Staci Nichols of R3volution Weddings brings her fierce drive to everything she does. Whether it’s pouring over her books, studying marketing, writing great articles for Book More Brides or dreaming up new offers for her business, she’s all about getting into action.
But the wedding business hasn’t always come easily for Staci. Fortunately for us, she’s generous enough to share what’s she’s learned to get this far.
Superpower: Ninja Writing
Writing is probably my #1 ninja skill.
My writing career started in second grade when my story “Bubble Town” (yep!) won a Young Author’s Award from my school district. I worked as a freelance writer for about 5 years to supplement my income when I first started doing weddings.
During that time, I published a book of vegetarian tips, ghostwrote for a celebrity, and appeared in “The Writer’s Journal.” I minored in Poetry in college and have had numerous poems published.
Ironically, I still write here and there, but now I get paid a lot more money to do it! I’m a “wedding expert” now, so the pay has seriously multiplied!
I’m doing a lot of things discussed in the Book Your Calendar Solid with Blogging class. I contacted other wedding professionals for articles I’m writing on “San Diego Wedding Rockstars.” I send each of them 10 questions and ask them to include 2 pictures.
Already, more people are visiting my website and I’m making new friends. Yesterday I partnered with a photographer so that is a couple books both of us, I’ll do free uplighting and she’ll do a free engagement guest book signing.
Biggest Challenge: Adapting to a New Market
So many! But probably the biggest one is when I lived in Puerto Vallarta doing destination weddings, I was under a rock (not to mention I lost everything I had not once but twice there–good times!).
Marketing there meant you had a Facebook page. They don’t even so much as have Yelp in Mexico. Because my rent to live in the fancy part of town right on the river was less than $400, I thought charging $700 a wedding was big bucks.
When I left Vallarta, I had to re-learn everything about everything in order to not get eaten alive in the San Diego market. So even though I have seven years of wedding experience, my business is very much a toddler just learning to walk.
When I got to San Diego, I found Book More Brides and discovered Mark Ferrell and Peter Merry. Once I got in the loop with WeddingWire and The Knot, I started working on my craft.
I gave my business a complete makeover: brand, website, niche.
I’m a female DJ, specializing in country DJ’ing and I’m bilingual. I always knew I had those niches. I grew up listening to country music and did country line dancing weekly for years.
I learned to DJ from a Mexican guy who didn’t even know who Michael Jackson was! He did 100% Spanish music. I played the English music.
I did bilingual events and pretty much knew spanish music inside and out.
Once I discovered the importance of having a niche, I worked on promoting them more and doing blog posts to feature them. For example: 34 Spanish mother-son dance songs or 30 Gringo-friendly Spanish dance songs.
Success Secret: Education
Everything I have invested in becoming a better DJ, MC, or entrepreneur has always paid off. Whether it was going to conferences, taking classes, reading, or practicing mixing, my biggest ROI has been investing in myself.
In addition to the skills I’ve developed from studying, I can say, “I’m the only Marbecca trained MC in San Diego.” It gives me the ability to promote myself like that and it’s true.
It’s made marketing easier because I have more things that set me apart. Clients are way more pre-sold now.
Staci’s Advice: Network & Invest In Yourself
When I was under a rock in Puerto Vallarta, I had no connection at all to other DJs. I had no professional training. I was self-taught supreme…and holy hell did it show!
I look at some of my gig log videos from back then and try not to cringe! I wasted so much time (5 years!) leaving disgusting amounts of money on the table (I was the ONLY American DJ in Vallarta, and I charged half of what the local resort DJs did).
If I could rewind time, I would tell newbie Staci to get to the Mobile Beat conference, become a Book More Brides member, go to monthly networking meetings (ADJA, ABC, WIPA, etc), and stop paying for advertising everywhere.
I definitely learned that if I want to be a professional wedding DJ, I need to treat it like a profession!
When I was growing up my parents owned a truck tire company. My dad started at 20, and really just had some weekend job experience at a tire store and his own personal pick up truck. His first office was literally the size of a phone booth!
That’s what he started with, but when he retired at 47 it was a $4 million business with 20 employees. When I was growing up the conversation at dinner table was all about self-employment.
So when I wanted to start my own business, I thought, “This is so easy,” because my dad made it look that way.
I’d won every award you could win academically: athletic, Honor Society president, straight A’s. I was the all-American athlete. Life has generally come pretty easy for me, why wouldn’t I expect opening a business to be the same?
When running a business wasn’t easy for me, I didn’t know what to do. There was a big shame factor for a long time.
If it’s not happening, I had to make it happen. I had to get serious and face reality.
It took some relearning of these nuggets given to me by my dad when I was growing up. I had to relearn what you spend money on and what you didn’t. This is a different business, a different era, different clients. My dad wasn’t dealing with Millennials; he was dealing with truckers. His company never had a website.
I had to break the whole thing down and start over. Even though things are going so well now, I’m still very much in Junior High and shooting for college graduation. There’s a lot to be done, but the foundation and basics are there.
Charity of Choice: Casa Hogar
Casa Hogar is an orphanage/children’s home in Puerto Vallarta. I visited everyday, and many of the little ones used to call me “mama.” I taught the older kids all the line dances I know and would bring my portable speaker so we could dance.
What do you think about Staci’s experience?