This week we’re looking at work proposals, what to consider, what to include in your price quote, and a pricing system for your services, especially if you’re building websites with Elementor.

From what we’ve been reading in the community groups, there is demand out there for web creators. Some argue that with the whole world currently relying on the internet, there’s even more demand now than ever.

By now, you will have come across a ton of great advice online on how to work from home, and how to find a new and practical balance for both our home life and our work life while they’re in the same physical environment.

But this is only relevant if we actually have the work. 

US online traffic since outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), from Vox.com

Being good at our craft does not guarantee us this work. However, having a confidant, well structured, well-thought-out work proposal will definitely make a great impression on that potential client, and boost our chances of getting that job.     

What Is a Work Proposal and Why We Need One

A work, business, or design proposal, is similar to a contract in that it is a written agreement. 

However, it differs in that it establishes an understanding of the expectations between the client and the web creator and vice versa. 

It also clarifies the needs of the client and the service or product that the web creator will provide, and the cost of this service.

With so much work commissioned and outsourced overseas, proposals are something of a crucial staple of the agreement between the web creator and the client.

The two main ingredients to a great proposal, are:

  • Good research and preparation
  • Putting the relevant information into a good coherent structure, or composition.

What to Prepare for a Work Proposal?

Before we even sit down to draft our proposal we need to do a good amount of research. 

1. In-Depth Interview With the Client

It is essential to understand the client’s needs or problems, but also the way that they see it. Even if you have another way of looking at it, seeing the problem from the client’s perspective will help you ensure your understanding of their business, their expectations and even make your communication with the client so much healthier. 

As professionals, we want to be thorough with the solutions, and answer our client’s needs in the best way possible. To do so, there are some crucial questions that we must ask our client.

Key Questions to Ask Our Client

  • Why does our client need a website? (Or why do they want to change the one that they already have?)
  • What are their expectations of a new website? 
  • In what way are they expecting the new site to affect their business?
  • To what extent will the site promote and showcase products and services in the near future?
  • Does the client hope to interact with visitors on the site? If so, how?
  • Who is their competition? What are they doing to get ahead? 
  • What is their inspiration? What sites, images, layouts do they, or their customers, find most appealing?

2. Listen, Listen, and Listen Some More

I know that this rule is a bit of a cliche’, but listening really is the key. 

If you’re like me and during meetings, your mind is busy figuring out solutions and imagining ideas, instead of listening properly to what your client has to say, — well, don’t. 

At the very least don’t dwell on these ideas. Write them down in shorthand or draw a quick sketch and keep listening to the client. 

The client wants someone who they feel understands them. 

If our proposal is going to prove that we intimately understand the client’s problems and ideas, we have to listen attentively, without being afraid of asking questions.

Away from our client, we need to be pragmatic and honest with ourselves as we go through the next phases of our research.

3. Evaluate Your Abilities and Expertise

We need to evaluate our abilities and expertise to assess whether we have all the expertise needed to provide our client with the site they want.

We must determine if we will have to outsource work to developers, content creators, photographers, animators, graphic designers, etc. 

If so, how much would this cost? And how will this affect our timeline?

4. Evaluate Your Resources & Materials

Realizing that you’ve forgotten how a certain feature will require a plugin that wasn’t accounted for in the quote, will set us back in terms of our time and our money.

We must gauge all of the necessary resources. 

Will we need to purchase plugins, addons, or any other products, software or hardware? 

Again, If so, how much would this cost?

Example of required materials and resources in a web design proposal

On a side note, professional Elementor users will tell you that if we’re building a site with several basic features (e.g., subscription forms, logins, email messaging, etc.), you do actually end up saving a lot more money, time, and resources by opting for Elementor and the features that it comes with. 

This is important because saving time and money on your side means that you’ll be able to offer a more competitive quote for your potential client. 

We also need to consider whether the client needs to provide us with materials that are essential to our work? If so, when will these materials be ready? 

Does the client have professional images? If not, will the client consider investing in a professional photoshoot? Otherwise, we’ll have to opt for stock footage that we’ll add to the total cost.

And what about hosting and domain name charges?

Will we be dealing with these essentials, or will the client?

Again, this is something that we want to consider before we hand in our proposal.

5. Evaluate Your Availability

Check the calendar. 

How long do you think this work will take once you have received all the necessary materials? 

What’s the best-case scenario? What’s the worst-case scenario?

Will you and your team be fully available during that time? You will need to account for holidays and sick days and whatever else that could spoil your schedule. 

Example of schedule for a project in a web design proposal

Another thing that a good proposal helps to keep to a minimum is scope.

One of the worst things that can happen to any web creator — especially if they are self-employed — is scope creep, affecting time and financial resources. 

Part of our research is to figure out where we, as individuals or teams, could be losing our track of time and focus, in addition to figuring out how we can avoid this.

With the research and preparation behind us, let’s look at what an actual proposal looks like and what to include to make a good proposal.

What to Include in a Proposal?

1st Section: The Client’s Need (Problem)

Like some, I prefer to begin with the client’s needs or problems. I find that clients who have to read lots of proposals don’t want to read through all of our accolades and bragging. 

Which is exactly why we should use the same rules we use for great storytelling and hit the ground running. Start with the inciting action, or as in our case, the problem.

This helps to hook the client’s attention immediately, showing them how well we intimately understand their business, their problem, and their needs. Moreover, this helps them feel confident that we are the people that they are going to feel most comfortable working with. 

 

Example of 1st section, reviewing the clients needs and challenges in a web design proposal

2nd Section: Our Proposed Solution

Next, we’ll add a rough outline or sketch explaining how we believe that we can solve this problem.

Deliverables

We can then add a list of Deliverables: the solution as an end product. 

Explaining what the client will receive in terms of products and services.

This can appear as a separate part of the proposal, or combined with the next section.

3rd Section: Proposed Workflow/Schedule

In this section, we can expand on how our workflow will operate within a timeframe. 

This is where we will specify when the client can expect to receive drafts, prototypes, tests, rounds of corrections, etc. 

Some also list the materials and work processes that will be needed throughout the workflow (e.g., editing images, editing texts, etc.).

We should also learn from the experience of others and clarify that our schedule is dependent on all the parties involved — the client, the outsourced experts — keeping to the schedule if we are to deliver all these assets on time.

4th Section: Price Quote

Show a comprehensible breakdown of costs and a total. 

You don’t need to drill down to the amount of coffee and snacks that you will be consuming throughout the project. Just enough so that the client can see that your quote is justifiable and reasonable.

Create a Reliable Pricing System

We cannot give a client a competitive quote without a pricing system that will also make sure that we are not undercutting ourselves. 

There might be an infinite number of possible website designs, but for the purpose of pricing, we could probably narrow them down into three types:

 

Standard

A promotional or commercial website made up of 5-7 pages, including: 

  • Homepage
  • About page
  • Contact page
  • Services page
  • Popup
  • 404 page
  • Header / Footer

Standard + Blog

Very similar to the Standard, only that it also includes all the designs needed for maintaining a blog.

  • “Standard” pages
  • Single post page
  • Archive page

Standard + Online Store

Possibly, the most demanding type of website includes:

  • “Standard” pages
  • Product pages
  • Cart page
  • Checkout page
  • Account page
  • Shipping 
  • Credit Card Billing
  • Sales & Special Offers

If we break this down even further, we’ll see that each type of site contains the basics of a standard website. Consequently, we’ll find that the most basic page of any site is the Homepage. 

Why is this important?

Because in terms of design and layout, the homepage is where we’ll spend the most time. 

The homepage is the foothold, the foundation of our design, and as such, all other pages will relate to it.

Elementor users make this process considerably easier by first building the site’s homepage, then waiting to get it approved by the client. Once approved, they then save the homepage’s design as a template that they use to construct the rest of the pages on the site, thus maintaining consistency throughout and saving us lots of time and effort.

Therefore, the key to creating a correct pricing system must stem from your evaluation of how long it will take you to design and build a homepage.

Using a Modular Pricing System Based on Your Elementor Workflow

Our pricing system should be modular in the same way that our workflow in Elementor is modular. 

If a client is asking me for a quote for a standard site, made up of 5 pages, I will begin calculating my quote by adding up the following costs:

  • Building the home page = 70% (of the total workload)
    • Including Header / Footer* 
  • About page = 5% (as I will be using 1 or 2 sections from the Homepage design)
  • Contact page = 10%
  • Other 2 pages = 15% 

*In most cases, a header or footer, or both, only need to be made once.

Estimate the amount of time you will personally need to create a sketch of the homepage. To that, add a round or two of corrections and then add the amount of time it will take you to build it. 

Don’t forget that we’ll need extra time for animation and motion effects. 

I would also add 10 or 15 percent to our calculation, to be on the safe side. 

Knowing the amount of time, you must estimate how much money your time is worth. 

The number that you come up with will serve as a great foundation for your pricing system. 

Every other part of the website can be calculated modularly. 

This way, our pricing system reflects our work process, and we don’t end up undercutting ourselves.

Example of modular build of several web pages in Elementor

Remember that this is only a calculation of your work hours.

We must also include other costs, such as fees for outsourced work. 

Programmers and developers, who we usually hire to create specialty code, usually charge per hour. Some may charge for the project as a whole.

We’ll also have to add the cost of materials, any plugins, or addons that we might need.

Consult With Your Local Elementor Community

We do suggest that you ask members of your local Elementor community or local community leaders, who will gladly give you the advice that is relevant to the country or state where you work. 

We are not suggesting prices here deliberately because each country has a different currency, cost of living, and tax laws. 

Don’t forget to account for those taxes that you’ll have to pay.

Training Fees

We should also need to know whether or not we’ll be required to train and show the company staff how to operate the site, upload posts or products, change content, send messages, etc. If so, we should charge per hour.

Moving back to our proposal document, we’ll want to show a gross breakdown of costs in our quote. That is, a site of a certain type with the list of requested features, materials that will be required, additional expertise, training if needed and the sum total. 

If you feel that it is necessary, you can add the costs for each individual asset and stage of production. However, most professionals that I’ve spoken to recently have pointed out that when you give clients too much micro information, they’ll try to cut costs and parts of the site and work process, making it more difficult to reach an agreement. 

5th Section: Call-to-Action

With the pricing out of the way, many professionals add another section — a Call to action — to keep the line of communication open and free. 

Offer advice, answers to questions; keep the client in contact with you.

 

Example of last section of a web design proposal, CTA & About Us

Some professionals include a brief legal agreement at the end of a proposal. This way, if the client likes your proposal, they can sign and agree to it (rather than risk them changing their minds later on). 

6th Section: About Us/Portfolio

Many of us like to add this as a final section.

It’s the place for us to highlight what we bring to the table (as a team or an individual), the talents, our fields of expertise and advantages in choosing our services.

I would also suggest adding a brief portfolio or a link to an online portfolio.

Contact Info

Whether or not we choose to add an About Us section or a portfolio, the last thing we want to forget is our Contact Information. 

I suppose that it’s because this is such a trivial thing in a work proposal, that it’s the first thing that people forget to add. 

Summary

It’s because we’ve been looking at technical and design aspects of web creation in previous Masterclasses that this week we decided to take a more practical look at working within the industry. 

With the current state of the industry, and after consulting with users, we felt that the way that we could best serve the community is by reviewing design and work proposals.

It’s important that we know what to include and what we need to consider if we are going to land that job, and very importantly, how to price our services without losing money out of our own pocket. Especially if we are at the beginning and of our career or looking to become a more efficient professional.

As you may have noticed, this post includes a downloadable work proposal template and sample. We suggest that you file it somewhere you can always find it when you need it. 

If you have any tips and advice that could help other users compose better proposals, please add them in the comments below.

Should you have any criticisms, we are equally interested in your thoughts.

After all, our goal is to be the best at helping others excel at their craft.