Posted on Wednesday 1 December 2010
Steven Seymour, Light Blue user since August 2010, explains how Light Blue has helped him.
Like many pros I was a keen amateur photographer who arrived at a career crossroads. I was a secondary school teacher; an opportunity arose; I went for it. It has taken a few years establish a solid business, but fewer than it took to learn how to control a room full of 14 year olds!
At the moment most of my income is from weddings, with commercial photography providing a healthy supplement. Most of the weddings are at high-end venues in the Scottish Highlands. I'm about to begin videography too - it's a natural evolution for the narrative approach I usually take to shooting weddings.
I'm a sole trader running most aspects of my business myself, though I’ve gradually realised that it makes sense to outsource some of the more mundane tasks.
Light Blue is like having a virtual PA. Once it has been set up the process of responding to enquiries, confirming bookings, timetabling, invoicing and accounting are mostly automated.
What were you using before you found Light Blue?
Microsoft Outlook with Business Contact Manager and Microsoft Accounting software (which they suddenly decided to discontinue). And Excel. And other bits and pieces that I thought would streamline administration, but in practice it seemed that every time one was updated the others would have a hissy fit and stop working. It was messy.
Because it does everything I want it to do, quickly, reliably, and – above all – in one package. And because when I first sent an enquiry, before I committed to purchase, I got a thoughtful response within two hours, and since then have never waited more than a day for an answer to any question. The customer service is the best I’ve come across, which for business-critical software like this makes a big difference. And because of the online screencast videos that guide you through every nuance of the software, and that make it very easy to learn. There's more, but that'll do for now.
In short, it has saved me a ton of time and anxiety. Nearly everything can be automated to some extent. Because it synchronises events and tasks with iCal on the Mac, which then syncs with my phone, I know what I should be doing, when and where without any effort beyond the original setup of an event and date.
What's your favourite feature in Light Blue?
Workflows, probably. I have one each set up for enquiries, commercial projects and weddings. One click of a button and a chronological list of events and tasks is created. It's genius!
Can I mention another? The email templates, which automatically inject appropriate names, dates, places and other info into an otherwise generic response. Again, this has been a big timesaver. I can respond, for instance, to an enquiry in about 20 seconds. Then, because of the automated Enquiry Workflow, I'm reminded to follow up a week later, which takes another 10 seconds. My response to enquiries has become SO much more efficient, and that alone has been worth the cost of the software.
If ever there were a piece of software that could be described as a “no brainer” for photographers running small businesses, then this is it. The time it saves and the confidence it provides make it incredibly good value.
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