Assisting photographers affected by COVID-19

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 already subscribe to Light Blue and your business is affected by the pandemic, and you need to reduce your expenditure, we’re offering you 50% off your Light Blue subscription for three months. 

Click here to register for assistance.

We’re a small, independent company too and this is a difficult situation for all small businesses, but we can’t just stand aside while our friends in the photography industry suffer. We want to do what we can to help. We’ll get through it together by supporting each other as best we can.

We’re keeping the offer of three months’ reduction in subscriptions available until the end of 2020, so if you’re doing OK at the moment but think you might need help in a few months’ time, then we’ll still be here to help you.

We want you to be able to carry on using all of Light Blue’s tools to ensure that you make the most of the opportunities that come along, whether that’s nurturing your existing clients with automated messages, helping postponed shoots to reschedule with our online contract signing service, working out which clients you want to market to when things get back to normal, or using our contact forms to handle new enquiries.

If you need any help, please email us or book an online 1:1 meeting.

With love from Tom, Ian, and Dani.

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:

Merry Christmas from the Light Blue team

Although we’re still hard at work here in the Light Blue bunker this week, we thought we should take some time out to let you know when we’ll be available to help anyone who’s going to be busy over the Christmas and New Year period.

Whether you’re a wedding photographer who’s looking forward to dealing with all of the new enquiries that tend to come in after Christmas, or just someone who’s using Light Blue to maintain their ‘Naughty or Nice’ list, we’re here to help. We’re going to be taking a bit of a break though, so we won’t be answering emails quite as quickly as normal between Christmas and New Year.

  • We’ll be offering our normal email support hours until Monday 23 December.
  • We’ll be offering limited email support on Tuesday 24 December.
  • There’ll be no email support available on the UK holidays of 25 & 26 December.
  • We’ll be offering limited email support 27, 30, and 31 December.
  • There will be no email support available on the bank holiday of Wednesday 1 January.
  • Normal email support will resume on Thursday 2 January.

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers a restful and enjoyable Christmas, and best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2020; thank you so much for choosing Light Blue.

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) support added to Light Blue

tl;dr: we’ve taken care of this so that you don’t need to do anything.

On 14 September 2019, new regulations are being introduced across Europe to protect people using cards to pay for goods and services online. These new regulations are called Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and will add a requirement for two-factor authentication for many online payments.

The requirement for two-factor authentication means that affected transactions will require something in addition to the card number. Details will vary between card providers, but they might include codes generated by your online banking app, a security dongle, etc.

If you’re using our popular online contract signing or online invoice payment services and accepting card payments from your clients via our Stripe integration, you will be affected by SCA. However, we have already made all of the necessary changes and there is nothing that you need to do. Your clients won’t notice anything different: they’ll still be able to pay you quickly and easily by card.

If you’re not already using our online contract signing and invoice payment services, we’d be delighted to show you why photographers give us so much great feedback about them. Our customers love how easy these services make it for their clients to confirm a booking or pay an invoice.

You can find out more about our online contract signing service in this video tutorial, while this tutorial shows you how to go about publishing invoices for payment online. If you need any help getting started with these services (or with any other aspect of using Light Blue) get in touch with us and we’d be delighted to provide you with one-to-one help via a screen-sharing session.

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and Light Blue

On 14 September 2019, new regulations are being introduced across Europe to protect people using cards to pay for goods and services online. These new regulations are called Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) and will add a requirement for two-factor authentication for some online payments.

The requirement for two-factor authentication means that affected transactions will require something in addition to the card number. Details will vary between card providers, but they might include codes generated by your online banking app, a security dongle, etc.

If you’re dealing with European clients and using Light Blue’s client portal to take payments from them, you will be affected by SCA. However, we will ensure that Light Blue’s client portal is ready for SCA in plenty of time for the 14 September 2019 deadline, and you probably won’t need to make any changes at all.

Keep an eye on our blog and email newsletter for further news!

How Making Tax Digital affects Light Blue and UK businesses – an update

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is part of the UK government’s plan to make the country’s tax system more efficient. It’s first stage comes into effect in April.

You only need to pay attention to MTD in 2019 if you are based in the UK, registered for VAT, and use Light Blue’s VAT return report. The scope of MTD will be widened in the future, but it’s very limited at the moment.

HMRC will require businesses to start submitting their VAT returns via compatible software from April 2019. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to use just one piece of software to manage your company’s finances: so long as you use “digital links” to transfer data between applications or to your accountant, MTD allows you to use a variety of tools. HMRC explicitly list CSV data exports and imports as an acceptable form of “digital link”, which means that Light Blue’s existing data export tools comply with MTD’s requirements.

If you’re already using Light Blue’s VAT return report, we will be in touch with you in the next few days to help you get ready for MTD. If you’re not using Light Blue’s VAT return report, you can probably carry on using Light Blue’s invoicing and other finance features just as you are at the moment because you can use our data export tools to maintain a “digital link” between Light Blue and accountancy software.

As always, if you have any questions or need any help then please get in touch with us via email!

Get the year off to a great start with Light Blue

We hope that 2019 is going to be full of happiness and success for all of our customers, and that enquiries have been coming in thick and fast over the Christmas and New Year period.

Light Blue is full of tools that can help you respond to and follow up on those enquiries, quickly confirm bookings with your new clients, and get your invoices paid quickly. We’d love to help you get the most out of those tools!

Free, personalised training

We’re always keen to make sure that you’re getting as much as possible out of Light Blue, and you’ll find loads of helpful resources on our website: excellent video tutorials, in-depth webinars, and responsive email support.

We also offer one-to-one training via screen-sharing software, which allows us to offer personalised help to make sure that you’re getting the most out of Light Blue. Whether you need a hand with setting up a particular feature, or want to ask our advice about how to approach a particular situation, we’ve got experience of working with thousands of photographers around the world.

We’re offering all of our customers a free 30 minute screen-sharing session. All you need to do is book your one-to-one session by the end of February!

Click here to book a free screen-sharing session!

Light Blue 8

Light Blue 8 is a major upgrade to our desktop app. We’ve added new automation features and made lots of improvements to Light Blue’s email and text messaging features, helping you to book more shoots, cut down on no-shows, and free you up to spend more time on delivering great images to your clients. We’ve also added new features to Light Blue’s client portal, and lots of other changes that will help you to run a successful business.

“Light Blue 8 has definitely saved my assistant time and saved me mental stress. I work from home more, focusing on editing and family time while Light Blue handles my customer service.” – Tara Marie

Read on to find out more about the big new features in Light Blue 8, or click here to see them in action on our video tutorials page!

Automate your emails and text messages*

Light Blue 8 introduces some big improvements to our workflow features that allow you to automate the routine emails and text messages that you send. For example, shoot and appointment reminders or enquiry follow-ups can now be set up in advance and automatically applied to your shoots and contacts.

“The new automated message feature has enabled me to concentrate on other things and not worry about forgetting to send reminders, etc to my clients. This has saved time which I can spend on editing & marketing.” – Raymond Redfern

“We’ve practically cut no-shows to zero. It also means that we’ve been able to spend more time on business and brand development.” – Grahame Smith

 

Image & file uploads in forms*

Photographers love Light Blue’s online contract signing and forms features, and now our forms are even more helpful because you can use them to ask your clients to upload images or files to you.

If you’re doing in-person sales, you could use this feature to ask your client to send you a photo of their living room before a viewing session. If you’re photographing a wedding, you could ask the couple to send you a copy of the spreadsheet that they’re using to organise their wedding day. Or, if you’re organising a corporate photography job, you could ask your client to upload their brand style guide.

“Adding image uploads to our forms had an immediate organised impact on our sales and workflows. Portrait clients are able to send us pictures of their rooms, which help us and the family to picture their wall art on their walls back home, getting the right sizes and finishes to compliment their interior. Our average sales doubled.” – Simon Gorges

Enhanced email and text message features*

Sending emails and text messages is much faster because they are now sent in the background, freeing you up to carry on using Light Blue while they’re being sent. Emails can now be composed in a separate window, allowing you to compose multiple emails at the same time or carry on using other parts of Light Blue while you’re composing an email. Light Blue 8’s email and text message features have received a lot of tweaks and improvements to make them faster and more convenient to use!

Other workflow improvements

Light Blue 8’s workflow improvements go beyond our new automated message features, with enhancements that make them both easier to use and more flexible. We’ve also made it possible to export and import workflows, which allows you to share a workflow with someone else or import one that someone else has shared with you.

Speed improvements

Light Blue doesn’t rely on a fast internet connection, so you can use it when you’re offline or only have a slow internet connection. That means that we can make our apps really fast, and we found a couple of new ways to make Light Blue 8 even quicker than previous versions: upgrades that require a database upgrade are now 20x faster, and the Inbox and Outbox load a lot faster for studios that have tens of thousands of incoming or outgoing items.

And much, much more…

Behind the scenes there are hundreds of tweaks and refinements to make Light Blue faster, better and more intuitive. You can read the full release notes here.

“Light Blue takes care of all the organising and admin (which I’m bad at) and allows me to focus on the customer experience in the studio (which I’m good at ). Clients think I have my shizzle together! That allows me to be more creative. Light Blue’s designed by photographers for photographers and is quite simply the best on the market.” – Jenny Beckett

A free upgrade for all of our subscribers

Subscribers to Light Blue’s online services can update to Light Blue 8 by using the ‘Check For Updates’ command within the Light Blue desktop app.

If you already have a Light Blue licence, but don’t subscribe to our online services, the best way of upgrading to version 8 is to add a subscription. As well as being able to upgrade for free, subscribers have access to Light Blue’s most popular features, including our online contract signing service, forms, online invoices, and enhanced email and text messaging features.

 

 

* Some of Light Blue 8’s new features require a subscription to our online services.

Merry Christmas from the Light Blue team

Although we’re still hard at work here in the Light Blue bunker this week, we thought we should take some time out to let you know when we’ll be available to help anyone who’s going to be busy over the Christmas and New Year period.

Whether you’re a wedding photographer who’s looking forward to dealing with all of the new enquiries that tend to come in after Christmas, or just someone who’s using Light Blue to maintain their ‘Naughty or Nice’ list, we’re here to help. We’re going to be taking a bit of a break though, so we won’t be answering emails quite as quickly as normal between Christmas and New Year.

  • We’ll be offering our normal email support hours until Friday 21 December.
  • We’ll be offering limited email support on Monday 24 December.
  • There’ll be no email support available on the UK holidays of 25 & 26 December.
  • We’ll be offering limited email support 27, 28, and 31 December.
  • There will be no email support available on the bank holiday of Tuesday 1 January.
  • Normal email support will resume on Wednesday 2 January.

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers a restful and enjoyable Christmas, and best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2019; thank you so much for choosing Light Blue.

How Making Tax Digital affects Light Blue and UK businesses

Making Tax Digital (MTD) is part of the UK government’s plan to make the country’s tax system more efficient. It’s something that we’ve been keeping a close eye on for a while, and it will (probably) start to come into effect in 2019.

You only need to pay attention to MTD in 2019 if you are based in the UK, registered for VAT, and use Light Blue to produce the figures for your VAT return. The scope of MTD will be widened in the future, but it’s very limited at the moment.

HMRC’s current plan is that MTD will require businesses to start submitting their VAT returns via compatible software from April 2019. However, there’s some uncertainty as to whether this will actually happen: as recently as November the House of Lords seemed to be trying to tell HMRC that dealing with Brexit and MTD at the same time might not be good for either businesses or HMRC.

We’re always keen to find ways to help photographers in their day-to-day business, and meeting the needs of MTD is no exception. If this first stage of MTD does indeed go live in April 2019 then we will make sure that Light Blue is able to help you with it.

At a minimum, we’ll make sure that the VAT return figures from Light Blue can be exported in a way that will work with an easily available MTD tool. As the scope and requirements become more clear, we’ll be able to investigate ways that Light Blue can be even more beneficial to our customers.

Key points to take away are:

  • In 2019, you’ll only need to be concerned with this if you’re VAT-registered.
  • There’s a chance that MTD will be postponed to 2020.
  • Helping you to meet the requirements of MTD is important to us.
  • We’ll be making sure that we have tools and features in place to help you meet those requirements in time for MTD’s implementation.