Scheduled server maintenance this weekend

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In order to support some new features that we’re working on at the moment, we need to make some changes to the servers that run our online services. We’ll be carrying out these updates early on Saturday and Sunday to try and minimise any disturbance to our online services.

The only part of our online services that will be affected is data synchronisation from our desktop and mobile apps to our online services. All other features (including existing forms, contracts, and online invoice payment) will be unaffected, but anything that depends on our desktop and mobile apps communicating with our servers (e.g. sending a text message, or publishing a new contract) might be affected.

We’re going to try to keep any disruption to a minimum, but data synchronisation might be offline for parts of the time between 05:00 – 09:00 BST on both Saturday and Sunday.

Update: there won’t be any disruption to our online services on Sunday morning.

Light Blue 6.2.3

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We’ve just released Light Blue 6.2.3, our latest minor update to Light Blue 6. Here’s the list of feature updates and bug fixes that you’ll find in this latest update, which you can get hold of by using the ‘Check For Updates’ command from within Light Blue:

  • The ‘Export Records’ dialog now defaults to the last set of fields that you exported from the same section.
  • Added a hidden option that allows you to export just the currently selected record. To use this, hold down the Alt key when opening the ‘Export Records’ dialog.
  • Fixed a bug where the headings for custom fields would be missing from a data export.
  • Fixed a problem with importing ProSelect orders if you’re using a comma as your decimal separator.
  • Fixed a database error that occurred when using the Linked Records panel on a Contact record to set that Contact’s role on a Shoot record.
  • Fixed incorrect entries that could appear in the popup menu when using the Linked Records panel on a Contact record to set that Contact’s role on a Shoot record.
  • Fixed any crash reports that have been sent to us.

Server updates on bank holiday Monday

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We’re going to be taking advantage of the bank holiday weekend here in the UK to make some updates to our servers on Monday morning. Most of you shouldn’t notice any problems, and of course your Light Blue desktop and mobile apps will continue to work offline, but there might be some interruptions to our data sync service.

Moving from adhoc organisational systems to a centralised system

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This is the first in a series of articles written by photographer & Light Blue customer, Nick Church, about how Light Blue has helped him to grow his photography business.

Do what you do best, outsource the rest

To be a successful photographer, your business needs sound marketing, PR and sales strategies as well as outstanding organisation. The chance of one individual excelling at all of the above is low, and the reality is that we are distracted by admin tasks that eat into the time we spend on taking pictures and improving our creativity. In this series of articles I share the various ways how Light Blue Software ring-fences valuable creative time.

When I started Nick Church Photography I had a demanding full time job. Any time spent on business development was snatched in lunch hours and evenings.

With a handful of bookings and occasional consultations, I was on top of the admin. I had a spreadsheet noting wedding dates, another for finance, a calendar for appointments, and booking forms for clients detailing information about the shoot. All very organised, what could go wrong…?

The problem is that all these systems are unlinked. When the calendar prompted a wedding, I’d have to refer to the other spreadsheets, re-read emails and Facebook messages to get the full picture. I’m sure that some clients thought I looked a bit vague in meetings. The truth is that I was often “winging it”!

A spreadsheet set-up is a passive data store so it must be manually driven with a routine process. If you get a text message while you’re out and just once forget to copy-paste this information when back home you will have major problems and a lot of stress. With bookings, email and Facebook enquiries and appointments I felt like I was drowning; having no chance to come up for air before the next wave crashed over me. My creativity and business development was stunted, just at the time I needed it most.

Then two incidents last year made me realise I had to work smarter. Firstly some good friends got engaged and asked me to shoot their wedding. Thrilled, I gave dates I was free so they could book their venue in the knowledge I’d be available. When they contacted me with their confirmed date, I was not available. The new booking was from Instagram, the one system I had not checked.

The second incident was the nightmare we all dread… Mid-way through a call at work a text  came in… “Hi Nick, just checking all is ok, we’re all at the venue and waiting for you. Hope you’re on your way!”.

I had no idea who the message was from or what venue they were at. Eventually when the call finished, in a cold sweat I ran through my systems to find out which clients would be having their day without a photographer… and wondering whether I’d be facing my own day in the small claims court. It turned out not to be wedding I’d missed, but a venue visit. But I’d still been disrespectful of my clients’ time and I’d lost faith in my ability to run my business in this way.

As with all small businesses, photographers need a return on investment and so when I found a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that had a free tier I gave it a go. This was an improvement, but it would need a lot of customisation time, and it’s true: time is money.

I heard about Light Blue Software’s platform via my professional network and saw that it had the huge advantage of being written by and for photographers. They know what we need and with the free 30 day trial – you’ve got nothing to lose!

After entering two weddings into the system I saw this was the holy grail I’d been looking for. Light Blue automatically sets workflows, gives meeting reminders, there are sections for wedding day agendas, shots requested, contacts, notes, finances, Social Media etc. Critically, all this information is in a single place and linked together logically. Overnight it replaced all my disparate systems and out of the box it was up and running in 10 minutes.

Yes, it is an extra cost to my business, but along with the likes of Adobe Lightroom it is something that I now see as critical to Nick Church Photography. The time and the stress saved by having this ‘second brain’ is priceless.

In following articles I will be discussing other parts of my growing business and how Light Blue Software allows those parts to develop effectively and smoothly.

Start your free 30-day trial

Light Blue Success Stories – Nick Ray Photography

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Light Blue Success Story - Nick Ray Photography

Nick Ray is a photojournalist, and wedding photographer based just outside of London, in the UK.

Following his boyhood dream, Nick studied photography at art college, and worked his way up to becoming a photographer for The Times in London, where he spent more than 10 years covering assignments in far-flung destinations alongside some of the best photographers in the world.

Nick carries over his photojournalistic style from work on frontlines in combat zones, and with a number of high profile corporate, and NGO clients, to the world of wedding photography – where hopefully there are a few less explosions.

To help keep things under control, Nick uses Light Blue to organise his shoots from enquiry to completion… and beyond!

“I would not be anywhere near as organised if I didn’t have Light Blue to help me out – I’d still be manually filling out my sales lists in a spreadsheet (the idea sounds archaic now!), and definitely be missing out on sales.

I am a great fan of workflows and I have different ones for each part of the process – from the initial enquiry, to following up after the wedding, and remembering anniversaries. It’s amazing how often a follow-up leads to a booking, or after an event (at Christmas or on an Anniversary) to print and album sales.

Without Light Blue, I’d never remember to schedule all of this manually.”

As well as helping out with organisation and sales, Nick makes use of Light Blue to keep his finances in check too.

“Light Blue makes the process of invoicing and billing so fast and easy – this used to take me hours (and a certain amount of frustration) to do manually in a spreadsheet.

As well as making sure I get paid on time, the financial tools seamlessly enable me to produce a list of sales for my VAT returns, and keep HMRC happy too.”

If you’d like to be as organised, and in control of your finances as Nick, click here to start your free, 30 day trial of Light Blue.