Madeline Kate Photography
I’m not a bookworm by any stretch of the imagination. You’re much more likely to find me with my head in a laptop that the latest bestseller. So when it comes to recommending business books, believe me when I say these really are the best of the best. Most books (business or otherwise) lose my attention after the first few chapters, but these five paperbacks are all amazing. You should definitely check them out!
WordPress For Beginners by Reeta Krishna
If the technical jargon of setting up your WordPress blog or website makes you break out in a cold sweat, then you need this book! In fact I love it so much, we gave a copy to every student that came to The Blogcademy workshop this year! This paperback is a complete guide to WordPress that lays out in detail the exact steps needed to build a full-fledged website.
The book is divided into three sections – the essentials (from picking a domain name to web hosting and getting started), optimisation (SEO, back-end necessities and security) and design (adding graphics, changing the look of your site and fonts) – which break everything down into easy bite-sized steps.
Be Awesome at Online Business by Paul Jarvis
I am a huge fan of Paul Jarvis’ no bullshit writing style, hence why I’m recommending not one, but TWO of his awesome self-published books in this line up.
If you have any online business (which basically means any business these days) then you simply have to read this one. It teaches you how to create and foster an engaged audience, and drive sales for your products or services. There are no get-rich-quick schemes or shady conversion tactics here, just proven advice about what it takes to build a sustainable and honest business.
They say that first impressions count, and no more-so is this apparent than online. While in person, we might put someone’s slightly chaotic nature down to being nervous, or actually find it quite charming and endearing, online we are used to everything being a bit more polished. If your online presence is a mess, people are much less forgiving.
When it comes to hooking new visitors in, the design and usability of your website are the most important things. Your design doesn’t have to be complicated or over the top, in fact I think it should be the opposite! A recognisable brand and visual consistency (with your colours and fonts) and a lot of white space is a great place to start.
How easy your website is to navigate is crucial too. Allegedly you have just 2.5 seconds to grab a new visitor’s attention. If they don’t like what they see, or don’t know what to do to get them to where they want to be, they are very likely to simply close the window. Make sure your navigation is crystal clear and your content easy to access.
A fun little test that we talk about at The Blogcademy is ‘the mum test’. Show your website to your mum (or someone else not in your industry) and see if they’re able to navigate easily to certain areas of your site. If your layout isn’t obvious, or there’s something there that doesn’t quite work, you’ll quickly be able to find out about it. It’s impossible to do this ourselves, as we look at our own websites everyday and know them like the back of our hands. Other people do not!
Last week I was interviewed by Aleisha from The Save The Date Wedding Podcast. It was a super fun interview to do and I laughed a LOT. We discussed my options on twitter (and why I feel it’s on the way out), why I started my blog as a secret, my ex-job as a shopping telly producer, and why I love weddings so damn much!
If you’d like to listen to it, you can do so here (on iTunes) or here.
It’s mid- November. If you’ve been in business a while, you’ll already know that this is the time of year where everything in the wedding industry slows down to a glacial pace. Brides and grooms tend to put their wedding planning to one side in favour of all things festive. The enquiries dry up, and that metaphorical tumble weed seems to blow past your website more often than you might be used to.
If you’re not expecting it, it can be a little disconcerting, but it’s all very normal and come January you’ll be overrun with enquiries as it’s when everything ramps up again x 1000! Not only are there lots of Christmas engagements, but those couples getting married in 2015 will wake up on January 1st thinking “Oh crap, we’re getting married this year, we better get serious with the wedding planning!”
Rather that sitting around, eagerly waiting for the January rush to hit, this is the perfect time of year for you to get your business is in the best possible shape.
Start a passion project
I recently wrote about the benefits of personal projects, and this time of year is the ideal time to do something about it. Organise a shoot, put on an event, and just have some fun!
Get those accounts in order
Groaaan! Boring, I know, but why not get a head start on next year’s taxes by cracking on with them now?
Give your home or office an (Autumn) clean
Spring cleaning is overrated. I am ALL about the Autumn clean. We’ve been de-cluttering our house massively over the past few weeks and it’s so blissful. Anything that isn’t beautiful or useful is being chucked (goodbye ugly DVDs that we never watch! Hello, white walls and new carpet!)
Out with the old in with the new, that’s what I say. A nice home and work environment makes everything a million times better.
As a small business owner, utilising visually driven social media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook is undoubtedly important. However over the past year or so I’ve started to notice a massive decline in the one thing that started it all; blogging. While I used to love reading my favourite business owners’ blogs, these days more and more of them appear to be neglected. They have been abandoned for the bright lights and instant gratitude of social media.
Blogging is a powerful tool for promoting new work, sharing inspiration, letting people into the behind the scenes action, and posting your opinions. It’s the best way to share who you really are with the world and build a loyal following. But blogging hard. It takes forward planning and lots of work, hence the mass exodus.
I get it. You’re busy. And while updating a blog is a slog, social media is so fun and easy in comparison. But here’s the thing, if you’re willing to put the work in, a blog will bring you many more rewards than even the largest following on Instagram.
♥ Writing helpful articles for your ideal client will build those fans who are much more likely to go on and book your services or buy your products. This simply can’t be done with a tweet.
♥ With your blog, you make the rules. You own the domain and you can share whatever you want, whenever you want. You don’t have to adhere to anyone else’s guidelines or parameters.
There are two major realisations that I’d consider to be the key factors that took my blog and my business from ‘just another anonymous wedding blog’ to what it is today. And they might surprise you. They’re nothing to do with content, or SEO, or social media…
1. Working with others should be encouraged
While going it alone, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, is something I’d actively encourage each of you to do, there is something to be said for working with others to bring the best out of yourself. The results can be staggering.
Pretty much every amazing opportunity that I’ve had through my blog is because of someone I’ve known online but then met offline (and then decided to work together on something). The Blogcademy is a prime example of this.
It would never have happened if Gala, Shauna and I hadn’t met up in person in Vegas in 2012. Although they both knew each other ‘in real life’, and I’d met Gala before, it wasn’t until we came together as a trio that the idea was formed. None of us could have done it by ourselves. We all have very different skills and strengths and we needed to put them together to be able to pull it off.
Working with others is so much more powerful than trying to do everything yourself. The wedding industry can be fiercely competitive if you let it, but with the right attitude, it is an infinite pool of amazing talent, just waiting to be tapped into and shared.
2. Spend time on your passion projects
After getting out and meeting other people, my next biggest piece of advice for you if you want to take your business to the next level, would be to invest the time in passion projects. Do things “just for fun” that showcase your talents, stretch you as an artist and keep things fresh and interesting. You never know what path these things might lead you down.
These are the things that will make you stand out in a highly competitive market, and will ultimately attract the right clients for you and your business. But they’re also the things that could end up forking your career in a way you could never have imagined.