» Become a Pinterest Pro!

A relative newcomer, Pinterest, has taken the internet by storm as the fastest-growing social network. If you are not already familiar with the site, Pinterest is widely used by engaged couples, and is a very powerful outlet for Pros to showcase your amazing work and creative ideas!

Sign up your business to start creating themed pinboards, and adding pins of your event photos and videos to your account.

Pinterest is also a great tool to drive traffic to your business website, but will only be successful if you appropriately tag all your photos. Make sure to tag all images back to your website to ensure you get your well-deserved credit for your work as they go viral! Keep in mind that to avoid any copyright issues, attribute any photographers whose work you use so they also get recognition for their work.

Get Started with Top Pinterest Terms:

Pin:

  • Term for adding an image to Pinterest
  • Image can be from a web link, website, or uploaded
  •  Ability to include captions to describe the image

Repin:

  • Once an image is pinned, it can be repined by other Pinterest users
  • You can repin images on Pinterest, and add your own comment on the image which will be viewed by your followers

Board:

  • Boards are created to store the images you have pinned
  • Create separate boards for various subjects or themes, for example “outdoor weddings” or “engagement photo shoots” and pin your images to the boards that match their category best

Be sure to add your Pinterest account to your WeddingWire Storefront! Simply visit your Storefront’s ‘Business Details‘ section, and add your Pinterest account’s URL.

Also, make it easy for your followers to pin photos they love directly from your website to their own Pinterest boards, by adding a “Pin It” button to images on your website or blog. Finally, add a “follow me on Pinterest” button to your homepages to showcase your pinboards and gain followers.

Looking for wedding inspiration? Be sure to follow WeddingWire on Pinterest!

» Announcing Wish Upon a Wedding’s Blissful Wishes Ball

WeddingWire is proud to join the LA Chapter of Wish Upon a Wedding as a media partner for their upcoming  Blissful Wishes Ball on Wednesday, October 10th!

Wish Upon a Wedding, founded in 2010, is the world’s first non-profit organization dedicated to providing weddings and vow renewals for individuals facing life-threatening illness and other serious life-altering circumstances. There are currently 22 chapters granting wishes all over the country through fundraising efforts and partnerships with generous wedding professionals.  Without the service, time and financial contributions from Wedding Pros across the country, many wedding wishes for couples in need would go unfulfilled.

The LA/OC chapter will be hosting their third annual Blissful Wishes Ball to raise more awareness among local Wedding Pros and to celebrate the incredible wishes they have granted in the past two years. Since 2010, four couples’ wishes came true with the help of over 20 sponsoring Southern California Pros who generously donated their services and time.

Learn more about Wish Upon a Wedding and the Blissful Wishes Ball, or  find a chapter near you!

» Tailoring Your Message to be Inclusive of Same-Sex Couples

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

Our company founder—my straight mom—has long said: “Marriage equality isn’t a matter of if. It’s a matter of when.” And, it turns out, she was right.

What neither of us could have predicted when she founded the company back in 1999 is how quickly the legal landscape would change – moving the quiet trend of same-sex couples having commitment ceremonies to a full blown movement for marriage equality, embraced by a majority of Americans.

This fall, the legal landscape for same-sex couples stands to shift again, with California’s Prop 8 case (formerly known as Brown v Perry), challenges to federal recognition via DOMA knocking at the door of the Supreme Court, and with three ballot measures to approve same-sex marriage waiting for voters on Election Day 2012 in Maryland, Washington, and Maine.

With these advancements occurring and with partnership recognition available for same-sex couples in so many states, it is increasingly important for Wedding Pros to make conscious decisions about their marketing strategy, gain more knowledge about serving same-sex couples, and take advantage of the opportunity to serve same-sex couples, if you so chose.

We are excited to announce new account updates for WeddingWire Pros on GayWeddings.com! If you are amongst the 40,000 plus Wedding Pros currently listed in the GayWeddings.com directory (powered by WeddingWire), please consider strengthening your gay-friendly message by making the following updates to your listing:

Update Your Profile Image: Though vendors can still choose a gay-inclusive main image to run across the WeddingWire Network (including GayWeddings.com, WeddingWire, Martha Stewart Weddings, WeddingBee, and Brides), Pros can now create a same-sex profile image to show only in the GayWeddings.com directory. So, if you have an image which features a same-sex couple, you can now configure your settings to run the image as your profile image only the GayWeddings.com site!

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» New Customization for your Storefront

Is your business listed on EventWire and GayWeddings.com? We have launched exciting new updates for these sites, allowing for further online exposure and customization for your business on the services you offer.

Check out the new EventWire updates for paying members:

Customize your main image for the EventWire network! Either upload a new image from your computer, or select your favorite image from your photo gallery to best represent your business.

Provide your business overview in the “About Us” section! Provide a description of your business and event services specifically for EventWire to highlight your expertise in the event space.

Set unique images for the EventWire microsites! Create unique, tailored images for each of EventWire’s microsites that you would like to be listed on—BirthdayWire, BabyShowerWire, MitzvahWire and PromWire. Simply create photo albums on the microsite of your choice, and the first photo from your album will be showcased at your main image on each specific site.

For step by step details on editing your main images, the About Us section and creating albums, click here.

Also, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to show off your best work but submitting photos of your real events to Eventwire, and you could be featured on BirthdayWire, BabyShowerWire, MitzvahWire and PromWire!

Customize Your Business on GayWeddings.com:

Take advantage of being found by thousands of same-sex couples through listing your business on WeddingWire’s network partner site, GayWeddings.com. Now, within your WeddingWire account you are able to update your profile image to create a same-sex inclusive main image specifically for the GayWeddings.com directory. So, if you have an image which features a same-sex couple or an image inclusive of all couples, you can now set it as your main profile image for your listing on GayWeddings.com within your account!

Interested in being listed on GayWeddings.com? Learn how to update your setting today.

For more information on how to tailor your message to be inclusive of same-sex couples, read the latest Pro Blog post by Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com.

» Featured Pro Tweets

In our Featured Pro Tweets series, we highlight great comments that we receive to @WeddingWireEDU. We love to share your wedding industry tips, insights, feedback and thoughts with other wedding pros!

Check out some latest top tweets below, and be sure to tag @WeddingWireEDU and you could be featured next! We look forward to hearing from you!

» Will Gay Marriage Be Legal In Your Market This Year?

This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.

I’ve talked in the past about the evolving legal landscape for partnership recognition for same-sex couples and how Wedding Pros should make some conscious decisions about their marketing materials and the audience to whom they wish to speak, if they haven’t already done so.

Specifically, I’ve spoken to vendors in the jurisdictions where gay marriage is now legal (Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, & Washington, DC) and to those Pros where civil unions are recognized (Delaware, Rhode Island, Illinois, & Hawaii).

Today, I invite Wedding Pros based in California, Washington, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota to listen closely (but welcome all Pros to eavesdrop on our conversation!). There are several legal thresholds waiting to be crossed this fall and the outcomes may impact your business. It also bears mentioning that, in 4 of these 5 states, your actions can also have an impact the outcomes.

CALIFORNIA.  From a market perspective, we may see the biggest shift in the state of California, which legalized marriage briefly in 2008, before a ballot measure, Proposition 8,  invalidated same-sex marriage. The 18,000 couples who did get legally married in that brief window continue to enjoy equal partnership recognition, but same-sex couples have not been able to legally marry in California since Proposition 8 was enacted.

The nationally recognized court case challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, Hollingsworth v. Perry (commonly known as ‘Prop 8’), has wound its way through the State Supreme Court of California and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and now awaits its fate on the steps of the United States Supreme Court. Though early analysis suggested that a victory in the Supreme Court could mean gay marriage recognition across the U.S., the current narrow interpretation of the case, as established through the Appeals process, means that the outcome is relevant only to the state of California.

On September 25, the Supreme Court will announce the list of cases it plans to hear in 2012-2013. If Hollingsworth v. Perry is accepted (or ‘granted cert’) by the Court, the fate of Prop 8 won’t be known until the spring of 2013. If, however, on October 1, the Supreme Court includes Hollingsworth v. Perry on the list of cases it will not hear this session, then Proposition 8 would be found to be unconstitutional and marriage would once again be available to gay and lesbian couples in California. And, experts suggest that marriage equality would be reinstated in California within a few days’ time.

So, Pros, take note: California is a large market and can move the needle as significantly as New York did in 2011.  If the Supreme Court doesn’t accept the case and gay marriage becomes legal again in early October 2012, will you be ready?

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» Save Your Data!

Living an e-lifestyle makes running a business more convenient, accessible and efficient. However, while the tools and technology we use can help our lives and business perform effectively, there is always a potential that disaster could strike, hard drives could crash, and all our important, stored data and records could be lost.

As a small business owner, it is always best to be prepared with a data recovery plan beforehand. Here are top tips to prevent data loss, and keep your business and information safe!

Be prepared. When it comes to your business, it’s always best to be prepared for the worst in order to avoid disaster. Experts recommend creating an emergency action plan for all data associated with your business. Keep track of all your data stored electronically, and make sure the updated list is stored not only on your computer, but also in a cloud-based storage place (such as Dropbox), and it is always safe to have a recently printed copy outline, as well. Finally, it is good to do a bit of research into reputable, secure data recovery vendors. In case you ever need one, you already have a place to start.

Back it up. First and foremost, make sure your protection software is up-to-date, as this is your computers first line of defense. Don’t put off those security updates! Second, never assume that your computer is protected from incoming viruses just because you have protection software, and be sure to scan all incoming data for corruption. We recommend not opening attachments from an impersonal or strange email, as they could be damaging corrupt files. Additionally, it is a smart idea to invest in a backup system and establish a formal backup procedure to make copies of all critical data files.

In case of emergency, call! If the worst case scenario does present itself, do not wait to reach out to a data recovery specialist. Even though it may cost a little more, your hard-drive essentially holds the heart of your business and you certainly don’t want to risk further damage. Do your homework when selecting the vendor, and make sure they come recommended, and have plenty of experience and good results in a similar situation.

While we all hope that data loss never occurs, sometimes life is unpredictable (natural disasters strike, computers crash and systems can go down), so it is always best to have a well-established plan –just in case!

» Get Social: Whether You #Like It or Not

Yesterday, Wedding Wire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, presented ‘Get Social: Whether You #Like It or Not’ as part of our monthly webinar series.

Each one hour webinar for upgraded WeddingWire Pros is designed to inform you about the latest industry trends and give you the tools you need to effectively grow your business. This month’s webinar focused on:

  • The latest social media statistics and user demographics
  • The top social media sites that your business should be active on, and emerging new sites to check out
  • Top rules of engagement on your social media sites
  • What the big deal is about Pinterest
  • Why you should be blogging
  • Sneak peak of exciting new updates coming soon to the Social Media Checklist

All of our past webinars are available in our Education Center for upgraded Pros. Stay tuned for information on next month’s webinar!

» 5 Steps to Build Your Online Reputation: Part 2

 

This post was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire. You can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.

 

 

Yesterday, we featured Part 1 of “5 Steps to Build Your Online Reputation,” featuring the importance of knowing what your audience is saying about you and your business, and how to make feedback an important part of your business process from the start.

Review the next two keys to building a powerful online reputation below, and check back soon for the final step!

All Types of Feedback are Welcome – The more positive feedback you receive, the better results you will see for your business.  Reviews are the most powerful form of client feedback, but don’t forget about testimonials, social mentions and endorsements.  Testimonials have always been a strong way to gather feedback on your own website or blog.  Social mentions and likes can be a quick and easy way to get clients to leave feedback.  Getting a bride or groom to ‘like’ your business on Facebook only takes seconds, but can reach a large audience.  Finally, endorsements from other wedding professionals can show your expertise within an industry context.  We have made it simple to collect all forms of feedback on WeddingWire to help strengthen your business reputation.

Pro Tips:

  • 95% of engaged couples use online reviews to select their wedding vendors
  • Double-digit reviews drive more success! Our research shows that businesses with 11 or more reviews get +106% more traffic to their profiles and listings
  •  52% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations
  • When you receive a positive feedback, share the good news on your website, blog and social media!
  • Be sure to follow up and thank your clients for taking the time to provide feedback

Remember the Four Keys – The four keys for effective reviews are: Quality, Quantity, Consistency and Recency. Receiving high quality reviews are important because they show you provide great results, and that your previous clients were very happy with your service. A high quantity of reviews shows your track record of a lot of business, and therefore a lot of experience! The more reviews you receive over time shows your consistency from year to year, and helps to ensure potential clients of what they can expect. Finally, it is important for you to continue to request new, recent reviews so that engaged couples know you are still on top of your game!

Pro Tips:

  • WeddingWire recently launched our new Review Collector Tool, which makes it simple to get reviews from your past clients.  Simply enter email addresses of past clients, craft a message and it will automatically send emails to gather reviews on your behalf.

» 5 Steps to Build Your Online Reputation: Part 1

 

This post was written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire. You can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.

 

 

In today’s digital world, it is critical to develop and manage your online reputation. A businesses reputation can be found across many online platforms, including search results, wedding and event sites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, YouTube…the list goes on and on! We all know that people love to talk and post online, especially when it comes to their big day. You want to know what people are saying about you and your business.  Most importantly, you want to get credit for a job well done!

One of the most effective and easy ways to build a powerful reputation for your business is through gathering great reviews! Client ratings and feedback offer a unique window into your business practices, while providing insight into your track record and quality of work. We know reviews can sometimes seem scary, but all reviews—even the less positive ones—can generate buzz about your business and create new client interest. That is why at WeddingWire, one of our top recommendations for closing more sales is to build a strong set of reviews! Engaged couples want to make informed decisions and often turn to previous client feedback. Therefore, strong online reviews make it simple to convert a potential client from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘booking.’

While it can seem overwhelming to take control of your reputation in the online world, we have compiled five key steps will help you build a great online reputation. Review the first two steps below, and check back soon for the final steps!

Know What They’re Saying – It is extremely important for you to know what is being said online about your business and even your competitors. Staying on top of the conversation gives you insight, feedback and knowledge to grow and improve your business.

Pro Tips:

  • Be active on social media sites and monitor your mentions with tools like HootSuite
  • View public posts about your business on Facebook by using the search filters
  • Set up Google Alerts for your name, business name, competitors and industry terms so the latest articles or mentions will come right to your email inbox

Make it a Business Process – Be sure to make feedback an important part of your business process from the start of any new client relationship by mentioning the value of feedback for your business. Clients will know that you care about their event’s success from the beginning, and will be more likely to leave a review after their wedding.  The same way you have a specific time when you send a contract or request a deposit, make sure to have a set time to ask each client for a review post-event. It never hurts to ask!

Pro Tips:

  • Include reviews in your marketing materials and email signature
  • Make it easy to share a review by providing your clients with a simple link
  • Make sure to drop hints early, but be sensitive to when you ask for the review (i.e. don’t ask during the honeymoon!)

» Budget Boot Camp

Budgeting is certainly not the most fun part of managing your business, but it is essential. Fortunately there are ways to simplify the process and make it less of a headache.

Here are the top three guidelines on how to best cultivate your budget:

1. e-Budget. Using finance software can eliminate the stress of an overflowing file cabinet. Forgoing paper receipts and data entry for a technology-based maintenance tool that will manage your bank account and set alerts is extremely helpful in managing your finances, and freeing up some of your time for real work! The tool inDinero offers features for keeping track of your transactions. You can connect multiple bank accounts to view all of your expenses and budgets in one place, as well as set specific categories. Plus, inDinero will sort transactions into your accounts automatically. For more niche tasks, Xpenser is a platform specifically for expense reports, with mobile apps available on iPhone, Android and Windows. Finally, FreshBooks is a tool specifically for managing invoices. Programs and platforms like these also help to really visualize cash flow—something that can be difficult to maintain while juggling physical materials, automatic payments and multiple accounts.

2.  Ask around. Remember, there are no dumb questions—especially when it comes to the financial safety and the success of your business. Using answer sites like Quora can be helpful in reaching a wide audience of professionals who may have been in your position before, and potentially have found a solution to one or more of your problems. Asking questions in forums like this is particularly beneficial for young companies or companies experiencing rapid growth, as they may not be as conditioned to changes in financial situations. Also, reach out to other Wedding Pros who can relate to your industry on WeddingWire by posting business management and growth questions in the Pro Forum!

3. Over-estimate. Wouldn’t you rather end up with a surplus than a debt? Most business expenses are predictable—office supplies, commuting costs, phone bills, computers and software, etc.—but what about unexpected travel fees? A rise in gas prices? Parking tickets? Saving funds, and leaving room in your budget for these types of  unplanned expenses will allow for peace of mind, and potentially, some extra money.

» Use Twitter #Hashtags for Your Business

At WeddingWire, we recommend incorporating social media into your overall business and marketing strategy. One of the top social media sites to develop a professional presence on is Twitter, a micro-blogging site that uses up to 140 character posts (called tweets) to generate information across the web—keeping your message short, sweet, and direct.

Hashtags should be part of your Twitter social media strategy. Hashtags are designated by a number sign (#), and are used to make your tweet’s topic searchable. Adding a relevant hashtag to your tweet will help to ensure that your message reaches your intended audience. For example, if sharing a tip on preparing for the big day, you could add #weddingplanning to your tweet and your message could be found by a couple searching for wedding planning tips or resources.

Get started using hashtags to lead potential clients to your account, which will ultimately generate more followers for your business! We’ve compiled some valuable tips on how to optimize hashtag use when marketing your business on Twitter below, inspired by a recent Mashable post.

Mind your business. Seeking out business-specific hashtags like #smallbiz or #wedding will ensure you are categorized by relevant audiences. To generate even more specific categories for opportunities to interact, try adding in industry specific hashtags like #weddingplanning to access relevant content and connections.

Keep it simple. Don’t create long or complex hashtags, as the terms will get lost in the Twittersphere. Instead, use hashtags that are short and direct in order to receive more search queries.

Put it on the dashboard. If you’re using a dashboard platform to organize your multiple social media accounts, try organizing your accounts by hashtag that most applies to your business. This will allow you to see all tweets according to the topic, and is an easy way to stay in the conversation and share great information, while monitoring the trends.

Follow on Friday! Follow Friday (also referred to as #FF) is a popular Twitter trend. Each Friday is designated as a day to share the people that you recommend to your followers, and gain recognition from your own Twitter friends! It is easy to be part of Follow Friday; simply select an account or several accounts you recommend, tag them by posting an @ before their twitter handle, add any short message about why you recommend them, and include the #FF hashtag!

#HappyHashtagging!