How I Use Dubsado as a Calligrapher & Designer

WOW! A lot has changed since I last wrote about Dubsado more than a YEAR ago; that’s just crazy for me to think about, especially because my little business has grown so much since then and Dubsado has been there every step of the way. Dubsado still remains an integral part of my calligraphy and design business, ElisaAnne Calligraphy, and I’m using the platform on an almost daily basis (depending on the time of year and how busy I am). Dubsado still remains my top choice out of all the other client management systems I’ve heard of that exist (HoneyBook, 17Hats, Tave… blah blah). Excuse my slight cynicism there, but I don’t really think the other platforms compare because I just love Dubsado that much! *Disclaimer: the Dubsado links in this post help generate Dubsado credit for me, at not additional cost to you of course!*

 PIN this for later! Image thumbnail credit: Dubsado.com.

PIN this for later! Image thumbnail credit: Dubsado.com.

Investing in Dubsado's client management system was a no-brainer for me as a calligrapher & designer. It had all of the key elements of a client management system that I needed, and I didn’t find myself longing for any features that they didn’t already have. That being said, they are constantly releasing new updates which is amazing! It keeps the platform fresh, up to date, and above the rest of the competition.

I thought it might be helpful for me to take some time to outline how I used Dubsado as a calligrapher & designer specifically, especially since my last post was dedicated to Dubsado features in general, not necessarily how they specifically worked for my business. Now that I’ve had experience with Dubsado for more than a year, I feel like this article will be even more helpful for those of you that are fellow calligraphers & designers like me, especially if you’re thinking about investing in a client management system sometime soon!

BTW, a quick note about that: if you think you might be needing a client management system soon, don’t waste too much time time finding one, investing in one, and getting things setup. They key is to have everything up and running BEFORE you’re busy, not AFTER (otherwise it’s a lot harder of a process to get everything going and working for you). I’m so glad I got started with Dubsado and learned all the ropes of the program long before I started booking some of my biggest wedding invitation design clients.

Eager to get started already? Use the code “elisaanneco” for 20% off your first month or year! I’d go with the first year if I were you!

 This photo is directly from  Dubsado.com  (definitely not trying to claim it as my own) and it features their amazing "The Little Victories" mug. I use mine all the time when I'm working on different client projects.

This photo is directly from Dubsado.com (definitely not trying to claim it as my own) and it features their amazing "The Little Victories" mug. I use mine all the time when I'm working on different client projects.

Let’s launch into the things I use constantly within Dubsado as a calligrapher & designer!

1. As a calligrapher & designer, creating contracts through Dubsado is one of the most important elements for my small business.

This is one of my favorite (and most needed) features that Dubsado provides. Contracts & agreements have become an essential part of the way I run my calligraphy & design business, and Dubsado allows me send in-depth and easy-to-read contracts to my clients. My clients are able to sign the contracts electronically through Dubsado, and I am then able to counter-sign in return. I can’t emphasize how amazing of a feature this is, especially because it gives my clients peace of mind that I am also signing the contract I’ve entered into with them. If you decide to invest in Dubsado, contracts should be some of the first things you decide to setup, especially because they should be some of the first things you are using to book clients!

 This screenshot shows all of the elements you can use to create a contract within Dubsado. You can insert images, dropdown boxes, a date selection box, and so much more! The sky is the limit when it comes to designing your contracts and forms in Dubsado.

This screenshot shows all of the elements you can use to create a contract within Dubsado. You can insert images, dropdown boxes, a date selection box, and so much more! The sky is the limit when it comes to designing your contracts and forms in Dubsado.

2. Invoices created within Dubsado look extremely professional & clean, which perfectly mirrors the perception I want clients to have of my calligraphy & design business.

When clients book with me, it’s incredibly important that I make it very clear exactly what they are purchasing and investing in, whether that be calligraphy work, design work, or something else that I offer within the scope of my business. The invoices that Dubsado generates are easy to use, as well as being easy to read and understand for your clients that are receiving them. You can also set up “Payment Plans” which allows you to divide your payment up into two or more payment segments. This is great if you require some sort of down-payment before work begins (which I always do). I also use their invoices for creating project quotes for leads; instead of sending a “live” invoice, I download a PDF version of the Dubsado invoice to send to them so they can review it before moving forward!

Dubsado also provides you with multiple ways to receive your payments, and one of these options is ACH. If you don’t know what ACH (Automated Clearing House) is then you are DEFINITELY going to want to know, especially if you deal with high-paying clients. ACH is essentially the equivalent of sending an e-check, or transferring money between banks. This type of transaction ensures that you will not have to pay any sort of transaction fees, which is a huge plus as a small business owner. Other payment options include debit/credit card through Stripe, or PayPal. I don’t recommend having your clients on Dubsado pay with PayPal because it is not nearly as secure, but that’s a tangent for another time.

 This is a relatively simple invoice compared to the ones that I send most of my clients, but I wanted you to be able to see all of the elements of the invoice and how they look! This is the online PDF view of the invoice without the Dubsado dashboard around it. My mom paid through Dubsado once and told me how EASY it was, which is a huge deal! She's not a big fan of technology to say the least.

This is a relatively simple invoice compared to the ones that I send most of my clients, but I wanted you to be able to see all of the elements of the invoice and how they look! This is the online PDF view of the invoice without the Dubsado dashboard around it. My mom paid through Dubsado once and told me how EASY it was, which is a huge deal! She's not a big fan of technology to say the least.

3. As a designer, I’m constantly getting feedback from clients. Creating forms & questionnaires within Dubsado allows me to do that in an extremely efficient way!

One of my favorite way to use the forms/templates feature within Dubsado is to create feedback forms for my brides. Since I design a lot of custom wedding invitations, it’s important for me to be sending drafts to clients, asking them specific questions, and getting their feedback. I send them mood boards, sketches, drafts, proofs, and more through various forms that I’ve created in my Dubsado template library. You might be wondering, “Elisabeth, can’t all of this just be done through emails?” Well, yes, if you really want to do it that way you could. However, Dubsado allows you to make certain response slots “required” which means you avoid brides (or other clients) filling out some answers but not taking the time to answer the rest. This is especially important for me as a calligraphy & designer, because there are so many times I HAVE to have certain information from my clients completed before I can move on to the next step of their project.

 This is an example of a form that I sent to a 2017 client. I inserted a JPEG file with all of her Save the Date sketches and color inspiration, then added in feedback questions below. You can see her responses to me! These forms are so easy to build, and even easier for clients to understand and submit back to you.

This is an example of a form that I sent to a 2017 client. I inserted a JPEG file with all of her Save the Date sketches and color inspiration, then added in feedback questions below. You can see her responses to me! These forms are so easy to build, and even easier for clients to understand and submit back to you.

4. I use sub-agreements in Dubsado as a “proof form” for my clients to sign off on designs before I send them to print!

Getting an official signature on a proof before it goes to print can be the difference between life & death in this business… ok, that’s a little dramatic for me to say. But, I’m sure you’ll understand when I say you NEVER want a client to discover an error on their stationery item AFTER it’s been printed & delivered to them. Some people may consider my proof forms a little “over the top” but I don’t! I require my brides and clients to check every single piece of typed/written information on their stationery piece before I will send it to print. Not only does this protect them and ensure that everything is correct, it also protects ME so they can’t come back and say it was my fault if something was misspelled and then printed incorrectly. I do not have the money to be able to cover printing errors for clients’ orders, and Dubsado helps me avoid any problems in that department!

 This proof form was for a 2017 wedding invitation. I made the client check off that EVERY single element of their invitation was spelled/written correctly. Over the top? Sure. Did it work? YES. Then, at the bottom of the form, the bride was required to provide her electronic signature. 

This proof form was for a 2017 wedding invitation. I made the client check off that EVERY single element of their invitation was spelled/written correctly. Over the top? Sure. Did it work? YES. Then, at the bottom of the form, the bride was required to provide her electronic signature. 

5. Dubsado helps me to track any calligraphy/design leads that I receive!

Trust me, I know how crazy email inboxes can get (unless you’re an Inbox Zero fanatic like me – check out my YouTube video on Inbox Zero for small businesses). Due to the sheer amount of emails I can be receiving and responding to, keeping track of my leads within my email inbox isn’t always the best policy for my calligraphy & design business. A lot of times I will answer basic questions and start an initial conversation within email, but once that person wants a quote from me I move them into Dubsado. Dubsado also gives you the ability to embed contact forms on your website that get imported directly into the lead page on your dashboard! This is a feature that lots of other calligraphers & designers use that I currently don’t. I might switch back to it eventually, but for now I use a form I created within Squarespace that goes directly to my email inbox. This is something that I know I could streamline much better, so I’m definitely going to work on that in the future!

 Here is an example of my current lead page. Like I said, I don't import all of my leads into Dubsado, I only import ones that get to the "wanting an official quote" stage. At that point, I put them in Dubsado and create an invoice, then I download that invoice as a PDF and send it to them for them to take a look at it! 

Here is an example of my current lead page. Like I said, I don't import all of my leads into Dubsado, I only import ones that get to the "wanting an official quote" stage. At that point, I put them in Dubsado and create an invoice, then I download that invoice as a PDF and send it to them for them to take a look at it! 

6. Last, but not least, proposals sent to clients from Dubsado look amazing. I love using proposals for brides that are booking custom wedding invitations!

When I send a proposal to a client, they can easily see a page with all the necessary information about my design process, as well as their contract and their invoice; they have the option to toggle between these three pages to view all of the information provided. This is a one-stop-shop for getting your clients booked. Instead of sending all of these elements separately, you have the ability to bundle them together and make it even easier on the people that are trying to book your services. I’m not including an image of a proposal because it basically features three items I already showcased above: a form/template page with information about their package, an invoice, and a contract.

Those six things are some of the most-often used Dubsado features for my calligraphy & design business. However, before I wrap up this post, I want to point out a couple other amazing features Dubsado has:

  • Client Portals: Dubsado allows you to open a portal for each of your clients so that they can view all of their forms, contracts, and invoices in ONE place.
  • Chat Box: Problems or questions? Help is just a message away with the chat box that it always present in the lower right corner of your browser.
  • Address Book: See all of your past and present clients in one place!
  • Appointments: Schedule individual appointments and make not of them within a job for a client.
  • Notes: Add notes for a client within a job. I love using this feature when I have phone calls and consultations with my brides.
  • Personal Branding: Select the colors of your brand to be used throughout the Dubsado interface. Clients never see branding from Dubsado, so it makes it look like everything is coming to them from your own personal business platform! So professional!
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