How to Reduce Costs Without Hurting Your Photography Business

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Is your usually healthy balance sheet looking a little under the weather? Maybe bookings numbers are down or your usual expenses have crept up as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite?

Then your photography business may benefit from a comprehensive cost critique. A thorough investigation into exactly what’s going out of your account on a regular basis.

And then action taken to drive expenses down and push profits up.

Here we’ll share tips about how you can reduce costs without harming your photography business.

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How using the right tools can help you focus on what matters

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It’s safe to assume that you didn’t choose to run a photography business because you want to spend lots of time doing admin, right?

With one simple change Loudoun County Newborn, Family, and Birthday Portrait Photographer Jess Lynn and her admin assistant Annie are now able to spend more time with their families, focus on other areas of their business, and save $100-200 a year.

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How to get more photography clients

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No matter whether you’re a seasoned pro, or just starting out, something a lot of photographers want to know is how to get more photography clients.

It’s no secret that the success of your photography business hinges on your ability to consistently attract new clients.

Even if you already have a set of tried and tested tactics for attracting clients to your photography business, you’ll still want to explore other methods of gaining new enquiries so you’re not overly reliant on one source of leads.

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Using your phone’s autocorrect to respond to enquiries in ANY app

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Notification noise is a truly modern phenomenon.

Another WhatsApp message from an unrecognised number. A Facebook DM lurking in the depths of Messenger. Even a trusty, traditional text message ping can add to the sense of overwhelm and disorganisation.

For photographers dealing with daily client communications from all these different sources, this noise can quickly waste time and energy. And potentially even drown out a new enquiry that’s inadvertently missed.

The answer? Autocorrect.

Read on to discover why this humble tool could banish the confusion and chaos, revolutionising how you field enquiries.

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Light Blue 2023.1

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We’re pleased to announce a major update that makes it easier for you to work with existing clients and get paid in new ways!

Light Blue 2023.1 is available as a free upgrade for all subscribers.

New online payment methods

We’ve added support for the full range of payment methods available via Stripe, including ApplePay, Google Pay, Klarna, Afterpay / Clearpay, iDEAL and Bancontact, in addition to our existing card payment option.

This makes it easier for your clients to pay you. “Buy now, pay later” services like Klarna and Afterpay / Clearpay have been popular feature requests, and in some countries there are specific payment methods that have overtaken card payments as the most popular way of making online payments.

Forms in workflows

You can now include forms as steps in your workflows, allowing you to automate double-checking your clients’ details and requests in the run-up to a shoot.

For example, you could include a “check wedding or portrait session details” step in your workflow, maybe a month before a wedding or a week before a portrait session. The workflow would automatically email the form to your client on the date that you’ve chosen and when they’ve filled it in it will appear in the Inbox in Light Blue just like a normal form.

One of the best features of Light Blue’s forms is that they are pre-filled with the information you already have about your clients and the shoot, which makes it really easy for them to fill it out because they only have to type in new or updated information. This applies to workflow forms, too: the form shows the current information about the shoot and contacts, so any changes you’ve made since adding the workflow will automatically show up in the form.

“The ability to add forms to workflows is an AWESOME addition for time-saving and staying on top of getting valuable information from clients before sessions.

Pre-wedding questionnaires are vital and having them sent automatically 3 weeks before a wedding is very useful.

Automating the collection of feedback from clients after sessions is also great!”
Jesse Starr

Scheduling requests

Scheduling requests allow you to use your scheduling calendars to book meetings or shoots with existing clients. You can send a scheduling request from either a shoot or a contact: your clients will love them because the booking form will be pre-filled with the information that you already have, and you will save time because the event that’s created will automatically be linked to the relevant records in Light Blue.

“Now when we reply to an enquiry we can send them a scheduling request and they book in themselves without loads of emails to find the right time. This makes communication smoother and less invasive.”Mark Fenwick

You can insert a scheduling request into an email or text message, and you can automate inviting your clients to book a consultation or viewing session by including them in workflow messages.

“I can send clients a link where they can choose and book a planning call (via Zoom), saving time to-ing and fro-ing to find suitable availability.”Emma Jackson

Making phone calls from the desktop app

You can now make phone calls to your clients from within the Light Blue desktop app. After clicking the “Phone Call” button a call will start using either VOIP software installed on your computer, or your mobile phone. If you make a lot of calls, you’ll save time and cut down the number of typos when dialling.

“We make over 500 calls a day through Light Blue and already by just over a couple of hours testing we have increased our productivity by 60%.”

And more…

You can find out about the other new features and changes in this release in the Light Blue 2023.1 release notes.

Free upgrade for subscribers

Light Blue 2023.1 is a free upgrade for all of our subscribers. We’ve loved seeing how our prerelease testers have been using it to get paid in new ways and streamline their admin, so we’re keen to see what you do with it!

How to Run a Successful Register to Win Campaign

Reading Time: 8 minutes

If your usual marketing tactics aren’t growing your email list as rapidly as you’d like, it’s time to think a little more creatively.

Step forward the register to win campaign, a fun, interactive way to reach new clients, showcase your photography business to a wider audience and fill up your diary.

What is a register to win campaign?

A register to win campaign is a form of lead generation marketing. You’ll have seen plenty of them out there, from modest product giveaways to more extravagant prizes worth thousands.

All entrants need to do is share their contact details to be in with a chance of winning. Add it to your marketing mix and it’s a handy way to generate numerous leads in a short space of time.

You can integrate a register to win competition into your online marketing strategy, with an ad campaign promoting it and an eye-catching landing page on your website to further persuade entrants.

Or you can personally invite people to enter at events and shows. As they fill in your form, you can take the opportunity to have a quick chat with a prospect about how the prize would work: the perfect chance to build rapport and interest.

For photographers, a popular prize to offer is a free portrait session. Limiting it to this means you’re not missing out on income from image and product orders afterwards. Or you could expand the prize to include a set number of digital files or credit towards photo purchases. Or mix it up with one winner getting the full package and runners-up receiving a free shoot.

Another idea is to consider partnering with a suitable local business, maybe a wedding supplier or children’s boutique, and adding a voucher element to the prize. This will widen your promotion’s reach, broaden its appeal and help build a relationship with a fellow entrepreneur.

Tips to maximise the chances of success

Register to win idea in place, here are a few tips to make it go smoothly:

• Think about WHEN you want the competition to run. You can link it to a seasonal event for a unique angle. For example, run it at the end of the year and you can specify that any photoshoot prize be taken between January-March the following year. Your copy can then be focused on a New Year treat and you’ll get bookings at a quieter time of year.
• Add a sense of urgency. You don’t want people to get bored seeing the same competition in their timeline for weeks on end. Build up some anticipation and then set a time limit for entries. Asking people to enter within five days of the launch, for instance, and they’ll be more likely to get it done as soon as they see it.
• Make sure you gain consent for using their data. Add a clear tick box so they can easily confirm they’re happy to be contacted.
• If you promote the campaign on socials, ask people to DM you for the entry form rather than adding a link to your website. This will please platforms like Facebook who penalise posts which direct users away from their site, helping to expand its reach.
• Committing a small sum to paid social ads will further broaden its reach.

How to get extra value from a register to win campaign

While the ultimate aim of this kind of competition is to grow your email marketing list, those extra names are worthless if they’re not genuine prospects.

While there’s no way to know that for certain, you can help yourself by asking entrants an open-ended question within the data capture form. Doing this means you can qualify which entries are more likely to be from someone you’d want to work with.

For example, you could ask them why they want to win. This could reveal stories and insights you’d never know about from a simple name and email address. Or perhaps pose a question linked to the type of session like ‘What does your dog mean to you?’ for a pet portrait session.

While it would be tempting to choose your winner based on the strength of their answer and suitability as a client, you’re ultimately bound by regulations covering how competitions are run.

If a competition is based on chance rather than skill, like a register to win campaign is, you must choose your winner randomly. Guidelines from the Advertising Standards Authority state:

“Promoters of prize draws should ensure that prizes are awarded in accordance with the laws of chance. If a verifiably random computer process is used, the ASA would expect to see evidence of this. If such a computer programme has not been used, winners must be selected under the supervision of an independent observer (rule 8.24). Promoters must have evidence to demonstrate that the winner was selected randomly.”

The same guidance states that if you incorporate an element of skill, then you must use an independent judge or panel to decide on the eventual winner.

You also need to be careful to adhere to rules set by GDPR legislation and any social media platforms you’re using such as Facebook or Instagram.

All guidelines met and once your winner has been randomly chosen, you can then prioritise who you target based on their response to your open-ended question. You may easily be able to tell that certain prospects will value your products and services which should lead to a productive working relationship.

How to do effective follow-up using your business management software

Once your competition has launched and you’re acquiring leads, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid system in place for reviewing and acting on them.

The objective here is to sort those entries into the ones you think are valuable and worth pursuing, and those that aren’t. You’ll want to reach out to all of them, as well as congratulate the winner to get the ball rolling with their booking.

A dedicated photography CRM like Light Blue can automate the entire campaign process from start to finish:

• Use a form to gather all the entries, e.g. a Facebook lead-ad form, Light Blue’s contact forms feature or a third-party system such as Kartra, Active Campaign or Mailchimp.
• Send that data into Light Blue, directly if you used the integrated form, imported from a CSV or via Zapier.
• You’ll then have a contact record for each entrant, including the answer they gave to the question logged within the notes.
• Saving all this information as a query will display all entrants at once.
• You can then tag the winner, any runners-up and any leads you’re not convinced are worth following up.
• Adding a workflow for the winner allows you to list every step you now need to take from the initial “Congratulations, you’ve won!” message to prompts to follow up with a phone call.
• Using notes in the contact record lets you log all call attempts and responses (voicemail left, asked to call back at a different time etc).
• When you get hold of them and have arranged the shoot, create a shoot record including the date, time and location. As they’ve won a free shoot, you won’t need to add whether they’ve paid a holding fee to confirm the slot.
• If they’ve not yet confirmed the date, leave it as an enquiry.
• For runners-up who’ve not responded to phone calls, you can send an email template inviting them to check your online scheduling calendar. This could prompt them to take action.
• Measure the success of your register to win campaign by running a query that finds all shoots with a contact who came directly from it.
• You can also view a list to see the total amount of sales connected to those shoots.

Campaign, client follow-up and evaluation all complete, you’ll easily be able to assess if a register to win campaign is worth doing all over again.

Black Friday deals for photographers 2022

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Email template giveaway

Get 37 email templates for your business, absolutely free!

Get more organised for less this November.

Save money on Light Blue’s time-saving software for photographers, making your admin simple so that you can focus on nurturing relationships with your clients and growing a successful business.

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Accounting Software for Photographers

Reading Time: 10 minutes

We get it, you love cameras, not calculators. That’s why you’re a photographer, not an accountant.

But you also appreciate that part of being a professional photographer is managing the money side and keeping a detailed record of what’s coming in and what’s going out.

Whether you use an accountant or not, careful record-keeping is essential to ensure legal compliance and the smooth running of your business.

Here we explore why accounting software for photographers can simplify that process and compare some of the options out there.

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Five Positive Steps to Keep Your Business Healthy

Reading Time: 8 minutes

When business is quiet, it’s easy to panic. How long will this last? What am I doing wrong? Should I just give up?

And with panic comes the temptation to take drastic action. Maybe I should slash my prices? Or perhaps I could take on that job that’s not really my thing but would bring in some much-needed cash?

While there are times when this kind of action can help in the short-term, it also runs the risk of hurting your photography business. Both financially and reputationally.

Yes, gut feeling is helpful but using it alongside solid information will help you make better choices. Choices based on considered decision-making to get those client enquiries and bookings back up to speed.

Assess how your business is performing

Step one is to get a clear idea of how your photography business is really doing. Do the figures back up your feelings?

Light Blue can help here thanks to reporting tools which give you a clear overview of year-on-year and month-on-month performance. Keep reading to discover how you can add the “Business performance & opportunities” home screen to your own Light Blue account.

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7 ways photographers can use SMS messaging with Light Blue

Reading Time: 7 minutes

When it comes to client communication, the humble text message can work wonders within your photography business.

Short but mighty, an SMS message wields the power to nurture relationships, boost your reputation and showcase your professionalism. Not bad for a bit of tech first used 30 years ago by a software programmer to wish his colleague Happy Christmas.

Here we explore how embracing the text functionality within your photography business CRM can create tailored, high-touch communication between you and your clients. Building rapport and trust to keep your diary nicely busy.

Why use text messages?

Text messages go direct to your client: to the device in their hand, on their desk or next to them on the sofa. Deliverability success rates are good and, when well-written, they can feel more personal than an email.

Choose the topic and timing of your text well, and they provide an immediacy that’s more difficult to ignore than an unopened email languishing low down in an inbox. An approach that can genuinely help to strengthen relationships.

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