6 Free Tools to Help You Onboard New Clients Faster

Now that you’ve revamped your website to get it client-ready, it’s time to plan out + create your onboarding system – the steps it takes to turn a new lead into a client.

Instead of winging it every time a new lead comes knockin’ on your digital door, create your process now so you can stay consistent and look professional when working with clients.

In this post, I’ll help you set up and organize your process with some free tools (for my fellow bosses on a budget). There’s also a free Onboarding Toolkit with a done-for-you Trello board for your projects, 3 email scripts, and resources so you’ll know what to do after they pay their first invoice.

This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase or sign up using one of my links. Thanks so much for your support!

Learn how to automate your onboarding process using free tools like Trello, Bonsai, Zapier to keep you stress-free and impress clients. I'll also share how to create a contact form on Google Forms and set up canned responses with Gmail.  Photo credit: CreateHer Stock


Goal – To get the info you need from your new lead with a Hire Me form using 17 Hats, Typeform, or Google Forms.

How to create one with Google Forms
I use Google Forms because it sends me an email notification to my G Suite account and I can use canned responses when it’s time to reply to the new lead’s email.

Creating Google Form
Go to Google Forms and sign in with the Gmail account to want to use and click create a new form

Add your questions to the form – name, email, link to site, list of services they can choose from, what they need help with (their struggles), and budget

After you create your form, click the responses tab and turn on “Accepting Responses”

Above that, click the 3 vertical dots and check “Get email notifications for new responses”

If you want all responses on a spreadsheet, click “Select response destination”, then “Create a new spreadsheet”, and name your spreadsheet

On the top right corner, you can change the color of the form and add your branded image. Click Preview to see the front end of the form. Make sure you test out your form while you’re there. You should get an email notification and a new entry on your spreadsheet (if you created one).

Click Settings next to Preview and in the Presentation tab, add a thank you message in the “Confirmation message” section. (e.g., “Thanks for your interest. I’ll reply to your message in 1-2 business days.” or link them to your Intro packet/page.)

Once you’re finished creating your form, click Send at the top right corner. Send via email or copy the link and add it to your canned emails or intro/welcome packets. To add the form to your site, click Embed, then copy and paste the code into any page on your website.

Related: How to create an intro packet (Erin Flynn)

How to create a canned response in Gmail

Inside your Gmail account:
Go to Settings > Labs > Canned responses and click enable

Compose new email then copy and paste your script into the message box

Click options next to the garbage can > Canned responses > Save new canned response and name the script (e.g., “Intro email”)

Here’s an example email you can send:

Hi [Client],

Thanks so much for reaching out to me about your project.

I’m looking forward to learning about you and your business & how I can help you [benefit of working with you].

I’ve attached an [info sheet/intro packet/getting started guide] so you can learn more about me and my process. Please review it & let me know if you have any questions.

My next availability is the 1st week of June and if everything looks good in the [packet/sheet/guide], there will be a link to my booking calendar so you can schedule our first call.

Thanks again for reaching out and I’ll talk to you soon.

P.S. I loved your last post on [blog post] and I agree – you should [whatever you agree with]

Your Name

[attach PDF or link]

Whenever you want to use a script all you have to do now is:
Compose new message
Click options next to garbage can
Select canned responses
Under Insert, click the script you want to use

Use tools like Calendly, Acuity, or Freebusy (see image below) so clients can book an appointment. You can sync any one of those tools with your Google Calendar when you sign up using your Gmail or G Suite account.


Goal – Ask + answer all the questions to make them comfortable and see if you 2 would be a great fit for each other. You can use tools like Zoom for video calls or Google Hangouts for phone or video calls.

Related: 7 Things Your (Potential) Client Needs to Hear You Say Before They’ll Hire You (Carrie Dils), 5 Questions You Should Ask Your Clients Before Every Web Design Project (Shopify)

Copy this done-for-you Trello board to start onboarding clients.

After your call with your future client, thank them and let them know what’s going to happen next in an email (e.g., sending an invoice and agreement, then a welcome packet with details of the project).

Related: 10 Reasons to Package Your Expertise (Betty Means Business), Never Write a Proposal Again: 7 Reasons Having a Signature Method (Rule Breaker’s Club)

If it’s an estimate or quote (or your prices are not listed), gather everything you need (from their social media accounts, blog, industry + use their answers from the contact form and phone/video call) to create the best proposal.

Tired of being stuck on how to set up Dubsado or HoneyBook?

Want to know the right things to say to new leads and clients?

Ready to focus on connecting with your audience knowing everything is running smoothly in the backend?

Get instant access to done-for-you templates to help you improve your client experience!


Goal – Make it easy for them to sign your agreement and pay you with AND CO, 17 Hats, Dubsado, or Bonsai.

Using Bonsai for everything
Out of all of those listed, Bonsai is my favorite. You can track projects, send proposals, edit agreements that are made for freelance designers, coders, and photographers.

There’s a client portal where they can view and accept proposals, make payments (Stripe, ACH, Paypal), e-sign agreements all in one spot. You can also message each other and attach any docs like your welcome packet.

Note: And of course, all good things come to an end. Starting July 2017, Bonsai will be a paid-only service (no more free forever plan). Plans start at $9 for sending contracts + proposals OR invoices + time tracking. The next plan is $19 for all of those features. If you’re still interested, head over to read more about Bonsai pricing.

My favorite part of Bonsai is it integrates with Zapier – a tool you can use to automate all the things.

How I use Zapier with my fave apps
After I create an invoice and send it to a client, automation with Zapier starts as soon as the invoice is paid. A paid invoice creates a new card to my Client Projects in Trello.

Related: How to Integrate Bonsai with Zapier

This new card created in Trello adds a new event/project on my Google Calendar. That new event creates a new project folder in Google Drive. I have a template folder that I can copy, so all I have to do is drag and drop it into the new folder that was created. This is the folder I’ll share with the client so they can upload or download everything they need for the project – proposals, welcome packets, a copy of the agreement, and all of that good stuff.

The only problem when using Google Drive is I can’t drag and drop folders so I use their free desktop app.

Related: How To Organize Google Drive for Your Business (Elle and Company)

No worries if this doesn’t make sense. Zapier has you covered with a step-by-step guide to creating your zaps. Just create a sample project/invoice/response or whatever you need to test out your zap. The best part about all of this is you only have to set this up once and you’re good to go.

[Tweet “Learn how to simplify your onboarding process using free tools like Trello + Zapier”]


Contact – get to know your new leads with 17 Hats, Typeform, or Google Forms. Let them book appointments with Calendly, Acuity, or Freebusy

Connect – ask and answer questions to see if it’s a good match with Zoom for video calls or Google Hangouts for phone or video calls

Coins – collect those dolla dolla bills, y’all with AND CO, 17 Hats, Dubsado

Choose from over 750 tools to automate your workflow with Zapier

Simplified onboarding process. Stress-free you. Happy clients. Referrals from those happy clients. More happy clients because of your consistent workflow. Money-making + Plum wine-sipping you.

Don’t forget to copy this Trello onboarding toolkit.

Photo credit: CreateHer Stock


Atlanta-based Digital PM & Tech Implementation Consultant. Loves long walks at record stores + helping service providers simplify operations and launch online projects without tech stress. Liked this post? Join the Brief Gems email list to get more content like this, plus instant access to the free resource library.

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