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.

Continue reading “7 ways photographers can use SMS messaging with Light Blue”

How to run a successful Christmas mini-session campaign

Reading Time: 5 minutes

What’s the secret to a successful mini-session campaign? It’s not your set, it’s not your props, it’s not even your promotional image.

We spoke to newborn and family portrait photographer, Amy Knowles to find out:

“You need to sell an experience to people.”

“Photographers tend to obsess about the promotional image, the set that they’re using, the props they’re using. For your clients, I don’t think the actual image matters all that much.”
Amy Knowles, Slinky Photography

Amy’s been running her photography studio for thirteen years, specialising in newborns, babies, and families

Christmas mini-sessions have always been part of her business, which now make up about a third of her annual turnover. 

Amy runs her mini-sessions in a very particular way, which has provided her with consistent and reliable results. She now shares her approach with other photographers within her very popular mentoring group.

Read on to discover Amy’s tips for making your mini-sessions a success.

Continue reading “How to run a successful Christmas mini-session campaign”

Questionnaire Tools for Photographers – 5 Online Form and Survey Tools Compared

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As a successful photographer, your busy brain has a lot to juggle. Names, dates, times, locations, style preferences – all the minutiae required to deliver exceptional service.

And with new clients regularly coming on board, you constantly need to update that information with details of the next shoot and the next… 

With so much data to digest, harnessing the power of questionnaire tools for photographers will make the process stress-free and streamlined.

Here we explore a range of online form tools you can use to gather intel from your photography questionnaires. An easy, integrated way to supercharge your systems.

Continue reading “Questionnaire Tools for Photographers – 5 Online Form and Survey Tools Compared”

Online Contract Signing for Photographers – 8 Tools Compared

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Whatever the industry, signing a contract seals the deal. Professional and transparent, a carefully crafted, comprehensive contract gives clarity and accountability to both you and your clients.

There’s a treasure trove of tech out there to make this part of running your photography business slick and streamlined.

But which online tool should you choose?

Here we explore the world of online contract signing for photographers and compare a range of tools to get the job done as efficiently as possible.

Continue reading “Online Contract Signing for Photographers – 8 Tools Compared”

A Guide to Questionnaire Templates for Photographers

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Gathering information about your photography clients is crucial to ensuring smooth shoots and relaxed relationships.

The more you know, the better you can tailor communication and select services to suit their unique needs.

But maybe your current system for getting your hands on this important detail is less than efficient. Another admin task to shift your focus away from all the other demands on your time.

Step forward the photography client questionnaire. A simple way to tackle the problem.

Here we explore how introducing templates can help save time, streamline pre- and post-shoot planning, and boost your customer service reputation.

Read on to get ideas and inspiration about using questionnaire templates for photographers.

Continue reading “A Guide to Questionnaire Templates for Photographers”

Using Psychographics to Build Your Photography Business

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Hear the word ‘psychographics’ and what immediately springs to mind?

A terrifying shadow slowly creeping across a shower curtain? The crazy swirly pattern on Austin Powers’ wallpaper?

Nope, this has nothing to do with movies, horror or otherwise. And everything to do with getting scarily high numbers of enquiries to your photography business.

Welcome to the world of psychographics and how they can help you understand what really makes your target clients tick.

Continue reading “Using Psychographics to Build Your Photography Business”

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

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”