I remember when I first had the idea for what would become WeddingIQ. It was very early in 2012. I'd been running my DJ company for about 10 years, mainly overseeing the customer service and administrative side of things. My then-husband and business partner had stepped back from the day-to-day operations of the company to pursue other things, leaving me at the helm. Even with the added responsibility, I just felt like something was missing. Part of it was that I wasn't feeling particularly challenged anymore - I'm definitely someone who likes to take on new things - and part of it was that I knew I wasn't doing everything I was capable of doing in this industry, one that I'd been part of since I was 21 years old.
Plus, because I'd largely systematized the DJ business so that, with the help of a great assistant, it functioned pretty smoothly without my constant supervision, I had time on my hands and my wheels always seemed to be turning. (Basically, every rant you've ever read on WeddingIQ began as a monologue inside my very chaotic brain.) And, increasingly, I wanted to give my thoughts a voice, a platform. I found myself feeling called to do two things: to help other business owners to become more effective and successful, and also to dissect some of the bullshit I observed in the wedding industry on a regular basis. If I'm being completely honest, I think I probably also believed I had it all figured out. At least most things. (Oh, if only I knew the humble pie I'd be eating later.)
So, I decided it was time to start blogging.
Of course I knew I wasn't going to be the only blog out there striving to educate and support wedding business owners - I already followed and loved several - but I felt I had something different to bring to the table. I wanted to combine my "real world" business experience in this industry with my bold, straight-talk approach to addressing what I perceived as real problems and issues affecting wedding businesses.
My former husband had originally secured the WeddingIQ domain and created an early version of the site sometime around 2010, I think with the idea that we would both be blogging. That never took off, but two years later he generously redesigned the site to make it my solo project. And on March 27, 2012, my first post, titled "Hello, World!" (hey, WordPress' placeholder title for blog posts seemed appropriate enough!) went live.
Over the next several months, I dove into WeddingIQ with a passion, blogging five days a week, and on a few occasions more than once a day. Being a person without a ton of self-restraint, I found it difficult to strategically hold on to good post ideas for the future when I might not feel so inspired. And I had so many things to say. I tackled topics that were occasionally controversial, calling out behaviors and business practices I felt were shady, waging war on kickbacks and referral fees, and asking wedding pros to take a stand against things ranging from marriage inequality to being bullied by clients.
Stylistically, the posts were a little different from most of what I write today - shorter, occasionally more impassioned, and definitely focused heavily on my own experiences in business. I'm happy to say, though, that the reaction was almost universally positive. I can't count how many colleagues, even ones I'd never met, reached out to tell me they were relieved that someone had finally said aloud what they'd been thinking for so long. People were talking about my posts and sharing them with others, and it seemed that real discussion was starting to take place. Was it possible that I could actually play a part in changing the wedding industry for the better?
It was empowering. And with that empowerment, I found myself - a natural introvert who'd been a "behind the scenes" figure for many years - coming out of my shell. A few months after launching WeddingIQ, I became the first Washington, DC area host for Thursday Therapy, a national networking concept created by two of my industry heroes, Kelly Simants and Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros. Planning and executing Thursday Therapy events over the next several years introduced me to literally hundreds of wedding professionals in my area, something that would prove invaluable in ways I couldn't have predicted. In addition, within my first six months of blogging for WeddingIQ, I was invited by WeddingWire to become one of their Education Experts, which has given me a national platform for writing, speaking and educating on all kinds of business-related topics to help other wedding pros. I was flying high.
And then, that same year, I crashed.
On August 22, 2012, I wrote a post on what it was like to share a business with your spouse. On August 28, 2012, I learned that my marriage had come to an end. I was faced with figuring out how to be a solo parent (when I wasn't even sure I was great at parenting alongside someone else) to two neuroatypical kids. I had to create a plan to keep the DJ business, one whose primary - wait, only - service was one that I don't perform myself. I was broke. I was depressed. And, truthfully, I was scared.
How did I manage to build up so much great momentum, only to have it all fall apart? What the hell was I going to do?
Regular readers of WeddingIQ saw my blogging drop off around this point: one post in September 2012 and two in November 2012. In January 2013, I got up the nerve to address my personal situation a bit, but what I was able to share was only the tip of the iceberg, and of course, for discretion's sake, had to be polished to the point where it didn't even resemble the truth of what was going on behind-the-scenes. I managed to churn out a few more posts in 2013, and then...nothing.
I knew I didn't want to close down WeddingIQ, because I believed it had real value to the wedding business community. And frankly, I had worked too damn hard to give up something that represented so much of who I am as a businessperson, and what I believe about this industry. Having the site languishing, with no new content (and no good answer for when people asked me when I was going to start writing again), was painful and pressuring, and yet I wasn't ready to let go.
Thankfully, I had friends and colleagues who cared enough to not let me let go. I have to say that my friends over at WeddingWire continued to support me with the opportunity to blog and speak under their flag during this time. Then, a fabulous industry friend (whom I won't name out of respect for her privacy - but friend, if you're reading this, feel free to identify yourself in the comments so I can love on you publicly!) offered to come on board with me as a co-editor, and to help me relaunch the WeddingIQ site altogether. She was instrumental in the current look of WeddingIQ, and while her own life has taken her in some other, incredible directions both professionally and personally, she really helped lay the foundation for what I consider WeddingIQ 2.0, and I couldn't be more grateful.
Of course, I was still stalled - I had a partially redesigned site and some new ideas for posts, and some of my personal drama (including the finalization of my divorce) had been resolved, yet I still wasn't ready to recommit fully to WeddingIQ. I think I knew that if I was going to put it out there that I was back, I needed to really be back. I needed to be in a place to put out great content and not give up again when life gets hard.
Enter one of my closest friends and fellow industry veterans, Kyle Bergner. Kyle came on board in early 2015, still in the midst of a personal crisis of her own, yet ready and willing to help me get WeddingIQ 2.0 off the ground. We were working on a tight deadline, as we wanted the new version of the site up and running before WeddingWire World 2015, where I was going to be speaking. Within just a few short weeks, we finished the most important work on the site, created our plan going forward, and completed the relaunch.
It's been so rewarding not only to be back in the blogging saddle, but to be working on something that I believe to be not only important, but truly valuable, with one of my favorite people. We've been able to keep each other accountable, motivated and focused on something bigger than just our individual businesses. We've blogged for WeddingIQ consistently since March 2015, have completed speaking engagements separately and together, and have had the opportunity to meet, coach and work with lots of wedding pros that we may not have otherwise known.
We're so excited to now be taking WeddingIQ to the next level...let's call it WeddingIQ 3.0. Throughout the month of April, we'll be looking back at some of our most topical, controversial and/or personally meaningful posts from the past, and offering some fresh insight on why we wrote them and how our perspective may have changed since then. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we'll be working diligently on the all-new WeddingIQ, to be launched in May.
We can't wait to show you what we have in store, and we're grateful for your continued readership and support.
Here's to reinvention, to taking chances, and to taking the reins on doing what you're meant to do!