.
Discuss the Budget.
The budget discussion must effectively communicate the amount the sender asks for and why.
Proposal writers are in demand because the job requires technical knowledge, which can translate to better communication skills.
When discussing a budget, you must be detail-oriented and communicate why the sender asks for the specific budget.
You also have to include a detailed budget breakdown when writing proposals.
This section of the proposal is where you ask the reader to approve your request.
Winning proposals often use good closing lines involving the reader and the benefits they’ll get from the proposal. Writing proposals is an art that should paint a picture of how the outcome benefits the reader.
Write the Appendix.
The appendix can contain technical content or other relevant information. You can’t include this information in the main proposal.
Only some people read the entire proposal, which is why there are three tiers of content.
First, there is an executive summary that readers can skim. Second is the whole proposal. Third and last is the appendix that contains any information not included in the first two tiers.
Although you don’t expect the recipient to read the appendix, it should still have information supporting the proposal.
What Are the Different Types of Proposals?
Proposal writers focus on different proposal types. Here are the five main types of proposals.
Companies use business proposals to request a project or contract. Some companies consider these proposals a sales proposal from a proposal manager.
Companies often send these proposals to potential clients to make a request or pitch their products or services.
Most proposal writers focus on business proposals because some companies require them to write multiple proposals daily.
Some businesses deal in contracts, so having many proposal writers on their team is standard procedure.
What’s in a Business Proposal?
- Title Page – includes the proposal title, author, and date, among other information.
- Table of contents – provides a breakdown of the proposal content.
- Executive summary – overview of the proposal for top executives or decision-makers.
- Customer needs – shares the client’s problem the proposal aims to solve.
- Proposed solution with methodology – discusses how the company or person sending the proposal aims to fix the problem.
- Qualifications – talks about why the entity sending is fit to fulfill the proposal.
- Pricing – shows the asking price of the proposal to the recipient.
- Terms and conditions – details the expectations and limitations of the proposal.
Types of Business Proposals
There are two types of business proposals.
The recipient asks for these proposals. When a potential client or recipient requests a proposal, this is called a solicited proposal.
The writer can write this proposal with the notion that the recipient expects it.
The recipient doesn’t ask for these proposals. When a potential client or recipient doesn’t request a proposal, this is called an unsolicited proposal.
The writer writing an unsolicited proposal has to be as crafty to ensure the proposal stands out. The proposal must embody the company’s values to increase the likelihood that the recipient will receive it well.
The type of proposal your company sends will depend on the situation or nature of the deal. As a business writer, you need to know both types.
Nonprofit organizations use a grant proposal to secure grants.
The goal of the proposal writer is to convince a business or organization about the importance of the grant. It’s essential for proposal writers to thoroughly explain how the grant will help their nonprofit organizations.
The proposal writer has to write about the nonprofit organization’s history, programs, plans, and financial status.
The job of a proposal writer in this scenario is critical. A proposal that isn’t well-written could lead to rejection.
The investor proposal is a document from a business to existing or potential investors. The proposal writer has to convince readers why they should invest.
When writing to investors, the proposal writer needs to detail the company’s services, products, and business goals.
There are three critical elements to highlight in an investor proposal:
- How is the company doing?
- What the company plans to achieve?
- Why is the company capable of achieving its goal?
Investor proposal writers must write in a professional and straightforward tone. The goal of the proposal writer is to make the reader feel confident about investing in the company.
The proposal writer should also detail what they are asking of investors and how it will help achieve the company’s goals. The more detailed this breakdown is, the more effective it will be.
Internal Project Proposals
Proposals aren’t just for external proposals; they can also be for internal requests. A department within a business or organization can write an internal project proposal to another department.
The proposal writer of internal project proposals has to detail how the proposed project will help the company. The writer also has to include the outline of the project, its objectives, outcomes, and benefits.
Furthermore, writers must write about their departments and the benefits to the receiving department. For this type of proposal to be successful, it should outline how both departments benefit equally.
Researchers write research proposals to request sponsorships. Researchers use sponsorship to complete a specific project.
The project writer in this scenario has to be very detailed. They should cover the research proposal’s importance, objectives, methodology, and expected outcome.
Like in an investor proposal, the writer must outline how the readers will benefit from the project’s success.
When requesting a sponsorship, proposal writers have to write professionally and in detail. Just like other scientific documents, proposal writers treat research proposals with utmost importance.
Here are the vital elements proposal writers need to include in a research proposal.
- Purpose – talks about the problem the project aims to solve.
- Title Page – includes the research title, writer, and date, among other details.
- Introduction – gives a general introduction written to hook the readers.
- Literature Review – lists the different sources or literature used in the project.
- Research Design and Methods – discusses how the researchers expect to conduct the project.
- Contribution and Implications – gives readers a glimpse of what the researchers need and how it will help them.
- Reference List or Bibliography – includes the references used to create the research project or proposal.
- Research Project Schedules – discusses the proposed timeline and expected completion. Create project schedules that are as straightforward as possible.
- Budget – talks about the project’s budget, how additional funding can help, and what researchers are asking from the readers.
Ensure you proofread your work and revise it as necessary, regardless of the type of proposal you’re sending.
Technical Writing Proposal Example
Becoming a proposal writer is an art in itself. You can follow this outline if you only need to write one or two proposals.
The outline above is for a marketing proposal, but you can also use it for other industries.
What to Look for When Writing a Proposal
You must familiarize yourself with specific things to become a proposal writer.
Aside from excellent communication skills or extensive research, you must learn to identify a good proposal.
Industry standards vary, but here are some indicators of a good proposal:
- Format – should be clear and easy to understand.
- Visual Content – should be visually appealing.
- Simplicity – should be straightforward to avoid wasting the reader’s time.
- Honesty and Transparency – should contain no exaggerated or inflated information.
- Tone – should be appropriate for the specific reader.
- Proofreading – should be free from errors.
- Statistics and Quantitative Data – should have actual and accurate data rather than theoretical information.
- Proposal Digitalization – should have a digital version for faster distribution.
- Call-to-Action (CTA) – should clearly state the sender’s request.
Some proposal writers work with other team members and a proposal manager, while others work alone.
The tone and proofreading elements are extremely crucial if you’re a proposal writer working alone. Nobody else can check your work, so you may need to outsource these tasks to another proposal writer to ensure your work is free of errors.
The Bottom Line
I’ve shared all the essential information you need about proposal writing and how to be a proposal writer.
Don’t hesitate to start your proposal writing journey if you think it’s a good career path.
Maybe you’d be more interested in starting your own business if proposal writing isn’t for you.