10 Ways to Make Your Proposals Better in 2023
Ever wondered what tips the scales in a talent’s favor when a client reviews responses to their job posting?
At Voices, talent replying to jobs of interest to them provide clients with:
- Sample of work
All three components are within your control, and any one of these can influence whether you’re shortlisted, hired… or not.
While most talent put a great amount of effort into their sample and quote, not as many take time to craft a standout proposal. There’s a common misconception that clients don’t read proposals. While the sample and quote do most of the convincing, the final decision may very well come down to the proposal, and that often overlooked aspect of your reply could make all the difference.
After looking at thousands of proposals over the years, we’ve identified ten of the most common steps talent take that make them stand out for the better when replying to a job.
How you can improve your proposal when applying for a talent job
1. Speak directly to the client who posted the job
Have you ever received a letter that said, “To whom this may concern,” “Hello Madam/Sir,” or “Hey!” as its opening line? It’s a bit off-putting, isn’t it? When someone wants to get your attention (and possibly earn your business), the least they could do is call you by your name, right? As Dale Carnegie put it in How To Win Friends and Influence People, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
You’d be surprised by how many talent don’t apply this advice.
Tip: When replying to a job, it’s easy to see the name of the person who posted the job.
Whenever someone’s name is present, use it in your opening greeting! You’ll see it here below.
Bonus: In your proposal templates, be sure to include an opening line that addresses the client that can be customized every time you send in a reply. It could look something like this:
I hope you’re well! Thank you for the opportunity to be considered for your job (name the job if you want to).”
2. Make yourself look professional and up for the task
Would you hire someone who told you that they’d never before done what you need them to do? Some talent feel it necessary to volunteer information to prospective clients that they don’t need to. Talent may say that they’re new to the field, have never been hired before, or that they’re willing to work for less to book the job. While a low quote accomplishes the same thing in numeric form, the proposal gives people room to share information that confirms their lack of confidence and professionalism. Don’t do this!
Tip: Show your interest.
Instead of sharing that you’re new to the platform, new to the business, or that you really need/want this job, simply let the client know that you are interested and can meet their requirements. If you have the skills, equipment, and are a strong match for what they’re looking for, that’s all they need to know. Your sample and quote will tell the rest of the story.
Bonus: Use your VoiceMatch™ score, the job’s posted date, and your level of interest to decide which jobs you’ll apply for. Apply only for those jobs you believe you could book.
3. Personalize the proposal
Does the recipient of your reply feel like, well, a recipient? Kind of makes you feel like the proposal could be sent to anyone, doesn’t it? Circling back to our first tip, there’s a lot to be said for addressing a client by name. Beyond that, you need to find a way to make your proposal relate to them on a personal level. Are you tailoring your proposal to at least the kind of work that you’re submitting for, or are you sending a generic one-size-fits-all reply regardless of the client, scope of work, or subject?
Tip: One way to personalize a proposal is by sharing why the project appeals to you.
In addition to addressing the client by their first name (a quick win!), mention any connections you have to the brand or the subject matter. This will help the client understand why you might be a better fit, as you are drawing upon life experiences or a special interest. A couple examples of this would be if the school you attended posts a job and you want to let them know that as an alumni, you’d be honored to work with them. Same goes for involvement in military service, religious organizations, non-profits, or other associations.
Bonus: When you care about and are familiar with a brand, an association, belief, or subject, that knowledge and passion will come through in your reply. This is one way to set yourself apart as someone uniquely qualified to do the work. To make this go faster, you can create a handful of templates that you can use in different situations and customize them as needed on a per reply basis.
4. Write proposals without typos and grammatical errors
These days, spotting typographical errors is easier than ever. A red underline or autocorrect should take care of everything, wouldn’t you think? Again, you’d be surprised! When a client sees a typo in a proposal, they’re going to notice and factor that into their decision. Typos project a lack of professionalism and are particularly glaring if they are found in a client’s name or in their brand name.
Tip: When drafting a template, make sure that you do a thorough spell check.
Some typos occur over and over again simply because they exist in a template. You should also read your proposal template aloud before saving it. A lot of phrasing issues are caught that way. Fix templates at the root to make each reply you send even better going forward. If you’re looking for sample proposal templates, we’ve written a number for your consideration.
Bonus: Install an add-on or plugin to identify and correct typos on your browser. Your Internet browser should have a built-in spell checker. Make sure it is turned on. Some Chrome Plugins that are useful in catching spelling and grammatical mistakes include Typocorrect, Google Dictionary, and Grammarly.5. Send short, yet meaningful proposals
When writing a proposal, it is good to remember that you’re not writing a book. The average attention span of a human being is eight seconds. When you know you only have eight seconds (or less in some cases), you need to write for efficiency. That means there’s no time to tell your life story. I’ve seen some talent send upwards of five or six paragraphs of text in their proposals. There is never a need to do this. One paragraph will be more than enough. If the client wants to know more, they’ll ask.
Tip: It’s 2023 and people are busy.
When writing your proposal, be kind but get to the point quickly. Separating distinct thoughts with a hard return makes it easier for people to read. Blocks of text make people think they have to work harder to read it and can bury points you want to highlight.
Bonus: Break your proposal up into four parts, including:
- a greeting
- a thank you to the client for the opportunity
- an explanation for why you’re the best talent for the job (affirm your abilities and any connections you have to the copy)
- a courteous signoff
Think of your proposal as an elevator pitch. If you can’t communicate what you want to say to the client in the 15 seconds it takes to ride an elevator, don’t include it in your message.
6. Communicate your abilities honestly
Have you ever thought, “If I book this job, I’m going to make it work!” This falls under the category of “fake it till you make it,” and while some people subscribe to this idea, it’s not the best thing to do when you are applying for a job. You don’t want to say you can do a session via Source-Connect and then suddenly have to go buy a subscription and learn a new piece of software while you’re on a deadline.
Tip: Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. If you can’t do it, don’t say you can!
Bonus: Anything you are prepared to put in your proposal needs to be something you can do at the drop of a hat. If you see something you want to do but lack one of the technical requirements, invest in that requirement and then you’ll be ready for future opportunities.
7. Play by the rules
It might seem odd, but some talent submit replies to clients that undermine the platform they’re applying for work on. Others provide contact information in hopes that the client will go off the site and work with the talent on their own terms. Neither approach is good business. The platform brought this work opportunity to the talent base and the client relationship exists with the platform and within the platform. We have received complaints from clients who see this as unprofessional. Attempting to circumvent the platform is against our Terms of Service. Doing so is also in violation of our Community Guidelines.
Tip: Be professional.
Bonus: Clients posting jobs on a platform like Voices want to hire talent and complete their jobs online via the platform. Keep your interactions positive and professional to encourage clients to work with you. Many talent encourage clients to send them a Message using the Voices Messaging app. Another way to stay on the client’s radar is to ask that a client save you to their Favorites for future reference. This may come in handy as the client might want to work with you down the road on a different project.
8. Keep it simple and be consistent
When a client sees replies from a talent, the quote appears alongside the sample.
In their proposal, some talent will say what their quote is without the platform fee, providing the client in effect with two quotes. The point of this is to highlight what they are earning versus what the platform is receiving. When a client sees two numbers, it confuses the client and may lead them to believe that the talent is trying to take the work off the site.
Tip: If you are going to reference your quote, make sure it matches what the client is seeing in their account.
The client only wants to see one number, that being the total amount they are paying to get a job done on Voices. If you want to discuss revisions, there is a field for you to do that in your Revision Policy.
Bonus: When a talent is replying to a job, the quote is calculated to comprise talent earnings and the platform fee. Always quote what you want to be paid for the job by Voices in your Earnings field.
9. Provide information relevant to the job
This is similar to tip five (long replies), but goes a step further. Remember what we said about attention spans only lasting eight seconds? Providing information that doesn’t help the client make a decision to work with you is unhelpful at best. This might include things like an exhaustive client list, the many different tools you can use on a directed session, and so on. Just confirm that you can do what the client has asked and focus on those details.
Tip: Keep your messaging short, pleasant, and relevant.
Bonus: As the founder of StoryBrand, Donald Miller, says, “If you confuse, you’ll lose.” Stay focused with the goal of keeping your audience engaged.
10. Reply only to jobs you believe you can book
This goes back to knowing what you’re best at and able to do. It also applies to where your heart is. If you know you can’t do the job, don’t waste your time or the client’s time by replying. If you got booked on a job you couldn’t actually do, that would be terrible for you and for the client. For example, if you speak conversational Spanish but audition for a medical narration to be spoken in a more complex level of Spanish speaking, that would not go over well.
Tip: Don’t reply to the job.
If you know that you’ll be away from your studio, that you disagree with what is being asked of talent, or that you don’t have the appropriate skills or tools to get the job done well, let it go.
Bonus: Always put your best foot forward and only apply for the work that you know you can do. This goes for technical capabilities as well as your desire to do the job. Be objective. Ask yourself, “Knowing what I know about myself, would I hire myself to do this?” Just as Polonius told his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all else: to thine own self be true,” recognize that there will be opportunities you are better positioned to do and ones where you should pass.
Do you have any proposal tips for 2023 that you’d like to share?
Be sure to add your voice in the comments!