Forecasting expected income

Getting a clear picture of when you’re going to receive income is very important and helpful at the best of times, but during this unprecedented period of uncertainty your businesses ability to forecast its income is essential.

No forecasting model is going to be iron clad, but the ability for you to look ahead will allow you to remove some of the guesswork from this situation and help you to make some informed decisions.

Expected income from accepted quotes

We’d previously written a guide on using quotes for income forecasting, and that continues to be relevant and helpful. Read more

In situations where shoots have been postponed and you have agreed that balances will now be paid at a later date, then updating the Balance Due Date field of the quote will help your forecast to remain accurate and helpful.

Invoices awaiting payment

As well as accepted quotes that you haven’t yet created invoices for, you may also have outstanding sales which have been invoiced but are yet to be paid.

As with your quotes, you should also update the payment due date for your sales.

Light Blue has an existing query that shows all of your sales that are awaiting payment.

By viewing those sales in the List View, and customising that view to show the payment due date and grouping them by payment due month, you will be able to build a picture of the income that you can expect in the next few months.

Show in list view
Customize the list view
Add the Payment Due to the columns
Add the Payment Due Month to the group by and click done

If you save the list view as a custom report then you can quickly run the numbers again (with the most up to date information) with a couple of clicks whenever you need – just click on the Reports menu, then Custom Reports.

Final Report

Adjusting to changes

Things will be in a state of flux as you may be in a period of negotiation with your clients, but as you update sale and quote records payment due / balance due fields based on changes then you’ll be able to get a picture of what should be coming in and when.

This article has focussed on dealing with quotes and invoices that are still relevant. There will be circumstances where you no longer intend to peruse the balance of an outstanding invoice, in which case you can issue a credit note. If you have received some money from a client that you have agreed to return, then you can issue a refund.

We’re here to help if you have any specific questions around managing your finances within Light Blue, and we’ll gladly chat via a free 1:1 call.

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.

Come to our virtual trade show!

The Photography Show 2020 has been postponed until September due to the coronavirus outbreak. We always enjoy meeting and chatting with photographers who are interested in using Light Blue to save time and grow their businesses so it’s a shame that we won’t be able to do that in person next week, but we completely understand that postponing the show was the right thing to do.

We’re not letting this stop us from helping photographers to run successful businesses. We’re going to run our own online trade show and we’d love to see you there!

We’ll be presenting demos online and making ourselves available for 1:1 meetings throughout the original show dates, so this is the perfect opportunity to ask us any questions you might have about how you can put Light Blue to work for your business.

1:1 demos and meetings

Do you want to find out more about what Light Blue can do for you? Or are you already using Light Blue and want to ask us anything about how you’re using it to run your photography or video business? Book a chat with one of the team so that we can help you!

Dani, Ian, and Tom are all available for online meetings during The Photography Show’s original dates (Saturday 14 March – Tuesday 17 March). You can book a 1:1 session to get a demo of Light Blue, ask questions about how you could use it in your business, or get help with getting the most out of it.

Click here to book an online meeting with us!
Light Blue team photo

Show offer & competition

Missing out on The Photography Show doesn’t mean that you have to miss our show offer. In fact, we’re making it even better and extending it to everyone!

If you subscribe to Light Blue by the end of April 2020 and use offer code TPS2020, you’ll save 50% off your subscription for the first six months! That gives you plenty of time to try Light Blue for free for 30 days, get in touch with us if you have any questions, and make the most of the free 1:1 help sessions that we offer all new subscribers.

We’re also running a show competition for everyone who books a 1:1 meeting with us. Everyone we speak to during the show dates will be entered into a prize draw for a free 12-month subscription!

Click here to book an online meeting with us!

Get in touch

We’re here to help your photography or video business grow and succeed, so book a 1:1 meeting at our virtual trade show or get in touch with us if you prefer using email.

The Photography Show 2020

The Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC is the UK’s biggest photography trade show, and we’ll be there on stand A68 from Saturday 14 March through to Tuesday 17 March.

If you’d like to find out more about how Light Blue can help you to run a successful photography or video business, we’d be delighted to see you there. We’ll be running demos throughout the show, and coming to see us at the show is the perfect opportunity to ask us any questions you might have about how you can put Light Blue to work for your business.

Admission to The Photography Show is free for professional photographers, and the deadline for registration is Wednesday 11 March. You can register for the show by visiting its website.

Getting the most out of The Photography Show

We’ve been exhibiting at this show for eleven years, and we’ve learnt a thing or two about how to get the most out of it 😉

Make sure that you register as a professional photographer. That gets you free entry to the show, and also lets you use the exclusive Pro Lounge to take a break and have a coffee.

The show’s speaker programme has improved a lot over the years, and you’ll find lots of big names on the main stagesWe’ll be tweeting about presentations we think you’ll find interesting throughout the event!

Finally, there are definitely quieter and busier times at the show. If you’re able to get there as soon as it opens at 10:00, you can often get to the stands you want to visit before they get busy! Monday is a very busy day for pro-focused stands like ours, but you can beat the queues by visiting our stand at the beginning or end of the day.

Can’t make it to the show?

If you can’t make it to show, we’d still love to give you a chance to see how Light Blue can help you to run a successful business. You can try Light Blue yourself by signing up for a free trial on our website, and we’d be delighted to chat to you about how it can specifically help you and your business by setting up a one-to-one demo.

Light Blue 8.2.7

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2.7, which adds more new features and some bug fixes.

You can update to Light Blue 8.2.7 by using the “Check For Updates” command from within Light Blue. You’ll find that in the Light Blue menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the Help menu if you’re using Windows. You can also download the installer for the latest version of Light Blue by logging into your account on our website.

Here’s a list of the changes that we’ve made in this update:

  • Removed warnings about sending emails via Light Blue’s own email servers, because the Gmail now respects the “Reply To” header in emails. Previously, we encouraged you to use your own email account because Gmail sometimes didn’t respect the “Reply To” header and that could cause client’s replies to your emails to not be sent to you.
  • Google account authentication for our Google Calendar publishing feature is now handled in your default web browser, instead of a browser embedded in Light Blue. This is because Google no longer allow embedded browsers to be used as part of their authentication process. If you’re already using our Google Calendar publishing feature then you won’t notice any difference with this change, but if you’re setting up Google Calendar publishing then you should make sure that all of your computers are using Light Blue 8.2.7 or newer.
  • When printing a contact or shoot record, line breaks are preserved in any notes that you include.
  • Added a UK flat-rate VAT scheme version of our accrual basis tax report.
  • Importing an order from theimagefile no longer creates an unnecessary Purchase record.
  • Fixed a problem on macOS where adding or deleting branding files could fail to “stick” after reloading the preferences window.
  • Fixed a problem where an email template with unusual formatting could sometimes fail to be displayed properly.
  • Fixed a couple of rare crashes that have been reported.

On the road with The Societies of Photographers

Ian is going to be on the road with The Societies of Photographers, attending their roadshows in Stirlingshire, Tyne & Wear, and North Yorkshire on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of March.

There’s a free trade show from 09:30, which is a great opportunity to meet a wide range of trade suppliers, including us! If you’d like to find out more about how Light Blue can help you to run a successful photography business, we’d be delighted to see you there.

You can pre-register for any of Roadshows free of charge and they are open to Societies members and non-members alike.

Tuesday 3 March 2020: Stirlingshire, Macdonald Inchyra Hotel, Polmont Falkirk

Wednesday 4 March 2020: Tyne & Wear, Rainton Arena, Houghton le Spring Tyne and Wear

Thursday 5 March 2020: North Yorkshire, York Racecourse, York North Yorkshire

Nurturing large numbers of cold leads from events/expos

As a photographer, you understand the importance of using the right tool for the job; the right lens to give you the desired field of view, the right editing preset to give your image the right look, or the right flash modifier to shape your light to fall how you like. 

That doesn’t stop with your images. Using the right tool also applies to the way that you interact with your clients and prospective clients.

If part of your marketing strategy involves acquiring prospects at expos, shows or events, then you’ll understand that effectively following up with those leads is critical to getting a good return on your investment.

Sadly, no matter how great your work is, it’s rare for those leads to jump at the offer of your services right away and so they require a certain degree of nurture. This is where mass marketing tools come into their element. 

Marketing tools like Active Campaign, Mailchimp or SendInBlue can take care of the heavy lifting of keeping in touch with your leads. A cleverly constructed campaign of emails, text messages and social contact can warm those leads up from being vaguely interested to positively excited to book you.

Read on to learn how you can design such a campaign and then bring those toasty-warm leads into Light Blue as clients who are excited to work with you.

Continue reading “Nurturing large numbers of cold leads from events/expos”

How to prevent your emails from being marked as junk

Martin Cheung is a wedding photographer based in Nottingham & Derby. As well as being a superb wedding photographer he also has 25 years of experience in the IT industry, specialising in networks, firewalls and internet connectivity. With that experience and knowledge, Martin’s kindly provided this guide to help prevent your emails from being marked as junk.

Read on to learn how to keep your messages in your clients inboxes!

Continue reading “How to prevent your emails from being marked as junk”

Light Blue 8.2.6

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2.6, which adds more new features and some bug fixes.

You can update to Light Blue 8.2.6 by using the “Check For Updates” command from within Light Blue. You’ll find that in the Light Blue menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the Help menu if you’re using Windows. You can also download the installer for the latest version of Light Blue by logging into your account on our website.

Here’s a list of the changes that we’ve made in this update:

  • Added “Most Recent Payment Date” and “Most Recent Payment Method” fields to the Purchases section. These fields can be included in list view, queries, or when exporting data.
  • Added buttons to save and reload field import orders to the “Import Purchases From CSV” command.
  • Accepting a contract that doesn’t include a form now takes you to the linked shoot record, just like accepting a contract with a linked form already does.
  • The %SaleInvoiceNumber% mail-merge tag is now blank when you use it in the wrong context, rather than making it look like it was used from an uninvoiced sale.
  • Renamed the “Send Now” buttons in the workflow email and text message dialogs to make it more obvious that clicking the button will convert the message from a workflow message to a normal message.
  • Changed the character encoding of our CSV data exports to UTF8 with a byte order marker. This ensures that Excel and other apps will open the correct encoding.

5 ways to quickly get more out of Light Blue in 2020

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Your business is constantly evolving as you introduce changes and improvements, investing time now in order to enjoy benefits well into the future.

Let’s explore a few ways that Light Blue can make your business easier to run and to be more effective.

Light Blue is a flexible and powerful tool that offers a great deal of value to photographers. Read on to discover a few of the ways that it could help you.

1.     Email templates

Keeping in touch with your clients is important, but it doesn’t have to take ages! Light Blue’s email and text message templates save you time and mean that you don’t forget to say the important things. There’s no need to type the same messages out again and again, and our powerful mail-merge tags automatically personalise your messages with the relevant details.

Email templates are useful because they can save you a lot of time sending out standard responses to your clients’ queries, help you to use consistent wording, and present yourself with a professional image. You can use email templates whenever you create an email to a client from Light Blue, and you can also use them in workflows to send automated messages to your clients: for example, to remind them about a booking.

Learn how to make your messages more efficient.

2.     Workflow messaging

When you’ve only got one or two shoots to worry about, it’s easy to remember all of the important things that you need to do. However, once you’re at the stage where you’re dealing with multiple jobs that are all at different stages, keeping track of what needs to be done next can be a headache!

Whether or not you’ve planned it that way, every successful photography business has a series of steps that you need to go through to make sure that you’re delivering the best possible service to your clients. Light Blue’s powerful workflows can add a list of tasks and automated messages based around the date of the shoot, so we can remind you when you need to do something and important emails and text messages will get sent automatically.

Discover Light Blue’s time-saving workflows & automated messaging.

3.     Using forms

Receiving new enquiries is great because it means that your marketing’s working well and people want to work with you! If you install one of Light Blue’s contact forms on your website, all of the useful details of your new enquiry will flow straight into Light Blue – no need to type anything into your database. Your client can get an immediate, automated reply, and you can follow it up with a personalised email or text message template as soon as you’ve checked your availability.

In order for you to deliver memorable pictures and outstanding service to your clients, you need to have the right information. Sending questionnaires to your clients is a great way to capture the important details. Light Blue’s forms can be sent out as a questionnaire from a shoot record and will update your records with the details that you need. Your clients are essentially doing your admin for you, while you appear to be really thorough & organised. There’s no limit to the number of different forms that you can use, so you’re free to ask the right questions at the right times.

Gather the important details from your clients.

4.     Online contracts

Converting enquiries into paid bookings is great, but it’s even better when the booking process is effortless for both you and your client.

Confirm bookings with ease by sending contracts from Light Blue. It’s easy to present pricing options to your client, gather additional details, have them agree to your terms and conditions, and even take payment for a booking fee or session fee in one nice, simple flow!

Confirm bookings with ease.

5.     Powerful reporting & queries

One of the great advantages of using Light Blue is that all of the information that you need is in one place. That data can tell you a lot about how your business is doing, and help you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

That’s where Light Blue’s reporting features are invaluable, allowing you to use everything you’ve entered into it to give you an overview of how your business is performing and where you need to focus your efforts so that you can hit your goals.

You don’t need to spend ages collating the data, there’s no need to be copying and pasting things, formatting spreadsheets or setting up complicated pivot tables in Excel!

Reports & queries pull up your live data, so you’re always seeing the most up to date information.

Take the guesswork out of running your business.

Not currently using Light Blue?

If you’re not already using Light Blue to manage your business, we’d be delighted to set up a free, no-obligation demo!

Book a free demo