Your Secret Weapon for Getting Game Audio Clients
Many of us get discouraged by the oversaturation of the game audio market.
We're all aware of the notorious "game audio swarms" that descend upon any project that posts about needing a composer or sound designer.
Like bees to honey...
It's nuts to see the hundreds of comments on such posts and consider how many applications the devs must have to slog through to find the right people for their project.
With this much competition, how can you and your work possibly stand out?
If you're tired of applying to projects and getting no replies or being asked for quotes only for devs to ghost you and leave you wondering what you did wrong, it might be time to upgrade your proposal game.
"You got the job!" - Who doesn't want to hear that?
Enter The High-End Project Proposal
Put yourself in the shoes of a game developer who is drowning in a tidal wave of game audio applications.
They are overwhelmed and most likely looking for the easiest way to get themselves out of spending three days working through their DMs wondering why they didn't just buy a sound pack from the Unity Asset Store.
Those poor devs...
If you send them just another DM, just another email, or just another Soundcloud portfolio, you are essentially inviting them to associate you with mediocrity.
We don't want that. We want exactly the opposite of that.
We want to send them something that makes them say, "Wow!".
If you can get people to say "wow" you will also get them to say "yes."
How to Design a High-End Proposal
"All proposal writing is, is just answering questions - that's it. It's the questions your potential clients need answering before they can buy from you."
Let's consider what we want to accomplish with our mind-blowing proposal.
We want to:
Demonstrate that we understand our client's situation and problems.
Detail the results that they will get by hiring us.
Walk them through their process (theirs, not yours) and next steps.
BONUS: Add terms & conditions so your proposal is simultaneously your contract.
In essence, we want to speak to our client's problems and show them we have a plan to solve them in a way that oozes confidence and professionalism.
We want to put them completely at ease so that taking the next steps to hire us, or at least talk with us about their project (depending on which point in the project acquisition process they receive this proposal) is easy.
P.S. You can see exactly what my company's high-end proposal looks like at the end of this blog!
Let's Break That Down
That all sounds cool but what does it mean in practice?
Let's take a closer look:
1 | Demonstrate that we understand our client's situation and problems
This doesn't need to be an epic, 500-page poem dedicated to your clients and their woes.
Jazz snaps for all my clients and their troubles
In fact, as much as possible I invite you to choose your words carefully and get to the point without being too brief.
A phrase or two highlighting their problem and how hiring you solves it is more than enough.
Here is the opening phrase from my company's proposal word-for-word:
"At Double Shot Audio we know you want to make unique and memorable games.
In order to do that, you need to partner with an audio team that understands your vision and can translate it into great sound.
That's where we come in.
We work with you; turning your vision into a finished, polished game that you feel proud of and that you and your fans can enjoy for the rest of your lives."
What is the Problem?
Developers don't want 5 minutes of looping music or 20 magic attack SFX.
They want to make unique, memorable games.
We want to highlight that what we do helps them achieve that goal.
Music and SFX just happen to be the way we do that.
What is our Solution?
Again, we don't solve the problem of them not having sound.
We solve the problem that they don't have a finished, polished game without great sound.
And we underline the emotions they will feel (pride, joy) once their game is finished.
2 | Detail the results that they will get by hiring you
Now that we've dealt with the high-level goals and aspirations of what a well-made game really means to our clients, we can get into the nitty-gritty.
We do this by giving a bit more information on what our clients get and what they do not get.
What They Get
Again, whether you are a composer, sound designer, technical sound designer, or all three, you have to underscore the results your services bring, not the services themselves.
Here's are some more excerpts from our proposal:
"Sound Effects - We will bring your game's world to life with sound."
"Music - Music shapes a player's emotional reaction to your game."
"Audio Programming - Wake up with sound in your game."
There is more, but the essence of this section is communicating what value your services have in relation to your client's game.
Yes, Yes, Yes!
What They Don't Get
This section is a nice addition that clarifies what is not a standard part of your services.
We like making it clear, for example, that voiceovers are not a standard part of our work.
BUT we can take care of them or reach out to a partner studio on our client's behalf for an additional fee.
From our experience and stories we've heard from other game audio pros, you can never be too clear with clients.
3 | Walk them through their process (theirs, not yours) and next steps
What do the next steps look like for your clients?
How do they go from not knowing you at all to celebrating the release of their game together with you on their team?
Now is a great time to show them (briefly!) what their journey between those two points looks like as well as get some business-related information out of the way.
Our proposal guides clients through stages such as the deposit (we don't do any work without being paid some amount of the budget up front, and neither should you), scheduling, communication, file/project access, revisions, etc...
How you structure this will depend on your personal project pipeline.
Also, if they like your proposal and want to hire you, make sure you tell them exactly how to do that!
4 | BONUS: Add terms & conditions so your proposal is simultaneously your contract
This is not a must but it can be a plus.
Many clients will want to know what the "fine print" contains and, instead of leaving them to wonder or find out later with a separate contract, you could combine the two and give them all the information they need in one beautiful file.
Oh yeah, this proposal is coming together nicely!
But are we missing anything?
Oh right.. the price tag.
Of course, if you're sending a proposal before discussing project specifics, you'll want to leave that out.
I also wouldn't add any placeholder numbers that represent your standard rates because:
It might scare away clients if they skip to that section without reading all the other parts about how valuable your work is.
Your clients will be more open and accepting of a price they know is based on their project and its specific needs.
See my post on How to Charge For Your Game Audio Work if you have questions on how to quote for your services.
If you have discussed their project, then this is obviously an appropriate time to show them what their project will cost.
This reference ages me, doesn't it?
What Does a High-End Proposal Look Like?
Your proposal is a chance to show off your creativity and professionalism.
Don't send your clients a shitty, poorly formatted Word document!
Whether we like it or not, people judge quality with their eyes first.
That means your proposal has to look professional in order for your clients to perceive you as being professional.
Take some time to make a nice, clean proposal.
The best part is you can make a great proposal template once and use it for all future clients with only minimal tweaks needed for their individual information.
Check Out My Proposal
It's easy enough to write a blog post about what you should put in your proposal, but what does this actually look like in real life?
In order to help inspire you, I'm adding a link to a proposal from my company for you to reference.
Looks good, right?
We use Better Proposals and it's one of the only products we pay for that I genuinely couldn't live without.
If you also think Better Proposals looks pretty damn fancy and want to try it out (and support this blog while doing so) you can sign up through my referral link.
Take advantage of the free trial and if it's not for you, you can cancel before payment starts. Easy.
You can no doubt design something nice with Canva, Powerpoint, etc... so don't feel any pressure to jump right into paid software.
At the same time, don't be afraid to spend money on tools that make you money.
A good proposal could be the difference between getting that $5000 gig or not, which in my view makes something like Better Proposals worth every penny.
Alright, enough fawning over my favorite software...
If you want more (and better) clients, you need to stand out from the crowd and be more than just another freelancer.
A high-end proposal helps you do this while also answering questions your potential clients will have, easing their minds, and making them more open to working with you!
If you take the time to make a simple, beautiful, and effective high-end proposal once, you will be investing in a valuable asset for life that only needs minimal tweaking every now and then as your business grows and changes.
High-end proposals save you time, clients love it, and you will feel more confident about your businesses and your services when using one.
What are you waiting for?
Hi, I’m Ben Gallagher.
After struggling for many years to make it as a game audio freelancer, I created The Game Audio Pro with the goal of helping others understand the fundamental business skills that are often the difference between success and failure for freelancers.
If you're ready to take your game audio career to the next level, download my guide to The Most Important Mindset for Game Audio Success.