It’s the smackdown of the century – Honeybook vs. Dubsado! Which CMS is right for you as a small business owner? Both of these systems have some serious pros and cons. I’ve been using them both for years now to find the winner. Keep reading for our final thoughts on the Honeybook vs. Dubsado debate!
Honeybook and Dubsado are both what we call CMS – or Client Management Systems. The purpose of a client management system is…well…to manage your clients and projects. But they can do so much more.
Both Honeybook and Dubsado features include invoicing, contracts, questionnaires, and so much more to help you streamline your projects and save you time. Not to mention, they can help you look more professional to your clients. My first “big” client that wasn’t friend or family was the first client that I booked with a Client Management System.
Dubsado is currently $35/month or $350/year. Honeybook is currently $40/mo and $400/year. I have a coupon code below for either of them to save a little if you like!
Frankly, I would pay double for either of these services, so while Dubsado is a little cheaper, don’t let that be a deciding factor for you in the Honeybook vs. Dubsado debate. The amount of time and energy a Client Management System will save you is well worth the investment.
Honeybook Coupon Code (50% off) – or use code “laney”
Dubsado Coupon Code (20% off) – or use code “designbylaney”
Setting up either of these systems is the biggest challenge. Once you set up all the forms and workflows, you are golden, because everything will work automatically for you. But how do you get there?
First, you’ll want to have a great understanding of your process flows. Here’s a link to my course on process flows, and some instructions on how to map out your own.
Once you map out everything that happens from the initial contact until the order is done, you can mark any areas where the CMS can help you. Here are some suggestions:
Once you have your workflow set up, both Honeybook and Dubsado customer service offer some setup features to help you with everything. If you’re switching from another system, they will even convert your existing forms, contracts, and questionnaires.
The first thing that you should do in any CMS system is set up your branding and account details. This includes connecting your email account so you can send and receive emails, indicating your brand colors, and uploading your logo so that all of your emails and communications look like they came from your company (not Dubs or HB).
If you’d like to further customize your forms and proposals in Dubsado, I recommend checking out Dub-Ins.
I’d love to go into every single feature in this post – but I want to focus on the differences in the Honeybook vs. Dubsado debate for creative entrepreneurs like you. But first, there are a few places where I think Honeybook and Dubsado are pretty equal systems, including:
Invoicing in Honeybook is better. Here’s a video where I show you this process. Both systems are similar, but I like the look and layout of Honeybook’s invoices better. You can add product photos if you like, and you can create packages that show clear hierarchies within the invoice – in contrast, Dubsado’s packages are all “equivalent” in look.
It’s also easier and quicker to make edits – in Dubsado, you have to click a drop-down, then “edit” and then edit the field you want to change, whereas quantity and price are directly editable in Honeybook. If you have only a few line items and they don’t vary by quantity much – this may not be an issue for you (for instance, if you’re a wedding photographer). As a wedding invitation designer, it’s a big deal as my quantities change often.
As mentioned earlier, the workflow capabilities in Dubsado are more robust than Honeybook’s. Here is an example of all the actions you can add to a workflow in each platform. You can see that in Dubsado you have a lot more actions than in Honeybook, such as updating the project status, sending an invoice, or even halting actions.
I love this Hold Actions Until step in particular, because it allows me to pause a workflow if design proofs are taking longer than expected for any reason (this happens frequently as a lot of my clients are on different schedules). Thus, no one gets a “here are your proofs” email until I’ve actually been able to create them!
We mentioned the Honeybook App, and it’s a big one. If working on the go is really vital to your business, then you should probably go with Honeybook. Dubsado’s website is definitely mobile-friendly, but it’s not nearly as clean an experience as the app.
Anything you can do in the web app, you can do in the mobile app.
It’s not to say that there is no portal in Honeybook, but just that they don’t really allow for the customization that Dubsado does with their client portal. I don’t really use it, but a lot of you will likely use the portal feature.
I recently worked with a web designer on my Design by Laney website and branding, and the portal was very helpful to keep track of files that I needed to return back to as well as all of the deliverables she added as we went through the project.
In Dubsado, you can white label the portal, meaning you can add your own custom domain to it. You can even embed portal logins into your own website, so it looks seamless with your brand. And you can customize the look of it to an extent to create a cohesive client experience.
Now, here’s an important one – how do you get paid in Dubsado and Honeybook? Dubsado integrates with Stripe, Square, and PayPal, so if you’re already comfortable with one of those processors, Dubsado is great. As a side note, PayPal is not the best system for entrepreneurs, and are known to side with clients in almost all disputes!
Getting paid through Honeybook is directly through Honeybook. This is a pro and a con, depending on your current payment setup. If you have none, then Honeybook payment processing is as good as any and the rates are very similar (3% for Credit Cards, 1.5% for ACH/bank transfer). It’s actually really simple to use, and your clients can click for auto-bill which means Honeybook will store their cc info and charge them their payments automatically – Dubsado cannot do this.
If you’re already using a different system, however, it’s a little limiting that HB forces you to use their payment processing. And here are some bonus thoughts on credit card fees for you!
One feature where Honeybook vs. Dubsado falls to Dubsado is the Subcontract form. You can see a video below of how I use this form type for creating client proofs. This form, in addition to their “Contract” form, has a signature field that is legally binding.
Honeybook has workarounds for this, but not an exact duplicate feature. You also cannot add photos to a contract in Honeybook, so you’d have to use the brochure feature and the signature field would be a typed name field, not an actual signature. If your work depends on signatures after that first contract is signed – Dubsado wins here.
One thing I love in Honeybook is the access to versions of a file. Here’s a full tutorial on how to access it. This basically means that you can change files that have been sent over, and still access the older versions. As far as I know, this applies to invoices, contracts and proposals.
In Dubsado, it’s sometimes tough if I change an invoice and the client questions it or wants to go back to the original because I can’t always see what it looked like before. Of course, my pricing is fairly standard, but every once in a while I find this tough if I’ve raised prices recently, the client was quoted a long time ago, etc. etc.
Dubsado somewhat-recently added public proposals, and I think they’re genius! They don’t work super well for custom orders, but if you have set packages, they are amazing.
Because the proposal is connected to an invoice and contract, you could have a client literally find a page on your website, choose their options, view an invoice for those options, and pay and sign right there. You may not even have to speak to them!
If you need them to select certain dates, or if your sales cycle typically involves a little more work – that’s possible too. You just need to ensure that your public proposal covers all of those options, FAQs, and directs them clearly through the process. Think of this as your new contact form – but way better.
Honeybook’s Brochure feature is their answer to Dubsado’s proposals, and it’s cool. At the time of writing this article, you can’t really make them “public” as they’re attached to a particular job, but they have similar interactive features.
Basically, think of it as a sales brochure with the ability to ask questions, get feedback from the client, and have the client select options for their project.
Here’s a video on how the Brochure feature works. Dubsado doesn’t have a direct counterpart, but you could do something similar with a proposal or form.
What if you need to accept multiple currencies? For both Dubsado and Honeybook multiple currencies can be accepted – but only one currency can be presented on the invoice, and that has to be the same for all of your projects, as of the time of writing this post.
8/19/20 – A developer from Honeybook mentioned that this is something they’re working on, but nothing official was stated.
5/29/20 – A Dubsado member said that Dubsado will create a new brand for you free of charge (typically $10/mo) if you need to use it to bill a different currency. They’ll help copy over forms, but you have to manually create new workflows, etc. if you need this option.
Both Honeybook and Dubsado allow for automatic gratuity collection on invoices – it’s the same in both platforms, but I thought it deserved its own block because SO MANY CLIENTS end up tipping me. Definitely turn on this option, and you’ll be shocked. Maybe it’s an extra couple bucks, but I recently had a client tip me $350 that I never expected!
I mentioned that collaborating was better in Honeybook as well. This is due to their “Workspace” feature. A Workspace can involve multiple vendors, clients, and forms from everyone basically. So if you’re working on a styled shoot – a workspace will be a great place to keep track of moodboard, timeline, details, etc.
You can also make and send referrals in Honeybook directly, so if you get a good network of other vendors who use it, then you can directly refer business out to each other.
One thing you may find appealing is that Dubsado offers the opportunity to have multiple brands on the same account. Each new brand is $10/mo as of the writing of this post. If you want to manage multiple brands on the same account, Dubsado is the system for you!
A slight win to Honeybook on this one. They have built-in lead tracking functionality. Dubsado allows this via a custom mapped field, but it’s not automatically built in and doesn’t come with reporting like it does in Honeybook.
Which one do you think is winning the Honeybook vs. Dubsado smackdown? The Client Management System that is right for you is a decision you’ll have to make based on where your business is and what features are important to you!
My final verdict when it comes to Honeybook vs. Dubsado is this: You need a Client Management System. It does not have to be Dubsado and it does not have to be Honeybook, but they are both great options – depending on your current setup.
If you use G-Suite and/or work on the go a lot via your phone – get Honeybook. If you have a LOT of clients and projects (like 30+/month) – get Honeybook.
Here’s that Honeybook Discount Link again for 50% off. – or use code “laney”
If you want to keep things simple, or automated workflows are really important to you – get Dubsado. If you need lots of legally-binding signatures after the first one, or you’re really attached to Stripe, Square or PayPal, or have multiple brands to manage – get Dubsado.
Here’s that Dubsado Discount Link again for 20% off. – or use code “designbylaney”
If none of these “deal-breaker” decisions really speaks to you – spend some time in each and see which interface you like better. Yes, you’ll waste a little time form-building, but whichever one feels more intuitive to you is probably the right choice long-term.
There are trainings and tutorials for both systems all over the internet – just search for that you need – as well as on their platforms directly.
I’ve got a few videos linked above on each one, and here’s my full CMS playlist on YouTube for you.
If you want to explore deeper how I use a CMS for my business, check out these 2 courses showing you my setup in Dubsado directly, including invoices, proposals, contracts, and workflows. Use code DUBS2 if you buy them both for $5 off.
Which system feels right for you? Tell me in the comments, and feel free to ask follow up questions if you’d like some more info on Honeybook or Dubsado!
Hi, I'm Laney!
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I make wedding invitations and I teach artists how to work smarter, make money, and run a business that works for you.
Wedding invitations to tell your story, and business education to help you write your own.