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Boosting Our Blogging Skills at The Butchart Gardens
March 19th, 2015
What a delightful morning WoW Members and guests recently enjoyed at The Butchart Gardens. We loved the access to the private residences of this Victoria landmark, plus a special historical presentation and the chance to network over scrumptious afternoon tea treats. And we were also given the chance to learn more about business blogging from local expert Mike Wicks, leaving inspired to jumpstart our online marketing efforts.
A Local Treasure
Once a month, WoW meets at local wedding 'hot spots' to network and experience what different venues have to offer. Of course in Victoria there's no hotter spot than The Butchart Gardens – but not everyone knows that during their (still beautiful off-season), our local treasure opens its gates to brides and grooms. WoW Member Alison Froom was more than happy to showcase exactly why the gardens make a great spot for winter nuptials, and we couldn't agree more - their Spring Prelude is spectacular.
Our morning at The Butchart Gardens started a little rainy, but that didn't dampen the mood, as we convened indoors at their limited-time historical display. During winter months, guests can explore the personal Butchart residence to see how the family lived in the early 1900s. Memorabilia as well as personal letters and photographs are also on display, offering a sense of the graciousness of the period.
Our hosts also treated us to an informative historical presentation, and we loved getting to explore all the nooks and crannies of the private home. Like WoW Member Deanna McCollum shared on her Facebook page, “one of the many perks of being part of Victoria Women of Weddings is getting to see places most people don't get to see.”
And since no trip to The Butchart Gardens is complete without a little afternoon tea, we nibbled and networked over scones and clotted cream, warm traditional delicacies, savoury tea sandwiches and house-made sweets – not to mention the gourmet tea and coffee. Trust us – no one left hungry!
A Little Spark & Whimsy
Of course, we only get to share our beautiful WoW Events because we have some talented photographers among our membership. This month, we're happy to welcome Juliana Wigmore of Spark & Whimsy Photography to the elite wedding industry fold! Juliana captured all the stunning photos you see here. We love how she beautifully captures exactly the right moment – so much so that we had a really tough time picking which photos to choose for this blog post! If you'd like to see all her beautiful pictures, find them on our Facebook page.
WoW Events are like raising children – they take a village. We couldn't host such exceptional events if not for the generous time and work put in by our fabulous Showcase Sponsors. And remember that Showcase Sponsorship is a win-win. Sponsors get to display their work first-hand to would-be, professional referrers. Dozens of wedding professionals experience exactly what their venue and services are like. And of course, we promote our Sponsors on social media and here on the blog, and we know that many direct referrals and bookings are the result.
So thanks again to Spark & Whimsy Photography for joining WoW, and for jumping right on-board the Sponsorship Bandwagon to take these gorgeous shots. And word to the wise – we're still looking for Sponsors for the following events. Please contact email@example.com if you'd like to participate:
May 12th - Decorator or Event Planner
June 9th - Location & Florist
July 14th - Photographer
September - Venue
October 13th - DJ and Decorator
November 10th - Cater, Florist and Photographer
Getting Down to (Blogging) Business
Apart from ogling the gorgeous Spring Prelude at The Butchart Gardens, our Blogging Workshop with Mike Wicks was the morning's main event, and we learned so much about how critical the right content is for our marketing efforts. Mike Wicks, President and Creative Guru of Blue Beetle Creative Media, is also an award winning author and blogger, and he generously took the time to share his crucial insights with WoW.
First, Mike really stressed the importance of having a blog, even for small businesses and freelance solopreneurs. 84% of marketers find their blogs to be effective for inbound marketing, and they can enhance your online presence in valuable ways. But making your blog work for you takes, well, work. Mike broke down exactly what to focus on.
We learned just how important a USP, or unique selling point, is for our blogs. There is so much competition out there, and also a temptation to 'go with the flow' and mimic what already exists. But blogging presents an opportunity to really shine and stand out. To do that, you need to share your personality, not just your expertise. Let your audience see the real you, and don't be afraid to get creative and cheeky. An engaging post is so much better than a grammatically-perfect one, so don't be afraid to let loose.
For search engine optimization purposes (that means for ensuring you rank well in Google), Mike also stressed how important it is to keep your blog up-to-date. Keyword research and brilliant content is great, but only if there's enough of it to keep your site fresh and indexed. If you can post even just a little bit everyday, you're ahead of the crowd. Otherwise, blog as frequently, and as consistently, as possible.
Give your blog posts catchy titles (numbered posts a la Buzzfeed are especially popular), and feel free to re-purpose old content. If a post was popular a year ago, give it a few tweaks and it will probably be popular again. Remember that Google likes to see original and informative posts, and they especially value content that answers questions.
And don't forget that all important Call to Action. You can't expect your audience to mind-read – you need to tell them what you'd like them to do. Whether it's signing up for your mailing list, following you on Twitter, leaving a comment, calling you for an appointment, or sharing your post, people don't take action unless they're prompted. Don't miss the opportunity to do so, preferably at the end of your post.
Ultimately, Mike believes that blogging is as important today as having a website was 5 years ago. And the facts back him up – small businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors, 102% more Twitter followers, and 126% higher lead growth than non-blogging businesses. Those are numbers we can get behind (and write behind!), and we know from WoW's own online efforts how critical a well-written blog with beautiful photographs and social media promotion can be.
We also learned that while most WoW Members have websites, not everyone is set up to blog. If you need help getting your website up to speed (or help writing your blog, for that matter), we recommend Blue Beetle Creative Media. We know from first-hand experience that Mike is a great digital strategist, with technical skills that can get you exactly where you need to be. And if you need help writing or managing your blog, or are looking for more guidance, Mike is also happy to offer his services - learn more here.
Finally, WoW Events are just great for growing your business. They're just plain fun, too! We all left The Butchart Gardens laden with gifts, including plant seeds, loose tea and the Butchart Gardens Ginger Scone recipe from our hosts, and cute sparklers (get it?) from Spark & Whimsy. We also drew for two free passes to the gardens and their High Tea, and for a portrait session with Spark & Whimsy.
The Butchart Gardens will also be giving a beautiful gift basket full of teas, jams and goodies from their gift shop, to the lucky winner of our blog competition (details soon!).
We've just announced our upcoming event, and we're so excited – this April we're featuring not just one but two super-informative seminars – one on Spring and Summer Wedding Trends (so important in this industry), and one on Strategic Alliances (so important in every industry). We'll be meeting at the lovely Parkside Hotel & Spa (see how much fun we had at our last event here), and all wedding professionals in Victoria who have yet to attend a WoW event are invited. Learn all about it here, and don't forget to RSVP soon!