Teen portraits – The Next Big Thing in Portraiture in the UK – Christina Lauder

Leicestershire family portrait photographer Christina Lauder is originally from Toronto, Canada. She moved to the UK 20 years ago for a job transfer in software consulting & eventually found herself starting a new career as a portrait photographer, something she’d wanted to do since she was a child.

I’ve had the chance to try pretty much every genre there is within portraiture, from newborn to boudoir and everything in between, however what has captured my interest most is the teenage market. I love that I am still working with children but they tend to be with me of their own free will and therefore willing to cooperate which makes my job a whole lot easier and much more interesting.

Teen portraits are becoming a genre in their own right here in the UK. Much like Prom has reached this side of the water, the ever popular teenage portrait industry that has swept across North America is coming to the UK too.

And why not? This is an important milestone in our children’s lives. I for one want to capture this time in my child’s life and I suspect I’m not alone here. Teenagers have strong personalities, they have hobbies and interests worth documenting and moving away from home is well within their sights so we have to capture them while we can.

We’ve had the pleasure of hearing Christina hold seminars at the SWPP Digital Imaging Roadshow and she talks about the challenges of bringing a previously unknown genre of photography to the UK market.

I’m not going to lie, this market is going to take some selling. It won’t happen simply because we offer it. This isn’t typically an age that parents think of taking their kids to a portrait studio. But it is an age where children can ask for such a service. We just need to show them how wonderful their portraits can be and how amazing it will be for them to share in their social media. Then we can let the kids do the selling for us. Of course showing them how wonderful their portraits can be means we need to create portraits that are wonderful. These must be more than your average studio portrait. Thankfully teenagers provide so much scope that this is relatively simple and its one sure way of separating an average photographer from a great photographer.

Christina’s delivering a series of workshops which will provide a solid foundation in lighting that can be applied to any genre of portraiture, although the focus and subject matter for this workshop is teenagers.

You can find more information on Christina’s site about the workshops in FifeChester le Street & Somerset.

Using scheduling tools to allow your customers to book shoots online with Light Blue’s API

Photographers all over the world are using Light Blue’s powerful forms to streamline their workflows, using them to feed new enquiries straight from their website into Light Blue. They’re really easy to set up and embed in your website, and you can also our forms as part of your online booking process.

Light Blue also offers an API that gives you more advanced options for sending information to your Light Blue account. You (or your website designer) could use the API to link a customised contact form to your Inbox, or you could use in combination with Zapier to link a variety of other services to Light Blue.

Online Scheduling tools

Using a powerful combination of our API and calendar publishing options, can be used to link Light Blue to popular online scheduling systems like Acuity Scheduling.

Online scheduling tools like Acuity can allow your clients to book shoots online, based on your availability. The customer can choose their own session without needing any input from you, and the details arrive in Light Blue without needing to type anything in.

This article focusses on how to set up an integration with Acuity using the middle-man service, Zapier, to send booking information into Light Blue for you.

Give Acuity your availability from Light Blue

Once you’ve created and set up your Acuity account, you’ll need to be able to tell their system when are (and aren’t) available for bookings. There’s a couple of different ways that you can do this, either by publishing events from Light Blue to a Google Calendar, or to your iCloud account. You can then authorise Acuity to synchronise with that calendar. Any events that have been added to Light Blue (like other shoots, meetings & time off) will now block out time that could be booked in Acuity and show that you’re unavailable, so you don’t get double-booked.

Using Zapier with the Light Blue API

The next step is to link Acuity back to Light Blue, so that new bookings are sent to Light Blue using our API and integration with Zapier.

Zapier is a service that acts as a middleman between a variety of web services, with some services providing triggers (e.g. “a new booking has been made via Acuity“) and other services providing actions. Zapier allows you to set up a number of “Zaps” that link a trigger to an action. We’ve written a Zapier action that allows you to send information to the Light Blue API in response to one of these triggers.

Requirements

As well as a subscription to our online services, you need a Zapier account. Zapier offers a variety of subscriptions (including a free one) but please be aware that each subscription level will only handle a certain number of tasks per month.

Setup

The Light Blue action for Zapier is currently a “private” action, so you need an invitation code to be able to use it. You can invite yourself to use the Light Blue action by clicking the following link: Light Blue on Zapier

Creating your Zap

The first step in creating your “Zap” is choosing which app or service will trigger the Zap to start running. Choose Acuity Scheduling from the list of apps and enter your account details.

When a new appointment has been created in Acuity, the Zap will be triggered.

Select the ‘Send to Light Blue API’ action

Now you can select Light Blue from the list of action apps. You might need to type “Light Blue” in the search field to find it.

Enter your Light Blue API key

When you’re prompted to select a Light Blue account, enter your Light Blue API key. You can find your API key by logging into the My Account section of our website.

Match up the data from your trigger app to Light Blue API parameters

Once you’ve set up the trigger app for your Zap and linked your Light Blue account to it, you need to associate data from the source app with parameters that the Light Blue API recognises.

To do this, you need to fill in the ‘Light Blue API Parameters’ section shown in the screenshot below. You type Light Blue API parameters in the left-hand column and select items from the trigger app in the right hand column. You can use the + button to add extra items.

You can find a list of the parameters that the Light Blue API recognises in the Supported Parameters section.

You should leave the ‘Type’ and ‘Source’ fields alone.

Working with dates and times

Different systems show dates and times in different formats, which other systems may not necessarily be able to read or understand. When adding the date and time for a shoot from Acuity to Light Blue, we’d recommend using the ShootStartTimestamp API parameter and linking it to the DateTime value from Acuity.

Test and then save your Zap

Once you’ve linked your Zap to parameters that the Light Blue API recognises, Zapier will ask you to test and save your Zap. If any errors occur (e.g. you don’t provide any parameters that the Light Blue API recognises) then Zapier should inform you and display an error message that you can send to us for further help.

Help & support

If you’re having problems setting up your integration with Light Blue’s API, we’d be delighted to help you. The most useful thing to do is send some screenshots of what you’re trying to do and/or where you’re getting stuck. Screenshots of the settings you’re using in your Zap are most helpful!

Sending text messages with Light Blue

Light Blue allows you to send text messages to your clients, which is great for appointment reminders and marketing.

There are two different ways of sending text messages from Light Blue:

  • Via our dedicated number service, which is available in most countries.
  • Or, if you’re based in the UK, Ireland, or Australia, you can send messages that appear to come from your personal mobile number or a short name.

Dedicated number service

With our dedicated number service, you rent a phone number from us. The text messages that you send from Light Blue come from this number, and any replies that your clients send will appear in the Inbox in Light Blue.

We can also forward clients’ replies to your personal phone number if you want to know about replies as soon as they arrive. This will cost you credits, because we’re effectively sending the message out again.

If someone tries to call your dedicated number, they’ll get an automated message saying that it can’t take calls. We can customise the message for you: just tell us what you’d like it to say.

This service is available in most countries. Renting a dedicated number from us costs £5 per month, and text message credits 7p each for UK numbers (please contact us for international pricing).

If you would like us to set up our dedicated number service for you, please get in touch via email!

Sending text messages that appear to come from you

Customers in the UK, Ireland, and Australia can use a version of our text messaging service where messages sent from Light Blue will appear to come from either your personal phone number or a short name.

This service can work in some other countries, but the local phone companies might change the number that the message appears to come from.

There is no monthly fee for using this version of our text messaging service, and text message credits cost between 7p and 9p depending on the quantity that you buy.

Using a “from name”

If you’re using a From Name, text messages appear from a name that can be up to 11 letters and numbers without spaces. Your customers can’t reply to those messages, because SMS only allows you to reply to a phone number. This is useful when you want to display your business name as the sender and don’t want/need to receive replies.

Using a “from number”

If you’ve set a “from number”, text messages appear to be sent from your own mobile phone number. Replies will go to your own mobile phone number just like any other text message, but replies from your clients aren’t imported into Light Blue (you need to use the dedicated number service in order for your clients’ replies to arrive in Light Blue).

How to send text messages from Light Blue

There’s a short tutorial showing how to send text messages from Light Blue, here:

You can set up text messaging from Light Blue via  your account page:

Set up text messaging with your Light Blue account

Importing Light Blue contract templates issued by third parties

Light Blue’s online contract signing service is one of the most popular features of our online services. It’s really easy to publish contracts for your clients to sign quickly. You need to set up at least one contract template which contains your terms and conditions in order to send contracts to your clients.

We don’t provide any sample contract templates with Light Blue, so you’ll either need to create your own,  copy and paste the text from a contract that you already have in perhaps PDF or Word format, or obtain a contract template from a reputable third party.

Only you can know if a contracts wording is right for you, so if you’re in any doubt then talk to a lawyer.

Creating your own contract template

You can create your own contract template within Light Blue by adding your own terms or copying and pasting the text from a contract that you already have. This tutorial walks through the steps of how to do that.

Adding a Light Blue contract template from a third party

Some third parties have created templates that can be imported directly into Light Blue, without needing to copy & paste any wording. There’s a short video tutorial, followed by some step by step instructions on how to import that template, below:

If you’ve obtained a contract template that’s been provided in Light Blue’s contract template format, it’ll be given to you as an XML file.

To import that into Light Blue (you need to be using Light Blue 7.1 or later), click Records > Import > Contract Template, and choose the XML file.

If the contract template also includes an accompanying form template, you’ll be prompted to choose whether or not to import the form, too. You most likely do want to import the accompanying form.

When that’s done, the contract template & form template (if you imported one) will appear in the preferences pane and will be ready to use.

Finding and deleting old personal data from Light Blue

One of the tools that we added in Light Blue 7.1 is a housekeeping command that makes it easier to find old records that you might want to delete from Light Blue. For example, if the introduction of the GDPR means that you no longer want to keep any personal information about your clients any longer than you need to, this tool will help you to find records that can be deleted.

To use this tool, go into the Housekeeping section of the Records menu and select “Find Old Records…”. You’ll be presented with the following dialog:

Let’s go through the options and explain what they do.

Search for records older than…

The first option in this dialog allows you to pick how old records need to be before this tool will find them. You just need to pick how far back in time you want to go.

For example, if you decide to delete all records that are more than 6 years old because that’s the period of time you’re required to keep financial records, you can select “6 years old” from the menu.

Record types

Next, you need to select which types of record you want to find. For Shoots, Quotes, Sales, Purchases, and Payments these options are really simple: all records with a date older than your chosen number of years will be found.

Contacts

Searching for contacts requires a few more decisions, because you might consider a contact “old” if you haven’t done a shoot for them recently, or you might only consider them “old” if you haven’t heard from them at all recently.

If you’re using this tool to search for old contacts, you need to tell Light Blue which types of record that can be linked to a contact to take into account. In the screenshot above, I’m searching for anyone who hasn’t had a Shoot, Quote, Sale, Purchase, Payment, or Appointment in the last 6 years. i.e. I’m not counting people that I’ve sent emails, etc, to as being “recent” unless they’ve actually enquired about a shoot, placed an order, etc, during that time.

Filtering out tags

The final option uses Light Blue’s tagging system to filter out records from these results. For example, you could tag any shoots that have given you permission to use their images for marketing and then use that tag to make sure that you keep those records in Light Blue.

Checking your results

When you click the ‘Find Records’ button, Light Blue will find all of the old records that match your criteria. Before you delete those records, it’s important that you check them carefully! If you want to exclude a record from the found set, use the “Omit Record” command from the Records menu to hide it from the selection.

When you’re ready to delete the found records, use the “Move Found Records To The Trash…” command from the Records menu.

Asking your clients to opt into your mailing list

New Mailing List Opt-In Form

With Light Blue 7.1.2, you can now send your clients to a special form that allows them to opt in to your mailing list. Each of your contact records has a special URL that identifies them, and you can get that URL in two different ways:

  1. If you only want to send mailing list opt-in links to a small number of clients, you can use the %ContactMailingListOptInURL% mail-merge tag in an email template.
  2. If you want to send mailing list opt-in links to lots of clients, you can export a CSV file of contact names, email addresses, and URLs from Light Blue. You can then import this spreadsheet into a service like MailChimp to email it to your clients.

Your client portal branding is automatically applied to your mailing list opt-in form, and can customise the text that appears on the form by logging into your account on our website.

Read on to learn how to use either of those methods of sending a mailing list opt-in form to your clients!

Using Light Blue

If you want to email a small number of contacts, you could send an email to your clients using an email template.

After you’ve queried for the records that you’re interested in, either by using the Query dialog or one of your Quick Queries, then you could send an email to all of those contacts based on a template that you’ve already set up.

There’s a short tutorial covering how to create your own email templates here.

You’ll need to include the %ContactMailingListOptInURL% mail-merge tag in your email template, so that each contact receives their own unique link to the special opt-in page.

It’s a good idea to try sending  a test message to yourself first, to make sure that you’re happy with how everything appears & works, before sending it out to your customers.

We’d discourage you from using this approach to send more than a small number of emails, because you can run the risk of your mail host temporarily suspending your account for sending too much mail or marking your address as a producer of spam.

Using MailChimp

If you have a larger group of clients you’d like to invite to opt into your mailing list, we’d recommend using a service like MailChimp.

MailChimp is great for sending big mail-outs to lots of contacts. You can personalise those messages to include information that’s unique to each person, too. That means that you can include the unique URL that identifies each client in the email to that person.

In order to do that, you need to add a list of contacts to MailChimp.

1. Exporting a spreadsheet of contacts, including their unique opt-in URLs

The first step is to export your contacts’ names, email addresses, and the unique URLs that they can use to opt into your mailing list. You should use the Query dialog or one of your Quick Queries to find the contacts that you want to include in this mailing, and then go into the Housekeeping section of the Records menu and select ‘Ask Contacts To Opt-In To Mailing List’.

Light Blue will give you a preview of the contacts who will be included. You can remove contacts by selecting them and clicking the ‘Remove From List’ button. When you click the ‘Export’ button, Light Blue will export a CSV file that you can import into MailChimp.

2. Creating a special “List” in MailChimp

Log in to your MailChimp account and then, in the Lists section, click ‘Create List’.


Give the list a name and complete the other required information, then save the list. You don’t need to include the “Enable double opt-in” or “Enable GDPR fields” options for this list: the purpose of messaging contacts on the list is to ask them to complete their unique opt-in form which will update Light Blue.

3. Adding a special field to the list for the unique URL

Once you’ve created the list, we need to set up a special list field to store the unique opt-in form URL. In the Settings menu, click on “List fields and *|MERGE|* tags”:


Click the “Add A Field” button at the bottom:

Choose Website as the type:

Give the field a name & tag name (e.g. “Light Blue Opt-In” and “LBOPTIN”) then save your changes:

4. Importing the contacts from Light Blue into the MailChimp list

You’re now ready to import the CSV of contacts from Light Blue into MailChimp. To do that, click Add Contacts > Import Contacts:

Choose CSV or tab-delimited text file and click Next:

Choose the file that you exported from Light Blue. Now you can map the columns in the CSV file to the relevant MailChimp fields.
Light Blue’s CSV file includes a full name field, which isn’t relevant to MailChimp, so you can click “skip” so MailChimp ignores it:


When you get to the unique Opt-In Form URL column, choose to map that to the “Light Blue Opt In” field that you created earlier:

Click Save, then click Next.
Categorise the imported contacts as “subscribed” so that we can send the email to them:

When you click Import, MailChimp will import the contents of the CSV.

5. Creating & sending the email message

You can now create your email message which will be addressed to the contacts in this list by creating a new email campaign. To do that, return to your MailChimp account home screen and click the “Create Campaign” button.

Choose to “create an email” and give the campaign a name (e.g. “Opt in mailout”). In the To field, click “Add Recipients”, then choose the list you created earlier:


Enter relevant “from” & “subject” fields, then click on the “Design Email” button to design the content of your message.

Choose a layout format that you want to work with and start to compose your email message. Click on the text of your email, choose to edit the text block.

You can now customise the text of the email so that it can include the unique URL. To do that, click on the “Merge Tags” button and choose the “Light Blue Opt In” tag that you created earlier:

Once you’re done, click “Save & Close”. You can send a test message to preview how the email looks. When you’re ready, click the “Send” button to send the email to all of the contacts that you imported.

Customising your mailing list opt-in form

Your client portal branding is automatically applied to your mailing list opt-in form, and can customise the text that appears on the form by logging into your account on our website.

The customisation options for your opt-in form include:

  • Whether or not you want to receive a notification email whenever a client opts in or out of your mailing list via this form.
  • The heading and text that appears on the form.
  • The text of the buttons on the form.
  • The headings and text that appears on the pages that are displayed when a client opts in or out.

 

GDPR: advice on securing the devices you use Light Blue on

The introduction of GDPR is a good opportunity to make sure that you’re following best practices when it comes to securing the data that you use to run your business.

Light Blue Software takes extensive precautions to secure every aspect of the online services that we offer, but because Light Blue stores a copy of your data on each of the devices you’ve installed it on (which allows you to use it even if you don’t have a fast internet connection, or are completely offline, and even allows you to use some of Light Blue’s features even if you don’t want to subscribe to our online services) you should also take steps to ensure the security of those devices.

There’s always a tradeoff between convenience and security, but we’ve put together a list of security measures that you should consider. It’s your responsibility to secure your clients’ personal data, but this should give you a starting point if you haven’t already put your own data security policies in place.

Password protect your computers

Password protecting your computers is essential for securing the data on them: not just your clients’ personal data, but everything else you’ve stored on there! Both macOS and Windows have built-in options to require a password when turning the computer on, or waking it from sleep or the screensaver.

If you’re using a computer in a situation where other people are around, it’s sensible to activate the screensaver to lock it whenever you leave your computer. On macOS, I find using a “hot corner” to activate the screensaver really convenient because all I have to do is move the mouse pointer to the top-right corner of the screen to lock it.

If you’re using Light Blue’s iOS app, you should ensure that you’re using  Face ID, Touch ID, or a secure passcode on your iOS devices to prevent unauthorised access.

Use full disk encryption

Password protecting your computers is a good first step, but if someone steals it then they could remove the hard disk or SSD and bypass the operating system’s password protection. This is especially relevant to laptops, which are easily portable and tend to be used in more vulnerable situations than desktop computers.

You can mitigate this threat by using full disk encryption. When you use full disk encryption, the encryption makes the disk unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the encryption key.

macOS has an excellent full disk encryption system called FileVault built into it, and on a modern computer that uses an SSD or Fusion Drive it’s incredibly convenient to use. You can find out how to set up FileVault on Apple’s support site.

Not all versions of Windows include a full disk encryption option, but this handy article tells you how to use it and gives you some options if it’s not built into your version of Windows.

If you’re using Light Blue on iOS, your iOS device is already using full disk encryption if you’ve set a passcode lock, or are using Face ID or Touch ID.

Use a strong password for your Light Blue account

Securing your computers is essential, but you should also make sure that your Light Blue account is secured by a strong password to ensure that no unauthorised person can access it.

You can find lots of advice about creating strong passwords online, but the two most important points are:

  • Make your passwords secure. That means making them long (at least 15 characters is a good starting point) and preferably not using a single word that’s in the dictionary.
  • Never reuse passwords for different accounts! This is a very common mistake, and means that if someone gets hold of a password for one service then they can try to use that password to access your account on a variety of other services. For example, if you use the same password on your Netflix and email accounts, giving someone your Netflix password means that they can access your email and do any number of Very Bad Things.

We strongly advise using a password manager, which is a piece of software that makes it much easier to use strong passwords. The excellent 1Password is highly regarded by security experts, and is available for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.

You can update your Light Blue account password here. If you change your Light Blue account password, remember to enter the new password into Light Blue!

Consider turning on Light Blue’s password protection feature

The other tips on this page will help you to secure your devices and Light Blue account. You can also make Light Blue require a password when you launch it. To turn this option on:

  1. Set up at least one member of staff in the ‘Resources’ section of Light Blue’s preferences window, and set a password for them.
  2. Turn on the ‘Show User Login Dialog When Launching Light Blue’ option in the ‘General Preferences’ section of Light Blue’s preferences window.

Using Light Blue to help send a festive message to your customers

As Christmas approaches, many photographers are turning their attention to contacting their customers in order to send their season’s greetings. You’ve been adding information to Light Blue throughout the year, and now’s a perfect time to get that information to go to work for you.

Using Light Blue you can find the records of customers who matter the most to you, and then use various tools within Light Blue to send them a festive message.

Querying for records

In an earlier blog post, I wrote in some detail about using the query dialog to dig deep into your data & find records that you were interested in. You can design a query to find the contacts that you’re interested in reaching – perhaps all of your customers who’ve spent over a certain amount?

Once you’ve found the records that you want to send something to, you can use Light Blue to help you to reach out to them.

Printing address labels or envelopes

Printing your customers addresses onto labels or envelopes en mass is really simple. After performing your query, simply click Print/Send and choose the Labels / Envelopes option to print all of the primary addresses of your main contacts onto labels or envelopes.

Using mail merge documents to send a personalised letter

You may want to send a personalised letter that you plan to enclose in a card. We’ve got a handy tutorial all about using your own word processor to generate template letters:

There’s also a comprehensive list of all of the mail-merge tags that you can use in Light Blue, which will populate your template documents with information from your records.

Exporting email addresses to Mail Chimp

If you plan to send out a lot of emails in one big festive mail shot, you could export a spreadsheet of your customers email addresses to upload to something like MailChimp. Using the results of the query you ran earlier, simply click File > Export Email Addresses to save a CSV spreadsheet which can be uploaded as part of an email campaign.

 

Building a professional image to your customers with Light Blue Software. 

This is the second in a series of articles written by photographer & Light Blue customer, Nick Church, about how Light Blue has helped him to grow his photography business.

In my previous article, I discussed how Nick Church Photography relies on Light Blue to handle all aspects of my bookings, customers and shoots to free up creative time. However, during the pre-sales stage it is important to give your clients the best possible impression. This article explores how I do this, and how Light Blue helps me put a professional face on my business.

You can be the most talented photographer in the world but if you are unable to offer professional, informed interactions, potential clients may never see your brilliance! It is disappointing to lose a booking because the client doesn’t like your photographic style or your prices. But it is downright criminal to lose one through being disorganised, missing an appointment or generally looking like you are not up to speed on them or their wedding.

After learning the hard way, the first thing I do with an enquiry is enter all the information I have, even if it is just first names and a potential date, into Light Blue. After all an enquiry is just a shoot that has not yet been confirmed.

I respond to requests for package details using email templates. This means I can send branded Package Details to my clients with the email automatically referencing their wedding date and venue. With Light Blue this takes about five seconds, and I can do it while out and about using the mobile app! A speedy and professional reply always impresses, and perhaps the response gets to them before they consider contacting other photographers!

As SMS, Facebook messages and emails start to flow, the details increase. Having all this information in one place allows valuable interactions with your customer to continue throughout the booking process. Before I arrive for a consultation, from my phone, Light Blue will give me all the information from my phone about the clients and the booking. Being knowledgeable about their interests and kids’ names may not seem relevant, but builds a trusting rapport with your client.

Workflows are used in Light Blue to drive your processes to ensure things happen in the correct order and at the correct time. I have set up my ‘enquiry’ workflow to give me a set of tasks with an appropriate gap between them, to keep the client consistently informed at every key stage:

  • The first response to the enquiry happens immediately. No-brainer.
  • The second response is an informal follow up two days later. Maybe you would want to leave it a little longer, say a week. Too soon and you seem pushy, too long and they make have forgotten about you and drifted into the open arms of a pesky competitor.
  • Third, fourth and final chase ups are around one week, one month and 6 months. If they are still ignoring you at this stage, they are probably not interested, but I have had two bookings come back from the dead like this, and given it all takes so little time, it’s worth the investment.

Another workflow can be attached to appointments. When you have an upcoming meeting, you can use Light Blue to add a reminder to confirm with your clients so that all parties remember the appointment. It looks polite and organised, but this feature has saved me a wasted journey on more than one occasion. If a client goes cold, better to know the day before you sit at a venue on your own for an hour.

I have recently started entering the wedding day schedule and any requested shots into Light Blue. I can then email all this information to the client for confirmation, again all on headed stationary with your consistent branding, using mail-merge document templates.

Continuing your customer service after a shoot is important too in fostering future business opportunities. Remembering their anniversary and sending a card might be the difference in getting a valuable recommendation.

Light Blue’s online services provide digital contract signing, online payments, and allow you to create shoot records directly from enquiry forms on your website. This deserves its own discussion and will be discussed in a later article. Watch an introduction to the Light Blue online services

Nick Church Photography might be a small business, but letting Light Blue do some of the admin for me, I can present a confident and consistent front to customers that will match the quality and creativity they will get through my photography.

Start your free 30-day trial

 

Importing purchases from a spreadsheet

It’s all very well recording your income, but unless you also have your expenditure in the same system then you can’t see how profitable your business is.

The advantage of managing your photography business in Light Blue is that everything linked together. It allows you to quickly & easily run reports on the financial state of your business, something we discussed in more detail in an earlier article.

You may have previously recorded your business’ expenditure in another system, or perhaps you’re using some receipt scanning software that produces a spreadsheet of purchases. Alternatively, you may have recurring expenditure in the form of subscriptions or regular purchases.

We introduced a really handy feature in Light Blue 6 which allows you to create many purchase records in one go by importing from a spreadsheet file (.csv). It’s a huge time saver when you’ve got lots of expenditure records to add at once.

Here’s an example of how to format your CSV file, you’ll notice that each line of the spreadsheet represents a new purchase, with the details about that purchase recorded in separate columns.

importing-purchases-1

The formatting of dates and numbers is quite important. You must make sure that dates are written as dd/mm/yyyy (separated with slashes and using 4 figures for the year). You don’t need to include the currency symbol for financial amounts, just the number.

Importing this spreadsheet into Light Blue is really straightforward:

importing-purchases-2

You can choose which fields in Light Blue will correspond to the columns in your CSV file & drag to re-order them:

importing-purchases-3

Once you click import, Light Blue will create a new purchase record for each of the lines in the CSV file, as well as a payment record for the date that you indicated the purchase was paid for.

importing-purchases-4

All of your expenditure data is now in one place with just a few clicks. It’s ideal if you’re moving from an old system or have a record of your purchases in another format.