business & technology for wedding and lifestyle pros

What Las Vegas Teaches Us About Business


Ah, the land of smoke and slot machines. Las Vegas is an interesting case study, economically. Hotels are luxurious and relatively inexpensive, yet restaurants and shows are exorbitant. The casinos will give you free drinks, even at the penny slots, but a cab down the road is $20. So what can we learn from Las Vegas about how to run our business?

What Las Vegas Teaches Us About Business

Lesson 1: Get them addicted and they’ll keep coming back

Whatever it is that you’d like people to consume, you want to find a hook—something that keeps them coming back for more. Is it your amazing photography? The unique and creative product that you are selling? Your sparkling wit and dazzling intelligence?

How are you drawing people in to your blog or business website? What are you doing to keep them there? Are you:

  • Putting out good products or information on a consistent basis?
  • Creating “sticky” content? As people find your site, do you lead them through to other content by using related post functionality or backlinks to other content?
  • Providing something that gives them immediate gratification? For example, if someone reaches your website through a google search for “Seattle wedding photography”, are Seattle weddings what they see when they get there?
  • Showing them who you are, what you do, and how to get in touch with you through easy to find links?
Lesson 2: Give something away for free and they will stick around

Casinos have this one down, don’t they? Not only does the free liquor make people feel as if they are receiving some sort of value for their time and money, but it impairs their judgement. We’ll skip the fuzzy memories and the “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” attitude and focus on the giving piece of the equation.

  • Customers are more likely to buy your product if they have seen tangible proof that your work is fabulous.
  • People are more likely to pay for supplementary content if your free content rocks (think e-books, magazines, etc).
  • Give people something of value to them, whatever that something is (a discount, a sample pack, a great shopping bag — hello, lululemon!) and they are far more likely to purchase from you in the future.
Lesson 3: Objects may be further away than they appear

Anyone who’s ever walked between casinos in Las Vegas knows this one. Hence all the tourists in fanny packs and sneakers.

If you’re like me, you tend to underestimate the time it will take to get something done. “Just 5 more minutes” turns into a half-hour of editing a blog post, or responding to emails. I also overestimate the energy that I will have to devote to projects on an ongoing basis.

  • Budget your time as well as you budget your money.
  • Make sure that you accurately assess the effort it will take to reach your goals, or complete your daily tasks.
  • Pushing to reach the finish line is a great thing, but not if you are exhausted and tapped out in the end.

I’m not an advocate of “slow and steady wins the race”, more like “focused and controlled helps you reach your goals faster”.

Lesson 4: To succeed, you must take risks

You shouldn’t be gambling your life savings away. We’re not even talking huge leaps of faith here, although it could be.

It may be the daily risk of putting yourself out there on your blog. Or the risk of creating a new product line that stretches your business boundaries. Or even something as simple as taking a small capital risk by advertising on a new website or attending a conference.

  • How are you taking risks in your business?
  • What are you doing to invest in your success?
  • Are you committed to your business strategy, even if there are obstacles?

What else can Las Vegas teach us about business?

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Google Analytics Site Search


Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools for your website. It’s widely regarded as the industry standard, and data from GA provides a wealth of statistics about your visitors, most notably: the pages visited on your site, referring sources, and interaction with the various sections of your website. We’ve previously talked about Advanced Segments and how to configure them. Today, we are going to enable a little feature that isn’t on by default: Site Search.

If you have a search form on your site, Site Search is for you. Google Analytics Site Search will track your users’ search terms, time on site after searching, number of pages visited after searching, and number of results found. To enable this optional feature, sign into Google Analytics and visit your property. Click on Admin. You will see your Account, Property, and View. Underneath View, click View Settings. Change the Site search Tracking to “On”. Add in your site’s query parameter (fancy jargon for the prefix to your searches). If you are using WordPress, this is normally just “s”. Save and voila – you will begin collecting data on your visitor’s searches!

Google-Analytics-Site-Search

To see your Site Search data in Google Analytics, navigate to: Behavior » Site Search » Overview.

I’ve found Site Search to be helpful in a few ways:

  • The obvious: discover what your users are interested in finding (some of these will surprise you!)
  • The ability to target specific search results pages with coding or ads
  • Determining how users who search convert to a specific activity or goal

So go ahead, turn on Site Search and grab some extra data (because everyone loves data)!

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So You Think You Want To Blog?


As small business owners, entrepreneurs, or hobbyists, if you are considering adding a blog to your business the first question that you should ask yourself is:

“Why am I blogging and what do I hope to gain?”

Read This Before You Start a Blog

Bloggers are:

  • Writers
  • Developers
  • Librarians
  • Social media managers
  • Intellectual property experts
  • Editors
  • Graphic designers
  • Advertising execs
  • Marketing gurus

Blogging offers lots of amazing rewards but comes with a great deal of responsibility, and each time you put a post, a tweet, or an email out into the blogiverse you are representing yourself or your business… that’s a lot of pressure!

Sit down to think for a moment about the blog you hope to create, the audience you want to reach, and the true reason you want to start a blog.  Make a pro/con list.  Consult your business plan.  Read other people’s blogs to get an idea of the audience you may want to reach and the network you want to join.  Then ask yourself…

“Am I qualified to blog about _____?”

Whatever your chosen topic, you should be a subject matter expert in that field.  Your field may be yourself.  It may be your business.  It may be your own taste.  Clearly you are an expert in all of those!  But let’s say you want to start a blog about gardening.  What can you add to the gardening blog industry?  Do you personally garden?  What do you know about growing specific plants, vegetables, or flowers?  Are you prepared to answer questions from readers and advise them on making their garden grow?  If the answer to these questions is no, stop here.  Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and do not start a gardening blog.  But if you’re a bona fide gardening pro, then the last and most important question is…

“Do I have time for this?”

For many of us, blogging is a full-time job (on top of our full-time job).  It’s a huge commitment.  You must take the time to realistically assess whether or not you will have the time and energy to devote to your site.

If you’re a brave soul and are ready to jump in feet first, I’m going to be doing a series of posts to help you get started building your WordPress blog. I remember vividly how it feels to be brand-new to the blog world and tackle the setup of a website, so we will go back to basics, answer all of your burning questions, and you will be blogging in no time.

If you’re on the fence, well, that’s OK, too.  Starting a blog is not a decision to be made lightly, and we’ll have much more discussion on the realities and benefits of blogging, and why it may or may not be for you.

For all of you experienced bloggers reading, what other factors should those who are thinking about creating a blog take under consideration?

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Google Analytics Advanced Segments


I’m sure most if not all of you know about the awesome tool that is Google Analytics.  It’s free, there are multiple wonderful plugins to integrate it with WordPress (I use Yoast’s plugin), and when used correctly, you can track all kinds of interactions with your website.

Google Analytics Advanced Segments

One of the easy features to implement is the Advanced Segment feature.  Advanced Segments require no updates to the Analytics code on your site, only a little bit of configuration within Google Analytics.  I use Advanced Segments for a variety of things, but one important use is to track how readers from a specific referring source interact with your website.

Creating an Advanced Segment

Let’s say I want to see how readers from Pinterest interact with my website. First, log in to Google Analytics and access your website profile. Click on Add Segment.

Google Analytics Advanced Segment Tutorial

Click the red New Segment button and give your segment a name. We’ll call ours “Pinterest Visits”. Select Traffic Sources. In the Source field, leave the condition as “contains” and in the value field type pinterest.com. Click save.

Tutorial on Google Analytics Advanced Segments

Now, navigate back to your Google Analytics dashboard. Click on the Add Segment button again. Search for pinterest, find your recently added segment, and click apply.

Using Advanced Segments

Your Dashboard will now show you how “All Sessions” and “Pinterest Visits” stack up to each other!

Analyzing Data with Advanced Segments

Now to take it even further, let’s say you sell a product and have a checkout page on your site.  If people successfully check out, they are taken to a “thank you” page.  That thank you page represents your sales conversion page.  With Advanced Segments you can now see how many visitors from Pinterest are converting into sales.

Navigate to Behavior » Site Content » All Pages.  In the search field, type /thank-you/ (or the slug of your order success page) and click the magnifying glass. Voila! Data showing you how many sales conversations you received from Pinterest visitors.

Of course, this is also useful for other page views, such as how many visitors are viewing your contact page, and other referring sources, such as external advertising you might purchase. Coming soon, we will talk about Google Analytics Event Tracking and how to combine Event Tracking with Advanced Segments, which is where the real fun comes in!

So have I inspired you to try out Advanced Segments?  How will you apply them to your site analytics?

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Welcome to Edit and Post


I’m beyond excited to unveil Edit and Post to you.  My name is Ami and I’m so glad you’re here! Many of you may know me through my wedding blogsite Elizabeth Anne Designs or via my travel site Entouriste.  Through Edit and Post, I will be sharing the blogging knowledge that I have gathered over the last eight years of writing and managing Elizabeth Anne Designs and Entouriste as well as general business suggestions and tips. Welcome!

Edit and Post

Let’s get to know each other!

A little bit about my background…

Founded in October 2007, Elizabeth Anne Designs welcomes thousands of visitors daily and is one of the leading wedding blogs in the industry.  In 2013, I founded Entouriste, a community-based site featuring the travels of the world’s best photographers. Each of my projects are WordPress-based blogsites, for which I do all of the design and coding in addition to editing and publishing each post.

While I may chat about weddings and travel each day, my education and experience is in finance and accounting.  After graduating from Converse College with Bachelor’s degrees in both Accounting and Finance, the husband and I made our way to the wonderful city of Chicago.  I attended DePaul University and received an Master of Science in Finance, and rounded out my education with a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago, where I concentrated my studies in Strategic Management and Organizational Behavior.

I’ve worked in the accounting and finance field for over 13 years, always in mid-size, high-growth environments where I can truly get my hands dirty.  I love to get into the details and understand all of the complexities and intricacies of a business.  I want to know what makes them tick—where their strengths and weaknesses lie, how they handle their human capital, where efficiencies can be gained, where investment is needed, and where technology can improve their business model.

We are all CEOs

We are all doing what we love—be it planning weddings, blogging about our home renovations, trying out new recipes, or crafting with glitter (who doesn’t love glitter?).  But the moment we earned our first dollar from Google Adsense or bought our first set of supplies for making jewelry, we instantly became CEOs.  For some, that’s a scary prospect.  We just wanted to make pretty things!  We’re going to delve into the issues faced by small businesses, from accounting to social media strategy, and along the way, we’ll learn from each other and become smarter business owners.

Knowledge is power

Edit and Post will get quite technical at times, but along the way I’m going to try my best to give clear and concise instructions for those of you looking to code aspects of your site.  And even if you are never going to code one line of your site on your own, knowledge is power!  Familiarizing yourself with how WordPress works will allow you to intelligently talk with your developer and better assess how your money is being spent.  Learning a bit about built-in functionality will allow you to decide whether you are spending your time efficiently.  So if you don’t know a z-index from an index.html or CSS from RSS, you’re in the right place.

My goal is for Edit and Post to be a forum for discussion so please comment or contact me with any specific questions you may have or topics you would like to see on Edit and Post.

I’m looking forward to getting to know each of you—thanks for coming along for the ride!

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