Customer stories – Margaret Soraya

Based in the Highlands of Scotland, Margaret Soraya has run a wedding and commercial photography business for the last 15 years. She also has a love of landscape photography, with a passion for the beauty and wildness Scotland can offer and has recently begun a new business running landscape photography workshops in remote areas of Scotland. 

As a Light Blue user for the past 9 years she freely admits that prior to that, her business organisation was mainly a collection of folders on her computer desktop, manual paper invoicing and booking forms. 

We asked Margaret what her favourite Light Blue feature was:

“Being able to send out questionnaires at set dates before a wedding. I always send out a timings request form and a group shot request a few weeks before each wedding. The couple can easily and quickly fill these in online and send back. Having the ability to deal with this quickly has made the biggest impact on running each wedding smoothly without many individual emails going back and forth. I know a week before each wedding that I simply need to print out or refer to each group shot request list in preparation.”

She also sends out a questionnaire to each participant on a photography workshop so she can get to know a little about them and what they hope to achieve and says it has been incredibly useful. 

Margaret’s passion is being outdoors in the landscape, photographing seascapes. Light Blue has made it much easier and quicker to run her wedding and commercial business.

The business is so streamlined now that booking, invoicing and sending out questionnaires is just a matter of a few clicks. This enables her to be out and about more. 

“The income side of my business is the weddings and commercial work, and being able to handle this quickly and efficiently leaves me more time to be out shooting landscapes. If you are someone who prefers to be out shooting as opposed to behind a desk, then using Light Blue is a must.“

As someone who does not naturally enjoy working with software or spending time on computers, she likes to know that there is support on hand.

“One of the main attractions of Light Blue is the dedicated team behind it. I know for certain that if I have a problem, no matter how small and daft, I can ask and get help solving it very quickly. Knowing that someone will actually talk and walk me through any difficulties is something that is very important to me.  Light Blue does support better than anyone else I have ever known.”

Margaret Soraya

Landscape photography website

Wedding photography website

We love to hear about how you use Light Blue. If you would like to tell us your story please get in touch.

Using Light Blue to manage multiple brands

We know that a lot of photographers run multiple brands under one business. Maybe you shoot both weddings and newborn photography, or you have a separate website for corporate photography. With Light Blue you can run all these brands in a single account.*

This is really handy for a lot of people because, while they may have different websites and logos for the different types of shoots they are doing, they’re still running one business.

You can run as many different brands as you like with Light Blue. Our custom branding means that you can change the logos, colours, and fonts on the emails, forms, contracts, and online invoices that you send to customers.

Setting up your different brands is really easy. You have probably already set up your main brand already if you are using our online services. Log in to your account on the Light Blue website and select the client portal section. Got to the branding area, then run through each section to choose your fonts, header images, background colours and form styling for each of your brands.

You can also apply your branding to the invoices, quotes, and receipts that you print (or PDF) from Light Blue. As well as your main branding (which you set up in the “Printing” section of the Preferences window), you can use separate branding for any of your shoot types. To do that, go into the “Shoot Types” section of the Preferences window and upload a different background PDF.

*Important point: Light Blue is designed to run a single business, but you can use shoot types with their own branding to essentially split up your income into different categories. One of the big advantages of this approach is that you have a single client database, and everything is nice and simple to manage. However, when it comes to things like the built-in reports, we assume that you’re running a single legal entity (e.g. a single limited company) because that’s what the vast majority of our customers need.

macOS and iOS public betas: our annual health warning

Apple have a reliable schedule of releasing major updates to macOS and iOS in the Autumn, and we can expect macOS Catalina and iOS 13 to be released towards the end of September 2019.

For the last few years, Apple have been releasing public betas of their major operating system updates in the Summer. Installing these public betas can be risky because they’re likely to contain bugs, and many apps won’t be updated to support major new OS updates until close to the official release date.

We would advise against installing major OS update betas on any device that you rely on to get work done and – even when they’re released to everyone – we always advise customers to be cautious about rushing to update. This year’s public betas seem to be causing problems with a wide range of apps, so we’d recommend staying away from them unless you absolutely have to install them for some reason!

We’re keeping a close eye on macOS Catalina and iOS 13, so expect to hear more about them from us in September.

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) support added to Light Blue

tl;dr: we’ve taken care of this so that you don’t need to do anything.

On 14 September 2019, new regulations are being introduced across Europe to protect people using cards to pay for goods and services online. These new regulations are called Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and will add a requirement for two-factor authentication for many online payments.

The requirement for two-factor authentication means that affected transactions will require something in addition to the card number. Details will vary between card providers, but they might include codes generated by your online banking app, a security dongle, etc.

If you’re using our popular online contract signing or online invoice payment services and accepting card payments from your clients via our Stripe integration, you will be affected by SCA. However, we have already made all of the necessary changes and there is nothing that you need to do. Your clients won’t notice anything different: they’ll still be able to pay you quickly and easily by card.

If you’re not already using our online contract signing and invoice payment services, we’d be delighted to show you why photographers give us so much great feedback about them. Our customers love how easy these services make it for their clients to confirm a booking or pay an invoice.

You can find out more about our online contract signing service in this video tutorial, while this tutorial shows you how to go about publishing invoices for payment online. If you need any help getting started with these services (or with any other aspect of using Light Blue) get in touch with us and we’d be delighted to provide you with one-to-one help via a screen-sharing session.

5 more tips for getting started with Light Blue

We posted part one of our series of blog posts on five tips for getting started with Light Blue a couple of weeks ago. If you missed it, it’s worth reading it first before today’s post!

After part one, you should be getting to grips with the basics of adding shoots, contacts, and workflows. Today we’re going to look at how you can use more of Light Blue’s features to cut down the amount time you spend on admin in your business.

6. Set up text messages

Text messages are a great quick way to keep in touch with your clients. You could let them know an order is ready, or send a reminder of an upcoming appointment or shoot. We have a couple of ways that you can set up text messaging in Light Blue.

You can either use our dedicated number service where you rent a number from us or – if you’re in the UK or Ireland – you can send messages that appear to come from you (either your own phone number or a short name). You can find how to set this up under SMS settings in your account.

Sending a text message is really easy. Just select the contact you want to text from the ‘Linked Records’ tab in the shoot record and then use the ‘Create Text Message’ or ‘Create Text Message From Template’ command from the options menu.

Sending text messages

7. Create a sale and invoice

Once you have set up your shoot you will want to be able to collect payment from your customers for any session fees or products. To do this, you create a sale record in Light Blue.

When you’ve entered the details of what you’re billing your client, you can turn the sale into an invoice and send it to them.

Create an invoice

Publishing invoices for online payment

8. Set up your price lists

Setting up price lists is a great idea as it can really save you time when creating quotes and sales. Instead of having to manually type in each product, description, and price to a sale, you are can simply click on the green plus button to add a product then start typing and Light Blue will show you a drop-down menu of matching products. Select the correct one and the description and pricing will be filled in for you.

You can set up as many different price lists as you want. When you create a sale, you can then quickly select products from the relevant price list for your shoot.

9. Set up a booking or information form

In part one, we talked about setting up a contact form for your website that sends new enquiries straight to your Light Blue account. You can also use forms to gather all sorts of information from clients at any stage of their booking. Maybe you would like to gather some information from a portrait couple before their shoot, like who is involved in the shoot and where the shoot will be. Another great way you can use them is before a wedding. You can ask your couples for information on group shots and schedules, and everything that they enter into the form can be used to update their shoot record.

Creating online forms

10 Create an online contract.

One of the most popular features of Light Blue is being able to create online contracts. Our online contract signing makes it really easy for your customers to confirm and pay for their session.

Online contract signing: setting up your contract templates

Online contract signing: an in-depth look at all the features

Now you’re starting to use Light Blue to manage your enquiries, book your clients in, deliver great service, and invoice your clients. We understand that people learn in different ways and that no two businesses are the same, so if you’d like some more help with getting the most out of Light Blue then we’d be delighted to chat with you over a one-to-one screen-sharing session.

Book a screen share