Bidsketch, for those of you who may not know, is an online tool for freelancers which helps you “create professional looking client proposals in half the time.” Does it do that? Let’s get right to it.
I’m a freelancer and at first glance $29 dollars a month seems a little spendy. I understand that the time you save pays itself off in one proposal creation. Regardless, in an era of free Google products, this is a little more than I’m used to spending for any monthly service. However, they offer a free year of Bidsketch with an honest review, and that’s what I’m delivering here. Are you a non-profit? Well then you can use Bidsketch for free.
Step 1) Basics
The basic settings under basic are straightforward, easy to use, and, well, basic. For your convenience there is also an advanced settings pane that I found simple to understand.
Step 2) Opening
Sections are easy to follow and intuitive to edit. Clicking the edit button brings up a text editor box that allows images, code, and basic text formatting. I’m happy to see you can full-screen the window – I don’t always see that option when presented with text editors other places on the web. This is a flexible tool that allows you to add a personal dimension.
Or, if you have a client you can be informal with, you can add some humor or a meme of some sort. Additionally, video and table tools are more than capable to explain a problem/solution. Perhaps you would want to film your proposal and include that in the contract. Clever!
The curly brackets do their job at automatically importing business names (yours and theirs) – great. One feature that would be nice to see would be the ability to click on a drop down and switch out paragraphs or pullet points with other pre-made template paragraphs. This would help in preventing stale or cookie cutter proposals and make swapping content quick and easy. I know you can swap out whole sections, but a more granular option would be excellent.
Need to add another section? No problem. That’s a click away. Click the “Add a Section” button in the sidebar and you’re presented with a familiar dropdown. Choose your section and continue with the proposal.
Proposal settings are limited to displaying fees, optional notes, and an Approval Message for when your customer agrees to the proposal. Nothing complicated here.
Step 3) Client Fees
This is quickly broken down into One Time Fees and Monthly Fees. Fees will display differently based on the type of proposal you selected in the beginning. It’s simple and easy to understand. Optional fees are great for up-selling and Bidsketch makes it a breeze.
Need to add another fee? At one point I clicked a dropdown for a new fee from the library and got tangled up in the template of a new fee. I tried to reset the fee and close it but I was having a hard time figuring that out. Now that I take another look at it, it’s just that the text editor window for adding a new fee is always open at the bottom of the fee list. This confused me a bit because adding a section in the Opening required you to click a separate button.
Anyway, choose your currency, if you want your optional fees included in the total, and your tax/discount. Easy.
Step 4) Closing
If we all learned one thing from Alec Baldwin, it’s A – Always, B – Be, C – Closing! Always Be Closing! Sorry, I love that scene. Closing looks very similar to the Opening. Great looking templates here and plenty of pre-made options to add. A person could even choose a section from an unrelated business type (for example, WordPress if you focus on social media) and edit those paragraphs to your liking.
It’s also obvious that Bidsketch has taken care of boring parts like Terms and Conditions and the next steps. While important, they’re not a joy to write. But that’s why you’re interested in Bidsketch to begin with, right?
Step 5) Preview
Preview mode makes it easy to choose a pre-made design and change the headings and colors. Plenty of variety to keep things from getting stale. Also, a feature for quick edits goes a long way to prevent stress – no going back to another section to make changes.
Want to make and save a custom Fee, Client, Section? No problemo. Adding these custom areas of a proposal from the dashboard gives you a convenient way to add more pre-made data without having to write a proposal. The proposal tab lets you know the status of your proposals – pending, lost, won. Simple simple simple! Did I mention you also have the option to include electronic signatures in your proposal? If you’re enrolled in the Freelance plan, or better, your proposals will have that option. This is a great (and legally binding) option to have. Don’t make your client fax/mail it back to you – give them the option to sign now. ABC!
I haven’t had a need to ask any questions yet, but the omnipresent “Got a question? We’re online!” is reassuring. Bidsketch also has several bit-sized videos to help you with some of the more common questions.
Watch Out for Typos!
For as nice as Bidsketch has been at making proposals a snap, you always want to double check the spelling of these template sections. I’ve already noticed several British spellings and even double periods. This isn’t a deal breaker, it’s just unfortunate that a tool designed to save you time has these typos and alternative spellings, which makes you spend more time fixing them. See “finalise” and “customise” below. This might be standard for Brits, but us Yanks don’t process it as correct (and neither do our spell checkers).
See the two periods after “code” below?
Is Bidsketch worth it. Yes, it is. Stop monkeying around with handmade proposals and streamline the process already. After only having made a few proposals, I know this is going to remain a sharp tool in my arsenal.