Bonsai is a web-based product that helps the user with all the processes around freelancing. It can help one with creating and sending invoices. One can manage clients and projects, and keep track of tasks with the time monitoring tool. And it also helps the user with creating proposals and contracts. Bonsai is geared towards being a one-stop solution for freelancers.
- Create and send invoices.
- Accounts for multiple currencies.
- Comes with a time tracker.
- Creates proposals and contracts.
- The accounting section helps estimate taxes.
- The task doesn’t have Kanban boards.
Freelancing is not at the fringe of the economy anymore. A lot of people now rely on freelance gigs for bread and butter.
Some do it for the kind of independence and flexibility it provides to them, while others like it because they would rather work for multiple clients instead of monotonously grinding themselves away just for a single client.
The reason can be anything for one to get into freelance, the gist here is that a lot of people are freelancing these days. And it has added a lot more professionalism to the already serious business.
The wider acceptance of freelancing into mainstream businesses also means that freelancers are now exposed to more clients than ever. However, the increased number of clients and projects also means a lot more paperwork to handle.
One needs to take care of invoices, projects, contracts, clients, deadlines, and a lot more. Freelancers usually don’t have the luxury of having dedicated accountants to take care of all the paperwork. They need to handle most aspects of the business themselves, and it doesn’t take too long for things to get a bit too overwhelming in such a scenario.
In this review, we will go through all the ins and outs of Bonsai, and tell if it is the tool that you, as a freelancer, must have in your arsenal.
By the end of this review, you will have a much better idea of all the capabilities of Bonsai, and a much better idea if you should use this tool or not.
The setting up process
Let us begin with what happens after you sign up on the tool.
The onboarding process on Bonsai is smooth enough. It starts with the tool asking you about the kind of work you do as a freelancer. Some of the available choices would be development, writing, marketing, etc.
The next question will be about the extensiveness of your freelancing, and finally, it would ask you about the primary reason you are on the platform.
You would be on the dashboard after answering these questions, and they provide you a small checklist to get you acquainted with the tool.
However, we would want you to take care of the client section before you get into creating invoices, proposals, and contracts.
You don’t need to mention all of the client details right at the time of creating the profile. Bonsai would let you create a client profile with only the name and email address. You can then mention additional details such as the contact info and address if you want.
They also let you add tags, which makes everything that much easier. As you start doing business with the client, details such as projects done with the client and info related to payment will start reflecting in the profile. You can also add any notes in a client’s profile if you want.
Creating an invoice on Bonsai is a straightforward task. And this straightforwardness seems to be a common theme across the platform.
When you go on to add a new client on the platform, you need to mention the client and project for which you are creating the invoice.
If either of the client or the invoice isn’t already mentioned on the platform, you can specify a new one right at that time and mention the specifics related to the client or project later.
A lot of other such tools would usually redirect you to another page for creating a new client profile or for specifying a new project.
There are three kinds of invoices that you can create on this platform- one-time, recurring, and recurring auto-payment. We guess the names of these invoices are pretty much self-explanatory.
When you select any of the recurring invoices, you need to specify two things. One is the duration of the payment cycle, and the other is about how long you want the cycle to go on.
You can keep the payment cycle weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and yearly. We felt that Bonsai could’ve been slightly more generous with the options for the payment cycle. We are quite sure that these four options wouldn’t suffice for all the freelancers out there.
The next step lets you add in a few more details. You’d be able to mention more details about the client as well as the receiver of the payment. You get to mention the deliverables, their quantity, price, and additional expenses.
The tool automatically does all the calculations for you. You can also specify the tax rates and discount on the project, if applicable. Bonsai takes care of currencies from 180 countries around the world. So, we guess they have got you covered for most of your international clients.
One of the most useful features of the tool is that you can attach payment gateway along with the invoice itself. After all, making it easier for the client to make payment is also a part of the whole experience they get with you.
Some of the options for payment gateways are credit/debit cards, bank transfer, PayPal, mailed check, etc. Once you are done with the gateway, you can attach a late fee clause with the invoice and also include notes and attachments with it.
Finally, you can schedule the invoice to go out automatically if it’s a recurring invoice, and if it is a one-time payment, then you can send out the invoice right at the moment.
They allow you to send out an invoice to the client on his email address, or you can copy its link and send it to wherever and however you want.
Projects and tasks
One of the most useful skills that any freelancer can have is the ability to manage things better. If you are dealing with projects of more than one client, then it’s highly likely that the management and organization part needs a lot of attention.
Each project comes with a deadline, payment details, tasks & subtasks within the project, etc., and it becomes your responsibility to keep track of all these details for all the projects that you have under the belt.
Bonsai helps make life easier for freelancers by organizing all the projects and details in such a way that you would never find yourself falling behind schedule.
Let’s have a quick look at how this platform can help you manage projects and tasks better.
There are a few basic details that you need to specify to create a new project. It will be the name of the client, the project name, the currency, and the hourly rate if applicable.
You can take care of the rest of the details from the project dashboard. The overview section lets one know of all the details of the project. It shows the tasks listed in the project, the files and messages, invoices, expenses, time tracking, etc.
The first thing you would want to do is divide the project into smaller tasks with clear guidelines. There are two ways you can add tasks to Bonsai. One way is to do it from the project overview section, and the other way is from the tasks section on the platform.
The advantage of having a dedicated tasks section is that you will have a clear idea of different things you need to do and how much time you have for it.
You can add a description for the task, add a due date, and also assign it to one of the collaborators if needed. There is also the option to add sub-tasks to make the job even easier.
The more you break down a task into smaller pieces, the easier it gets to monitor the state of things.
Once you take care of tasks and sub-tasks, you can move on and add all the necessary files to the project. It would help you as well as collaborators to stay on the same page and negate any communication lags.
Bonsai lets you add team members in the form of collaborators. This feature can prove to be beneficial in a lot of use cases. You can communicate with the team members and assign them tasks to let them know of their responsibilities, as well.
There is an entire section dedicated to invoices, and you can create all kinds of invoices for the project, as we discussed in the previous section.
Time tracking has two primary advantages. The first one is that it keeps you informed about your productivity levels, and the second advantage is that it helps with billing when it comes to projects and tasks with an hourly rate.
This tool also provides you with a time tracker so that at the end of the day, you have a pretty clear idea as to how much time was assigned to each task. If you have allotted hourly rate to any of the projects or tasks, then the tool will automatically include the hours in the invoice and bill them appropriately.
Another great feature of time tracker on this tool is that it lets you add hours manually, as well. So, if you ever miss to turn on the timer, or if the nature of the task is such that you can’t put an online timer on it, you can add an appropriate number of hours to the task yourself.
The only thing that we missed on the platform is something like Kanban boards to help users manage projects better. Other than that, Bonsai provides you with all the necessary features to manage projects and tasks with ease.
Proposal and contracts
Sending out proposals is one of the most important tasks for any business. It is where things start, and you convert a prospect into a customer.
Even though a significant portion of the freelancing community doesn’t rely on proposals, there are still plenty of occasions when you need to create and send out proposals to get more clients and projects.
If you aren’t used to creating proposals or need some assistance in creating a new one, then Bonsai has got you covered. It gives you a template for the proposal and also the option to modify it if needed.
Once you add the details such as the project and client’s name, you will get the outline of the document. It will have information related to both the parties at the top, and then it goes into the details such as goal, timeline, and pricing.
There is the option to include different kinds of pricing tables, as well. You can fill the sections with relevant details to complete the document, and also add more sections to the document if needed.
You can add sections with more text and attach files. There is also the option to add background so that you can have your letterhead for the document.
Contracts are equally important as proposals, if not more important than proposals. It is the document that makes it legally binding for the client to pay you for all the work you do for them.
Creating a contract is a lot more difficult than creating a proposal. You need to take care of all the clauses, and a document usually spans over a lot of words.
Bonsai comes with a section dedicated to contracts, and it makes it ridiculously easy for one to create long and detailed contracts. It starts with you specifying project and client details along with the nature of the job.
It will then ask you to lay down the pricing and payment cycle along with the penalties. And once you are done providing them the details, you will get a document with all the legal terminology containing all the details and clauses specified by you.
We don’t think it gets any simpler than that. You can then send the document to the other party, and they can sign it digitally for you.
Creating documents is one of the bigger headaches for freelancers, and Bonsai does well to fight that issue by providing proposals and contract builders.
Expenses and accounting
Bookkeeping is among the most critical and sometimes the most boring task for freelancers. There are so many big and small expenses to account for, and things get even more confusing when the expenses overlap.
One needs to account for all the income and expenses at the time of filing taxes. And if you haven’t been paying much attention to the accounting part for the year or the quarter, then you have set yourself up for some solid headache.
Bonsai provides you with the section to keep track of both personal and professional expenses. The expenses section would let you mention all expenditure under multiple categories. You can log the details about the money you spent on projects, traveling, food, education, rental equipment, etc.
When you add in a new expense, you can specify whether or not it is billable, and you can also mention if the bill is recurring or not. The tool would automatically accommodate the expense in a suitable project if it were billable. If you add it as a recurring expense, then you won’t have to worry much about adding it again and again.
The accounting section on the platform would give you a summary of the income and expenses. The section gives you a fair idea of how much money you are making and shows you all the major sources of income and expenditure.
You can also get tax estimates in the accounting section. They also give you the option to share all of the information with your accountant to make things easier for them, as well.
A freelancer has almost all the needs that a business can have but on a relatively smaller scale. Bonsai is a tool that strives to satisfy all such needs with the tools available on the platform.
It takes care of everything right from invoicing to time management. We started with the client section on the tool and saw how you could save all the necessary details related to all your clients and projects.
They handled the invoicing section really well. Not only was there the option of creating three kinds of invoices, the process was fairly intuitive on top of it. The invoices you created on the platform would account for taxes, discounts, different currencies, and it’s fairly simple to send them out, as well.
You won’t find it difficult to create projects with all the details. The feature to create tasks and subtasks with hourly rates can also be useful for users. Especially since there is a time tracker on the platform to keep track of the hours you spend on each task.
The proposal and contract builder also prove to be useful. It is remarkable that one can create these important documents with such ease.
Finally, the accounting section can help the user be more judicious with the money and monitor the spending habits.
Bonsai takes care of almost all the needs of a freelancer, and it can take away a lot of burden off their shoulders. The tool comes with a free plan, and we feel that it’s worth a try if someone is looking for a tool to help with freelancing.