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.

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:

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.

Nurturing large numbers of cold leads from events/expos

As a photographer, you understand the importance of using the right tool for the job; the right lens to give you the desired field of view, the right editing preset to give your image the right look, or the right flash modifier to shape your light to fall how you like. 

That doesn’t stop with your images. Using the right tool also applies to the way that you interact with your clients and prospective clients.

If part of your marketing strategy involves acquiring prospects at expos, shows or events, then you’ll understand that effectively following up with those leads is critical to getting a good return on your investment.

Sadly, no matter how great your work is, it’s rare for those leads to jump at the offer of your services right away and so they require a certain degree of nurture. This is where mass marketing tools come into their element. 

Marketing tools like Active Campaign, Mailchimp or SendInBlue can take care of the heavy lifting of keeping in touch with your leads. A cleverly constructed campaign of emails, text messages and social contact can warm those leads up from being vaguely interested to positively excited to book you.

Read on to learn how you can design such a campaign and then bring those toasty-warm leads into Light Blue as clients who are excited to work with you.

Continue reading “Nurturing large numbers of cold leads from events/expos”

How to prevent your emails from being marked as junk

Martin Cheung is a wedding photographer based in Nottingham & Derby. As well as being a superb wedding photographer he also has 25 years of experience in the IT industry, specialising in networks, firewalls and internet connectivity. With that experience and knowledge, Martin’s kindly provided this guide to help prevent your emails from being marked as junk.

Read on to learn how to keep your messages in your clients inboxes!

Continue reading “How to prevent your emails from being marked as junk”

5 ways to quickly get more out of Light Blue in 2020

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

January is a great time for introducing changes and improvements into your business, investing time now in order to enjoy benefits later in the year.

You want to get 2020 off to a strong start, and we’re here to help! Let’s explore a few ways that Light Blue can make your business easier to run and more effective this year.

Light Blue is a flexible and powerful tool that offers a great deal of value to photographers. Read on to discover a few of the ways that it could help you this year.

1.     Email templates

Keeping in touch with your clients is important, but it doesn’t have to take ages! Light Blue’s email and text message templates save you time and mean that you don’t forget to say the important things. There’s no need to type the same messages out again and again, and our powerful mail-merge tags automatically personalise your messages with the relevant details.

Email templates are useful because they can save you a lot of time sending out standard responses to your clients’ queries, help you to use consistent wording, and present yourself with a professional image. You can use email templates whenever you create an email to a client from Light Blue, and you can also use them in workflows to send automated messages to your clients: for example, to remind them about a booking.

Learn how to make your messages more efficient.

2.     Workflow messaging

When you’ve only got one or two shoots to worry about, it’s easy to remember all of the important things that you need to do. However, once you’re at the stage where you’re dealing with multiple jobs that are all at different stages, keeping track of what needs to be done next can be a headache!

Whether or not you’ve planned it that way, every successful photography business has a series of steps that you need to go through to make sure that you’re delivering the best possible service to your clients. Light Blue’s powerful workflows can add a list of tasks and automated messages based around the date of the shoot, so we can remind you when you need to do something and important emails and text messages will get sent automatically.

Discover Light Blue’s time-saving workflows & automated messaging.

3.     Using forms

Receiving new enquiries is great because it means that your marketing’s working well and people want to work with you! If you install one of Light Blue’s contact forms on your website, all of the useful details of your new enquiry will flow straight into Light Blue – no need to type anything into your database. Your client can get an immediate, automated reply, and you can follow it up with a personalised email or text message template as soon as you’ve checked your availability.

In order for you to deliver memorable pictures and outstanding service to your clients, you need to have the right information. Sending questionnaires to your clients is a great way to capture the important details. Light Blue’s forms can be sent out as a questionnaire from a shoot record and will update your records with the details that you need. Your clients are essentially doing your admin for you, while you appear to be really thorough & organised. There’s no limit to the number of different forms that you can use, so you’re free to ask the right questions at the right times.

Gather the important details from your clients.

4.     Online contracts

Converting enquiries into paid bookings is great, but it’s even better when the booking process is effortless for both you and your client.

Confirm bookings with ease by sending contracts from Light Blue. It’s easy to present pricing options to your client, gather additional details, have them agree to your terms and conditions, and even take payment for a booking fee or session fee in one nice, simple flow!

Confirm bookings with ease.

5.     Powerful reporting & queries

One of the great advantages of using Light Blue is that all of the information that you need is in one place. That data can tell you a lot about how your business is doing, and help you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

That’s where Light Blue’s reporting features are invaluable, allowing you to use everything you’ve entered into it to give you an overview of how your business is performing and where you need to focus your efforts so that you can hit your goals.

You don’t need to spend ages collating the data, there’s no need to be copying and pasting things, formatting spreadsheets or setting up complicated pivot tables in Excel!

Reports & queries pull up your live data, so you’re always seeing the most up to date information.

Take the guesswork out of running your business.

Not currently using Light Blue?

If you’re not already using Light Blue to manage your business, we’d be delighted to set up a free, no-obligation demo!

Book a free demo

Classes to catch at The Societies’ of Photographers 2020 Convention

We’re really looking forward to attending The Societies’ of Photographers convention again this January. As well as an extensive trade show with exhibits from a wide range of industry suppliers, including Light Blue, there’s also an array of classes presented by industry experts.

Meet Light Blue at the convention trade show

We’ll be on stands 65 & 76 from Thursday 23rd January to Saturday 25th January. Come and meet us to discover how Light Blue can help you to manage and organise your business, saving you time and helping you to focus on the more important things.

Our pick of classes

There’s a lot to take in, so we’ve compiled a list of some classes that we think are worth your consideration:

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 Falkirk, Carlisle and Wigan on the 9th, 10th & 11th of April.

There is a great range of free master classes from three excellent speakers; Damian McGillicuddy, Robert Pugh and Panikos Hajistilly. There will also be an opportunity to meet a wide range of different industry suppliers, including Light Blue, in the accompanying trade show. You can register for free by following the links below, and read more about the master classes and the trade exhibitors.

09/04/2019
9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Falkirk 
Macdonald Inchyra Hotel, Polmont Falkirk 
10/04/2019
9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Carlisle 
Carlisle Racecourse, Carlisle Cumbria
11/04/2019
9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Wigan 
DW Stadium, Wigan Manchester