Are you planning to hire a proposal writer to create your next proposal or grant application? As is true with any writing project, hiring a professional writer can save you a lot of time and stress. However, working with a pro still requires your input and organizational skills. To be sure that your proposal project will progress as efficiently as possible, you should consider the following questions before you interview a professional writer for the job.
All too often someone is tasked with writing a business proposal with an extremely tight deadline and their first thought is to hire someone to write it for them. Most of these cases result in the proposal writer rejecting them as a client because they are not prepared with the information that the writer would need to complete the project. These fast turnaround proposals more often than not require you to write it yourself – and this is where a pre-designed proposal writing package such as a proposal kit will help you get it done faster.
What is Your Goal?
Are you responding to an RFP and have to submit a PDF in a certain format? Do you want a beautiful printed proposal to present at a board meeting? Be sure you can tell the writer the deadline and the final format and describe the audience who will read the proposal.
What Do You Expect the Proposal Writer to Do?
This might seem self-evident – of course you want that person to write your proposal. But do you also expect the writer to lay out the pages and produce the final PDF or printed document? Do you expect the writer to create graphs or charts or other visual pieces? Do you want the writer to create an appealing cover? Do you expect the writer to manage the review process and consider comments from others?
How Much Are You Willing to Pay?
Writers come with differing levels of experience and expertise. You could always take the cheapest route and hire your cousin John who has written research papers in college, but odds are that he will create many more drafts and take much longer than an experienced proposal writer.
With a professional writer, you may be able to negotiate a flat rate for your proposal or a Not-to-Exceed rate, but in that case, the writer is likely to insist on a contract that spells out the terms of the job, and if you change anything or don’t fulfill your responsibilities in a timely fashion, the writer may insist on renegotiating the contract. Most experienced writers expect to be paid by the hour. Writers who work in highly specialized fields may command a high hourly rate of pay, but odds are that they will save you time during the course of the project. If you expect the writer to manage the whole project, you should expect to pay a higher rate.
What Does the Writer Have to Work With?
In other words, where is all the information that needs to go into the proposal? Do you already have documents and digitized visual elements that can be included or that the writer can use as reference material? Or is the information that will go into the proposal all contained in the brains or laptops of various individuals, such as marketers or managers? If that’s the case, the writer will need to schedule interviews with all the people who have the data needed for the proposal.
Do you have an example of a proposal your organization has submitted in the past that the writer can use for reference? In the best case scenario, you should be able to hand the write an outline for the proposal along with a sample proposal and a list of computer files containing the information needed to fill in the outline. At the very least, you should be ready to hand the writer a list of important points that must be covered in the proposal, as well as the names of people to interview to get all the needed information.
You also need to consider tools – does the writer need a desk and computer at your place of business? How about software? Do you have specific templates or proposal software that you want the writer to use? Starting off with a specialized package like a proposal kit can make the writing much more efficient because they contain instructions, examples, and sample proposals. A proposal kit will also help guarantee that the writer produces organized and professional-looking pages and an accurate table of contents.
What is the Schedule?
The time needed to create a proposal depends on how complex the proposal is, how many people need to participate, and how organized everyone is.
Things to consider for the schedule are:
First draft writing time
First draft review time
Second draft and incorporating comments
Changes from final review
Final proofread of all pages
Production of PDF and/or printed proposal
If the writer starts with the needed information in hand, the research time will be negligible. If the writer must collect all the data from multiple individuals, the research process will obviously take a while. If you have handed the writer an outline for your proposal, that will make writing the first draft more efficient than if the writer needs to “wing it.” Here again, a pre-designed proposal kit can help with ideas and examples about the best organization for successful proposals.
Every proposal needs at least one review and one final proofread. For a very simple proposal, this might take only an hour or two. But if your project is complicated and has many sections, you probably have a whole list of reviewers whom you want to approve the proposal, and a review could take days or even weeks. Complex proposals may require several review cycles. Be sure to inform all reviewers about the date on which they will receive the draft proposal and the date you need all comments back from them. You might find it efficient to break the proposal into parts so that the expert for one part can review that section while the writer progresses on other sections. In any case, after each review is handed in, you need to allow time for the writer to consider and incorporate comments before circulating the next draft. When all reviewers are satisfied, then it’s time for a final proofread before creating the PDF or proposal you will hand off to your client or grant committee. The final proofreader should be someone other than the proposal writer.
To sum up, the more organized you are before you hire a proposal writer, the faster the writing project will go. When you have answers to all the questions posed above, you should have no difficulty hiring a writer and efficiently managing your proposal project.