Bonsai For Freelancers – My Review + Guide

Domenico Trimboli

By Domenico Trimboli


February 25, 2024



Do you know that weird feeling you get when you realize you’ve been dead wrong about something, but you are so happy that you were?

That’s exactly how I felt when I first tried Bonsai.

You see, I have been freelancing for 12 years, and I know what my avg project looks like. I get the client > We exchange contracts > I do the work > I invoice > They pay.

You don’t need a CRM for that. Actually, it only complicates things. It has a learning curve. It comes with features most freelancers won’t ever need. And most of the time these tools are pretty expensive.

And then I tried Bonsai, and it made me feel like a complete idiot.

Bonsai for freelancers

Bonsai makes a pretty bold claim – that they are the app to run your whole business.

While I was skeptical at first, I have to admit that is true. They have basically everything you need at every stage of the client life cycle:

  • A scheduling tool to set appointments for your discovery calls
  • Proposal templates to share after the call
  • Contract templates to protect yourself
  • A time tracking feature to create time sheets
  • A simple invoicing solution once the project is done

So ok, they have kind of everything (more on that later). But does it all work?

In my experience, yes.

It works, and it makes it all look super easy. The product has virtually no learning curve, everything is super intuitive.

Oh, and their prices are nothing crazy – a starter plan only costs $25/month ($21 when you pay yearly) and a professional one is $39/$32 per month.

If you are running a solo business, I honestly think this is the best solution available on the market.

If you have a small operation with different members, that may be different, and we’ll see why. But 90% of the freelancers I know operate solo, and for them, Bonsai is a 10/10 platform.

Scheduling Tool

Everything you need to stop using Calendly.


Manage all your clients without leaving the platform.

Time Tracking

Their time tracking tool is simple yet effective.

Overall Rating:
4,8 / 5

Bonsai Pros

  • Scheduling tool to replace Calendly
  • Great looking proposal templates
  • Whatever your freelance niche, they have templates for you
  • Great time tracking features
  • Billing options include per item, hourly or flat fee

Bonsai Cons

  • To-do lists work, but it doesn’t have real project management features
  • Expense tracking costs an extra $10/month
  • Doesn’t have a calendar

Starts at $21/month


Bonsai is first and foremost a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) – a place for you to manage your customers starting from the moment they inquire about your services.

First, create your client profile on the platform (it takes less than 30 sec).

Then open their profile on the platform and create a new project. If you are running a coaching business and this is a new lead, the first step is setting up a discovery call.

Call scheduling system

You can use Calendly (integration is available on the Professional plan) or Bonsai’s own scheduling system. Creating your own booking page only takes a couple of minutes, and here is the final result:

You can also add your pic on the top left and customize this further – eg you can decide if clients are able to book on the same day, how far in advance you want your calendar to open and the like.

Once the potential client has booked their discovery call, you can create a Project. We’ll call it ‘Weekly coaching’, and it’s the hub for everything that has to do with our potential client Chris.

Inside the Project, we create our first task – our initial call.

Client management

Bonsai allows you to send emails to clients without ever leaving the platform

Our call is now on the Bonsai system, but we want to go a step further and send Chris a confirmation email for his booking.

We don’t need to go to our inbox and message him, because we can do everything inside the project.

That is the power of a CRM.

As the customer keeps moving through their journey, we can turn them from a lead to a client, and then mark where they are and what steps they need to take.

Once everything is done on the admin side, we can finally create our Tasks and mark the project as ‘In progress’.

Here are the different stages of the customer journey in Bonsai

Project management

Bonsai has a project management window, but it’s not a real project management system like ClickUp or Asana.

Basically, they have a project window where you can add tasks.


Tasks are the single parts of any project. Bonsai allows you to track your tasks, create associated time sheets and always know what you have to do, when and for whom.

As you can see, this is pretty basic. It’s a to-do list, but not a project management tool. While it’s certainly enough for a solopreneur, if you are running a more complex business (eg a small agency) then you may need a proper project management tool, and a different software solution (ClickUp comes to mind).

Templates for everyone

Bonsai’s marketing materials focus a lot on templates, and to be fair that’s not something I valued that much.

After all, free templates are available online, for everything you can think of.

And yet, I had to remind myself that as a beginner freelancer, I didn’t know many of the things I know now. I didn’t know how to search for certain things, who to trust, where to go for advice.

And when I look at it this way, Bonsai’s templates can be quite valuable for someone who’s just starting on their freelance journey.

Bonsai has 164 templates for freelancers in all kinds of niches

The Bonsai team created a ton of them.

164, to be specific.

And they really have a bit of everything: from quotes for content calendars to proposals for bookkeeping and app development, whatever your freelance gig, I am pretty sure you can find something that works in any situation.

Also… they are extremely good looking! Even if you are just starting out, their templates will make you look like a million bucks.

Time tracking and invoicing

Among the other things, Bonsai has time tracking and invoicing features. How are they? Well, just like any other feature they have – straightforward, easy to use, and they work perfectly.

Time tracking

To start tracking your time, simply click on ‘Track time’ in the upper right corner.

The timer will start, and you will be asked to choose with project and which task you are working on.

Creating time sheets this way allows you to bill the client per project and per task (eg Article writing, 2 hours of research, 3 hours of actual writing).

Don’t worry if you end up stopping your time sheet at odd numbers like ‘1:12:23’, you’ll be asked if you want to round up the number when you create your invoice.

Needless to say, you can also adjust your time sheets manually if needed.


Once you have created your time sheets, adding them to your invoices is super easy.

Just hit ‘Invoices’, then ‘New invoice’. You’ll be asked if you want to create a single, subscription or recurring invoice. Let’s say in this case it’s a single one.

Invoice creation on Bonsai

If you have unbilled hours, Bonsai will automatically tell you about them. Long gone are the days when you had to copy paste time sheets manually to create your invoice – with Bonsai you can do it in 30 seconds.

You don’t use hourly rates? No problem. You can also bill per day, week, item or word.


I can hear you wondering – sure, but how much does that all cost?

How much does Bonsai cost?
Bonsai prices when you purchase a yearly plan. Source: Bonsai

If you are just starting out as a freelancer, a Starter plan has everything you need, and at $21/month, I can confidently say you are getting a pretty great deal.

As a comparison, FreshBooks (another tool I loved) costs $30 per month and it doesn’t have any of the CRM features you’ll find on Bonsai.

The verdict: can you really run your entire business in one place?

I’ll be straightforward – I loved Bonsai from the first moment. But can you run your entire freelance business using Bonsai only?

No, I don’t think so.

There are two areas where they are a bit lacking:

1 – Project management. If most of your projects as as simple as calls, work, deliverables, review, invoice, then Bonsai is enough. But if they aren’t, then their project management features are a bit lacking.

2 – Calendar. If you time box or are generally interested in productivity, you’ll need a calendar app to go with Bonsai.

With that said, a calendar is a minor part of your business toolkit, and most freelancers I know don’t need a proper project management tool.

So I’d say most freelancers can run 90% of their business on Bonsai, which is still pretty freaking amazing.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are a freelancer and you run a simple business (like 95% of freelance businesses), Bonsai is just perfect for you.

If you run complex projects with plenty of stakeholders, multiple departments involved and a lot of moving parts, or a small agency, look elsewhere.

They are two different tools – Bonsai comes with a CRM, while FreshBooks focuses more on accounting.

If Bonsai features are enough for you on the accounting front, then choose Bonsai.

I have yet to review Dubsado. Once I do, I’ll post a review and comparison.

Yes, Bonsai has a QuickBooks integration – when an invoice is marked as Paid on Bonsai, it’ll sync with QuickBooks so that you don’t have to do anything. The question, though… why are you using QuickBooks as a freelancer?!

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