Product Spotlight; Light Blue Business SoftwareJanuary 27th, 2014
Light Blue Software has been a lifesaver. I was asked to review and compare it to my current accounting software for my wedding photography business. It solves a problem that I never knew I had. Let me explain. I am a people person. I photograph weddings, engagements and family portraits, and I have a blast doing it. However, I am terrible at accounting. Somehow, I file my work reimbursements incorrectly. I have mystery receipts all over my office stashed in “memorable” locations. I have a pile of paper statements sitting in my “to be recorded” tray, which sits adjacent to my ever-growing “to be filed” tray.
Let’s just say, if accountants split the world into teams for kickball, I’d be picked last.
Thankfully, my job doesn’t require any accounting skills, so I’m pretty safe. That statement is a big fat lie. So, I’ve done the right thing for my business and hired an accountant. That too is a bold-faced lie and a particularly painful one since such an investment would likely save me tons of time and frustration. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to swallow my pride enough to raise the white flag and hire an accountant, even though it would solve my problems.
As a small business owner, I am still keeping my own accounting records and filing my own taxes. I do the best I can with QuickBooks and I’ve found a method that makes sense of all the madness. I know I’m barely scratching the surface of QuickBooks, but I’m able to track my clients, shoots, and payments successfully. In my mind, using QuickBooks for my photography business is a bit like using a cruise ship to cross a woodland stream — too many dials and blinking lights. I’d rather have a speedboat so I can maneuver up and down the stream before I finally cross over in style. I have found that it is always better to have a custom tool designed for a specific task, rather than a powerful and complicated tool that is engineered for general application. In other words, instead of using an accounting tool that tries to do everything for everyone, I would rather use a tool that is geared toward my field and is custom built to fit my business’ unique services and products.
Light Blue is designed specifically for photographers, right down to the terms and language that is used. As a wedding photographer, I can record inquiries and leads, indicate price sheets, send contract and invoices, confirm shoots, and even create communication and editing workflows. Clients are easily searchable, and sales can be added and linked to the client’s shoot. It’s simple and straightforward for a photographer’s needs.
I find the workflows particularly helpful. Adding a workflow to a shoot is like assigning a preset list of tasks with deadlines that can come a certain number of days before and after the date of the shoot. I create lists anyway but the Light Blue workflows are customizable and work in relation to the event date. I can set deadlines after the event or even far in advance to help prepare the client and send them information. Then I can compound multiple workflows when a client orders an engagement shoot and an album. All the workflow tasks from each client can be seen in my master task list so I know what deadlines are coming up. It’s great to have all the information linked to the client and contract details, in one easily accessible place.
Accessibility is one of the biggest advantages to using Light Blue. There is a great mobile app that lets you update your task list and record new clients and payments from an iPhone or iPad. That kind of mobile flexibility ensures that my receipts don’t pile up and my deadlines are met.
Since the mobile app is one of Light Blue’s best features, it is also my biggest disappointment. I traded in my iPhone for an Android phone and tablet and unfortunately the company has yet to develop a Light Blue mobile app for Android. I’m pretty bummed about this, but hopefully there will be a new Android app coming out soon. My fingers are crossed because the rest of the software is great.
Before trying Light Blue, I hadn’t realized that there was any accounting software specifically designed for photographers. Now that I’ve put it through the paces, I spend less time struggling with complex software and more time editing and shooting. In my mind, that is a win and a sure sign of a useful tool.
Evan Chung is a natural people person, and loves working with couples to document their most important moments in life. Specializing in engagement and wedding portraits, his beautiful and engaging images showcase his love for people and capturing emotions on camera. It is easy to see his dedication to his craft and his ongoing effort to always capture that oh so perfect shot. Check out his work at his website: https://www.evanchungphoto.com/