StudioCloud - Free Business Management Software

PhotoOne Bought Out
Late last year (2010), PhotoOne was bought out by StudioPlus Software. As PhotoOne users, Larissa and I weren’t really all that bothered by the purchase. It didn’t matter who’s name was on the software. Unfortunately, changing company names wasn’t the only change StudioPlus would make.

PhotoOne Support Call
Even after PhotoOne Software was purchased, we really didn’t see any reason to be alarmed for a month or 2 after the purchase. We didn’t have to change anything on our end to keep our software working like it had been in the past. It was only after I had called in to support to ask about being able to access our customer database in the field that the red flag went up in my mind.

PhotoOne Desktop App Put To Rest
Apparently the PhotoOne desktop app had reached the end of its development. No new releases were going to take place. So the customers would never be accessible online, and any bugs that existed in the system would never be fixed. Additionally, support for the desktop app would be discontinued at some point in the future.

StudioPlus Discount
To top it off, PhotoOne added insult to injury by trying to force all the PhotoOne users to switch to StudioPlus. They even extended a discount – 50% off if you purchase by the end of January. So our 3 computer setup would only cost half of the $2,595 price tag for the new software. I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but when I hear about an additional $1300 that I need to drop on software that I really didn’t want, it’s almost like I could see my dreams of getting my 70-200 lens that I’ve been patiently waiting on begging Larissa for being crushed before my eyes.

New Software Research
Needless to say, I wasn’t about to fork over the money to a company that kills hopes of new equipment. I wanted to do my research before I committed to anything. I did give StudioPlus the advantage in my research. I called them first to see if their software would at least do everything I needed it to. PhotoOne seemed to think it was going to be almost the same product with a few enhancements to “what I was used to” – meaning that the new software would be similar to the one we had previously invested years of time learning before they forced our hand.

Studio Management Software Disappointment
Unfortunately, both StudioPlus and Successware were both missing some key functionality that our studio needed and PhotoOne provided. I’m sure both systems make studios very happy, but neither one was a perfect fit for us, and neither had the ability to have a desktop and online version of the same data.

A New Option For Studio Management Software
The three major players that I had previously heard about all had systems that wouldn’t do exactly what we wanted. Enter Google. I ran a search for studio management software, and came up with a new contender – StudioCloud.

StudioCloud Just Makes Sense
I started reading through the list of features, and I was becoming more impressed with every feature I came across. I kept saying to myself “now that makes sense”. Then I got to the cloud part of the software. Cue the music and slow-mo video of me running into the open arms of StudioCloud. Wow – software that lets me access my data at home on a desktop app AND in the field through a web browser. That REALLY made sense. The feature that I had requested from PhotoOne and had opened my eyes to the whole PhotoOne mess was the same feature that had sold me on the StudioCloud system that I had just found. I’d say that’s poetic justice, wouldn’t you?

The Road Ahead
After doing more research, StudioCloud seems like the perfect fit for our studio. Honestly, there’s part of me that’s glad PhotoOne told us to switch systems because I found something even better. Of course, I know we’ve still got a long road ahead of us learning an entirely new system for keeping track of our studio. Plus there’s the conversion of the existing data from PhotoOne over to StudioCloud, which will be a challenge. I’m planning to document the whole conversion process, so you should subscribe to the blog now to get future updates on the conversion.

Download StudioCloud
If you’re considering getting Studio Cloud, they’ve got a free version (again, that makes sense). Head over to the StudioCloud website and download the software now. I’ll spoil the conclusion of my next post now and let you know that the installation is a breeze.

StudioCloud - Free Business Management Software

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21 Responses to “PhotoOne Bought By StudioPlus Software”

  1. Sire says:

    What a load of crap! You’d think they would look after the customers they’ve just acquired rather than give them reason to look elsewhere.

    It’s like this restaurant that I loved to frequent, I go in one day only to find it’s under new management. No drama I thought, until I saw the menu and I find it’s all changed? Why the hell would you buy a successful business and then change the very thing that made it successful?

    Needless to say the meal sucked and I haven’t been back since.
    Sire recently posted..Why I Chose MailChimp Over Aweber

    • TJ says:

      Exactly! It’s like they thought they could buy the customers. The thing is, I had already invested quite a bit into purchasing PhotoOne, plus they had a hefty yearly support charge.

      That’s too bad your restaurant dissapeared. I think the thing for businesses to take away here is that buying a business to change it means you’ll probably lose a lot of your customer base.

      Thanks for your insight Sire!
      TJ recently posted..PhotoOne Bought By StudioPlus Software

  2. Matthew Hunt says:

    Hi guys,

    You have great blog here! Thanks for all the time it takes to provide this. It’s a great service.

    I just wanted to chime in and give a little additional insight. First of all, I apologize if you were put off in any way by our recent acquisition of PhotoOne or by any of our recent communication.

    We may release new versions of PhotoOne down the road to fix bugs, but you are correct that new enhancements will not be made to that product. For technical reasons, that I won’t get into, the software has just reached the end of its life cycle making further enhancements not feasible. So, first of all, we are committed to continuing product support for years to come. Second, the decision to upgrade to StudioPlus is totally voluntary and is not required. Third, if you’d like to upgrade to StudioPlus, we are creating a PhotoOne data conversion routine to make the transition as smooth as possible (this will be included in the cost of the software).

    Regarding our decision to charge a fee if you do decide to upgrade – we would like nothing more than to convert all PhotoOne clients over to StudioPlus free of charge, but the economics of that just do not make that feasible. If you were to introduce a new album to your product line, would you give a free one to all your existing clients? I’m assuming the answer is “no” because that product costs you money. The same is true for our products. We have extensive costs that go into developing an upgrade routine, providing you training, support, upgrades, etc. We determined that offering the software at 50% off was the cheapest price we could do to cover these costs. Over the years, many PhotoOne users have upgraded to StudioPlus and paid full price because they saw great value in the new features that they’d be gaining. I hope that sheds a little more light into our business anyway.

    Regarding the cloud software options, we currently have a cloud solution called P1Wired, which is in the process of being updated and re-launched at Imaging USA. There is an upgrade path available for you from your PhotoOne database as well. Over this upcoming year, we have aggressive plans to merge our products together – StudioPlus desktop, P1Wired, and MyStudioPlus.com to provide the best solution possible for our industry.

    Thanks again for the blog, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions that you might have.

    Matthew Hunt,
    President, StudioPlus Software

    • TJ says:

      Matthew,
      Thanks for stopping by man! I appreciate your time and interest in customer service. I think my main concern with PhotoOne desktop is that at some point in the future (1 year, 2 years, 10 years) the support will stop. We’re still early in our career, and we’ll still need studio management software 30 years from now. To be honest, we definitely considered staying with what we have, but knowing that the product is essentially on borrowed time, we couldn’t see prolonging the inevitable.

      As far as the fee, I understand from a business perspective what you’re saying, but from a studio’s perspective, you’re giving us bad news about another bill that needs paid, and it’s being sold as a benefit – 50% off. I don’t really have an answer for how you guys could approach this differently because you still need to make money like any business, but from our point of view, we were definitely unhappy with what felt to us like we were re-buying what we should have already owned (studio management software).

      I did look at P1Wired, but for our needs, it seemed like it was missing some of the features that we used pretty frequently in the PhotoOne desktop app. Plus, and this is a big one for us, we needed both the desktop and online versions to be in sync – similar to Microsoft Outlook functionality. If you had the desktop and online versions merged together like you’re talking about, it would have been a more difficult choice for us. Right now though, StudioCloud has a pretty unique product that provides some benefits that other software hasn’t been able to match up to this point.

      Again, thanks for stopping by and sharing your side of the story.
      TJ recently posted..PhotoOne Bought By StudioPlus Software

  3. Steve Youngs says:

    Hi TJ!

    Isn’t it funny how things like this can often be the catalyst to finding an even better solution. Lemons to lemonade in the cloud! :-)

    Kind regards,
    Steve
    Steve Youngs recently posted..Free Your Mind By Exercising Your Body

  4. Sire says:

    It was nice of Matthew to stop by and give us his perspective but I’m afraid, as far as I’m concerned, his example of the photo album falls short of the mark. The album that someone has purchased previously does not stop functioning just because you’ve introduced a new one and so they are no worse off. They will simply buy a new one when theirs is full.

    Considering you have to pay a hefty support fee one would have thought they would just give you the product free of charge. By doing that they would retain a happy customer as well as receiving the recurring fee. Perhaps charging a small fee for any change over problems would also be in order.

    I can see a lot more positives in keeping a happy customer than in losing a disgruntled one.
    Sire recently posted..The Good The Bad & The Ugly of Lists & List Building

    • TJ says:

      Sire,
      I agree that the photo album isn’t a perfect analogy. You’re right that the old photo album would still work for as long as you owned it. Thanks for pointing that out.

      I think the acquisition may backfire on them as far as converting customers over. If other customers are like us, they’re going to look around and find that StudioCloud was a better option that they didn’t even realize was available.

      Thanks for the great comment Sire!
      TJ recently posted..PhotoOne Bought By StudioPlus Software

  5. Matthew Hunt says:

    Hi Sire,

    I’m sorry, somehow you received some mis-information. Your current P1 product will NOT “stop functioning”. The product is not going away and will continue to be supported for years to come. Plus you own it!! My apologies if I contributed to your misunderstanding. (I still think the album analogy is a good one!!)

    As business owners, all of you need to make the best decision for your business. Do your due diligence. Stop by and see us and our competitors at an upcoming show. Compare our free product to theirs. Compare our new cloud based solution to theirs. And then make your decision based on which product is going to make you the most money. If your decision is to go with a different product, then I totally understand and respect your decision.

    This is a big decision for you guys that will affect your profitability for years to come. We hope to see you at an upcoming show. Thanks again for letting me chime in here.

    • TJ says:

      Matthew,
      Thanks for clarifying the issue with PhotoOne not stopping working altogether. I think the main concern that we had was in the “continue to be supported for years to come” part. To us, that’s a little vague because it could mean 2 years or it could mean 10 years. Either way, without it continuing to be supported for the lifetime of our business, that will mean we will have to change at some point -even if that point doesn’t come for another 10 years.

      I completely agree with you on looking at all the products. Photographers should definitely look around at SutdioPlus, Successware, and StudioCloud. There’s no single solution that will work for every photographer. It’s definitely a matter of getting the right product to match your studio.

      Imaging USA is coming up in just a few days, and I think that will be a good chance for photographers to start looking around at their different options for studio management software.

      Again, thanks for taking the time to stop by.
      TJ recently posted..PhotoOne Bought By StudioPlus Software

    • Sire says:

      No need to a apologize to me Matthew, I’m not a customer, I just came by this post and thought I would put in my 2 cents worth as a business owner. As on I’ve learned that customers are very hard to come by and once you have them you should do everything possible to keep them. This may cost a little in the short term but the long term benefits would far outweigh those.
      Sire recently posted..Top 5 Reasons Why No-One Is Advertising On Your Blog

  6. How timely. Thank you for this remarkably relevant post. After 26 years in the biz I’m hiring a marketing person as my studio manager to help take it to the next level. Currently we use ProSelect (LOVE!), QuickBooks and Outlook to run the studio. Not a perfect solution, especially since ProSelect makes wonderful invoices that I can’t easily transfer into QB. I’m looking at the big guys mentioned by TJ above: StudioPlus, Successware, and StudioCloud. Money does matter, especially as I’m investing heavily in renewal and expansion this year, yet what better time to switch?! The question remains WHAT AM I GETTING FROM ANY OF THESE THAT I DON’T CURRENTLY HAVE that makes it worth the financial and time commitment switching intails? Is time saved in alleged seamlessness worth it?

    • TJ says:

      Janet,
      Glad to have you stop by. Have you found that as a boutique studio owner that you have a hard time justifying studio management software?
      As far as whether it’s worth it for us, we’re still in the middle of the move from PhotoOne over to StudioCloud. So far so good – I’ll continue to post on the blog as we move further along.
      I’d love to have you subscribe and continue commenting. It would be awesome to have perspective from a boutique studio owner.
      TJ recently posted..SEO For Photographers – Forum Posting

  7. Hi TJ,
    Thanks for getting back so quickly.
    Have you or have you talked with anyone who has had Outlook and Quickbooks yet chose to make the switch to photo-specific management software? I’d love to hear the pros and cons.

    • TJ says:

      Janet,
      We use Outlook, and our accountant uses Quickbooks (I’m not going to claim to be an actual Quickbooks user myself). For us, getting studio management software was a no-brainer. We were having trouble keeping up with financials, customers, appointments, contracts, etc. Basically, the stuff that studio management software does well, we were doing poorly using the tools we had. Granted that at the time we weren’t using Outlook to its full potential and we didn’t use Quickbooks, I think neither Outlook or Quickbooks are particularly well designed to meet all the needs of a regular studio.
      Are you finding that those 2 programs together are pretty well meeting your needs? We really didn’t tap the potential in either program – so you very well may be able to do it. It just didn’t seem like a natural fit to us.
      TJ recently posted..1 on 1 SEO Training For Photographers

  8. I used Studio Cloud for about a year before switching to Studio Plus. The MAIN reason I left studio cloud is because there were issues between the online version and desktop version. I would book something and it would not be saved on the calendar. I missed 2 appointments and double booked myself more than once and I was done. Those errors that they couldn’t explain and weren’t concerned about fixing, could have cost me the price of Studio Plus. I switched and I am VERY happy! I did miss the online version but I did find a way to take my info onlocation. Just be careful of the overbooking.

    • TJ says:

      Crystal,
      Thanks for the heads up. Was it a reproducable issue – ie could you take certain steps and have it fail every time? I’ll definitely watch out for this. I’m especially suprised to hear that StudioCloud wasn’t eager to get this fixed. From everything I know about them, they’ve been very responsive to resolve and issues right away. Thanks again for bringing this issue to the table Crystal.
      TJ recently posted..Blogging For Photographers – What’s The Point

  9. Kiera says:

    Hi TJ,

    I am just starting my search for studio management software to get my business started and came across your blog post. Any update about how StudioCloud is going now 10 months later?

    Hope all is well! Thanks!

    • TJ McDowell says:

      Kiera,
      Tough question. I LOVE the functionality and the whole cloud based storage idea. We’ve had a couple hiccups with the system, and some of the functionality doesn’t seem to be mature enough yet to have everything that it should. I’m hoping that in the next year or so that Studio Cloud will get those things taken care of, and it will be an unqestionable yes, I love it.
      TJ McDowell recently posted..Get In Motion Tour Review

  10. Megan Brown says:

    Hello,

    Here’s another review update request. It’s been 9 months since you’ve reported on your satisfaction with StudioCloud. Can you offer one last followup?

    thanks!

    Megan