Using Light Blue to help your business during the COVID-19 pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us in a variety of ways. We’re a small company and the whole Light Blue team is either currently or previously a professional photographer, so we understand the difficulties that you are going through at the moment.

We’re here to help people run a successful business, and one of the ways that we can do that is to reduce the cost of Light Blue for any of our customers who are in difficulty.

If you’ve not already seen our news about reducing the cost of your subscription, please take some time to read that here.

Tools & tips to help your business

We’ve also assembled a list of tips and tools within Light Blue that you can use to help your business and your clients during this unprecedented challenge:

How to message a large group of your contacts about the Covid-19 pandemic

You might need to reach out to your clients to give them an update on your policy regarding the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve seen some of these emails that photographers are sending out being reported as spam by the recipients, which can damage your ability to get emails delivered to clients’ inboxes. We’re here to help you to ensure that your message gets to those contacts safely.

Using the right tool at the right time

Light Blue is designed to send “everyday” emails to your clients and is very good at doing so: dealing with new enquiries, responding to your clients’ messages, automated appointment reminders, and so on.

However, when you’re interested in sending a message to a large group of contacts at once (I’m defining ‘large’ as anything more than about 20 contacts in this context) then specialist marketing tools are a better fit for making sure that those messages reach your audience. Sending lots of marketing emails from your own email address risks damaging the reputation of your email account, making it substantially less likely that your prospects (or paying clients) will receive your messages, that’s why it’s best to use a tool that’s designed for the job.

Mass marketing tools like Mailchimp & Active Campaign put a LOT of effort into establishing best practices and building a reputation with the major email providers. They’ve got teams of engineers working on this stuff every day. That means that the major email providers know that what’s being sent via a tool like Mailchimp or Active Campaign probably isn’t spam, and that if any of their users report it as spam Mailchimp and Active Campaign will sort it out really quickly.

Some of the major email providers (especially Hotmail, Outlook and Gmail) are getting a lot stricter about what they consider to be spam and even one bulk email could affect your ability to deliver emails to your clients both now and in the future. Using a tool that won’t leave your email address (and our servers by association) on a blacklist is essential!

Setting up Mailchimp or Active Campaign is really easy to do, and worth doing even for sending out a single important message like this.

How to export your client’s email addresses for use with a mass emailing tool

Light Blue’s mailing list opt-in feature and querying tools will help you to make sure that you’re not sending emails to clients who might report your message as spam.

After you’ve found the records that you’re interested in by using Light Blue’s querying tools, you can export a list of those email addresses. Simply click on the Records menu, choose ‘Export’, then ‘Export Email Addresses’ – you will then be able to save a CSV file which can be uploaded into your mass marketing tool of choice to get the message to your clients.

As always, we’re here to help so please get in touch if you need any help from us with contacting your clients.

Making it easy for your upcoming wedding clients to see your available 2021 dates if they’re rescheduling their wedding

The Covid-19 pandemic sadly means that many couples are having to postpone their weddings and are looking for alternative dates.

In order to make it easier for your clients to select a date on which you are going to be available, you may wish to share a calendar of your available dates. Should that be something that you would like to do, this guide illustrates how you could put that in place.

Block off any unavailable dates

The first step is to make sure that you aren’t showing any potential dates to your clients where you know you won’t be able to work. Existing bookings will already be in the diary as shoot records, but you may also have personal commitments that you don’t want to interrupt too.

Light Blue’s time off feature is a great way of blocking out those times to prevent any clashes. To add time off, go to the calendar view and right click on the date you need to block out, then choose to add time off. There’s a few options for different types of time off, adding descriptions and changing durations, so it’s pretty flexible.

Publish to a calendar

It’s possible to publish the events from Light Blue into Google Calendar, and you can set that up via the External Programs preferences window. Be sure to check the Only Show I’m Busy checkbox to avoid publishing any detailed information about the shoots like your clients contact information.

After you’ve set up Google Calendar publishing, you’ll be able to share that calendar with your clients so they can see which dates you have available.

Collaborating with other photographers

It’s very possible that there will be a number of dates that you won’t be able to rebook with your clients as they may still choose new dates that you can’t be available for, and it’ll be a similar case for fellow photographers.

If you share this calendar with a group of trusted fellow photographers, then they will be able to see the dates that you have available and can refer clients on to you. You can reciprocate with any of your clients who booked a new wedding on a date that you aren’t available for.

Managing postponed shoots & making it easy to rearrange them

The Covid-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented effect on photographers and many of you are having to postpone some of your bookings.

This guide shows you how you can reschedule sessions in Light Blue in a way that makes them easy to identify layer. That will leave you in a good position to quickly finding new dates for those jobs when it’s appropriate to do so.

Changing the shoot status

The first step is to change the status of the shoot back to “Enquiry”. The shoot isn’t going ahead right now, but there’s a good chance that it will in the future.

Changing the status means that Light Blue offers to remove any outstanding tasks, scheduled messages, etc and mark upcoming appointments and meetings as cancelled. You can choose which of these things you want to do, but it’s likely that you’ll want to select all of the options offered here.

Adding a tag to mark the shoot for future reference

Next we want to label the shoot so that it’s easy to identify as a postponed booking later on. The Tags feature is incredibly useful for this. You can create new tags in the Preferences window and then add them to shoot records.

Light Blue has some really useful and versatile reporting tools that allow you to find all sorts of information. We recommend creating a query which lists all of your shoots that you’ve added a “rescheduled” tag to. To do that:

  1. Open the query dialog at the top of the screen
  2. Create a query which looks like this one
  3. Click “Save Query” and give it a sensible name (e.g. “rescheduled shoots”)

You’ll find every shoot that has your tag applied to it will now appear in that list.

Planning ahead, you could create two more queries which show: the tagged shoots which remain as enquiries, and the tagged shoots that have now been confirmed again. That’ll allow you to reach out to the clients who have yet to rearrange their sessions so that you can make new plans.

Confirming the new date

If you have a new provisional date, you could enter that into the date field, but leave the status as Enquiry until that’s absolutely confirmed.

You can also send a new contract to your client in order to confirm the new date for the shoot. Once you accept that signed contract, the shoot status will change from “enquiry” to “confirmed” again.

Changing the status to confirmed means that Light Blue will then offer to add your workflows again, this time based around the new shoot date.

Forecasting expected income

Getting a clear picture of when you’re going to receive income is very important and helpful at the best of times, but during this unprecedented period of uncertainty your businesses ability to forecast its income is essential.

No forecasting model is going to be iron clad, but the ability for you to look ahead will allow you to remove some of the guesswork from this situation and help you to make some informed decisions.

Expected income from accepted quotes

We’d previously written a guide on using quotes for income forecasting, and that continues to be relevant and helpful. Read more

In situations where shoots have been postponed and you have agreed that balances will now be paid at a later date, then updating the Balance Due Date field of the quote will help your forecast to remain accurate and helpful.

Invoices awaiting payment

As well as accepted quotes that you haven’t yet created invoices for, you may also have outstanding sales which have been invoiced but are yet to be paid.

As with your quotes, you should also update the payment due date for your sales.

Light Blue has an existing query that shows all of your sales that are awaiting payment.

By viewing those sales in the List View, and customising that view to show the payment due date and grouping them by payment due month, you will be able to build a picture of the income that you can expect in the next few months.

Show in list view
Customize the list view
Add the Payment Due to the columns
Add the Payment Due Month to the group by and click done

If you save the list view as a custom report then you can quickly run the numbers again (with the most up to date information) with a couple of clicks whenever you need – just click on the Reports menu, then Custom Reports.

Final Report

Adjusting to changes

Things will be in a state of flux as you may be in a period of negotiation with your clients, but as you update sale and quote records payment due / balance due fields based on changes then you’ll be able to get a picture of what should be coming in and when.

This article has focussed on dealing with quotes and invoices that are still relevant. There will be circumstances where you no longer intend to peruse the balance of an outstanding invoice, in which case you can issue a credit note. If you have received some money from a client that you have agreed to return, then you can issue a refund.

We’re here to help if you have any specific questions around managing your finances within Light Blue, and we’ll gladly chat via a free 1:1 call.

Assisting photographers affected by COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us in a variety of ways. We’re a small company and the whole Light Blue team is either currently or previously a professional photographer, so we understand the difficulties that you are going through at the moment.

We’re here to help people run a successful business, and one of the ways that we can do that is to reduce the cost of Light Blue for any of our customers who are in difficulty.

If you already subscribe to Light Blue and your business is affected by the pandemic, and you need to reduce your expenditure, we’re offering you 50% off your Light Blue subscription for three months. 

Click here to register for assistance.

We’re a small, independent company too and this is a difficult situation for all small businesses, but we can’t just stand aside while our friends in the photography industry suffer. We want to do what we can to help. We’ll get through it together by supporting each other as best we can.

We’re keeping the offer of three months’ reduction in subscriptions available until the end of 2020, so if you’re doing OK at the moment but think you might need help in a few months’ time, then we’ll still be here to help you.

We want you to be able to carry on using all of Light Blue’s tools to ensure that you make the most of the opportunities that come along, whether that’s nurturing your existing clients with automated messages, helping postponed shoots to reschedule with our online contract signing service, working out which clients you want to market to when things get back to normal, or using our contact forms to handle new enquiries.

If you need any help, please email us or book an online 1:1 meeting.

With love from Tom, Ian, and Dani.

Come to our virtual trade show!

The Photography Show 2020 has been postponed until September due to the coronavirus outbreak. We always enjoy meeting and chatting with photographers who are interested in using Light Blue to save time and grow their businesses so it’s a shame that we won’t be able to do that in person next week, but we completely understand that postponing the show was the right thing to do.

We’re not letting this stop us from helping photographers to run successful businesses. We’re going to run our own online trade show and we’d love to see you there!

We’ll be presenting demos online and making ourselves available for 1:1 meetings throughout the original show dates, so this is the perfect opportunity to ask us any questions you might have about how you can put Light Blue to work for your business.

1:1 demos and meetings

Do you want to find out more about what Light Blue can do for you? Or are you already using Light Blue and want to ask us anything about how you’re using it to run your photography or video business? Book a chat with one of the team so that we can help you!

Dani, Ian, and Tom are all available for online meetings during The Photography Show’s original dates (Saturday 14 March – Tuesday 17 March). You can book a 1:1 session to get a demo of Light Blue, ask questions about how you could use it in your business, or get help with getting the most out of it.

Click here to book an online meeting with us!
Light Blue team photo

Show offer & competition

Missing out on The Photography Show doesn’t mean that you have to miss our show offer. In fact, we’re making it even better and extending it to everyone!

If you subscribe to Light Blue by the end of April 2020 and use offer code TPS2020, you’ll save 50% off your subscription for the first six months! That gives you plenty of time to try Light Blue for free for 30 days, get in touch with us if you have any questions, and make the most of the free 1:1 help sessions that we offer all new subscribers.

We’re also running a show competition for everyone who books a 1:1 meeting with us. Everyone we speak to during the show dates will be entered into a prize draw for a free 12-month subscription!

Click here to book an online meeting with us!

Get in touch

We’re here to help your photography or video business grow and succeed, so book a 1:1 meeting at our virtual trade show or get in touch with us if you prefer using email.

The Photography Show 2020

The Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC is the UK’s biggest photography trade show, and we’ll be there on stand A68 from Saturday 14 March through to Tuesday 17 March.

If you’d like to find out more about how Light Blue can help you to run a successful photography or video business, we’d be delighted to see you there. We’ll be running demos throughout the show, and coming to see us at the show is the perfect opportunity to ask us any questions you might have about how you can put Light Blue to work for your business.

Admission to The Photography Show is free for professional photographers, and the deadline for registration is Wednesday 11 March. You can register for the show by visiting its website.

Getting the most out of The Photography Show

We’ve been exhibiting at this show for eleven years, and we’ve learnt a thing or two about how to get the most out of it 😉

Make sure that you register as a professional photographer. That gets you free entry to the show, and also lets you use the exclusive Pro Lounge to take a break and have a coffee.

The show’s speaker programme has improved a lot over the years, and you’ll find lots of big names on the main stagesWe’ll be tweeting about presentations we think you’ll find interesting throughout the event!

Finally, there are definitely quieter and busier times at the show. If you’re able to get there as soon as it opens at 10:00, you can often get to the stands you want to visit before they get busy! Monday is a very busy day for pro-focused stands like ours, but you can beat the queues by visiting our stand at the beginning or end of the day.

Can’t make it to the show?

If you can’t make it to show, we’d still love to give you a chance to see how Light Blue can help you to run a successful business. You can try Light Blue yourself by signing up for a free trial on our website, and we’d be delighted to chat to you about how it can specifically help you and your business by setting up a one-to-one demo.

Light Blue 8.2.7

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2.7, which adds more new features and some bug fixes.

You can update to Light Blue 8.2.7 by using the “Check For Updates” command from within Light Blue. You’ll find that in the Light Blue menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the Help menu if you’re using Windows. You can also download the installer for the latest version of Light Blue by logging into your account on our website.

Here’s a list of the changes that we’ve made in this update:

  • Removed warnings about sending emails via Light Blue’s own email servers, because the Gmail now respects the “Reply To” header in emails. Previously, we encouraged you to use your own email account because Gmail sometimes didn’t respect the “Reply To” header and that could cause client’s replies to your emails to not be sent to you.
  • Google account authentication for our Google Calendar publishing feature is now handled in your default web browser, instead of a browser embedded in Light Blue. This is because Google no longer allow embedded browsers to be used as part of their authentication process. If you’re already using our Google Calendar publishing feature then you won’t notice any difference with this change, but if you’re setting up Google Calendar publishing then you should make sure that all of your computers are using Light Blue 8.2.7 or newer.
  • When printing a contact or shoot record, line breaks are preserved in any notes that you include.
  • Added a UK flat-rate VAT scheme version of our accrual basis tax report.
  • Importing an order from theimagefile no longer creates an unnecessary Purchase record.
  • Fixed a problem on macOS where adding or deleting branding files could fail to “stick” after reloading the preferences window.
  • Fixed a problem where an email template with unusual formatting could sometimes fail to be displayed properly.
  • Fixed a couple of rare crashes that have been reported.

On the road with The Societies of Photographers

Ian is going to be on the road with The Societies of Photographers, attending their roadshows in Stirlingshire, Tyne & Wear, and North Yorkshire on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of March.

There’s a free trade show from 09:30, which is a great opportunity to meet a wide range of trade suppliers, including us! If you’d like to find out more about how Light Blue can help you to run a successful photography business, we’d be delighted to see you there.

You can pre-register for any of Roadshows free of charge and they are open to Societies members and non-members alike.

Tuesday 3 March 2020: Stirlingshire, Macdonald Inchyra Hotel, Polmont Falkirk

Wednesday 4 March 2020: Tyne & Wear, Rainton Arena, Houghton le Spring Tyne and Wear

Thursday 5 March 2020: North Yorkshire, York Racecourse, York North Yorkshire