» Pro Forum Buzz: Search Engine Ranking, Elopements and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Pro Forum Buzz: Search Engine Ranking, Elopements and MoreRanking on Google

Calling all SEO aficionados!  What are your best tips for ranking on Google? Pros weigh in with tips that have worked for them as well as search engine optimization best practices to help a wedding favors Pro boost her search engine rankings.

Add your experiences >>

How do you feel about elopements?

Some Pros on the Pro Forums have seen an increase in elopement bookings, but it seems like certain categories see more than others. How do you define an elopement? Do you find yourself doing more or less of these? Love or hate them?

Join the conversation >>

Requesting reviews from clients

A wedding planner asks for advice from other Pros to help make asking for a review easier and part of the whole process. Share your best practices and tips on getting current and past clients to review you on WeddingWire!

Share your thoughts >>

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» WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland

Earlier this week, Wedding Pros gathered at Driftwood Restaurant Group’s Cibreo Privato at Cibreo Italian Kitchen for WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland!

At the Networking Night, Pros from the Cleveland area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team and listen to a brief presentation. Other networking events have been held throughout the country, with more exciting events and locations to come this year!

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, the WeddingWire Education Guide, and great photos from the evening (as seen below). If you want to continue the conversation with some of the Pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland board in the Pro Forums.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack! Congrats to Andy of AJF Photography!

WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland
WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland
WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland
WeddingWire Networking Night Cleveland
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» Are You Suffering from Success? Thoughts on Expanding Your Business

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Each wedding business owner has their own definition of success; some plan and manage with great care, while others grow with reckless abandon and may be experience intense stress as a result.

It’s common for many kinds of wedding businesses to start as part-time, usually to pursue a hobby or passion. From there, it’s a quick jump from hobbyist to business owner. The excitement of building a business with passion, pints of adrenaline, and infusion of cash or credit will carry you for a couple of years. However, as a business starts to gain momentum, the sole owner or partners begin to take on new roles: Human Resource Manager, Accountant, Marketing Director, and sometimes Graphic Designer.

Are You Suffering from Success? Thoughts on Expanding Your BusinessThe greatest change in the wedding industry within recent years is the magnification of the importance of various business roles like blogging, search engine optimization and social media. These areas are specialized, and many wedding professionals don’t have the necessary skill sets but are thrown into these roles anyway. There comes a critical point where you, as a business owner, must start thinking about expanding your business to avoid burnout.

What are the symptoms of suffering with success? Here are a few indicators:

  • When people ask you how the business is going, your first thought is about how busy you are. Ask yourself: Is that a good answer? What do I really mean? Am I highly profitable or just overloaded?
  • You work a full seven days a week. Whether you run a part-time or full-time wedding business, you find yourself struggling to keep up each day. There are times when you might go multiple weeks without a single day off.
  • You are experiencing FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Even though you know you need to pace yourself, you book every single opportunity that presents itself. You fear that if you don’t accept a booking that the influx of leads will dry up.
  • People stop inviting you to events because your excuse is that you’re always working. Sooner or later, the invitations cease; even from family members.
  • You begin to resent clients. Instead of being excited about the day, weekend, or wedding, you focus on the idiosyncrasies of the client, anticipating rough spots in the wedding even if they have not yet occurred.
  • Your significant other begins to quietly drop hints about spending more quality time with you. Without changes in your business commitments, the volume on these remarks gets louder and louder.
  • Maintaining your health has become a lower priority. Clothes don’t fit as they should, or you huff and puff just going up a flight a stairs.

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» What’s Next in Social Media: March 2015

What's Next in Social Media

Social media is constantly changing. Each network has its own strategy and features, and it can be hard to keep up with the latest news. Never fear! We’ve got your monthly update, all in one place, so you can be prepared for what’s next in social media!

Here’s what you need to know about what’s next in social media from March 2015:

What’s Next in Social Media: March 2015

Image via Re/code

Facebook Messenger allows payments

Facebook’s standalone app for messaging, Messenger, has introduced the ability for users to tie their debit cards to their Facebook accounts in order to send money to peers through messaging. Money sent through Messenger is transferred to Facebook before the network sends it along to the user’s bank. Peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo and Square already exist, but this new functionality is novel as many users are already using Messenger to have conversations that culminate in payments which they could not do through the network. Facebook has combined both the organization and payment for events, trips and other peer-to-peer payments.

Read more on Re/code >>

Twitter strikes deal with Foursquare

Twitter recently announced its partnership with Foursquare to allow users to include their location in tweets. Users can include location in tweets now, but the new Foursquare partnership would allow users to be more specific in their locations. Foursquare exists now to allow users to recommend restaurants and other venues based on preferences and location, and Twitter is eager to access that data and leverage it on its own network. Twitter’s goal is to use Foursquare information to be proactive with recommendations and location data, which is a big move for both companies.

Continue on Fortune >>

Instagram introduces new standalone app

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» WeddingWire World 2015: Recap

WeddingWire World 2015We had an amazing time at WeddingWire World 2015!

The WeddingWire team was thrilled to host two full days filled with education and valuable information from industry experts and special guest speakers, along with networking and fun surprises. Thanks to all our Pros who attended the event!

WeddingWire World guests received great educational information to power their businesses from a variety of presenters, including Bill Rancic of NBC’s The Apprentice, Monte Durham of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, Chef Dana Herbert of TLC’s Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker, and more! Presenters held sessions on a variety of topics, from social media and online reputation to the legalities of small business and search engine optimization.

We hope all attendees enjoyed the conference as much as we did! Some of the highlights included:

  • The addition of Education Alley, where Pros could learn more about our industry partnerships, featured associations and educational resources
  • The opportunity for Pros to meet with our Customer Success team members one-on-one to discuss their WeddingWire accounts
  • A special Networking Night event following the first day’s presentations to offer additional networking opportunities and light refreshments
  • Special sessions held by representatives of LinkedIn, Pinterest, Animoto, The Bridal Society, Wish Upon a Wedding and many more
  • Free professional headshots taken on-site
  • Exciting WeddingWire product updates, including the new WeddingWire Review Manager for Pros mobile app and the upcoming WeddingWire Website Designer
  • Providing trophies for winners of the first year of the Weddi Awards, a new annual awards program for top Pros in the wedding industry
  • The awesome tweets and photos throughout the day to @WeddingWireEDU and using #wwworld across social media channels, giving feedback, top takeaways and more
  • Special prizes and giveaways throughout both days

Finally, a big thank you to our wonderful partners who helped make such a momentous event a success: our event photographers from Lux Photography, DJ extraordinaire David Grimm of Signature Talent, LLC and member of ADJA our music sponsor association, event videographer Jeremiah McLamb of JerFilm Productions, the folks of Open Air Photobooth, floral designs by Intrigue Designs, beautiful furniture from Party Plus Tents + Events, fun favors from Moments on Magnets, coffee talk mood music by Wescottage Music, and headshot photographer George Francis of George Francis Jr. Photography!

Check out some of our favorite photo highlights, below!

WeddingWire World 2015
WeddingWire World 2015
WeddingWire World 2015
WeddingWire World 2015
WeddingWire World 2015
WeddingWire World 2015
WeddingWire World 2015
WeddingWire World 2015
WeddingWire World 2015
WeddingWire World 2015
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» Introducing…the 2015 WeddingWire SpringBook!

The WeddingWire team is thrilled to share the brand-new SpringBook with you!

We have to admit, we think it’s a pretty great read, particularly to help kick off wedding season. Our newest online-only, interactive magazine features both helpful advice and gorgeous inspiration from wedding pros like you! This season’s e-mag includes:

  • Five stunning spring real weddings, featuring the work of wedding professionals from around the country
  • A must-read bridesmaid guide that covers everything from etiquette to fashion, bachelorette parties, gifts, and more
  • “Breaking Down the Bouquet,” which not only inspires with gorgeous bouquet photos, but provides helpful information on the flowers included
  • Plus, you’ll find scenic venues, registry and wedding-day timeline advice, and much more!

So head over to our full 2015 WeddingWire SpringBook and share your comments and questions with us. If you’re interested in being featured in a future e-magazine, stay tuned for more information on our 2015 SummerBook—we’ll be sharing details very soon!

WeddingWire 2015 SpringBook

Cover photo by Vicki Grafton Photography

» Success by Association: Network, Collaborate & Get Awarded

Success by AssociationWebinar recap!

In the competitive wedding and events industry, networking and industry recognitions are two leading factors to building your reputation and boosting your professional success.

This week, as part of our monthly educational webinar series for premium members, WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon shared his insights into the value of networking, and how collaborations and joining associations can help your business grow.

Check out some of Andy’s tips below!

What are the best places to network?

  • National Association meetings (industry or skill-based) and local chapter meetings
  • Local industry networking groups
  • National conferences
  • Your local Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau
  • Community events

When you make a new connection, how can you continue the conversation and build a professional relationship?

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» Key Website Dos and Don’ts

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

I wanted to share with you tips from my latest website presentation at WeddingWire World in Washington, DC this week.  It was a rapid-fire session with lots of great nuggets on how you can improve your website. When it comes to website dos and don’ts, there’s a lot of ground to cover. I’ll go through four things you should do on your website, as well as four things you shouldn’t do on your website.

Key Website Dos and Don'tsHere are four things you should definitely do on your websites:

1.  Allow your voice and personality to come through. That’s what they’ll experience when they speak with or meet you – it’s one of the only things you’ll ever have a monopoly on… being you. Every person and every business has a unique voice. If they want you, specifically, to do their wedding or event, they can’t find you anywhere else, at any price.

2.  Use your reviews and testimonials on every page. Don’t bury all of that great text on a separate page. You can have a testimonials page and link to it from each testimonial on your site (I put “read more reviews” next to each one on my site to link to the page where I have the rest of them).

3.  Use aspirational imagery.  Every photo should be relevant to what you do, and what you’re talking about on that page. Ask yourself if a couple would put that photo in their album. If so, then it’s probably a good choice. They’re not putting pictures of empty ballrooms, DJ setups, cameras… or you. Show packed dance floors, ceremonies with people, lighting shots of the rooms filled with guests, buffets with people getting food… Make it so they look at the photo and would want to be at that wedding or event. Don’t forget to use great aspirational imagery on your Social Platforms as well.

4.  Have relevant calls to action on every page. Tell them what to do and make it easy to do it. So many of the pages on your sites just end with statements like “we look forward to working with you”, but that’s not a call to action. Instead say: “We look forward to making your wedding everything you’ve imagined, and more. Call or contact us today 202.555.1212” (and make the word “Contact” a link to your contact page or an email). Whether it’s in the text, or as any number of visual calls to action, there are so many ways to tell them what to do, and make it easy, and still have it fit with your design theme.

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» 4 Ways to Improve Your Response Time

4 Ways to Improve Your Response TimeBecause today’s world revolves around instantaneous communication, response time is very important. An untimely response to an inquiry or request often indicates poor customer service to your potential clients, and a consistently slow response time can result in the loss of multiple customers and the associated revenue.

On average, 50% of buyers choose the wedding professional that responds first, and if you respond to a lead within 5 minutes rather than 30 minutes, you’re 100 times more likely to turn a lead into a client. Responding quickly to any client communication could mean the difference between getting the sale and losing out to a faster Pro.

Use the following tips to help improve your response time and streamline the response process!

Try to respond within 24 hours. Even if you just reply to let them know you’ve received their email but you’re very busy, it helps the couple to know whether or not you check your email on a regular basis. It doesn’t take much to send a quick reply explaining that you are short on time and will get back to them as soon as you have a free moment. This could be accomplished with an auto-reply email or a personalized email response. Don’t forget that many couples reach out to multiple Pros at once, so you don’t want to miss out.

Be careful with auto-responders. Auto-reply emails are a great idea in theory, but the details can sometimes cause Pros to slip up. You don’t need to fully describe your services or go through your business’ mission statement in your auto-reply email! You want to find the sweet spot where you’re providing helpful, valuable information but without repeating everything they’ve already read on your website. You’ll also want to keep it conversational so that your auto-responder doesn’t seem so mechanical. For more auto-reply best practices, use our Pro Tips.

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» Day 2 of WeddingWire World 2015

Day 2 of WeddingWire World 2015We had a fabulous time at day one of WeddingWire World 2015, and we’re excited to kick off our first official second day of our annual educational users’ conference!

In addition to more opportunities for 1-on-1 time with your Customer Success Manager and a special ‘Coffee Talk’ featuring our guest speakers, day two of WeddingWire World 2015 will feature even more presentations from our industry experts and guest speakers, including Monte Durham of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta and several Pro Panels highlighting a number of respected wedding industry veterans.

We’re also happy to announce the chance for attendees to update their  headshots with our featured professional photographer, George Francis, Jr. of George Francis Jr. Photography, plus an awards ceremony to close out the day, recognizing some of our most remarkable Wedding Pros.

Day two of WeddingWire World 2015 will also feature a number of breakout sessions, including:

  • Top Tools to Maximize Your Blog – Andy Ebon, WeddingWire Education Expert
  • Mastering Keys to Limitless Success – Laurie Hartwell, The Bridal Society
  • In His Moment: The Grooms Tell All – Ross Oscar Knight, photographer & author
  • Small Tips for the Big Day: Enhancing the Client Experience – Monte Durham, Bridals by Lori
  • The Importance of Reviews – Alan Katz, Great Officiants
  • Pros with a Passion: Giving back While Gaining More – Ali Phillips & Lacy Branch, Wish Upon a Wedding

As a reminder, don’t forget to follow along with the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter and Instagram to see key takeaways and fun behind-the-scenes photos from @WeddingWireEDU and our amazing guests.

We’re excited to welcome our Pros back today to continue the education and industry insights! Be sure to check back later this week as we continue to share event photos and highlights.

For more information about speakers, presentations and other frequently asked questions, visit WeddingWireWorld.com.

» Day 1 of WeddingWire World 2015

Day 1 of WeddingWire World 2015Today, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, wedding and event professionals from across the world will learn about the latest in the wedding industry and how to keep their businesses on top of the most important channels, including branding, business growth, review management, marketing strategies, networking and more!

Attendees will have the unique opportunity to hear from leading wedding industry professionals, special guest speakers, Education Experts and WeddingWire staff over the course of two full days. Our Customer Success team will be available throughout each day for on-site consultations and help our members take advantage of everything their WeddingWire account has to offer.

Below are a few other helpful day one notes for WeddingWire World 2015 attendees:

  • Check in and start the day in the Potomac Lobby, where WeddingWire staff will be ready and waiting to welcome our Pros with a special gift.
  • Download the ProWire mobile app on iTunes or Google Play and select WeddingWire World 2015 so that you’re able to access everything you need to know, on the go!
  • Catch up and create new connections with your fellow Wedding Pros at our Networking Breakfast from 8am-9:15am.
  • Join us in Potomac AB for main stage presentations, followed by special gatherings and breakout sessions in various rooms throughout the day.
  • Learn more about our industry partnerships and featured associations with educational resources available at the first ever Education Alley, open from 1pm-5:30pm.
  • Tweet your own takeaways and follow along with the hashtag #wwworld on Twitter, where @WeddingWireEDU will be live tweeting and responding to Pro feedback and more! We also welcome guests to post their own behind-the-scenes photos on Instagram for a chance to win a WeddingWire Education Prize Pack (see official rules).
  • Foster the new connections you’ve made throughout the day at our Networking Night reception following the day’s presentations in Eastern Shore 1-3.

Check back tomorrow morning for additional day two information, including a few special surprises for attendees!

Thanks to all the Pros joining at WeddingWire World 2015! For more information about speakers, presentations and other frequently asked questions, visit WeddingWireWorld.com.

» Meet the New (and Improved!) WeddingWire Storefront

Meet the New (and Improved!) WeddingWire StorefrontWe’ve updated the look and feel of the WeddingWire Storefront with a new streamlined design, built with your business in mind!

The new modern, professional look will help your business photos and information stand out. Our goal is to continue to improve and optimize the Storefront to connect wedding professionals and engaged couples and deliver the best experience possible.

Here are a few of the major changes you’ll notice today:

  • New photo carousel highlighting the first fourteen photos on your account
  • Simplified About Us section that is optimized for desktop and mobile visitors
  • Additional ‘Email Vendor’ link to bring you more leads through your Storefront

These updates are based on a test of the new Storefront layout we’ve been displaying to a subset of WeddingWire traffic for several months. In this test we saw a significant overall increase in total leads submitted, so we feel confident that this new layout will help your business put your best foot forward!

In order to see the updated version of your Storefront, click the “Preview” button at the top of the page when you’re in Edit mode. We’ll keep you informed as we continue to update features within our site! As always, we welcome your feedback in the comments below or via this form.