A little over year ago, I was just a newly-wed with a pup in tow who had just moved into her husband’s tiny one bedroom apartment in the city. Frankly, I was an emotional wreck. Don’t get me wrong, I was beyond excited to finally be with my husband in the same city. But, I was terrified. I was terrified of what my next move was. I was chest deep in job applications I didn’t care about. Meanwhile, God was tugging my heart to full-time entrepreneurship.
But, I would shrug it off. I would tell myself I wasn’t talented enough to survive in a big city like Atlanta. Looking in the mirror, I’d tell myself, “You can’t even get a small scale ad agency to call you back for an interview. How are you suppose to make it on your own?” Little did I know, God wasn’t going to let me be stubborn for long. He knew I had I dream. So I prayed hard, and I went after it — fast.
Here I am, a year later.
When I think of all those thoughts I had just a year ago, I almost laugh. Did I think I’d be where I am today just a year ago? Definitely not. But, I think sometimes we forget just how big God is. I should have known He certainly is bigger than Atlanta.
Like I mentioned in my last blog post, I have learned a lot about building up my business in a new place this past year. While I’m surely no expert, nor am I claiming to be, I can only hope the information I’ve shared over the past week can help someone down the road who may find themselves in the same situation I found myself in a year ago.
My Top 5 Business Investments This Year
The Bridal Society
If you’re a wedding planner who is not yet certified, I recommend getting your certification through The Bridal Society! It really is a game changer. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned planner, there’s something for everyone with the course.
Getting involved with The Bridal Society is definitely the biggest investment that I have made for my business to date. It’s also the best investment that I have ever made. Not only have I gotten my wedding planning certification through The Bridal Society, I’ve been given a community and support of the nation’s largest group of certified wedding planners with lifetime membership and on-going support and training opportunities. For example, I also went to the alumni conference back in January, and it was packed full with so much great content from some of the best industry professionals.
In addition to the amazing education that I received through their program, it’s opened me up to so many opportunities this year. I’ve had the opportunity to contribute content to their blog, and soon I’ll be managing it while our current blog manager is on maternity leave. Not to mention, I’ve also had the opportunity to work closer with our founder and CEO, Laurie, on the conference planning committee for next year’s conference partnered with The Planner’s Suite. (Tickets are now available!)
All the Coffee
Like I mentioned in my last blog post, an essential part of building your business is networking. But, instead of going into business relationships wondering what you can get from other people, think of what you can offer of value to them in their life and business. By focusing on giving rather than taking, you will start to stick out in people’s minds. Genuine relationships in a creative industry start with deeper connections than just surface level. It’s about getting to know the stories and people behind the businesses.
While a $5 coffee date with a local vendor may not seem like an investment at the time, it definitely is one. I can name countless vendors with whom our relationships started with a mere coffee date or taco lunch. These coffee dates and taco lunches have turned into collaborations, referrals, and genuine friendships. Being an entrepreneur is so much more fun and rewarding when you have a tribe full of people who you can work alongside and fill each other’s gaps to help bring dreams to life.
A New Website
One thing you may know about me is that this journey of mine actually started back in the day with a blog about wedding planning. Back when I started my wedding blog a few years ago, it was just a hobby. I used Wix because it had a free version I didn’t have to pay for, and it was super easy to use. When I started my business, I switched to the paid version and designed a website. Obviously, I didn’t know any better until this past year. I didn’t realize how much platforms like Wix were a disadvantage to businesses. People couldn’t find me in search engines. My content wasn’t going anywhere.
Thankfully, I had amazing women take me under their wing right after I moved to Atlanta. They guided me towards creating a self-hosted WordPress website. While it’s definitely a lot more work and not for the faint of heart, my reach pretty much quadrupled since switching over in January. Not to mention, my site looks so much more professional. I’ll be sharing a more detailed post soon on how to start a self-hosted WordPress blog with Siteground. Stay tuned!
Jasmine Star’s INSTA180 Course
You may also know that my background is actually Marketing and Advertising. But, social media’s constantly changing landscape can make it feel like a mind game at times. With a limited advertising budget after our move to Atlanta, I knew I needed to take advantage of just how much power and influence it has over our society. I actually have Kati from Kati Hewitt Photography to thank for introducing me to Jasmine Star this year. (aka. The QUEEN of Instagram!) And let’s just say, I am so glad she did.
After participating in a few of her webinars that Kati told me about, I enrolled in Jasmine’s INSTA180 course. With Instagram being the fastest growing app that gives the most leads to every other platform, the course was designed to help you do a literal 180 on your business’s use of Instagram for the better. Needless to say, it worked more than I ever expected it to. Not only did it help me with Instagram, but it gave me tips that I was able to take onto every social media platform I run.
Thanks to the course, I’ve grown my following on Instagram from 0 to over 1,500 of the sweetest friends over just the past year alone. It was worth every penny!
A Quality Camera + Lens
Another thing I learned in Jasmine Star’s INSTA180 course was the importance of great photos. Having quality photos to showcase your work and fill your social media feeds is a big thing that can help you succeed with your business. Great quality photos get attention amidst the scrolling and show a sense of professionalism when it comes to your niche’s audience.
Not to mention, knowing how to capture quality photos is an important skill to have. You won’t always be able to have your amazing photographer friends around to capture it for you. Hence, investing in a quality camera and camera lens is extremely important. With one last elective credit, I actually decided to take a photography class my senior year of college. Not knowing at the time, it was actually one of the best decisions I made that later helped me with my blog and my business.
While I’ve had my Nikon D3200 for quite some time, one investment that I made this past year was purchasing a 35mm f/1.8 lens. Not only was it a big step up from the ‘kit’ lenses that came with my camera, it made capturing quality images easier. With not so great natural light because of all the trees by my home, the lower aperture helped me capture brighter images that I could use on my blog and social media. It also is a great lens for flatlays!
- Nikon D3300 DX-format DSLR Kit w/ 18-55mm DX VR II & 55-200mm DX VR II Zoom Lenses and Case (Black)
- Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
- SanDisk 32GB Ultra Class 10 SDHC UHS-I Memory Card Up to 80MB, Grey/Black (SDSDUNC-032G-GN6IN)