New online invoice and email features

We’ve made some small changes to the way that Light Blue’s online invoices and emails work. We’ll be announcing some big new features in the coming weeks but these changes have been made now so that we can start beta testing those other new features.

Online invoices

Our online invoice receipt emails now include a link to view the paid invoice online, rather than including a copy of the invoice in the email itself. There are two main reasons for this change: it works better with a wider range of email clients; and it also protects your clients’ privacy if they’re using an email provider that scrapes the contents of their emails for information.

We’ve also changed the information that’s displayed when your client views a paid invoice. Instead of just displaying your “thanks for paying this invoice” message, we’re displaying all of the details of the invoice so that your client can refer back to it or print it for their records.

Client portal emails

The other new feature that you’ll notice is that copies of emails that are sent for Light Blue’s contact forms, questionnaires, contracts, and online invoices are now recorded in Light Blue’s Outbox and the Activity panel for the relevant records. We’re still CCing a copy of these emails to you so that you get an instant notification when your client has done something, but this gives you a clearer record of all of your communications with your client.

Feedback

As always, we’d love to hear from you if you’ve got any feedback about our new features. And if you’re on our list of beta testers, expect to hear more from us in the coming weeks 🙂

Extended assistance for subscribers affected by COVID-19

We make tools to help photographers to manage & run successful businesses. As a small, independent business ourselves we recognise the challenges that our customers face and we’re keen to help.

In March, we offered to reduce the cost of Light Blue subscriptions by 50% for any of our customers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. We’re now in mid-May and it’s clear that we’re not out of the woods yet and that our customers would still benefit from a helping hand. That’s why we’ve taken the decision to extend our financial help on subscriptions for another three months.

If you’ve already had this discount applied to your account then there’s nothing you need to do: you will continue to pay your subscription at the reduced rate for a further three months (i.e. six months in total).

If you need assistance but haven’t applied for our offer yet, you can do so by clicking here to log into your account.

We’re here to help you in other ways, too

Our help and support isn’t just financial. We’re working hard to make sure that our customers are in the best possible shape to bounce back as things start to get back to normal:

  • We’ve published a series of guides to help with some specific challenges that you might be facing right now.
  • We’re continually offering free 1:1 screen sharing sessions to help you to get more out of Light Blue and to be ready to start working with your clients again.
  • On Wednesday this week, we’re holding a special day of screen sharing sessions where you can chat with Tom, Ian, or Dani to get help and advice. Click here to book a meeting!

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.

We’re here for you.

With love from Tom, Ian, and Dani.

New contact form features

We’re constantly improving Light Blue’s features, even when we’re very busy helping our customers to deal with the effects of the pandemic and lockdown.

We’re working on some big new features that we’ll be announcing soon, but we’ve added some new features to Light Blue’s contact forms that have gone live today.

The most obvious change is that we’ve added reCAPTCHA to our arsenal of anti-bot tools. Our contact forms have always included effective anti-spam protections, but it never hurts to add more and reCAPTCHA’s popularity and ease of use will be reassuring to both you and your clients.

Most of our subscribers are using the HTML code that Light Blue automatically generates to embed our contact forms into their websites. If you’re using the embed code that we provide then it will automatically resize your forms to accommodate the reCAPTCHA widget. If you’ve modified the embed code to set the height of the embedded form manually though, you’ll need to check whether the form still fits and adjust the height in your embed code. If you need any help with this, get in touch and we’d be delighted to assist.

One other change that you’ll notice is that if you’ve set up an autoresponder for your contact form, we’re no longer including the data that your client entered into their enquiry in the email that we’re sending to them. You’ll still see what they’ve written in the notification email that we send to you though, and of course it will still appear in Light Blue’s Inbox so that you can convert it into a new enquiry with the click of a button.

The notification email that we send you when a client submits a form (whether that’s a contact form or a questionnaire that you’ve sent to a client) has been reformatted, too. The new design makes it much easier to read the information that you’ve been sent if you’ve got any long field headings.

Assisting photographers affected by COVID-19

Updated 18 May 2020: we’ve extended our pandemic assistance discount from three months to six. Please read this update to find out more about how we’re helping photographers through the pandemic and lockdown.

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

Light Blue 8.2.6

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2.6, which adds more new features and some bug fixes.

You can update to Light Blue 8.2.6 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:

  • Added “Most Recent Payment Date” and “Most Recent Payment Method” fields to the Purchases section. These fields can be included in list view, queries, or when exporting data.
  • Added buttons to save and reload field import orders to the “Import Purchases From CSV” command.
  • Accepting a contract that doesn’t include a form now takes you to the linked shoot record, just like accepting a contract with a linked form already does.
  • The %SaleInvoiceNumber% mail-merge tag is now blank when you use it in the wrong context, rather than making it look like it was used from an uninvoiced sale.
  • Renamed the “Send Now” buttons in the workflow email and text message dialogs to make it more obvious that clicking the button will convert the message from a workflow message to a normal message.
  • Changed the character encoding of our CSV data exports to UTF8 with a byte order marker. This ensures that Excel and other apps will open the correct encoding.

Merry Christmas from the Light Blue team

Although we’re still hard at work here in the Light Blue bunker this week, we thought we should take some time out to let you know when we’ll be available to help anyone who’s going to be busy over the Christmas and New Year period.

Whether you’re a wedding photographer who’s looking forward to dealing with all of the new enquiries that tend to come in after Christmas, or just someone who’s using Light Blue to maintain their ‘Naughty or Nice’ list, we’re here to help. We’re going to be taking a bit of a break though, so we won’t be answering emails quite as quickly as normal between Christmas and New Year.

  • We’ll be offering our normal email support hours until Monday 23 December.
  • We’ll be offering limited email support on Tuesday 24 December.
  • There’ll be no email support available on the UK holidays of 25 & 26 December.
  • We’ll be offering limited email support 27, 30, and 31 December.
  • There will be no email support available on the bank holiday of Wednesday 1 January.
  • Normal email support will resume on Thursday 2 January.

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers a restful and enjoyable Christmas, and best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2020; thank you so much for choosing Light Blue.