Keeping on top of your finances is really important when you are running a business and, while we have some great tools in Light Blue to help with this, some business need even more accounting tools. Many of our customers use QuickBooks to do their accounts and had asked for an easier way to get their information out of Light Blue and into QuickBooks, so they don’t have to enter information twice.
With our QuickBooks export feature, you can export all your invoices from Light Blue to import straight into QuickBooks. This means you have all the benefits of using Light Blue’s online services such as online booking forms and contract signing plus invoicing and you don’t have to create a duplicate invoice manually in QuickBooks. Here is a handy video to see how it works:
We love hearing how this has made your lives easier!
Rose and Garry Stacey from Timeless Images run their portrait studio from Bridgwater, Somerset.
“Light Blue has really helped with the day to day running of the business but with Making Tax Digital coming in, we knew we had to sort out our accounting package. QuickBooks was our choice as there is an import invoices function. So we can within 20 minutes have the month’s invoices imported into QuickBooks ready for the accounts to be reconciled. Thanks to the boys at Light Blue this is quick, easy, straight forward monthly process keeping us in line with government requirements.”
“I had set up QuickBooks before I signed up for Light Blue, I then was faced with how to manage the two. Initially, I was exporting the data to a CSV file and then re-formatting it for QuickBooks and then importing the data to QuickBooks. This took about an hour. Now with the new feature, I’m able to export the data in the correct format for QuickBooks and then import it directly into QuickBooks. This process now takes me about 15 minutes to complete, I’m sure that it will get quicker as I become more practised at it. Now I can easily keep both programs up to date.”
Preparing for a shoot always includes carefully packing your camera bag. But what exactly should you try to squeeze in to all those handy pockets?
And why might those bin bags come in handy?
Here we delve deep into the camera bag essentials that might just become your shoot superheroes.
The bulk of your bag must always of course contain all your kit.
Alongside your beloved cameras, you have lenses, spare memory cards and batteries, a microfibre cloth and flash guns.
Depending on your type of photography and what situations you might find yourself in, you probably already have some proven favourites.
Maybe as a specialist wedding photographer you never go anywhere without a stash of tissues and a spare packet of confetti.
Or if you spend your days capturing a newborn’s magical first days, you never dream of leaving the house without at least one packet of baby wipes.
Whatever your niche, here are the camera bag essentials (apart from tissues and wipes) we heartily recommend:
Indispensable in low light and on night shoots, a torch is your wingman for all things light-related. If you’re using an off-camera flash, you can use it to help you focus and then switch it off for the actual shot. And of course, they always come in handy during a power cut.
Random? Maybe. Useful? Definitely. Safety pins are your saviour for holding something in place, tidying loose fabric or mitigating a major wardrobe malfunction.
Your all-in-one friend, a penknife can be called upon in many an emergency. Alongside the blade, it can compactly hide a pair of scissors, tweezers, carabiner and even a corkscrew if you fancy making a post-shoot toast with your client.
They’re especially helpful on fashion shoots for snipping off labels and loose threads to make every garment look impeccable.
First Aid Kit
We’re not suggesting the whole works here, but it’s wise to carry a selection of painkillers, plasters and antiseptic cream to soothe minor ailments.
And don’t underestimate how hay fever can creep up on you and possibly wreck a shoot. A packet of antihistamine tablets might make the difference between getting beautiful images and having to reschedule.
Your clients already know who you are but what about the people who walk past your shoot and show an interest? You could just be in a park or school hall but if you’re in the foyer of a multi-national corporation, you’ll want to be ready for every opportunity.
Even when you can access your schedule on your phone, having a physical copy to stick up on a wall, stuff in your pocket or pass to an assistant and refer to quickly is super-helpful.
With Light Blue, you can easily print off a summary of all the crucial details for the day so you never miss a shot.
Pen and Paper
We love time-saving tech as much as, OK probably more than, the next person, but we’re not ready to abandon pen and paper just yet. In these mobile-dependent days, you could be the only person in the room to have a simple notebook where you can scribble down notes and ideas.
Snacks and Water
Your talented photographic brain needs fuelling so don’t forget to pack plenty of water and some snacks to nibble on. Nobody likes a hangry photographer …
Thought we’d forgotten about the bin bags? Apart from using them to actually put your shoot rubbish in, they double up as makeshift ponchos for when the heavens unexpectedly decide to open.
They’ll also come in handy as a barrier between client and soggy bench or log, keeping them dry and reasonably comfortable when they sit down. Just keep the tell-tale signs out of shot – clear/transparent bags make that a lot easier!
Being prepared doesn’t have to mean carrying a bag that looks like you’re off on a three-week hike.
But it could mean that your clients are dazzled by your helpful, organised approach to the shoot and inspire them to leave you a five-star review.
Dealing with a deluge of data is unavoidable when running a business.
For professional photographers, managing and protecting your client details, schedules, invoices and of course all those precious images is vital.
Lose it and you’ll end up in stormy waters. You’ll be faced not only with a loss of income and huge administration headaches, but potentially irreparable damage to your reputation.
Our advice? Be prepared. Anything could happen.
Hard drives fail, computers malfunction and, if you do dodge a meteor strike, you could easily fall victim to a break-in or fire.
Having a robust data backup system in place is crucial.
Without one, at best you could be rearranging a set of corporate headshots and swallowing the extra cost
At worst, you could be breaking devastating news to newly-wed clients when they return from honeymoon: your irreplaceable photos have vanished.
Here we explore and compare the different options for backing up your data. Keep it safe and secure and you’ll ensure smooth sailing for your photography business.
Lean On A Local Backup
Local backup consists of using storage such as a computer’s hard drive, a disc, flash drive or external hard drive.
It’s the most basic of backups and, because it doesn’t work over the internet, is handy for those with a slow connection.
But while it’s useful as a first line of defence, local backup suffers from major limitations.
Using a straightforward solution like this leaves your files vulnerable. If you store your external hard drive or USB stick in the same physical location as your PC, there’s still a single point of possible failure. Any damage or theft that takes place there could lead to complete data destruction.
Maybe you like the physical presence of an object containing all your data and the security that nobody else can possibly access it unless it’s stolen.
And if you subscribe to specialist photography management software such as Light Blue, a local backup perfectly complements how it backs up your data from the last time you synced.
However, the geo-redundancy theory goes that if data doesn’t exist in at least two different geographical places, it doesn’t exist at all.
And that’s why off-site backup is so important.
Opt For an Off-Site Backup
Geo-redundancy is critical to your backup strategy: if your primary backup fails, you have insurance at a second physical site.
But off-site means more than just keeping a spare hard drive in the glovebox of your car.
If bandwidth is an ongoing challenge, you could embrace the ‘Sneakernet’ phenomenon: simply transfer your data to an external hard drive and take it somewhere that you visit regularly, maybe a trusted friend or relative.
Leaving one or more encrypted copies of your data away from your own premises in this way will provide a basic off-site backup. One that may prove more reliable and speedier than depending on a slow network connection.
But the best solution for most is more sophisticated than this. Online backup sends your files over the internet to a secure data facility with remote servers: you upload them to be stored and download them to be restored. An extra layer of security to protect your data from any on-site disasters.
Backing up to the cloud allows you to ‘set it and forget it’: everything happens automatically so you always have a recent backup without having to add another task to your to-do list.
Do be careful not to confuse cloud backup with cloud storage. While backup software does what it says on the tin, cloud storage is based around syncing your files and folders.
So while the likes of Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive do offer some level of backup – any file backed up to the cloud is naturally protected from computer failure – it’s not their primary purpose.
Instead, true online backups preserve all of your computer’s files, not just those that you select within a synced structure and want to access easily.
So to be fully prepared for a potential disaster recovery mission, make sure you opt for one of these comprehensive cloud backup packages that go one step beyond simple storage.
For around £50 per year per user, you can rest assured that you won’t have to make any awkward client phone calls about lost photos.
You can also choose software specifically designed for your computer with dedicated options for Mac and Windows.
While Time Machine is native to your Mac, it relies on an external hard drive so the recommendation is to add a cloud backup service such as Carbon Copy Cloner. This allows you to schedule specific backups whenever it best suits your business needs.
On Windows, software such as Paragon and Acronis are especially suited to protecting your precious PC data.
When it comes to data, never underestimate your clients’ expectations.
Whether the images you’re taking are professional or personal, can easily be taken again or not, it’s important to demonstrate that you take the responsibility of looking after them seriously.
Highlight your professional approach to data storage and protection as part of your service offering: the peace of mind it can give both you and your clients is priceless.
Based in The Wirral, Amy Knowles runs Slinky Photography, a newborn family and maternity photography studio.
Amy got in touch with us after reading our blog post about how to use scheduling tools to allow your customers to book shoots online with Light Blue.
She took the advice and ideas that we’d presented there to effectively sell portrait sessions via a marketing campaign.
This is really useful for any portrait photographers who are looking to market their services and are running their marketing with a clear call to action to book a session. It means that the photographer doesn’t need to do anything extra, as the clients will book the sessions themselves whenever’s convenient for them.
I can’t thank you enough for the webinar the other week regarding Acuity/Zapier.
I’d wondered how I could get an online booking system to work with Light Blue, and this came at just the right time. Last night I launched 75 Christmas Mini Sessions…they were sold out by this morning and all the client and shoot info is now safely in Light Blue without me having to do any extra admin. WIN!
Have a read through the blog post and watch the embedded video webinar at the top of the post to find out how you can set up a similar system in your business. We would love to hear more success stories like Amy’s!
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
In any business, effective communication is crucial. In photography, it’s a simple way to set and meet expectations before, during and after a shoot.
Keeping in touch at every stage of the customer journey helps to avoid misunderstandings and ambiguity, clarifies arrangements and establishes a warm relationship, often before you’ve even met your client.
And the easiest method to use? Email: efficiently managed and recorded thanks to the magic of specialist software.
Here, we’re sharing with you a suggested set of email templates to use throughout the lifetime of a shoot. From your initial response to a query to your post-project thank you, using them as inspiration for your own messages will ensure that no vital communication stage is ever overlooked.
Email #1: Automatic Reply To Website Contact Form
Consumers’ email etiquette expectations have never been higher. So rise to the challenge by being the photographer with great manners right from the start of the relationship.
If potential clients get a response immediately after sending their enquiry, you’ll quickly get a tick next to your name on their list of photographer possibilities. Your professional, efficient and helpful approach has been established quickly and with minimum effort.
This is a great opportunity to send them some basic information such as a link to your price list or some sample shoots.
And don’t shy away from telling them that it’s an automatic reply. Pretending that it isn’t won’t fool anybody. Instead, use it to showcase your honesty and, of course, to prove that you’re busy with your camera and not just waiting for an enquiry.
Hi there, thanks for your enquiry! I know that planning a wedding is a very busy time, so I really appreciate you taking the time to get in touch! As you can probably guess, this is an automatic reply to your enquiry. I’ll send you a proper reply as soon as I’ve had a chance to check my diary & confirm that I’m available. In the meantime, I thought you may find it helpful to get a little more information about how I work, so below are a few links to some sample weddings and a few frequently asked questions …
Email #2: Detailed Reply To Enquiry
Once you’ve swapped your lens for a screen and are back in admin mode, you can send a more detailed and personalised reply confirming your availability.
Hi Charlotte & Paul, thanks again for taking the time to make an enquiry about photographing your wedding! I’m delighted to say that I am available on Saturday 20th June 2020, which is great news! Why don’t we line up a meeting to talk through your plans and spend a little time getting to know each other?
You can then use different templates depending on the type of shoot. For example, if it’s for a wedding at a venue you’ve worked at before you can refer to your experience there and add a link to some inspiring images.
Hi Charlotte & Paul, thanks again for taking the time to make and enquiry about photographing your wedding! I’m delighted to say that I am available on Saturday 20th June 2020, which is great news! Exampleton Hall is such a wonderful choice of venue for a wedding celebration, and I’ve had the pleasure of working there many times before! Sarah and the team at the Hall are fantastic, and I always love working there – you’re going to have a great day! You can see some of my favourite images from weddings that I’ve shot there on my website: www.example.com/exampleton-hall-wedding-photos Why don’t we line up a meeting to talk through your plans and spend a little time getting to know each other?
Email #3: Follow-Up To Enquiry
If you hear nothing after your polite reply to their enquiry, a gentle email prompt is an ideal way to warm up a tepid lead.
Hi again, Charlotte & Paul, I hope that you’re well and that wedding plans are coming together nicely! I know how much of a busy time planning a wedding can be, and there’s a great deal to think about! I was wondering if you’d had a chance to take a look at the information that I sent over recently in response to your wedding enquiry? I’ve attached a copy of my price list & brochure so you can take another look. Why don’t we line up a meeting to chat about your plans & answer any questions that you may have?
Email #4: Follow-Up To Sending Contract
Email three did the trick: you’ve had an initial chat, the rapport was great and you’ve sent over a contract and then … silence.
If a client is dragging their feet about signing, you could spur them along by sending a polite email reminder. When you get a response, Light Blue’s powerful online contract signing service can do this for you automatically.
Hi Charlotte & Paul, I hope that you’re well. This is just a gentle reminder about the contract that I sent through recently, which you’ll need to review & sign in order to confirm our booking. Please, can you follow the link to view & sign the contract. If you have any questions, please do let me know!
Email #5: Nurturing Messages In the Run-Up To The Shoot
With the contract signed, thanks to your effective email communication, your focus now needs to shift to pre-shoot preparation.
This is your chance to really nurture your client, especially if they’re a little nervous about being in front of a camera. Build on the growing relationship by giving them a regular point of contact, providing advice and offering to answer any burning questions.
You can also helpfully direct them to relevant links on your website, including blogs, to manage their expectations and make them feel suitably looked-after.
Hi Sam, thanks for booking your portrait session with us! We’re really looking forward to welcoming you into the studio. We understand that it isn’t every day that you’re getting your photo taken, so we’ve prepared a handy guide to help you to prepare for the experience. If you have any questions, please do let us know!
Email #6: Excitement Messages Before The Shoot
It’s nearly shoot day so an email sent a day or two before acts to confirm, reassure and prepare.
You can outline what the client needs to do or consider beforehand, e.g. the weather forecast, and start sowing ideas for up-sells afterwards, e.g. albums and prints.
Hi again, Sam, we can’t wait to see you in the studio for your portrait session tomorrow! I’ve attached a guide to help you to prepare for the shoot. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water between now and the session, so your skin looks as good as possible. Also, have a think about the places in your home where you’d like the images to be displayed; we’ll have a chat about that before we start shooting. Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Email #7: Sales Messages Before The Shoot
At this stage, you can also send an email aimed at adding other items onto their package, for example booking an extra couple of hours or offering a discount if they order a product before the shoot takes place.
This highlights both your flexibility and generosity, further building on client rapport and trust.
Hi Charlotte & Paul, I hope that everything’s going well in the run-up to the big day! I wanted to check in with you to make sure that you had everything that you need – I’m currently booked to start at 11:00 and wrap up at 19:00. If you need to add more coverage, then I’ve got a special offer available to book additional time at a discounted rate if you confirm it before the wedding. If that sounds like something that you’d be interested in, then just pop a quick reply to this email and I’ll take care of it!
Email #8: Checking In Shortly After The Shoot
Images captured, the client communication continues with a reminder of what happens next and when they can expect to first see their images.
Hi Charlotte & Paul, it was great to be part of your special day, thanks for having me along! I’m popping an email with a quick reminder of what happens next with your photos. I’ve already got everything backed up & safe and I’ll be getting to work on editing the images very soon. It usually takes me around 3-4 weeks to get the gallery ready, so you’ll hear from me then with a link. If there’s anything you need in the meantime, please let me know!
If they haven’t already booked a viewing, encourage them to do this now so you can get your online diary organised.
Hi Sam, thanks for coming in for your portrait experience! Here’s a reminder about what happens next. We’ll be hard at work processing your photographs in time for our viewing session which is booked in for Saturday at 11:00. We look forward to seeing you back in the studio to show you the images – they’re looking great!
Email #9: Sending An Online Gallery Link
Your editing work is done and now it’s time to share your impressive images. If you’re not having an in-person viewing and sales session then this email is the one they’ve been waiting for: the big reveal.
This one will contain the link to their gallery and a password to access it, along with the opportunity to provide feedback and a review of your work.
Hello David, thanks for booking me to photograph your event recently. I’m delighted to send through a link to the online web gallery where you can view your images. Your feedback is important to me, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on the images. If you’d like to leave a review, you can do so by following the second link below. If there’s anything more that I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to drop me a note.
Email #10: Keeping In Touch After the Shoot
By now, your client relationship and email tone of voice will be well-established. You know you’ve done an excellent job and have received some great feedback.
Next, it’s time to keep building that loyalty with the aim of encouraging further sales and bookings.
Use your database wisely, analysing customers to assess what products and services could most appeal and to precisely target your emails.
Even if one particular client never gives you another penny, your friendly professionalism could inspire them to recommend you to others.
This email can focus on up-selling albums and other products after the shoot, along with suggesting gift vouchers for friends and family.
And of course, you can invite them to book another shoot. After such a fabulous service and awe-inspiring images, how could they refuse?
Hi Sam, I hope that you’re well. It was so great to have you in the studio for a portrait experience earlier this year – I can’t believe time’s flown by! We’ve got a special offer on right now for past clients to enjoy a free session when they buy gift vouchers for their friends & family. They make for wonderful Christmas presents! You can find out more via the link below.
With a straightforward email template system in place, your basic client communication strategy is sorted.
If you use pre-prepared messages with a consistent tone of voice, you’ll not only save time but can also ensure that a crucial detail or vital stage along the customer journey is never missed.
The result? An organised, friendly approach to every shoot that will foster loyalty, build trust and make the whole experience easier and more enjoyable for everyone.
Straightforward, efficient and time-saving, Light Blue makes it easy to communicate with clients.
Learn more below about how specialist software designed exclusively for photographers can help: