Light Blue’s new online scheduling calendars allow your clients to book shoots and appointments directly into your diary. You no longer need to send messages back and forth to find the perfect time, or rely on complicated integrations with third-party tools.
We’re excited to announce launch of the latest version which is available as a free upgrade for all subscribers.
“Light Blue’s online scheduling automates another task that helps me focus on improving other aspects of my business, and makes the whole experience much more professional and seamless for my clients.” – Michael Love
Streamline enquiry management
Online scheduling simplifies the booking process for your clients whilst providing tight integration with Light Blue’s other powerful features such as contracts, forms, payments, and workflows (including automated emails and text messages), so you have all the important details together in one place.
“I can’t always reply to client’s calls and emails when they want to book me. Now they can check my availability and book without waiting for me to get back to them. It saves so much time for me and is a better experience for the client!” – Jane Jordan
Avoid double bookings
We know that you have to juggle all sorts of commitments so, as well as automatically blocking off times that clash with events in Light Blue, we’ve also made it possible to link your scheduling calendars to Google Calendar or calendar feeds that you can use to stop clients from making bookings that clash with your personal commitments.
Your availability is updated in real-time as you (and your clients!) schedule events in your diary, and it’s easy for you to set up weekly availability as well as ad-hoc availability for specific types of event.
“It’s a really good way to streamline booking in smaller sessions so you have to do very little, but from the client point of view it’s extremely efficient and straightforward. You can also set options to make sure you aren’t overwhelmed and ensure that your client has all the information they need to proceed without having to send a million emails. Plus, when you open Light Blue, everything you need is at your fingertips.” – Angela Ward-Brown
Free upgrade for subscribers
This has been a really popular feature request and something that we’ve been keen to implement for some time, so we are really pleased to have had such positive feedback from our testers and are delighted to offer this feature to our subscribers for no extra cost.
“Having CRM and scheduling in the same program saves a ton of time and money. Plus it saves all the headaches of trying to make two separate systems integrate.” – Julian Austin
Light Blue 2022.1 is a major update that introduces an online scheduling tool that allows your clients to book shoots and appointments directly into your diary. You no longer need to send messages back and forth to find the perfect time, or rely on complicated integrations with third-party tools.
Setting up our online scheduling tool is quick and easy, and you can choose which types of shoot or appointment are available online. Your availability is updated in real-time as you (and your clients!) schedule events in your diary, and it’s easy for you to set up regular availability as well as ad-hoc availability for specific types of event.
Our new online scheduling features also give you options to include a customised booking form, contract, and booking fee when a client is scheduling a shoot, making the online booking process easier than ever. It’s also tightly integrated with Light Blue’s automation tools, so the reminder emails, text messages, and tasks from your workflows help you to deliver great a great service for your clients.
Read on for a summary of the other new features and changes included in Light Blue 2022.1…
We’re delighted to let you know that our next major update is in prerelease testing and includes one of our most popular feature requests: an online scheduling tool that allows your clients to book shoots and appointments directly into your diary. You no longer need to send messages back and forth to find the perfect time, or rely on complicated integrations with third-party tools.
Setting up our online scheduling tool is quick and easy, and you can choose which types of shoot or appointment are available online. Your availability is updated in real-time as you (and your clients!) schedule events in your diary, and it’s easy for you to set up weekly availability as well as ad-hoc availability for specific types of event.
Our new online scheduling features give you the option to include a customised booking form, contract, and booking fee when a client is scheduling a shoot, making the online booking process easier than ever. It’s also tightly integrated with Light Blue’s automation tools, so the reminder emails, text messages, and tasks from your workflows help you to deliver great a great service for your clients.
Want to start using our online scheduling calendars right now?
We’ve opened up testing to any of our subscribers that want to take part. So, if you’d like to start offering online booking to your clients, or you’re interested in replacing a third-party scheduling system with our own, tightly-integrated scheduling system, please get in touch and we’ll let you know how to get involved.
We’re constantly updating Light Blue’s email import features to add new features and support changes in the way that major email clients format their emails, but we wanted to highlight a couple of big changes that have gone live recently.
Attachments are now automatically imported
When an email containing attachments is sent to your Light Blue email address, we now automatically import them for you. Emails up to 10MB in size are supported, and attachments with the following extensions will be imported:
Once you’ve created an enquiry from an incoming email, or linked it to an existing record, you can “promote” any particularly important attachments so that they show up on the Activity panel instead of only being displayed when you view the email. To do that, open the email from the linked record’s Activity panel, select the attachment, and click the “promote” button that appears next to it.
Improved formatting for emails forwarded from macOS or iOS Mail
To get that initial email enquiry into Light Blue, forwarding the email to your Light Blue email address is usually the quickest way to get it into your Inbox so that you can create an enquiry from it. We’ve recently improved the formatting of emails forwarded from the macOS or iOS Mail app, removing the first level of quote marks and making them easier to read.
WordPress e-commerce plugin Sunshine has added a direct link to Light Blue’s API, allowing photographers who are using Sunshine’s online proofing and ordering galleries to have their client orders sent directly to their Light Blue account.
The Light Blue API allows our subscribers to send information straight to their Inbox from a variety of sources, including online forms, booking systems, and online galleries. Orders sent from Sunshine to your Light Blue account will appear in the Inbox, and from there you can import them into Light Blue as a new order, saving you from needing to manually re-enter print orders while keeping all of your sales and invoicing information together in Light Blue.
We’ve made some small changes to the way that Light Blue’s online invoices and emails work. We’ll be announcing some big new features in the coming weeks but these changes have been made now so that we can start beta testing those other new features.
Our online invoice receipt emails now include a link to view the paid invoice online, rather than including a copy of the invoice in the email itself. There are two main reasons for this change: it works better with a wider range of email clients; and it also protects your clients’ privacy if they’re using an email provider that scrapes the contents of their emails for information.
We’ve also changed the information that’s displayed when your client views a paid invoice. Instead of just displaying your “thanks for paying this invoice” message, we’re displaying all of the details of the invoice so that your client can refer back to it or print it for their records.
Client portal emails
The other new feature that you’ll notice is that copies of emails that are sent for Light Blue’s contact forms, questionnaires, contracts, and online invoices are now recorded in Light Blue’s Outbox and the Activity panel for the relevant records. We’re still CCing a copy of these emails to you so that you get an instant notification when your client has done something, but this gives you a clearer record of all of your communications with your client.
As always, we’d love to hear from you if you’ve got any feedback about our new features. And if you’re on our list of beta testers, expect to hear more from us in the coming weeks 🙂
We’re working on some big new features that we’ll be announcing soon, but we’ve added some new features to Light Blue’s contact forms that have gone live today.
The most obvious change is that we’ve added reCAPTCHA to our arsenal of anti-bot tools. Our contact forms have always included effective anti-spam protections, but it never hurts to add more and reCAPTCHA’s popularity and ease of use will be reassuring to both you and your clients.
Most of our subscribers are using the HTML code that Light Blue automatically generates to embed our contact forms into their websites. If you’re using the embed code that we provide then it will automatically resize your forms to accommodate the reCAPTCHA widget. If you’ve modified the embed code to set the height of the embedded form manually though, you’ll need to check whether the form still fits and adjust the height in your embed code. If you need any help with this, get in touch and we’d be delighted to assist.
One other change that you’ll notice is that if you’ve set up an autoresponder for your contact form, we’re no longer including the data that your client entered into their enquiry in the email that we’re sending to them. You’ll still see what they’ve written in the notification email that we send to you though, and of course it will still appear in Light Blue’s Inbox so that you can convert it into a new enquiry with the click of a button.
The notification email that we send you when a client submits a form (whether that’s a contact form or a questionnaire that you’ve sent to a client) has been reformatted, too. The new design makes it much easier to read the information that you’ve been sent if you’ve got any long field headings.
We know that a lot of photographers run multiple brands under one business. Maybe you shoot both weddings and newborn photography, or you have a separate website for corporate photography. With Light Blue you can run all these brands in a single account.*
This is really handy for a lot of people because, while they may have different websites and logos for the different types of shoots they are doing, they’re still running one business.
You can run as many different brands as you like with Light Blue. Our custom branding means that you can change the logos, colours, and fonts on the emails, forms, contracts, and online invoices that you send to customers.
Setting up your different brands is really easy. You have probably already set up your main brand already if you are using our online services. Log in to your account on the Light Blue website and select the client portal section. Got to the branding area, then run through each section to choose your fonts, header images, background colours and form styling for each of your brands.
You can also apply your branding to the invoices, quotes, and receipts that you print (or PDF) from Light Blue. As well as your main branding (which you set up in the “Printing” section of the Preferences window), you can use separate branding for any of your shoot types. To do that, go into the “Shoot Types” section of the Preferences window and upload a different background PDF.
*Important point: Light Blue is designed to run a single business, but you can use shoot types with their own branding to essentially split up your income into different categories. One of the big advantages of this approach is that you have a single client database, and everything is nice and simple to manage. However, when it comes to things like the built-in reports, we assume that you’re running a single legal entity (e.g. a single limited company) because that’s what the vast majority of our customers need.
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.
“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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Thanks for getting in touch!
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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Photographing your wedding on 20th June 2020
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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Photographing your wedding on 20th June 2020
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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Your recent enquiry
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?
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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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Your photography contract
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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Helping you to prepare for your session
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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Looking forward to seeing you soon!
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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Checking in before the big day!
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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: What happens next.
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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Great working with you!
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.
From: My Photography Business Subject: Your images are ready!
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?
From: My Photography Business Subject: Something special for you.
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.
Your basic client communication strategy is sorted!
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.
Learn more below about how specialist software designed exclusively for photographers can help
Straightforward, efficient and time-saving, Light Blue makes it easy to communicate with clients.