Getting Started in Dubsado

Dubsado provides TONS of free tools to get started, but it is so difficult to comprehend how everything fits together in the beginning. I work with so many clients who get completely overwhelmed by how to get started, so I wanted to share my perspective/thought process on how to get all the pieces and put them together!

Keep reading this blog, but make sure you also grab my FREE Getting Started in Dubsado Checklist straight from the System Starter Kit! It literally tells you every step to walk through as you get to know your account.

FOR THE SAKE OF THIS ACTIVITY, FOLLOW ALL OF THE STEPS BELOW FOR ONE SERVICE AT A TIME. Don’t try to think through “if it’s WEDDING then I do this, but if it’s maternity I do that.” Think through each one individually and linearly. If you find yourself getting distracted by a different service, jot the note on a different piece of paper so you don’t forget, but you’ve got to think through each one on its own!!!

Step 1: Understanding the Client Journey

As a business owner, you may think that this is rudimentary. And truthfully, it probably is. I’m sure that this is something you know. HOWEVER- just because you know it in theory, doesn’t mean it’s not still helpful to put this in a solid framework and TALK about this. Thinking about this in a structured way is what’s going to allow you to plan your client journey effectively (the next step), and THAT’S what’s going to allow you to create automations.

Check out this video for a helpful walkthrough. DON’T SKIP IT. You can watch it on 2x speed if you want, but skipping it is not cool.

5 Stages of the Client Journey:

  1. Inquiry: After the clent has gone through your socials, website, and other pieces of your online presence, they INQUIRE! This is what kicks off the automation journey. We need to go through all the steps to get them BOOKED!
  2. Onboarding: After they book, we need to tell them exactly what happens next and make them feel amazing about their investment.
  3. Execution: We have to do the thing they hired us to do.
  4. Offboarding: We need to handoff the thing we did in an organized way that makes it easy for the client to pick it up and run.
  5. Aftercare: We need to keep a strong rapport with this past client because they may just become our biggest advocate.

Step 2: Planning

You’re not going to want to do this step. BUT YOU *HAVE* TO DO THIS STEP!!!


This means that you need to write out your client experience (as you WANT it to be, not as it is now!). You can do this in whatever way you think best. Some of you may want to just grab a notebook and start writing. Others may want to write each step on its own post-it and map it out on the wall. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you do it.

Here are things to consider as you are writing out your process:


  1. What are the general stages in my pipeline/process at the lead and proposal/booking stage? When do they move into each one? Dubsado calls these “Project Statuses”, but you can think of them like folders or statuses where you can see who is at each stage of your journey. You’ll consider this in every phase. Some common LEAD project statuses at this phase include:
    • New Inquiry
    • Discovery Call Requested
    • Discovery Call Scheduled
    • Proposal Sent
    • Follow Up
    • Waiting for Payment (this is for if someone accepts your proposal/signs your contract but hasn’t paid you yet. You may not want them to be a job yet!)
    • Cold Lead
  2. What are the big categories of your different job types? Dubsado calls these Project Tags, and we can automatically assign them based on what a client selects on their initial inquiry form.
  3. How does the client inquire about this service? Here are the 3 options to choose from that Dubsado offers:
    • They fill out a form requesting more information.
    • They schedule an appointment with you (free or paid). There is also a form attached to this to collect basic information.
    • They make a particular selection and then pay for it. This is not an appointment, it’s just selecting a package.
  4. What happens after they inquire? Here are a few suggested options, pick the one that works best for you:
    • They immediately receive a booking form
    • They immediately receive a request to schedule a discovery call
    • They immediately receive an email letting them know that I’m checking dates and IF I’m available, I then reach out (either with a booking form or request to schedule a call).
  5. How does the lead book with you? What are their package options? What choices do they need to make? What information do they need to provide to you? What payment is required in order to move forward?
    • Highly recommend that this is done via a Dubsado Proposal > Contract > Invoice
  6. What is your follow-up process if the lead doesn’t book right away? How long do you give them before you follow up? How many times do you follow up? What information do you share at each follow up? When do you consider the lead lost?


I frequently see people include these kinds of steps in their process, and I’ve come to realize that there’s not a good reason to have them from an automation/process perspective:

  1. DON’T just send an email in response to an inquiry that doesn’t have some kind of action item. What is the purpose of an email that only shares information but doesn’t provide a clear way for the client to move forward?
  2. DON’T ask for the client to EMAIL YOU BACK with anything. Dubsado can’t check whether or not the client has emailed you, it can only check whether they have filled out a form or scheduled an appointment, so save yourself the bottleneck and think of another creative way to have them respond (by taking an actual action).
  3. DON’T give the client too many options. I often see people say, “they can schedule a call OR if they want to book then I can just send them the form.” No. Dubsado doesn’t allow this. We can only send one thing at a time. Take this as an opportunity to DECIDE how *you* need the process to go. I promise that your clients will be thankful to just be told how it goes! (And if they’re not, they’re probably not the kind of client you’d want to work with anyway).


  1. What are the general stages in my pipeline/process at the onboarding stage? Likely, it’s probably just “Onboarding”. But for photographers who may need to schedule a session with clients it could be “Not Scheduled”, or something else custom to your business!
    • Onboarding / Not Scheduled (this is for someone who has paid you and are officially booked, but may need some additional details sorted out)
  2. What happens after a client books?
  3. How do you collect key getting-started information from them?
  4. What else do we need to create or share with them? (Google Drive folder, document templates, etc)
  5. Do you need to have any kind of kick-off appointment with them?
  6. What else happens leading up to executing their project/booking?


  1. What are the general stages in my pipeline/process at the fulfillment stage? Some common examples are below, but note that you probably don’t need ALL of these, you’d just pick the one that’s most applicable to your business:
    • Booked
    • Active
    • Upcoming
  2. What does your own process look like as you create what you’re delivering for your client?
  3. When and what are you communicating with the client as you go on creating your deliverable?


  1. What are the general stages in my pipeline/process at the offboarding stage? It may very well just be “offboarding”, but photographers may have something like “post-processing” instead, or you may have your own niche industry needs!
  2. How do you deliver your product to the client?
  3. What format is their deliverable in (PDF, link, etc.)?
  4. How many pieces of information do you need to share and what kind of directions do they need?
  5. Where do you want them to leave a review or testimonial?
    • Remember! Dubsado is NOT the best way to collect feedback. More on that here.


  1. What are the general stages in my pipeline/process at the aftercare stage? Personally, I recommend simply having this be “Complete”, but it’s totally up to you!
  2. When would it make sense to send a simple “Hey, how are you?” check-in email?
  3. Do you have an affiliate or referral program they can join?
  4. Is there any opportunity to ask them if they want to book again at some point down the road?
  5. Do you offer any returning client discounts or specials that they can take advantage of?
  6. When is it time to officially closeout the entirety of this sequence and trust that they will reach out to you again if they need?

Step 3: Start creating!

Now that you have done step number 1, you now have a list of ALL the elements you need to build in Dubsado before you can even look at the workflow tab! I recommend doing things in the following order:

  1. Project Statuses & Project Tags: This is a visual overview of where all the clients are in your process. Every business is different, but here are some of my basic recommended statuses:
    1. Statuses: refer to question 1 of each of the sections above.
    2. Tags- one for each type of service you offer! Example: if you’re a photographer, this would include wedding, maternity, engagement, etc.
  2. Packages: These are all the services you offer! In the beginning, you can keep it simple, a package name, 1 line item, and the amount that service costs will do! You can always update this later, but you’ll need the basics as a building block for forms!
  3. Forms: Booking forms [proposals], questionnaires, contracts, etc.! You know your biz best, but here’s a small list to get started with:
    1. Lead Capture: This is the inquiry form that will either be embedded on your website or attached to the scheduler that’s embedded on your website. It’s what creates a project in Dubsado (and eventually kicks off a workflow)
      • Make sure you set up project sources so you can add project tracking to your lead capture!
    2. Contract: Crete a contract for your service(s). Make sure to use Dubsado smart fields to fill in key information like the client name. Use invoice line items to fill in what they’re buying specifically!
    3. Proposal: This is where you’ll allow the lead to select between the packages that you created in step 2 of the section. Attach the contract to the proposal in the settings.
    4. Onboarding Form: any information you need to collect from the client after booking should be on ONE nice neat form.
    5. Offboarding Form: I love creating an Offboarding/Deliverable form where whatever I’m giving the client is linked and presented beautifully. Any additional directions they need can also be right there.
    6. Remember, Dubsado will input up to 10 forms for you for free! Just send them to
  4. Canned Emails (these will be emails you need to send on their own, like appointment reminders, but also the emails needed to send each of the forms above!).
    1. To put these together effectively, you HAVE to understand how Dubsado’s smart fields work. Read about them here.
    2. Make sure to include basic/generic emails like invoice reminders and appointment reminders!
    3. Payment Plans: You’ll want invoice reminders for BEFORE the due date, ON the due date, and AFTER the due date!
  5. Schedulers: You can attach an email and/or a form to these, so that’s why I listed them here after those are complete! If you have a discovery call or kick-off call, plan to create scheduler templates for those!
    • HINT: Try to keep these limited! I recommend making that appointments based on the length of time. So “1 Hour Appointment” “30 Minute Appointment”, etc. The fewer schedulers you have, the better!
  6. Payment Plans: Put in when you want to get paid! You’ll attach emails to this for reminders to the client!

Step 4: Let’s workflow!

To quote Dubsado’s own getting started series:

Goal: Combine the written process (step 2) and the created content (step 3) to develop a structured, streamlined process so you’re ready for any client who comes your way!

Refer back to that awesome process map that I KNOW YOU DID in step 2! Start with your simplest process and take it ONE ACTION at a time! Here’s a helpful hint:

Step number 1 in your workflow is actually invisible- it’s NOT something you’ll put in the workflow, and that’s that the client fills out the lead capture form on the website. That’s what kicks off the workflow. So you can look at the “after workflow started” trigger as being equivalent to “after the client fills out my lead capture.”

So the first ACTUAL STEP in your workflow should probably be a PROJECT STATUS CHANGE to “New Inquiry”. Then your next step should be ADD TAG apply any applicable job tags!

After these “gimmee” steps, then it gets real. Next, you’ll likely either SEND EMAIL or SEND FORM.

With every step you do, you’ll get more familiar with all the options. Just KEEP AT IT!

Step 5: Testing!!

Once you’ve finished one workflow, make sure you add yourself as a client with a project and TEST the workflow! See if you get emails when you expect them and whether things are happening on the back end as you want them to. This step CAN NOT be over done!!

Get the roadmap!

This interactive roadmap found in the System Starter Kit will walk you through all of the tasks and sub-tasks described in this blog step-by-step. It’s a lot, but with this roadmap, you can get there!

If you’re still totally overwhelmed…

If you’ve read through all of these steps and you still feel completely lost on getting started in Dubsado, you may want some professional help! Set up a FREE discovery call with me to see how I can help!


Note that this is my affiliate link, so I would receive a small profit, at no cost to you, if you use my link to get 30% off!

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