An Honest Dubsado Review after 3 Years: 3 Strengths, 3 Tips, 3 Weaknesses (+ 20% off)

February 24, 2020

For anyone who's been around for a while, it's no secret that I L-O-V-E Dubsado.

I sang its praises way back in 2017, and that blog post has turned out to be a huge help to others who are considering a CRM (client relationship management) solution for themselves. I'm so glad! If you haven't read it yet, you can find it here.

However, after three years in the Dubsado Facebook Community -- and chatting with business friends who have considered adopting the system -- I've heard my fair share of apprehension, overwhelm, and hesitation. When you Google Dubsado you'll come across hundreds of posts touting its benefits with an affiliate code. It's no secret that they have a great affiliate program, and in the days of social influencers and referral marketing, it's hard to know what's genuine and what's contrived for monetary benefit. Plus, can someone who has barely dipped their toes in the platform really give you an honest review? Do those people actually stick with it?

So, in celebration of Dubsado's 4th birthday celebration, I've decided to give you my authentic feedback after using Dubsado every single day for almost three years.

What have I loved? What have I struggled with? Is it all it's cracked up to be?

In short? Yes, it 100% deserves the hype.

I cannot tell you how much Dubsado has changed my service-based creative business, for the better. I get SO many compliments from clients, on a weekly basis, about how impressed they are with my client experience and how easy it is to follow along with my process. Sure, some of that is due to how I've approached my design business (and I'm hoping to write more about that soon) — but the tool I've used to bring that process to life is Dubsado.

I'm going to give you 3 reasons I love Dubsado, 3 tips for implementing it successfully into your own business, and 3 use-cases I don't think Dubsado is ideal for (at least, not yet).

3 reasons I am obsessed with Dubsado:

  1. It can handle (almost) everything. As a brand/web designer, I use Dubsado for almost everything client-facing. Contracts? Check. Invoices? Yep. Proposals that automatically lead the client to your contract and down payment invoice? Yes! Onboarding Questionnaires? Mhmm. Design proofs? YASSS. Call scheduling? You bet! Automated workflows and canned emails that remind my clients of upcoming invoices, late payments, or portal logins without me having to lift a finger? You got it. A branded client portal that holds all of the above in one place for my clients to go back and reference whenever they'd like? Yep, it's the best. Dubsado is used for almost every touch-point I have with clients, which makes for a seamless experience for myself — and for my clients.
  2. Dubsado lets you fully brand and customize your client experience. As a designer, I love that Dubsado has the humility to remove their branding from everything that my clients see. Unless I tell them, my clients really have no idea what I'm using to manage their projects (until they ask me, and I tell them with enthusiasm). Everything they receive from me is 100% branded for Ember & Co. Even the client portal URL uses my brand name. I've found that this really impresses my clients, and gives them a wonderfully consistent, on-brand experience when they work with me.
  3. Your Dubsado "ecosystem" can be as robust — or as simple — as you'd like it to be. While it's easy to get caught up in trying to implement everything Dubsado has to offer — you don't have to in order to be successful. In fact, I recommend starting slow and gradually building it up over time. Perhaps you just start with contracts and invoices, then add in some questionnaires, then the client portal. After you have everything built out, start experimenting with some SIMPLE workflows (like automatically emailing a thank you after an invoice is paid), and add in steps as you get comfortable. Then try out the scheduler. Dubsado is an ever-growing toolbox. You have the freedom to select the tools that will serve you best — and leave the rest.

3 tips I have for successfully implementing Dubsado in your business:

  1. Per reason three above, don't try to implement all of Dubsado's features right out of the gate. Since it's creation four years ago, Dubsado has released dozens of cool features. The biggest complaint I hear about Dubsado is the overwhelm it can cause. People try to implement ALL that Dubsado has to offer, then they get frustrated when they hit a wall or it feels too complicated, and they give up entirely. I promise you that those exciting features aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Take an iterative approach and don't pressure yourself to get it all set-up immediately. My advice is to start with a basic proposal, contract, and payment schedule. That way you can set up a proposal that you can send to your client digitally, that will automatically customize your contract and present it for electronic signing, then present your invoice with payment schedule implemented — giving your client the chance to choose a package, sign the contract, and pay your down payment in one fluid process. This is wildly impressive to clients, and it saves you both from the endless back-and-forth that delays projects and kills excitement. Dubsado will transform your client experience, even if you start small.
  2. Don't be afraid to lean on Dubsado's support team and the Facebook Community. Dubsado's team is one of the best I've experienced. They are helpful, fast, and positive. Every interaction I've had has been enjoyable and friendly, and they are always super quick with their solutions. If you're experiencing a technical glitch (very rare) or are hitting a wall with a smart field or workflow — just reach out via their chat feature. They respond super fast and I've never had an issue for more than a few hours. If you have more of a general question or would like to poll other users for how they're implementing a feature, take advantage of the Dubsado Community on Facebook. Everyone there is really helpful and generous, and I've stumbled upon some really creative tips there that I've been able adopt for my own business.
  3. A more advanced tip: if you're familiar with basic CSS/HTML, get ready to nerd out! If you're a web designer like myself, you have some really cool options for customizing the look of your Dubsado forms even more. A while back, I realized that you could insert a code block at the very top of your form and insert basic CSS styles. Then, you can use additional code blocks to add in HTML blocks (with CSS classes) to make your form really unique and on-brand. I use this feature to modify my text styles and add fun boxes with colored backgrounds. If you're not familiar with CSS/HTML, search the Dubsado Community on Facebook for code blocks you can simply copy and paste. Like I said, people are generous!

Now, honesty time. 3 use cases I don't think Dubsado is ideal for:

  1. If you're looking for a super robust project management tool, this is not it. Dubsado is not a suitable replacement for apps like Asana, Trello, or ClickUp (yet). While it does have a Trello-esque task management section, I don't think it's fully-featured enough (yet) to be a replacement. The most important feature that I find it lacking is automated email reminders/updates. You can use it with clients and even set due dates and/or post comments, but when I tested it out, no one got emails reminding them of an update or an upcoming due date. So what happened? It got completely forgotten. It was just one more thing for us both to remember. Maybe they'll expand on this feature over time, but for now, I stick to ClickUp for more advanced task management and utilize Dubsado forms and strong email communication for basic project management. The simpler I can make it for my client, the better.
  2. If you're looking for super robust accounting and finance management, this is not it. Dubsado is not a suitable replacement for Quickbooks, Wave, or Xero (yet). While it does have some basic financial reporting features, I don't find them robust enough to actually manage my finances. I use Quickbooks Online, which integrates with Dubsado (so I can track the payments/invoices that come through Dubsado from within Quickbooks).
  3. If you're looking for a robust email/sales campaign software, this is not it. Dubsado is not a suitable replacement for MailChimp, Salesforce, or Clickfunnels. While it does have automated workflow features (including the ability to send pre-written emails on a schedule), it's really not designed for mass communication or complex sales funnels. It works much better on one-to-one basis, rather than one-to-many. Use it to automate some of your client communications during each project — rather than for mass emails about an upcoming sale you're having.

All that being said, would I recommend Dubsado to a friend? To a family member? To a business bestie? 100% yes.

Bonus tip: If you're not sure if Dubsado is the right fit for you, you can try it out — fully-featured, forever — on your first three clients. I used my personal email as my "first client" so that I could experience both sides of the client process and ensure that it would serve both my needs and my clients' needs equally well.

Three years in, and I literally haven't had a single regret about joining the Dubsado family.

...And this is coming from someone who is guilty of constantly trying out new apps/software in pursuit of the best.

If you're ready to pull the trigger on Dubsado for yourself, they are having an AWESOME sale right now in celebration of their 4th birthday.

This week, You can lock-in the low rate of $30/month — for the life of your plan!

They're also giving away FOUR FREE FOREVER PLANS, which is an incredible value. I got in on a forever plan when I first joined and it was literally one of the BEST business decisions I've ever made. Seriously. So make sure you get in on that if you're interested! Details here.

Have lingering questions about Dubsado? Don't hesitate to ask away! I could seriously talk about Dubsado allllll day ????

And if you happen to miss the sale, don't fret! You can still get 20% off your first month (or year) with code "ember&co"

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Caitlin Shannon, Founder of Ember & Co Website Design Studio

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