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How to streamline & automate your client workflows with Bonsai

Creative Business
min read
In this article

As creatives, the thing we love to do the most is create. Unfortunately, that’s often not all our  days consist of. Each and every commission, client project, or wholesale agreement, whether you end up working on it or not, requires a certain amount of admin that eats up precious creative time, and is for the most part a lot less fun.

When I first started Maker & Moxie, I was doing all of this manually: creating proposals and invoices in Google Docs, adding projects to my project management system, emailing my clients back and forth, and I didn’t use contracts at all! Thankfully, I discovered Bonsai, and I’m not over exaggerating when I say that it changed my life!

In this article I share with you a bit about Bonsai, how I use it and how it helped me to streamline and automate my workflows so that I can spend less time on admin, and more time creating, and hopefully you can too!

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post which means that if you subscribe to Bonsai as a result of clicking this link, I'll get a small token of thanks from Bonsai. You won't ever pay more for purchasing through my links and please be assured that I only recommend products I have personally used and love! I haven’t been asked to write this, I’m just sharing because Bonsai honestly helps me so much, and I truly hope that it helps you too!

What is Bonsai?

Bonsai describes itself as an “all-in-one solution for the world's best creative freelancers.” It’s an app that helps to take the stress out of proposals, contracts, time-tracking, invoicing, payments, expenses, reporting and more.

Let’s start with an overview of how it works.

How Bonsai works

When you log in to Bonsai, you’re greeted with a dashboard showing a project timeline, your income & expenses, any outstanding or overdue documents, time tracked, active tasks and the latest activity, so that you can see a pretty good overview of what’s happening in your small business at any given time.

From here the three main actions and arguably Bonsai’s three main features are creating a contract, sending an invoice or sending a proposal.

As well as these three things, Bonsai also helps you to track clients, projects, tasks, expenses, time and more, all in one place! Boom!

When I have a new potential project, I just set up the client if they’re new and add the project. You can add as much or as little detail as you like and you’re ready to get started!

An example Bonsai dashboard

My favourite features and how I use them


When you get an inquiry from a potential client, one of the first things you’re going to have to do is send them a proposal. Thankfully Bonsai makes this so easy for you and your client!

You can choose from Bonsai’s library of 1000+ proposal templates, or set up your own  proposal template to use every time. Then you can just plug and play from there with each new project. I use a Strategy Proposal template and have customised it to suit me and my work. The majority of my proposals follow this structure:

  • My Information
  • Name
  • Email
  • Address
  • The Client’s Information
  • Name
  • Email
  • Address
  • Overview
  • A brief description of what the work will entail
  • A basic outline of what the deliverables will include
  • A note that commencement of the project requires a 50% deposit of the total cost
  • Proposed Timeline
  • Project Begins
  • Kickoff Week
  • Strategy Week
  • Strategy & Action Steps Delivery Date
  • Review Period
  • Project Completed
  • Package Options
  • Basic Package
  • Included Deliverables
  • Cost
  • Full Package
  • Included Deliverables
  • Cost
  • Bonus Package
  • Included Deliverables
  • Cost
  • Why me (Usually only for first-time clients)
  • A bit about me
  • Testimonials from past clients
  • Thanks

In Bonsai this is all set up so I can just adjust the parts that need to change for different projects and I’m good to go! I send the proposal to my client and Bonsai looks after the rest, letting me know when they’ve viewed it, accepted it and which package they chose. Bonsai also follows up to remind clients of any outstanding proposals that haven’t been responded to, so that I don’t have to!

A Bonsai proposal in action


As I mentioned earlier, for a long time, I wasn’t using contracts at all, but I learnt my lesson one too many times. Contracts cover everyone’s butts and make sure that everything is clear, agreed upon and unwavering from the outset of the project. It keeps both parties accountable and looks after both of your interests, so it’s best to use them with every project. This can be easier said than done though, as contracts can be complicated, hard to write and tricky to get right, but not with Bonsai’s contract feature!

I honestly wouldn't know where to start with writing a contract but with Bonsai I don’t have to. All I do is create a contract, pop in some quick details about the project, who is involved and what the parameters are, and Bonsai pops out a beautiful, legal contract for you! From here you can edit the particulars of the contract to suit you and the project, and then you can sign away!

The bonus in this process is that once you send the contract, Bonsai can automatically create and send invoices based on the information that you popped into the contract! Ah, magic!

There are thousands of contract templates you can choose from to customise and make your own that have been legally vetted by top lawyers so you know you’re protected!


According to Bonsai, freelancers get paid an average of 13 days faster, and have 3x fewer late payments with their software, and I 100% believe that. Invoicing with Bonsai is not only super easy for me to do, but also for my clients to use. I can create one-off or recurring invoices that my clients can pay via credit card, PayPal or direct deposit in minutes.

Bonsai reminds my clients of any unpaid invoices and automatically adds a late fee to any invoices that aren’t paid by the due date, making it less likely that a client will forget to pay on time. These reminders coming from Bonsai means that not only do I not have to chase up after clients and their unpaid invoices, but I also don’t have to feel bad about following up or engage in any awkward conversations. Bonsai simply sends an impartial, gentle reminder and the client is clear on what is needed from them.

Some other useful invoicing features are the ability to schedule invoices for later, send invoices via a link if you want to use your own method of communication, or downloading invoices as PDFs which some clients may require.

Plus, Bonsai has a gallery of free invoice templates for you to choose from and customise if you need help getting started!

Bonsai's invoices

Time tracking

The majority of my work is done on a flat rate, but there are some situations where an hourly rate works best, and Bonsai is great for billing these hours. I just pop the time into the Time Tracking section of Bonsai, assign it to a project and that’s all I need to do! When it comes time to invoice, there’s a handy button to add any unbilled hours, I tap that and it adds any hours for that project that haven’t already been billed for and voilà! It’s as easy as that!


Sometimes there are times where you want to collab with other amazing creatives to bring a project to life, and Bonsai makes that possible. All you have to do is switch to “client mode” where you can manage contracts and send payouts to the people you work with!


One of the things I love the most about Bonsai is the amount of things it does automatically. Admin can be such a time-suck for you as a creative, and can easily create a bottleneck in the experience for your clients and collaborators. With some smart automations, that can all be improved. Simple things like automatically generating invoices from a contract and sending those once it’s signed, reminding clients about invoices, and creating recurring invoices, go a long way when it comes to creating a seamless experience for you and your clients. You can also take things a step further and create your own custom automations with Bonsai’s Zapier integration, connecting it with any other software you use to power your business.

Other features

Bonsai has a bunch of other features that might be useful to you too! These include banking, tax, accounting, CRM, client dashboards, task management, time tracking, scheduling, forms, service libraries, and more. These additional features will help you manage every step of your client workflow in one easy-to-use tool!

Why I love and recommend Bonsai

Clients love it!

I’ve gotten so many comments from clients about how impressive and easy to use Bonsai is on their end. As a business owner, I want my clients’ experiences to be as seamless and enjoyable as possible, so if I can make all of these formalities a little less boring and frustrating through Bonsai, that’s a win for me!

It’s super easy to use

There hasn’t been one feature in Bonsai that I or my clients have struggled to figure out. The casual, helpful language, simple UI (User Interface) and seamless functionality make for a really straightforward user experience.

It looks beautiful

Bonsai is hands-down one of the best looking apps of its kind that I have ever seen. It’s super simple, looks professional but still approachable, and is nice to use!

It’s all in one place

Like I said at the beginning, before Bonsai I was manually creating these things all over the place and now they’re in one piece of software. Bonsai takes care of a lot of my client admin in one place and does those things really well.

The team listen to our feedback and implement our requested features

One of the things I value the most about Bonsai is the way that they communicate what is happening with the app and take on board their users’ feedback. Bonsai has an open roadmap and feature request system so that we can submit requests, comment and vote on others, and see the status of each one. It’s really exciting to be able to contribute and feel like you’re helping to make the app better for you and other freelancers, and to be listened to!

Hopefully this has given you an insight into how I manage my workflows with Bonsai and why I love it so much! Please give it a go yourself and you’ll see what I mean!

In the meantime, learn more about Bonsai and try it out yourself for free for 2 weeks here!

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August 15, 2023

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