Back Writing Offers as a Freelancer: What Has to be Included?

Writing Offers as a Freelancer: What Has to be Included?

Learn why it can be useful as a freelancer to write an offer, what has to be included in it, and what you should keep in mind to convince the client.

Dunja Reiber
Dunja Reiber

Mar 10, 2022

When freelancers write an offer, they make a concrete proposal for cooperation to their potential client, so to speak. They list the services and prices they offer to them. We explain whether a proposal is necessary, why it can be useful, and what components you should include. We also give you tips on how to convince the potential customer with your offer.

Do I have to write an offer as a freelancer?

You are not required to write an offer. Alternatively, you can, for example, come to an agreement with a client in conversation and directly conclude a contract. Or you can record your agreement in an e-mail. Sometimes you have no other choice because the potential client demands an offer. This is often part of the standard process, especially in larger companies. Maybe they also want to compare the offers of several freelancers. All the more reason to make an effort so that you can prevail over the competition.

Even if it is not required, an offer has several advantages:
  • No misunderstandings about services and prices: You avoid a "I thought that was all included" or "Wasn't the hourly rate 10 euros lower?" at the end of the project.
  • Professional appearance: A quote shows the potential client that you run your business professionally and your services are clearly defined.
  • Opportunity to convince the customer: After a good conversation, you can score again with the potential customer through a professional offer and convince him of your quality.

In case you're just starting out as a freelancer, feel free to get our complete checklist to see what you have to keep in mind.

Which mandatory information must be included in the offer?

When you write an offer as a freelancer in Germany, you should definitely include some basic points. This will show you are professional and meet the legal requirements for an offer.

The mandatory information includes:

  • Contact details: Both your own data (name, address, telephone and e-mail) and the data of your contact person must be included in the offer. Also include your VAT ID (if available).
  • Subject "Offer": Clearly state in the heading what the document is about.
  • Offer date: Include the date on which you send the offer. It is valid from this date.
  • Acceptance period: Add a date until which you are bound to the conditions of the offer. This is not obligatory, but it makes sense. Otherwise, the customer can still refer to it later and ask for the same conditions.
  • Services: Describe your offered services as precisely as possible and define what is included. This is the only way both sides will know what they are getting into.
  • Prices: Services, of course, include prices for each item offered. Make it clear, for example, whether it is a unit price or an hourly or daily rate.
  • Value-added tax: Show the applicable value-added tax (Umsatzsteuer in German) separately. If you are a small business (Kleinunternehmer in German) and do not charge this tax, add the information about your status instead.
  • Total amount: At the end, you add the total amount in gross and net.
  • Work period: Define when you will start the work and by when it will be completed. For a continuous quote on a monthly basis, make it clear that you are offering a monthly service instead.
  • Method of delivery/service delivery: Specify how the client will receive the deliverables. For example, do you work in their system, do you email everything to them, or do you provide your finished deliverables through an interface?

If you have formulated general terms and conditions (GTC), you should attach them to the offer. This allows you to specify the general conditions of your cooperation in more detail without the offer becoming too extensive.

The client is not yet sure exactly which services they need? Then you can also include optional parts in the offer. Set these items apart from the standard offer and clearly mark them. In this way, you show the customer directly how much these services would cost and how they are defined. It also makes sense to include a price for additional services that may be needed during the course of the project. For example, you can specify that they will be billed at a certain hourly or daily rate.

By including so-called release clauses, you reserve the right to make changes. For example, you can write "non-binding offer" or "prices subject to change". Otherwise, the offer is binding and your customer can get exactly these services at these conditions. The question is, however, whether this non-binding nature makes sense for you. Because you probably already create a suitable offer and are happy when the customer accepts it.

Want to know how to write invoices as a freelancer? Check out our article!

Write your offer: How to convince as a freelancer

Of course, the offer can be a mere formality, but in many cases you are probably not the only freelancer who writes an offer for this client. So you should use this opportunity to present yourself well and make it as easy as possible for the client to accept your offer.

You can score with these aspects:

  • Quick response: Don't make the client wait, but send them the offer as soon as possible after your conversation. Ideally, they will receive it within 24 hours. This will allow you to move quickly and possibly give you an advantage over your slower competitors.
  • Clear structure: Maybe you know the saying "A confused mind always says no". Therefore, make sure that your outline is clear and simple so that the client can quickly find their way around. For example, if you have a comprehensive offer, you can form product groups and insert subtotals.
  • Informative value: Describe the services you offer in simple but meaningful terms. The customer should be able to imagine exactly what they are getting. Ideally, no queries are necessary, and the client can accept the offer directly. Therefore, avoid using technical terms or abbreviations that might be unfamiliar to them.
  • Formally flawless: Spelling mistakes and an unprofessional look may scare off the client. Instead, take the time once to create an attractive offer letter template and proofread each proposal.
  • Polite and personal: Write your offer in polite words, including phrases such as "Thank you for your interest" or "I look forward to hearing back from you." Address it to a specific person, either your contact or someone they designate to receive the offer.
  • Appropriate deadline: You shouldn't pressure the potential client by setting too short a deadline, nor should you make them feel like they have forever to make a decision. The appropriate deadline depends on your service, the amount of the offer, and the size of the client company. In many cases, for example, a deadline of two to three weeks may be appropriate.
Tip: Once you have sent out an offer, you can follow up with the contact person after a few days and ask if there are any open questions or if they still need anything from you. In this way, you discreetly remind them of yourself once again, and there may indeed still be points that you should discuss.

Cost estimate and offer: the difference

The two terms offer and cost estimate (Kostenvoranschlag in German) are often used synonymously, but they are different. The prices and services in an offer are usually binding, even if you can weaken this with release clauses. A cost estimate, on the other hand, in Germany is a calculation that you can exceed by up to 20 percent. It only gives the potential client an overview of the project and the expected costs.

If you are unsure, ask your potential client which option they prefer. The advantage of the offer: The customer only has to accept it, and you have a binding basis for your project together.

By the way: With 9am you can save yourself the trouble of writing offers. Instead, you find exciting projects via our platform or are contacted directly by clients. You agree on the specifications and your hourly or daily rate, and we take care of the rest.

Dunja Reiber

Dunja Reiber is a writer and content marketer specializing in Future of Work topics. She has worked in a content marketing agency and a software start-up before becoming a full-time freelancer.

Latest Articles

Pension Insurance Obligation as a Freelancer: What Does it Mean?

Pension Insurance Obligation as a Freelancer: What Does it Mean?

Some freelancers in Germany have to become part of the statutory pension insurance. You can learn more about the conditions and consequence...

Client Communication as a Freelancer: What You Should Know

Client Communication as a Freelancer: What You Should Know

For freelancers, client communication is very important for long-term success. Here you will find tips for effective communication with you...

Defining Your Offer as a Freelancer: How to Position Yourself

Defining Your Offer as a Freelancer: How to Position Yourself

Even though it takes time, defining your offer as a freelancer is worth it and will get you more clients and better rates. Here's how it's ...