I may have mentioned it a few times already this month, but January and February...
Hello and welcome to part 6 of my ‘How to become a wedding planner’ series. Today I talk about the importance of getting a website and a blog. Again not only relevant to wedding planners but to anyone setting up their own business.
Now this may seem like an obvious thing to say but you’d be surprised. I come across lots of new business who direct me to a Facebook pages or just have an email address, people will not take your seriously unless you have your own website, it’s going to be your shop window to the rest of the world and all of those potential customers that are just waiting to book you for their wedding!
I have talked about websites previously in former posts but I really do feel it’s important to get your website right, yes you can re brand in a few months/ years down the line but getting it right first time will save you time and money in the long run.
1) Research – have a good look around the Internet, not just at other wedding planning sites but other websites altogether, what do you like about them and what don’t you like? What sort for style do you want? How easy do you want it to be to use? Who are you trying to attract with it? What sort of layout are you looking for?
For example I wanted my website to be appealing not just to brides but to the grooms, gay or straight, so I tried to make mine as un pink and weddingy as possible, so attracting a wider audience. I also didn’t want it to be traditional so I went for funky colours and images instead of the normal images of brides and grooms, as that wasn’t what I was trying to reflect! I had alternative weddings in my head as the graphic designer was putting it together not traditional English wedding!
I basically studied what other planners were doing and tried to do something different!
2) Extension of branding – your website will be an extension of the brand you have already designed or started to put together, and this has to reflect and stay constant throughout your website. There is no point having literature and cards made up that are completely different to the website, they all need to tie in.
You need to think how the website is reflecting you! You need pictures of yourself on there, people buy from people and they need to see your face…remember your face is your brand as much as your logo is!
3) Spend money – yes it’s easy for me to say but you need to spend money on making your site look good. If everyone is quoting you £2K – £3K for a site build and design and another company offers it to you at £300 there will be a reason for this! Unless you have a background in IT, then let the professionals do their job, remember this is going to be the main way people find you! And you have to give a good first impression! I spent a good amount of money getting my site the way I wanted it, it has hanged and developed since but the basics are there. People always comment on how good the site is (maybe they are lying??) but I’m pretty proud of it! At the time it seemed like a lot of money but as about 70% of my business comes from my website it pays to get it looking how you want it!
4) Get it right take your time – don’t be in a hurry to get it done and out there, these things always take longer than you first think! What with the design, then the build and then the testing it isn’t going to happen overnight so be patient
5) SEO – try and get the web builders to add in some SEO (search Engine Optimisation) into the package, as there is no point having a brand new sparkly website if no one can find you. They will know a few tricks on how to get your site ranked higher, linking out to other sites, adding in key words and getting your copy right are all important factors. This is when those courses and workshops I was talking about in Part 1 come in to play. I learnt so much just from going on a couple of workshops on SEO! At the beginning it really is another language but once you get your head around it does make more sense.
6) CMS – I would always recommend you to get a CMS site (content management site) this means that you can go into the back end of the website and alter things yourself. So if you are selling a product you can go in and add new pictures, if you have new testimonials form past clients to add you can do this yourself. This will save you a fortune later on, instead of paying the website guy every time you want to make an adjustment to the site, you can do it yourself. And doesn’t panic it’s easier than you think. The website person who built it should give you a quick basic lesson, and the rest you will pick up……….if I can do it anyone can!
7) Blog – as well as a website it may help to have a blog attached to your website. This isn’t always necessary it really depends on what your line of business is, but for a planner it is a great place to add in new work, weddings you have worked on, suppliers you have met along the way. It’s also a great way for prospective couples to find you on Google. In my early planning days I wrote many an article on suppliers which other brides found which then directed them to my wedding planning site.
As I see it the website is your static shop window, it’s where future couples can see your work, your services and your prices. A blog is more of a reflection of you; it is ever changing and can be updated quickly and easily.
Also another thing to think about if funds are low, maybe getting a blog instead of a website when you first start out. Blogs can be significantly cheaper to set up than a website; it’s very DIY so you can manage it yourself. But do think what you want your blog to say about you.
Some people use it to tell the customer more about the product they sell, while others have a blog only to tell their customer more about themselves. While others like me, started a blog that was an extension of the website which then turned into something completely different. My blog is now a site in its own right! And separate to the website!
Whatever you do, make sure the website looks professional and reflects you as a person and a company. Would you be happy if you landed on your site, would you buy from your site, would you go back to your site? Do your research and take your time to get it right!
So let me know about your experiences! Are you in the process of getting your own site, have you chosen a blog over a website? Have you had your site for a while and feel you need a change?
Come back next week for part 7- Get some voluntary work, placements, shadow other planners
Have you missed any of this series? ‘How to become a wedding planner’
Week 1 – Get business advice
Week 2 – Start a wedding planning course
Week 3 – Research your competition & the market around you, find a niche
Week 4 – Create your Brand
Week 5 – Networking and Social Networking
(Thank you to www.andertoons.com/ for the illustrations)