If you’re considering a client management system for your small business, chances are you’re looking at Dubsado and at Honeybook in 2022! They are two of the top CMS platforms on the market. Dubsado and Honeybook both work well for small businesses like photographers, coaches, invitation designers, wedding planners, graphic designers, web developers, etc.
I’ve used Dubsado and Honeybook as a wedding invitation designer for years now, to help you determine which is right for your business! So should you use Dubsado in 2022? Or should you use Honeybook for your small business? Let’s share the pros and cons of both systems and help you decide!
Before we get started, I am a Certified Dubsado Specialist, and Honeybook Educator – meaning I’ve got both the knowledge and the highest discount levels for you to use if you decide to invest in one of these systems. Here are those codes for you:
50% off Honeybook – use this link or Honeybook Discount Code LANEY
30% off your first month or year with Dubsado – use this link or Dubsado Coupon Code DESIGNBYLANEY
PS: Interested in other systems outside of Dubsado and Honeybook? Watch our CMS Playlist on YouTube for an inside look at other client management systems like Clientjoy, 17Hats, Hello Bonsai, and more!
First of all, if you’re new here – what is a CMS? It stands for Client Management System, and Honeybook and Dubsado are both CMS platforms. They are also referred to sometimes as CRMs or Client Relationship Managers. The purpose of a CMS for your small business is to help you manage your clients and projects. These two systems both take that purpose to the extreme. They help you manage clients and projects, but also do so much more.
For example, Dubsado and Honeybook both can help you with invoicing, questionnaires, proposals, contracts, emailing, reporting, lead management, and so much more. They both even have some automation capabilities that will take these tasks 100% off your plate.
The number one reason that I use a Client Management System is that it saves me time. I always know where to find information, and they help remove a lot of the repetitive work that you do in your business (sending proposals, typing out the same emails, getting contracts signed, etc.).
Another big benefit of Honeybook and Dubsado is that they’ll save you from making mistakes. I also love that having a system like this makes my business look and feel bigger and more professional than just a designer sitting on her couch in her sweatpants.
My first client I booked through Dubsado was my first “big” non-family or friend client. I remember thinking how I couldn’t have done it without Dubsado, because it helped me look like a much more “official” business than I actually was at the time.
There are a ton of other benefits to having a CMS in general, no matter which one is right for you.
Honeybook has a few plans currently, with their starter plan at only $9/month. I have a 50% off coupon code that will help you get started with Honeybook for only $4.50/month!
Their unlimited plan is currently $39/mo or $390/year. Again, this is before the discount.
If you only have one team member, you can definitely start with the Starter plan. Once you get to $10,000 in total transactions, you’ll need to upgrade to the unlimited plan. Frankly, by that time, you’ll have everything set up in Honeybook and not want to quit! I’m on the unlimited plan, personally, even though there’s only one of me.
If you need to start with multiple team members, you should go ahead with the unlimited plan. It’s still absolutely worth it, and all the features are constantly getting better.
Dubsado is currently $40/month or $400/year. I have a coupon code below for either of them to save a little if you like!
While Honeybook may seem better on price at first, and Dubsado may seem better long-term – I honestly will say that you shouldn’t let price be a huge factor in this decision. Choose the system that works for your business, and the amount of time and energy it’ll save you will be well worth it. My CMS use probably saves me 5-10 hours a week, on average, which is well worth the cost any day.
The hardest part about using a Client Management System is getting set up. Once you’re set up, all your forms and automations do the work for you and save you a ton of time. But how do you set up your Dubsado or Honeybook at the beginning?
First of all, both Honeybook and Dubsado have amazing support resources. They will generally help by uploading a few forms for you. You can also book calls with them, or work with a Certified Dubsado Specialist or Honeybook Pro to get set up. But if you want to try setting up your CMS yourself, here’s what that looks like!
First, you’ll want to have a great understanding of your process flows. Here’s a free download that you can use to map out your own process from inquiry to review!
After mapping your process flow, you can start to see areas where your CMS can help improve it. The key here is to look for things that are repetitive and can be templated, or that can be automated or removed altogether because the CMS will do them for you! Here are a few starting ideas:
Once you have all of this mapped out on your process flow diagram, you can start creating in Dubsado and Honeybook. I’d recommend first starting by building out your Contract templates, and then your main information questionnaires. Do your Workflows last, after you’re more familiar with the system, and have all your forms made.
Before you get to your forms, however, you can set up branding features in your settings! These will allow you to connect your email account so you can send and receive emails, choose your brand colors, and generally make the system feel like it belongs to your brand, and not to Honeybook or Dubsado.
If you’d like to further customize your forms and proposals in Dubsado, I recommend checking out Dub-Ins. There’s a little bit of coding involved, but you can really customize everything!
While both Honeybook and Dubsado boast many amazing features, I don’t want to cover them all in this post. The point of this post is to compare the two systems and find out which CMS is best for your creative business. So first, I’ll just go through a couple areas where I think that Honeybook and Dubsado are equal. These areas are great for your business, and will help you long-term, however it won’t really matter which system you’re using as they both handle these things well.
I really like the invoicing system in Honeybook better than in Dubsado. It’s not too different, but you can add photos to each line item, and the look and feel of the invoices is nicer in Honeybook. You can create line items that show a clear “hierarchy” of items and group items a little more clearly in Honeybook, whereas all items on an invoice in Dubsado look the same. I also love that you can type directly into the boxes, whereas on Dubsado, you have to click a line item, then click “edit” and then edit it. Three steps instead of just one. This is important to me because quantities and things change a lot – if that’s not true for your business, you may not care about this as much.
After studying 8 or 9 of the most popular CMS platforms on the market, Dubsado outshines them all in workflow capabilities. This is just a portion of the different actions you can automate within your workflow in Dubsado vs. the only 4 options you have for automations in Honeybook, which are Create Task, Send Questionnaire, Send Email, and Send Brochure.
You have a lot more flexibility in the workflow too, like the “hold actions until” action. It will basically wait for the client to do something, instead of proceeding with the workflow if they’re not ready for the next step yet. Pretty advanced stuff, honestly!
This one is a decision-maker, I think. Honeybook has a Mobile App. Does Dubsado have an app? No. They have never included mobile apps in their future release, or really talked about it in a way that would suggest an app being a priority for them. Honeybook’s mobile app includes basically everything you can do in the desktop app. It works really well. So if working on your phone or iPad is big for your business, check out honeybook.
Both Dubsado and Honeybook offer client portals. What is a client portal? It’s kind of a vault or landing page where your clients can login in and see everything associated with their project. Forms, emails, invoices, etc.
I don’t often use the portal in my business, but many designers do. Recently, I used the portal as a client when doing my website rebrand, and it was really helpful. I could see all of our past design proofs, pay invoices, and submit forms to the designer directly.
I’m sure you all want to know how you’ll get paid in Dubsado or Honeybook! There are a few options in Dubsado. Dubsado integrates with Stripe, Square, and PayPal. If you already use one of those services, then Dubsado is a good option for you (I use Stripe). As a side note – don’t accept large business payments through PayPal unless you have to, as PayPal is notorious for siding with clients, not businesses.
Honeybook processes its own payments, so all of your invoices will be billed directly to them and all of your money will come from them. This can be good or bad, depending on what you prefer. If you use Stripe in other areas and want to keep it consistent, Honeybook doesn’t allow this. If you want to keep everything really simple, and not set up another account, then this is a good thing.
Honeybook payment processing fees are similar to other processors. Honeybook charges 3% for credit cards and 1.5% for ACH/bank transfer. Your clients can also click for auto-bill, which means Honeybook will store their credit card info and charge them automatically.
Dubsado has a new 2022 feature that allows for autopay on recurring invoices. This won’t work for a single invoice job, but for an ongoing project, or a retainer payment, you can set up autopay now in 2022.
I keep most of my design clients in Dubsado for one simple reason – the subcontract feature. This form is basically a secondary contract underneath the umbrella of the project contract. In Honeybook, you can’t have two contracts on a single job. In Dubsado, you can get a legally-binding signature on something like a Covid addendum, or a reschedule agreement, or in my case, a design proof.
Honeybook has workarounds for this, and might offer this in the future. So if your work depends on signatures after that first contract is signed – I have to say that Dubsado wins here. Watch the video below to see how I use the Subcontract form type in Dubsado for my client proofs.
I do like that in Honeybook, you can view file versions. Here’s a full tutorial on how to access file versions. 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, if a client asks to see the first invoice, I can’t show it to them unless I’ve downloaded it or taken a picture or something. So I like that in Honeybook, you can go back, because I occasionally change pricing for certain items and forget exactly what I charged after changes are made.
Public Proposals in Dubsado are really cool. One of the big roadblocks to these project-based systems is that if you have a lot of similar, simple projects, it’s tough to add them all into the system. Sure, you can use a lead capture, but then you have to set up a workflow to get the actual work started. What if you just want someone to be able to book a simple job without having to talk to them at all? That’s where Dubsado’s public proposals come in.
A proposal in Dubsado (or in Honeybook) can be connected directly to an invoice and contract. So when sending one single form, a client can accept the proposal, sign the contract, and make their payment. But you have to send that form, unless you use a public proposal.
A public proposal will basically be a lead capture combined with a proposal. As an example, a friend of mine does customized Santa letters every year around Christmas. So she sets up a public proposal, that includes all the questions she needs them to answer, the 3 different package options, and connects it to the invoice and contract. Dubsado builds the invoice based on which options the clients select on the proposal, and they can go ahead and order the entire customize letter through that proposal. Then, everyone is in her system and ready to go! Plus…she’s been paid already.
Public proposals work well for anyone who has simple package offerings. You can even attach them to a scheduler in order to fill spots for photography mini-sessions or something!
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 a contact form that can actually get you paid.
Plus, of course you can attach the public proposal to workflow actions, so you can really automate a lot of things in your business this way.
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. However, one currency can be presented on the invoice (at the time of writing this), and that has to be the same for all of your projects.
1/12/22 – A developer from Honeybook mentioned last year 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.
I never expected to get as many tips as I do. I don’t work in a very tip-heavy field. But in Honeybook and Dubsado, you can turn on an automatic tip option for all of your invoices. My clients always surprise me when they decide to tip me! I’ve easily made a few thousand dollars this way.
I mentioned that if you use G-Suite for your business email, Honeybook is going to blow your mind. I’m obsessed with this Chrome Extension – to the point that it almost made me switch to G-Suite from Outlook.
I think it’ll be best shown in a video format, so check it out below. The basic premise is that it brings your Honeybook dashboard into your Gmail inbox. You can create projects and view project files and data directly from your invoice, just by getting an email from a client or prospective client. It’s so cool, please check it out if you use G-Suite!
Want to make gorgeous, customized Dubsado forms? Sure, there are ways to make beautiful forms, but not many that are connected to the other facets of your CMS like contracts, workflows, etc. Neither Dubsado nor Honeybook offers the most beautiful and magnificent forms standard. Not that the forms are ugly, but their goal is to make things easy on you, so they keep it simple mostly.
Luckily, Dubsado offers a custom code block on all of their forms. This means that with a little knowledge of coding, you can create basically anything that you want. You can change fonts, colors, layouts, etc. to different options than the standard ones that are provided.
If you need a little help with this – definitely check out Dub-Ins, which are plug-ins created by genius Colin Tierney to address this specific issue of more functional and beautiful Dubsado forms.
1/12/22 – Dubsado is also beta-testing a new form-building experience that will allow you to create more beautiful forms. I’m in the beta, and it’s a good upgrade from the previous experience without being as difficult as custom code. You’ll still be able to use custom code if you like! I can’t wait to show you in a video tutorial.
1/12/22 – I’m also in a Honeybook beta for something that I can’t describe as easily, but will make the overall interface that your client sees more beautiful and customizable in general. Think beautiful forms, but a little *extra*. This should launch in early 2022, and I’ll have some videos on it specifically!
Collaboration with other creators is easier in Honeybook. It’s something on Dubsado’s roadmap, but with no expected release date. Honeybook “Workspace” feature allows for you to create a workspace with multiple vendors and or multiple clients. So if you’re working on a wedding and want to send forms from the wedding planner to the photographer – this is really simple in Honeybook.
Honeybook also supports referrals (they are big into community over competition), so others can refer you business through Honeybook, and you can refer them business back.
If you operate multiple brands and want one account to cover them all, you’ll be able to do that in Dubsado. Each new brand is $10/month. You can have Dubsado copy over your forms, but you have to recreate workflows in each new brand.
Honeybook requires you to enter where your leads came from for every job. They allow you to customize the options, and provide reporting to show you which lead sources are most profitable for your business. In general, Honeybook has some good reporting that’s interesting and unique. It all focuses on helping you make decisions to get more leads, more jobs, and more money.
In Dubsado, you can manually enter the referral source on each job, but not until you’re inside of that project specifically. You could also do this with a Custom Mapped Field and have the client fill it in. However, there’s no associated reporting options with Custom Mapped Fields. You can view graphs of the project sources and break things down into revenue by source, number of projects by source, etc. But you do have to fill in that information manually on each job. The extra step makes it a little tougher, so the win goes to Honeybook here!
In what countries can you use Dubsado? In theory, you can use Dubsado in any country in the world. However, the limitation is with their payment processors. They accept PayPal, Stripe, and Square payments. So if you’re unable to use one of those processors in your country, then you won’t be able to accept money through Dubsado. You can of course still use the other features, but you’d have to invoice from another system!
What countries can you use Honeybook in? Honeybook recently became available to Canadian businesses, and is available all over the United States. It’s definitely more limited in this capacity, which is likely due to them processing their own payments internally.
Overall, both of these systems are great. More than convincing you WHICH one you should use, I aim to convince you that you need a Client Management System, period. It’s up to you which features are most important for how you run your business.
I also explore a few Dubsado and Honeybook alternatives (Hello Bonsai, Clientjoy, 17Hats, etc.) on YouTube and in other posts, if you’re not sold on Dubsado or Honeybook.
So which one is best for your business? These are the features that I think should make or break your decision:
Choose Honeybook over Dubsado if you:
Choose Dubsado over Honeybook if you:
If none of these features really makes a huge difference to you – spend some time in each. Honeybook free trial is 7 days, and Dubsado’s is for 3 projects, regardless of time. I also encourage you to watch the videos above or on our CMS Playlist so you can see which interface speaks to you.
And of course – you can save money on both of them by using the links below!
Here’s that Honeybook Discount Link again for 50% off. – or use code “laney”
Here’s that Dubsado Discount Link again for 20% off. – or use code “designbylaney”
You’ll find Dubsado and Honeybook tutorials from a lot of different educators, as well as on the platforms directly. Both have excellent video tutorials and customer service.
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.
Using Dubsado as a Stationery Designer
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.
Helping stationery designers start, grow, and scale their businesses
Wedding invitations to tell your story, and business education to help you write your own.