Sprout Studio and HoneyBook – two CRM software with so many resembling features, modern interface, polar-opposite learning curves, and shared flaw – but which one is better?
These two CRM platforms originated in the neighboring countries of Canada and the United States a couple of years ago.
Sprout Studio is dedicated specifically for photographers, advertising the tool as a studio management suite built by photographers for photographers. In turn, HoneyBook eases the lives of creative business owners operating within Canada and the US, no matter their niche.
Analyzing both platforms, we’ve managed to conclude a clear picture of whom each CRM is for, which you can find at the end of this Sprout Studio vs HoneyBook article. Such a conclusion is best since there isn’t a clear-cut answer as to which tool is better. Each one is better for a specific someone.
While analyzing, we’ll focus on the features, support, ease of use, learning curve, and plans of both platforms.
Let’s get to it!
Bryan Caporicci, an award-winning photographer who received a Masters of Photographic Arts (MPA) designation by the PPOC (the Professional Photographers of Canada) is the mind behind Sprout Studio.
Sprout Studio has been growing in Ontario, Canada’s soil since its beginnings in 2014 and is now used by many photography business owners alike.
HoneyBook on the other hand is the creation of three people – a married couple of Oz and Naama Alon and their friend Dror Shimoni who came up with the idea for such a platform back in 2013.
Based in the United States, HoneyBook has proven its usefulness with around $3 billion booked by the businesses using their platform.
Both tools were created to ease the lives of people alike the creators of the platforms, who relate to the struggles faced by entrepreneurs.
User Interface And Ease Of Use
The first thought that pops into your head when you sign in to Sprout Studio is its modern interface. You can even customize the whole panel to look however you want it to look like, choosing from light to dark modes and different colors in each setting.
However, as far as complexity goes, the tool is overpacked with features and you kind of feel like you don’t know where to start. Even though everything seems to be organized quite logically, there is still just too much going on.
Like always, testing out most features forces you to add the basic details of your business into the platform, which proves to be annoying when you want to quickly test out Sprout as your studio management solution.
While doing our research, we’ve found that Brian the CEO of Sprout Studio mentions the steep learning curve of his CRM many times and underlines how getting to know Sprout Studio takes time, just as e.g., learning how to operate a camera or photoshop does.
But in our opinion, if someone has a business they need to tend to and they are looking for a CRM as a way to ease the burden of running a business, they don’t want to spend weeks learning the new software.
The platform has proven that they listen to their users and add updates as they go, so maybe they will work on the intuitiveness a bit more.
HoneyBook is just as modern as Sprout Studio, but the US-based platform is much easier to navigate mainly because of the way HoneyBook‘s dashboard is laid out.
Once you log in, you’ll see your dashboard divided into five blocks: projects, calendar, templates, resources, and bookkeeping. And we LOVE this idea, because it makes adjusting to a new system so much easier! You can take it all in and focus on only five things rather than all the features thrown at you at once.
HoneyBook of course offers more features than the five ones presented on the main dashboard. All you have to do is reach the top menu to find all the options HoneyBook makes available to use. But they are not presented in an overwhelming way, which is so common in many CRM software we’ve tested.
P.S. If you’re on the lookout for the right project or client management software, we have written quite a few comparison articles, with the latest one analyzing Studio Ninja and HoneyBook! Feel free to check them out to help you decide which platform is best for your needs.
Support & Educational Materials
Sprout Studio offers a wide variety of support for their users, including a whole video-based course on how to use the software, help center articles, Facebook Community, the in-platform support chat, a podcast, and more.
The Sprout School is a free course made out of 54 videos including the introduction one, each around 2-3 minutes long. In all videos, first the Sprout Studio’s CEO makes an introduction to the feature he’ll be explaining, then he actually goes through the feature showing how it works.
BUT he does not show where you can find said feature within Sprout Studio, so you still have no idea where and how to start. The comments on the course prove it, because people are confused and ask where certain features are or just say that they still don’t quite understand.
This shows Sprout there’s always room for improvement, or should we say room for sprout.
HoneyBook also does not fall short in terms of support and educational materials for their users.
There’s a Facebook Community, hundreds of YouTube videos, a Help Center, product education with live webinars presenting and explaining HoneyBook’s features, a support chat, and the possibility to hire HoneyBook pros to help out with using the platform.
The videos and articles are pretty well-crafted and easy to understand.
Knowing that HoneyBook is the tool that’s way easier to learn and Sprout Studio is the more complicated one with more features available – let’s dive a bit deeper into analyzing some of the functionalities.
All in all, the two platforms are pretty similar. So we thought the best way to showcase their differences is by preparing a table of all of the features found in both systems.
|WORKFLOWS AND AUTOMATION||✔️||✔️|
|ORDERS AND QUOTES||✔️||✔️|
|CREDITS AND COUPONS||✔️||❌|
Three features that are available for both HoneyBook and Sprout Studio users, but work extremely differently are reporting, workflows, and project management. So we’ve decided to talk about them in more detail below.
Sprout Studio went a bit overboard when creating their Reports section of the platform. Allowing photographers using this CRM to track several categories of data, including the health of their business, sales analytics, booking trends, performance metrics, accounts payable, and more. The reports are available at the bottom of the main menu.
In turn, to reach the Reports section in HoneyBook you have to navigate to the top bar and select Tools, then click on Reports. You can then track statistics of your leads, monthly earnings, the number of invoices sent, and yearly reports. But the whole section is divided into four parts instead of 14 as in Sprout Studio.
Workflows And Automation
The workflows and automation feature is perfect for making things more efficient and saving valuable time.
The automations in Sprout Studio can be found in the Settings of your account, right under the Communication section.
Now, the workflows and automations in Sprout Studio Management Software have been divided into lead generation, shoot workflows, and the Sprout Studio Assistant feature, which sends automatic emails to your clients based on certain events.
Each segment was pretty easy to navigate, allowing you to create workflows based on simple triggers. But there was one big downfall of the Sprout Studio workflows, at least for trial users. And that is that all workflow templates available in the library are only there to use for paying users. So if you want to test out the workflows templates, that’s not possible until you subscribe to one of the Sprout Studio plans.
This also goes for other Sprout Studio templates, most of them are not available to test out for non-paying users, which is a bit annoying when you want to explore the software fully.
HoneyBook doesn’t offer workflow templates, meaning you have to create the workflow schemes yourself, but the whole thing is as intuitive as possible. And all users, even those who use HoneyBook on trial, can test out this feature fully.
Sprout Studio presents project management as Shoots. Anyone that’s booked your service is considered a Shoot and you can check its most important information in a list view. You’ll then have access to the project’s type (session type), overview, its status, date, invoices, important activity, and name of the client. And that’s basically how far the project management section goes in Sprout Studio.
HoneyBook on the other hand offers a bit more advanced project management section, allowing you to follow the stage of your project in a pipeline view, and is not limited only to your booked clients. Anyone from a lead to a client can be considered a project you want to manage when working with HoneyBook.
Features Specific To Each CRM
HoneyBook Only Features
A very useful feature found in HoneyBook is the Time Tracker feature. It’s easily available in the already-mentioned top menu of the tool.
HoneyBook’s Time Tracker helps you log in billable and non-billable time entries and create invoices for them. This could be a 2-hour photo editing session or an 1-hour consultation. You can use it to track your billable time or simply better organize your workflow.
Sprout Studio Only Features
Price List Feature
The Price List feature is a killer one! You can basically set your prices for certain products/services/packages/prints that you offer and use those prices as you move through Sprout, e.g., when creating a new order or quote.
There’s also a Pricing Assistant, which is based on the Pricing for Profit COGS pricing model, so if you’re not really sure which prices you should set, the Pricing Assistant will do all the work for you. This is pretty cool for newbie photographers or those wanting to improve their pricing structure.
There’s a whole lot of customization and settings to get into when preparing your price list, but the whole thing is definitely worth it. We haven’t seen a feature like this in any other CRM we’ve tested so far – way to go Sprout Studio!
You can reach your Price Lists in the Settings, right at the top of the Pricing section and then choose which price list you prefer to use when working with your Leads or Shoots. If you don’t create one, you can choose a default Price List and customize that as you go.
Mileage tracking in Sprout Studio allows you to track your miles, just as the name suggests. To find this tool, head over to your Overview and choose Mileage.
Here you’ll find a list of your mileage entries that you can add each time you’re traveling somewhere for work. You can even attach newly added mileage to a specific lead, shoot, or contact.
The email marketing feature is available only in Sprout Studio and is definitely worth mentioning.
With this feature, Sprout Studio users can create professional-looking email campaigns with little to no effort.
There are also quite a few email marketing templates in the Sprout Studio library to make things even easier.
Credits and Coupons is yet another feature found in the Overview section of the whole platform. The Credits feature is discussed a bit further down in the article.
The Coupons feature on the other hand allows you to create global or client specific coupons and discounts to add to your services so that your clients can save money while booking them.
Photography Specific Features In Sprout Studio
Sprout Studio is a platform actually made for photography business owners. You can tell by the many useful features it offers that have been specifically tailored for photographers.
That’s why we need to mention some of them. Here are two examples of such features.
The online Galleries feature makes it possible to easily share your photos with your clients. Sprout Studio is ahead of its time in terms of design and user interface, which is also visible within the Galleries that you can create. So you can be sure that your clients will definitely be pleasantly surprised by the quality of your photo gallery.
What’s cool about this feature is that it allows for complete customization, but also makes it possible to use Sprout Studio’s ready templates that are already pretty neat-looking.
What’s more, you can create collections in your online sales galleries to stay organized, play around with additional options, such as set up a shop so that your clients can purchase prints of the photos you’ve taken, set up downloads, slideshows, and more.
The Design Proofs feature is pretty similar to the Galleries one, but it differs in that your clients, besides just viewing the photos, can also suggest any changes they’d like to make or leave comments on your work.
Plus, it’s pretty easy to use and again, very professional-looking!
HoneyBook offers fewer features than Sprout Studio, but is much easier to navigate through. What’s more, we’ve encountered fewer problems when testing out HoneyBook’s features than when analyzing Sprout Studio. But tilting the scale to Sprout Studio’s advantage are the robust and professional-looking photography specific features.
Additional Things Worth Mentioning
HoneyBook’s Free Tools
HoneyBook offers a variety of free tools to use for anyone visiting their website. The only catch is that you have to give your email address to use the tools available.
But you can take advantage of some free invoice templates that you can customize and download as a PDF file, you can create contracts, take a business personality test, generate an email signature, and more.
You can find all the free tools HoneyBook offers in the footer of their website.
Sprout Studio’s Calculators And Comparison Pages
On the other hand, Sprout Studio came up with free calculators and comparison pages. To use the calculators you will also need to provide your email address.
But you can then calculate the price for a wedding album, newborn session, 8×10 print, and calculate your growth potential indicator score.
The comparison pages made by Sprout Studio comparing it to various CRM platforms, including HoneyBook, are not always up-to-date and are not exactly unbiased. Of course, it’s a comparison made by Sprout Studio, but still, the information about other CRM platforms should at least be up-to-date.
To provide an example, in the Sprout Studio vs HoneyBook comparison made by Sprout Studio, the comparison table shows that there are no questionnaires and quotes in HoneyBook, which is not true, these features are available in HoneyBook, just as they are in Sprout Studio. Another misinformation was about the HoneyBook’s client portal, which is listed as non-existent, where in fact, there most definitely is a client portal option in HoneyBook.
Just a heads-up to either double-check the information provided on that comparison page or simply take it with a grain of salt.
Plans And Costs
Moving on to money matters.
Sprout Studio offers a 21-day free trial, while HoneyBook users can test it out for 7 days. In either case credit card details are not necessary for signing up for the free trial.
Sprout Studio Costs
In terms of costs, Sprout Studio decided to make it complicated, offering four plans that differ not only when it comes to the features available, but also the amount of storage you get, the number of users, brands, or active projects – Shoots.
But if we go for annual billing, the costs will be $15.58, $35.75, $44.92, $63.25 respectively for each Sprout Studio’s plan.
So, if you are considering choosing Sprout Studio as your studio management software, make sure to dive into the pricing details to know exactly what you’ll get.
HoneyBook now offers three-tiered pricing, giving its users the option to invest in either Starter, Essentials, or Premium plan.
The plans differ when it comes to the number of users, the features you get, the white label options, and type of support. The plans cost $16, $32, $66 respectively, per month, on annual billing.
You can read more about HoneyBook’s costs here.
Sprout Studio Or HoneyBook: Which One Should You Choose?
All in all, the platform you should choose really depends on your specific needs. See who can benefit from HoneyBook and who should invest their time in Sprout Studio below.
Who Can Benefit From HoneyBook?
HoneyBook is not specifically designed towards one group of freelancers or entrepreneurs, anyone can take advantage of using this CRM platform.
Those who prefer a neatly-organized platform to manage their ongoing projects and don’t want to spend weeks learning how the new system works should choose HoneyBook.
With it, you can base selling your services on proposals, contracts, and invoices. But do keep in mind that you need to operate your business from either Canada or the US.
Who Can Benefit From Sprout Studio?
Sprout Studio was created specifically for photographers, with features, such as galleries that you can share with your clients after shooting with them, design proofs to get your client’s feedback, and much more!
In fact, Sprout Studio’s CEO is a photographer himself (an awarded one too!) so he definitely knows the struggle of running a studio and wanted to make it easier for people like him.
So if you find that the specifically photography-related features are an absolute must then you need to look past the steep learning curve and choose Sprout Studio as your studio management suite.
Contacting Your Clients: How Zendo Did It Better?
One major shared flaw of HoneyBook and Sprout Studio is contacting your clients. The only way to contact your clients using both CRMs in question is by sending a manual or automatic email.
Both also offer a Client Portal system, but still miss out on the communication part.
So you have the opportunity to share any important files, galleries, designs, invoices, or proposals using it, but there’s no way for your clients to contact you directly through it. And even though both client portals serve their basic purpose, the lack of communication is taking the hit.
That is why we’ve decided to mention Zendo as an alternative to both of the discussed CRMs.
Zendo is a client portal software that actually lets you contact your clients through a multifunctional chat. Meaning that it’s not only capable of sending messages to your clients, breaking through that no-contact wall other CRMs have, but also:
- Creating and sharing quotes
- Creating and sharing invoices
- Sending payment requests
- Collecting payments
- Sending private team notes
- Updating the status of your client’s order
- Sharing files
- And more!
But don’t think that Zendo ends on just its powerful chat.
It also comes with an array of features that make selling services a breeze. You get to create different types of services, from productized, through custom, to soon subscriptions. Working on the modern interface, you get to set up a customizable Service Catalog to professionally present your services and give your clients a space to make orders.
You can then manage all of the orders through the already mentioned chat, and complete it with quotes, invoices, payment requests, and more!
If you long for systemizing your processes and automating some of the workload, you can take advantage of Zendo’s workflows, triggers, statuses, automatic invoices or payment requests.
Finish that off with collecting a payment directly through the chat forgetting about the gazillion different tools you had to use before for each action.
Who Can Benefit From Zendo?
Zendo is perfect for business owners who need a client management system that’s easy to learn, allows you to set up productized, custom, and subscription services (coming soon), issue quotes, invoices, payment requests, and comes with some automation features.
It’s the tool you need if you want to make it easier for your clients as well, allowing them to message you directly, pay for your services, receive quotes, invoices, check on their project’s progress, as well as access files and crucial information, all in one place.
Talk about taking online payments and client communication to a whole other level!
Web designers, those working within the photography industry, translators, copywriters, or anyone dealing with clients, Zendo is that one system you need to make things easier for both parties of the business.
PS: there’s a free forever plan that comes with all the essentials to run your service business and premium tokens to test out some of the additional automations that come with the paid plans. You can try Zendo today with no credit card info required!
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Frequently Asked Questions: Sprout Studio Vs HoneyBook
What Is Sprout Studio?
Sprout Studio is an all-in-one software created specifically with photographers in mind. It combines all the features you need to run your photography business, from issuing invoices to creating photo galleries, selling prints, managing your clients, and checking on reports. If you’re curious to see how Sprout Studio compares with 6 other software, make sure to check out our article on the 7 best Studio Ninja alternatives!
What Is HoneyBook?
HoneyBook is a client management software that makes it possible to manage your clients, projects, issue invoices, create and send out contracts, schedule appointments, and collect payments. HoneyBook is there to help you run your business, as long as you operate from either the United States or Canada.
Which Software Is Better: Sprout Studio Or HoneyBook?
Sprout Studio is definitely a better software if you’re looking particularly for photography features, such as setting up galleries or selling prints. Otherwise, HoneyBook may be a better option since it’s less of a feature-creep, making it much more intuitive to use. On the other hand, HoneyBook disappoints when it comes to the limit of location it imposes. To use this software you have to operate your business from either the US or Canada.
Which Software Is More Affordable: HoneyBook Or Sprout Studio?
The costs of investing in HoneyBook and Sprout Studio are pretty similar if you look at the different plans and their prices. For example, the top tier plan paid on an annual basis in Sprout Studio costs around $63 per month, while in HoneyBook, the top tier plan will cost you $66 per month, both giving you unlimited users and all the features. If you want to dive deeper into HoneyBook’s plans and costs, give our dedicated HoneyBook pricing article a read!
Is There Better Software For Selling Services Online?
If you’re brought to a stalemate because of Sprout Studio’s steep learning curve and HoneyBook’s geographical limits for usage, but still want to sell your services online with the right software on deck, we suggest going for Zendo. Why? Because you’ll get a software that comes with all the essential features to set up your services, whether productized, custom, or soon subscriptions, get to collect payments, chat with your clients & team members to make service delivery even easier, issue quotes, invoices, set up workflows, and even more! All that packed into a modern interface that ensures the best intuitively and a shallow learning curve. Plus, Zendo comes with a free forever plan that you can use to fully, and we mean fully, test out the software!