As a freelancer myself, I know we're always looking for tools that will do everything we need, all in one place, without shaving off large chunks from our profit margin as we grow and scale our businesses.
So, when I came across a podcast about this cheap resource where several things could be handled all in one place, for less than $20/mo, my interest was piqued.
AND the best part? The company was formed by freelancers, FOR freelancers (of all kinds). They've also expanded since then, offering additional services now than they had available even just a few months ago!
So who is it?!?!
Note: I strive to create content that will remain relevant and "evergreen," so while I can list their current features here all on one page, you should still go check out their website and see what's new! – *UPDATED September 2017
How did I hear about this company?
Clients from Hell had an excellent podcast (episode 33) interview with Bonsai's Founder, Matt Brown.
CFH editor, Bryce Bladon, interviewed Matt in that episode (you should really give it a listen!) and all Bryce could do was gush about hellobonsai.com! Even going as far as saying he never gushes, but in this case it was SUCH a useful tool that he couldn't help it!
Copy & pasted straight from their website, because they worded it best:
"Bonsai is building the global operating system for freelance work.
The way the world works is changing.
Companies want on-demand talent rather than full time employees. Workers want flexible and independent careers. This is one of the largest socio-economic shifts since the Industrial Revolution.
While the nature of work is changing rapidly, the tools and processes supporting it are stuck in the twentieth (or even nineteenth!) century.
Bonsai is dedicated to helping companies and independent talent work better together. We're building solutions to support a future where work is flexible and globally distributed."
So, what exactly can I do with Bonsai?
From this blog title, I'm guessing you already know the main features Bonsai has to offer, but I'm going to drop them here so they're listed all in one place & then you can go check them out for yourself!
Freelancers need to send proposals, and Bonsai offers that in the simplest way. Just fill in your details (approach, timeline, fees), and their template will summarize it in a "clear and structured" format.
Send your proposals online, and keep track of those you've sent. They even track when your proposal has been viewed, so you can respond at just the right moment.
Your client can approve the proposal with one click, which can also auto-generate a contract & invoice(s) from there.
Create, edit, send and e-sign bulletproof contracts!
Just fill in a few details about your project, and Bonsai generates a complete contract ("written and reviewed by top lawyers").
Contracts aren't just template based. You can edit any part of the contract if you choose, or use one the templates (only adjusting the details, as you fill it out).
You can securely sign your contract digitally, then send to your client where they sign digitally too. Bonsai also stores the contracts online + you can download them as a PDF to keep for your own records.
Look at one of their Contract Templates here. Or watch below to see how simple they are to fill out (please note: I'm using my own information in the fields for "my client" and myself in the example)!
+ Time Tracking
Charge hourly? A lot of time-trackers aren't free and/or not built into the system you're already using. When you're just starting out (especially), your business may not be ready to pay for a service like that!
Thankfully Bonsai has a time-tracker built in, which integrates with your Bonsai account.
Their time-tracker is deeply integrated with proposals, contracts & invoicing. The features they mention are:
- start & pause tracking quickly
- switch between projects seamlessly & without confusion
- centralized time sheets (customizable)
- automated invoicing, from the time sheets
- connects to your proposals & contracts, which saves you time (not entering data more than once)
- easily invoice time tracked
Create customized and branded invoices quickly, with options to automatically create an invoice once the contract is signed.
Bonsai saves you time by automating the payment reminders (optional), so your client won't forget the due date or miss a payment.
If you've done things manually before, you probably know what it feels like to wonder if your client has even received your invoice! Forget that!! Bonsai lets you know when the client views it.
What are the different ways you can get paid? Online payments are accepted via Stripe, PayPal and Coinbase, ––which covers credit card transactions, bank transfers (ACH), and bitcoin. That means transactions are secure, rates are competitive, and you get fast pay outs!
Stripe payments make it to my bank in 1-2 business days, PayPal typically takes 2-3 business days.
(You can also mark an invoice as paid with cash or check).
Recently, and the main reason for re-publishing this post, Bonsai did away with their get-everything-free plan and introduced paid plans, with a limited free plan. I was admittedly pretty bummed to hear about that, but the paid plans are super cheap and they have 4 options to choose between.
As of September 2017, their plans are (click here to visit their page & check for updates):
- 1 active project
- 3 projects / year
- Limited features & customization
- Unlimited projects
- Advanced branding
- Advanced reporting
- $16/mo paid annually (or $19/month-to-month)
- Multiple users
- Project collaboration
- Dedicated support
40,000+ freelancers trust & love Bonsai
+ More Resources
Click on any of the titles below to see the pages on Bonsai's website:
Check out the most common hourly rates based on:
Bonsai also list's their top choices for tons of categories (even for their competitors or other companies which may also be useful to you) like:
- File Management
- Project Management
- Time Tracking
They even list reputable sites where you can look for freelance work!
Join the gig list, and you'll get design, development & writing job opportunities (you're interested in) delivered to your inbox 1x per week.
Bonsai put together all kinds of info in the same place, on topics you care about!
- Finding Work
- Marketing Yourself
+ For Managers
If you're a manager, and you have several freelancers that are on your team, Bonsai has all kinds of good stuff for you too!
- Freelance Mangement System
- Human Resources
- Hiring Toolkits
- + more Resources
If you are looking for a great solution for your most basic business needs while your business grows, this will likely be a great option for you! It combines the most basic features from apps like HelloSign (e-contracts), Harvest (time tracking) and Wave/Freshbooks (invoices/payments), for a low monthly rate & you can't beat that!
I'm happy to say I'm now a Bonsai affiliate, and can offer you a free month with Bonsai if you'd like to test the waters!
I used them when I got started, and they were a great stepping stone for me. They have grown a lot in the past year, and have more features in the works that will be available soon.
*(In the spirit of full disclosure, if you sign up with that link, I earn a small commission, but I wouldn't share it with you if I haven't enjoyed using it myself!)