How much do wedding vendors cost in Raleigh, NC? 

Hello Brides-to-be!

Thanks for stopping in and congratulations to all of you who got engaged over the holidays! You’re probably beginning the wedding planning process and are overwhelmed with information. One of the hardest parts of planning a wedding is being educated on how much things really cost so you can make informed decisions. Below I’ve broken down some of the vendors whose prices seem to vary the most. I’ve split the prices up into low, medium, and elite costs. The reason these prices vary so much is because these vendors are providing a service, not a product. A service requires skill and experience so when you hire a low-cost vendor you’re usually hiring a low experience vendor; same goes for elite vendors – elite price, elite service. Sorry that this blog is a little long, but here we go! Let’s talk about the average costs of these vendors in the Raleigh, NC area:

Wedding Planner: Low - $300-1,500 | Medium: $1,500-$4,000 | Elite $4,000+
Wedding planners are the unsung heroes of the industry. Wedding planners offer an array of services from day of coordinating, week of planning, month of planning, and whole process planning. Elite planners will book your choice vendors for you and proof their contracts, set up on your wedding day, and schedule travel for out of town guests. They are usually your planning partner for at least 6 months and most will provide design services to achieve the look you want. Low cost planners usually offer day of coordinating or week of planning which is useful for telling people where to go and when on the day of your wedding. 

Venue: Low - $0 - $5,000 | Medium - $5,000 - $10,000 | Elite - $10,000+
Venues provide an array of services, some even include the food in the price! Low cost venues will usually not include anything other than the space and maybe tables and chairs. Elite venues will usually provide everything: food, drink, tables, chairs, linens, food and drink, cake, flowers, planner, and sometimes decorations.  Medium priced venues could include everything or nothing besides the space. Be sure to talk with your planner and the venue about what is included with the venue and make sure it is spelled out clearly in the contact. 

Photography: Low - $500-$1,000 | Medium - $1,000-$4,000 | Elite - $4,000+
Photography is the kicker. This is the one where if you have the money to get an elite vendor SPEND IT. Low budget photographers are usually new to the wedding industry, medium priced photographers will usually have at least one year of wedding experience under their belt, and elite photographers have years of experience and the top of the line equipment. Generally more experience = better quality photos = a higher price tag. The price you pay will also reflect how many hours the photographer is on site, how many prints you get, and the type of photo release you will receive. You can save money by cutting down on hours your photographer covers and trimming some of the bells and whistles, but I would not recommend skimping on photography.

Videography: Low - $700-$1000 | Medium - $1,000-$5,000 | Elite - $5,000+
Video at weddings is a relatively new trend, but he same concept goes for videographers as photographers: the price reflects how how experienced they are and the number, length, and quality of videos you receive in the end. Be sure to watch the videos your videogrpaher produces to see if you like their style before booking with them. 

A few tips from one budget bride to another: If you're on a tight budget, make sure you save up and designate the proper amount for the vendor that's most important to you so you get the best service in that area. If you can't afford the vendor you specifically want, don't be afraid to tell a vendor you only have $X in your budget for their service. They will either tell you that they can offer you 'this' much for that price, or refer you to another trusted vendor who can accommodate your budget. Don't be afraid to ask for a payment plan, either. Most vendors will break up payments leading up to the wedding so all the expenses don't hit at once. However, always be respectful when asking for favors; vendors don't owe you a discount just because you're on a tight budget. 

Happy planning!
Sarah

What you and your photography business need to know about Net Neutrality

Hello photographer! Thanks for stopping by. I wanted to talk about this week's hot topic: Net Neutrality. 

First, let’s talk about Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality is simply a government mandated, equal playing field for everyone on the internet. That means that everything cost the same for everyone – from the big guys to the little guys. This mandate also put in place a sort of ‘honesty’ act that forced providers to disclose data caps, if they would slow speeds and when, and forces providers to abide by their own rules (that way the provider can’t sabotage others on their network). You can read more about NN here.

The proposed reversal of Net Neutrality (which you can read here) means that the internet would belong to those who provide it – companies like Comcast, Spectrum, and Dish can now decide who gets priority speeds, if they want to charge for certain sites, and can enter into a payment for speed or visibility structure. What this means is that the big guys will naturally win out because it will all come down to money – if you have the money, you can get the speed and the visibility. It also means that providers can charge you to access certain sites like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Etc. No one knows exactly how the providers will structure their new plans; there's a chance this could actually be better for consumers with more reasonable rates as the providers will be in open market competition. 

So, what does that mean for your photography business? Well it means that it’s time to:
(1) take advantage of social media to the fullest and
(2) start storing your data on some of the larger providers who will be able to pay for the speed you’ll need if providers lean that way.
As far as social media marketing goes, this is the time to establish your business on Facebook, Instagram, and Google. Make a business page on Facebook, up your Instragram game (check out this free e-course), and register your website with Google so it will show up in searches. Next, store your data on larger providers.  If you’re a photographer move your galleries to sites like Pixieset and Pass, if you’re a videographer move your videos to YouTube and Vimeo. These larger providers will have funds to keep up their speeds which will keep your clients happy when trying to view or download their products. As always, network marketing is going to be your friend. As many in-person connections as you can make the better! Get your name out there so people know who to call. As far as your personal website goes, keep up with blogging and posting on social media to keep your SEO going – at this point no one knows if the new structure will help or hinder the little guy if the bill passes at all

What are your thoughts on Net Neutrality?         

Lacy + Cody

Lacy and Cody are the cutest pair! They agreed to be my models for me to test out my new presets and work on a few I've had in the bank that I've yet to tweak. Lacy owns Lacy Matusek Photography which amazing because other photographers make the best models! Aka, they don't mind when I fidget with my settings for a few minutes between shots because they get it. These two are new to Raleigh, so if you see them around town say, "Hi!"

How I Rebranded My Photography Business | Part 4/4: SEO and Mareketing

How I rebranded my Photograpy Business

Hello Beautiful,

Welcome to blog 4/4 in my rebrand series! This week is SEO and Brand Marketing – hands down the hardest part of sustaining a brand. I am by no means an expert at this, but I will tell you everything I’ve learned so far! I’ll start with SEO because a lot of people know about it, but not what it is or how it works. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The way it works is search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo index all the content on the internet multiple times/day so that when someone types in a search term, the search engine can bring up:
(1) the most reliable source
(2) the most accurate information
(3) the most relevant
(4) the most recent
By indexing the content on the internet, search engines then rank the websites and pages it finds in order of accuracy and popularity. Sounds simple enough, BUT if you’re a small business or in a crowded business space, it’s hard to come up as a top search. Introducing: SEO! The way you can boost your website’s ranking on search engines is to be a relevant source – this means updating your site regularly (read: daily).

You can do this lots of ways, but the most popular and most efficient way is blogging. Blogs contain SO. MANY. WORDS. That these search engines can index. Another great way to boost your SEO is to link your social media accounts to your website. This lets the search engines know that you’re a real person with things to say, not just another website. SEO also works like a web – your website is linked to your social media and your blog, and as other people reference your blogs and social media, you’re seen by search engines a reliable source, upping your rankings. This means posting frequently – I’ve met bloggers and other business professionals who try to tweet 10 times a day and post on Instagram and Facebook twice a day! That’s a LOT, but it pays off. I, personally, don’t have that much to say yet, so I post 2 or 3 times a week and am trying to become more frequent as my business grows.

A few notes on social media platforms before I move on: social media platforms, especially those owned by Facebook such as Facebook and Instagram reward you for using each platform individually. So that means when you post to twitter, don't send it to Facebook via twitter. Post the exact same content on Facebook via Facebook. Same thing goes for Instagram.

There’s lots of technical things you can do on your website, too. The most important thing is to register your website with all the search engines. They’ll give you a HTML code that you enter into your websites header/metadata so that the search engine knows to go find you and index your content; however, recently google has done this via Google+, so be sure to set one of those up for your business. As far as content goes, make sure pictures on your site are named relevant things. If you have a picture of a purple wedding bouquet and on your computer that image is named ‘039472.jpg’ rename it to ‘purpleweddingbouquet.jpg’ that way when someone Googles “Purple Wedding Bouquets”, your site and your picture is more likely to come up as a relevant search.  

One word of caution if you're re-branding: changing your website address (URL) will hurt your SEO big time - It will literally erase it. So if you've done a TON of work on your website and SEO be sure to follow these steps to keep some of your momentum:

1. Keep your current URL and redirect it to your new URL for a while (6 months or so)
2. Copy your website and import it into your new URL - be sure to transfer all your blogs, too!
3. Link up all your Social Media Accounts to your new URL
4. Join in on Blog Circles (More info at Social Media Hat)

It has been so fun to share my experience with you guys and I hope it can help you in your branding/rebranding process!
If you're looking for more information starting/rebranding a photography/video business, check out this article at Shoot Dot Edit. (Or copy this link: http://shootdotedit.com/2017/08/how-to-start-photography-business/) 
As always, if you have any questions drop me a comment or send me an e-mail! I'd love to hear from you.

xoxo,
Sarah