HoneyBook Alternative: Exploring Solutions For Business Growth

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HoneyBook is a special cookie in our jar of project management tools.

It definitely stands out with its UI. Many other business management software lack a true designer’s touch — they look severely outdated and overly simplistic in the wrong way. While it’s true that functionality triumphs over aesthetic, the best case scenario happens when the two marry each other. Thankfully, HoneyBook presents a pleasing to-the-eye front that makes using the tool a real joy and not a sad chore.

After all, if you’re a creative self-entrepreneur that pays attention to branding, you wouldn’t like to use an accountant’s look-a-like tool from the late 2000s. And that’s what many of these tools resemble. 

Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy HoneyBook. For now, it’s restricted only to US and Canada citizens, so everyone else is forced to consider a HoneyBook alternative.

But even US and Canada citizens might have some reservations about this project management software. For example, it doesn’t support teamwork, lacks integrations with PayPal and other popular payment gateways, and it heavily relies on email communication for building business relationships.

This article is meant for all those people who are looking for solutions other than HoneyBook to tend to their business pains. And because we’re aware that every business faces different challenges due to their models, we’ve prepared a whole list of tools that should cover most common cases. Enjoy!

For Scale & Growth: Zendo

The ideal business scenario assumes growth after a certain point. The number of clients grows so much that we can’t handle them all and as a result, we’re forced to start saying “no” to the new opportunities. While some might be ready to pop the champagne and enjoy the lucrative time, others will notice a chance for growth. To become a small business owner instead of a freelancer. 

Unfortunately, that jump isn’t easy, and it surely doesn’t help when all your processes are built around a specific tool. Just the thought of learning the new software and migrating all your files might be overwhelming enough to stop you from making a decision. Maybe you can, after all, work as a team on your current platform? 

If it’s HoneyBook, we can assure you that it’s impossible.

HoneyBook simply isn’t built for growth — it’s a project management software built by freelancers for freelancers, aiming to help with paperwork and presenting a professional front with beautifully crafted templates and elevated customer experience. But it doesn’t have too many features that support teamwork, team management, and internal communication. That’s why you’d better consider a HoneyBook alternative that fills those gaps, like Zendo

Screenshot of Zendo's Requests.

Zendo helps freelancers, small businesses, and agencies sell services in a fast and a highly efficient way that leaves nothing to be desired. This is achieved due to the platform’s design that’s centered around effortless transactions and communication, and not around graphs and multi-leveled clusters of tasks, Asana-style. Everything of importance happens in one place only — in a single tab, to tell the truth — and that’s directly in chat. Sending quotes and payment reminders, issuing invoices, finalizing payments, and more, all takes place right there. You and your team can forget entirely about switching between tabs and apps to handle a single order. You can use Zendo to do it all for you. 

And instead of drowning your client’s email inbox in forms, proposals, contracts, and other documents — like HoneyBook does — you can keep the exchange of documents in one place only, with easy access to them any time (so you can forget about hunting down these lost files in your inbox).

That’s how Zendo can become your single source of truth. You’ll never find yourself wondering where specific data is or what’s the status of the newest deal — you can easily find it out yourself. And that’s how it’ll work for your team, too; you can expect fewer questions and more independence from your employees, because transparent communication truly does wonders for efficient teamwork.

Zendo is here for you, no matter the stage of your business. If you’re a freelancer, you can take advantage of Zendo’s free forever plan to access most features for as long as you live. If you’re ready to jump on the small business train, you can switch to the Growth paid plan, where you can use every single functionality, including white-label and automations, for $19 a month per user. And once you find yourself in a place where you need way more customization than what Zendo currently offers, you can take a look at the Enterprise plan, which requires individual estimation.   

Overall, it’s a perfect business management solution with a sleek looking Client Portal that’s affordable enough for all who sell productized, custom, and subscription (coming soon) services.

For Consultants & Coaches: Paperbell

Certain industries don’t require the number of features that a typical business management tool offers. There’s no need for creating complex and winding pipelines, rich client management systems for long term partnerships, or trigger-happy automations. Sometimes you simply need Google Calendar integration, smart booking system, and the option to create packages on a minimalistic, modern platform. Paying for more features would be an overkill.

One such platform is Paperbell, created with consultants and coaches in mind — although truthfully, anyone who bases their digital services on meetings and bookings can use it.  

Screenshot of Paperbell's dashboard.

Keeping track of appointments is a common issue for lucrative consultants and coaches. If you’re juggling too many clients, double booking in particular could be a pretty huge issue on its own. After all, there’s nothing more embarrassing than having to explain why you need to move someone’s appointment due to a silly mistake.

Paperbell, which needs to be integrated with your Google Calendar, Outlook, or iCal in order to work, offers a solution in the form of Availability, a feature which creates free slots that your clients can book. This simple feature actually opens many possibilities, with the option to create slots for specific packages, require upfront payment to book a slot (which is a great discouragement for clients who are on the forgetful side), and spice up your group sessions with 1:1 meetings for each participant. You also don’t have to restrict yourself to single sessions — you can create multi-sessions and subscription-based sessions just as well.

Moreover, those clients that deserve some spoiling in the form of special treatment, can get private sessions, which aren’t available for other customers on your page. You can also book a meeting in their name outside of your normal slots and offer discounts.

And of course, because you’re synced with your calendar, Paperbell won’t allow you to book a meeting at a time where you’ve already scheduled something, be it a doctor’s appointment or a fancy brunch. That’s how well Paperbell looks out for you!

The way you can process payments in Paperbell is very well-thought out, too. You can ask your clients to pay either through Stripe or PayPal, with Stripe being the recommended option — Paypal doesn’t handle subscription payments. On the platform, you can make packages that include long term sessions with the form of payment that’s convenient for your customers, be it upfront, split, or as an ongoing subscription

Also, your clients won’t have to provide credit card information every single time they make a purchase or make grand approvals. After the first payment, they’ll be charged automatically for convenience. 

All that and more you can get for $47 per month, billed yearly, and $57 per month, billed monthly. If you’d like to get to know more about this subscription plan, see if there are any hidden fees and how much value you get, exactly, read our Paperbell Pricing analysis.

For Photographers: Sprout Studio

Besides consultants and coaches, photographers can also expect a business processes & client management tool tailored to their specific needs. Introducing: Sprout Studio.

Sprout Studio is a true powerhouse that offers incredible possibilities for those who like shooting people. Possibly animals, too, and maybe even landscapes. 

Beyond easing administrative tasks we all despise with a vengeance, and streamlining internal processes, it also comes with professional looking galleries, design proof for client collaboration, and an online shop, where you can upsell & cross-sell your prints while at it. 

This means that you can use Sprout Studio not only for project and client management, but also as a space for exhibiting the work you’re proud of and selling items as well. This gives Sprout Studio a huge advantage over other similar platforms, who only stop on streamlining your processes.

When it comes to the galleries, you can create as many of them as you want and decide whether they should be open to the public or private. You can also set up an expiry date and place watermarks all over your photos. Your audience can share the images on social media and favorite the works they like best, and they can also immediately buy prints and other items as long as you set up your online shop. The clients can customize their order without leaving the page, from choosing the color of the frame to cropping the image, and then they can add it to the cart and proceed to checkout. 

The online shop itself may consist of physical products and items, whole packages, and services. Its layout can be freely customized thanks to an intuitive, easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor that at the same time, makes sure that you’re presenting your work in the best possible light. This is crucial, because more often than not, it’s very hard for people inexperienced in design to create a stunning layout.

And if you’re a little unsure of how you should price your prints, you can use the Pricing Assistant to calculate your hourly rate and markup, which can be adjusted for different sizes. And by providing that information and including your average time spent on preparing one print, Sprout Studio can calculate all your prices that you need. 

Last but not least, we can build a Design Proof. It’s a space for your soon-to-be printed materials, from posters to books and albums, where your clients can look over the designs as well as request any changes or leave feedback. They can also use a special feature for suggesting placement of images, and once they’re done, they can either approve the whole album or ask for changes.

If we’ve managed to capture your attention, let’s discuss costs. Sprout Studio offers four different subscription plans: 

  • Lite ($17,42) — with 10 active shoots and galleries, 50GB photo storage, 3 users and 2 brands, 
  • Basic ($33) — with 20 active shoots and galleries, 100GB photo storage, 3 users and 2 brands,
  • Pro ($46,75) — with unlimited active shoots and galleries, 200GB photo storage, 3 users and 2 brands,
  • Unlimited ($63,25) — with no limits whatsoever.

If you’re a photographer considering both HoneyBook and Sprout Studio, don’t even bother with the former. The all-powerful galleries, design proofs, and the online shop make Sprout Studio’s offer too good to reject. 

For Superior Automation: Dubsado

Those who were already considering Dubsado — because this business management solution tends to pop out the most whenever a HoneyBook alternative is being mentioned — might have trouble understanding the difference between the two. They have a very similar background and story, as well as features and pricing. But because we’ve already thoroughly researched and analyzed both HoneyBook and Dubsado in one article, we can help you discern the differences.

The feature that makes Dubsado at least worthy of giving a chance is Workflows. 

Screenshot of Dubsado's dashboard.

Workflows help create long and unusually complex sequences of trigger chain reactions that make it possible to make your business run itself. 

First, you can choose whether you want the workflow to take into account your payment plan; there are Three Installments, 50/50, Fixed Deposit, and Pay In Full to choose from (and of course, you can make your own custom plans, too). This will allow you to trigger events around the payments. 

Then, you can choose the actions that should be part of the workflow, such as: sending emails, forms, contracts, primary invoices and appointment schedulers, as well as adding tags, creating todos, changing project status, archiving the project, and activating & deactivating the portal. Starting a workflow, pausing it, and holding actions for a specified amount of time can also be included. So as you can see, that’s a lot of actions to choose from. 

Once you’ve picked your action, you can choose when it should be triggered. There are two options: Relative and Fixed. Relative can either mean a specific number of days or dependence on another action (for example: after the start of the workflow, after the form is completed, after the appointment, and many others). Fixed simply means a concrete day and time.

To make the workflow work at its best, you can include canned email responses with attached forms, proposals, contracts, invoices, and more. They all can be prepared beforehand and reused with the help of your favorite templates. Add to that smart fields which are automatically filled out and you can find yourself with a process that once set up, doesn’t need your input at all.

Like all good things, this approach comes with a catch. 

If all your processes differ from each other too much and they all require your attention and personal touch, these workflows will be more trouble than they’re worth. Because Dubsado allows you to automate down to the littlest details, it’s easy to make mistakes if you’ll keep nitpicking it or forget about a specific step. And it’ll be very embarrassing having to explain that the form “VIP Golden Package offer” wasn’t meant for them but for someone else.

But if all your processes follow the same journey every single time, Dubsado will truly save you a lot of time, as promised. But you’ll have to first invest in learning the ins-and-outs of this tool, as well as test all your workflows thoroughly before sending them to clients.

When it comes to Dubsado’s subscription plans, there are two: Starter for $20 a month and Premier for $40 a month, with the automation being available in the pricier plan. Still, it’s a pretty good deal, especially as a HoneyBook alternative.

To discover the exact, necessary costs of this software to get the most out of it, and what other features you can expect on each subscription plan, read our article on Dubsado pricing.

For Freelancing Time-Trackers: Bonsai

Our last proposition is meant for freelancers who mainly work on an hourly-basis.

While it may seem strange that this group needs an entirely different software, keeping track of the hours spent working on specific projects can be a real pain in the ass. And because each hour is prized appropriately, each mistake in time-tracking can lead to losing money. That’s why it’s crucial not to neglect this part.

HoneyBook has its own time-tracker, but it’s too basic. You have to record your hours manually, and that approach requires two things: iron-clad diligence and yet another software. While the latter isn’t that difficult to come by, the former certainly is — especially in a dynamic environment with a flexible schedule that never repeats the same day twice.  

That’s why Bonsai is such a blessing. It has a time-tracker that won’t ever let you forget about its existence — instead of being hidden away, as it usually is in other software, the tracker is proudly displayed at the right upper corner across all tabs and pages. Whenever it’s on, the glaring red button will keep reminding you of that. Moreover, if you’re working on different browser tabs, the time will also be displayed right over there. 

You can also download Bonsai on your mobile device and keep the tracker literally at hand, if you prefer working like that. 

And the best part is, you can set your hourly rate in the currency you want and enjoy automatically filled out invoices that can be sent to your clients at once. If you’re scared that 03:45:02 will look weird on the invoice, you can round up or down the hours to make billing easier. This way, you eliminate the risk of mistakes, have proper documentation at all times, and can spend more time on your actual work and not entering data manually.

The invoicing in Bonsai is also a delight. There are four types of invoices, handy for different situations: 

  • Scheduled — sent automatically on a chosen date,
  • Recurring — sent automatically on a billing schedule,
  • Subscription sent automatically on a billing schedule and automatically charging the client,
  • Bundled — a pack of invoices for multiple projects.

Another thing that speaks in Bonsai’s favor is the fact that it’s surprisingly pretty. It’s on the right side of minimalistic — it doesn’t feel empty at all, but it also doesn’t overwhelm anyone with too many colors or buttons. It has an excellent, soft design with a subtle plant theme all around that makes Bonsai a joy to use.   

That joy can be bought for $17 in the Starter plan, $32 in the Professional plan, or $52 in the Business plan, depending on your needs. We’ve already taken a closer look at those three subscription plans, so if you’d like to read about our findings — taking into account different addons and billing periods — go to our Bonsai Pricing article.

And if you’re still on the fence about choosing Bonsai over HoneyBook, we’ve prepared a detailed comparison between the two. So grab a beverage of your choice and read our HoneyBook vs Bonsai article to make the most informed decision possible.

Conclusion: What’s The Best HoneyBook Alternative?

If you’re looking for the best project management platform, you need to realize first that each and every software on the market was developed with a specific target audience in mind. Moreover, it resolves concrete problems that might not be applicable to your case — for example, marketing automation features might be useless to you, but sales automation could come in handy. So before you sign up for a free trial, take a moment to sort out your priorities and figure out whether you need to manage clients in a more professional way or sort out the online payments; and because the market is overflowing with such tools, you can afford to be picky.

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What Is Zendo?

Zendo is a universal, all-in-one solution developed for freelancers & small to medium business owners to help them manage their business and sell services quickly and efficiently, no matter the type: productized, custom, or subscription-based. You can create many different services that consist of items, which can be free, part of the service, or an add-on requiring an extra fee. Your services can be presented in the modern looking Service Catalog, where your clients can make upfront payments.

What Is Paperbell?

Paperbell is a simple software for coaches & cosultants of all industries to aid them in selling their services as packages and book appointments. By syncing your Calendar with Paperbell you can avoid double-booking, set up reminders and canned emails, as well as set up your availability for the next few months.

What Is Sprout Studio?

Sprout Studio is a business management suite made for photographers looking to save time and money. It comes with beautiful galleries where you can show off your work, and online shop where your clients can quickly buy prints and other merchandise. It also serves as a CRM that can help you manage your shoots, take care of administrative tasks, and make scheduling a breeze.

What Is Dubsado?

Dubsado is a business management solution for all kinds of creatives in need of automation. It can help you create proposals, offers, contracts & invoices, as well as set up complex workflows to make your business run itself. And with Dubsado’s Client Portal, you can ensure that all your clients have access to all their documents and the whole history of your business relationship.

What Is Bonsai?

Bonsai is a business management tool for freelancers to help them deal with invoicing, banking, and accounting. It has basic task and project managament features as well as a wonderful time-tracker. Your tracked hours can be set to billable in any currency you want with the option to quickly issue invoices based on that data.

Paulina Gajewska
Paulina Gajewska

Word Designer and Article Developer, devoted to breaking down complex ideas to make Information Technology look simple.
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