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How to Use Dubsado for Business – The Quickstart Guide

Disclaimer: This blog post contains referral links for Dubsado. If you use them, I may be rewarded credit towards the use of this tool. I don't even need it at this point - I'm just here to teach you!

If you are an entrepreneur looking for the best way to keep yourself and your clients totally organized during their projects, there’s honestly no better way to do it than through the use of Dubsado, a full on Customer Relationship Management system that truly takes a project from start to finish… all in one place.

I’ve talked about Dubsado before. It might seem crazy that I am talking about it on my blog again, but that’s because I believe so strongly in this business tool that I can’t help but want to get more in depth and show you what it can really do for your business (plus some nice tips from the experienced).

Related Reading: 7 Reasons why Dubsado is the best CRM for creatives

How to use Dubsado for Business

 

Who is Dubsado for?

I get asked a lot “Kimi, I’m a (insert business title here)… Is this even something I can use?” Truth is, while Dubsado might not be fitting for every type of business, I have seen it being used in a wide range of service based businesses as well businesses which sell customized products. Here’s just a short list of who can benefit from Dubsado in their business:

  • Graphic Designers (hey, that’s me!)
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Photographers
  • Custom Cake Decorators
  • Florists
  • Midwives & Doulas
  • Calligraphists
  • Event Planners
  • Makeup Artists
  • Website Designers
  • DJs & Musicians

While all of these businesses might use Dubsado a little differently, the core of what Dubsado is and what it can do for them is the same.

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Why would I use Dubsado?

We all have… *ahem* “challenging” clients from time to time. I have found that organization, being able to easily refer back to conversations held with a client (and making it easy for them to access the same information) is really the key to making sure that both of us are on the same page.

Related Reading: The ugly truth you need to know about refunding clients

As a graphic designer, I use Dubsado for every project from beginning to end. I cannot stress the importance of having everything you need to know about a project in one place – rather than having to constantly refer back to a long string of various emails, texts, and Facebook messages. Not only is it helpful to you, but most importantly… it keeps your clients organized in a way that works best for you.

Just look at this Dubsado Client Portal example below:

Dubsado Client Portal Example

This is what every client of mine has access to – a personalized client portal where they can review (even download and print!) their contract, pay any balances due on invoices, complete forms I’ve sent to them such as Logo Discovery Questionnaires or Design Proof feedback, and read any email conversations we’ve had.

And this is just the Client Portal… this is just the answer to keeping your clients organized!

 

How do I get started with Dubsado?

So fun story… When I started using Dubsado in early 2017, I didn’t know yet what all I would regularly use within Dubsado. Truthfully, it can be a little different for everyone. No two business owners are alike, so don’t be surprised if you just have to fumble around for a little bit until you figure out what steps you find yourself repeatedly doing so that you can save yourself a lot of time with this system.

For me, it turned out to be a lot of email writing to tell my clients…

  • How to sign a contract
  • How to pay invoices
  • That I had received their payment
  • What to do with the Client Portal
  • That their design proofs were ready
  • Reminding them to pay their final invoice
  • That their files were available for download

And that’s just the emailing! I found myself constantly writing emails before for these things and while there will always need to be some sort of personalized communication with my clients, I don’t really need to waste hours of my time every week re-writing the same email.

Every business is going to use email and so I suggest that that’s where you start. Make a list of the emails you constantly find yourself writing and create a canned email for as many situations as you can in the Canned Email section.

Example Canned Email in Dubsado

The nice thing about starting with these types of canned email responses is that you don’t necessarily need to know anything else yet – You don’t have to have any forms built or have anything else figured out. You just need to start off by deciding what you constantly email about, and create email templates for them. This in itself is going to save you a lot of time. Don’t worry if it takes you a little while to figure out how to best use the rest of the Dubsado features.

Pro Tip: Create a single email for your clients to help them with the on-boarding process. It’s a lot better than sending them an email for every. little. thing.

 

How do I decide what form templates I need?

I honestly figured out what templates I needed for my business over time. I can’t possibly stress enough why it’s totally okay to not know immediately what all you need. You can always add in different forms later. Stick first with what you know you need – such as lead forms and contracts.

 
LEAD CAPTURES
Of course you need a way by which you get clients into this amazing system, right? That’s where Lead Captures come in. I love these, because you can design them to be very simple (like my contact form), or you can design them to help you analyze a potential client’s needs so that you can respond thoroughly and save time (like with my booking form).

Lead Capture Form example in Dubsado

You can embed these forms onto any page of your website or even share a direct link to your lead capture hosted on Dubsado*. When someone fills it out, you receive an email from Dubsado alerting you of a new lead. Certain questions within your form (such as Name, Email, Phone Number, etc) are specially mapped so that they auto-populate profile information for your new lead. You never have to fill that information out – Dubsado is already doing the work for you.

Pro Tip: As of January 2018, Dubsado does not yet have URL masking – which means that the URL ends up looking something like this: https://hello.dubsado.com:443/public/form/view/12345 which can look a bit messy. Try a WordPress plugin such as Pretty Link to make it look nice like this: https://kimikinsey.com/BookMeNow

 
CONTRACTS
As a graphic designer, I have different contracts for different types of projects. This isn’t totally necessary, but since I find myself doing a few different project types repeatedly (such as Branding, Logo Design, and Business Cards), I find it’s a lot easier for me to have a contract for each so that the details of what work I will be performing are already in each contract – again, saving me time.

Dubsado Contract Creation Example

As you can see, I’m using Smart Fields again in my above example. This saves me time because it’s actually pulling in the important information for me. Things like…

  • Today’s Date {{ curDate | mediumDate}}
  • Company / Business Name {{client.company.name}}
  • The client’s full name {{client.name}}
  • The total project cost {{job.invoice | total}}

This information is set in other areas such as your Client’s information collected during lead capture (you can also change it yourself later), and the amount you have entered in their invoice. You never have to worry again about typing your Client’s name (especially if they have one that is difficult to remember how to spell!), or refer back to things like project totals.

Pro Tip: Be sure to use the Smart Field area to insert codes. Unlike HTML, you can’t just paste in the codes – they won’t work.

The Contract Shop for legalizing your business

 

What do I do when a lead is ready to book me?

Congrats! Booking your first client within Dubsado is so exciting because you are about to see how freaking magical it all really is.

 
STEP 1 – CONVERT THE LEAD INTO A JOB
The first thing you need to do is convert the lead into a job. This moves the client from the “Leads” area into the “Jobs” area. You change this by clicking on the name of the lead (which you can totally change to better reflect the project), and select “Promote to Job”.

Converting a Lead into a Client in Dubsado

 
STEP 2 – ATTACH A CONTRACT
Upon clicking “Add Contract to this Job” you will find a dropdown menu of options such as contracts you have created, the option to upload a signed PDF (perfect for if you have a contract already and are just migrating a client into Dubsado), or to denote that the project will have No Written Contract.

Setting a Contract for a Job in Dubsado

 
STEP 3 – INVOICING
Dubsado has a nice invoicing and payment system which integrates with PayPal, Stripe, and my preference… Square (click here to get $1,000 worth of transaction fees waived!). Invoices can be set up so that the client is required to pay everything up front before or after a job has been completed, a certain number of days before the project begins, a percentage of the total cost to start and again at finish… and so on. You can even set up recurring invoices if you are offering an ongoing service.

Dubsado Invoice Example

I love the ability to add a payment schedule. I require clients to pay a retainer fee equal to 50% of their project’s total cost up front for booking purposes. I give them a due date using the payment scheduler in Dubsado. You can also choose to have a specific amount of money due to you by a specific date, or something more relative such as “3 Days Before Job” or “1 Day After Contract Signing” plus other combinations.

Adding a Payment Schedule in Dubsado

You can even add in reminders (for those pesky *ahem* difficult clients) so that you don’t have to chase them down yourself – Dubsado will do the reminding for you! You can create a canned email that will send out on a relative or specific date.

Helloooo automation!

 
STEP 4 – ATTACH RELEVANT FORMS
Do you have follow up questions or need further information from your new client? I love using forms as a way to ask questions to help guide me in the work I’m doing. You can set them up to be comprehensive on your own terms (and look super nice with your branding). For example, I send all of my Logo Design clients a discovery questionnaire (with some homework attached). It just makes sense that I go ahead and prepare this form for them to see immediately in their Client Portal.

This is a great example of why it’s okay to not know immediately what forms you need. I love that Dubsado is free to use indefinitely – as in, you aren’t limited to how long you have to play around with it and figure out what you need. They give you 3 clients to test it out on and you can use one of those to play around and figure out what your personal workflow would be. You can even choose to create a form while in this step – so it’s not like you can’t just add a new form at this point!

As you can see in the image below, my form has my name highlighted because I have listed myself as the client and utilized a Smart Field code to pull the client’s first name from the information provided. This allows you to get a little more personal with your forms – despite the fact that you are probably going to send the same form to dozens of people this year.

Adding Forms in Dubsado

 
STEP 5 – WORKFLOWS
This is the tricky part and I will admit that I don’t use a lot of Workflows in my setup because I don’t have much use for them – much of what I would need is already triggered in other ways. But this is the time in which you would want to set up a Workflow – a series of actions Dubsado should take on your behalf such as sending emails, contracts, forms, etc.

To create a Workflow, you’ll need to go back into your Templates section. After naming it, you’ll have the option of selecting a Payment Schedule (this is optional) or creating one at this point (assuming you didn’t do it already during Step 3). Next, you’ll choose “Add Action” which will pull up a new screen with a dropdown of choices.

Dubsado Workflow Actions

There are a lot of different things you can use Workflows for:

  • Sending canned emails on a specific date or relative to another action
  • Sending an invoice on a specific date or relative to another action
  • Sending the contract on a specific date or relative to another action
  • Creating a “todo” in your To Do list on a specific date or relative to another action
  • Sending a form on a specific date or relative to another action
  • Pausing the Workflow on a specific date or relative to another action

Pro Tip: Don’t complicate things any more than you need to. This would be a good time to create a “todo” if you like the idea of your To Do list being within Dubsado – I like to just write stuff down in my planner.

 
STEP 6 – SEND THE CONTRACT
You’ve done all of this work to set your new client up within Dubsado and now it’s time to get started. This it the point in which you actually start sending them everything relevant to their project. I personally send my clients one email with their Contract, Invoice, and Client Portal details all at once in order to avoid sending them a gazillion messages. My workflow emails them an alert that I have received their payment and to remind them of the time slot they have booked, and sends out another email to alert them of the form that needs filling out from Step 4.

It’s really easy to create something like that within the Canned Email templates. If you go to your Canned Email templates area and click on “Edit Templates”, you will get a dropdown of the templates already made for certain situations such as with sending contracts, invoices, client portal, etc. I created a template under “Contracts” that just covers everything as a sort of welcome and onboarding email to help guide clients.

Dubsado Email Template for Client Onboarding

Of course all of that is totally optional. It’s certainly not the only way of doing things. You can go back to Step 5 and create a different workflow if you want more automation and for different emails to be sent to your client every step of the way. In any case, it’s time to send at least our contract – arguably the most important part to every project’s beginning!

Sending a contract is really simple. When viewing the job’s dashboard you click on Contract and select “Send Contract”. This will pull up the canned email response you created in the templates area back in Steps 1 and/or Step 5. You can make any adjustments you might need, but if you have done a good job of creating a template, you shouldn’t need to do anything but to click Send and wait for your client to sign the contract!

Send a Contract in Dubsado

Pro Tip: A client signing a contract is a great way to prompt other things to happen in your workflow so that you don’t have to waste valuable time sending invoices or other forms for them to fill out. Plus it makes you really look like you’re on top of things!

 

How do I communicate with clients in Dubsado?

The big way by which you can communicate with your clients of course is via email – but in Dubsado, it’s a little more sophisticated than that. Dubsado uses what they call “Conversations”, a system by which all email communication sent out of Dubsado and responded to by the client creates what basically looks like a really big text message box like you see below.

Dubsao Email Conversations Example

It’s important to understand that every message you send out to the client is actually a new email on their end. By responding to that email, the conversation continues to show up in Dubsado this way – and both you and the Client can view it (you from your dashboard, and them from their client portal).

If the client chooses to email you directly rather than in response to your email created in Dubsado, it will not end up in the conversations area. Dubsado plans to address this in the future with a better system.

 

Can I send files to my client for proofing?

There are a couple of ways you can send proofs to clients. Personally, I am using Subcontract forms for proofing because I like that my clients are required to legally sign off on any changes every step of the way so that there’s no confusion or deniability later.

I have created a form that gives the client details about the project such as certain design choices, fonts and colors used, thought processes, etc. The client can respond with their favorite concepts (and least favorite!) as well as provide me with valuable feedback. And at the end… they sign a legally binding contract that acknowledges that I’ll be using their feedback for changes going forward and that if they email me after with further comments and changes, they will incur additional fees.

Here’s an example of one of my proofing subcontracts:

Early Stage Sample Proofing in Dubsado

You can also send files directly to clients via the email system the same way you would attach files to emails when using something like GMail. I prefer to keep everything within Dubsado as much as possible to prevent any confusion later.

 

What do I do when a job is complete within Dubsado?

It’s really important that you mark jobs you have finished as “Completed” – especially if you have set up any recurring invoices (Hey, I learned that one the hard way! haha) because otherwise the job will assume it’s still open and continue to send recurring invoices to the client.

To mark a job completed, you click on the name of the project and select “Complete Job” which will remove the job from your current list of jobs and move it into your “Past” column.

Completing a Job within Dubsado

 

I have more questions about Dubsado… How can I ______?

Dubsado has a wonderful Facebook community where you can hang out with other Dubsado users and learn the ins and outs of its use. There’s also the (should be award-winning) Dubsado customer service where someone is maybe all too often standing by, waiting to answer your questions (none of which ever seem to be too small).

Of course you can always join me in my Facebook group, Hexagon Connection and ask me questions about Dubsado too. There’s much more to learn about how you can use Dubsado to save time and do the hard work for you in your business.

Don’t be shy… Get started with Dubsado today for FREE + get 20% off your first month (or year, if you choose an annual plan) by clicking the banner below.

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After following Kimi’s guidance, I now have a strategy for Pinterest that I can feel confident about and that helps my business grow.

Jordan Prindle

5.0
2019-01-10T02:40:47+00:00

Jordan Prindle

After following Kimi’s guidance, I now have a strategy for Pinterest that I can feel confident about and that helps my business grow.

Get Pinned Academy is the best course to empower you to create drool worthy pins that get shared and help you drive traffic to your blog or business.

Jean Peterson

5.0
2019-01-10T02:42:09+00:00

Jean Peterson

Get Pinned Academy is the best course to empower you to create drool worthy pins that get shared and help you drive traffic to your blog or business.

Kimi Kinsey has been an ENORMOUS source of both resources and inspiration for me throughout my business journey. I have been in her Facebook Group Hexagon Connection since I first started my business and it has been a complete game changer!

Heather Terwilliger

5.0
2019-01-10T19:32:25+00:00

Heather Terwilliger

Kimi Kinsey has been an ENORMOUS source of both resources and inspiration for me throughout my business journey. I have been in her Facebook Group Hexagon Connection since I first started my business and it has been a complete game changer!

I've read my share of design material on the internet and elsewhere, but I could tell from lesson 1 that Kimi's [graphic design] course is a cut above. Her visuals clearly show you what NOT to do, as well as how to make your design elements look as clean and professional as possible.

Rachel Fearon

5.0
2019-01-11T18:08:19+00:00

Rachel Fearon

I've read my share of design material on the internet and elsewhere, but I could tell from lesson 1 that Kimi's [graphic design] course is a cut above. Her visuals clearly show you what NOT to do, as well as how to make your design elements look as clean and professional as possible.

She laid everything out in such a clear, simple way. Even as a long-time Pinterest user, I learned some new strategies and design tips that have helped me to increase my traffic from Pinterest.

Cate Rosales

5.0
2019-01-10T02:34:16+00:00

Cate Rosales

She laid everything out in such a clear, simple way. Even as a long-time Pinterest user, I learned some new strategies and design tips that have helped me to increase my traffic from Pinterest.
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