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

January is a great time for introducing changes and improvements into your business, investing time now in order to enjoy benefits later in the year.

You want to get 2020 off to a strong start, and we’re here to help! Let’s explore a few ways that Light Blue can make your business easier to run and more effective this year.

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 this year.

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

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.

Keeping in touch with your customers this Christmas

At this time of year, many photographers are getting in touch with their customers in order to send their season’s greetings. You might be sending everyone a festive newsletter or posting them a Christmas card.  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, we 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?

When you press Query, Light Blue will display a list of records that fit all the criteria in your query. You can use that information in a number of different ways.

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 an email marketing software like MailChimp. Light Blue is great if you want to email a small number of contacts, but you have to be very careful when you start sending too many emails via your own email account: sending large volumes of mail has the potential to flag you as a spammer, and so we recommend using a dedicated service like MailChimp for this.

Using the results of the query you ran earlier, simply click Records > Export Email Addresses to save a CSV spreadsheet which can be uploaded as part of an email campaign.

Sending Christmas Cards

You may prefer to post your customers a Christmas card. Printing your customer’s 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

If you are posting out a Christmas card, you may want to enclose a personalised letter. This could be a newsletter telling your customers about the past year in your studio or maybe letting them know about upcoming offers in the New Year.

We’ve got a handy tutorial all about using your own word processor software 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.

Once you have created your template document you will need to select the customers to send it to. Again, using the results of the query you ran earlier, go to Records > Add to found set > Document from Template.

Select the template you created earlier, then save the documents to your desktop ready for printing.

You can choose to add a copy to these records’ Activity panel (but this option can use a lot of disk space if your document template is large).

Do you send your customers a festive message? We’d love to hear how you find Light Blue helps you keep in contact with customers throughout the year.

Light Blue 8.2.5

We’ve just released Light Blue 8.2.5, which adds more new features and some bug fixes.

You can update to Light Blue 8.2.5 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:

  • Worked around a change in Google’s account authorisation page that could prevent you from authorising Google Calendar publishing on Windows.
  • Changed the character encoding of our CSV data exports from UTF8 to UTF16 to work around a problem where Excel can fail to decode some characters properly when it reads a UTF8 file.
  • Fixed an error message that appeared when you create an email from the Resources panel of the Preferences window.
  • When you accept a contract that includes quotes, Light Blue now only reject other quotes for that shoot that were included in that contract. Previously, it would reject all other quotes for that shoot, even if they weren’t included in the contract.
  • Fixed a problem where mail-merge tags that should contain multiple lines (e.g. %ContactAddress% or %ShootSchedule%) are being displayed on a single line when used in an email.
  • Fixed a problem where the “Check For Updates” command on Windows could display the “you already have the latest version of Light Blue” message twice.