Ready to save literal hours every single week managing your web design business?
From responding to inquiries, to taking payments, to keeping client projects on track, to handling all those easy to forget but super necessary back-end tasks in your biz…wouldn’t it be nice if they all happened in the same place instead of needing like 50 different apps to try to stay on top of everything?
Let me introduce you to Honeybook, a.k.a. the dreamiest and downright most useful CRM (customer relations management) software for running your design business on autopilot.
That’s an affiliate link, btw! You can use it to sign up for a free trial, then if you decide Honeybook is right for you, you get 50% off your first year!
Glad you asked! A CRM is basically your dashboard for all things related to handling clients.
Not all CRM’s are created equal (which is why a free trial is a smart first step! You can click here to get one for Honeybook) but the goal of a CRM is to bring together all the tasks you would need to remember in your client process from start-to-finish, and organize them into one easy to manage software.
The most robust CRMs will also include ways for you to manage inquiries, accept payments, send invoices, proposals, brochures/packages, contracts, emails, file sharing, etc.
You probably find yourself repeating the same set of tasks with each new client project you take on, so CRM’s are all about automating those tasks, cutting down on the time you spend working “in” your business, and freeing you up to do more of the things that move the needle.
But your CRM isn’t just about you!
It also makes for a much smoother and more enjoyable client experience, because thanks to the workflows you’ve set up in your CRM, your client never has to wonder what to expect next, and there is no down time spent waiting on you to surface from your mountain of client work to finally answer their inquiry or help them get started with the next steps of their project.
Satisfied clients make for fabulous testimonials, which means more dreamy clients lining up to work with you.
Honeybook has 3 super handy features to help you and your potential clients hit the ground running without you needing to babysit your inbox:
Feature #1: Contact Forms
You can create custom, on-brand forms (or choose one of their pre-made templates) to help you collect and store all the info you need from someone who is interested in working with you.
When someone submits your form, a new project is automatically created for you in your dashboard with their contact info and any other fields you had them fill out so that they are ready for the next steps to booking your services!
Feature #2: Email Templates
Once you’ve taken the time to write out your “inquiry received” email, save it as a template, and you’ll never have to type out that email again! The same goes for all emails and follow-ups you would normally send in your client process.
Honeybook will automatically fill in any custom fields you set up in the email so that each email is personalized to that specific contact, and using the next tool (workflows), you can automatically send emails based on the trigger settings you choose, so you can be spending wayyyyy less time in your inbox.
Pro-tip: When creating email templates, rather than just naming them, include a number in the title too to show what step in the process it is so you can easily locate it in your template library as they will automatically appear in numerical/alphabetical order.
But heads up!
Whatever you name your template will become your email’s default subject line so just remember to change the subject line before you hit send!
Feature #3: Workflows
Managing client projects from inquiry to launch day comes with an awful lot of steps. With Honeybook workflows, you create your client process template once and that workflow automatically gets applied to a client’s project in your dashboard.
You can use workflows to automate emails, send yourself task reminders, and trigger other important actions based on your workflow settings.
Need to double and triple-check something before it goes out? No worries – you can set it up to where automated tasks require approval before they work their magic!
To get started with your first workflow:
From Honeybook’s main navigation, head to tools > workflows > add new workflow.
Select the type of action you want to happen when that workflow is triggered (in this example, I’ll choose email, but don’t worry, you can edit this later if needed)
Select the email template you wish to send when this step of the workflow is triggered.
Specify how many days after being triggered you want the email sent. If you want it sent right away, just leave it at 0 days.
Let Honeybook know whether you want it sent automatically or to require approval from you before sending.
Congrats! You’re very first step in your client workflow is ready! Go ahead and add as many steps to the workflow as you need to make sure all your bases are covered.
If you have a step you usually do in your client-process that can’t be 100% automated, I still recommend adding it as a task to your workflow so that A) you don’t forget, and B) checking off that task will trigger the next important step in your workflow.
Speaking of triggers, you’re going to need a way to let Honeybook know which workflow to automatically assign new inquiries that come in! This is where that contact form you created earlier comes in!
Navigate back to your workflow dashboard (tools > workflows) and use the drop-down menu to select which contact form will trigger the start of a workflow when it is submitted.
Next, you’ll likely want to extend some sort of invite for your potential client to book a consultation call.
This can be added as a manually approved step in your design workflow, so that the invitation email is only sent to those that you deem to be a good fit for what you offer.
Not feeling like the right fit? It’s worth your time to create an email template for times such as these so that you can get back to them right away with a gracious “no thanks” and refer them to someone who might be a better fit.
Suggested reading: How to gracefully say no to a potential Squarespace web design client
Scheduling a consult call
Before you can have someone schedule a consult call, you need to create that appointment type in your Honeybook scheduling dashboard (which can be found by going to tools > scheduling > new session type).
You can use the appointment type builder to confirm your availability for that particular appointment type, as well as customize the details of the consultation call like where it goes down, what timezone it’s in, how long it lasts, reminder notification settings, cancellation policy, and even what color that appointment type will appear as when it syncs with your Google calendar.
(Here are those steps to syncing it to your Google calendar, btw.)
Grab the link to the appointment type and include it in your email template for this step in your Honeybook workflow!
Note: If you already use Squarespace’s built-in scheduling feature for consultation calls, you would still add this step to your design workflow, and just use your Squarespace appointment link in the invitation email instead.
Sending along your brochure
You’ll want to give your potential client all the deets they need to know about your packages and pricing before hand so they are not caught off guard on your call, so now is the perfect time in your client process to whip up a custom, on-brand brochure!
To get started, head to tools > templates > brochures > add new brochure.
Similar to designing a page in Squarespace, Honeybook uses sections and blocks to build out the customizable sections of it’s brochures. So add your first section and use the blocks to begin to add content to your design.
Unless your client booked right then and there on the consult call, you can tell Honeybook to automatically follow up a set number of days later by including it as an email in your workflow. You can also see in your client’s project whether or not they actually opened and read your last email.
No more wasting time on clients who aren’t serious about working with you, and no more dream clients slipping through the cracks because you forgot to follow up, or put it off because you were too busy running your business.
Pro-tip: this would be a fabulous time to include a testimonial or two. Check out this post I wrote on how to collect the type of testimonials that actually help you win clients!
Onboarding a client tends to come with a lot of documents and thankfully, Honeybook makes it super easy to send, receive, and electronically sign anything that’s needed to keep your business legit legally and financially.
Just like using sections and blocks to custom design your brochure, you can also create on-brand versions of all the important documents you would usually send your client once they have decided to book (proposals, invoices, contracts, etc).
All it takes to send one to a potential client is to head into their project, click add new file, select the file type and preferred template (in case you have different versions of the same document for different situations) and press send!
Honeybook will use the info you collected in your initial contact form to automatically fill in any custom subject fields you’ve chosen to include in your template, but you can also easily tweak your document before sending, without being worried it will affect the master template.
Honeybook keeps all documents and communications associated with that specific client in one easy to find place so you aren’t hunting them down in your inbox months later when it comes time to do your bookkeeping or deal with a breached contract (though fingers crossed you never have to do deal with this as a designer ).
P.S. they do offer some basic contract templates, but as with any legal document, I recommend using a contract that is super specific to your industry and offerings!
For a super solid client contract designed specifically for web designers, I recommend The Web Design Agreement from The Creative Law Shop. You can use my code PAIGE10 to get 10% any contract in their shop!
When it comes to landing clients, you want to make it stupid simple for them to be paying you, so if you’re still accepting checks in the mail, or having people e-transfer you in 15 different ways, now’s the time to set up payment through Honeybook!
All it takes is your client clicking a “pay now” button in the invoice you just sent them, and they can easily view and receive reminders for upcoming payments.
Want to set-up auto-pay for recurring payments?
When sending your invoice, simply click to open the panel on the left side of the invoice editor and toggle on the auto-pay button.
Because the last thing you need when you are up to your eyeballs in design work is to be chasing down clients and hounding them for money.
Not fun for you, or for them. And it can have a serious impact on the overall feeling of client satisfaction (and basically tank those sales-winning testimonials we talked about.)
Sending payment reminders
You’ve made it ridiculously easy to pay you at this point, but if for some reason your client isn’t super prompt, Honeybook has you covered with automatic payment reminders! Don’t worry, you can customize what they say, and how many days to wait after sending an invoice.
This is also super handy for accepting the first payment.
Your client is likely going to need a day or two to decide whether they are ready to drop the big bucks on booking your services, so you can use your workflows to send out reminders when a proposal is set to expire and payment is due in order to secure their spot on the books!
Offering some sort of payment plan for your services? You can also set up Honeybook to remind clients of upcoming payments.
6. Send a Welcome Packet as soon as your client is booked
Now that you got all that money business out of the way, and your client is booked, you want to be able to get some sort of welcome guide to them stat! so they aren’t stuck wondering what the next steps are when they have just dropped some serious cash on securing your services.
You can use Honeybook’s brochure building tool to create your welcome packet if you like, but if you prefer to do your designing in something like Canva or Adobe Illustrator, simply upload your fancy new pdf into your Honeybook library and in the future it will be available to attach to any email with the click of one button!
This is also the perfect time to be sending any homework your client’s way.
Honeybook’s questionnaires are a fabulous way to collect more information on their vision for their project, and to gather up info such as domain names, hosting, social, and other third party accounts or integrations (aka anything you need from them in order to get started on the design or tech-setup of their site)
Psssst! If you’ve sent out some homework, don’t forget to include tasks in your workflow to send reminder emails to keep projects on track!
Once again, Honeybook is making it hella easy to keep everything in one place. Rather than having clients email you 10 different times with 10 different bits and pieces needed for their project, have them attach those documents or files in their project in Honeybook.
You can use Honeybook to deliver sneak peeks on things like mood boards, design concepts, or any other things you need feedback on, sending along a feedback questionnaire with a deadline so projects don’t drag on.
Full disclosure: I chose to include a link to a shared Google Drive folder in my client’s welcome packet for any file sharing and storage for that specific project, but you can test out which method works better for you!
Even if you are charging on a project-basis and not an hourly-basis, the Honeybook time-tracking feature can be super handy, as it will help you understand how long things are really taking you and how to charge accordingly for future projects.
Or if you offer custom hourly work or maintenance you have something you can provide the client to show the time you spent, all right in their Honeybook project!
Want to follow up with past clients to ask for referrals or offer an upsell? Need their address to send a happy launch-day gift? You’ll have all their info in one place, even if their past project has been archived to make room for new projects!
If you have more than one on the go, or you don’t always want to be second guessing whether you remembered to do a thing, use Honeybook’s project pipeline feature to keep track of what stage of your client-process they are in.
You’ll be able to see all your current projects at once from your Honeybook dashboard, so you can quickly see where your focus needs to be in running your biz each day.
Then, when you complete a project, or you have an inquiry that isn’t the right fit or up and ghosted on you, you can archive their project to keep your dashboard tidy!
It’s lauuuuunch dayyyyy! Wahoo!
But before you pop the bubbly, you need to wrap up a few loose ends to ensure a smooth hand-off of your client’s project.
This can include:
Automatically sending a congratulatory launch day email
Sending a post-launch info package detailing everything you agreed upon when booking your services (ie. will you be available for hourly maintenance?)
Sending a testimonial questionnaire to make sure you are getting legitimately useful testimonials (because “Suzie is the best” doesn’t offer up a whole lot of insight into what future prospects can expect when booking your services.)
Follow-up to ask for referrals and offer some sort of incentive (ie. For every client who is referred and booked, that past client gets X number of website edits and updates for free in the future).
If you blog about projects, let the client know when to expect their post to go live so they can show off to their friends and followers (and provide free marketing by getting your name out there in the process)!
You’re just about to board a plane and you remember that you totally forgot to press send on that invoice? No problem! Just open the Honeybook mobile app, and with a few clicks, you are back in business!
With the ability to automate your client process, and quickly pop into the app to handle the rest, you can safely leave your laptop at home. (So it’s definitely worth downloading the app the minute you sign up for your free trial!)
Ready to start taking those all those repetitive tasks off your plate? Just set ‘em up once, and then go ahead and hand them off to Honeybook!
You can start a free Honeybook trial right now (that’s an affiliate link!), and if you fall in love and decide you can’t live without it for your managing your design biz, you’ll get 50% off your first year!