Where and How to Find RFPs (Requests for Proposals) Online

Robert Williams

Unfortunately, a lot of great freelancers and agencies don’t know where to find great RFPs (Request for Proposal) quickly when they have gaps in their schedule.

High-value RFPs can be a great source for new client work because legitimate companies with real budgets post them, and you can often re-use past proposals to quickly pitch new work.

Even some of the best agencies pitch RFPs when looking for new new work, as principal at Mule Design Mike Monteiro mentions in his book Design is a Job.

When you know you have 5-10 RFPs you can reach out to at any time, growing your client sales pipeline feels a lot less chaotic.

And surprisingly, you can do this with just a few sites.

This post is going to walk-through exactly how to do this in a couple hours a week.

If you prefer video, click here to get my free hands-on training on surfacing high-value RFPs. There are some subtleties that you can pick up by watching someone do this in real-time.

Where to Find RFPs

1. Folyo – Web Design and Development Lead Newsletter

Since I wrote this post I thought I’d introduce my RFP and lead newsletter first.

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.

I’ve been able to find hundreds of top-quality RFPs with $10,000+ budgets each year for my exclusive newsletter since 2013. So, in addition to the sources discussed below, know that you can receive valuable leads to your inbox right now.

We even give interested freelance web designers and developers a free lead sample on our homepage. If you are curious, you can get your first 10 or so RFPs and leads for free right now.

Folyo’s web design and development lead and RFP newsletter actually posts all of the RFPs we find using the sites below 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:

Another great thing lead newsletter members get is tools to help them win the RFPs.

Finding an RFP is only half of the process; you also need to know how to win the project! Once you’ve identified a great RFP read it carefully, you now need to put together a proposal. And this can be tricky. That’s why include training and resources to help inside Folyo’s Referral Newsletter.

Over $1,000 of free software included with your membership:

Newsletter customers get 3 months free of both Bidsketch (the best proposal software on the web) and Noko time tracking.

 

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

2 Templates included in Endless Clients for finding and winning RFPs

2 Templates included in Endless Clients for finding and winning RFPs

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:

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:

Proposal Templates

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:

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.

2. Google

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:

  1. 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. 
  2. Then sort your results by “past month” so you can narrow things down to recently posted RFPs.
  3. 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.

3. LinkedIn

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. Make sure to click on the “Content” tab to filter results by stuff companies have posted.
  3. 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.

4. The RFPdb

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. 

5. Facebook

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.

Experiment

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:

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!

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