Last May, I had the chance to attend the inaugural Weddings Inspired Northwest Conference, hosted by Cameo Events. I wrote a little bit about it here, and I said I’d talk more about what I learned later. But I never did! The second annual conference is coming up on April 15th, and it’s hosted at the beautiful Hagadone Event Center at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. and I’m so excited to attend again! Last year, I wasn’t sure what I would get out of a conference like WINW, because it’s not photographer-specific. And it’s true that, as a photographer, you’re not going to walk out of there with a “how to” guide for conquering your local market, or with a bunch of photography tips and tricks. But I did learn a few very important things about being a better business owner, and working in the wedding industry, things that I use every single day in my business.
To give you an idea of what I learned last year, I pulled out three things I learned last year. I can’t give all the awesome inspiration away, but I know from talking to last years’ attendees that they learned so much as well. My top three:
- Misty, of Cameo Events, taught me that it’s okay to say “this is my time” and step away from my business when I need time. Since setting work hours for myself and creating a schedule so that I don’t work on days when I’m off, I’m much less stressed. And when I am working? I’m not goofing around, because I know I only have so many hours of time to work before I’m off. Misty will be speaking again this year, and I’m so excited to hear what she has to say. She’s a phenomenal speaker and a wonderful part of the Inland Northwest wedding community.
- Alexis Jones spoke about taking chances. I’ve always been a go-getter, but Alexis reminded me that, oftentimes, we don’t get something because we haven’t asked for it. It’s so much more than that, but she said: why not me? why not now? For example: this last week, I attended a concert. And I asked the band if I could come back the next day and photograph it for them, and they agreed. Boom. That’s just one example of how, in the past year, I’ve reached out and asked for opportunities. Sometimes the answer was no, and sometimes the answer was yes, but if you never ask, how will you ever know? [That’s me with Alexis below. It’s pretty much as fangirl as I get.]
- Linnyette, the “Wedding Diva“, was my favorite speaker last year. She was funny, on point, and has changed the way I do business. She’s a wedding planner, but what I learned from her was echoed by Susan Stripling (who is a fantastic wedding photographer) on Creative Live — know your numbers and know your business. What I learned from Linnyette changed the way I do business — how I interact with my clients, how I handle my money, how I view the wedding industry — and I use those things every day. If that’s not a lasting impact, I don’t know what is! I was ready to attend WINW again the moment I heard Linnyette was returning this year. She’s that amazing.
I think it’s really important to invest in some kind of education each year. I know that, for me, it keeps me from feeling stagnant. I meet other business owners, wedding professionals, and photographers who I can network with, and who push me to grow my business. In years past, I’ve attended WDS in Portland, which is neither wedding nor photographer specific. This year, I’m attending both WINW and CPC. I’m very excited for I’ll learn and how that will help me as a business owner. Misty puts it better than I can:
“We all strive to grow our businesses but all too often the energy, desire and determination to focus time on that growth is lost in doing what we do best… creating the best experience for our customers. So, are you taking care of you? Are you investing time to educate yourself? Whether the answer to that question is no, maybe, or even yes, join us for the WINW event and be prepared to be Inspired, Educated and Network with some of the top industry experts.”
This year, when it was announced that Preston Bailey was going to be the keynote speaker, I was so excited. Not only is he coming to Coeur d’Alene, but he’s doing a hand’s on workshop on April 14th! I won’t be attending, since I have other commitments that day, but I found out that there are only TWO tickets left to his workshop. So get on that. Now. The tickets are $600, and include the workshop, a meet & greet with the conference speakers, and your workshop ticket. If you don’t snag one of those tickets, the regular conference tickets are $250 through April 1st.
What has me so excited about this year’s conference isn’t just the people attending, or the people speaking, and it’s not even the amazing food, it’s the fact that we have all these things here in our area. I love when I don’t have to travel far to conferences, and I never imagined we’d have these amazing speakers coming to Spokane & Coeur d’Alene. And if you’re a wedding professional who isn’t local, come visit. The Inland Northwest is beautiful, and you won’t regret a mid-week escape to our beautiful area.
This post was written in partnership with Weddings Inspired Northwest, but all words, opinions, and photographs are entirely my own. I loved attending this conference last year, am so excited for this year, and I think it’s a fantastic event put on by great wedding professionals. I only recommend things that I truly stand behind as a person and wedding professional.