I remember the day after I got engaged. I ran to Barnes and Noble to pick up all the wedding magazines on the shelf. I headed to the beach and didn't move from my chair other than the occasional dip in the ocean to cool off. I read and re-read every page in each magazine. I also remember the day that I got my first flip phone. It was supposed to be for emergency purposes only, but I am pretty sure I ended up being one of those teens that could write a text message pressing the numbers 1, 2 or 3 times faster than it would take me to just call someone. Over time, products and the distribution of materials disappear or change.
It has been quite the year in wedding publication announcements. First Style Me Pretty announcing it would be closing up shop, which was, thankfully, saved by its founder, Abby Larson. Southern Weddings recently announced its last issue. And, now, Martha Stewart Weddings announced moving away from their quarterly publications to once a year magazine.
So, does this mean that the wedding industry is going kaput? Absolutely not. It just means that leaders in the industry are reallocating their time and resources to areas that are profitable for them. Or, that they need adapt to the changing market to become more profitable. As a result, we need to adapt as well. Exactly as we have adapted from texting using numbers to full keyboards on our phones.
So what can you do to adapt to these changes?
Continue to Support Wedding Publications
Abby Larson went out of her way to save Style Me Pretty. Martha Stewart Weddings is still publishing wedding digitally and will release an annual Wedding Guide. The Knot and Brides haven't made any announcements. By continuing to submit, read and advertise with publications, you are continuing to support them. As long as they have the support financially and content wise, and have readers, they usually keep moving forward. It doesn't mean that they wont have to adapt again in the future, but profitability and viewership are incredibly important in the success of these businesses. And in turn, the success of your business. Just a few more great wedding related online publications and blogs are:
Support Your Own Blog
SEO is a powerful. VERY powerful. If you neglect your own website and blog, you are neglecting one of the most powerful tools in your business. Not only does blogging help you keep a world wide web presence, it showcases your latest and greatest work. As I once mentioned in an instagram post, most of your clients love to see you give their wedding some love on your blog. They are your tribe. So, feed the tribe. The sooner after a wedding you blog, the better the return. For weddings that I blog within 2-3 weeks of the wedding, I see 4 TIMES the number of unique visitors than if I were to wait to blog until after I deliver their gallery. Blogging quickly may not work for everyone and that is ok. Just don't forget to do it at some point. For you, for SEO and for your tribe.
Social Media, Social Media, Social Media
While I personally find social media very time consuming and very distracting, I know it is important to the success of my business. I have never paid for followers or likes since opening my business. I have looked into it, but I always felt like I would be cheating the system. For some businesses, especially ones selling products, it may make sense. But for me, previously and at this moment, it is not for me. A few tips for social media:
- If possible, post daily. There are tools, such as Later, that can help you plan what you post.
- Get active. If you can, set some time aside each day to go read, comment and engage in conversation with other users. This is one area that I wish I could allocate more time to, but with a business, a home renovation and two young kids, you get the point. It has also been one of the reasons why I was considering a social media manager... to help engage with the community. If a social media manager works in your budget, I have friends that would highly recommend it.
- Hashtag on Instagram. A great article on how to use them. If there is a particular area you are targeting, do not leave those out!
- Tag vendors. Tag vendors to not only show them the work that they contributed to, but to also encourage reposting.
- Tag the location. I can't tell you how many times I have used this feature to research on an area that I am heading to. Whether it be things to do or places to see. I have even followed people because of this.
Going along with building your tribe, build your network. A large source of my referrals is through other photographers. I communicate regularly with a group of photographers with a similar style and price point. We refer each other when our own calendar is booked. We catch up regularly and chat all things business with each other. We toss around ideas and maintain that relationship and contact. I keep track of who is referring to me and I make sure to send referrals back when I can. Your network isn't just limited to your specialty, it extends beyond that. For wedding photographers, look for planners, florists, bridal shops, makeup artists, etc in your area to connect with. Meet them in person. When working together on weddings, don't wait 16 million years to send them a gallery of images. Often, they are just as excited to see photos as your wedding clients are. Every person you work with and connect with on a wedding day can lead to a great relationship and, possibly, a booking. If you do book something, don't forget a simple thank you.