Freelancing is tough because you're basically a one-man operation. I've been running my freelance business full time this year, and here are some services that have helped me along the way. In this post, I'll share my experience in using them with you, and hopefully, they'll help you in deciding which services to use.
For getting clients, meeting spaces, and your own office: WeWork
For proposals, contracts, and invoices: Bonsai
Getting clients, meeting spaces, and your own office
I've been a WeWork member for a few years already and I absolutely love it. It is a bit expensive, but having my own office and being able to host meetings with my clients, my team members, and my groups anywhere in the city using the WeWork app has been a tremendous help. I also think clients look at us differently if we have a dedicated office space instead of working out of our home or a coffee shop.
Most of my clients are also WeWork members because WeWork has a messaging board for people to post about their projects and a directory to look up people by skill set and location.
If you want to just access the message board and directory to find potential clients, there's the We Membership which is $45/month as of 2019.
If you are interested in finding an office space, I recommend WeWork because their staff is always friendly, helpful, and they host community events to help WeWork members to network with one another. This year, for example, they hosted a pop-up art gallery, Christmas market, and Christmas ornaments-making event, and I had the opportunity to participate. I've also used the WeWork space to host Meetup events and I've found it very helpful and much better than doing events at a coffee shop. 🙂
Despite the recent bad news, I honestly haven't noticed any negative changes. I'm very happy with WeWork and planning to stay for a while. If you want to get in touch with WeWork and look at the space, here's a referral link.
Drafting proposals, contracts, and sending invoices
Bonsai is a great tool that allows freelancers to streamline the process from getting a contract to getting paid.
Proposals: You can choose from pre-existing templates such as design, development, or writing proposal template, and Bonsai would have suggested format and text prefilled. Then the proposal can be sent to the client for them to sign.
Contracts: Bonsai has drafted a few contracts that have been reviewed by lawyers already, so you can use the templates at ease. What I love the most is that Bonsai has many dropdown options (such as payment options by milestone, by the hour, etc) that make it easy for you to customize the contract specifically for the project and client.
Invoices: You can create invoices based on flat-rate or based on the hours you logged in the Time Tracking section. Bonsai has multiple payment options, with its credit card payment system through Stripe. The late fees are calculated automatically by Bonsai so it makes it easier to follow up with non-paying clients. 🙂
I've tried out other similar software and found Bonsai to be the best. If you want to try it out, here's the affiliate link for you to try Bonsai for free.
Payroll for yourself and your employees
As a designer, what I love about Gusto is their design and fun illustrations! Below is the screenshot of the cute loading screen!
On the practical side, I love their dashboard so I can see what needs to be done. Their have a very easy step-by-step process that helps you set up your payroll, benefits (such as health insurance), etc. They also help you stay compliant by letting you know what forms to fill out to submit to the government.
Here's a link for you to try Gusto for free and receive a gift card from Gusto after you run your first payroll. (a disclaimer: I haven't tried other options such as JustWorks or ADP, but I really enjoy my experience with Gusto so far)