Business Bites: Striving to Improve

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Photography: La Tartine Gourmande

I know it’s geeky, but I really love reading anything and everything I can get my hands on about blogging or running a small business. I mean, if we’re not constantly striving to improve or better ourselves, how do we ever expect our businesses to flourish and grow? So do yourself a favour, take a break, and spend some time reading up on how you can make some positive changes. Today.

How to get your Facebook updates seen by more people
When is the best time to post on Facebook?
What is an editorial blog calender and do I need one?
Seven questions to ask yourself before you hit publish
♥ I love reading about other people’s work routines
♥ How to turn marketing fails into awesome human moments

“Ultimately, truly effective marketing (like any communication) is about connection and relationships. Real people make real mistakes. When you acknowledge it, you’re actually taking a second to have a really human moment. Yeah, mistakes are generally bad for business… but humanizing your business by acknowledging those mistakes can be powerful tool for establishing a real human connection.” Ariel Meadow Stallings

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How Couples in the UK Plan Their Weddings & Pick Their Suppliers

2012 UK Wedding Market Study from Splendid Insights

Last June, Liene Stevens of Splendid Communications kindly allowed me to publish some of the hugely insightful findings of her annual wedding & lifestyle market research. Each year she interviews thousands of engaged and newly-married couples to find out exactly what matters when it comes to their weddings, how much they’re really spending and which factors actually determine how they select their suppliers. The results went down a storm, with many of you commenting that after reading the findings that you had plans to make some serious improvements on certain areas of your businesses.

So, as soon as Liene published the results of her 2012 survey, which can be purchased in full via her website, I was keen to ask if I could share some of the highlights with you again. There is a report available which covers the overall global results, but she’s also carried out country-specific surveys (US, Canada, UK & Australia). Being a wedding blogger based in the UK, I found the answers from the UK responders particularly interesting. Below are some of the findings from that report. The survey was taken by heterosexual and same-sex brides and grooms from the UK who were married in 2012.

Budgets

2012 UK Wedding Market Study from Splendid Insights

The majority of couples in the UK are spending between $11,000 – $30,000 (published in USD to keep results consistent with the global findings) which is approximately £7200 – £20,000.

2012 UK Wedding Market Study from Splendid Insights

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Business Bites: Make the Web Expensive

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Photography: Mowielicious

Damn, it’s been so long guys. I HAVE MISSED YOU! It feels like we haven’t spoken in so long but I’m so thrilled to be back posting my Business Bites links. Have you missed me too?

♥ This is something we get asked a lot at The Blogcademy: How early should you monetise a blog?
The brand is a story. But it’s a story about you, not about the brand.
How do I get my small business noticed?
How to politely turn down a client
Are comparisons the root of all evil?
♥ If you’re a wedding photographer, you probably won’t have failed to noticed that double exposures are all the rage right now. This simple tutotial explains how you can achieve the look with the Canon Mark III.

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 Photography: Sarah K Byrne Photography

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Just Go! Why Fear of the Unknown is Holding You Back

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I’m not a seasoned traveller and I’ve never had wild dreams of far flung adventures. I had no internal yearning to fly off to Thailand after school to ‘find myself’, nor a burning desire to backpack around the world, drinking in all it has to offer. The mere suggestion of solo travel like that terrifies me. The slow and steady safety net of home was quite enough for me – or so I thought.

Before The Blogcademy I’d travelled very little and never on my own (bar one short flight to Prague last Summer). In fact my latest jaunt over the Atlantic was my very first long haul flight on my lonesome. I like to think that I’m pretty industrious and, contrary to popular belief, I’m fairly streetwise under this hot pink exterior. I can read instructions, I know how to navigate from one terminal to the other (pro-tip: ask someone!) and booking an apartment to stay in or a car to pick you up really isn’t as daunting as for some reason I thought it would be. But I’m not afraid to admit that I was still a little nervous when Gareth dropped me off at Heathrow three weeks ago. What if I missed my connecting flight? What if I couldn’t find Gala at our designated meeting spot? What if my luggage got lost?

the blogcademy la Milou and Olin9

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Offline

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It’s getting to be quite the regular occurrence for me when I’m travelling. Every time I return home after some far flung adventure, I start to daydream about the benefits of spending less time online and more time, you know, actually out living my life. I don’t know if it’s the sunshine, spending so much time with friends or all the new experiences, but I always land at Heathrow with a surge of ambition to spend more time away from the artificial glare of my computer screen.

Never has this been so prevalent than during my latest trip to The States, which I returned home from yesterday. Ironic really, as I was there to teach a workshop on how to be successful online. Despite that fact Gala, Shauna & I spent a disproportionate amount of time discussing the benefits of cutting our time glued to a screen. On one day we even spent an afternoon with an ex-fashion blogger who had recently decided to curb her online addiction. She had pretty much decided to quit blogging and most social media completely and so obviously she had a lot to say on the subject. While her reasons for wanting to completely unplug were very different to what mine might be, chatting through the idea with her did make me strongly evaluate just how much time I spend on my computer, how often I check my phone and why I can’t seem to stop the aimless – and constant – browsing for distractions.

But I’m not delusional. I’m certainly not going to do a complete 180, shut down my blog, stop replying to my emails and take a look into converting to Amishism. It’s very easy when you’re away from the humdrum of the everyday to come over all idealistic and to make grand plans for change. Yet real life isn’t anything like a holiday. You get home and the old routine kicks back in with frightening ease – emails, deadlines, quick turnarounds on new projects – it’s all too easy to forget how great it felt to not be chained to a desk and to ignore everything that you’ve promised yourself.

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One of the things the girls and I chatted through at length was that if we were really honest with ourselves how much of our ‘busy online time’ was really spent being productive – writing, emailing, designing etc etc, and how much of it is just our old friend procrastination. We all know how much of a time suck Pinterest can be, how draining keeping up with Twitter can feel or how fast Facebook seems to move on if we don’t check in daily. But if we objectively look at what we are actually doing on our computers every day, I wonder if we’d be shocked at how much of it is just frivoling?

I’m not going to kid myself (or you!) by pretending that I’m making a pact to cut my online time in half, or to only spend 4 hours a day on my computer, but I am making a promise to myself to make my time plugged in more consistently productive. My afternoon slump of pinning, tweeting nonsense and watching a shameful number of reruns of The Hills needs to stop. Of course Reading is hardly an entertainment mecca – if we had the sunshine, beaches and pseudo-celebrity spotting of Los Angeles I’m sure I could find plenty of offline activities to entertain me. But my promise to myself is this: if I start to slip towards the procrastination-side I’m going to get the hell offline for a while and do something less wasteful.

How do you feel about the amount of time you spend online or in front of a screen? Do you ever think you’d like to cut down too?

Networking Like a Pro

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Another one of those topics that I seem to get asked about over and over is networking. “How do I get my name out there?”, “How do I network without coming across as a a weirdo?” and “How do I get people to know I exist?!” With the majority of us doing a most of our business online these days, thinking about networking and meeting people ‘in real life’ can be a scary and intimidating thing. But (and this is a big but!) I honestly believe that getting my backside off my computer, out of the safe confines of my house and going to meet people in real life was the number one thing which truly got my name out there.

The reasons for this are three-fold…

1. People are more likely to remember you if they’ve met you and put a face to the name.
2. People are more likely to recommend you to others if spoken to you in real life and realise that you’re not a complete psycho.
3. People are often just as shy as you are, and by being nice to them in real life, will make them feel better about themselves and therefore good about you.

But just how does one go about it? We all know (even the most extroverted people like yours truly) how intimidating walking into a room full of people can be… and a room full of people that all seem to already know each other is a million times worse!

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Fake the funk

We all know the phrase ‘fake it before you make it’ and in no other situation is this more true. Secret: I bet 90% the people in the room you’re trying to ‘network with’ are just as nervous as you are!

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