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Ways to Establish Yourself as a Professional When You're Just Starting Out

Here are five powerful words: everyone was once a beginner. No matter how seasoned the pro or how many published weddings she may have under her belt, the truth is she likely started out at the exact same place we all do: as someone who was brand-new to the industry. When you’re first starting out as a wedding pro, knowing how to market and establish yourself can be a little (read: a lot) intimidating when you don’t have a ton of experience to your name. But, just because you have little experience doesn’t mean you have to act like it. Remember: we were all there at one point! In addition to being the pro everyone wants to work with, here are a few things you can do to help establish a professional reputation for yourself.

Don’t Wing It

Don’t confuse experience with process. Just because you’re new, doesn’t mean you have to wing it. Establish yourself as a professional by creating a cohesive process and building a strong foundation for your business. We recommend doing three main things:
Define your workflow. Create a process—just a simple list-format will do—that you follow with every client, every time. This saves you from reinventing the wheel or missing crucial steps when things get stressful or busy (or both!).
Have the documents you need to book clients ready to go. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that, because you’re new, your business will be slow-going and you can just create items as they’re needed. Have client contracts, welcome packets/letters, and other items ready to go so that you don’t have to waste time backtracking when you do start signing couples.
Know what you want your client experience to be like. Take some time to sit down and think through what you want your client experience—from tip to tail—to be like. Then, determine the tools and processes you need to have in place to make sure the process is what you want it to be.

Build a Presence

When you don’t have a ton of experience or connections to your name, it’s so important that you begin to build a solid presence to help establish yourself in the industry. This means working both in the digital arena (building your social media presence, having a professional website, blogging as an industry pro, etc.) and in person in your market (attending networking events, meeting with local vendors, etc.) to make sure potential clients and potential creative partners know who you are. We recommend having business cards, setting up a professional website, and joining local and regional organizations, and start attending meetings. Remember to also schedule meetings and/or site/studio visits with local vendors and post regularly on social media.

Admit What You Don’t Know

This is probably the hardest thing for those starting out in the industry. Admitting when you need to rope in an expert or do some extra research can be tough—especially when you’re trying to establish yourself as an expert—but don’t be too prideful to admit when you don’t know or need help. Pushing through or making up answers on the spot is how you can make mistakes and damage your reputation.
Overall, when it comes to establishing yourself as a professional, you may not be able to control the amount of experience you have, but you can control how you run your business. It all comes down to creating a seamless process, building a presence, and admitting when you need more help!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tayler Cusick Hollman is the Editor in Chief and Director of Content at Aisle Planner. She manages the company’s editorial and content strategy, oversees a small editorial team as well as all social media channels and content distribution. Follow Tayler on Instagram @taylrd_designs
 
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