Put Your Proposals in Writing

This week’s Art Marketing Action newsletter encourages you to put everything in writing, with a focus on agreements. I’d also like to encourage you to put your quotes and proposals in writing.

About a year and a half ago, I decided to put all of my proposals in writing. It used to be that I would discuss something with someone on the phone, tell them my price, and they could decide whether or not it was right for them. Boy, things have changed! I can’t remember where I read of this methodology, but I am so grateful for it.

Here’s what I do with an inquiry now:

  • Someone calls or emails with a project they’d like help on: coaching, consulting, a workshop.
  • I send them a standard questionnaire I use with every client. If they’re serious about the project, they’ll fill it out and return it to me.
  • I offer a free, 20-minute phone consultation for those I think I can help. During this phone call, I gather as much information and spend most of my time listening to the client’s needs. I then say, “Let me think about this and get back to you. [and, if appropriate] I will send you a written proposal with some options in it. You can decide how you would like to proceed.” I almost always give options! I find that to be a powerful tool. This also allows me to think about the situation and weigh the pros and cons of it with myself instead of feeling pressured by the other person. No one has ever objected to the slight delay.
  • I write up an official proposal and email it to them. In the case of workshops, I often put together printed packets because I have these cool envelopes that people love to receive.

That’s it! And, let me tell you, it works. I rarely have a proposal turned down.

Click on the continued story to see you can adapt this to your art business and career.

Steps for your artist proposal:

  • Someone calls or emails with you with a commission or asks you to donate work to a favorite cause. 
  • Come up with a standard questionnaire, if appropriate. Make sure you want to proceed.
  • Offer a consultation for those you’re interested in. During this phone
    call or in-person meeting, gather as much information and spend your
    time listening to the client’s needs. Then say, “Let me think about
    this and get back to you. [and, if appropriate] I will send you a
    written proposal with some options in it. You can decide how you would
    like to proceed.” Don’t feel pressured to come up with an answer for
    them on the spot. You need the time to mull it over.
  • Write up an official proposal on your letterhead and email it to them.
    Use a printed version if it’s more appropriate. Ask them to confirm the
    receipt of it.
  • Put a note on your calendar to follow up in a couple of weeks (or longer) if you haven’t heard from them.
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3 comments to Put Your Proposals in Writing

  • Whooooops! Looks like you got Spammed, Alyson! I’ve had this happen at my blog a time or two, where a commercial concern will masquerade as someone leaving a comment, and the body of the text or the signature line is just full of links to their site – in this case, online casinos. I don’t know if it really helps, but I discovered one site to report such “splogs”: http://www.splogreporter.com/ Now, my comment: I LOVE your newsletter, and the two latest entries were written specifically for me, I’m sure! Thanks for doing what you do – it really helps!

  • two experiences I have had…1) got a new gallery owner to sign a consignment agreement for a few paintings…made a mistake by calling her early one morning…she called me later to say that I should tear up the agreement…left my paintings outside her gallery for pick up…guess she was not a morning person…(I sent a delivery person to pick up the works so I didn’t have to get into it…)end of show…2)tried to get my current gallery to sign an artist-gallery contract…He had a high priced lawyer who handled his legal matters…I did not want to hire a lawyer to negotiate…He became paranoid and difficult…I asked a gallery owner friend about his contract status with artists…friend said that he has used simple trust for years-says it keeps the relationship healthy…(he is an important gallery here-35 years)…(current status-no contract, good gallery karma)…

  • Denise Adams

    I am about to embark on another Unit of Painting with Open Universities so I am searching the net for Proposal information. Your site popped up and I have found it enormously valuable. Thank you Alyson.