August 19, 2020

Dubsado vs. Honeybook

Dubsado and Honeybook are currently the two most popular CRM programs for photographers.

CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management,” and it’s the best tool for keeping track of emails, documents, contracts, questionnaires, and any other communication between you and your client. Instead of using separate programs or trying to constantly organize your inbox, a CRM can significantly increase your response time by reducing the chance you’ll misplace or lose track of a client’s message.

So if you’ve ever wished all your business was conducted in one place—or could be automated—then you should probably consider getting a CRM.

I get asked all the time whether Dubsado or Honeybook is a better CRM for elopement photographers, so I’ve compared each program below!

If you’re already using one of these programs and considering a switch, you should keep reading. If you use neither of these programs but want to learn more about both to decide which is best for you, keep reading.

Both Dubsado and Honeybook have their pros and cons, and ultimately you’ll be deciding which you like best. It’s like iPhone v. Android—whoever you talk to is probably going to say theirs is the better program. Yet, both phones do the job they were made to do.

We each have priorities when we choose what to invest in—backend code, customer service, aesthetics, finances, and features. I can’t tell you what you should be prioritizing, but I can lay out the comparison for you to decide. 

What is a CRM?

As I’ve explained above, a CRM essentially keeps track of all your client communications, lets you automate communication, and keeps track of your schedule so bookings never overlap.

However, what makes a CRM such an essential tool is how much time it will save you!

Instead of crafting a workflow individualized to each client, you can set up your CRM using templates and schedules that align with your work goals and apply them to each new inquiry. A CRM is the ultimate tool for helping an entrepreneur stay on top of their client communications—because quick responses can be the difference between booking a client and losing them to someone else who responded first.

But you don’t just want to be fast, you want to be through. By using a CRM that lets you draft personalized heartfelt emails that are easily customizable to every new lead, you set yourself up for success! 

The CRM that will work best for you is the one you get to know the best—so I highly recommend taking advantage of the trial periods for both Dubsado and Honeybook if you’re on the fence about which will serve you better. Dubsado’s trial period is 3 clients with no time limit. Honeybook gives you 14 days to play around—no client limit.

How Capable is Your CRM?

Most CRM programs can do the 5 basic things: communicate, send forms and questionnaires, organize client profiles, facilitate online payments, and integrate financial records.

How each program does those things, and what it is capable of beyond those bare minimum tasks, is what sets one CRM apart from another.

Below, I’ve outlined the features as described by Honeybook and Dubsado on their websites. Dubsado has also published a list of comparisons between the two programs, which we’ll be the first to admit is outdated.

Many of the features Dubsados claims Honeybook doesn’t have has been acquired by Honeybook quite recently. That ability to grow in capability is something we should give Honeybook points for—they were one of the first to send users suggested contract clause updates when COVID-19 threw the wedding industry for a loop. They are regularly updating and growing.

Dubsado hasn’t changed much in recent years but still holds its own when compared to all other CRM programs out there, which speaks highly of its longevity.

A lot of the features that Honeybook and Dubsado share operate differently between the programs. For example: both have the ability to formulate a client proposal, but putting those together on the back end look quite different to you as a business owner.

If you get used to the aesthetics and layout of one program, it’s going to take some time to adjust to another—don’t assume that either are missing features that the other has. As you’ll see, Dubsado and Honeybook are really quite similar.

HoneyBook Features:

  1. Contract Templates – HB’s contract templates are a good general starting point if you don’t already have your own contracts for weddings, model releases, and other events. They are labeled based upon event type, but you’ll want to personalize each before use to align with your local laws & personal goals. They allow for easy online signing & you get an immediate notification once signed.
  2. Proposals – Combining invoices & contracts, proposals are what you’ll often send clients immediately following the “we’re ready to book” phone call. Clients can easily click through to sign & pay within minutes.
  3. Online Payments – HB has a flat 3% transaction fee that is processed with the payment. Or if the client pays with ACH it is just a 1.5% transaction fee. These are both flat fees, there are no additional fees. Their online payment and invoicing is extremely fast, and you’ll get the 97%–98.5% of what you’ve made from each booking quickly.
  4. Automation – Step-by-step custom workflows give you the ability to respond to emails immediately, send questionnaires at exact times, and send reminders to clients without pressing a button. You can choose to allow total automation or customize each thing and double-check before sending.
  5. Integration – HB works with Quickbooks, Zapier, Gmail, Calendly, and Google Calendar.
  6. Scheduling – If you’ve used Calendly, think of this as HB’s version. You can send links within emails to a scheduling program and then get reminders and updates when client calls are coming up, or when clients confirm a scheduled date.
  7. Professional Branding – Everything you send through HB can use your logo, fonts, & colors to create a document that looks aligned with your brand from first glance.
  8. All-In-One Solution – HB boasts their end-to-end client management as a game-changer for your business. From the initial inquiry to the final follow-up, everything except sharing a gallery can be done through Honeybook.

Dubsado’s Features:

  1. Client Management – Create projects, capture leads through an integrated contact form on your website, integrate your email, create individual client portals, keep up to date on the status of projects, tag your projects for quick access, create task boards, and use a time tracker to keep track of the billable hours spent on a project.
  2. Contracts & Forms – Use templates, capture e-signatures, build proposals, send questionnaires, and use custom CSS to develop a look & style aligned with your business.
  3. Automation – Customize workflows to send automatically or with pre-approval. Set time limits on form reminders and get to-do reminders generated for you and clients.
  4. Payments – Send invoices, get paid online, set up payment schedules, & get overdue reminders. This is just as simple a process as with HB, but Dubsado does not take any additional % of profits.
  5. Integration – Google, iCloud, Outlook, or Office 365 can be integrated in Dubsado’s scheduling. 
  6. Scheduling – Set buffer windows and padding time so you can allow clients to easily reschedule on their own based upon your calendar availability, set daily limits for the number of appointments, or specify not to allow for last-minute scheduling or appointments one after another. You can also require clients to pay a fee to schedule an appointment. 
  7. Accounting & Reporting – Track where your leads are coming from, view all past-due invoices in one place, see a full history of your transactions, and set financial goals. Track your profit & loss easily for tax purposes.

Dubsado vs. Honeybook

Customized Branding
Lead Generating
Contract Templates
Additional Fees
Smart Fields on Forms
Payment Schedules
Overdue Reminders
Email Integration
Client File Uploader
Additional Free Users

Price Comparison

Dubsado: $35/Month or $350/Year

Honeybook: $40/Month or $400/Year ($200 for the first year)

Which CRM is Better?

Honestly, that’s not something we can decide for you. I’ve got to admit that the user interface and customer service at Honeybook are world-class and incredible! But, because Honeybook takes a percentage of profits and doesn’t provide more features than Dubsado, I’ve chosen to use Dubsado in the past.

However, as the Adventure Instead team has grown, we’ve moved on to a CRM that can better handle the workload of more than 1-3 employees. So, if you came here to find out which CRM the Adventure Instead team uses, the answer is NEITHER! But, when I was operating as a solo photographer, I used Dubsado. 

So I’ve got to be honest—I don’t believe the ideal CRM for elopement photographers exists.

Yes, I said it. Can someone please invent one?!

However, I am a firm believer that a CRM is essential for taking a business from being a hobby to a truly professional enterprise. There are only 24 hours in each day, and many of us are too familiar with the 18+ hour grind that comes along with running a business you love dearly. The only sustainable way to prevent burnout is to be as efficient with our time as possible—and a CRM made a night and day difference for us when we were starting out. It also increased the quality of our communication with clients so much that we were able to provide a better experience for every couple planning an elopement.

If you could create a better experience for your clients, wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity?

Who would Dubsado be best for?

Dubsado is best for someone with a small team (3 people or fewer) who doesn’t plan to expand anytime soon. It’s best for someone invoicing larger sums of money who wouldn’t want to lose the 3% admin fee taken by Honeybook. Dubsado is kind of the Android in this iPhone v Android comparison—if you’re not operating on Apple products, Dubsado will likely be more friendly than Honeybook. Dubsado is also more customizable to align with your brand. If it’s extremely important to you to have access to custom CSS when building your client interface, you’ll want Dubsado.

Who would Honeybook be best for?

A business owner who has never before used a CRM can benefit from the hands-on personalized customer service provided by Honeybook. Also, someone who can benefit from the starter price of $200/Year.

If you’re thinking of getting Honeybook, reach out to some friends in the photographer community, and I guarantee one of them will be stoked to share a Promo Code with you!

Honeybook has an incredibly clean and modern aesthetic. It’s simplified on the customer-facing side of things (so you’ll want to make sure that you’re happy with how the communications look—I’d recommend setting yourself up as a sample “client”), but is not quite as customizable to align with your business branding. Honeybook is ideal for someone who doesn’t want to worry about too many options—there isn’t much customization possible beyond importing your logo, and that plug-and-play model might work perfectly for you!

In summary, I think there are pros and cons to both Dubsado and Honeybook—yet neither have operated at the 110% that I wish we could get from a CRM program.

No matter which you choose, you’ll still want to be hands-on until you have a strong understanding of how everything works. Above, we explained what a CRM is capable of, and what it can do.

However, it’s important to recognize what it CAN’T do. No CRM is a replacement for real human oversight—it’s not a business manager. It is a tool for making it possible to manage your business, but you can’t just press ‘GO’ and walk away.

The best thing you can do with each lead generated for your business is to create a strong, personalized, and empathetic response. Your couples will be best served by a combination of you and your CRM, bringing humanity and efficiency to your business. That is why the most important factor when choosing a CRM is finding one you’re comfortable with, with features you’re comfortable personalizing. 

Whichever you choose, let it be a tool for elevating your brand to offer even more with each elopement booking, and give your couples the resources they need to come prepared on their big day!

Want to learn about what kind of workflow you could implement & automate with your CRM? The Elopement Photographer Course goes into all of this (and SO much more in detail)—and I want to share with you a free “How to Design a Seamless Elopement Workflow” chapter that can help you get a sneak peek inside & help you figure out your own personal workflow, which you can access here!

Written by

Maddie Mae

Award-winning Destination Elopement Photographer + Business & Marketing Coach

Founder of @adventureinstead

I help wedding and elopement photographers discover what sets them apart—and make that their “secret sauce” to building a thriving business.

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