Best of the Wedding Web: 2013

bestAs we say goodbye to another year, it’s an excellent time to look back at some of the best articles written just for wedding pros. Here are some of my favorites:

What’s the Value of an Industry Conference, a Webinar, an Article?
Alan Berg cuts to the chase about investing in ourselves and our businesses while asking our clients to invest in us.

How to Schedule an Entire Week’s Worth of Social Media Posts in Just 30 Minutes
Heidi Thompson lays out her straightforward plan to knock out a week’s worth of social media without pulling your hair out.

Six Embarrassing Reasons the Bride Blew You Off
Jeff and Steph talk truth about why potential clients aren’t getting back to you.

Jealousy and Success
Liene beautifully articulates how to deal with naysayers and jealous-types in this short post.

Pricing is a Marketing Decision
If you’re wrestling with pricing (or just second-guessing yours), Michelle has some great questions for you to ask yourself.

Why Couples Say They Can’t Afford You’re Wedding Services
Kathy gives it to you straight about what’s really going on when couples say those dreaded words, “you’re out of the budget.”

There were so many great articles, it was hard to narrow it down. What was your favorite article? Did it make the list?

Tuesday Tech Tip: Life hack with EasilyDo iPhone App

easilydoI love saving oodles of time. And I love sharing my best hacks and apps with you. I’m pretty excited about this week’s Tuesday Tech Tip: saving time with the iPhone app EasilyDo (also available for Android).

The app strives to be your personal assistant. I’ve used a few apps like this and they all have one major flaw (and EasilyDo does not escape this fate): they’re slow. Worse (I guess I’m starting with the cons this time) it’s a battery drain, even though it claims it isn’t. Because of the sweet location-based stuff it does, it needs constant access to your phone’s gps which results in serious battery loss.

If it’s slow AND  a battery hog, what makes it worth using? I’m so glad you asked. Here’s why I’m keeping it on the phone:

  1. It tells me when to leave for appointments. Seriously. I was hanging out with my new pal, Nancy, author of the super-fabulous introvert-energizer e-newsletter (if you’re an introvert, you need to be on that list), at a coffee shop today, when my phone beeped. Sure enough, it’s the EasilyDo app saying “It’s time to leave for your next appointment” with an option to go straight to Google Maps (you read that right, you can choose whether it defaults to Apple’s crappy maps or Google’s) for turn-by-turn voice-guided directions. How cool is that? It actually analyzes how much time it takes to get from where you are to where your next appointment is. Don’t rely on this, but it’s really cool when it works. And it’s super helpful for people like me who get sucked into super interesting conversations and lose track of time. Thanks, Nancy!
  2. I don’t miss birthdays. Check this out: On Friday, directly from the app, I can see who has a birthday coming up (this is all through Facebook and relies on people sharing their birthday with you) over the weekend and send them a quick note, to be sent on the correct day (automatically) at the time of day I choose. (People can tell you use the app, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I mean, if you really cared, you’d call anyway, right?)
  3. It reads Facebook for me. What? That’s right. It catches me up on important and popular posts and even suggests that I congratulate someone (when appropriate). I check Facebook three times a day most days. And this app still caught important things that I missed. Word.
  4. It dials into conferences for me. I don’t know about you, but I find myself dialing into conference calls a lot. I must admit, I haven’t used this yet, but as long as your calendar-event is titled “phone number, access code#” it’s supposed to dial right in (and enter your access code for you so you don’t have to remember it, phew) with the push of a button.

This thing has saved me a ton of time. It keeps track (cool for people who like to track everything or just justify the app) of how much time it’s saved you. But here’s the thing, it says it’s saved me something like fifteen minutes. That would be true, if you only counted how long it would have taken me to do those things. But in order to check birthdays and write messages, I would need to log in three days in a row (something I’m not great at anyway) and check for birthdays. And I don’t know about you, but if I’m on Facebook, I may as well check notifications and my newsfeed. Goodbye 45 minutes. So I estimate this thing has saved me a week.

Is it worth it despite the battery-killing thing and slowness? Yup. Just make sure you have a phone charger nearby.

 

Day 2: Market, Don’t Park It: Easily Stay in Front of Brides This Summer

Blaihin Murphy Bride EnomicsIt’s Day 2 of the Simplify Your Summer series and Bláithín Murphy of Bride Enomics is here to show you how to continue to market your business (without piling more work on your plate) in the crunch of wedding season. First, check out her great tips in the jam-packed video below.

Download the killer checklist full of tips to market your business during wedding season:

[PDF] Simplify Your Summer Checklist

Thinking of hiring an intern for your wedding business? Then you’ve got to read this guide (including tips on how to use an intern):

[PDF] Hiring an Intern

Sign up for more great marketing tips from Bláithín Murphy at BrideEnomics.com.

Get the rest of the Simplify Your Summer expert tips delivered straight to your inbox and get access to the live Q&A with Jeff Hellenbrand on May 20th at cakecoaching.com/kiss.

Here’s Why You Don’t Have Enough Time

Nobody in the wedding industry seems to have enough time. Ask anybody how they’re doing and the answer is, “busy.” So why don’t you have enough time?

You’re trying to do too much.

Call me captain obvious, but the truth is that you’re lying to yourself about what’s realistic. You pretend that you can get eight (okay, five) hours of sleep, get the kids to soccer practice (and ballet and art and yoga), answer every sales email with a personal, customized response, take care of your current bridal clients, have dinner on the table and prep for the coming weekend all in less than 24 hours.

I call bullshit.

Even if you manage to get all of those things done, there’s no way you’re doing all of them well in a healthy, sustainable way. I’m not trying to make you feel bad. To the contrary, that’s my point. When you give yourself an impossibly long to-do list, you set yourself up for disappointment. You end up with the least useful, least productive feeling of all: guilt.

Here’s my suggestion: Do less. Pick something on your list that just “has to get done” and ask yourself, “what exactly will happen if I don’t do this?” My hunch is that most of the things on your to-do list are wants, not needs. Get ruthless about what you’re willing to do in one day. Commit to doing nothing for an hour or even two. This isn’t just about what you’re cutting out, it’s really about what you’re making time for: the good stuff.

What do you think will happen? The truth is that most of us waste at least an hour each day on things like Facebook, TV, blog surfing and worrying. What if you spent that time on something that left you feeling recharged? That made you at peace and inspired?

I dare you to pick something seemingly vital on your to-do list and not do it. I’m not asking you to screw over clients or miss deadlines. Re-evaluate your to do list. It’s time to get serious about what’s really essential and what isn’t.

What’s at stake? Your sanity, your business, and your life. Cut out some of the noise. Because if you don’t, it will overtake you, and 2013 will look dangerously similar to 2012.

What are you cutting out today to get your life back? And more importantly, how will you fill that space with something good?

Happy New Year, Hungover Vendors!

Happy New Year, peeps! I love the fresh smell of a new year. We’ve had a chance to reflect on the good, the bad and the awesome of last year and now we turn our full attention to the bright, shiny promise of a fresh set of 365.

I don’t want to talk about resolutions today. Instead, I want to talk about something I’ve personally been wrestling with lately: over-thinking about work at work.

It happens like this: I start thinking about all the things I want to get done. And instead of getting everything into a system and working through each of them without another thought, I dwell. I’m not talking about useful thinking (like planning, organizing or brainstorming). I’m talking about thinking instead of doing. And it usually happens when we’re stressed out or overwhelmed by the amount of things we have to do. Continue reading

Three Bad Tips to Get More Done in Less Time

Cute, wrinkly puppy

It’s August. Where has your Summer gone? In the thick of wedding season (wedding hell, for some of us), I thought it was high time to make a list of some really terrible ideas for saving time. Time management is overrated, in my opinion, so today I’m bringing the snark. Are you guilty of any of these? Here are three quick (joking) tips to get more done in less time:

1. Eat lunch standing over the garbage can. No dishes! No napkins! No wasted time sitting down and then getting back up again. Want to shave off a few more seconds? Eat only foods that require absolutely no prep time, like pre-cooked breakfast sausages (so you don’t have to heat them up). If it doesn’t taste good, you won’t waste time savoring it!
Continue reading

Audio: Flipping Marketing on it’s head

This week’s call is quick. In fifteen minutes, I highlight the difference between thinking like most people and being super creative when you’re at your best. I help wedding entrepreneurs see themselves and their world differently. When your perspective changes, your marketing strategy changes with it. And you’re going to be blown away by what happens as you become more and more fearless. The key to getting more of the brides you want isn’t spending more money. It’s a whole lot easier (and harder) than that.

Listen Here: 

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Or access the MP3 directly: Audio: Flipping Marketing on its Head

Time: Are you Penny Wise and Dollar Poor?

You’ve probably heard the expression penny wise and dollar poor. And you’ve heard that time is money. But time is also time, and unlike money (or any other resource) it is limited. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. So you can get more money or happiness or fun, but you can’t get more time. As a wedding business coach, I help wedding entrepreneurs get a whole lot smarter about how they spend their time. It’s fascinating to me that someone who runs a successful business and understands the importance of investing money in the right places can still be somewhat foolish with how they spend their time.

Okay, let me give you an example. Most of the wedding business owners I work with think like bootstrapping entrepreneurs. When you’re starting out, you’ve got lots of time and no money. But now, they’re working with all of the brides they want (and the money is rolling in) and time is the scarce resource. The problem is that they still act as though there’s plenty of time and no money. So let’s say you’re a wedding photographer who’s now booked solid after a couple of years of hard work. Between photo editing, sales and client meetings and actually shooting the weddings you are slammed. Not to mention blogging, staying up on trends, trying to learn more about social media and everything else. You don’t delegate anything because you’re stuck in the old mindset of I-have-to-do-everything-myself.

So how do you break out of the penny-wise-dollar-poor mentality?

1. Know what you absolutely love to do (and are crazy-good at). Usually, for a wedding photographer, this is actually taking the pictures. This is where you want to spend the most time (because it makes you happy and it makes your life better).

2. Root out your time-hogs and give them to someone else. Many great photographers can outsource their photo editing to a cheap, but talented assistant. This isn’t just about saving time. If you dread doing your accounting chores each month, to the point where you are thinking about it constantly, imagine how much energy and time you’ll save by outsourcing that to a professional bookkeeper.

3. Know how you make money. Those time-hogs are sinister because they keep you from doing things that get you more business. Don’t try to do everything yourself just because you can. Outsource as much as possible so you can focus on getting more business (so you can spend more time doing what you love).

4. Love yourself. No joke. As a business coach, I don’t just give quick-fix advice (actually, I never do) – we explore why a coaching client isn’t being wise with their time. If you’re using up all your time on tasks you could outsource, ask yourself why. Chances are, there’s some fear there, or possibly the feeling that you don’t deserve to work just four days a week. It takes a strong person to love themselves and to say, “You’re worth it. You deserve to spend your life working on things that you love, instead of mind-numbing tasks.” Are you worth it?

5. Remember that this applies to money, too. I hear wedding business owners say things like “I can’t afford that” all the time in response to investments like marketing opportunities or (ahem) coaching. But what is your return on investment? If that marketing opportunity (or, ahem, coaching) will bring you ten times as much money as you pay for it, how can you afford not to? If it will save your sanity or give you ten more hours a week to spend on things you love, how can you afford not to make the investment?

It’s easy to think small and to make excuses. I do it all the time. But then I remember, there’s a better life out there for me. And for you, too. So if you are twice as productive on days when you hit the gym, can you afford not to hit the gym? I can’t.

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves. Where have you been penny wise and dollar poor in your life (when it comes to time or money)? More importantly, what the hell are you going to do about it?

Never Schedule a Meeting Again

If you spend way too much time trying to schedule meetings with clients, potential clients, other vendors or anyone else, your life is about to get a whole lot easier. Say goodbye to the thirty-email conversation where you keep trying to randomly guess which date will work for the other person. Stop setting reminders for yourself to remind other people to show up to your meetings. How many hours a week could you save if you didn’t have to schedule appointments?Enter timetrade.com. This amazing piece of webware lets potential clients schedule appointments with you instantly online. It does all of the work so you get to have all of the fun. Here are five reasons timetrade is my best friend:

1) Potential clients can schedule appointments instantly online, 24/7.

2) It automatically sends them a reminder at just the right time (usually a day or so before the meeting).

3) It syncs with Google Calendar so whenever someone schedules an appointment with you, it’s automagically (yes, that’s my favorite word) added to your calendar.

4) It checks your calendar for you. So if you add a new event to your Google calendar, it won’t show open appointment times during that event. Never double book.

5) It ain’t ugly. The interface isn’t gorgeous, but I’ve looked at more than a handful of other online scheduling systems and they’re all ugly as sin.

The sixth reason I love timetrade is that the annual fee is $49. I generally like my webapps free, but for the punch it packs, fifty bucks is just plain giving it away. Like any respectable web service, they also offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.

If I had to come up with some downsides to the service, it would probably be the lack of control you get over some aspects (like when those reminder emails go out). That said, I haven’t had any missed appointments yet, so I’m not sweating it. And any features they’ve lacked (like iPhone compatibility – c’mon, people) they’ve quickly rectified (their calendars are now iPhone and iPad friendly.)

As usual, I don’t make a dime for recommending them (though I probably should). It’s just one of my favorite tools and one you should definitely know about if you’re sick of wasting time trying to schedule appointments. What are you going to do with all of that free time?

Get that free trial here: www.timetrade.com.

Time Saver: Edit PDFs painlessly

I don’t know about you, but trying to edit PDFs used to make me crazy. Someone would email me a contract as a PDF. Then I would download it, open it, print it out, fill it out, scan it (with my phone), email it to myself and then send it back to the person. Your version might be a little better, but probably not by much. Some people have access to expensive software that lets them manipulate PDFs. Good for them.

For the rest of us, there is PDF Escape. This amazing little app allows you to add text and images to PDFs in a way that is very intuitive and (relatively) easy to learn. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ugly. But I’ve used dozens of programs and they’re all terrible. This is the first one I absolutely love, despite it’s minor flaws.

Here’s my new PDF process:

1. Download PDF

2. Upload to PDF Escape

3. Edit (tip: I have my signature saved as an image for digitally signing documents)

4. One-Click Download (awesome!)

5. Email to the sender

Okay, I’m not sure if that sounds easier or not, but it really is amazing. My last tip, though it pains me to do this to the developers, is this: don’t waste your time creating an account. It’s much faster to skip the login (they make you complete a captcha every time you log in) and just use the webapp unregistered. The only benefit I can see to registering and logging in is that you can save documents on their server. So if you’re into that, perfect. If you’re like me, and only want to edit and send, then save yourself the hassle.

Enjoy!