GUIDE 2022

How to Become a Proposal Writer Without Experience

Want to become a proposal writer? Then this article is for you.

Proposal writers help businesses find clients and thrive. Many companies rely on proposals to form professional relationships and find business, and proposal writers are responsible for creating these documents. A proposal writer is a professional who drafts proposals for businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.

There are many types of proposals, and many present ideas for contracts or agreements between businesses or agencies. Proposal writers write these documents to convince people to offer support to a project, enter into a business arrangement, take action, or obtain grants. They may also create other types of persuasive writing, such as PR content or marketing materials.

A proposal writer may attend meetings with clients or interview them to learn what they are expecting when writing contracts or agreements. Their job also includes maintaining a close connection with other creative professionals like editors and graphic designers. At times, proposal writers help with design implementation strategies for partnerships after the proposal stage. They also research clients, products, and finances in order to prepare proposals that can benefit all involved parties.

Depending on the company, the proposal writer duties differ. But some typical responsibilities include:

  • Researching topics related to the client’s business and writing and organizing information in a professional and credible way
  • Conducting interviews, attending meetings, and identifying opportunities for proposal writing
  • Creating project schedules and deadlines, coordinating responsibilities, and preparing presentations
  • Preparing proposals that include supporting materials, such as graphics, diagrams, graphs, flowcharts, etc., to support the company’s message in relevant proposal sections
  • Maintaining consistency in proposal writing by adhering to company policies
  • Writing reports summarizing the final result of every proposal’s impact on the company
  • Reviewing feedback on improvement opportunities, including typing mistakes, formatting issues, and unclear language and editing and revising proposals according to the feedback
  • Working with other team members, like the project manager, proposal manager, documentation expert, and subject matter specialists for niche-specific proposals
  • Checking proposals written by other writers to ensure compliance with company standards

How to Become a Proposal Writer

The proposal writer job involves a unique opportunity to connect with clients and influence business development in a direct way. It is an exciting and rewarding yet challenging position. Do you have what it takes to succeed?

Here, we provide a step-by-step guide to becoming a proposal writer.

Get a Degree

To become a proposal writer, you need to have terrific communication skills to enable you to write compelling proposals. If you want to work in a specific sector requiring technical knowledge, most employers may want you to get some education in that field. Any university or college degree program that covers significant use of writing and persuasion strategies will give you the abilities you need to become a professional proposal writer. Some of the common bachelor’s degrees for proposal writers are journalism, mass communications, English, and public relations. Any of these subjects is sufficient for you to learn the techniques to become a proposal writer.

Companies may also prefer many proposal writers to have a master’s degree in one of the same fields. Though this is inessential for becoming a proposal writer, it helps. According to surveys, 75.1% of proposal writers have a bachelor’s degree. And for higher education levels, 15.5% of proposal writers have a master’s degree. Though many proposal writers and technical writers hold a college degree, it is somehow impossible to become a writer with just a high school degree.

Besides, you can consider taking up writing courses or short courses online/offline that would help to improve your communication and writing skills. So, if you want to become a proposal writer, enroll in a relevant degree program in a college or university or take up any short course.

Acquire Important Skills

You need to have some skills to become a successful proposal writer. Following are some essential skills to write a convincing proposal:

Research Skills

It is important for proposal writers to have excellent research skills to gather information for creating winning proposals. They should research the company’s objectives and the client’s requirements and expectations to create a proposal that addresses their needs. A proposal writer should also research the client’s industry to ensure they use the right industry standards.

Strategic Planning

A proposal writer has to offer different ways of approaching one problem and find a solution that optimizes their offering. Strategic planning is important as it helps determine how they compete in this competitive industry.

Critical Thinking

For an effective and compelling proposal, it must reveal critical thinking about the topic that goes beyond what is already known. It must indicate to the reader that the writer has thought ahead and regarded the potential outcomes and implications of the research. Critical thinking is one important skill that every proposal writer must possess as it helps them present workable strategies during proposal management. A good proposal shows the evidence of a proposal writer’s ability to evaluate and synthesize content and merge vertical and lateral thinking.

Organization

Proposal writers should have the ability to organize their thoughts and ideas in a logical manner. This helps them create a persuasive document that explains their ideas in a clear way and offers a solution to the client’s problem. The organization also helps in managing research and any supporting documents you include in the proposal.

Strong Communication

Proposal writers communicate with coworkers, clients, and other stakeholders throughout the proposal writing process. Strong interpersonal skills are critical in proposal writing. You may need to communicate complex ideas and concepts in a way that is approachable and easy to understand.

A proposal writer may also need to communicate deadlines and other crucial information and present proposals at conferences or meetings with partners, clients, investors, etc. Effective communication skills help writers articulate ideas in a clear manner, coordinate their creative teams, and communicate with representatives from other organizations

Writing Skills

Creating proposals is the main task of a proposal writer. In addition to verbal communication and collaboration with colleagues, a proposal writer must master written communication. So, it is important to have strong writing skills that help you with writing convincing and persuasive proposals. You must produce written work that is articulate and free of typing mistakes.

Creativity

Proposal writers should avoid relying just on their certifications and awards if they want to succeed. Creativity and novelty are of great importance for proposal writing. A proposal writer needs to come up with exceptional proposals that set their ideas apart from the competitors. For this, they need to use their creativity. They may brainstorm ideas for how to convince a client to invest in the new product. Creativity also enables proposal writers to think of new and different ways to present information to their clients.

Attention to Detail

Proposal writers carry out extensive research on their clients to write effective proposals. The proposals may span over a hundred pages. Besides, the writers have to check each proposal for several things. For example, they must write and review proposals for accuracy, terminology, style, readability, grammar, etc. Having good attention to detail helps writers conduct effective research and ensure that everything that a proposal contains is accurate.

An Aptitude for Technology

As with many modern careers, technology is a vital part of the day-to-day operations of the proposal team. As a matter of fact, professionals with technology experience are in demand. In particular, companies prefer those with proposal software experience. All these solutions improve efficiency in the proposal process, and the leading proposal teams use them.

The best proposal software centralizes the whole process. They enable data collection, content knowledge management, and proposal project management. So, it is good to have experience in using Microsoft Office and other similar tools. Having some skills in various writing, design, and editing solutions can help writers create professional proposals.

Time Management

Successful proposal writers are experts at project prioritization and management. At times, proposal writers may have to work on several proposals or projects at the same time with tight deadlines. As a result, the ability to stick to a strict proposal timeline and avoid delays gives great results. The fast-moving work is rewarding, and those who have motivation tend to thrive. Therefore, time management is a crucial skill for this job as it helps in prioritizing your work and staying focused on the available task.

Attend Training and Workshops

Due to the technical nature of proposal writing, you will need additional knowledge. While degrees provide you with solid writing and presentation skills, they lack customizations according to specific aspects of writing. So, you should attend training and workshops that focus on improving your proposal writing skills.

Try to find a program that covers both proposal writing and proposal management. Such programs teach you the nitty-gritty details of the process while also giving you a bird’s-eye view of the complete proposal lifecycle. While you can find some programs in colleges and universities near you, you will find many online also. This option will enable you to attend class without bending your personal schedules.

Obtain a Certificate

The Association of Proposal Management Professionals, or APMP, is an organization that provides training and certification and creates industry standards for professionals dedicated to the process of winning business through proposals, presentations, bids, and tenders. It is a worldwide authority that establishes best practices, the global standard in our market, and the sole provider of professional certifications for those working on proposals.

APMP certifications have become so common among proposal experts, and clients value them a lot. Obtaining certification from the APMP can help you become a competitive candidate for companies. These certifications enable you to show companies that you are familiar with the use of best practices for proposal and bid management to succeed.

For this, you need to pass an online test that covers all aspects of the grant proposal process. And to take the exam, you will need at least a year of experience in grant proposal writing, verified by a reference of your choice. So, invest in the APMP study guide, read the material, and get started.

Build Work Experience

Most companies prefer candidates who have some professional experience in proposal writing. In fact, to many employers, your experience as a proposal writer matters a lot than your degree. Most proposal writers search for volunteer internship work at nonprofit companies where they can learn how to create proposals. Some writers also choose to work as freelance proposal writers to prepare their resumes before applying to larger companies.

In the same way, if you specialize in the education field, you need to have higher education industry experience. Seeking jobs as a technical writer or copy editor may also help you develop the skills you need to become a proposal writer.

Create a Portfolio

If you want to apply for a proposal writer job, you must have the ability to convince the employer that you have skills and relevant experience. Building your portfolio is most effective in demonstrating your skills to potential employers. Portfolios contain records of successful projects that you did and can show your expertise to the clients. You can offer volunteer services to government agencies as a way to create your portfolio and gather the required experience. Then, you can include any proposals or technical writing work that you did during your internships or last employment.

Write Your Resume

After creating a strong portfolio, you can begin looking for jobs, and one major tool that you would need for this is your resume. Build your resume containing information about yourself, your educational background, an overview of your skills, and samples of completed proposals.

Look for Proposal Writer Jobs

If you prove that you have the relevant knowledge and skills, getting the proposal writer job is easy. If you plan to do freelancing, build your proposal writing portfolio to find jobs. A number of freelance websites are available, which you can use to start hunting for proposal writer jobs. Start applying for proposal writer jobs available both online and offline. On freelance platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, Craigslist, and LinkedIn, you will find many listings of proposal writers.

But if you are planning to work as a permanent employee for a company, you must build a nice resume and start applying for related jobs on the internet. Then, you can also create proposal letters to firms and non-profit companies introducing your services to them.

FAQs

In this section, find answers to the most common questions regarding the proposal writer:

Is Proposal Writing a Good Career?

Yes, it is since proposal writers get attractive pay. It also improves your communication skills and helps you learn about your employer and the market within which you run. Proposal writing will make a good career for you, but it depends on what field interests you and which one you manage to get into.

How Much Does a Proposal Writer Make?

As of January 2022, the median salary of a proposal writer was $59,714 per annum, according to PayScale.com. Most employers prefer to recruit applicants who have several years of experience in proposal writing. The exact salary range for a proposal writer depends on various factors, including experience level, type of industry, and geographic location. Proposal writers who deal with technical fields, such as genetic research or bioengineering, may get a higher salary than those working in non-technical fields. The median salary for all types of writers was $74,650 in 2022, according to the BLS.

What Does the Career Path for Proposal Writers Look Like?

Those who start out with the role of a proposal writer might progress to different roles like Proposal Manager or Senior Technical Writer. Later on, they can become a Program Manager, Project Manager, or Senior Project Manager and end up with the titles like Marketing Manager, Product Manager, Marketing Director, or Development Director.

Can Proposal Writers Work as Freelancers?

By all means. Proposal writers can work as freelancers. But many a time, a freelance proposal writer needs to have additional skills to get jobs and make themselves competitive. Freelance proposal writers remain in a constant search of new opportunities and clients.

Conclusion

Proposals serve as a key management tool for the implementation of projects and include an explanation of why a potential client should choose this option over others. It is a must for proposal writers to have the ability to articulate their ideas in a way that is both simple to understand and compelling to read. Employers prefer proposal writers with excellent communication skills and the ability to work under pressure to meet demanding deadlines. If you want to become a proposal writer without experience, you should have great attention to detail and write in a factual, convincing way to help businesses thrive.

Josh Fechter
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He had his first job in technical writing for a video editing software company in 2014. Since then, he has written several books on software documentation, personal branding, and computer hacking. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.