» Register Now and Save Big for Wedding MBA!

Don’t miss out on one of the biggest annual educational events in the industry! WeddingWire is excited to speak for the 6th consecutive year at the Wedding Merchant Business Academy (MBA) convention in Las Vegas, this October 1-3. Great news! Register and save $120 as a WeddingWire member

Wedding MBA is the nation’s largest educational event dedicated to the business side of the wedding industry, with three exciting days of the latest wedding industry news, trends, and tips to grow your business and book more clients!

Don’t miss out on all the great education from industry leaders, including presentations by WeddingWire CEO, Timothy Chi and CMO, Sonny Ganguly, who will cover a wide range of topics from the latest technology trends, to how to effectively manage clients, to top marketing musts this year! In addition to industry leading education seminars, enjoy fun freebies at the event Expo and unwind at evening networking parties on the Las Vegas Strip.

We hope to see you there! Be sure to take advantage of the best price of the year and exclusive WeddingWire member discount, and register today.

» Get Published on WeddingAces!

Interested in being a wedding blogger? If you’ve always wanted to start your own blog, but haven’t been able to make the leap, here’s an opportunity to test the waters! Or, if you are a seasoned blogger, looking to expand your reach, consider becoming a contributor for a WeddingWire blog!

We’re looking for guest contributors to share their wedding wisdom with our readers on our WeddingAces blog! WeddingAces’ content is exclusively provided by Pros like you, and is designed to provide engaged couples with firsthand knowledge and experiences of planning a wedding from the experts themselves.

We are searching for more voices to add to the mix! Our Aces share tips, tools, and tricks of the trade for all aspects of planning a wedding.

Interested in being a contributor? Here’s how it works:

  • Brainstorm some blog post topics based on your area of expertise (check out our WeddingAces blog for inspiration)
  • Fill out this form, sharing your topic idea(s), and a brief description of what you plan to write about in each post
  • If selected to contribute a blog post on WeddingAces, we’ll be in touch with more information and next steps

It’s easy! Please note that all topics and posts must be exclusive to WeddingWire (meaning it can’t be something you’ve already written for your own blog or site), and all content is subject to editorial approval. We’ll make sure that you, and any other Pros or photographers you mention are appropriately credited. And again, please just write a brief topic description of your planned post – do not submit an entire post to us at this stage.

Any questions? Send us a message and we’ll respond ASAP! Good luck; we can’t wait to hear from you!

» WeddingWire Happy Hour Dallas

Yesterday afternoon, Wedding Pros gathered at the House of Blues for WeddingWire Happy Hour Dallas!

At the event, Wedding Pros from the Dallas area had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Other networking events have been held in San Francisco, Miami, Phoenix, Boston, Minneapolis, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Providence, and many more to come this year!

We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the Education Guide and photos from the evening (as seen below).

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We would like to extend a special thank you to the great partners who helped make the event possible:

Finally, congrats to Annette White from Bestfit Alterations1, the winner of our drawing who will receive a WeddingWire prize pack!

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» WeddingWire Lunch & Learn Austin

Yesterday afternoon, Wedding Pros gathered at Vintage Villas for WeddingWire Lunch & Learn Austin!

At the event, Wedding Pros from the Austin 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 educational presentation. Other networking events have been held in San Diego, Miami, Phoenix, Boston, Minneapolis, New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, St. Louis, Providence, and many more to come this year!

We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, and our WeddingWire Education Guide, as well as photos from the afternoon (as seen below).

Thank you to all the wonderful Pros who joined us! We would like to extend a special thank you to the great partners who helped make the event possible:

Finally, congrats to Janak Anarkat from Filmography Studio, the winner of our drawing who will receive a WeddingWire prize pack!

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» Tech Update: Getting Started on Twitter Vine

Recently, Twitter introduced Vine: a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos. Each video can only be up to 6 seconds, which is consistent with Twitter’s brevity of messages that must be 140 characters or less for impact.

Vine is a great creative outlet to capture sound and motion to represent your business and engage with your audiences! Brands, individuals and organizations have been experimenting with Vine over the past two months, and when posted, Vine videos are directly embedded in tweets and will appear on follower’s streams, whether or not they are using the application. Videos automatically play, but sound is recorded, but turned off by default – something to keep in mind as you plan your first video.

Consider creating a Vine account for your business!  Currently, Vine is available exclusively on Apple iOS mobile devices, and can be downloaded for free in the iTunes store. After downloading the app, you can sign in using your Twitter account or sign up using email address. If you have Twitter, we recommend signing in with this as it will easily integrate with your account and followers!

Create your business profile by setting your Vine profile name and description, adding your contact information, and get started growing your audience by connecting with Twitter and Facebook, and finding other friends on Vine to follow. Additionally, Vine provides a step-by-step tutorial for all newbies to get started making your first video.

Once you create your account, be sure to follow WeddingWireEDU to stay updated on our latest events and happenings in video! You can find people, businesses or tags of note by searching in the “Explore” tab.

https://twitter.com/WeddingWireEDU/status/311190560130097153

Ready to create your first video? Here are some top tips for getting started!

  • Select the video camera icon at the top left-hand corner of the homescreen.
  • Take a short video, or several photos to combine together to make your video montage by holding your finger down on your phone or iPad screen to “tape” your video. Easily start and stop recording as many times as you want during your 6 seconds to include several scenes by holding or removing your finger.
  • Share your video! Give it a title, select to share on Vine, Twitter, Facebook or all three networks.
  • We recommend using one or two hashtags in your video description so it will be able to be found when users are searching in the “Explore” tab, such as #firstdance or #wedding.

While still new, Vine is a fun tool to easily engage your audience with video content and is a great way to showcase your work, business personality and creativity. Have you used Vine? Let us know what you think!

» LGBTQ Friendly Pros: Social Media Advice

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.

Last month, I led a WeddingWire webinar for premium members, designed to help LGBTQ friendly Wedding Professionals better serve same sex couples. Though we extended our webinar to answer as many questions as possible, we weren’t able to get to all of them. In my experience, if one person is asking the question, chances are several people have the same question. Find below one of the big questions asked, and my thoughts!

A vendor from Ohio asked us if I have any tips for Pros who want to promote their businesses to same-sex couples via social media, but are concerned about doing so because of a perceived potential for losing “conservative” clients as a result.

This question is one I have received in various forms over the years. When I first began this work more than 10 years ago, many vendors who were willing to serve same-sex couples would do so, but didn’t want to talk openly about it. Then, vendors became more willing to be neutral in language so as to be more inclusive without setting off alarms. And now, many more vendors are wrestling with the question of whether they should set up a separate section on their websites to showcase their specialty services for same-sex couples, or whether they should include same-sex unions and marriages into the larger mix.

But, even as most vendors are struggling with the question of “how” over the question of “if,” there are still Wedding Pros in some areas of the country who are concerned that they might lose the business of prospective clients who are opposed to same-sex marriage if they “come out” as a gay-friendly Wedding Pro.

If you are still wrestling with that question, what do you do?

Understand The Facts. Rather that make a decision that you think might be true or you worry might be true, do some research. Did you know that a striking majority (86%) of your peers responded in a recent WeddingWire survey that they do or would serve same-sex couples, largely because they believe in marriage equality? Do you know what partnership rights do or do not exist in your market? Just this week, same-sex unions were approved in Colorado! In Ohio, a recent poll by the Washington Post (Sept. 2012) revealed that 52% of Ohioans believe that same-sex marriage should be legal and only 32% opposed it. Make sure you know if marriage or civil unions are recognized in your state (I highly recommend Freedom to Marry as a resource). Regardless of what you decide, make sure you’ve tested your perceived fears against the facts.

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» Inside WeddingWire: Email Marketing Accolade!

At WeddingWire, we firmly believe in the power of email to reach your audience with relevant, smart and engaging targeted campaigns. Our talented Email Marketing Team is passionate about everything email, from the importance of practicing good List Hygiene, to making the commitment to mobilize all emails to effectively reach users on the go, and even how to creatively and strategically deal with a dreaded “Oops Email!”

We were thrilled to recently be honored as the winner of the Best Triggered Email in MarketingSherpa’s Email Awards 2013 for our Welcome Series campaign. The WeddingWire Welcome Series was designed to create a personalized email relationship with our users, and most importantly provide them with valuable, engaging and helpful information to support and maximize their WeddingWire accounts.

This campaign makes use of techniques you could easily implement to create a personalized email relationship. Here are some tips that you can apply to your business:

  • Although it’s tempting to create one email and blast it out your full list of potential clients, personalized campaigns that are relevant to your users behavior and preferences typically outperform generic emails. For example, if you are a photographer trying to engage past clients with another event promotion, tailor your list and customize your message. Send one email to those that you served their wedding, another email for those you served an engagement session, and another email for corporate events. In each campaign, include a simple message about how you loved being their Wedding Photographer, and wanted to share a special discount for any personal referrals to their friends.
  •  Keep your communication relevant by collecting information about your clients, and personalizing your emails based on that information. If a couple with a December wedding gets an email from you about Spring wedding specials, they might unsubscribe because you aren’t sending anything that’s useful for them. Keep your potential clients interested in your emails by staying relevant!

For more Email Marketing Pro tips, be sure to check out our “Inside the Inbox” series! Do you have any Email Marketing questions we can address next in the series?

» Are You Too Busy to Be Successful?

Yesterday, WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg, presented ‘Are You Too Busy to Be Successful? as part of our monthly webinar series.

Each one hour webinar for premium WeddingWire Pros is designed to inform you about the latest industry tips, and give you the tools and education you need to Power Your Business!

This month’s webinar focused on how to manage a busy schedule, grow your business, make more money, and make time in your life for all important elements including family, friends and clients!

Here are some key insights:

  • The majority of surveyed Wedding Pros consider themselves “always busy” with over two thirds citing the reason as “work”
  • Many Wedding Pros consider themselves successful based on their reputation but not on their financial success
  • It is important to embrace the “Power of No” when client expectations cannot be realistically met, deadlines are unreasonable or you cannot provide services within a potential clients cited budget – it will ultimately positively impact your business and personal level of career satisfaction and personal success
  • When your workload is overwhelming, make “today lists” of all tasks you need to do each day and can realistically achieve versus overwhelming “to do” lists that can serve as a distraction and make prioritizing difficult
  • Objectively analyze your workload and know when it is appropriate to delegate tasks to your team or outsource projects

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

» Pinterest Updates: New Look & Analytics!

Over the past few days, Pinterest has made several exciting new announcements about the social site’s design and features; Pinterest Web Analytics to track your pins, and Pinterest’s new, engaging look!

Learn more about the important features and impact on your accounts for these new updates for your business’ Pinterest accounts (and be sure to follow WeddingWireEDU on Pinterest):

Pinterest Web Analytics

Most simply, Pinterest Web Analytics finally provides insights into what people are pinning from your account, so you can understand and grow your business’ reach! These insights will help you determine what pins are most popular to your audience (and repinned the most), the reach of your social shares, and an effective way to track your pinning activity.

Ready to learn more? Review Pinterest’s Web Analytics video with step-by-step instructions for getting set up and understanding the exciting tool.

Pinterest’s New Look

Pinterest’s new look is an updated design for the user interface, focusing on larger pictures and more “discovery features” to find pins you may love. Now, you can review “pins from the same board” when you repin an image to explore the full board with similar photos, “pins from the same source” to easily follow a pinner or website you may like, and “people who pinned this also pinned” to find other great pins from people with similar interests.

While these changes are only being implemented on desk tops for now, look for changes on your tablets and phones, coming soon!

Are you ready to get the new look early or start tracking your analytics? You just need a Pinterest business account, or your website verified with your personal account. Login, and simply hover over the profile menu under your account name in the top right-hand corner, and select “Switch to the New Look” and confirm. Don’t have a business account? Learn how to set one up here!

If you do not have a verified business account, Pinterest is rolling out the new image to all users soon so keep an eye on your account for the update.

What do you think about Pinterest’s new announcements?

» Your Business Website: Friend or Foe?

This article was written by Alan Berg, a WeddingWire Education Guru. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at http://alanberg.com/.

If you’re like most businesses, you understand that your website is one of the first impressions a potential client sees about your business. For example, when they click through to your site from your WeddingWire Storefront, you’re showing them who you are, what your brand looks like and what you can do for them. At least that’s what your business website should be doing…

Is your website your best asset, or just a big liability?

If their first impression of your business doesn’t match their expectations, they’ll leave. If they don’t understand who you are, where you are and what you can do for them, they’ll leave. They’ll leave if you make it hard to navigate to the information they want. They’ll leave if you play music or videos automatically (the busiest times of the day for most wedding websites is during work hours, don’t get them “busted” by their boss). They’ll leave if they can’t easily read the text on your site. If they’re leaving without contacting or doing business with you, your website is a liability, not an asset.

There’s no shortage of reasons for them to leave.

While there is no shortage of reasons for them to leave, there is a shortage of reasons for them to stay, especially when there are so many of your competitors’ websites waiting for them to arrive.

What you need to do is make your site more “sticky,” which is internet-speak for getting your site to engage your audience to want to invest their time to learn more about your business. How do you make your site “sticky?” First, make it clear what information you provide about your business for your relevant audiences, and then make it easy to navigate. Just because you have great content on a page on your site doesn’t mean anyone is actually reading it if it is buried, or you aren’t making it appealing and easy to learn more about your business.

What does a new website cost?

While I don’t make websites (yes, I’ve written a couple of books on websites, but I leave the building to the professionals!), I get asked all the time what it would cost to make a new site. While the needs of each business are very different, even in the same market and category, my answer is always the same: a new website will cost you less than the business you’re losing every month with your current site. Think about it, if your current site chases away prospects every month, what does that cost you in lost business?

Plug the holes in the bucket.

If you had a bucket that was leaking water and you relied on that water to survive, wouldn’t you fix the bucket, or get a new one? Of course you would. Well, every link in the sales and marketing chain is part of your “bucket.” What’s leaking out of your bucket are sales dollars. Find the holes and plug them, or, when the time is right, get a new bucket.

When is it time to get a new website?

When you can no longer repair your current site or when the features of a new site will drive more business, it’s time. But don’t wait until your current site needs replacing, start preparing now. My website will be two years old this month and we’re already working on the new site. Why? If I wait for my site to look old and dated, it’s way too late.

My plan is to replace my site way before it’s no longer functional. You can’t make a site in a day, at least not a good one. You should always be thinking about constantly improving your current site, while having an eye on the next one. So, stop thinking about what a new website will cost and start paying attention to how much your current site is costing you in lost business. If that number is more than it will cost for a new site, you’re already behind schedule on getting a new site. Begin the process today.

Want to learn more from Alan and other Education created specifically for Wedding Pros? Check out the great articles and info in the WeddingWire Education Center. Additionally, premium WeddingWire members can review Alan’s past webinar, Stand Out with a Winning Website and all other past educational webinars in the Education Center!

» Editor’s Note: Beating Writer’s Block

Kim Forrest is one of WeddingWire’s editors. She manages content creation on both WeddingWire and EventWire. Kim has been writing about weddings for nearly a decade, and has been quoted as a weddings expert in the New York Times, Washington Post, Slate, and more. 

So, you’ve started your very own blog. Maybe you’ve been consistently creating content for a month or two, but now you find yourself stuck with nothing more to write about. You have writer’s block, a totally common ailment that all writers face every now and again. Rather than let your blog sit dormant (not the best idea if you’re looking to grow followers and social shares), let us help you get your creative juices flowing with our tips for beating writer’s block!

We’ve done the brainstorming for you and created some fun topic ideas for your business based on your wedding industry category. Now you simply have to set aside some time, get ready, set, and start blogging! And, remember, beautiful, unique and interesting images showcasing your work is always important to include on your blog (such as the photo below)!

Photo Credit: K. Thompson Photography

Venues

“A Venue For All Seasons” – Share (professional) photos of your venue in different seasons, highlighting how the space could be utilized and decorated at different times of year and for different style events. This shows the beauty and versatility of your space!

Caterers

“Real Couple’s Menu” – Outline a creative menu from a recent wedding, and discuss how you worked with the couple to make their vision come to life. Share professional photos of the food, if you can!

Flowers

“Flower of the Week” – Write a post featuring a specific blossom. Talk about why you love the flower so much and share some photos of bouquets or centerpieces you’ve created using the particular bloom.

Wedding Planners

“If I Could Plan It” – Design a dream “wedding” for a recently-engaged celebrity. Which flowers would you suggest Jennifer Aniston use at her wedding? Which venue would you choose for Kelly Clarkson? This is a fun way to let your imagination run wild and show couples how creative you can be!

Band, DJ or Ceremony Music

“What’s That Song?” – Share a few under-the-radar songs that would work well at various moments throughout the wedding, or your favorite “crowd pleaser” songs that always get the party started or create a special unforgettable moment.

Dress and Attire

“Perfect Pairs” – Showcase a wedding gown that you carry in your salon, along with a bridesmaid dress that would look great alongside it. Give insight into the designer, the style and fit. This makes a great weekly feature!

Photographers/Videographers

“Real Weddings and Events” – You’re in luck. You can easily share real weddings and events on your blog. But instead of just featuring photos or video of the event, be sure to get some quotes from the couple and feature a full vendor list to give credit where it’s due. Use great descriptive words to explain the event, and people searching for similar inspiration will more likely find your work! Request that your featured couple, and the other Pros involved with the event, share your post on their social networks to gain added exposure.

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» Join Us at Wedding Market Expo in Kansas City!

WME LogoWeddingWire is excited to participate in the first Wedding Market Expo of 2013! We hope to see you in Kansas City, MO from April 9-11th.

The Wedding Market Expo is rolling out a series of events around the country kicking off at the Kansas City Convention Center, where exhibitors, attendees, and industry experts will have the opportunity to network, share advice and have some fun!

Keep an eye out for the “WeddingWire Power Station” where guests can charge up their devices, grab some WeddingWire swag, and meet some of the WeddingWire team, including WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg.

We’re thrilled to share that Alan Berg will be joining other industry experts as a featured speaker. Here’s a quick look at his presentation topics:

1. The One-Page Website – Learn why less is more when it come to you website.

2. The Power of Reviews – See how you can utilize the power of reviews to excel your business.

3. Your Attitude for Success – Also the topic of Alan’s latest book, this presentation will help change your attitude for a better perspective on life and work.

ipadminiAdditionally, WeddingWire will take part in the Wedding Market Expo’s Scavenger Hunt, where attendees take a whirlwind tour of the expo space ending with some exciting prizes for a few lucky winners, including an iPad Mini provided by WeddingWire!

Enter to win by registering for the Wedding Market Expo in Kansas City and use the promo code SAVE50 to get $50 off your registration fee, today! We look forward to seeing you in Missouri!