Blogs

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  • December 20, 2017 11:52 AM | Cherie Ronning (Administrator)

    Please welcome Guest Blogger, Mark Kingsdorf of Wedding Ghost!

    Living Life in the Shadows

    Do you feel like your business is living in the shadows this engagement season?

    You have a beautiful website and are on all of the ‘right’ wedding portals; but you don’t seem to be getting much traffic on your site and your phones aren’t ringing.

    Most wedding professionals have someone build them a pretty website that tells couples about their business, maybe a little about their pricing and packages and I’m sure has lots of images of their work. Unfortunately, the text rarely changes. Most of it isn’t written to sell your company, establish you as an expert, engage couples or to push your Search Engine Optimization. 

    My first suggestion, is to starting looking at your blog if you have one. Blogs are a huge tool for wedding professionals.

    A blog is the opportunity to publish regular content and blogging once a week is optimal.This gives new, fresh content for search engines to catalogue, it tells prospective clients about you and your team, shows them the products you offer and sets you up for success to brand yourself as an expert in your field.

    A blog should be conversational, it should ask questions and drive people to engage with you to find out more; just like if you were having a conversation on the phone or in person.

    Unfortunately, a lot of wedding pros spend a lot of time blogging and don’t do it right. They’re not capitalizing on expanding their brand, using text and renaming images that will broaden the search terms for them to be found and get them on page one of major search engines.

    Are you using enough text? Does the text pull search engines to your business? Are you sharing about you and your team to cultivate relationships with prospective clients with similar interest and who feel like they know you? Are you offering tips and trends with readers to establish yourself as an expert? Do your blogs and titles have content that media in your industry will pick up and quote?

    For too many professionals, it’s about time, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to write text, choose appropriate wording, rename images and upload everything…

    Many wedding pros are turning to freelance writers; unfortunately, a lot of these writers have no experience in weddings or events and the text might be pretty and fluffy but does it sell you as a business and have content rich in terms to optimize your work for search engines.

    Finding the right blogger who knows your world, can write with your ‘voice’ and drive your content to search engines is a huge part of finding the right team.

    Just like many wedding businesses hire a web designer, graphic designer and accountant; taking one more project off your list to allow you to do what you do best and give you back the gift of time is a huge value.

    • -Mark Kingsdorf is the owner of St Petersburg, Florida based Wedding Ghost, a ghost blogging company working exclusively with wedding professionals. He is one of 65 Master Wedding Planners in the world; was the founder of Philadelphia based “The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants”; Wish Upon A Wedding Philadelphia and has been a contributor to the Emily Post Institute; major wedding magazines and websites as well as many wedding and event industry conferences.


  • December 12, 2017 10:17 AM | Jason Freshly (Administrator)

    Around 10am one morning this past Fall, I had panicked call from one of my new clients, who I will call Christine.

    Christine was near tears as she explained that her web hosting company had mistakenly labeled her account as “terminated” even though she had fully paid for her website hosting services through the Spring. She told me that the host had completely deleted her website.

    Whoops.

    Calls to the hosting company's customer support (and boy do I use the term “support” VERY loosely) ended with responses of “sorry, we can’t help you” and “you’ll have submit a ticket to our email address” (which I will note, still wasn’t responded to *days* later when we formally cancelled the account).

    Christine relies on her website heavily to attract and engage her clients (as I’m sure you do as well!) and was in full-on panic mode, thinking she had lost her primary marketing vehicle and that she would have to invest the time and money to re-build from scratch (not to mention the hit that her SEO rankings would take in the process).


    So when she called me, I was incredibly relieved to be able to remind Christine that we'd put a backups plan in place for her when we started working together and that her website was safe.

    Because we had that plan, we were able to immediately jump into action, restore her website on a brand new hosting provider and have her back up and running that same day.

    Those who’ve spent any time with me know that I tend to prattle on about security and backups on a regular basis... but so many business owners focus almost exclusively on what their website looks like and not at all on protecting it.


    If you have a WordPress powered website, it’s really important that you do NOT simply rely on your hosting company for backups. At one time, Christine’s website host used to be AMAZING -- they had stellar customer support and in fact they were a company that I used myself for my hosting in past years. Then they were bought out in 2016 and their service completely *tanked* and things changed almost immediately.

    You can’t put the fate of your website in the hands of your website host.

    You need to have a solid Plan B.


    If you have a WordPress powered website, I strongly advocate getting VaultPress.com implemented. It should only take your web developer an hour to set up (or you can take a stab at it yourself!) and then it’s just $3.50/month for their basic personal plan.

    It’s unbelievably cheap peace of mind.

    Christine occasionally still calls me brilliant for getting her back up and running so quickly, and while the compliment feels awesome (I can’t lie!), it had nothing to do with brilliance. It just comes down to planning and being prepared and everybody can do that.

    So now it’s your turn. Is your wedding business website on WordPress or another self-hosted platform (i.e., you aren’t using a website builder like Squarespace or Wix or Weebly or whatever)? Make sure you have a backups plan in place.


    ======================

    Brenda Cadman is founder of Wedding Business Websites and provides web development and website marketing education opportunities for the wedding industry. She is also the host of Website Marketing for Wedding Professionals, a free community with over 2800 members.



  • September 12, 2017 2:05 AM | Jason Freshly (Administrator)

    Giving Back

    Hello friends and welcome to September! The heat has given way to the rain. As such, we are starting this newsletter off to let you know about our partnership with NACE Houston and the opportunity to donate to help with the recovery.

    Any donation we collect will be sent over to help our fellow wedding professionals who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. You can make a donation now through next Friday on our site. I have been in contact with NACE Houston and they are grateful for our support.

    Make a Donation


    WeddingMBA

    Are you coming to WeddingMBA? We are gearing up for a fun time at the conference as members and executive team members from all chapters descend on Las Vegas.  We would love to see you there.  If you have any questions, reach out to Erin (erin@weddingnetworkusa.com) who is spearheading all the fun!

    To make communication easier, we have a couple events on the WNUSA website which you can register for.

    WeddingMBA Resource Event

    WNUSA Dinner at WeddingMBA registration is now open


    Resources and Fun Facts

    --When a computer engineering bride has a male wedding party, the photos will put a smile on your face.

    --A thought provoking question from Alan Berg - Do you want to be happy, or right

    --I am more than inspired hearing what she has done despite all obstacle.  Maysoon hasn't let her disability stop her.

    --10 boosts to your Facebook Page


    Join our Newsletter

    Not getting our emails, event announcements, and updates?  That's an easy fix!

    Join our email list


    Send off

    Thank you for your continued support of Wedding Network USA.  We look forward to seeing you out at an upcoming event!

    Jason, Cherie, & Erin


  • July 25, 2017 8:53 AM | Cherie Ronning (Administrator)

    Feeling stressed?  I have 2 great solutions!

    The words I hear over and over from clients and peers, is that everyone is “under too much stress” or “I am all stressed out” or “the stress of being self-employed is too much”, and while I totally understand the feeling there are many ways to overcome that stress.

    When I offer one-on-one mentoring for you and your business, I can teach you how to better organize your time, become more productive, stay on track and eliminate a lot of stress. But today I want to share 2 things I do every day – things that help me beat stress back into a corner!

    #1 – the App – CALM

    It is not all woo woo, believe me. You can get a free version at the App store. You can choose a photo that is soothing to you. Each photo has sounds that go along with it to further make you take 5 and relax. What I love about this app is that sporadically pops up on your phone and asks you to take a few minutes for CALM.

    Often I can’t at that moment, but if I can I do it immediately. Taking 2-5 minutes to breathe deeply, listen to soothing sounds which allows me to refocus. Sometimes when I feel the stress encroaching on me, I tap the App and the first thing it says is “take a deep breath” my chosen photo appears, and does the sound of flowing water and chirping birds. You can leave that on and continue to work and just be more relaxed.

    Or you can hit the Meditate button, where you will get several options.  I have since upgraded to the paid App, as I find it does the trick for me.  What have you got to lose, download the App and give it a try! (And NO, I don’t get paid for talking about this!)

    #2 – the App – Color Therapy

    Maybe you find this a bit ridiculous, adults coloring? Trust me, this is the best thing I have done for myself in the last few months. This App, and there are many others, has great designs and some limited colors available. They are offering new designs on a regular basis at no charge. You can do some upgrading by liking them on Instagram, posting 5 designs etc.

    Color Therapy by Chérie Ronning

    But you don’t need to upgrade to get relaxation. I have this on my iPhone and my iPad. I can color while waiting at the airport, on the plane, waiting at the Dr’s office, or late in the evening when I need to clear my brain and wind down so I can go to sleep.

    And for a double dose after a truly stressful day, I color while listening to my CALM!

    If you decide to try them out, please let me know what you thought. Did either of them help you, and if so, why?  If you start coloring, share your photos on Instagram and Facebook, and show others how you eliminate stress.

    Chérie Ronning, President

  • July 17, 2017 1:38 PM | Cherie Ronning (Administrator)


    It is not about what you are selling!


    Recently I read a quote from Joe Chernov that grabbed my attention. He said, “People want to know what you KNOW, not what you SELL.”

    If your couples tune you out when you have a face-to-face meeting, maybe it’s because you are trying to sell them something. You should be explaining what you know and sharing what they need. Educating the clients to make an informed decision makes you look like the one to trust & hire.

    Just because you have your "sign" that says you are open, does not mean people understand what you are selling or why they need it.


    The same thing applies on your website and your social media posts. Is it time to rethink what you are saying and how you are saying it?

    Example:

    • A DJ might share the list of the Top 10 wedding songs this season, or the top choices for the First Dance or the Father and Daughter Dance.
    • Most people have no idea how many songs are played at an average reception, so let them know how many songs they might want to highlight on the play list.
    • The DJ can share their extensive song list so that the couples are comfortable that they are covered for all of their guests’ musical tastes.
    • By asking about their venue choice, the DJ can share their personal knowledgeof the required number of sound systems or power requirements that are needed at the facility.

    This should be second nature, but by sharing instead of telling and selling – the process becomes more valuable for the couple and ultimately for the wedding professional.

    And my final addition to this process is to share what you KNOW and then LISTEN to what they ask, then again share what you KNOW until they are comfortable and they will ask to buy!

    Chérie Ronning, WNUSA President


  • June 16, 2017 2:32 PM | Jason Freshly (Administrator)

    Remembering Social Media during Wedding Season

    With wedding season in full swing across the US - there's no shortage of opportunities to capture an image or share an update.  However, remembering to do it can sometimes be the road-block.

    So what are some ways to keep you remembering to generate content for social media while also being sure to capture those in the moment action items people love to see and what helps build your brand!

    Get help with Social Media

    How often are you out at events with a team or someone else?  Are they logged into the business accounts and ready to offer a snapshot while you're busy?  Keeping it as a team effort can reduce the burden you might put on yourself to do everything.  Have fun with the different perspectives and mention it while sharing.  The added touches make the account more real and personal.

    Make a plan

    We plan so many things, let's not forget the marketing of the business!  This is prime time to gather images and content which you can then use for months to come.  While it may seem like an extra task, it'll pay off in the future months when the season slows down and you then stress about what to post...

    Capture content through video and photos, but also take notes of things that pop into your head.  These little snippets of our minds can become great blog post and questions to answer in the future when you have a little more time to write or think about what's next in your business.

    Have fun with Social Media

    Social media posts and content should show your unique personality.  Most of the wedding business is about finding a good fit, and that fit is usually around a personality fit between the couple and the business.

    The things that make you unique will most of the time lead to you having enjoyable experiences with clients and vendors.

    Happy Posting!

    Cheers to a wonderful 2017 wedding season - we can't wait to see all the post you'll share and for members, don't forget to send us some content and we'll help spread the word!

    If you're looking for a 30 minute refresher on Instagram and all the new features happening - Check out this training video to get you ready for a fun 'Insta' wedding season
  • March 02, 2017 12:58 PM | Cherie Ronning (Administrator)

    Bernadette Smith, the author of this book is a leading authority on same-sex weddings and has been a tireless promoter of marriage equality. 

    Her expertise has been sought after by the Today Show, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Travel and Leisure and NPR.

    Her books offer valuable insight to those in the wedding industry as to how to reach the market and do it correctly. 

    In The Business of Gay Weddings: a Guide for Wedding Professionals, you will find an intensive and practical guide designed to help you understand the LGBTQ wedding market. Best practices are shared from hundreds of gay and lesbian weddings.

    The book also covers laws and policies that affect same-sex couples, LGBTQ wedding data, trends, traditions and more. 

    Bernadette is also the Founder and President of 14 Stories and The Gay Wedding Institute.

    This book should be on ever wedding professionals book list!

  • March 01, 2017 10:05 AM | Cherie Ronning (Administrator)

    Today starts the first of 31 days in March where you can earn FREE additional months of membership!

    For each new member you bring in during the month of March, you will receive 2 free months of membership for yourself. These will be tallied at the end of the month, and then your accumulated total months will be added to your current renewal date.

    Bring in 1 new member - earn 2 free months.

    Bring in 6 new members - earn 1 free year!

  • February 20, 2017 2:35 PM | Cherie Ronning (Administrator)

    When my members tell me they’re “stuck”, I really feel for them. I’ve been there myself. Ohhhh so many times! But I also get super excited for them, because being stuck is actually kind of awesome.

    I know it sounds nonsensical, but it’s really true! So why, you might ask, is it awesome? Because feeling “stuck” is just a big fat sign to pay attention. It’s kind of like getting a stuffy nose. Yeah, you could ignore it and keep pushing yourself to go go go, full steam ahead. But what if, instead, you got a little extra rest and figured out what you could be doing to take good care of your body?

    When you’re feeling “stuck’ it means that you want to go further. You want a thriving business and a better life - you just aren’t making it happen yet. And that "stuckness" you’re feeling is telling you to take a step back and figure out what you could be doing to take good care of your goals!

    So the big question is HOW then, right!? How do you figure it out? Why do you feel this way? Here are some things you can do to evaluate where you’re stuck and how to move forward:

    Don’t fight it!

    As if you had a cold, just accept it and cancel all your meetings for an afternoon to take a break from it all. And make it fun! Watch netflix, get a massage, or go for a walk to clear your head. Not only will it give your brain a chance to work in the background on your problem, you’ll be making better decisions because it’s from a place of enjoyment.

    Feed yourself the good stuff

    It’s time for some chicken soup and vitamin C.... So stop telling yourself that you’re not experienced enough, unproductive, or stupid for not figuring this out! I know it’s hard to shut down the inner bully when everyone else seems to be doing so well, and you’re way behind on your revenue goals. But you’re just feeding yourself garbage, and you know it. Right now your head needs some good nutrition, so train that voice to start encouraging you to believe in your genius.

    Listen to your body

    Take this opportunity to pay attention to what your gut is telling you. Your body gives you big clues, and it’s what led to this feeling of stuckness in the first place! Follow that feeling and dig deep to determine which areas of your business are causing this feeling. Then make one easy adjustment to that area of your business!  If you’re constantly feeling rushed, for example, maybe you should add an extra 15 minutes between appointments. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, cut back to focus on only one thing for the week. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the thing that is needing your care. A little love in one small area can lead to big progress in your business as a whole.

    Talk to someone who’s been there

    The problem that I see most “stuck” entrepreneurs face is that you don’t know who to turn to for business advice. That’s because, for the first time, you can’t get this crucial guidance from your closest friends and family anymore. Even if friends are outwardly supportive, most of them just can’t understand why you started a business when they’ve never done it themselves. They inadvertently keep you from getting unstuck because they don’t want you to break away from societal norms. The result is all kinds of conflicting advice, which leads to huge uncertainty in your own decisions. You need support from like-minded entrepreneurs who truly understand what you’re going through, so you’ll get relevant and unbiased input.

    That’s why I am introducing you to my friend Brenda Bryan. She is a Transformational Coach and Mastermind Facilitator Brenda Bryan, and has formed The Business Trust, a Mastermind Group created to give entrepreneurs the wisdom and support from people you can depend on. This group will be made up of other entrepreneurs like you that have been in business for 1-3 years, facing many of the same issues. You will be placed with those who have skills and backgrounds that complement your own, making you much more likely to benefit from each other and succeed in your business.

    I met Brenda through the eWomen Network organization here in Portland I chose to help her promote this Mastermind Group because of her expertise in helping entrepreneurs live in their genius. 

    With a degree in communications design, Brenda spent 16 years facilitating meetings and conflict resolution at a women’s center in Nova Scotia.  Realizing so many women didn’t know how to handle their childhood stories, she left for Heartwood Institute in order to train for her transformational certification, to help others to feel empowered in their voice. She continued her career there teaching community living skills, including conflict resolution, emotional therapy work, and facilitating thousands of meetings for over 10 years.

    Now Brenda brings her deep expertise of communication to the spiritual aspects of personal transformation to help business women thrive at their highest talents through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and stages around the country. She’s determined to help women see how they have the power within themselves to make change and ask for what they want.

    If The Business Trust sounds interesting to you, please visit this page for a more detailed description of our mastermind group with information on how to apply. The most important quality we are looking for are people that are committed to accomplishing their goals and helping their fellow members do the same. There is limited space, so apply as soon as possible if you are interested. 

    If you realize that a group support system is something you lack, I urge you to check out Brenda's Master Mind group and move past where you’re stuck and claim the business and life you see for yourself.






  • February 15, 2017 2:30 PM | Erin Osaki (Administrator)

    This haunting question was the topic of the SW Washington Wedding Network Mastermind for February.

    Client reviews are ‘your best, most authentic megaphone. 90% of millennials are interested in providing a review—and only 7% are asked to write one.’, The Knot noted in a recent webinar. Today’s millennial couples are ‘infosumers’ they thrive on information and the experience you provide. This is a market that has never been without online reviews as part of the buying process. What your previous clients say about you matter. Over 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  How do you get started?

    Set a goal. Understand how many reviews you want to receive each month for your business. Once your goal has been set—talk to your team. Involve them in the process of why reviews are important. Ask for ideas on how to improve the process. Make your goal part of the business culture within your company.  

    Schedule the time. If it’s not on your calendar, you won’t do it. You can create a routine of keeping reviews top of mind if it is part of your weekly schedule. Clients should be contacted within three weeks of their event with you to ensure the most vivid memories come through about your company. Find the space between the bouquet toss at the end of the night and before life has returned to normal to reach out to your clients. Even better—schedule time at the event for a video testimonial. This is when your client is receiving the highest benefit from your business—let them speak for you!

    Make it part of your non-negotiables. Most businesses don’t forget to send the final invoice or collect payment—so why should asking for reviews be any different? When you incorporate this in to the checklist of working with clients, you’ll remember to ask and they will be more likely to respond. Each member of your team contributes to the success of reviews. Hold each other accountable to this being the standard for your company and not the rarity.

    Get the conversation started. People buy from who they know, like, and trust. Reviews are how today’s couple decides who they want to know, if they like them, and if you are trusted. Your past clients will give all of the information your next client needs to know about your business. When asking for a review, get your client started with some key questions such as: “Describe your experience working with my team to plan your day.” Or “What made the difference in your day by choosing my company?” As Alan Berg always says, “When you ask better questions, you get better answers”. Help your client by getting their mind thinking.

    Speaking of Alan Berg, he came up quite a bit today in the meeting. If you haven’t read his latest book, take the time to read it soon. He covers using testimonials as the key ingredients of marketing collateral, your website, your business card—and basically anywhere you can put it. You can read about more about it here and by joining our Wedding Network Book Club.

    The SW Washington WN Mastermind is held the third Wednesday of each month. Learn more about upcoming meetings by visiting our Events page!


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