Let me start by sharing that I actually consider myself to be an extremely organized person. I never forgot homework assignments in school, I don’t miss deadlines, I’m almost annoyingly communicative, and I have way more detail than necessary on my calendar. Because of this, I operated without a client management system for YEARS (8 to be exact) thinking that I should be able to handle the details without one. But what I didn’t know until I finally started using Honeybook was how much time and sanity I would gain back in my life by having everything in one place and so much more automated, not to mention the elevated client experience that came with more consistency (which, in turn, has resulted in awesome reviews and great referrals)!
I thought I didn’t need a CRM (customer relation management system) until I got so busy with clients that I felt like I was missing things. I had a system that worked for the basics… a separate Google calendar for photography inquiries and tasks that I could toggle on and off, a ton of Google spreadsheets, Trello boards, etc., but it was all completely manual and there wasn’t consistency in my follow up to inquiries or my pre- and post-wedding workflows so I spent a lot of time on data entry and relying on my brain (never a good idea) to remember tasks. Now, with Honeybook, a new project is created every time someone inquires on my website and each day when I log in I can see all the tasks that I need to accomplish that day in order to stay on top of things all in one place. I just make sure I have at least one future task set at all times for each project so I don’t lost track of any and can move them through the booking cycle (either converting to a paying client or archiving the project after my follow up sequence is completed with no response or if we end up not being a good fit). I can even see if a client has read an email I sent them, viewed an invoice or questionnaire, etc. and all of my notes such as things they like, what their kids names are, where they are located, and when their last session with me was can all be housed right under their contact info.
Convinced that Honeybook is right for you or just want to try it to find out? CLICK HERE to get $200 off your first year subscription. Yup, you heard me right: TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS, which is actually half of your first year membership. I can’t believe how inexpensive this platform is for all the features it provides… after watching others rave about it and wondering if it would be worth it for my business before I was super busy and booked out, I can now confidently say that I should have gone for it years ago!
Simply put, my brain just clicks with the way this system is set up using “projects.” As freelancers, each client we work with can tend to be so very different that keeping each one in it’s own little section with all of their information, documents, etc. just works.
This option is pretty much like iPhone reminders on steroids, except it’s not random since it’s connected to a project and you can even automate tasks to populate without manually inputting them for each project using workflows (more on that later). Each day I log into Honeybook and all of my tasks for the day are right there on my dashboard. These can consist of just an internal “to do” list of checkboxes, or can go as far as having emails or files (questionnaires, invoices, proposals, etc.) connected to them so that by checking the box you are actually sending a reminder or request to your client. I no longer have to wonder if I ever sent a certain client their welcome gift or forget to send them their pre-wedding questionnaire 2 months out from the big day. Tasks streamline all the things I would just ‘get around to at some point’ when I was doing everything manually (which took SO much stress and pointless brain power out of the whole process).
Before Honeybook, I used my image gallery site (Shootproof) to let clients sign contracts and pay invoices online. That is definitely a great option if you want to provide a professional experience, avoiding paper/manual processes to secure clients and get paid in a timely manner. However, I have found that doing this all through my CRM within each project is a huge time saver and looks even more professional. There is also so much more flexibility when it comes to creating proposals that are not only functional, but also visually appealing and user-friendly.
Oh email templates. This was another thing I never thought I would utilize. I mean, don’t clients want everything to be personalized to them? Now I say, “yes and no.” I think they want to know that you have a proven system and can immediately be shown an example of what it’s like to work with you when they, for example, get an automated “thank you for your email! I respond personally within 24 hours, but I just wanted to thank you for reaching out about your wedding and let you know what to expect next” email upon inquiry. Of course, personalization is KEY in all of your communication, but there is nothing wrong with starting with a template and adding a few points to connect with them and replace with the specifics for their project. There is no need to start from scratch every time, especially if you have a certain niche or two and respond to a lot of the same types of questions or inquiries all the time! I’m a TRUE BELIEVER in email templates and they save me literally hours every week.
Workflows are an amazing way to help provide a consistent experience to each client. They can consist of emails, tasks for yourself (to-do’s), brochures to showcase your services + pricing, and questionnaires. Workflows are basically your template for the process from when a new client submits an inquiry through the final completion of your service and/or product delivery. They make it so you always know what’s coming next and what’s needed from you in order to provide an elevated client experience at every step of the process. With Honeybook, you can make each workflow as automated or manual as you want. If you want emails/files/payment reminders, etc. to be send on a specific timeline so you don’t have to worry about it, you can make that happen. If you’d rather set everything up in advance, but have Honeybook send you an approval request before sending just to make sure everything looks good – that’s also easy peasy (this is what I usually do since I’m somewhat of a control freak).
I used to host my pre-wedding and post-wedding questionnaires through Google Forms, which worked fine to get the info. But again, it was putting necessary details in yet another random place that I had to remember and navigate to every time I had a thought or question. Having everything all in one place is one of the best things that ever happened to my business. Have I already mentioned that? 😉
To me, time is even more valuable than money. I’m all about experiences, building relationships with family and friends, and I love to travel, all of which takes more time than any of us seem to have. The time (and head-space) I have gained back by using Honeybook is worth every dime of the already inexpensive platform. It also has a time-tracking feature so you can evaluate how much time you are spending on certain activities or projects to identify what steps you could take to gain some of it back! It could also help you determine your pricing structure as you look at how long certain items are actually taking you vs. how long you initially expect them to.
I know not all creatives love the organizational side of running a business, most of us would rather be out there creating than working out the payment and planning details. However, the peace of mind it has given me to have a system that I can rinse and repeat (at least as a starting point) every time a new inquiry comes in has been nothing short of a game-changer for my small business, and I want the same for you!
As with any new system, it certainly takes some time and effort to set everything up at the beginning, but you can pretty much start using it right away once you set up your branding and then tweak/add helpful things as you go. For example, the first time you send an initial email to a potential customer, copy and paste it into your email template section so you won’t have to start from scratch next time! They also have an amazing on-boarding Concierge service to help you get set up or transfer your information from another platform. Their long term customer service is also impeccable and has always been quick, reliable, and helpful in their responses (and I’ve reached out a lot, so I know!).
This post contains affiliate links, which means I get a little cash money if you use the services noted (thanks in advance for supporting my small business). I never suggest products or services I don’t 120% believe in and use consistently with great results in my own business.
Have questions about Honeybook? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to help answer them!
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