How to Get More Views on Your Facebook Posts: My Latest Discovery

Anyone with a business facebook page knows how hard it is these days to get your fans to see your posts. It’s frustrating that after years of building Facebook audiences that it is so incredibly difficult to actually reach them!

I am always looking for new ways to improve Apple Bride’s reach on Facebook and the last couple weeks I’ve been trying something new. It’s pretty simple and maybe most business owners already know it, but I thought I would share it anyways!

Quick Tip For Getting More Fans to See your Facebook Posts!

First of all, we find that uploading a picture instead of a just posting a link always gets a better response (you can still post the link in the status box, but load your picture first). And the last couple weeks, instead of just loading one picture we’ve been loading 2 or 3, and we are finding that the post is seen by WAY more people i.e. double, sometimes triple the usual number.

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Obviously, the same Facebook rules apply. You want the pictures to be editorial and interesting and without too many words or graphics (Facebook doesn’t like photos with over 20% text). Posts that are more punchy and captivating are always going to do better.

Give it a try for a couple weeks and see if you get the same results as we did!

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Win a Video Tour for your Venue!

Our readers have asked for it and we are giving you the chance to give them what they want!

Apple Brides is super excited to announce that we are now offering venue video tours! 

We have teamed up with the talented Matt Green of Matt Green Films to offer video shorts that will showcase your venue to potential brides and grooms.  The perfect addition to your website and social media outlets!

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These HD video shorts will include cinematic footage of your venue’s exterior and interior mixed with music.  You will also have opportunity to tell potential clients, in your own words, why your venue is the perfect place to say “I do”!

To celebrate our collaboration with Matt Green Films we are giving away a FREE venue video tour to one of our current venue advertisers.

For your chance to win just email info@applebrides .com the following:  

  • A link to your website
  • Why you think your venue should win the video
  • How it will improve your marketing

Please send your entry by July 22nd

Good Luck!

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We’ve made some changes at Apple Brides: Here’s why!

You might have noticed some changes around Apple Brides the last couple months. I just wanted to take a minute to explain these new aspects of AB, our reasons for doing them and how it might (or might not) affect you. But first, here are two things I think you should know…

1. Readers come first. The top priority of Apple Brides is, and has always been, to be a resource for couples planning a wedding in the Inland Northwest. This is at the heart of every decision we make because our readers are the lifeblood of our business (i.e. without them, we can’t send you business!).

 2. I am a small business owner. Just like you (or most of you). I am always trying to balance staying true to our core values, and at the same time growing and expanding my business. I know most of you will understand this. When should I raise my rates? How do I keep up with growth while still offering the same value to my customers? And (even though we don’t mention it often)…how do I increase my bottom line?

All this to say, that with every change we make on the site, I always keep these two things in mind.

Some changes you might have noticed:

1. We’ve expanded!

We launched our Central/Eastern Washington (i.e. Walla Walla, tri Cities, Yakima, etc) directory a couple months ago. It should be said that we’ve always featured weddings from this area ever since Apple Brides began, but now we are making a point to post regular features and vendor posts to grow our reader base there (about once a week).

So how does this affect you? It expands the audience that hear about your brand! By focusing on this region we hope to open the market even more to our advertisers. It also means that you can be listed in both directories (contact melissa@applebrides.com for more info).

Apple Brides is successful because we have focused on staying local. We believe this area of Washington is still our “local community” (in that a bride from Yakima could book a photographer from Spokane or visa versa). We’ve also grown our team to be sure we are still serving both areas with the same standard of quality!

2. Google ads

Some of you may have noticed that some of our posts now have Google ads displayed at the top, this is something we’ve never done before. Before I delve into why we did this, I just want to clarify one key point:

Google ads are only on posts older than 14 days and they do not appear in the directory. We did this so that when your sponsored post or wedding goes up (which is when it receives the most traffic) it is still all about you and your business. We also want the directory to be easy for local brides to use and also focused on our INW vendors. Most of the traffic our older posts receive is from national readers.

The reason we decided to incorporate national advertising on old posts is because as Apple Brides has grown so have the costs to run it and so has our national audience. A couple of our posts have gone viral so it seemed like a good way to keep our local advertising costs down and also a way to increase revenue. We’ve had the Google ads up for about a month now and have kept a close eye on any changes in the way local ads perform, we have seen no change and are confident this will not impact your advertising.

If you still have questions, comments or concerns, I would love to hear from you. As fellow business owners, I know you all understand how important every client is, which is why I value every single one of you. You can email me anytime at rachelsandall@applebrides.com.

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Apple Brides Advertising Sale!

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Photo by Katie Campbell Photography

Get 10% off Year and 6 Month advertising packages!

We rarely do advertising sales (especially marked off by this much!) so if you’ve been thinking about getting on Apple Brides, now is the time!

Here are some quick facts about us:

  • Busiest wedding resource in the Inland Northwest.
  • We average over 5,400 unique visitors per day.
  • 98,000 Spokane/Cd’A area visitors a month.
  • Almost 3,000 Facebook fans.
  • First page rankings for most wedding related Google searches for Spokane/Cd’A
  • Voted best local blog by KREM 2 in 2011 and 2013
  • Top 10 Regional Wedding Blogs in RangeFinder Magazine

Local brides use Apple Brides to find their vendors, let us help you reach them!

This sale ends next Thursday, April 3rd, so act fast!

Email Melissa at sales@applebrides.com for more information!

*Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability. Sale packages must be paid in full.*

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Weddings Inspired Northwest Conference: May 3rd

Misty from Cameo Events is organizing a fantastic conference for wedding vendors in the INW called Weddings Inspired Northwest. This will be a great opportunity to grow both your business and your contact list! She’s got a great line up of speakers (including yours truly) that is sure to make this a great investment for your business.

When: Saturday, May 3rd, 9am-5pm

Where: The Coeur d’Alene Resort Event Center

I sent Misty some questions about what we can expect to gain by going.

What is the Weddings Inspired Conference?

The Weddings Inspired Northwest conference (WINW) is a day for local wedding and event professionals to take a break from their very busy days, to be pampered a little bit themselves. But, we take it a big step farther than that. Along with the pampering, they will be Inspired and educated by some of the industries top celebrities and professionals and will be give the chance to network with their peers from around the Inland Northwest.

Who are the speakers?

Renee Strauss, Alexis Jones, Linette Richardson-Hall, Shane McMurray, Rachel Sandall and Misty Ceriello. See more info and bios at www.weddingsinspirednorthwest.com.

Why did you want to bring this conference to the INW?

The Inland Northwest is consistently a top wedding destination but it often gets left out of the national media conversation, because we are a bit more remote. I wanted to bring this conference (and these names) to the area, to provide our local professionals with some national attention and exposure, and to give them a day to get some pampering themselves!

What can vendors gain by going?

In addition to a day of them being the center of attention (for a change ;-) ), they’ll gain insights, ideas and vision from some top national media personalities. They’ll also be able to network with other peers from around the Inland Northwest in what is expected to be the single largest gathering of Wedding and Event professionals ever assembled in the Inland Northwest. A day to be inspired, educated and network.

How much does it cost?

$160 per ticket for early registration, $175 after February 15th and $199 at the door

What’s included in the ticket price?

Everything is covered in the price to include all personality fees, Mimosa and pastries in the morning, a lunch cruise on beautiful lake coeur d’ alene, and dessert and champagne. Also, each attendee will receive a plaque to show off for their attending the 1st annual WINW!!

For more info and to buy your discounted tickets, check out the WINW website!

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Business Profile: Flat 4 Photography

If you’ve been working in our local wedding community for long, you’ve probably come across Whitney and Jordan from Flat 4 Photography and Photo Booth. They have an amazing reputation with vendors and brides alike and are a shining example of how to build a strong business using modern tools, hard work and good old fashioned customer service. I was thrilled when they agreed to continue our Business Profile series because I know we can all learn a lot from them!

Name: Whitney + Jordan Tampien

Business: Flat 4 Photography & Photo Booth

When did you start your business? 

The photography side of our business started in the fall of 2009 and the Photo Booth started up in early 2010 (and we just launched our new product, the InstaBOOTH, in 2014!)

DSCN2631_3Why did you start your business?

It started out with a love of photography and then we kind of got addicted to finding new niches in our local event industry and seeing how far we could run with them. And, ultimately, there is something to be said about working for yourself! (Whitney has been doing Flat 4 full-time for almost a year, while Jordan still works a day job that he loves in addition to helping out with our business.)

What was your biggest struggle your first year in business?

There were many, but probably the biggest struggle was getting too busy too fast before we really even knew the direction we wanted our business to go. When I (Whitney) started doing photography, I honestly saw it as a way to pay for my lattes at Starbucks every morning… The next thing we knew, photography and the Photo Booth became a second full-time job and we barely had time to catch up on the smaller facets of our business, like a good website, quality business cards, etc. because we both had other full-time jobs as well.

 How did you overcome that struggle?

I’m not sure that you ever really feel like you’re completely caught up when you’re running your own business, but I think the biggest thing has been learning to prioritize and also realizing that it’s okay to say no to additional business (gasp) if it means keeping your sanity and giving your existing clients your best work.

What was your biggest source of growth?

As cliché as it sounds, word of mouth has helped grow our business more than anything else. That’s not as easy at is sounds though; we have worked really hard to develop a stellar reputation with clients and other vendors in our industry, which has resulted in countless people passing our name along to their friends, family, and clients.

On average, how many hours a week do you work on your business?

This is a tough question to answer because every single week running this business is completely different! During busy season when we are up to our ears in shooting weddings, editing photos, and coordinating Photo Booth events, it is easily a 60-hour work week. But there are certainly weeks during our slower time of year when it’s a 20-hour-a-week job. Regardless of the time of year though, there is ALWAYS something to keep us busy with this business!

What is the best social media site for your business?

Facebook, hands down. It’s easy, free, and people are on it every day. It’s really a no-brainer! We have done some creative giveaways and promos to get more followers over the years, and we are proud to say we are almost to 1,500 fans. And we’re lucky that many of the vendors we’ve built relationships with will share our status updates to create an even bigger advertising network!

What practical tools do you recommend to other business owners?

We like to keep things simple and organized around here. For us, our lives are scheduled on our iPhones! We have also recently gotten into using Square for our credit card payments in addition to PayPal, which is super convenient and has really reasonable rates. (If you’ve never used Square, it’s a free device that plugs into your phone and lets you swipe credit cards on the go. Or you can take credit card payments over the phone.)

Best advice for someone wanting to start a wedding business?

1) Be nice and be personable. This job is ultimately not about you. You have to be able to deal with EVERYONE in a calm and positive way, including frantic mothers-of-the-bride and drunk groomsmen. If you can’t do that and be nice while doing it, you should probably choose a different industry. 2) Answer emails quickly. We have gotten countless photography and Photo Booth jobs because we simply responded quickly to clients. No joke. 3) Don’t quit your day job…yet. Build up your business before you make it your full-time gig. 4) Realize that it’s not as glamorous as you might think it is (is any job really as glamorous as it appears?) It’s not going to be as easy as it looks, but if you’re willing to put in the time and energy, it will be worth it. At the end of the day, it’s pretty dang cool to witness the most special and intimate moments of peoples’ lives (and get paid to do it!)

Contact rachelsandall@applebrides.com if you’d like to be interviewed about your business!

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PreVeiled: Making Wishes for Weddings Come True

Apple Brides was so honored to attend the PreVeiled launch event at the Coeur d’Alene Resort last month.  This local nonprofit charity provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing life altering circumstances.

photo 4We were sipping champagne and chatting in the Hagaone suite…it may have seemed like any other Holiday party until founder Misty Ceriello spoke.  That’s when the purpose of the night became very real.  There was sniffeling and quiet as we watched a video about a young girl named Ashlee Jensen.

by Sure Shot Video

To learn about how you can support PreVeiled or to view their wish granting guidelines take a peek at their site.

You can also contribute to PreVeiled by attending their live auction at The Bridal Festival this weekend.

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Business Profile: Soiree Event Design

We are continuing our business profile series today with Soiree Event Design. Anyone who has met owners Ali and Jessica know that these ladies have a reputation for hard work, an eye for detail and creating amazing events! It’s been such a pleasure to watch their business blossom into one of the leading event planning companies in Spokane.

Here is their interview!

soiree

Names: Ali Messer and Jessica Sheady

BusinessSoirée Event Design

When did you start your business? 

We opened in October 2011

Why did you start your business?

Both of us have a background in catering and a love of events. After spending a lot of time talking about events and what we love about them, marketing and small business it was clear we both had a passion for events and weddings and we felt opening a business that combined our passions and experience was perfect.

What was your biggest struggle your first year in business?

We have two biggest struggles: time and the market for what we do. When a business is mainly run by two people, having enough time to complete everything on your (growing) to-do list is difficult! But, we also have the flexibility that there IS two of us. Also, in the first year, we were a little discouraged that the Inland Northwest Market might not be large enough and affluent enough to support what we were trying to do. Through education from many online sources and easier access to inspiration for weddings, the INW market is growing for coordinators.

How did you overcome that struggle?

Balance is something we are constantly striving for and acceptance. The life of a small business owner in the events industry not a 40 hour work week that is just reality. Finding balance in your work and personal life is extremely important, and we work on that every day.

As for market, it forced us to look at our business plan and change it. Even in the smallest ways. There are things we do to bring in revenue that are not coordination. We don’t always advertise these things, but we do them to help grow our business and keep more consistent cash flows.

What was your biggest source of growth?

We have learned that Spokane is a community that relies heavily on word of mouth and positive reviews. Our biggest source of growth has been going above and beyond for our clients. Even early on when we weren’t quite asking what we needed to ask for our services, we never let that affect the effort that we put in. Because of this, we receive many good reviews and feedback from previous clients and industry peers that has really helped grow our business.

On average, how many hours a week do you work on your business?

Working in events, there is really no “average” week. On weeks that we do not have events both of us work about 20-40 hours a week on Soirée. On an event week, that number jumps quite a bit higher!

What is the best social media site for your business?

For us, the most successful social media outlet is has been Facebook. We find many brides and clients seek us out and find us through social media.

What practical tools do you recommend to other business owners?

For us one of the most helpful resources was our peers. There are so many successful small business owners in the Spokane community, and they are a wonderful resource!

Best advice for someone wanting to start a wedding business?

Research, flexibility, and determination! It take a lot of planning to open a business, and that plan will often change throughout the process. It’s important to enjoy and adapt to that journey!

If you would like to be interviewed about your business email rachelsandall@applebrides.com!

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Business Profile: Apple Brides

Welcome to the first ever business profile! This will be a regular series on this blog where we interview local wedding entrepreneurs about the nitty gritty of their businesses. We want to get real about our struggles, practical tips and ways we can all learn from each other. For such a small area, our wedding community is FULL of professionals who are building very successful businesses, wouldn’t it be fun to be inspired by each other?

And because I know that is asking a lot, I thought it was only fair that I go first! So here we go…

Name: Rachel Sandall

Business: AppleBrides.com

rachel_001When did you start your business? 

I started Apple Brides in 2010 (ish?). I did it casually (1 or 2 posts a week) for three or four months, then when I knew my husband and I were officially moving back to the Inland Northwest I started blogging 7 days a week after I got home from my day job.

Why did you start your business?

I was working at a wedding magazine and I knew I wanted to stay in the industry, I also knew there was a gaping hole for the INW when it came to wedding resources, which I found out when I tried to plan my own wedding! Spokane/Cd’A was not mentioned on any of the major wedding sites and I knew this market was big enough that we desperately needed one.

What was your biggest struggle your first year in business?

The biggest struggle was acquiring readers and having no income! For about 4 months I literally had one reader and that was my sister! It was pretty discouraging to be blogging so faithfully and get so little in return. I didn’t take on advertisers until I was sure I had the audience to support them, which meant I didn’t make any money until about a year after I started.

How did you overcome that struggle?

I knew that when it came to blogging it was a snowball effect and that I would have to just keep with it. I also started working hard to build my contacts, partner with influential businesses in the industry and research search engine optimization. After about 8 months my traffic really started to pick up and I was beginning to get some loyal readers. I will never forget the day I got my first “real comment” from someone who wasn’t my sister, mom or best friend!

What was your biggest source of growth?

It would be hard to just name one thing, but I think what boasted my site the most (and nearly tripled the traffic) was when a couple of my posts went viral. To this day, some of my posts get thousands of hits a day which does amazing things for my Google rank, and we all know Google holds the keys to success!

On average, how many hours a week do you work on your business?

My schedule is pretty varied, but I would say on average I do about 25-30 hours a week. Sometimes less and sometimes WAY more!

What is the best social media site for your business?

It would have to be a tie between Facebook and Pinterest. Originally, it was Facebook that brought the most traffic (and it still does bring a lot) but now, Pinterest is hands down the biggest referrer to Apple Brides. I can’t emphasize enough how wonderful Pinterest is for wedding businesses. If you don’t use it to bring traffic to your site you should start asap!

What practical tools do you recommend to other business owners?

WordPress! We use it as our web platform and after having used many other programs, I seriously think it’s the best, especially for the technically challenged like myself! It’s great for SEO, it’s easy to use and it’s very flexible.

We also use Google Docs for a lot of things too. I like that everyone on our team can access it and make changes, etc.

Best advice for someone wanting to start a wedding business?

Do your research. The wedding industry is a very attractive industry to be in and a lot of people want to work in it (and I’ll admit it is pretty awesome!), but before you jump in make sure you have done your research. Meet with other vendors, chat with brides and spend a couple months surveying the market to make sure it’s a wise business decision.

Also, however much time and effort you think it will take to build a successful business…double it, add 50% and that’s actually what you can expect!

So who wants to go next?! If you want to be interviewed email rachelsandall@applebrides.com!

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Apple Brides Christmas Fun Time!

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 1.21.17 PMWedding vendors! Come celebrate the season with all your favorite wedding friends at the Apple Brides Christmas Fun Time!

When: December 4th from 5-7pm

Where: The White Room, 117 W. Pacific Ave

What: Hor d’oeuvres, treats and even some prizes! No host bar.

Bonus! If you bring a toiletry item for Project Beauty Share we will buy you a glass of wine!

RSVP to rachelsandall@applebrides.com please!

We hope to see you there!

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