One of the most arduous tasks freelancers face is to find new, high-quality clients. At one point or another, every freelancer has to do it. From filtering out flakey clients to handling lowball offers, filling out your books can be time-consuming and tiresome. But it doesn’t have to be.
Building out a freelance quoting process is an ideal way to streamline your search and helps to naturally filter out projects that aren’t a match for your skills, rate, or schedule. And one of the most important elements of quoting prospective clients is the quote itself.
Here are some tips on how to make your freelance quotes work for you, saving you time, money, and a few headaches.
What is a Freelance Quote?
A freelance quote is a description of the services you will provide to a client and their associated costs. Quotes are given to potential clients before a freelance contract is signed and, if accepted, are used to inform invoices, set deadlines, and clarify the responsibilities of both the client and freelancer once they begin working together.
Quotes are meant to help freelancers and their prospective clients to understand what will be required of either party in order to take on and complete a project together. Aside from a total cost, the quote should also include additional information that outlines deadlines, billing structure, and the specific services to be provided.
What to Include in a Freelance Project Quote
Quotes can be so much more than a single line in an email that describes a service and its cost. The more information you include, the easier it will be for potential clients to understand exactly what they’ll be signing up for and whether they’re truly in a position to hire you.
Here are some of the most important elements to include in your freelance quotes to impress future clients, filter out poor offers, and organize your freelance records.
1. A Description of Your Services
Every freelance quote should include a project description that describes what you are proposing to do for a client. This should be based on any calls, emails, or meetings you had together prior to moving forward with a project quote.
This section should be detailed and clearly explain exactly what services are and are not included in your quote.
For example, a poor description for a freelance writer project would be:
Writing one blog per week.
Instead, aim for something like this:
Writing and editing one blog post per week, up to 500 words. Price includes one revision. The client will provide topics, images, links, and research material.
This way, both the freelancer and client understand their responsibilities and what is and isn’t included in the project fee. This makes it easier to keep projects in scope and to ensure that clients don’t ask you to take on extra work without paying you for it.
If necessary, you can also add a line stating that any additional responsibilities outside of the service description will be billed separately. This can help to keep any unnecessary phone calls and meetings to a minimum because the client will be more conscious about how they use your time.
2. Time Estimate and Work Schedule
Next up is a time estimate and work schedule. If the client has specific deadlines or timelines in mind, make sure to include them here. If not, work out a feasible schedule for yourself and include any proposed due dates in your quote.
Alternatively, if your timeline will depend on outside factors, like how quickly the client gets you a wireframe or research material, estimate the amount of time it will take to complete the aspects of the project that are relevant to you instead of including specific dates.
Include specific time estimates for completing your work when possible, like for straightforward projects that you have previous experience with.
Try not to underestimate the amount of work required for a project. Give yourself a buffer for projects and work that you’re unfamiliar with so you can focus on delivering a high-quality and complete product to a client without worrying about going over budget or having to put in extra hours you didn’t account for.
3. A Pricing Breakdown
The pricing breakdown is typically the aspect of your quote potential clients are the most eager to see. That means it needs to be clear and easy to understand.
Prices for different types of service or expenses can be divided into separate categories. For example, separate amounts for:
Your Per-Project, Monthly, or Hourly Rate
Whether you charge an hourly rate, a monthly retainer, or a per-project fee, include the details in your pricing breakdown. This amount only refers to the costs associated with the services you are quoting the client for.
For example, if your rate for graphic design is $50 per hour before additional costs like software or printing, you would only reference your base hourly rate. Additional costs can be broken out elsewhere.
Materials and Software
While some freelance jobs won’t require any extra materials, others will. You may need to purchase or subscribe to client-specific software or pay for products or research material upfront. If this is the case, determine the amount these products or services will cost you in advance and include the cost in your quote to the client.
Although you can’t charge items that aren’t directly related to a specific freelance job, you can charge clients for products or services that you wouldn’t otherwise purchase.
For example, if a client requires you to use specific tools for a design project, you can request that they reimburse you for the cost.
Even if you’re working based on a project fee or retainer, you can still list the specific line items that are included in your monthly amount.
Travel and Travel Time
If a client expects you to travel to meet them on a regular basis, it’s important to include an estimated travel amount in your quote. This could include the costs for plane tickets, Uber or cab rides, hotel stays, and even a portion of your meals.
It can also cover the time that you spend commuting because you are dedicating that time to a specific client, essentially blacking out your schedule to any other work.
If you aren’t sure whether you’ll be traveling or not, leave this section off your quote. If travel comes up in the future, remind the client that it will come at an additional cost because your rate only includes the items listed in your quote.
Research and Learning Time
If you need to conduct an extensive amount of research or if a client requires that you learn a specific skill or technique, you can include it in your quote. For example, if a client requires you to read a particular book before you start on a project, include an estimate for reading time in your quote.
Taking on unpaid tasks means you’re working for free, which won’t get you anywhere in freelancing. Remember to quote for any time devoted to extraneous client requests.
Occasionally, you may need to hire a subcontractor to help you to finish a project or a specialist to take on a task that isn’t your forte. These costs can either be included in your personal rate or added to a quote as an additional cost.
For example, if you offer web design and a client wants you to both build a functioning, attractive website and handle all of the copywriting, it’s probably best for you to hire out the content creation work to a freelance writer. You should include the cost for paying a writer in your quote to the client.
The Total Amount
After laying out all your costs, you’ll need to add up a total. This should consist of any discounts, fees, deposits, and taxes.
Potential clients want to look at your quote and understand whether it’s within their budget or not, so it’s important to be as transparent as possible. Make sure the total project cost is clear and easy for the client to find.
4. Billing Details
Another way to filter clients and set yourself up for success is to include your billing procedures in your freelance quotes, such as:
- Your invoicing schedule
- Accepted payment methods, such as whether you accept credit cards or PayPal.
- When payments are due
- Whether late payments will accrue interest or late fees
- Whether you require a deposit upfront
If you have any other payment terms you want to bring up, include them in this section. For example, note whether you offer a discounted rate for long-term commitments, like a year-long contract.
5. Expiration Date
A number of factors influence your freelance rate, such as increasing costs, your expanding skill set, and how much free time you have in your schedule. Adding an expiration date to your quotes means you’ll have a chance to reevaluate your pricing if a client waits for six months before deciding to commit to a contract.
6. Optional Quote Add-Ons
Although not required, there are some additional quote add-ons you can include that can give your freelance business a sharp, professional edge. Depending on your industry and the potential client you’re quoting, you may want to throw in:
- Testimonials from former or existing clients
- Work samples or a link to your portfolio
- What sets you apart from competitors or what you bring to the table
- Pricing incentives, like discounts or promotions
You should also make sure to review your quote for typos and errors and use clean formatting and a well-designed template.
How to Make a Freelance Quote
When creating a freelance quote, aim for an easy-to-read, well-organized format. You want your freelance quotes to look professional. Having a good design will help you deliver a message of legitimacy and expertise.
You can create a template yourself or use a free quote template through any of several popular sources:
Before sending your quote to a client, make sure that you run your draft through an editing tool like Grammarly to check for typos and misspellings.
When to Quote Freelance Clients
You won’t need to send out a quote for every freelance job you take on, or to every client that approaches you. Ideally, you should only have to send out quotes to new clients after you have had an initial call but before you start any work.
You don’t need to send out quotes to existing clients unless they want to change the scope of a project or they’re looking to use your skills in a new way.
After sending out a quote, wait a week before you follow up.
The Benefits of Freelance Price Quotes
Quotes aren’t only ideal for defining and reinforcing your pricing strategy, they also provide a variety of other benefits to both you and your prospective clients. Developing a professional freelance quoting process helps to achieve the following:
1. Clarify Expectations
Sometimes clients aren’t aware of the amount of work it will take to complete their project. Other times, you may misunderstand a client’s process or goal. Quotes help to define your relationship and clarify expectations for the project before work starts, meaning once you do get the go-ahead, you and the client are on the same page.
Once a contract is signed, it’s harder to change your rate and deadlines. Outlining them in advance gives you and your potential clients an opportunity to hash out important details.
2. Inform invoices
Invoices are usually based on quotes, so comprehensive quotes make your life easier down the road. Use them to define billable and nonbillable work hours, determine hourly rates, and schedule invoices.
3. Give You a Professional Edge
One aspect of becoming a successful freelancer is managing how professional and legitimate your freelance business looks to potential clients. The more streamlined your process, the better and more put-together you look.
Professional-looking quotes are a simple way to add an air of experience and expertise to your business that will help you to impress and entice better quality clients who take you and your time seriously.
4. Encourage Organization
Quotes are one of many tools you have at your disposal to stay organized and keep your records in good order. Adding them to your client acquisition strategy is a great way to track prospective clients, schedule follow-ups, and store client information for future reference.
5. Filters Out Mediocre Clients
A straightforward and professional quote gives you a chance to weed out poor clients before they become a problem. Because quotes give freelancers control over pricing and outlining a working relationship, they’re a great way to deter lowball offers and noncommittal clients.
Even if a client rejects your quote because it’s too high or because they aren’t ready, it’s better to find this out before you agree to a job than after.
Whether you’re a new freelancer or someone who does it full-time, quotes are a simple yet effective way to bring professionalism, organization, and transparency to your business.
Use them with each new client or project you take on to define your role in a project, maintain control over your workload, and encourage healthy, lasting relationships with your clients.