Let’s talk about pulling toenails off with a hot pair of pliers soaked in lemon juice. You know, the activity otherwise known as WRITING A PROPOSAL.
For as long as I’ve been sending out actual proposals/contracts/invoices, I’ve had this process. Well, if you can call it a process. It has looked something like this: Labor for days over detailed proposal. Send proposal. Wait around days or weeks for a yes or no. Get yes (typically 😉 ) Send contract. Wait for contract to be returned. Send invoice. Wait for invoice to be paid.
Seriously. WORST PROCESS EVER, right?
It got a little better when I started using Freshbooks earlier this year. The invoicing part of that goes much more smoothly now, and I’ve eliminated the devil that is PayPal by using Stripe. Now I know that when a client pays by card, I’ll get that payment deposited into my business account EXACTLY seven days later. No guessing. And Freshbooks integrates with Podio, which I started using earlier this year as both my CRM and Project Management tool (though with just myself using it, I have to force myself to track everything there – it’s more of a discipline I know I want to have in place and well, it’s just the right thing to do, I think we can all agree on that).
But Freshbooks and Podio alone wasn’t solving the actual proposal and contract creation/sending/getting/signing/tearing up process that took me hours upon hours upon days. Seriously, sometimes, even though I KNEW I pretty much had a contract locked down – I’d put off putting together the proposal and contract because I just hated it that much.
Not anymore! Last week I ripped out three proposals in two days and I didn’t shed a tear! How did I accomplish this feat of freelancing wonder, you ask!?
http://www.bidsketch.com . Recommended to me by Justin Sainton.
Bidsketch has lots of great features, and you can read about those features on their site. This is NOT a “let me tell you everything you possibly need to know about Bidsketch” post. But, I do want to tell you what I really love about it – what’s making it REALLY work for me.
1. It integrates with Freshbooks. SO, when I create a proposal in Bidsketh, I can click a link to create an invoice that will be sent once the proposal is “accepted” and “signed” in Bidsketch. Magic. Saved me tons of time right there!
2. It has proposal templates for me to start with, but which can be customized. Web Design, Web Development, and Strategy Consulting are three I’ve used already. These have the same types of language I was using in my own, hand-crafted proposals, only these templates say it in 4,000 less words, which is always better for the client.
3. Bidsketch tracks when the client has opened, viewed, printed, and pretty much touched the proposal, anytime they do. This for me is both one of the best features and the worst. I love seeing that a client first opened the proposal for 5 minutes, then 35, then printed it. But, I also DON’T like seeing that another hasn’t even opened theirs yet when I was PRETTY sure that meeting went REALLY well. Knowing is half the battle, though, right? I guess that just gives me a little more reason to call and follow up.
4. The proposals are delivered electronically, and can be legally signed electronically, too.
5. You can include certain features of your proposal for x fees, but then also include OPTIONAL features for optional fees which clients can choose to accept or decline. That’s pretty sweet – anytime you can give clients choices you’ll come out ahead in the end.
I didn’t dread creating any of those proposals last week, which is the first time I’ve ever felt that way. I have another to do on Monday morning, and I know already it’s not going to be difficult because of Bidsketch. I wish I’d found this tool years ago.
PS – this was another totally casual, unedited post. If there are spelling mistakes or grammar goofs, not sorry! Done is better than not!