Having been lucky enough to win a few awards in my career I often get asked if entering the awards is really worth it? Well if you are in a rush then the short answer is hell yeah (if you enter the right one)! If you aren’t in a rush then carry on reading, but be prepared for my longest blog post yet! Grab a cuppa before you start and enjoy laughing at me in the video at the end!!
Firstly, I think a lot of people underestimate the amount of work that goes in to entering some awards. However saying that, there are awards out there that just require you to simply get as many online votes as possible. I’ll be completely honest, I do not value these types of awards at all, as in my opinion they’re purely a popularity contest. That’s certainly not to say I disrespect anyone who does enter these awards, as they do offer some exposure and a winners badge, plus a win is still a win right? I just feel that this unfortunately creates a random bunch of “award winning” suppliers, so if you want to be taken seriously by your peers and brides then my advice is not to spend your valuable time on these types of awards!
Based on all these pictures I think you know where I’m going with which awards I value most! That’s right, The Wedding Industry Awards. TWIA is the only client-voted awards in the wedding industry, which I believe, gives them so much more credibility with brides and your industry peers.
Voting is done only by couples that have used your services, plus it also doesn’t matter how many weddings you’ve worked on. The year I won the National award I’d worked with only 21 brides (compared to one year I won regionally and worked on 65+ weddings). Your clients are asked to score you on different aspects of your services and a shortlist of suppliers is then created using the averages of this scoring system. It offers a true reflection of the service you are providing, rather than just the volume of votes you can achieve. This link explains it in more detail!
Now this is where I say to not underestimate the work that you have to put in to entering these awards. Asking brides to vote (and reminding some of them quite a few times) can seem pushy and some entrants find it uncomfortable, but by explaining how the voting process works I have found that my brides have been more than happy to vote and have also said some very kind words about me in their comments. Also remember that all these busy brides are settling into married life and may need a little reminder to spend five minutes voting, but it also gives them a chance to relive part of their special day, so asking for the little favour of voting really isn’t being pushy, they are simply helping all those other future brides find you! You might just need to gently remind them of this 😉 It is also an amazing way to collate a whole bunch of testimonials, because at the end of the awards in January you get to read all the lovely feedback your brides have provided (killing two birds with one stone).
Receiving votes is not the only task in hand, you are required to create a judging profile where you are asked to answer in depth questions about you and your business, plus upload photos and videos. To say that I spent a LOT of time creating my judging profile each year is an understatement. There were many nights sitting at my kitchen island with a glass of red reading and rewriting my answers and analysing every image and video I uploaded. My poor husband had to sit through hours of me reading it aloud to him and doubting every word I wrote! Those that know me, know how competitive I am, but I honestly believe it was this level of commitment to the awards that enabled me to win the regional award twice, come highly commended a number of times, both regionally and nationally, before winning the highly coveted national award in 2017.
Once the regional shortlist is created the regional winner, and those awarded with highly commended, are chosen by the esteemed judging panel. The regional winners are then all entered in to the national awards and the national winners are again chosen by the judges, who, by the way, are all at the top of their game. Being self employed you rarely get to have work dos, so sharing the regional and national events with my husband made them extra special (especially when he saw me win). Ah look how happy we were!
As this blog post is turning into a short story I’ll go back to the original question. Are awards worth entering? 100% yes, if you enter TWIA! If unfortunately you don’t win you’ll gain valuable insight into your business right from your client’s mouth, rather than having just bombarded your Facebook friends with requests to vote for you and never mentioning it again if you don’t win! This valuable feedback also shows you which areas you need to improve on or which areas you are absolutely smashing. It can be anything from your social media presence to your punctuality on someone’s big day.
If you do win, well there is no feeling like it. To know your brides were all happy with the service you provided, plus took the time to vote for you and write some really lovely things. That’s certainly one way to shut up those self-doubting voices in your head!! Then to be chosen by the hand picked judging panel as the best in the country, well I was on cloud nine for the rest of the year.
90% of my 2017, 2018 and 2019 brides found me through TWIA’s directory, website or social media and all booked me because I was the national winner. In 2018 I ended up working on 42 weddings as I just couldn’t say no to all the lovely enquiries I was receiving (I normally only take on 20 or so weddings now). I was also asked to travel all over the country for weddings and it was lovely to work in new venues, plus had a number of international wedding enquiries (which unfortunately I didn’t accept due to childcare). After winning regional and national in 2017 I also had my busiest year for styled shoots, which I love being a part of! I also had people travel from America, Italy and Germany to train with me, which in turn launched my online training academy for bridal hair so I could reach as many people as possible. To put it in monetary terms the return on investment for the entry fee and ticket costs was definitely high. The confidence boost certainly helped too!
All in all, if you are thinking of entering any awards this year then my recommendation is to spend your time and energy entering only one award rather than a few, and needless to say the Wedding Industry Awards would be my personal recommendation! Those following me for sometime will know I also won some other awards but TWIA will always have a special place in my heart.
Finally, if you want to see how happy I was when I won here’s my husband’s video of me collecting my award. You can hear he was pretty happy too! Although I think Damian, the founder of the awards, thought I’d either never get off the stage or would just eventually fall off!!!
Good luck to anyone entering the awards this year, you won’t regret it!