Light Blue 2020.1

Light Blue 2020.1 is a major update that includes big new automation features and a whole load of other improvements.

Payment schedules

Payment schedules allow you to easily break an invoice down into several smaller payments. That means that you can offer a payment plan to your clients and make it easier for them to pay an invoice in more manageable instalments. Because it’s more affordable for your client, a payment schedule can help you to make larger sales or get bookings more easily, too.

Find out more about how you can use payment schedules to make it easier for clients to pay you in this knowledgebase article and video tutorial!

Automated payment reminders

Our new payment schedules feature has given us an opportunity to build another popular feature request: you can now have Light Blue send automatic email payment reminders to your clients. You can set up simple rules for your reminders and your personalised messages will help you to get paid on time.

Want to find out how to start sending automatic payment reminders? Click through to our knowledgebase!

Percentage booking fees

Quotes can still be split into separate invoices for the booking fee and the balance. This is especially useful if you want to have separate tax points for the booking fee and balance. 

Booking fees can now be a fixed amount or a percentage of the quote. You can set up a default booking fee for each of your price lists, and when you raise a quote from a shoot Light Blue automatically fill in any booking fee you’ve set up for the price list you’ve chosen for that shoot.

Email tracking

When you send emails from Light Blue’s email servers, you can now track whether those emails have been opened or if the links in them have been clicked. This is optional, and you can turn the feature on via the Preferences window.

To see whether an email has been opened or a link clicked, open it up from the Outbox or the relevant Activity panel. You’ll see a summary of the tracked email’s status that you can expand to see more details, including when the event happened and the IP address that triggered it.

Click here to find out more about email tracking!

And much, much more…

This update includes hundreds of improvements and changes to make Light Blue faster, better, and more efficient. You can read the full release notes here.

A free upgrade for all of our subscribers

Subscribers to Light Blue’s online services can update to Light Blue 2020.1 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 2020.1 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.

Public beta for new Light Blue features

We’re really excited to announce that we’re launching a public beta of Light Blue’s latest features. Light Blue 2020.1 is a major update that includes big new features and a whole host of other improvements:

  • Payment schedules allow you to easily break an invoice down into several smaller payments, helping you to make larger sales and get bookings more easily.
  • Automated payment reminders help you to get paid on time.
  • Email tracking features that help you to gauge your clients’ engagement.

If you subscribe to Light Blue, we’d be delighted to give you access to these new features before their official release. You’ll be able to use all of its new features while we’re putting the finishing touches in place for the final release.

To find out more about Light Blue 2020.1, get access to the beta, and learn how it can help you to be even more organised, please join us for next week’s beta webinar at 16:00 BST on Tuesday 25 August. Click here to register for the webinar!

Want to join the beta but can’t make it to the webinar? Email support@lightbluesoftware.com and we’ll send the webinar recording to you as soon as it’s available.

Extended assistance for subscribers affected by COVID-19

We make tools to help photographers to manage & run successful businesses. As a small, independent business ourselves we recognise the challenges that our customers face and we’re keen to help.

In March, we offered to reduce the cost of Light Blue subscriptions by 50% for any of our customers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. We’re now in mid-May and it’s clear that we’re not out of the woods yet and that our customers would still benefit from a helping hand. That’s why we’ve taken the decision to extend our financial help on subscriptions for another three months.

If you’ve already had this discount applied to your account then there’s nothing you need to do: you will continue to pay your subscription at the reduced rate for a further three months (i.e. six months in total).

If you need assistance but haven’t applied for our offer yet, you can do so by clicking here to log into your account.

We’re here to help you in other ways, too

Our help and support isn’t just financial. We’re working hard to make sure that our customers are in the best possible shape to bounce back as things start to get back to normal:

  • We’ve published a series of guides to help with some specific challenges that you might be facing right now.
  • We’re continually offering free 1:1 screen sharing sessions to help you to get more out of Light Blue and to be ready to start working with your clients again.
  • On Wednesday this week, we’re holding a special day of screen sharing sessions where you can chat with Tom, Ian, or Dani to get help and advice. Click here to book a meeting!

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.

We’re here for you.

With love from Tom, Ian, and Dani.

Assisting photographers affected by COVID-19

Updated 18 May 2020: we’ve extended our pandemic assistance discount from three months to six. Please read this update to find out more about how we’re helping photographers through the pandemic and lockdown.

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!