If you’re in the running for a project, you want to be on your toes when it comes to quoting your bid. The more you know about the project and your ability to deliver, the more spot-on your quote will be. Eliminate the headache of going over budget (or eating the overage yourself) later.

Thoroughly Read the Brief

If you skimmed the project outline the first time, take your time and go back and read it well. Take notes on what you think the project will need, including materials and time. Sometimes the brief isn’t clear, especially if you’re bidding through a third party site like Guru or Elance. When in doubt, ask questions of the hiring party.

Count Your Costs

Factor how long it will take you to complete this project. If you’re bidding with an hourly rate, simply multiply your hourly rate against the hours it should take, plus materials. If you bid per project, have a pricing sheet for standard projects to use in this step.

Factor in your time for talking on the phone to the client, passing emails back and forth and other administrative costs (service providers are notorious for not building these in).

If you need materials and you’re not sure of the pricing, look around online or call for pricing. It’s better to provide a buffer to this cost than go over or compromise quality.

Match to the Budget

Now that you have what you think the project will cost, does it match what the client wants to pay? If it’s way over, consider whether you want to work for someone who puts so little value on this type of work. If it’s slightly over the budget, consider cutting some of the services or features so that it meets the budget. You can always include different options in your proposal.

Customize Your Proposal

When putting together your bid, customize it with an app like QuoteBase. The information about your firm probably won’t change much, though you may want to highlight the specific services the client is looking for in the verbiage.

In the body, focus on specifically what the client wants. Use similar wording to what the project description uses. If he’s asking for “an SEO wordsmith,” use that or a variation to show you were paying attention. Focus on your experience with the product or service the client wants.

When you prepare the price quote for the project, break down each of the costs:

The $5,000 bid includes writing 100 articles, as well as providing a monthly progress report tracking clicks to your site. It also includes a weekly summary with suggestions for future content on your site.

This gives the client a better sense of where his money is going, and helps him separate your bid from the stack.

Final Tips

  • Remember that you’re running a business, and that you have to pay your bills. Don’t let anyone low-ball you out of guilt. Value your worth.
  • Estimate high if you’re unsure how long a project will take.
  • Track the time it takes so that in the future, you have a better idea on time required.
  • Ask questions. The more you know, the more exact your quote.
  • Don’t quote off the top of your head. If you’re on the phone, tell the customer you will email them a custom quote tailored for their needs.
  • Ask what the budget is. This can help you determine if the project is worth quoting and can help you tailor your offerings to fit the budget.
  • Get a contract signed specifying your requirements for payment.