Recycling your marketing spend by using a referral network

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Ian spent some time chatting with Michelle Szpak recently for her training hub and community for photographers. Below is a little taster of the topics we covered in our chat.

It’s near impossible to only market to clients on dates that you can fulfil, so how can you cut down on waste from enquiries that you’re unable to work with because of other commitments?

It’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture from time to time.

As you go about your day to day work, you’re consciously and unconsciously gathering all sorts of information that can help you to run a more effective business.

I had been running my photography and videography business for the best part of a decade and was fairly good at looking at things like where my enquiries were coming from, what my return on investment from those activities was, average customer spends and so on. 

But there was one piece of information that I hadn’t reviewed which would have made a substantial impact on my marketing.

It was only in a quiet moment during the pandemic lockdown that my curiosity was piqued and I really wish I’d looked at this sooner!

Day to day I recorded all of my enquiries, including those that I couldn’t do, keeping track of where the enquiry came from, the date the client was enquiring about and why the client didn’t proceed with booking – e.g. they told me they’d booked someone else, they ghosted me or the lead went stale, or I was unavailable on their date.

This gave me useful insights into which marketing channels gave me the most enquiries, but also how well they converted and what the average client spend per marketing channel was.

But something I hadn’t explored in any detail was the enquiries that I hadn’t booked because I wasn’t available. 

I’d never given those much more attention than to respond with a standard email listing a few other photographers, wishing them well, noting why I wasn’t booking that enquiry and moving on – a few seconds of my time in total. 

Why bother spending any more time? I’m not going to convert that client.

Well, when I looked at how many of those sorts of enquiries I had, I realised that they made up a substantial percentage of all of the enquiries I got through the year. 

Everybody will market their business in different ways, using a blend of strategies that involve a combination of your time and money in order to generate enquiries. If a substantial percentage of those hard earned enquiries are falling at the first hurdle because you can’t take the booking, then a portion of your marketing efforts are being wasted too.

It’s near impossible to only market to clients on dates that you can fulfil, so how can you cut down on waste from enquiries that you’re unable to work with because of other commitments?

You, times two

One answer would be to engage an associate photographer. Any dates that you weren’t available for could be passed on to an associate, and since you’re keeping the booking in-house you would still be getting some return on your marketing efforts.

Check out this guide on working with associate photographers using Light Blue.

But when is the right time to hire an associate? You’d need to make sure that there’s enough enquiries coming in regularly to sustain that relationship. 

That doesn’t happen overnight, so is there a half way point?

Building a close referral network 

Earlier I mentioned that I handled enquiries that I couldn’t fulfil by blindly recommending the same handful of photographers – I didn’t check if they were available or not, I simply passed on a list and got on with my day.

But what I could (and should) have done was to build a referral network of a small number of photographers with a similar style and price point, and then referred each enquiry to just one of those photographers. If my network and I shared a calendar of our availabilities – not the fine detail of what we were up to, just an indication of who was free/busy on a given date – then I could confidently refer one of my network to the client and say that I knew they had availability.

That wouldn’t have needed to take a great deal more time than my old approach, a quick check of the shared diary and then selecting the right email template is all it would take.

So why bother doing that? I’m still not booking that enquiry.

Referral networks are a reciprocal relationship and while I’m sending my unavailable enquiries to my network, some of my networks enquiries will be coming to me on dates that I can do.

I can record who I passed my unavailable enquiries on to and which members of my network have sent work back my way when I get those new referred enquiries, so I can ensure that my referral relationship is fair and balanced.

Essentially I’m recycling my unavailable enquiries and turning them in to new enquiries from my network.

What about larger referral networks like Facebook groups, forums and organisations?

It’s less likely that you’ll have a direct exchange of referrals from those larger groups, so keeping track of who you passed work on to and who sent work your way would be much harder.

Instead it could be an idea to think of the whole referral group as one source.

That way you’re able to see the balance of how many jobs you’re bringing into the group and how many are coming back to you. If you’re part of several groups then this allows you to understand which groups are providing a fair relationship for you.

Having all your business information in the right place makes the job easy.

As I was going about the daily running of my business, my Light Blue database was quietly amassing a wealth of useful information. When I took the time to step back and see the bigger picture I had all of that information together already, so there was no need to fiddle with spreadsheets or take time collating and merging information.

Light Blue’s powerful querying and reporting tools did all the hard work for me.

The important lesson is to make sure that you’re reviewing this information on a regular basis so that you’ve got the insights to make smarter decisions. 

6 Tips for Branding your photography business

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Brand Identity can seriously improve the success rate of your business efforts across the board, if it’s harnessed correctly.

It’s true, photography itself speaks volumes, but your branding will provide prospective clients with an indication of your price point, the experience you offer… and ultimately whether you are the right fit for them or not!

Having worked at a photography studio & agency for many years before focusing on his own Graphic & Web Design career – London based Graphic and Web designer Jason Miller has a unique perspective, as he’s been able to experience both sides of the process.

Jason has prepared the 6 tips below to help you; whether you’re looking to work with a professional and would like to get the most out of the process, or you’d like advice on making some DIY adjustments.

Tip 1: Perceived value & Positioning

Brand identity can completely change the perceived value of the service you offer.

Is your approach is to offer clients a great deal of personal attention, perhaps spending hours just getting to know each of them?

More hours spent attentively editing each image after a shoot?

MORE hours hosting a viewing session in person? (Or, via video these days!)

If so, what a mistake it could be to create branding that indicates a different approach.

Try to ensure your brand reflects creates the correct expectation; whether that’s for an attentive, high end experience – or no-thrills with unbeatable value – and everything in between. When this aligns correctly, clients will be delighted to have their expectations met; meaning more bookings.

DIY 🛠

If you’re struggling with this, try looking at brands from other industries. Does your brand fit in with other luxury brands? Boutiques? Or value brands?

When hiring a professional 👩‍💻

Try to provide your designer with examples of brands from different industries who are positioned as you would like to be. Be as clear as possible about your goals.

Tip 2: Who are you attracting?

Are YOU your own ideal client? That’s not always the case… A common mistake, especially for small business owners, is to create a brand they really like, when really, they needed to create a brand their ideal clients would really like!

The easiest way to identify this, is to look at the brands your ideal clients have already brought into emotionally. The clothes they wear, the restaurants or coffee shops they visit, all provide strong indications.

DIY 🛠

If clients love your images, but would never ‘wear’ your brand on an item of clothing; you need to change it! Create a brand your clients could proudly wear without feeling uncomfortable.

When hiring a professional 👩‍💻

Ensure the brand identity designer you hire can assist you in identifying and attracting the correct audience; not simply go by your personal preferences.

Tip 3: Personality

A photographer is often hired on the basis of their personality, as much as their work.

Hinting at your style or personality within your brand identity can be a powerful way to attract clients you’re likely to get along with.

However, don’t forget; the about page on your website, story shares on social media, and short behind the scenes videos are all technically part of your collective brand identity. These can be far more effective ways to express your personality than trying to ‘shoe-horn’ weird and wonderful pop-culture references (or dare I say hobbies) into your logo!

Tip 4: Keep it professional

It is 100 times better to have a simple, but professional logo – than a complex one that hasn’t come together properly. In this day and age, that’s the equivalent of bad photoshop.

If your brand looks unprofessional, it will raise alarm bells and prospective clients might assume that it reflects the quality of your work… even if the photography is great!

Keeping it simple can be a great way to do this. Don’t try to create something unique at the expense of creating something uniquely bad!

That said, it’s a skill to create simple, effective design. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, try to find a professional that fits your budget. The time (and therefore money) you save hiring them could free you up to focus on other areas of your business.

Tip 5: Don’t detract from your images!

It should go without saying, but overuse of bright, bold colours or patterns that detract from your images, could defeat the whole purpose of branding your photography business.

Try to create elements that compliment and enhance your work, rather than compete with it for attention.

Would you like someone to hire you because they spot a bright splash of their favorite colour across your branding? Or because they spot their new, favorite image – alongside a reassuringly professional logo?

If you just have to use a bright colour – try to employ it as an accent rather than background, especially alongside images.

Tip 6: Reflect your USP

Sometimes we panic when we hear the word USP (Unique Selling Point), because we wonder, how can I offer something unique among 1000s of other photographers?

Well, think of it instead as your Key Selling Point… What is it about your photography, style or personality that clients rave about most?

At times, it’s possible, and appropriate to hint at this within your brand identity – as was the case for this brand I created for Rivka Singer Photography. (Shown below.) She is renowned for creating beautiful, ornate floral backgrounds in her studio images, and so we tastefully decorated her logo in a floral wreath to reflect this key selling point:

Are your images clean and crisp? Do they tend to feature lots of negative space? Or are they ornate and elaborate? If appropriate, try to reflect this in the style of your logo.

About Jason

Jason is a London based Graphic and Web designer who spent many years at a photography studio and agency before starting his own design studio – design being his true passion, having studied it at college. He now loves working with photographers among other business, to help them unlock the power of effective branding and web design. Be sure to check out his page just for photographers here.

www.jmgraphicdesign.com

020 7993 4375

Black Friday 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We’re here to help you get more organised, for less this Black Friday!

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Bring all of your business admin together into one powerful and easy to use platform.

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✓ Use clever templates for emails and text messages.
✓ Workflows keep you organised so that nothing gets forgotten.
✓ Email and text messages can be scheduled automatically so routine messages get sent at the right time.
✓ Never forget to send an invoice again with our automated payment reminders.

Easier to work with clients

✓ Online contract signing automatically confirms a session when your client signs, plus take a booking fee at the same time.
✓ Questionnaires and forms allow your clients to do your admin for you.
✓ Break large invoices up into manageable instalments using payment schedules.

Here to help you

✓ Light Blue can give you the big picture, which helps with making smarter decisions.
✓ Desktop and mobile apps allow you to work even when offline.
✓ Dedicated support team for easy set up and migration.

➡️ Use BF50 to get 50% off your first 6 months. ⬅️
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Existing customer?

We’re here to help. In case you haven’t heard about it yet, we’ve been offering a cheaper subscription to anyone who’s been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read here for more information.

Measuring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business

Reading Time: 6 minutes

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.

Being able to measure the impact that the pandemic has had on your business certainly isn’t something that you will want to do, however it is helpful if you are applying for some sort of financial assistance for your business.

This guide walks through how to get the details that could help you.

Using charts to get an overview

The benefit of managing your business with Light Blue is that your data’s all in one place, so the information that you need is already here. So you won’t need to spend ages analysing complicated spreadsheets to get an idea of where you stand.

The charts view is your friend, and here are a few different charts that you could load with a couple of clicks and then present as necessary evidence if required.

Note that I’ve got “cumulative totals” turned on and I’m comparing this year to previous years (feel free to go as far back as you feel is appropriate).

To change the data that your chart is displaying, just tweak the options at the top of the screen.

Income,

Enquiries by enquiry date,

Bookings

Planning ahead

As well as taking a look at how things have changed for your business this year, it could be useful for you to take a look at the road ahead so you can take appropriate action.

Identifying bookings at risk of postponement due to the latest restrictions

The lockdown restrictions and rules keep on changing, and in the UK we’ve recently been told that the current restrictions are likely to be in place for six months.

If you’re taking payments for sessions that haven’t happened yet but are at risk of cancelling, there’s a possibility that you may find ourself in a position whereby you need to return some of what’s been paid. We’re not in a position to offer legal advice so if you’re ever in doubt about what you should be doing with regards to cancellations, we recommend consulting an independent legal professional.

Creating custom reports in Light Blue can help to provide the necessary figures in order to manage the potential financial exposure to cancelations of future bookings. That’s a three step process:

1) Find the right records

Use the query tool to search for all of your shoots that are booked over the next 6 months (for example, you can choose another period if you wish).

2) View the list

Then view the results in the List View and customise that view (Window > Customise List View) to show the information that you’re most interested in.

3) Save a custom report

Finally, save the query and list view settings as a custom report so you can view the most up to date information again in the future with a few clicks.

Forecasting your potential 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.

We’ve got an in-depth guide on how to use Light Blue’s quoting tools to forecast your income, which you can read here.

Keeping an eye on your fixed outgoings

The money coming in to your business is just one part of the equation and even with a reduction in work you will still encounter a certain amount of fixed costs necessary for keeping the business going.

We’re doing what we can to help reduce those costs for our customers and we know that many other suppliers to the trade are as well.

If you’ve been recording your businesses expenditure within Light Blue then it’s fairly quick to get a picture of the fixed costs that you’ve incurred this year. It may also be helpful to look at the figures for last year in order to establish a trend.

Using the query tool, search for purchases that haven’t been linked to shoots and also haven’t been categorised in a way that indicates that they’re a cost of sales. The advanced options allow you to be more precise in your search.

Then you can customise the list view to show the columns that are most relevant to you, and group the purchases by year so that you can compare this years fixed costs to those of previous years.

Need more help?

We’re always ready and willing to support our customers if they need help with things like this. Send an email to support@lightbluesoftware.com or schedule a free 1:1 call via the help page.

Mapping your customer journey

Reading Time: 6 minutes

What’s the one thing that you would do to make yourself stand out to your clients?

Running a successful photography business relies on delivering a great service to your clients in a timely manner. There’s many steps involved in doing that and it’s important to make sure that you know what your process is, including any special flourishes that help you to give your clients a great experience.

We spoke to Jennifer Sinclair about the journey she takes her clients on, and how Light Blue helps her to do that.

Jennifer is a specialist newborn baby photographer based near Fareham, Hampshire: “I like to provide an amazing newborn photography experience at a special time in peoples lives. I like to get to know clients and understand what they are looking for in a newborn photo session.”

Jennifer is very passionate about her business and invests time into providing her clients with the best photo experience that she can.

Continue reading “Mapping your customer journey”

How to Master Virtual Viewings

Reading Time: 7 minutes

We speak to wedding and portrait specialist Suzanne Black about how to conduct viewings remotely without losing that crucial personal touch.

When it comes to viewing sessions, we’re all familiar with the ideal scenario.

You invite clients to your studio at a mutually convenient time, put the kettle on, pop some biscuits on a stylish plate and spend a few hours together selecting and curating the perfect set of images.

Impressed by the personal service, professional advice and comfortable rapport, they place a decent-sized order and say they’ll be in touch about booking a future shoot.

But what happens if you can’t physically get together? Whether that’s because of the challenges posed by a global pandemic or, in simpler times, just due to geography, there is a solution.

Here established photographer Suzanne shares her insight into conducting virtual viewings, a way of coming together that still keeps it personal.

The Different Viewing Session Options

When your studio is on a farm in the middle of the beautiful Scottish countryside, it’s likely your clients will live many miles away.

This is exactly Suzanne’s challenge. Unless clients are reasonably local or returning to the area on holiday, arranging in-person viewings can prove difficult.

But she’ll always make them happen whenever possible saying: “I’m a massive fan of in-person sales. As an all-round experience, sitting down together and going through the images in person is just the best customer service you can provide. You can easily show them the different options of how those images will work together and chat through ideas.

“Unfortunately, my customer base and location mean that’s not always possible. A lot of my wedding clients will come back to Scotland on holiday and book in a shoot with me, but they don’t then have the time to do an in-person viewing a week later, or they’ve already gone back home by the time the images are ready.”

One option is to send your clients a web gallery. They can browse through the images independently and place their order with minimal collaboration.

But this has various drawbacks. As Suzanne says: “I think you’re doing your customer a disservice by sending them a web gallery. It’s confusing, impersonal, difficult to compare images and less convenient to ask me for advice.

“I’ve experimented a bit with trying to pre-sell images and products through web galleries but I just found that it wasn’t working. The personal connection just isn’t there.”

So now, for any customers who can’t make their way to Suzanne’s stunning but remote studio, she hosts a virtual sales session.

How to Run a Virtual Viewing Session

When it comes to successful virtual viewing sessions for photographers, Suzanne believes that recreating the in-person version as closely as possible is the key.

“I pretty much run it exactly as I would do if a customer came to my studio,” she explains. “Except of course, they’re sat at home and not next to me.”

The first step is to plan a time when there’ll be minimal distractions: children in bed, work put aside and nothing cooking on the hob.

“The aim is to create a completely relaxed environment,” says Suzanne. “That way, everyone can focus on the important job ahead.”

Suzanne preps the session in the same way she would an in-person viewing. So customers will have had the price list in advance, outlining all their options for prints, frames and albums. 

She then sends them a Zoom link to an online meeting which starts with a chat about how the session went and what they’re looking for in terms of images.

“This is the ideal time to reconnect, a bit of a ‘getting to know you again’ exercise to re-establish rapport. After that, I screen share through ProSelect and run the viewing session as I would if they were sitting next to me in the studio.

“We can chat through the images together and discuss options for frames and albums. They’ve proved to be very successful.”

One major benefit to clients being at their home is the chance to see the spaces where they’re planning to place images.

Suzanne expands on this: “Quite often I’ll ask customers to send me a few pictures of wall spaces they have in mind for images. The challenge you have with that is they send you an average picture or they’re not very sure where would be best or they don’t remember to do it.

“During a virtual viewing, I’ll say so we’re thinking about this image as part of a multi-frame and ask where in the house they have in mind. As they’re on their laptop or iPad, they can then ‘take me’ to the wall. 

“I can see the overall style of the room as well as the available space. And I might say, ‘Yes, I really like that but have you thought about an acrylic there as it’s a quite a modern room that you’re in.’ Or if their décor is more traditional, I can suggest that a really nice distressed wooden frame would fit better.

“It’s fun to really get involved in the design process and bounce ideas around. And it results in great customer service that’s uniquely personal.”

How Virtual Viewings Impact on Sales

You may be concerned that a virtual viewing will lead to lower sales than an in-person appointment. But Suzanne has found that’s not the case.

She says: “On average, I sell two to three times more at an in-person viewing session than a web gallery approach. When I started doing virtual sales, I naturally wondered where they would fit in. Will customers spend less or more?

“Generally, I’m pleased to say I’ve found they’re spending the same as if they were sitting beside me. Another plus point of using tech to help bolster sales.”

On the subject of sales, Suzanne advises always being open and transparent about prices. Her customers always get a full price list at the time they first enquire. 

“I don’t believe in hiding prices from people,” she says. “My clients always know what their options are and how much they cost. A viewing session could easily be wasted if you’re not upfront about your prices.

“This is especially useful at virtual viewings as they can easily and discreetly check the price of an album, for example, without having to ask me, which some people may be nervous about doing.

“So they may go into the session thinking they only want a couple of prints but as we go through the process and see how images can work together, they’re comfortable changing their mind as they know how much it will cost.”

Suzanne’s approach proves that when an in-person viewing session simply isn’t possible, the virtual version can still deliver exceptional customer service and sales.

Discover how Light Blue can help manage your viewing session schedules.

How to Upsell Wedding Albums: Tips from a Pro

Reading Time: 8 minutes

In the first of a series of chats with accomplished photographers, we speak to Scottish Wedding & Portrait Photographer, Suzanne Black about how to successfully but subtly persuade clients to buy an album of images celebrating their big day.

What do professional photographers and the world’s biggest music stars have in common?

They all like selling albums.

Terrible jokes aside, a steady income stream from a beautifully curated and printed album will be welcomed by all wedding photographers.

The images will tell the story of an incredible wedding day, a memento for clients to treasure for generations to come. From the nerve-jangling bridal preparations to the joy of the first dance, wedding albums are a truly unique collection of special images.

Some clients will definitely want to order one or a couple. Some may say no thanks and stick to their decision. Others will be unsure and may need to be convinced of their value and charm.

Here we outline Suzanne’s approach to subtly upselling wedding albums to happy couples.

Continue reading “How to Upsell Wedding Albums: Tips from a Pro”

Increase your bookings by assigning second shooters, contractors or associates

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Do you find that you’re ending up with more than one enquiry for the same date, and that you aren’t able to fulfil both of those enquiries? As shoots are being rescheduled and postponed as a result of the ongoing pandemic, it’s very likely that you’ll have more than one client interested in booking you for the same date.

Where possible, it’s likely that you’ll be working with your clients to arrange a date where you’re available, however that isn’t always going to happen.

Is there an alternative to losing the booking entirely?

You might consider engaging an associate photographer on a freelance/contract basis to help you to cover the overflow. Alternatively, if you work as part of a lead & second shooter team, you could assign your usual second shooter as the lead photographer on the additional shoot and then contract a replacement second shooter for your original shoot.

For either situation, the approach is similar so we’ll cover both of those below.

Allocating resources to shoots

Light Blue has the concept of “Resources” (staff, equipment, and rooms) that can be allocated to shoots and appointments. Light Blue will warn you if you’ve got more than one shoot happening at the same time, unless you’ve got different staff assigned to each shoot – after all, you can’t be in two places at once!

By adding associate photographers as resources and then linking them to shoot records, you’re able to easily see which jobs have been allocated to which photographers. You can also assign roles within a shoot to each resource, so you know who’s doing what.

The powerful and flexible reporting tools in Light Blue also come in handy here. By setting up some saved queries to show all of your shoots which have been allocated to associates and those which are awaiting allocation, you’re able to easily get an overview without any hassle or guesswork.

Giving your team members the details that they need

Once you’ve got your associate lined up for the job, they’ll need to know the important details so that they can go to work.

It’s possible to give different staff members access to your Light Blue account with a variety of access restrictions, depending on their role. However, giving a freelancer access to your account wouldn’t be a sensible approach.

From the Shoot record it’s possible to produce a PDF summary of a shoot, which contains the important details like the schedule & location(s), requests, notes and contact information. Creating that summary is done by clicking the Print/Send button from the Shoot record. That’s a useful thing to print for your own shoots, too, so that you’ve always got the necessary details to hand.

You can also create some email templates which include the relevant shoot details, so that you can send that info to your associate in an email in a couple of clicks.

Mail-merge tags can be used within email templates to customise the message and make it relevant to the shoot it’s linked to. It’s important to note that where you’re using mail-merge tags in email templates that are added to a wedding, Light Blue will merge the contact information of the linked contacts with roles of Bride, Groom or Partner. That means that if your email starts “Hi %contactfirstname%”, it’ll merge “Hi Sam & Jo” (the wedding couple) not “Hi Tony” (the associate photographer that you’re sending the email to). It’s best to keep that part of your associate emails generic; you have the opportunity to manually personalise further if required.

Handling the important financial and contractual details with your associates

As well as handling your staffing by allocating resources to shoots, you’ll also want to manage your finances. By adding the associate as a contact record – as well as a resource, they’re two different things – you’re able to add the associate as the supplier in a purchase record to note the fee that they’re charging to you. Don’t forget to mark that purchase as paid once you’ve settled up with them.

Light Blue’s online contract signing system can help you to send an associate/second shooter contract so that you are all clear on the terms of your engagement. To do that:

  • start by creating an Associate/Second Shooter contract template,
  • then link the associate photographer’s contact record to the shoot record in question (remember that contacts and resources are different things).
  • Now go to the Activity tab of the shoot and add the contract.
  • Make sure that your clients (who’ll already be linked contacts) are not checked as signatories to this particular contract. You only want your associate to be the signatory.
  • You won’t need to include a form or any quote or booking fee information.

Working as a second/associate photographer for someone else

You may also find yourself with available dates which you’re keen to fill, and are able to help a fellow photographer out by working as their associate or second photographer.

Here’s some quick tips on how to manage that in your own copy of Light Blue:

  • Consider adding a separate shoot type for associate photographer work. This allows you to easily see how much of this sort of work you’re doing.
  • Create a separate price list for associate photographer work. You’ll be charging different rates as an associate/second photographer, compared to the rates that you’re charging to your own clients. A separate price list means that you can assemble your invoices quickly and easily.
  • Set up an “Associate/Second Shooter” workflow. You won’t be going through all of the same steps as an associate photographer compared to when you’re managing the whole project yourself (for example you may only perform an initial cull of images and won’t handle any other post production). By adding this workflow to the shoot date, you’ll be able to deliver to the lead photographer in a timely fashion.

Handling delayed invoices and payments

Reading Time: 4 minutes

While shoots and projects are being postponed, rescheduled or cancelled, you will find that there’s a need to alter existing financial arrangements with some of your clients.

This article covers some of the more common situations you may face for refunding money, cancelling invoices or deferring the date when you’ll be asking for payment. There’s lots of variables here, so if you’re in any doubt, please reach out to us for help.

Book a free 1:1 chat to get help

Returning money to clients

In situations where your client has given you money that you are returning to them, you are undergoing the process of issuing a refund. The following video walks through the steps to take in that case:

Cancelling an unpaid invoice

There will be situations where you’d raised an invoice which is yet to be paid, but will no longer be perusing the amount at all. To cancel that invoice to show that you’re not collecting that money, you’ll need to issue a credit note. The following video covers the relevant steps:

Asking for an unpaid invoice to be paid later

You may encounter situations where you’d raised an invoice and you’ve agreed with your client that it’ll be due some time later, instead of being due to be paid in the near future.

You can visit the sale record in question and adjust the payment due date so that the sale won’t appear as being overdue until after the new due date.

You might find it easier to issue a credit note for the original invoice and then set a reminder to raise a new one later, however there’s some value in seeing invoices that are outstanding but due in the future so that you can (as much as possible) forecast your expected income. We’ve got another post on forecasting your income, which you can read here.

Schedule an invoice to be sent automatically at a later date

If you’ve prepared an invoice for your client and agreed to send it at a particular time in the future, then Light Blue’s email scheduling feature can help you here.

First of all, prepare the invoice with an appropriate payment due date. Choose to email the invoice as a PDF and write the body of the email but don’t hit send!

Instead, use the schedule button to choose when the email will get sent. Light Blue will send that email automatically on the date and time of your choosing, so you can forget about it and carry on with other things.

Alternatively add a task to the activity tab of the sale to remind you to send the invoice later.

If you’re publishing the invoice for online payment, then you could publish the invoice without sending the publication email (by unchecking the “Send the following email when the invoice is published” checkbox), then copy the invoice URL and paste into an email that you’ll schedule later.

How to message a large group of your contacts about the Covid-19 pandemic

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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 blocklist 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.