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The Biggest Wedding Blog Submission Mistake That Every Wedding Vendor Makes

Before I get into the biggest mistake that wedding vendors make regarding submitting their work to be featured on wedding blogs, you might need a little bit of a backstory on why I’m even writing this post in the first place. I’ll keep it short, but suffice to say I know a thing (or two!) about wedding blogs!

Did you know that I used to own and edit a wedding blog for the Washington DC area. True story! For five years, I founded, ran, grew, edited and cried over the Washington DC area’s top wedding blog, United With Love. I loved that blog with all of my heart, I often joked that it was my third baby since I started it a mere two months after my first son was burn. But, as with most small businesses sometimes it is about having the confidence to know when to say when. It was time for the this local wedding blog to grow into the future with another editor and owner. In January, United With Love was taken over by the lovely Tabitha of Roberts & Co. Events, a wedding planning company based in the DC area.

(This bride + groom + bunting photo was the very first image that I ever share on United With Love in the very first blog post!)

Now that I’m on the other side and not the one accepting wedding blog submissions anymore, I’m back to being just another wedding vendor. (I started designing and hand making wedding garters well before the whole wedding blog editor thing ever came into the picture!) I notice now that there is big gap of information between bloggers and vendors. There is quite a bit that wedding vendors don’t know about submitting to wedding blogs.

I’m starting a little series here on The Garter Girl blog that is off the wedding garter topic, for sure. This series is geared more towards wedding professionals. I’m sharing little insider secrets about wedding blogs that I could never really say when I was the blog editor! I’m hoping to help wedding vendors – be it photographers, wedding planners or anyone else who hopes to share their work – make their wedding blog submissions better and more effective. Submitting your work to a wedding blog takes an incredible amount of time. Wouldn’t you rather make smart and purposeful submissions!? The ultimate goal of any wedding blog submission is to get more business through more people being exposed to your work. Better submissions makes happy vendors and happy bloggers!

OK, so onto the topic at hand: the biggest mistake that wedding vendors make when submitting their work to wedging blogs is quite simple. It is that they don’t submit. Truly. The biggest mistake that wedding vendors make is that they don’t actually submit their work to wedding blogs.

Other work or life gets in the way, and the submissions gets thrown off the to-do list. Maybe they are just so busy with the day-to-day of their business that they don’t have time to submit. Maybe they think that the couple will never go for a real wedding feature. Maybe they are so overwhelmed with how much work it takes to submit and don’t know where to start. Maybe they think the wedding didn’t have enough details, or it isn’t pretty enough. Maybe, maybe, maybe!

Another big hurdle to not submitting your work is fear. Fear of being rejected. Fear of being turned down. Fear of being told your work is not good enough. There are so many reasons why vendors don’t submit their work. I could list out a dozen more reasons for not submitting. But, the truth is this: the number one thing holding vendors back from not seeing their work on wedding blogs is that they don’t submit their work to be considered.

I’ve talked to countless wedding vendors and it is typically the same conversation. They tell me that they would love to see their work on a certain wedding blog, but it will never happen. And, then I ask, “Well, have you tried? Have you actually submitted your work?” The answers is almost always the same. No, they haven’t tried. No, they are too busy. No, they will get to it tomorrow, or maybe next week. No, they haven’t made the effort to gather the photos and do the work that is required to make a submission.

You can’t get featured if you don’t submit. Wedding blogs need submissions to survive. (Well, they need submissions and sponsors. But that’s a whole other post for another day!) Wedding bloggers don’t have time to troll the Internet and social media looking for content to feature. They rely on incoming submissions to fill their editorial calendars day in and day out. If you don’t ever share your work, there is a zero percent chance that you will ever get featured.

All wedding blogs have a submissions information page on their site. On this page they list very clearly what they are looking for and in the format that they would like it to be submitted. So, find your favorite wedding blog, look up their submissions guidelines and get out there and submit your work!

So, what about you? What wedding blog submission questions do you have? Anything you want me to tell the truth on!? Let me know!

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Learn About Blogging On “This Week In Weddings” Podcast

Do you into listen to podcasts? Me too! I’ve turned to podcasts over the past few months to learn all kind of new things for my creative small business. And, now it is my turn! I was a guest on This Week In Weddings podcast, which is a podcast designed specifically entrepreneurs in the wedding industry. On my podcast episode, I’m talking all things blogging for your business, of course! You know I love talking about small business blogging and I could have talked for hours no the subject!

Hosted by Dallas wedding planner, Kimberly from Hitched Events and wedding invitation designer, Annie from 5 by 7 Designs, in this podcast I chat all about how to blog for your business, including why blogging is important, the basics of blogging, and a little bit about SEO (search engine optimization) especially for those that don’t consider themselves tech-savvy.

In the blogging podcast that you can listen to right on the website or in iTunes, I also give my thoughts on the ideal length for your blog posts and how to fit blogging into your already busy schedule. Because, let’s face it, when you are running a business in the wedding and creative industry while trying to keep your clients happy and have some sort of social life, it can be really hard to fit everything in, especially blogging! I go into it all and give my personal tips for how I manage my blog for my stylish wedding garters and how I’m able to consistently get blog posts up on my website.

Be sure to check out my small business blogging podcast episode on This Week In Weddings. If you listened, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let me know!

Remember, I just launched my new online course on how to blog for your business, so if you are like most small business owners and frustrated with your blog and don’t know where to started, then this online course is for you! I

For more small business blogging tips and advice, be sure to check out my blog series on the subject. You can sign up for my email newsletter to get more blogging tips and be the first person to know about any blogging workshops that I have coming up.

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Three Best Tips For Blogging

Are you struggling with the blog for your creative small business?? Are you looking at all of your competitors and thinking, “How do they do it it all??” You have a blog for your business, you know deep down that blogging is important, but you just can’t seem to find the time to do it! I totally get it and some days I’m right there with you! Today, I’m going to share a few tips for how to blog for your business. This advice is based on the three most common questions that I hear from frustrated business owners: How do I get blog posts up when I’m so busy with everything else? How long should my blog posts be? What should I write about on my blog?

I also have my new online course for how to blog for your business, so if you want more in depth advice on how exactly to get control of your blog, I’d love for you to check it out.

These are the real, honest pieces of advice that I share with other creative business owners when they tell me that they are frustrated with their blog. Because, the conversation always goes the same. Most creative small businesses hate the blog for their business. They find it hard to fit blogging into their already hectic schedule and social media is just easier and faster. But, as I’ve talked about before, you don’t own anything on social media and your blog is your business cheerleader! Keeping up with the blog for your business will set you up for long term success and allow you to ride whatever wave of social media there might be.

Photo Credit: Red October Photography

From one business owner to another, here are three tips for how to blog for your business…

Frustration: How do I get blog posts up when I’m so business with everything else in my business?

1 – Prioritize your blog.

You will never get to writing blog posts, if you never make it a priority and block out the time in your schedule. I know it seems like a simple tip and it might even seem a little silly, but forcing yourself to block out the time to write blog posts is the easiest way to actually getting blog posts done and scheduled.

Setting aside the time in my schedule is truly the number one way that I get blog posts written. When I allow other things to take over my life or I allow that time I’ve carved out on my schedule for blogging to be taken over by other things, then the blog posts don’t happen. For me, I like to save the blog posts up and then I block out an hour a week to pre-schedule all of my posts.

When you see a business with lots of blog posts, and you wonder how they find the time, it is simple: They prioritize the time for their blog. If you want to have an active blog and speak directly to your ideal clients, then you need to block out the time. Because, let’s face, time won’t just magically appear on your schedule. You are a small business owner, there are always a million other things you could be doing. If it is an hour a week, an hour a day, whatever you can manage, just as long as you block out the time and set it aside as blogging time only.

The posts won’t magically appear on your blog, unless you set aside the time and make your blog a priority during that time.

Frustration: How long should my blog posts be?

2 – Don’t try to be epic.

Not every blog post needs to be long and epic. You don’t need to break the Internet with each post. Give the information that you promised to your ideal client in the headline of the blog post and then be done with it. If you don’t think you are a good writer, then look for the easy posts that don’t require a ton of writing. Don’t stress out about giving 10 tips when just 5 tips would do. I see many creative small business owners struggle with their blog, because they feel the need to find the perfect words and just the right way to say something. And, even worse, they feel like they need to write a huge novel with each blog post.

Aim for around 400 words with at least one photograph for your blog posts. If you have more or less than 400 words, that it is OK. SEO experts and tech wizards might tell you differently in terms of word count, but they don’t live in the real world of trying to manage a business at the same time as your blog.

For me and my business, it is better to have an active blog that is helpful to my ideal clients than worry that my posts aren’t long enough. Some of my blog posts are long and some are short and sweet. It is the helpfulness of the information that I’m providing in my posts and the consistency that is most effective for the blog for my business.

Frustration: What should I write about on my blog? 

3 – Write what you want to be hired to do.

Think about what you want to be hired to do, then write blog posts for the people that would hire you to do you work. Who do you want to hire you? Write your blog posts for them. Solve your ideal client’s problems and use language that they would understand. (Don’t use “inside baseball” terms that they won’t understand!) What do you want your ideal client to know about your business? What do you want them to hire you for? Write on your blog what your ideal client wants and needs to know.

Don’t write blog posts for your peers or your competitors on your blog. Those people aren’t going to hire you and purchase your products or services. Remember this blog post, I wrote about what to write about when you aren’t sure what to write about?

You’ve most likely spent some time thinking about your ideal clients, now write blog posts for them. Write for the people that you want to hire you. Solve their problems, be helpful to them. That is what makes a successful blog for your business.

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Those a few tips for blogging for your business! I hope that they were helpful to you!

Remember, I just launched my new online course on how to blog for your business, so if you need more help or want to get serious about your online profile, check it out!

For more small business blogging tips and advice, be sure to check out my blog series on the subject. You can sign up for my email newsletter to get more blogging tips and be the first person to know about any blogging workshops that I have coming up.

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Making Your Website Appealing To Search Engines & Potential Clients

In addition to designing and hand making wedding garters, my passion is helping other creative small business owners get control of the blog for their business. From one business owner to another, it really helps when we can all commiserate and learn from each other. I recently wrote an article for the Rising Tide Society‘s guide on SEO and keywords. I wrote this article especially for those in the creative and wedding industry because we are all so visually motivated. But, when you are designing your website and working on your blog, you need to keep in mind that you have another visitor who needs attention too: the search engine.

Here is the article from June’s Rising Tide Society guide….

SEO + Optimization

If you own a business with a website, chances are good that you’ve heard of the acronym SEO. This stands for search engine optimization, and it refers to art of doing things to your website so that it is crawled or indexed by a search engine, like Google. When your website is properly indexed by a search engine, the chances are better that it will pop up higher when a user types into a search bar looking for the services or products that you offer.

You know that being at the top of a search is crucial because, as a consumer yourself, you’ve probably gone through this when making your own purchases. You know how important it is to be right up front and in front of your potential clients when they are researching and shopping online.

SEO and P.C.O.

But, let’s back up before we even get into SEO and how to implement it onto your website. I want to talk to you about an issue that I see going on in the creative industry and that is the difference between SEO and P.C.O. and why your website needs to have both of these functions. And, why you, the business owner, need to understand and take control of both of these elements on your website.

P.C.O. is an acronym that I’ve made up and it stands for potential client optimization. (So, don’t try to look this acronym up and think that I’m crazy!) It refers to ensuring that your website is appealing to users who come to your website looking for your services. In the creative industry, there is much attention paid to optimizing your website, your social media, and indeed, your brand, for potential clients. There are countless webinars, workshops, experts, downloads and more on branding, design, developing your message and so much more to help your business appeal to your ideal clients.

With this hyper-focus on visual branding, there is little attention paid to optimizing your website for a search engine. But, if a search engine can’t find your site because it isn’t optimized, and thus isn’t showing it to potential clients, what good is the design of your site or the quality of your pictures? What good is defining your ideal client, if that ideal client can’t even find your website to learn more about you, much less purchase your services?

Attracts and Attractive

Your website for your business must be optimized for two different audiences. Even though it is one entity, your website must at the same time speak to search engines (this is SEO), and to a user or a potential client (this is P.C.O.). Too often, businesses in the creative space are focused on one and not the other. Or worse, they don’t know that their website isn’t optimized for one or none of these functions, much less where to start or how to fix it.

What attracts a search engine to find your site and show it to people who are looking for your products or services, and what is attractive to a user making them want buy your products or services are two different techniques. The act of applying these techniques is called “optimizing” your site or making it more appealing to a search engine and a potential client. Both techniques must be done simultaneously. Websites have the capability of doing both – attracting and being attractive – and you, the business owner, need to make sure that both are happening on your website at the same time.

What is attractive to a potential client or a user is a little easier to wrap our heads around. We can see it and understand it. It is often dealt with in the branding process, if you’ve been through that experience with your business. A potential client comes to your site and everything they can see and feel on your site, such as colors, words, fonts, layout, videos, photographs and more, is what makes your product or service attractive to them. It all works together to make them feel a connection with you and want to hire your business. But, what speaks to a search engine is much different. What makes your business pop up on page one of Google when someone types your product or service into that search bar has very little, if anything at all, to do with the visual experience. Quite literally, a potential client is a human and responds to things like colors, sights, and sounds, while a search engine is a robot and does not respond to colors, sights, and sounds.

Consistency and Time

Often, creative business owners, especially if they have a new(ish) website design or have recently gone through the branding process, assume that because their website looks amazing and their photographs are all on-point with their brand, that the SEO is being taken care of. Or worse, that it was taken care of by the person who designed their website. This is rarely the case. Most businesses who offer branding services do not offer SEO services and vice versa. Furthermore, optimizing your website for a search engine is not a one-and-done type of a thing.

SEO is an on-going process and something that you need to continuously work at over time. I’ve been blogging for my business since 2009, and my SEO work is never done, nor will it ever be. Making sure that your business is able to be found on the Internet is an art form and it is an ongoing effort. Why? Because search engines love consistency and time. The more consistent you are with your SEO and the longer you do it, the more effective you will be.

Commit To It

You are going to learn a lot about SEO this month from many people in the Rising Tide Society. Hopefully, you’ll head into the summer with a renewed sense of purpose for your website and a commitment to your business being found on the Internet for the long haul.

Just remember, your website needs to be appealing to both search engines and your potential clients at the same time. Potential clients see and feel, while search engines do not. So, when you are making updates and changes to your website, make sure that every change, update, or optimization is made with the search engine, not just the potential client, in mind.

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I hope that you found this explanation helpful and that you are motivated to learn a little more about SEO and get control of your website and blog.

Remember, I just launched my new online course on how to blog for your business, so if you need more help or want to get serious about your online profile, check it out!

For more small business blogging tips and advice, be sure to check out my blog series on the subject. You can sign up for my email newsletter to get more blogging tips and be the first person to know about any blogging workshops that I have coming up.

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Writing Blog Posts That Are Helpful To Your Potential Clients

I recently spoke at the ultimate luxury wedding conference engage! in the Cayman Islands. It was a dream come true to be able to share my small business blogging advice with the attendees. I had to put my wedding garters aside for the week and put my  blogging hat on. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it! I remember live blogging my first engage! conference in 2009 in Las Vegas and my oh my, how have things changed in the world since then!?

At engage!, I talked about how to take control of your blog, and also your entire online profile. It all starts with a solid foundation on your website and blog. If you nail down the basics on your blog, you can then apply all of those same principals to the rest of your profile online. But, fast forwarding for a second, I see a lot of creative and wedding professionals struggling with what to blog about.  And, that’s what I want to talk about here on this post: using every opportunity within your business to write blog posts that are actually helpful to your clients.

Photo Credit: John Cain Photography

Blogging For Future Business

How do you go to an amazing conference like engage! to better your business, and then come home and write about it on your blog in a way that will appeal to your readers and book you business? True, it would be a waste to go to engage! and experience so much wedding inspiration (and have access to all of the photos to prove it!) and NOT share about it on your blog. But, at the same time it would be a waste to share the magic of engage! on your blog in a way that your potential clients would NOT care about.

As you know, I’m a huge fan of only blogging about things that you want to be hired for. To blog about something that is off topic for your business or that you don’t want someone to pay you to do is just a waste of time. Because, let’s be honest, those looking to hire you for your services don’t really care that you went to an amazing conference. That’s not news to them and that’s not helpful. With that in mind, I wanted to give attendees at engage! (Hi, if you are reading this!) a few ideas of things to share on their blog from the conference. If you weren’t at engage!, you can also use these ideas for any other conference or event that you’ve attended.

Share All The Inspiration

There was so much wedding inspiration and ideas at engage!, indeed all of the conference sponsors pulled out all the stops and were showing the best of the best in wedding and event decor, food and entertainment. But, if you are a creative small business owner, how do you share the details and inspiration from a conference likes engage! on your blog? How can you talk about your experience with your potential clients and then get hired back in your home town?

For example, a potential client of a wedding planner doesn’t really care much that their planner went to a wedding industry conference, but they would care to know how to incorporate a neon sign into their wedding or unique ideas for wedding welcome gifts and so much more! Engage! is nothing if not inspirational and innovative, so the trick for those small businesses in attendence becomes about taking the amazing photographs and sharing the inspiration on your blog in a way that is relatable and helpful to your potential clients.

Here are five different ways that you can blog about the engage! conference in a way that is helpful to potential clients and will help you book more business through your blog:

#1 – Swag = Wedding Welcome Gift Inspiration!

The swag and gifting at engage! is amazing, that is no secret! Gifts for the Good Life, TPD Design House, and team engage! were all so thoughtful and the gifts were perfectly designed at every turn. To share this on your blog, use a photo or two of the different gifts on your blog and then give tips for how to give thoughtfully a wedding. Let the photos and the gifts be a jumping off points for making it relatable to your readers and sharing your own tips and advice.

You could share advice such as things to keep in mind when gifting at a wedding, how to incorporate your wedding theme into your welcome gifts, and unique ways to present wedding welcome gifts. You could also do an inspiration round up on your blog showing the different welcome gift ideas from engage! and how each could be replicated at a wedding.

Unique and thoughtful welcome gifts at weddings is such a hot wedding trend right now and something that engaged couples are really interested in incorporating into their wedding. Use your tripe to engage! to share wedding welcome gift ideas and advice with potential clients.

#2 Trends = You Are An Expert

The sponsors of engage! pulled out all of the stops and showed their best work in terms of entertainment, food, beverage, and design and decor. Pick one element that you haven’t seen before and share that on your blog along with a picture or two. You could do five inspirational blog posts on just the opening night party on the beach! And, don’t even get me started on the gala from HMR Designs – there were wedding design ideas for days at that event!

When you share trends or new and exciting things that your potential clients haven’t seen before, that builds trust and it shows that you are truly an expert.

Inspirational blog posts about trends from engage! could include: rainbow tents from Raj Tents, ombre table linens from Nuage Designs, unique entertainment (Hello, mermaids!) from Elan Artists, color block carpets and drapes, dessert presentations, food choices for outdoor parties and so much more.

Wedding trend posts on your blog show that you are plugged into the industry and that you know the right vendors to work with to make their wedding unique.

#3 Color Palettes = All The Color!

Wedding colors and color palettes are huge Internet searches for engaged couples who are planning a wedding. Your potential clients want to know unique color combinations and unexpected ways to incorporate color into their wedding. And, each event at engage! was more colorful than the next!

The colors of the sunset was the color theme at this year’s engage!, and nature inspired color palettes is something that engaged couples would be interested in seeing on your blog. The ombre tables linens of the general session, the rainbow dessert party, the bright and sparkle from the mermaid pool party, and the bold, colorful carpet and drapery at the gala are wedding ideas that deserve to be shared on your blog!

Again, your potential clients want to be inspired and if you can show them lots of color and the hottest most unique ideas going on in the wedding industry right now, that makes you helpful AND an expert!

#4 Tips & Advice = Be Helpful!

Use the photographs from engage! as an opportunity to share some wedding tips and advice. You could share tips about destination weddings, if that’s what you want to be hired for, of course. On your blog, talk about things to pack for a destination wedding, what to wear, or how many people to invite to a destination wedding. Share anything related to destination weddings with the photos from engage! and use your trip to Grand Cayman as the reason for writing the post.

If you don’t want to be hired for destination weddings, you could a blog post about advice for an outdoor pool party or how to have an after party at your wedding. Other wedding advice posts could be tips for getting married at hotel when there are other guests staying at the hotel, important things to know about a hotel wedding, tips for incorporating color at your wedding and so much more!

If you use your blog to solve problems and be helpful to your potential clients, they will be more interested in your work and working with you.

#5 Venue Tours = Big Searches

If there is one thing that engaged couples need, it is a place to get married. The wedding venue or location is a big Internet search for engaged couples planning a wedding. You can use your trip to engage! in a few unique ways and share about the location on your blog, while also being helpful to your potential clients.

If you want to be hired for work in the Grand Cayman, you could use the photographs from engage! and do a wedding venue tour on your blog of the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa. If you have a Kimpton in your local area, you could do a venue tour of that property as a potential spot to get married.

Additionally, if you networked with a new friend from a different wedding venue, reach out to them and see if you could share information about their venue on your blog. They would probably be really happy to have the exposure and a blog to share about their space. Sharing wedding locations is helpful to your readers and remember what I said about the importance of being helpful on your blog??

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As you can see, there are many different ways to share about your trip to engage! on your blog and do it in a way that is helpful to your readers. Remember, your blog is your chance to show your potential clients that you are an expert and you know what you are talking about.

An amazing wedding conference where you learned so much and were so inspired, is an amazing opportunity full of unique blog posts to share with your potential clients.

What will you blog about?

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For more small business blogging tips and advice, be sure to check out my blog series on the subject. You can sign up for my email newsletter to get more blogging tips and be the first person to know about any blogging workshops that I have coming up.

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Pre-Sale: How To Blog For Your Small Business Webinar & Online Course

It’s here! All of your blogging dreams (or nightmares as the case may be!) will be answered with my new webinar and online course for how to blog for your creative small business. My webinar and online course teaching you the exact steps on how to blog for your creative small business is finally here! With 7 hours of training and 14 different videos, you’ll be empowered to get control of your blog, your search engine optimization (SEO) and your entire online profile!

The Blog Your Own Business (B.Y.O.B.) Webinar and Online Course is available for a pre-sale starting today. The blogging course pre-sale runs from June 1 through June 15th. On June 15th, the course will be available for viewing to anyone who purchases. If you are a member of my email list, you’ll get a special discount to purchase the blogging course at a discount during the pre-sale. If you aren’t on my list, you can sign up for the blogging tips email list right here. Those that purchase the blogging webinar during the pre-sale will be able to submit their questions to me and I’ll answer them in a bonus content video that I’ll be releasing in July.

Photo Credit: Red October Photography

If you are a small business owner and you want to learn more about blogging, how to fit blogging into the daily schedule of also running your business, and understand the SEO basics that every business owner needs to know, then this online course is for you! Now you can learn all of my blogging techniques, get control of your blog and finally learn the basics of SEO all in the comfort of your own home, going at your own pace!

I want to help you get your blog under control! I want to help you end the blog frustration and guilt that I see too many creative small business owners suffering from. I want to help you get your blog off of the bottom of your to-do pile and show you how effective your blog can be at booking you business. My blogging webinar will empower you to do all of these things and so much more!

With over seven hours of training split in between 14 different vides, this online course will show you exactly how to blog for your creative small business. I will show you my proven eight steps to an effective blog post that will get your blog attracting ideal clients and booking business. I’ve also created a blogging workbook that coordinates with the course so that you can take notes and follow along, going at your own pace. In addition to getting your blog under control, the techniques that I’m teaching in this online course are also applicable to your entire online profile!

In addition to the webinar blogging training, I’m also offering additional support for those that need it. Once you purchase the course, you can also purchase a customized blog review, a personalized blogging schedule and suggested blog post topics, and unlimited consultation with me. Check out all of the small business blogging resources that I’m offering!

To find out more about my small business blogging webinar, check it out here or sign up for my blogging email list so that you can get a discount during the pre-sale. Remember, the pre-sale runs from June 1 until 15th. The blogging webinar will go live to those who purchase on June 15th.

For more small business blogging tips and advice, be sure to check out my blog series on the subject.

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Speaking at Engage17!: Owning It Online

What are you doing June 5th through the 8th? I will be in the Cayman Islands speaking at the engage17! Cayman. I will be talking about small business blogging and how to get control of your online profile. As you know from reading my blog posts and my BYOB workshop, it is all about blogging smarter, not harder and I can’t wait to bring that message to all of wedding and event pros at engage!

There are many ways to continue your education when you work in the in the creative and wedding industries. You can find workshops on just about any topic, you can seek out a webinar on anything you need help with, and find an expert on all the things that you need to learn. But, there is no conference like engage! Engage! combines the top professionals in the industry, the best advice from experts who have been there done that, and the most incredible networking that you just can’t find anywhere else, along with the most incredible swag you will ever see in your life!

I attended my first engage! in 2009 in Las Vegas. It was such an amazing experience. The people that I met – many of whom I am still friends with today – and the skills that I learned are amazing. I still talk about things that I learned at my first engage! I’ve been back to engage! a few times, when babies and businesses haven’t gotten in my way. I’m so thankful, honored, and excited to be headed to Cayman Island as a speaker this time. I’ll be hosting a break out session on how to blog for your small business.

Here is what I’ll be talking about…

Owning It Online: How To Work Smarter Not Harder

Julianne Smith is The Garter Girl. She sells modern heirlooms to brides who don’t even think they want a garter. How? By investing wisely in an online presence, solving problems before clients know they have them, and ranking #1 for keywords. It isn’t sexy, it isn’t always pretty, but it works. And, it consistently books business.

Are you totally frustrated with changing algorithms, massive to-do lists, competitors with huge Instagram accounts who have been in business for 5 minutes? What even is SEO and why do I need to care about it? Are you tired of being told to curate your brand and target your ideal client while watching your to-do list grow larger and larger at the expense of actually doing your job?

This breakout session is for those who are serious about taking control of their online profile and their to-do list. It is for those who are ready to focus on what matters, book business and stay relevant for the long-term. Juli will teach you how to ride the waves of social media, and be more effective online with the little time that you have.

In her fun, judgment-free yet brutally honest style, Juli will teach you everything you need to know about your online presence: what it is, how it works and why it is important. You will walk out with action items for the plane ride home, and a brand new perspective of the Internet and your business’ place in it.

Concepts in this breakout session are based on her sold out small business blogging workshop. Juli will show you exactly how to target your market, solve problems for your clients, book business and leave the rest for when you somehow have a million more hours in the day.

Top Takeaways:

  • The importance of owning vs. renting your online presence, and how focusing on Instagram is killing your business.
  • How to invest in your online profile while still doing your job by working smarter, not harder.
  • Why you need to understand and take control of your SEO. (If you don’t know what SEO is, then you really need to come to this breakout session!)
  • How to use your website to book business and solve your potential client’s problems.
  • The difference between blogging AS a business and blogging FOR your business.
  • Why blogging isn’t a dirty word for business owners to fear.

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So, what do you think? Would you attend this breakout session and learn more about blogging for your business? More importantly, will I see you in Cayman Islands at engage17!? Remember, there are wedding and create conferences, and then there is engage!

For more small business blogging tips and advice, be sure to check out my blog series on the subject. You can sign up for my email newsletter to get more blogging tips and be the first person to know about any blogging workshops that I have coming up.

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Is It The Message Or The Messenger?

Long before the stylish wedding garters and the small business blogging advice, when I was working in politics, there was a saying for when something wasn’t working. If there is a problem, it is either the message or the messenger. When something isn’t right in politics or in your small business, you can look to fix two different things – the message being delivered or the one delivering the message. What does this mean to the creative industry and how it is the applicable to blogging for your small business? Well, I’m about to tell you!

If you are struggling in your business to bring in more clients and get more leads, or if you want to set your business up for long term success as in be around long after Instagram is over, you have to focus on the message and the messenger. Both of these elements – message and messenger – in equal amounts and both at the same time.

Photo Credit: Joy Michelle Photography

In the creative and wedding industry, “the message” involves the photos, the words, the colors, the pricing packages, the branding elements, the curated images and more. While “the messenger” is more than you, the business owner, and it involves how potential clients are finding your business, are they finding you, can the find you? Are you where your clients are? Are you networking with the right people? Is your business in a place that can be found consistently over and over again?

Message vs. Messenger

To often in the creative industry, we focus on the message only. Why? The message is easier, we can see it, it is pretty. The message is tangible, we understand it. We can change words and we can edit photos, change up colors and really curate our brand’s image. We can see and reach out and touch certain elements of our brand’s message. The best part of the message is that the returns are immediate. You take a new photo, you post it on Instagram, and you see it right away.

But, with the messenger, it just isn’t pretty or fun. The messenger often gets lost, forgotten or left behind. Why? Because the messenger isn’t glamorous. It isn’t pretty. It involves back end techniques, keywords, marketing, blog post writing, website SEO, networking – all of the things that you can’t see or touch, but are so important to the growth and long-term health of your business’ online portfolio. And worse, the messenger isn’t an immediate return and it involves things that take time to solve, settle in and take effect.

For The Long Haul

If you want your business to be around for the long haul, if you want to ride the wave of social media and be relevant after Instagram isn’t the hot social media outlet, you have to focus on both the message and the messenger. If you are struggling with business not coming in, or you are struggling to book clients, or if you aren’t even getting any leads at all, try to focus on both the message and the messenger.

There are lots of resources on how to improve your brand’s message. And, that’s not me. I’m not a stylist or a branding expert. But, what I can help with with the messenger portion of the equation. You must be evaluating, updating and editing both the message and the messenger at the same time. If you are struggling, don’t think that just by re-branding or taking new photos, it will solve all of your problems.

If potential clients can’t find your business online, or you are not updating your blog and it is turning away clients, then your problems have to do with your messenger. Really evaluate how your clients are finding you? Is it word of mouth referrals or do you needs to do more networking with different people? Can people find your business when they type it into a search engine? Do you even like what comes up with you Google your business? If not, fix it. These all have to do with changing the messenger and how potentials clients are being delivered your message.

Update The Messenger

What are some simple things that you can do to focus on your small business brand’s messenger? Here are three quick things you can do:

  1. Write a blog post or two or three. Get you business refreshed and filtering around the Internet with a new, fresh blog post. If you are stuck on what to write about, check out this post I did on what to blog about when you don’t know what to blog about, or this post on the 10 blog posts you already have written.
  2. Update something old. Do you have a page on your website that you haven’t updated in years? Give is a little refresh with a new photo or some new text. Updating an old page will breathe a little life back into your website, which will help you in the long run.
  3. Take the blogging challenge. At the beginning of the year, I created a super easy small business blogging challenge to help people kick start their blog for the new year. But, you can go through this all year long, anytime your blog and website needs a little refresh.

I hope this helps! Remember, you must focus on both the message and the messenger of your business at the same time in order to stay relevant and ready for whatever social media waves are going to strike.

For more small business blogging tips and advice, be sure to check out my blog series on the subject. You can sign up for my email newsletter to get more blogging tips and be the first person to know about any blogging workshops that I have coming up.

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Blogging For Your Business vs. Blogging As A Business

I’m taking a little break from the wedding garter designing and sewing today to share a little blogging tip with you and raise a discussion point that might be confusing other business owners out there. There is a big different between blogging for your business vs. blogging as a business. It is just a few word difference, changing “for” to “as a” in terms of blogging, but when it comes to goals, priorities and how-to’s, this destinction makes a huge difference! As a small business owner, when you are trying to educate yourself about blogging, it is important to know which category you, your business and your blog falls into.

As you know, I am passionate about helping creative small businesses use their blog to grow their business. I recently held my second B.Y.O.B (Blog Your Own Business) Workshop here in DC to help wither business owners get control of their blog. In my discussions with other small business owners, I noticed that there is some confusion about blogging for your business and how it is different than blogging as a business.

modern black lace bridal garter

Photo Credit: Red October Photography

Comparison

Many business owners, who clearly fall into the camp of “blogging for their business,” are struggling because when they seek advice or inspiration for their blog, they are looking at those who “blog as a business.” They are finding help and support from professional bloggers. Worse, they are comparing their blog to support their small business to other professional bloggers. They are wondering why they don’t have the traffic or they are feeling badly because they aren’t posting multiple times a day. In reality, if you are blogging to support your small business, things like traffic and posting frequency might not be as important as you think.

Now, some of advice from professional bloggers can be helpful and applicable, but only if you know the difference between the two entities, so that you can take what you need and leave the rest. When it comes to your business, it is important to compare your blog to others who are similarly situated. If you are a wedding planner or a florist, then a full-time professional wedding blogger is probably not the best comparison to make. Even though you both operate what you both call a “blog,” it is truly like comparing apples to oranges. The blogs are two different business models. Indeed, you should be comparing yourself to other similarly situated businesses. How are they using their blog to grow their business? What are they doing to drive sales through their blog? How are they using their blog to introduce themselves to their clients?

The Difference

The reason that it is important to make this distinction between blogging as a business and blogging for your business is because both blogs have different goals, priorities and systems. What works for a business blog, might not work for a blog to support your business. Professional bloggers often struggle to develop content, while those who blog for their business rarely have issues developing content because they blog about their business! (In my case, I blog about my wedding garters and topics that relate to running of my business.) Additionally, bloggers as a business have much different goals for their blog, thus they need to post at certain times of the day and a certain amount per week so that they can keep up their traffic and continue to grow. All of these goals are quite different if you are running a blog to support your business.

More importantly, those who blog for their business, need to balance managing their blog along with everything else that makes them money. As much as I’d like to spend all day writing blog posts, I need to get into my business and service my clients. I need to sew and fulfill orders and more. Every small business owner needs to balance their to-do list, and the to-do lists of a professional blogger and someone who blogs to support their business are much different.

Most of us in the creative small business industry, like myself with my wedding garters, are experts in other areas. We are florists, photographers, crafters, designers, or wedding planners and blogging for your business is much different than how to blog as your business. When I started United With Love, a blog for weddings in the Washington DC area, blogging was my business. I didn’t necessarily make money by making something else, I made money from my blog, which means I sold advertisement space and did affiliate marketing and lots of other creative ways to generate income through my blog.

But, with The Garter Girl, I do something else (i.e. I design and hand make bridal garters.) and I use my business’ blog to help to grow and support my wedding garter business. I don’t make money off my blog for The Garter Girl, instead I use my blog to promote my wedding garters and reach out to those that might be interested in purchasing a wedding garter hand made by me.

Make The Distinction

The is distinction between blogging as a business and blogging for your business is an important one to make and something that we talked about at length at the workshop. Many small business owners struggle with how much time to spend on blogging and wonder what blogging can do for their business. They struggle with finding time to fit blogging into their mounting to-do list and blogging often gets pushed farther and farther down (and sometimes kicked off!) that list. All of this is much different when you are blogging as a business. Now, I’m not saying that professional bloggers aren’t busy! They most certainly are and have much on their to-do list! It is a just a totally and completely different line of work than someone else who runs a blog to support their other creative endeavor.

So, as you learn more about blogging, what camp do you fall into? Are you blogging to support and grow your other business and are you using your blog to help you make sales or book jobs? Or, are you a professional blogger who doesn’t necessarily make anything else, but rather makes money through your blog? The distinction matters and knowing which camp you fall into is important when seeking advice and making comparisons.

For more small business blogging tips and advice, be sure to check out my blog series on the subject. You can sign up for my email newsletter to get more blogging tips and be the first person to know about any blogging workshops that I have coming up.

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DIY Custom Sprinkles Mix

Do you know makes blogging better? I’ll give you the answer! Sprinkes! Yes, sprinkles make blogging better! Well, actually any sugar makes writing tons and and tons of blog post just a little bit easier to deal with. Today I’m going to show you exactly how I made a custom sprinkle mix as a favor for my most recent small business blogging workshop. I was looking for a fun and affordable favor for the blogging workshop and I wanted it to go with my theme. Most of all, I needed this swag to be easy to source, simple to assemble and a breeze to set up.

This is not quite the inspiration post about my stylish wedding garters that you are used to seeing here on my blog, but you know I love a good DIY project! So, let me tell you the story of how I came up with the custom sprinkles mix for the blogging workshop and pulled it off easily and affordably…

Photo credit: Red October Photography

First the idea.

This small business blogging workshop was held at Sprinkles, a cupcake bakery here in Washington DC. Given that the workshop was at Sprinkles, I thought it would be really fun to use sprinkles as a theme for the favors. As it turns out, the custom sprinkles mixes were fun, unique, attendees loved them!

I looked around quite a bit to find a mix of custom colored sprinkles to go with my theme of gray and yellow, but I had a really hard time finding exactly the perfect sprinkle mix for my favors. I wanted just the right colors and I didn’t want it to be too expensive. After all, it was a favor to take home, certainly not something that was necessary, but rather nice to have! Plus, attendees came to the workshop learn how to blog for their small business, not to get favors and swag, as fun as it is!

Photo credit: Red October Photography

Next was the phrase.

Again, given that the blogging workshop was at a place named Sprinkles, I really wanted to use the word “sprinkles” in the favor tag. I came up with, “Sprinkles make blogging better” and then added my workshop hashtag #byobworskhop at the bottom of the sticker label.

I’m a sugar fanatic and anything fun and sweet, like sprinkles, makes writing blog posts that much easier. It can be hard to sit down and crank through blog posts and to learn all there is to know about blogging. (If you are looking for tips on blogging, be sure to look through my posts!) A fun and festive favorite of a custom sprinkle mix makes blogging just a little bit better! Wouldn’t you agree?

Photo credit: Red October Photography

Now comes finding the sprinkles.

Finding just the right sprinkles is not easy, friends. No, it is not! (But, then again neither is writing lots of blog posts!) I searched high and low for the right sprinkles in the colors that I wanted. I also had to look for sprinkles that weren’t too expensive. You can find lots of sprinkles out there, but many of them are really pricey. Since I need quite a bit of sprinkles to make the favors, I needed it all to not be too expensive. If you look hard enough and long enough, you can find affordable sprinkles. Then, when you make own mix, it looks just how you want it and it so much less expensive!

I went to A.C. Moore, Michael’s, Party City, several different groceries stores and looked online endlessly (including Amazon). I picked up a few different styles and sizes of sprinkles, sugar crystals, pearls, jimmies, cake decorating pieces, small bits of candy and more. Everytime I was out, I’d look for more sprinkles to add to my collection. I was going for eclectic in the sprinkle mix, so the more unique the better! I tried to get a mix of colors, but all within my gray, white and yellow theme. I was looking for unique sizes and textures of the sprinkles.

Online, I was able to find solid color jimmies at Nuts In Bulk and I ordered the jimmies in white and yellow. (But, you have to be careful, there were a few other colors mixed in with my plain colors and I had to sift through to take out the random bright green jimmies!) I used the white and the yellow jimmies as the main component of the sprinkle mix and then the other colors and styles, aka the more expensive sprinkles, were the filler that just added little pops of fun throughout the custom mix.

Once I gathered all the different sprinkles, it was a matter of throwing them all into a big bowl and mixing them together to make my own custom sprinkle mix!

Photo credit: Red October Photography

Last the container.

Originally, I wanted to put the custom sprinkle mix into little zip-top plastic bags and stick the label on the outside of the bags. But, then I was walking through Michael’s craft store and they had little jars with silver and yellow lids. Could there be a more perfect favor jar for my blogging workshop?!

I ended up returning the plastic favor bags and went with the clear glass jars. They looked like little cookie jars and were ideal for this favor! For $0.50 per jar, I was able to get one jar per person and I got a mix of silver and bright yellow lids for the jars. They were the most perfect sprinkle jars! (At the same time, I even was able to get little glass milk jars and I added a little sticker that said, “Blog. Sip. Repeat.” But, that’s another DIY post for another day!)

On the outside of the sprinkle jar, I printed out stickers on sticker paper and stuck them onto the jar. These jars had a flat front so that I could put the sticker.

 

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And, there you have it! The story of how I DIY-d my own custom sprinkle mix for a blogging workshop favor! What about you? Will you make your own sprinkle mix??

If you want more small business blogging advice, you can check out my posts on the topics and you can see more of my DIY projects on my blog, too! You can also sign up for my email newsletter to get tips and be the first to find out about my next workshop.