Why I Switched from 17Hats to HoneyBook

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For the past three years that I've been in business, I've tried countless different online tools and software for running my business. And while I've changed and found the things that I truly love and that serve my business needs best, one thing that hadn't changed was my client management software.

When I started working with clients, I eventually graduated from using Harvest (for time tracking + invoicing) and DocuSign (for contracts) to using 17Hats (for invoicing, contracts, and proposals) and Toggl (for time tracking).

And I've been using 17Hats ever since. But I've also been supplementing it with Streak, which is a CRM for your Gmail inbox. Essentially, it gives you the pipeline view of all your clients and their project status inside of your inbox, which is something I really enjoy seeing.

Over the past two years, I've done free trials of other softwares but never found anything that I liked as much as 17HatsUntil I found HoneyBook earlier this year.

Now, I had known about HoneyBook for awhile, but I always assumed it was too geared towards photographers to use as a non-photographer. And while there is a trend of client management software being first built for photographers and catered to the rest of us creative business owners, HoneyBook has done an amazing job of making sure that everything works -- no matter what industry you're in.

Because of my fondness (and familiarity) with 17Hats, it was going to take a lot for me to want to switch. But HoneyBook exceeded all of my expectations! Today I'm going to share the four things that made switching to HoneyBook a no-brainer for me.

SIMPLIFIED PROCESSSES

Like I mentioned above, for about two years I've been using two different things in tandem -- 17Hats and Streak. But HoneyBook gives me everything those two programs were doing in one place.

When I login to my HoneyBook account, I can see all of my projects in the pipeline and immediately know where each client is in the process:

Client names have been removed for privacy reasons.

Client names have been removed for privacy reasons.

Then, when I click on any client's name I am immediately taken to their project's workspace and can view all of our correspondence, files, and tasks. Having everything in one place makes things SO much simpler!

It also means that my inbox is more simplified as well, which is fantastic. Instead of having Streak installed, and taking up a lot of space visually, I am able to focus on just my emails when I'm inside of my inbox.

I am also in love with the simplified process for sending documents inside of HoneyBook! Where it used to take me 10-15 minutes to create and send a proposal with the corresponding invoice and agreement, it now takes me less than five minutes inside of HoneyBook.

INTUITIVE USER INTERFACE

Whereas 17Hats' interface works really well if you know where everything is and how to use it, HoneyBook's was incredibly easy to figure out, which is amazing!

Everything you could possibly need is easily accessible under the Tools tab. This means you aren't clicking around trying to find anything, because it's all at your fingertips.

All of the categories are also incredibly easy to figure out, and things are exactly where you'd expect them to be, whereas 17Hats' were a bit less logical.

Inside of the client workspace, it is also super easy to figure out what is where, and how to access everything. I love how HoneyBook has everything laid out, because it just makes sense.

The first tab you have inside of the client workspace is the activity -- all the emails you and the client have sent. I love that you are able to send emails straight through HoneyBook (again, spending less time in your inbox!) and everything will sync with Gmail.

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You can also easily see the stage of the client project, if the client has read your emails or not, see all the participants, and any tasks you have that are specific to that client project.

Again, everything is very intuitively laid out so you don't have to waste time wondering where anything is. This means that you are super organized AND spending less time in the admin side of your business. It's a win-win!

STELLAR WORKFLOWS

If you've ever talked to me about systems (or read any of my other blog posts), then you probably know that workflows are my favorite thing in the world. Especially if they're automated! And while 17Hats does have a workflows feature, it was never robust enough or easy enough to use for me to really bother with it.

But HoneyBook's workflows feature is AMAZING. For example, this is the beginning of my workflow for a ConvertKit Migration:

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I'm able to map out the ENTIRE process from when I receive an inquiry to following up after a migration is completed.

I love that you can choose whether or not an email needs to be approved before sending, because it allows you to customize the emails if necessary and delay sending if the project timeline shifts at all.

This keeps me on track for every single thing I need to do.

And because every email and file template already lives inside of HoneyBook, it takes me hardly any time at all to actually complete any of these tasks.

I also never have to worry about if I'm missing a step, or if anything hasn't been sent to the client.

Because workflows can change and evolve as you offer your service, I love that HoneyBook makes it super easy to add steps and rearrange your workflow steps.

This allows your workflows to be living things -- not something that is completely set in stone.

AMAZING REFERRAL PROGRAM

So this technically isn't part of the software, but I am honestly just blown away by HoneyBook's referral program. When you join HoneyBook, you're automatically able to give a 20% savings to anyone who joins through your unique link, which is amazing!

BUT after you transact $2000 through the platform, which is really easy to do if you're active on it, you can share a 50% savings to anyone who joins through your unique link. This seriously blows my mind, because I've hardly seen a referral program this generous.

So, if you're curious about HoneyBook and want to give it a shot, go ahead and click the button below to start your free 14-day trial! If you upgrade to a paid membership, you'll save 50% off of your subscription ;)

AND if you join through my link, and move to a paid membership, I'll hop on a 60-minute complimentary call with you to answer any questions you have about using and setting up HoneyBook!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. I only recommend products that I use and love. Thank you for your support!

Why You Need to Track Your Time

I’m sure it’s something that you’ve heard time and again -- if you work for yourself, you need to track your time. But why is that so important? Even if you don’t work with clients, or have to turn in timesheets to anyone, tracking your time can give you valuable information and help you see where things aren’t going how you might think they are.

SEE WHERE YOUR TIME IS (ACTUALLY) GOING

I’m willing to bet that you probably think you know where your time is going when you’re working from home (or from a coffeeshop, or a coworking space). But do you actually know?
 
When you track your time, you’re able to actually see where your day is going and what you’re doing. So if you think that you’re only spending an hour on writing your blog posts, but it’s actually taking three? Then you know that your time isn’t being spent in the way you think it is.
 
And when you know where your time is actually going, you can determine if it’s being spent wisely. Which allows you to start creating new habits around how you’re using your time that will allow you to be more efficient and productive.
 
Which leads me into the next point, which is that you can...

DETERMINE INEFFICIENT HABITS

So now that you know where your time is going, you can see if the things you’re doing with it are efficient or not efficient. And if they aren’t efficient, there’s a 99% chance that means you’re not being as productive as you could be.
 
Now, I don’t say that to say you need to be productive all the time. But if you’re working 12-16 hour days (which is something that is unfortunately a normal experience when you work for yourself), you want to make sure that you are maximizing your productivity when you are working.
 
Let’s take checking your email, for example. If you’re like most creative business owners, you have your inbox open at all times in your browser. (I’m totally guilty of this, too!)
 
And you think you’re spending maybe an hour each day in your inbox, but when you track your time you realize that you’re actually spending four hours in your inbox -- but that time is spread over 10-15 minute chunks throughout your day, so it doesn’t feel like that much time.
 
But really, spending four hours a day on email is not an efficient use of your time. So now that you see what your current habits are, you can start to introduce new ones -- maybe you check your email for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, and close out of your email the rest of the day.

 

LEARN WHAT YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIMES ARE

So you’ve been tracking your time (ideally for a period of at least 30 days so you can see the patterns emerge) and you’ve determined your inefficient time habits. Now, you’re all ready to start scheduling your day in a more efficient way.
 
What you can do now is look back over the past 30 days and see when you were the most productive. What times of day did you get a ton of things done? When were you dragging your feet, or not on top of your game at all?
 
This will allow you to learn what your personal productivity “golden hours” are, and start creating your new schedule around that. 
 
So if you know that you are insanely productive between 10a and 2p, but from 2p to 4p you are not ever getting your best work done, you can schedule all your meetings from 2-4p and never schedule a meeting between 10a-2p. 
 
Doing this means that you are protecting the times of day that you know are the most productive for you, and you’re still able to schedule in everything else that you need to do around those times.

How To Create A Branded Google Doc Template

If you’re anything like me, you’re sending a Google Doc to at least one person every day that you work. Google Docs are convenient, easy to use, and easy to share with your clients, team members, collaborators, etc. But sometimes they can look a little boring, and not quite as professional as they could.
 
That’s why I’m showing you how quick and easy it is to inject your brand into your Google Docs! In about five minutes you can have a fully branded Google Doc template that takes your Docs to the next level by adding in your logo, your brand colors, and your brand fonts.

Wasn’t that stupid simple? And now for the best part -- you never have to worry about adding your brand styling to your Google Docs again. 
 
Every Google Doc you create from now on will be fully branded, but you’ll never have to think about setting it up ever again. Talk about a win-win! 
 
Are you going to create a branded Google Doc template for your business? Let me know in the comments!

Simple Ways to Automate Your Client Workflow

When you get your client workflow figured out, there are things you’ll realize that can be done either by your software, and that you don’t have to do everything yourself. By automating parts of your client workflow, you’ll free yourself up to actually show up and do the work for your clients in a better way, instead of spending all of your time in the administrative side of your business.

But figuring out what can be automated often feels like a mystery -- you know it can happen, but you’re not sure exactly what to do or how to set it up. That’s why I want to share some of my favorite tricks for automating your client workflow!

SEND AN AUTOMATIC EMAIL WHEN SOMEONE APPLIES FOR A DISCOVERY CALL

When someone applies for a discovery call with you, or inquires about a service, the last thing you want to do is make them wait to talk with you.

If you use a service like HoneyBook, which lets you embed their lead capture forms on your website, you can send a confirmation email. But did you know that you can actually customize what that email says?

You have two options of what you can put into the automatically delivered email:

Option 1: Thank them for filling in the application and let them know that you’ll review their application and reach out to schedule a quick 20-minute call if it’s a good fit.

Option 2: Thank them for filling in the application and sending them a link to your scheduling software of choice (I love using Acuity for scheduling all of my meetings!)

Either way you decide to go, you’re instantly letting your potential client know that you have received their information and they have clear expectations of when they will hear from or talk to you.

SEND YOUR PROPOSAL, CONTRACT, AND INVOICE AT THE SAME TIME

This is one of the reasons why I loooove using HoneyBook for my client management software! After you have your discovery call with your potential client, and you know that you want to work with them, you can actually send everything at the same time.

So you send the proposal outlining what you’ll do for them. Then, if they accept it, they will be automatically presented with the contract to sign and their invoice to pay.

That means that you don’t have to remember if you sent those documents to them, and you’re making the process so much easier on both you and your client. 

UTILIZE AUTOMATIC REMINDERS FOR SCHEDULED CALLS/MEETINGS

You schedule a meeting with a client, or a call, but then suddenly it’s the day of and it’s ten minutes after your call was supposed to start and both of you forgot. (I can’t be the only one who’s had this happen, can I?!) 

If you use Acuity to schedule your calls (which I highly, highly recommend!) then you have access to a snazzy feature - and your new best friend - called reminder emails.

You can pre-write these emails ahead of time, link to different types of calls, and set them to go out at pre-determined intervals. I like to send a reminder email 24 hours before a call, and then one more an hour before the call time. In Acuity, you can have these go to both you and the person who you’re having the call with, so neither of you forget!

BONUS TIP: If you use Zoom to host your calls, you can actually put your personal room link in the reminder email so your client has it right away! No more last minute “I don’t know where to go” email exchanges ;) 

That way your meeting remains top of mind, everyone knows where to go, and nobody forgets that you had a call scheduled!

SCHEDULE YOUR FOLLOW-UP EMAILS AS SOON AS THE PROJECT WRAPS UP

After you finish working with a client, I believe that you should be sending them three follow-up emails. Click here to find out what should go in those emails and when you should be sending them!

But sometimes it can be hard to remember who gets which email when, which is why I recommend scheduling them as soon as you send the final invoice and/or deliverables. You can easily do this using a free service like Streak or Boomerang, which both work inside of Gmail.

You should already have your offboarding emails saved as canned responses (click here to find out why!), so all you’ll have to do is select the canned response, add your personal touches, and then schedule the email! Now there’s no way you’ll forget, and you can sit back knowing that everything is taken care of.

Did you find any of these tips helpful? Let me know which one you’re going to start implementing in the comments!

DISCLAIMER: This blog post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission. I only recommend products that I use and love. Thank you for your support!