Last year, we found over 200 high-quality RFPs (Requests for Proposal) by private companies looking for website design and development, branding, marketing and other services.
What made them high-quality? Well these RFPs had great budgets (usually $15,000+) and their expectations were realistic. They were for some great causes, and the projects / companies they were helping really provided value to the world.
Now unfortunately, a lot of great freelancers and agencies don’t even know where to begin when it comes to finding a great RFP.
That’s disappointing because even some of the best agencies use RFPs as a source of new work. When you know you have 5-10 RFPs you can reach out to at any time, it makes growing your client network feel a lot less chaotic.
And surprisingly, you can do this with just a few sites. This post is going to walk you through exactly how it works.
If you prefer to watch how I do this on video, here’s a clip that breaks it down. It’s a free taste from my full six-week training program on building a high-value lead-gen system called Endless Clients:
Where to Find RFPs
So first off, where can you find the best RFPs?
Below are my top recommendations. This is first step in creating a solid RFP system because knowing exactly which websites to go to to find great client work is a huge advantage. So here’s the inside scoop.
Because of the vast number of sites indexed each day, Google is a great source of RFPs. I use it to get anywhere from 5 to 10 RFPs every week.
It’s super simple and fast to perform a search that yields a lot of valuable results. Here’s how I do it:
- In the search box, type in “RFP [your work type]”, similar to how you’d do on LinkedIn below. But, for Google, I add “filetype:pdf” because most companies will create and upload a PDF when they write an RFP.
- Then sort your results by “past month” so you can narrow things down to recently posted RFPs.
- Use the keyword: “website design” or whatever your specialty is.
You can find dozens of companies and organizations RFPs directly on Google this way. Now that you’ve set your search up for success, make a reminder to come back to this task every week.
Or if you’re looking for website design RFPs, check out my Website Design RFP and Referral Newsletter to just get them delivered to your inbox each week.
The next site I recommend for finding RFPs is LinkedIn.
Since LinkedIn is a social networking site geared towards professionals looking to connect with others, why not use their network to find RFPs?
Here’s the process I use to find anywhere from 5 to 10 RFPs on LinkedIn each week:
- Again, in the search box, type in “RFP [your work type]”. For example, if you’re a website designer, you’d type in “RFP website design.”
- Make sure to click on the “Content” tab to filter results by stuff companies have posted.
- Then sort the results by “Latest” to get the most recent posts.
LinkedIn is actually my favorite place to go for RFPs because hiring managers and decision makers post RFPs on the site directly. This gives you an awesome opportunity to meet and talk to the right people. A customer of mine even shared how he used this aspect of LinkedIn to win an RFP on the platform recently.
Note: you will have to sift through a fairly high amount of content marketing to find quality RFPs on LinkedIn. For a full in-depth walk-through on how to use LinkedIn to find RFPs and other clients go here.
Lastly, I will mention that you should probably have a strong LinkedIn profile listing all of your best freelance work if you’re going to messaging clients on LinkedIn. I cover a ton of ways to do that in that link.
Another source of RFPs is the RFP site. The best of the RFP sites, in my experience, is The RFP Database, and I like it because it gives you access to a wide variety of RFP types.
The RFPDB is a pay-per-bid RFP site that we find about 3-5 great RFPs on each month. The site is actually a co-op where agencies share RFPs with one another. There’s lots of categories, so find the one that makes sense for the work you’d like to do.
Just know that you’ll usually need to go through a few RFPs to find a good one on these sites. There’s a lot of long, overly-bureaucratic type documents on RFP sites in general. So be prepared to throw out some of the RFPs you pay for before you find something good.
I always pick the short, reasonable, high-budget RFPs when I’m curating my website design RFP newsletter.
The good thing is there isn’t as much manual labor required when searching through these sites. You’ll typically just need to pay anywhere between $2-10 per RFP.
In recent years, a ton of organizations and companies have taken to Facebook for promoting their RFPs. Like Linkedin, you’ll have to sort through a lot of content marketing and irrelevant spam – but if your particular niche is Facebook-centered, it might make sense.
Unfortunately I rank them last because of their clunky UI. You’re going to want to limit your search to RFPs posted in the last month, but that’s frustrating to do.
The major bug is having to choose this filter every time you alter your search because Facebook doesn’t save your preference.
Lastly, these are my top RFP sources, but keep in mind that different platforms work better for different freelancers/agencies.
It’s important to experiment with what works for you. You might discover that for your specific type of work a site not listed here has all the RFPs you need.
Also, as you start implementing these strategies, you’ll find better ways to hone in on the RFPs that you want. Pay attention to your search terms. It will reveal a lot about what works and where you can find more of it.
Make websites? I’ll do all of this for you
Folyo’s RFP and Referral Newsletter actually posts all of the RFPs found on the above sites for members each week. You can learn more about how it works here.
Instead of searching yourself for website RFPs online, you get RFPs that meet the following sent to your inbox each week:
- Legit high-quality companies
- Branding, Marketing, and Website design and development
- Great high-paying budgets ($10,000+)
What else you’ll need
Finding an RFP is only half of the process; you also need to know how to win the project despite the fierce competition!
Once you’ve identified a great RFP read it carefully, you now need to put together a proposal. And this can be tricky. In fact, we have an entire module on creating an irresistible proposal inside Endless Clients.
One of my biggest tips is to create a system around responding to RFPs. You want to make each action deliberate. Like with your client management, a customer relationship management tool can help with this.
The Best CRM for RFPs
One of the most important things I’ve learned when it comes to landing RFPs is that, in addition to knowing where to find them, you also need to be persistent in your efforts to get the gig.
Sure, your proposal is important, but opening a line of communication with a potential client—and keeping that line open—can help differentiate you from other freelancers who have applied but failed to follow up.
It typically takes more than 3 follow-up messages to get a response to your proposal. If you’re sending multiple proposals this can get tiresome quickly.
A CRM can help keep this all straight.
Solid Email Templates
There are a lot of clients out there, all with their own unique needs. To get those clients, it’s all about making a strong first impression.
As you work on your proposals, focus less on yourself and more on what your clients require. This will allow you to fine-tune your messages so you can effectively prove that you understand their needs and have what it takes to help them.
Don’t forget: following up is critical because it shows that you’re putting a potential new client first and you’re willing to go the extra mile!
It all starts with reading the entire RFP carefully, and researching the company that wrote the RFP. Doing so will ensure you include everything that the client requested when you put your proposal together.
Also, I recommend that you only submit one portfolio piece that’s relevant to the RFP. Don’t overdo it by sending too many samples, as that can easily overwhelm or frustrate a client.
1. Get a reply
Submitting your proposal is your opportunity to start building a relationship with the client.
The goal is to get a reply, rather than close the deal right away. That’s why I avoid using phrases like “I can start tomorrow” or “I’m a freelancer, and here’s my portfolio.” And it’s best to keep things short and sweet to make it easy for clients to reply to you.
A few great ways to start a conversation with a potential new client:
- Let them know what you like about their site, company, brand, etc.
- Let them know if you’ve done work for a similar client in the past.
- Let them know that you have questions about the project.
2. Follow up
After you’ve submitted your proposal, make it a point to follow up.
To simplify this process, consider using a CRM. And create a sequence that you can follow to keep things as automated as possible.
My process goes like this:
- After a week, submit a follow-up message.
- Every 7-10 days after that, for about three weeks, send another follow-up. Ask if they still need the types of services you provide, if they’d like to speak with you, if their project needs have changed, etc.
Yes, you can use a template to reply to RFPs!
When you create an effective sales message, you can reuse parts of it, such as your terms and conditions, your pay rate, and relevant case studies.
Then, you can also have a template for a cover letter that you can tweak, as needed.
The part that should be unique to every RFP: a description of the client’s problem and your recommended solution.
What I really like to follow is what’s known as the PDF (Pain Dream Fix) Sales Framework by Amy Hoy. Here’s how it works:
- Describe the client’s problem back to them. Use as many of the same words that they used in the RFP to define their pain points.
- Paint a picture to let the client know what their dream outcome looks like. Rather than focusing solely on your process, focus on how their daily workflow will improve once the project is complete.
- Propose the solution that will fix their problem. This can be the shortest and least detailed section of the proposal. It will showcase an action that you’ll take once the client moves forward with you.
There’s nothing wrong with using a template. In fact, I recommend it, especially if you’re writing 10 to 30 proposals every month.
Think about it: 90% of RFPs will request the same information from you. This means you can use a template over and over again to save loads of time.
Of course, you still need to personalize your message to a particular client. But for certain details, like your experience or portfolio, you can plug them into a template and reuse it to boost efficiency when writing new proposals.
What to do next
How many proposals will you send before winning just one project? Well, it might take an average of 10 to 30 proposals to land one impressive, well-paying gig!
This means there’s no need to feel discouraged just because you don’t land each and every gig that you apply to.
Again, it’s all about standing out against the competition. So, in addition to the proposal itself, start a conversation with a potential client to begin building a relationship with them.
This is really easy to do! Just send a question or comment to open the line of communication. Then, as I mentioned above, follow up by touching base with them again every week or two until they’ve made a hiring decision.
Always remember: consistent effort is the key! Save time, Get the Best Website Design RFPs Here
Try Folyo’s Referral Newsletter to Get Started!
I’ve been able to find hundreds of top-quality RFPs with $10,000+ budgets for my Referral Newsletter. So, in addition to the sources discussed above, you can receive valuable leads right to your inbox.
Bottom line: it might take a little trial and error at first, but with some practice, and a system in place for searching for RFPs and submitting proposals, you’ll begin seeing results. Then, before you know it, you might even be able to outsource your RFP search to a virtual assistant!