If you’re a wedding professional looking to stand out from the crowd, blogging is a great way to do that. Blogging is a valuable tool that gives you the opportunity to engage with and reach more potential customers, and really put yourself out there as a trusted expert offering valuable content. It can also do other cool things like help you market through storytelling, get you noticed on social media, and give your content a longer shelf life. With all these benefits the real question is, why haven’t you started blogging yet?
Rich: Christine Tremoulet is a business life coach who works with creative entrepreneurs. After spending the past 9 years as a wedding professional photographer, she has combined her passion for weddings with her stories and strategy skills for building profitable businesses online, to create the Wedding Professional Association.
Christine is also a best-selling author of Blogging Brilliantly For Your Business. That sounds like a tongue-twister. Christine, welcome to the show.
Christine: Thank you for having me.
Rich: Amber and I are excited to dig in with you. Amber was telling me before the show that word has it that you named WordPress, please explain.
Christine: I did, that is my geek claim to fame. I’ve actually been a blogger since 2000, back when nobody had even heard of the word “blogging”, and yet everybody knew what it was. Matt Mullenweg – the person that created WordPress – he is from Houston, Texas, where I also live. So I’ve known Matt since he was a teenager just working on this little piece of software that he told me one day was going to change the world. I might have actually laughed in his face, but it turns out he was right and I was wrong. Now WordPress powers 26% of the internet.
I told him I was good at naming things and if he ever needed a name to let me know. And he did, once he was ready to launch in 2003. And that was the only name suggestion I gave to him, and the rest is history.
Rich: And it stuck. For those of you not as geeky as Christine or myself, WordPress is the world’s most popular blog/content management system, and powers a lot of the websites out there, including the one for Streamline Marketing Workshop. So, just in case you were wondering what the heck WordPress was.
Amber: Even I know what WordPress is. Come out from under the rock. So what made you think of the name, “WordPress”, what was your inspiration? I’m sorry, I have to stay on this for a minute.
Christine: A lot of people ask me that, I don’t actually have an answer for it. I like to think of words that feel good to say. We were at SXSW Interactive and he told me he was about ready to launch but he still didn’t have a name. And I said give me a few days and I’ll think about it. And one afternoon I was back in Houston at work at my corporate job and it just came to me. And I called him and left a slightly screaming voicemail message. This was before smartphones. So I left him a voicemail saying – and I did what all the geeks do – if you think of a name for something, the first thing you do is check the domain. This is before Twitter, so I didn’t have to check to see if the Twitter account was available, or Instagram or anything else. All I had to do was check the domain and it was available.
So I left him a voicemail message telling him “WordPress”, that’s it, that’s the name, that’s what you have to go with. And I called him back 15 minutes later and asked if he needed me to register it for him, but he stopped at a coffee shop and was doing it right then. It was that easy.
People also always ask me what other names were considered, and I didn’t ever come up with any other ones. That was just the one I came up with and that was it. I don’t know if he ever considered any other names, ad far as I know, that was it.
Rich: It sounds like he jumped right on it.
Christine: Right. So it wasn’t really a choice between 7 sort of situation.
Amber: That’s crazy, that makes my brain hurt. So your specialty back then – and even now – is about blogging. And I will confess that blogging is my Achilles heel, so I’m actually super-duper excited that you’re on talking to us.
I’m just going to start right out. How do you use blogging to fit in with the rest of your marketing strategy, or how would you suggest people in the wedding industry use it?
Christine: So to me, I feel like a lot of people go about their marketing strategy upside down. For me, in an ideal scenario, you would plan out a weekly blog post. That’s only 52 blog posts. So you plan out 52 blog posts, and then from those 52 posts, you would basically almost recycle content out of them to create all of your other social media updates, which then point back at that blog post. And instead what a lot of us do is we and create a really long Facebook post, and we neglect our blog. Or we write an Instagram post, but we neglect our blog.
Those social media spaces just have that instant gratification. I write a post on Facebook, my friends “like” it, we all win. But the problem is they also have a really short lifespan. So if you write something on your Facebook business page today, I might see it tomorrow. I don’t know about you, but my Facebook app always shows me stuff that’s like 22 hours old all the time. So I might see it tomorrow, but I’m probably not going to see it next week.
When I first find you, I’m not going to scroll and look through all of your old Facebook page posts. But if I go to your blog I’m going to read one post, and if you have links at the bottom that say, “Here are related posts”, if I’ve engaged with that one post, I will then click on another. People will go get lost in your blog and really build up that “know, like & trust” factor, and they can’t do that the same way on social media.
You also have more control. Facebook controls and determines – Instagram, too – who is going to see your post. And on your blog, if you get people to at least get to your blog, now that you don’t have alerts coming up, it’s not just a matter of leaving the screen to go read someone else’s post, you’re not losing them in the sparkle and shine and alerts of everything else going on. You kind of get to keep them in your space a little bit longer.
Rich: So you talked about how people could get lost in your blog once they find it. But talk to me a little bit about how they find it in the first place and what kind of content you’re creating, or what kind of content our listeners might create? I mean, obviously you’ve got this background in wedding photography, were you creating blog posts that were specifically about wedding photography, were you all over the place, what was some of the purpose behind creating a blog
Christine: I may have to ask you for the second half of that question after I answer the first half.
Rich: I may have to ask Amber, I can only keep one thought in my head.
Christine: The initial part, how do you get people to your blog? So, build on the land that you own. That’s your blog, you own your blog. You build your house there, so you’re talking – in my opinion it’s not just about your latest clients or just about your work – think of it like a storefront. If I walked into your business on Main Street and say “hello”, and if all you did was say, “Hi, I sell flowers, would you like some roses, how about some tulips, here are some peonies…”, if that’s all you had to say, I would think that you’re some weird animatronic shop owner and I would leave.
How we act in normal life is, I would walk in and yes you might say, “Look, we just got these gorgeous roses, are you interested in some roses?” But then you would also talk to me as a person and you would reveal parts of yourself. You might talk about the new restaurant that just opened down the street that you think is great for date night. Most of us that are service providers are local service providers, so you can talk about what are some things in your area that you love, what are things you love to do, who are you as a person. That is what differentiates you from everyone else in your market.
Anybody can come along and copy what you do, they can copy your price list, and they can have a really similar style to you. So you can’t differentiate on these things because other people can lease them as well. But what you can differentiate on is your personality and who you are and what makes you unique and how that combination all comes together.
Rich: So I’m hearing that you’re recommending that we inject our own personality into our blog, because that’s one thing that people can’t easily replicate. But how do you then create the content that you’re putting out 52 times a year?
Christine: And it’s not just one thing that people can’t replicate, it’s the thing that makes you different from everyone else. So I was trying to find a portrait photographer for a family when we were visiting where my in-laws live. I researched photographers, I narrowed it down, and I found three whose photos were great. But once I closed my web browser, I could not have told you a single thing about any of those three people. All I could tell you was they all took good pictures, but I can’t even tell you their name.
Psychologically, humans connect over stories. So all while I was going through the websites, if they had given me anything, if one of them had said, “I knit these hand knit Christmas gifts”, if one of them had just posted a little nugget that would have been it. I wouldn’t have even looked at the other two. And price wouldn’t have been a consideration, because now we had a different bond.
Every wedding professional gets so annoyed because people email us and they say, “HI, I’m looking for someone on this date, what are your prices?” But they don’t know any other way to differentiate us. But if they have a way to get to know us through social media, through our blog, then they would.
Now, ways to come up with content. First and foremost, just looking at your calendar and starting with the marketing calendar, basically. Starting out with saying that as a wedding professional I know that a lot of engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. So I want to talk about things that are engagement related during that time.
Other things are the wedding season. Different areas have different wedding seasons. Houston – where I live – is different than wedding season in Maine. So when should I be talking about those sorts of things. What can I talk about that’s seasonally of interest, what are my clients looking for at that time of year. Just starting with a 12-month calendar and laying things like that out helps.
The other thing that I always tell people to think about is what is something that you tell every client that you meet with. You always sort of build up these stories that we share with every client, and it’s ok to put those stories on your website as well. That way people who haven’t met you may still get a taste of that story and when they come in to meet with you in person, they’ll remember reading that on your website. So it really gives them a chance to get to know you and connect with you.
And I skipped over Rich’s question earlier about how to get them back. That’s where the blog and social media play really well together. When you write a blog post, then you share it on social media. You share a quote or a line out of that blog post, you make a Pinterest-friendly graphic for Pinterest pointing people back to the blog post. So it works together as a funnel getting people to the blog post.
People have told me that they’ve booked weddings through Instagram, but I would argue that the client maybe found them through Instagram, but I think most of the time they still ended up back on the website. They still booked the client through the website, Instagram was just how the person found them and got to know them, which then intrigued them enough to go to the website and the website is actually more so what booked them and got them to buy. So, finding ways to get people over there.
Amber: Sorry, I’m taking notes for myself. Like I said, it’s my Achilles heel.
Christine: It’s sort of everybody’s Achilles heel. It’s the thing that we all bumped to the bottom of our “to do” list. But like I said, it’s so easy to write a Facebook post. So one little tip that I thought of one day and so many people have given me feedback that this has really helped them. When writing a blog post feels intimidating to you, go to Facebook, type out what you want to post to Facebook, and then copy and paste it and put it in your blog. And you’ve written a blog post without realizing it. It’s like tricking your mind. So that’s one little way to get around that roadblock of getting the blog post out.
Rich: Well, Amber is still taking notes over there. I’m going to ask a question because I’ve been blogging since 2007, and probably have a couple thousand blog posts under my belt. For me, SEO (search engine optimization) is a big part of my blogging plan. It doesn’t sound like that’s as big an agenda item for you. Do you consider search engine visibility, do you write your blog posts thinking to yourself, “How will this rank in Google and what kind of keywords can I use?”, or is that really not a big concern of yours?
Christine: I think search engine optimization is really an important thing. I really truly believe it’s an important thing. The problem though is that I watch so many people wrap themselves up in worrying about it, that they don’t write a blog post at all. And do you know what? Blog posts rank. The blog post that never gets written, never ranks. And the blog post that gets written, gets ranked. So we at least need to get the blog post written.
It’s interesting the logic that people have. They think because they don’t know how to optimize it they won’t write a post at all. But no, you at least need to write something, even if it’s not optimized. So I think getting to that point where you’re comfortable in writing the blog post, then getting to the point where you’re getting into SEO and optimizing. To me, it does come second. I want people to at least be writing first.
People truly freak themselves out over SEO, because it’s a lot to learn, it sounds pretty technical. I wrote a blog post in 2009 – here’s another good idea for wedding professionals about blog topics – I wrote a blog post about one of my favorite venues in Houston and why I love working there. It’s a gorgeous building and I included photos of the details of the building that I really liked. It wasn’t really a wedding specific post, it was just about the venue. And that ranked super well for long tail keywords. Recently I made some changes to my own website that that’s finally not getting traffic, because I don’t want to attract that traffic anymore. But that was a really well, long tail, etc. But I just feel like SEO is second. First let’s get you blogging and get you a marketing plan, and you know what story you want to tell.
Rich: So first let’s get them on the bike, and then we can teach them how to shift gears.
Christine: Exactly. First you’re going to ride a 3-speed bike where you don’t have to shift any gears, before you ride the 20-speed bike.
Rich: And I just want to throw in for people that don’t know what “long tail” search terms are – which is probably the majority of the people listening – when you write something that is not going to rank well but it ranks well for a very small percentage of people, that’s often considered “long tail”. So people who are searching for that specific church for a wedding venue, they might find that post. A small percentage of people are going to look for it, but those people are likely to find that post because it answers specifically a question that they just asked.
Christine: And not just likely to find that post, but the people who were finding that post were specifically looking for wedding photo examples from that church. So like a florist could just pick one of their favorite venues to work with and then post photos from 5-6 different events that they have done flowers for at that venue. And in one post of examples of what they have done there, now when somebody is looking for flowers and how to decorate that venue, here is a florist with experience.
Amber: Great. That makes complete sense. And then you could – after you wrote that post – take one of those pictures and put it on Instagram and say, “This was taken at x, go check out my blog for more.”
Christine: Exactly. And I wouldn’t just do it once. We sort of convince ourselves that we can only share a blog post one time, but that’s not true. You can share one blog post as many times as you like. So I could share that blog post immediately when I wrote it, then I could go back 2 weeks later and post a different picture, and point back to that blog post. That’s where we’re creating content once, but recycling it over and over.
So I could fill my whole calendar, I could have 365 days of social media posts pointing back to 52 blog posts that I’ve written over a year. So it’s like building a library and then telling people to check out different books.
Rich: Now you’ve talked a lot about promoting through social media. Do you have an email list, and are you using your blog to grow your email list as well?
Christine: I do have an email list. You know how we talked about that 3-speed bike that we want people to ride, to me that’s sort of the 10-speed bike. Before we get into SEO we’re going to get into the email list. I think email lists are great. They’re not great if you don’t have time for them or don’t know what to send. I like to send out blog posts or notes that I wouldn’t include on my boog. So things that maybe I wanted to write just to them.
One of the other really big tips is to create different free things that you can give people to entice them to sign up for your list. But that can again be intimidating if you’re still trying to figure out what to even write on your blog.
I do love a good email list, though. I think it’s really important because you can’t control social media. The only thing that’s really in your control is what you’re putting out there, so to have as many different ways to get it in front as possible is an incredibly beneficial thing.
So whether you’re going to show it to them in email, or you’re going to show it to them on Instagram, or they’re going to find it through Pinterest or Facebook. As many roads that lead to the website as possible.
Amber: So you keep saying that we should do one post a week. So 52 posts that you’re going to market for 365 days. I think I’m going to have that tattooed on my body. So my question to you is, I am not a great writer – Rich can just sit and write something – I don’t work that way, I’m a talker. So for me it takes a lot of effort to edit it and make sure that people can understand what I’m talking about. How many posts do you do in a sitting, or do you kind of do one every week?
Christine: I find that is truly a personal preference. You have to find what works for you. For some people, writing 4 posts at a time is a great thing. I know people that sit down on the first of the month and write every post for that month and then they’re done. I personally don’t work that way, I have to write about something when I’m passionate about it. I keep ongoing lists of topics, so I have a list on my phone, a written list, and whenever I think of a potential topic I write it down. And if I have time at that moment, I’ll actually write the post.
I also process verbally, so I think I’m faster when I’m talking then when I’m writing. So one of the things you could do – and I think everybody could find somebody in their area that can help them out with this – you could also just voice dictate your posts, and find a transcriptionist. There are transcriptionists everywhere, not just doctor’s offices. And they’re normally virtual, so you only have to pay for the time that they work. So that’s another idea is just dictating the post and then finding someone. You could find a college student that’s an English major and ask to hire them to take what you dictated and turn it into a post.
So you could find people to help you with these things. You need to pay attention to where your resistance is, and then find a way to work through that resistance.
Rich: That’s a really good point. And if you’re not near a college, there are certainly virtual assistants out there, there are also copy editors that can take that voice and clean it up a little bit for you if you felt really embarrassed. So I think there’s a lot of options laid out.
Christine: There’s always a way. I think we just see the one way that I need to sit down and write this post. And because it’s a blog post that feels really permanent, it has to be perfect. Instead of saying I need to get this off my brain and get somebody to help me with the rest.
Amber: Yes, I need to get it out of my brain.
Rich: So obviously you’ve been at this for a while, and you were also heavily involved in the wedding industry, have you seen changes that have happened in blogging that affected the wedding industry, or do you see changes coming that you feel like the way you’re blogging now might be different in a couple years?
Christine: I think blogging changed the wedding industry within the past 10 years, because it began in the wedding industry. When I first started as a wedding photographer, not that many people were blogging yet. As a matter of fact, I sort of ran around all of the wedding forums I was in and I was the pied piper running around yelling, “Start a blog!” I was fully booked my first year in business and 100% of that was because of my blog, because people were finding my blog and getting to know me. This was before social media so I wasn’t competing with Facebook yet.
When somebody knows you they begin to like you, and if they like you then they trust you. And when it comes down to choosing between three or four different vendors – first they’re going to trust their friend’s recommendation – but if they don’t have a friend’s recommendation, now they’re going to the web and looking for someone. Having a website presence and a blog where people can get to know you, for me that made all the difference.
That is why I was completely booked every year. I actually photographed over 25 weddings my first year in business. And that was how people were finding me. A few years later I was talking with other local photographers and one of them said to me, “You came out of nowhere, it was all of a sudden you were there.” And that was really because of the power of my blog, more than anything else.
I think as more and more people find it and start to use it. I think a lot of people are not using it as effectively as they could. They’re posting their latest work but nothing more, because exactly what Amber said, they don’t know what else to write.
Amber: I have to say that I agree with you. If I have someone on an interview and they start quoting things from my website, and/or I notice them on social media – especially Instagram – and they start ‘liking’ pictures, or mentioning personal things that I feel they’re engaged with me, if I’m in their budget I’m 98% sure I’m going to get booked. As soon as they make that connection and they say something other than, “What are your prices?”
Christine: And you know what? If you’re not in their budget, they’ll more than likely find a way to make you be in their budget. They are more likely to ask a family member to help cover the cost, or to cut something so they can have you.
Amber: Those are my favorite people because they are excited and they’re going to be a client that you can create a relationship with, which means that they see you as human versus just a product. Which means they’re not going to have buyer’s remorse and nitpick everything you do.
Christine: And they trust you, that also stops the nitpicking. Whatever she does, I trust her. When Rich read my bio earlier, it mentioned “story strategy”, and that’s actually the key of it, is when we share our stories – that’s how humans connect – and then they trust us, and then they’re more willing to buy from us because of this trust that they’ve built with us.
When we don’t tell our stories, then they’re left choosing between whichever website looks a little better or is priced a little less, because they don’t have any other options. They don’t have anything else that sets them apart.
Amber: I would agree with that 100%.
Rich: I was just wondering, it seems like you have a lot of great information to share, we’ve taken up a lot of your time today. Just wondering, if we want to dig a little bit deeper, where can we find out more about you online?
Christine: So the new website, I took everything that I know about this digital strategy side of things, and everything that I know about weddings, and have created WeddingProfessionalAssociation.com, and you can find me there. I‘m also on Instagram as Wedding Professional Association, and I’m pretty active at both. We have a Facebook group called the same name as well. So the Facebook group is free, it’s open for people to come join and come talk about this whole wedding conversation, How do we market, how do we get more business, how do we be more profitable. Because in the end that’s what I want people to do is build profitable businesses.
Rich: Awesome. Thank you so much, Christine, really appreciate your time today.
Christine: Thank you.
Christine Tremoulet believes in the power of storytelling marketing through blogging – especially the incredible benefits it has for the wedding industry! To find more of her great tips and advice, check out her website, or follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter .
Amber Small makes wedding dreams come true. Make sure to reserve your spot now for the Streamline Marketing Workshop Conference that she – along with Rich Brooks of flyte new media – have created specifically targeted to wedding professions, with the goal of helping them reach, connect & engage with their best customers.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine. He knows a thing or two about helping businesses grow by reaching their ideal customers, and to prove that, he puts on a yearly conference to inspire small businesses to achieve big success. You can also head on over to Twitter to check him out, and he just added “author” to his resume with his brand new book!