Side Hustle Series: Wedding Blog Edition!

WeddingIQ Blog - Side Hustle Series Wedding Blog Edition

We're excited to share the stories of a few fantastic wedding professionals in the greater Washington/Baltimore metropolitan area, all of whom run one of the very best kinds of side hustles:super-popular wedding blogs! What a cool way to maintain - or enhance - your relationships with other vendors in your market, while increasing your own visibility and credibility to prospective wedding clients! (That said, I know firsthand the unbelievable amount of work it is to maintain an active blog, so I have all the respect in the world for people who can produce the volume of content that a successful client-facing wedding blog requires!)

We had the privilege of speaking with three thoughtful, generous women on the advantages and challenges of running both a wedding industry business and a wedding blog.  Read on to see what they had to say about balancing their blogging and their business, and their tips for increasing your chances of being published!

Julianne Smith - United With Love

Julianne Smith - United With Love

Julianne Smith, United With Love:

What went into your decision to create United With Love?

I started blogging for my other business (The Garter Girl) in 2009 and I saw quickly the benefits of blogging and its impact on the wedding industry as a whole. At that time, many of the national weddings featured only a certain type of real wedding from the Washington DC area and much of the planning guidance was unhelpful because it wasn’t applicable to the DC area. I started United With Love in order to feature all types of weddings that take place in the DC area and to give couples the information that they need to plan their wedding in this region. I want to give couples planning their wedding in the DC area information that they can’t find on other blogs and websites. I am looking for weddings and wedding planning guidance that is locally helpful and reflective of what it is truly like to plan a wedding in the DMV.

What’s it like operating an active industry blog in addition to running your primary business?

Running two different businesses is all about time management. For the blog, I create an editorial schedule and work ahead as much as possible. For example, right now in August, I’m well into the fall with the editorial schedule. For the vendors that I feature this is frustrating because it can take a long time to see their work on the blog, however it is a compromise that I have had to make for myself in order to keep my own sanity. I keep lists of just about everything, such as blog post ideas; it really helps me to write everything down because otherwise I will forget!

What do you find most rewarding about running your blog?

It is really rewarding when I hear from a couple that they used the blog to help plan their wedding. For every wedding that we feature, we ask that they fill out a questionnaire with information about their wedding and their planning experience. In the questionnaire, we ask if they used United With Love to plan their wedding and most of them answer “yes,” which is really amazing to hear as a blog editor.

What do you find most challenging?

The most challenging for me is more personal and certainly something that many bloggers and working mothers feel. I personally don’t have tons of time to spend editing the blog and endless hours to be on social media, both of which are required to be a blogger.

What would you like wedding professionals to know about submitting content and/or images to your blog?

My biggest piece of advice to any wedding vendor wishing to submit something to a blog, website or magazine is to read and follow their submission guidelines. Most publications post guidelines and following the guidelines will set your submission far above other submissions.

Bree Ryback - Capitol Romance

Bree Ryback - Capitol Romance

Bree Ryback, Capitol Romance:

What went into your decision to create Capitol Romance?

My decision to start Capitol Romance was two-fold. The first was my frustration with the vanilla/traditional/one-note wedding scene that I encountered when I planned my own wedding in DC in 2009/2010. The second was to try and help other couples like me plan a more offbeat, nontraditional, and/or practical wedding in the city. I wanted to change the notion that everyone getting married in DC was having these super expensive, opulent weddings. It didn't hurt that I was in a bit of a post-wedding planning depression either! I loved planning my own wedding and I was missing that fun after my wedding day was over.

What’s it like operating an active industry blog in addition to the other parts of your career? 

I could probably write an entire book on this. Besides running Capitol Romance the blog, I run a wedding coordination business (Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination), and DIY workshops, all on top of a full-time day job. I also recently became a mom - so a whole other job too! To keep it concise, I'd say:

  • The good: The blog is an outlet for me - it's an entire community that I've found and I love it. It's SO different from my day job and that is a good thing. A wedding blog is also full of life, love and so much happiness. Who wouldn't want to look at that all day? Blogging has also taught me so much - things like how to use WordPress, how to code, how to do social media marketing, and on and on. 
  • The bad: It's a HUGE time commitment to run a blog. I am not sure most people understand just how much time it takes. You have to deal with ALL the IT issues that come with a blog (hosting, domains, links, coding). You have to deal with all the marketing for a blog (posting to social media - daily(!), staying on top of advertising if you do that). You have to answer emails (submissions, vendors asking about updating posts, following up on submissions, answering reader questions, sourcing content). And all of this on top of the ACTUAL act of creating a blog post (writing content, inserting appropriate credits/URLS, laying out & resizing images, inserting submitted content). 
  • The ugly: Maybe this isn't "ugly" really, but the role of being a blogger isn't always deemed a prestigious one. People often ignore my submission policies, or think of blogs as an afterthought - but they are real businesses that provide a real service to the industry. Blogs are also constantly changing in terms of aesthetics, layout, content, engagement - all things that require us to change our marketing plans, or business plans, or the blog's entire layout if need be.

What do you find most rewarding about running your blog?

The most rewarding for me, hands down, has to be when I get reader emails from couples that thank me for running it - telling me that they felt lost in the DC wedding scene, or felt like there was no one in DC planning weddings like they wanted ... until they found my blog. The feeling that what I am doing on a day to day basis is actually helping people, that is always the most rewarding. 

What do you find most challenging?

The most challenging is dealing with the content side. Either finding time to create my own content (advice pieces, compilation posts) or depending on vendors and couples to submit content that actually is a fit for my blog. If you have nothing coming in, you have to create your own content and that can be tough. Or on the other side you can be getting a ton of submitted content - but none of it is a fit for your blog. I get submissions from states outside of DC/MD/VA or ones that are SUPER opulent & traditional and it can be so frustrating because it's like, hmm, do these people even read my blog? Or bother to glance at my submission requirements?

What would you like wedding professionals to know about submitting content and/or images to your blog?

I started addressing this previously, but the thing I always tell wedding professionals before submitting to my blog (or really ANY blog) is to read the blog's submission requirements. Seriously. I cannot tell you how much it will turn off a blogger (some more than others) if you don't follow their requirements. The big ones will probably ignore you, but personally I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and point them to my submission page and give them a second shot. I know submitting to blogs isn't easy and it can be super time consuming (as a wedding coordinator, I have spent time submitting my own weddings to blogs, so I know what that is like) but at the end of the day, if you want to be published and reach a blog's audience, do your homework and read/follow the blog's submission requirements! Also, take a look at some recent posts on the blog and compare it to what you are submitting. If your images are not similar, then chances are you won't be accepted for feature. I get submissions where it's SO apparent that the submitter hasn't even taken five seconds to look at my blog and understand what it's all about. Read a blog's mission statement and see if what you are about to submit meets it. All of this might seem obvious, but it isn't (otherwise I wouldn't get so many submissions that are not a fit for me). At the end of the day, if you want to be featured or accepted for publication, do a bit of homework ahead of time.

Teri Pozniak - Charm City Wed

Teri Pozniak - Charm City Wed

Teri Pozniak, Charm City Wed:

What went into your decision to assume leadership of Charm City Wed?

I knew that it would be a TON of additional work, but I love Baltimore and the surrounding areas, and being active in the local industry. I love showcasing the different wedding styles, wedding venues, and wedding vendors in this great little city!

What’s it like operating an active industry blog in addition to running your primary business? 

 I try to be very sensitive about accepting and declining submissions, to minimize hurt feelings and any repercussions towards my own business (tPoz Photography).  I really enjoy being exposed to and meeting more industry people because of the blog.  I also feel that I have a little bit more creative flexibility with the readership of the blog behind me.

What do you find most rewarding about running your blog?

I thrive off of the community's success.  Seeing a photographer/vendor or a couple who is simply thrilled to see their wedding published, is a sincere high for me!

What do you find most challenging?  

It is a LOT of work!  Finding the time to review submissions, track down vendor lists, cull & format photos, and devote time for social media is challenging. 

What would you like wedding professionals to know about submitting content and/or images to your blog? 

The perfect wedding submission includes a downloadable gallery (Pixieset/PASS/Zenfolio, etc.), with a favorites folder of about 100-150 images selected, and a password supplied if needed. Readers want to see images of lots of inspiring details, beautiful portraits, and a glimpse inside the wedding venue to help visualize and plan their own wedding.   A short blurb from the couple, photographer or wedding planner is essential to telling the story of the wedding - anything unusual that happened or a backstory to any details are helpful for reader comprehension.  Bonus points for a vendor list complete with websites listed!  

...We're so appreciative that Juli, Bree and Teri were so candid with us. We're also looking for more wedding professionals with a second business to feature in our Side Hustle series, so if this describes you and you're interested in sharing your experience, please email us!