The Gift of Time

Many business operators have found themselves with a lot of unexpected free time. Instead of fretting about the negatives you can’t control, think about the positives you can add to your life! For instance, many people have had to temporarily shut down their businesses due to circumstances out of their control. But we always have a choice – dwell on the negatives or realize you’ve been given an amazing gift, the gift of time! How are you going to use this present?

Here are some ideas:

  • Re-paint, clean, and organize your studio
  • Teach yourself new imaging techniques in Photoshop
  • Come up with a new game plan for marketing and Social Media ventures
  • Start a relationship with another business so you can work together in the future
  • Do some research for a new venue you can offer on-location photoshoots
  • Paperwork! Physically and digitally clean or archive old documents/images that aren’t needed
  • List out all the software and services you pay for – are there any you no longer need or can consolidate into one software? – Pro tip: myStratus can take the place of a lot of them!
  • Or our personal favorite – spend this time learning aspects of myStratus you haven’t used before!

This software can do amazing things for your business in increasing marketability, productivity, efficiency, and cash flow! Ask yourself – “Are there any features I’ve been meaning to set up but just haven’t had the time?” or “Are there any pieces of my workflow I’m outsourcing to a different software that can be done in myStratus?

Here are some of our most popular features that just require some set up to become fully automated processes:

  • Online Booking – Let your customers book directly from your website and have it come straight into the software.
  • Electronic Delivery & Image Galleries – The ability to send your clients a link to view and download their digital images.
  • Rendering & StudioPlus Finale – Set up any render profile you might need and let StudioPlus Finale automatically render image and orders for you.
  • Online Payments – The ability to send your clients a link to update their payment information and pay for invoices online (U.S. only at this time).
  • Triggers – Automate just about ANY form of communication you need running for your business.
  • Dashboard Reports – Set up new reports to track how your business and employees are doing.
  • Digital Workflow – Change up how you handle your images and display them for clients.
  • Web Forms – Set up online forms and contracts, including Contact Us forms, that will be fully linked to your database.
  • Bulk Image Import & Group Capture – For school/group photographers, teach yourself how to bulk import images after photoshoots or learn how to take a large number of images at once and have them instantly go to the correct session record.

StudioPlus has many other amazing features at your disposal too, and now is a great time to learn even more. For a list of all features available in each version, click here. The aforementioned features are all available at no additional cost for users on the Professional version of myStratus.

If you have questions about a feature after reading our written material or watching the training videos, click here to schedule a training consultation with one of our product specialists.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Work From Home Guide

Due to the recent issues caused by COVID-19, many businesses are moving most of their day to day operations into the homes of employees. It’s a shock going from a busy studio to working in the quiet of your home (or not so quiet if you have young kids!). Here at StudioPlus, our employees have worked remotely for years and have compiled a comprehensive list of tips and tricks to optimize your new routine.

  1. First, give yourself time to make the transition. Don’t expect it to be perfect all at once.
  2. Find a new routine that works for you and stick with it.
  3. Dedicate a place where you can work comfortably and isolate it from your living area as best you can (and protect it from pets & children!).
  4. Take scheduled breaks. Remember to get up and walk around every 20-30 minutes.
  5. Use a white noise app or play your favorite music in background to help reduce noise distractions. Movie soundtracks are designed to motivate without distracting you from the task at hand.
  6. Overcommunicate. Keep your colleagues informed with everything going on.
  7. Tell your team when and how they can reach you.
  8. Take time for virtual “water cooler” chat. Check in personally with your co-workers.
  9. Dress to impress. Who are you trying to impress? Yourself! You’ll be more productive and focused when you feel good about your appearance. Also consider wearing shoes. It seems weird to wear them inside, but it’s amazing for your focus and posture!
  10. Use video chats to communicate with others and reduce any feelings of isolation. At StudioPlus, our employees loved it when we added video chat. It completely changed how we run meetings. It’s that good!
  11. Emphasize one-on-one check-ins to feel more connected with your team.
  12. Stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink water, which can lead to fatigue.
  13. Pay attention to ergonomics. Protect your posture by getting the right equipment. Even adding a back-rest attachment to your chair will work wonders!
  14. Ensure you have all the materials you need to work at your max potential. This includes being able to access your database from home:

Using myStratus Remotely

With this final step, we want to give you important information on how you can access your myStratus database from home!

Use the Desktop version of myStratus on a PC or the Web version if you have a Mac. Many of our users, including our own staff, work remotely and use myStratus successfully.

Check your Internet: To ensure you have the best experience working from home, check on your internet connection. Since there won’t be extra users accessing the database within your home, it’s good to have at least a connection speed of 25 MBPS download and 5MBPS upload speed. To test your connection speed, run a speed test using This is where you can be sure you’re getting the speed you pay for from your provider. If you are not getting the speed you’re supposed to, let them know– you’d be surprised how many people have discovered they’re not getting what they pay for!

Connecting to the Desktop App: If your internet is running well, you can move on to either downloading the desktop version of myStratus or connecting to your company’s data on the web version using Google Chrome or Firefox.

Here is what you need to do to use the desktop version of myStratus:

  1. Go here and install the desktop application if using a PC.
  2. After installing, you’ll be prompted for your Account/Domain Name.
  3. Once you’ve entered the name of your database, you’ll most likely be prompted for your IP address because of the myStratus firewall (This is a security measure to protect your database). If you are the account owner, this information should have been emailed to you when you first set up myStratus. If this is for one of your employees, we recommend they email you their IP address so you can authorize them remotely. Click here to read more about the myStratus Firewall.

If you’re not sure of the Account Number and Account Password for your account, contact us at For security purposes, we only give this information out to the Account Owner.

For Mac Users: If you’re using a Mac to access your database from home, you’ll need to use the Web version of myStratus or install a platform where you can also use Windows. Here is more information on that: Using a Mac and Windows.

Connecting to the Web App: From your internet browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge), you’ll go to the site (Replace “YourDomain” with your Account Name). For example:, then you can log in as you normally would at the studio.

We also have a User Guide and training videos to provide more help with how to use myStratus, or to learn more about other features available in the software:

You can find them both here, User Guide and Videos.

As always, feel free to contact us at if you have any questions!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Feedback from a Photographer – Let’s Band Together

During these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever for the photography industry to band together! If you have any shareable tips to navigate the rapidly-changing world, send us your ideas at

To facilitate positivity in these uncertain times, we want to be an outlet of support for our Photographers around the world. Over the next week, we’ll be publishing content on our blogs to create a channel of suggestions on how to get through a time no one expected and allow for discussion so we can all join together. We know it’s weird to call a situation “good”, but it’s important to never waste the opportunities offered by a “good” crisis.

To get us started, here’s an uplifting story from a photographer, in the same position as you:

“What do you do when your brides start calling in tears because the most important day of their lives is going to be cancelled because of something none of us could have ever imagined? First, take a deep breath, and then be a shoulder for them to cry on. Seriously let them vent. Most likely, they have been planning their wedding for a year or more and suddenly the rug is literally torn out from under them. They need to be able to express their emotions. Just listen – and really hear what they are saying. Then, get creative and come up with a solution. Here are a couple of examples that have two different outcomes.

For one bride, the date has significant meaning, but her guest list was over 200 which is not allowed by law at this time. Just changing the date was not an option. The solution – a split wedding. We’ll still have the wedding ceremony with just the bride, groom and honor attendants on the set date. Then, when things return to normal, we’ll have the reception. This goes against studio policy since it’s clearly stated in our contract that the coverage is for consecutive hours. Under normal circumstances, allowing the couple to split up the hours would be a nightmare. But since this anything BUT normal circumstances, making the exception was definitely the right thing to do. Going one step further, I contacted the venue to discuss the idea with their wedding coordinator. They were very happy to help out, and the couple had one less vendor to start the discussion with. I also contacted the videographer who came up with a brilliant plan to do a “virtual wedding”. He has the ability to put the wedding ceremony live online! He’ll also play the wedding ceremony again at the reception before the bride and groom make their entrance.

For another bride, changing the date is an option, but she was distressed that her family (brothers and sisters from all over the country), had already flown in. So on their “wedding day” they would all be sitting around in a rather depressed state thinking of “what might have been”. The solution – a beach family session. I offered them a complimentary family session. It’s doubtful I will book any sessions on such short notice anyway so why not have some fun and build an even better relationship with my client? (I did mention what I normally charge so they understand the value of the offer). So instead of tears of pain, I was hearing tears of joy. My bride was absolutely thrilled with the idea and since there is only a total of 8 of them (9 including myself), we won’t be breaking any rules. We’ve been going back and forth with excited texts of planning what to wear, where to meet, when to meet etc. Now, not only do I have a wedding (next year), I have a family session too!

It would be so easy to just throw in the towel in a time like this. But with just a little thinking outside the box (ok and maybe bending the rules just a bit), you can turn adversity into opportunity.”

-BEL Portraits, United States

During these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever for the photography industry to band together! If you have any tips to navigate the rapidly-changing world, send us your ideas at

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Single Most Important (and Easiest) Feature You Need to Set Up for 2020!

While many of our clients are in the heat of their busy season due to the approaching holidays, here’s two reminders:

  1. Remember to take time for yourself and just breathe!
  2. Think ahead to what YOU want to accomplish in 2020.

Got those creative juices flowing? Great! Now it’s time for me to talk about the single most important (and easiest) feature you need to set up for 2020!


In our 2019 release, we introduced a new feature called Net Promoter Scores. It’s one of the easiest features to set up and will provide some of the most critical information you need for your business to succeed.

First, what are Net Promoter Scores and why are they important?

Ever received a 1-10 scoring scale from a business you visited online? “How likely are you to recommend our service to a friend or colleague?”

The number you select during this survey contributes to something called a Net Promoter Score. Net Promoter scores are the latest “Hot Topic” in the business world. They’re listed by experts as “the single most important question you can ask clients” The answer to this question shows a business whether you’re a Detractor, Passive, or a Promoter.

I’m not going to go deep into the details of what all that information means because we thoroughly discuss this in our Training Video and online documentation.

Basically, when someone rates a 9 or 10 on their survey, it means they LOVE your business and will gladly share your brand with others – whether that’s through word-of-mouth, online reviews, or testimonials. These are the clients you want to ask to leave a review about your business.

If anyone rates between a 1-6, this client did not have a pleasant experience with your business and may go as far to prevent possible future clients from working with you – whether it’s leaving poor reviews or actually telling people not to work with you.

It’s clear why this information is so important to gather from your client base. This is the easiest way to discover how your clients really feel! Not all clients feel brave enough to leave a public review online, but many will gladly click a quick button in an email and add a brief note in a feedback field.

These ratings you collect from clients provide insightful information by itself, but there’s even more to it! All that data comes together to produce your business’ Net Promoter Score. It’s a fancy equation that we actually calculate for you within Stratus. Basically, your business will be placed on a scale between -100 and 100. What this means can be as simple as Positive = Good and Negative = Bad.

Here’s what you can do before 2020

As mentioned previously, we have many materials on our site that go deep into how you can set this up for your own business. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  1. Visit the HTML email builder to customize the email template we’ve already built for you.
  2. Set up a Trigger to automatically send the Net Promoter question to clients.
  3. Watch the data come in with our Dashboard reports and follow up using our special trigger features!

Yes, it’s that simple!

The easiest way to set up this feature is to watch our Net Promoter Score training video (found here). I go into depth on each of those steps. Simply follow along the video and you can have it set up in 20 minutes!

If you prefer written instructions, we have those available also (found here). The same concepts are covered and include screenshots of how everything should look.

This feature is incredibly crucial to your business’ success, and its simplicity shouldn’t be taken lightly! There’s a lot of powerful data packed behind this simple question!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Net Promoter Score Training Video Released!

The next 2019 training video is now available! Check out the Net Promoter Score training video (AKA NPS) to gain a better understanding of what the feature is, learn how to set it up, and get some helpful tips on how to use NPS to project your business’ future growth.

Click here to view the video!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Online Payments Training Video Released!

The first training video to go with our 2019 release is officially out! Check out the Online Payments training video for step by step instructions to set up this feature, along with special tips on how to maximize your usage.

Click here to view the video!

Additional links:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GIF Tips to Improve Email Marketing

You’ve seen them all over the internet and may even wonder how they’re made – from cute image sequences to funny clips of cats doing stunts. Of course, I’m talking about the GIF! Since being introduced in 1986, GIFs (Graphic Interchange Format) have taken the internet by storm.

Rising in popularity in 2006/2008, the GIF is now a staple of common internet practice. So how can you take advantage of this trend to increase your own business success? Include the GIF in your email marketing! Make your message stand out against the other emails competing for your client’s inbox with an eye-catching image display.

One example is to create a brief sequence of your best images:

Or just go crazy with a fun/goofy GIF featuring some of your employees. Seize the opportunity to pique your client’s interest about the fun that goes on at your studio!


Making GIFs is actually very easy. We utilize Camtasia for our video and GIF making purposes. Free services online, such as GIPHY, also allow you to make your own or to use pre-existing GIFs.

Flexibility & modernization is key in every industry. As trends change, it’s important to recognize when we need to change along with them.

And remember—have fun with it!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spectra vs myStratus – How are they Different?

While the structure of Spectra and myStratus is very similar, some rather large differences exist that really set the two softwares apart from each other. Let’s dig into the biggest differences between the two:

Color – First, and most obvious, is the color scheme. Instead of the traditional orange color of Spectra, myStratus showcases a blue coloring. Blue like the sky! myStratus is a cloud-based product, so the blue color scheme is quite fitting.

Data-Hosting – As I just mentioned, probably the biggest difference between the softwares is that myStratus hosts your data in the cloud. This means you’re able to access your database anywhere you find an internet connection! Spectra, on the other hand, is a locally hosted solution- fully controlled by your network. The biggest benefit of this functionality is that it allows you to work offline if your internet connection isn’t quite as reliable.

Cloud Features – One of the best aspects of myStratus is that, because it’s hosted in the cloud, it allows us to create and release “online” features which simply can’t be used in Spectra’s local format. Our most current examples of these types of features are Online Booking, Web Forms (e.g. Contact Us Forms), Online Referral Programs, and mobile-friendly image galleries. Because your myStratus database is hosted in the cloud, we’re able to utilize an instant connection with the database when clients go through their online process.

Data Maintenance – Because Spectra is a local system, controlled within your own network, you are also in charge of its maintenance. This includes setting up automatic processes within the system to allow Spectra to take care of itself. In doing this, you hold much of the power with your Spectra database – your security is in your hands. On the contrary, because your myStratus database is in the cloud, we’re able to manage all the extra security for you. This includes constant back-ups, data encryption, Automatic Disaster Recovery, and a lot more!

Apps – With Spectra, you only have the one Desktop app installed on your PC and it operates within your network. For myStratus, there are actually three ways to access your database:

  • Desktop App – Just like the Spectra desktop app, this full-featured app can be installed directly on your PC. This app is also a mirror of the Spectra Desktop app, so all features can be found in the same locations.
  • Web App – By utilizing an Internet Browser, such as Chrome or FireFox, you can access your myStratus database anywhere with an internet connection. The web app has limited access to features as compared to the Desktop App, but it’s still a great resource when you need to get to your database!
  • Mobile App – Available on Apple and Android devices, you can also install the myStratus Mobile app. This app allows you to view and edit basic information from your database. While it does require an internet connection in order to sync with your live database, the app can also work offline. You’ll be able to edit any information as it appears from your last sync, and when you eventually get back on the internet, the app will sync any changes you’ve made.

Pricing – Now let’s talk about a very important difference between Spectra and myStratus. In order to use Spectra, you must purchase the software. Starting with a 12-month payment plan, after purchasing the software, you can roll into an optional Monthly Maintenance plan that provides you continued Tech Support and any software updates we release. Regardless if you decide to continue with a maintenance plan, by purchasing the software, you fully own your license. For myStratus, the software is available as a subscription. You pay for the software as you need it. As well as the features/abilities listed in this blog post, the myStratus subscription also comes with Tech Support, Training, and any updates we release with the software.

Both softwares definitely feature their own strengths, and it all comes down to what will work best for YOUR business. We’re here to help you make the right decision in choosing which software will help your business be its most successful. If you’re still not sure which way to turn, click here to schedule a free one-on-one demo with one of our Product Specialists to see the software in action!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spectra vs myStratus – How are they Similar?

Looking at Spectra and myStratus side-by-side, they really aren’t that different – basically mirror images of each other. When we first released myStratus back in 2014, our engineers took the base code from our existing Spectra product and brought it into myStratus, and we’ve continued to expand on it ever since! Spectra’s features are all found in the same places in both softwares – with the exception of several product-specific features.

For those considering whether to make the jump to myStratus, we offer a complete conversion of your Spectra Database, so all your settings and information will move over to the new system. Meaning you can pick up right where you left off with almost no learning curve.

The structure behind both these software products is very similar, but the core behind them is very different. Next, we’ll review those key differences between Spectra and myStratus.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Keeping Track: Time Stamps, Status Notes, and Audit Logs

Overseeing a group of employees can be time consuming. People make mistakes – it’s a part of being human. When something happens and you’re not sure exactly why it happened, it’s important to have tracking tools in place to determine How and Why something changed. Here are a few features to simplify your oversight tasks.

Time Stamps – Any time you’re working from the Notes tab of a record, just click the keyboard keys CTRL + T to leave a timestamp containing the date/time, as well as user initials of who entered the note.

Did you know we utilize myStratus here at StudioPlus to help operate our business? Whenever an employee needs to make a significant change to a record, we require them to leave a note with their timestamp detailing this change. Here’s what an entry might look like:

10/18/2018 11:00:04 AM MKH – Old Email Address: XXXX, updated to: XXXX. Client requested change 10/7/2018

So, if something’s ever entered incorrectly or we need to see why a change was made, we can check the Notes tab of a record to see the facts behind the change.

Status Notes – Another tracking option found on the Notes tab of a record are the Status Notes. These notes are automatically generated by Spectra/myStratus any time a specific action occurs on the corresponding record. Some instances this feature tracks: After a Status has been modified on any record, when a Session record’s date/time is modified as well as if it’s been marked Cancelled, Rescheduled, or On Hold, and if this record had an automatic communication (e.g. a Trigger or through the Communication Wizard). These Status Notes also include a timestamp as mentioned previously.

If you see a note entered with the letters SPSA, that indicates the modification done was system generated. This case might occur if a trigger was automatically sent out for a client record – this system generated action will automatically add to the Status Notes section with the SPSA pre-fix.

Remember, Status Notes are a read-only feature. No user can modify them.

Audit Logs – Notes are great and all, but what if a user forgets to add their note, or what if they delete a record altogether? This next feature is essential to tracking what goes on in your database. Audit Logs, when enabled, will track a variety of actions, such as when a record is created, modified, or deleted. While it does not state what changes were made to a record, it will explain who did the action, when, and which record was edited.

You can activate Audit Logging at Maintenance > Preferences > Audit Logging.

The following records can be activated for tracking:

  • Appointments
  • Clients
  • Invoices
  • Payments
  • Sessions
  • User Authentication (Security Overrides)
  • Invoice Discounts Applied

To view your logs, go to Utilities > Audit Trail Logs. See also: Audit Trail Logs

Don’t wait until something unexpected happens before implementing policies to hold your employees and yourself accountable. Set up these systems ahead of time – when something happens, as it inevitably will, you’ll be prepared.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment