It’s day 4 of our public launch on Seedrs and it is still going strong! You can take a look at our progress here! Over £17,500 has been pledged by over 70 investors but there is still a long way to go. For any of you that are new to crowdfunding, you can find out what…Details
I have to admit I am a little sad to be waving goodbye to 2015. It has been a tremendous year for us, full of exciting new projects and milestones and one or two challenges along the way. We started the year with big ideas, we wanted to continue to grow our brand and came up with a list of things we would like to achieve by the end of the year. It was June before we realised we hadn’t really even come close to achieving any of our goals and it was time to make a few changes. Fast forward 6 months and we have all but achieved one of our goals but that is a story for another time.
2015 has been the biggest year for Bespoke Bride yet and with the launch of BB boutique, 2016 promises to be even bigger. I honestly cannot wait to get started and continue growing this amazing community of ours. For now here is a look at some of the things we are most proud of…
1.We fell in love with Instagram all over again! Instagram has long been our favourite social media platform but up until this year, we never really felt like we were using it to its full advantage. As our Instagram is an attachment of our blog, we thought it only made sense to share wedding related content however, we never really felt like it was a true reflection of our brand and we were falling in love with Instagram accounts that were wonderfully curated and colourful. We longed to make ours a creative outlet and it has since been the best thing we have done. Not only has it become a place to share our own creativity but we have been introduced to the most amazing community of Instagrammers, many of which we have since welcomed to our blog.
You can see some of their DIY’s here: Cute Edible Donut Necklaces by Aww Sam, Christmas Light Cookies by Obsessive Cookie Designer, Autumn Leaf Pinatas by Sugar & Bash, Bird Cage Veil by Wear the Canvas, Celebrate Tassel Cake Topper by Bright Bold Design, Pastel Pumpkin Cookies by Obsessive Cookie Designer, Free Printable Fruity Cards for Well Wishes by The Lovely Drawer, Floral Envelope Table Plan by The Lovely Drawer.
2. Meanwhile we taught you how to create a watercolour headscarf and the Mollie Makes team liked it so much they featured it on their blog too!
3. We had a ball collaborating with Free People to create this festival styled wedding shoot and got to work with so many fabulous wedding industry peeps.
4. Of all the projects we took on this year, styling the last ever Blogcademy was the most fun! We are used to styling small areas for our own DIY’s and photoshoots but never have we had to style an event. It was a challenge to say the least, but we had so much fun doing it and it has inspired us to do a little a more styling in the future. You can see more from the event here.
5. I never imagined we would be sharing news of an engagement with you this year and I never in a million years thought it would my own, but I am over the moon that it is and I cannot wait to start sharing our wedding planning journey with you! You can read our proposal story here.
6. A particular highlight was launching our new subscription service, BB Crafty Club. This was one of those projects that we had been sitting on for a while and we were so excited to get it off the ground. Unfortunately after 4 months we have now decided to cancel the service as being completely honest the numbers just weren’t adding up, but the support for the boxes has been so fantastic. So we will be using this feedback to rethink the boxes and how we can improve them and they will be back with a bang in 2016!
We also got to spend a very festive two days in Copenhagen, which we will be sharing with you in the New Year.
8. Our Ombre Tulle Skirts featured in Issue 4 of Rock N Roll Bride Magazine and we couldn’t have been anymore excited. There is just something about seeing your work in print! If you missed the magazine you can see the tutorial here.Details
Have you ever had a business idea but insufficient funds to get it off the ground? Or perhaps you have already started your business but need money to grow? Well that is what happened to us 2 years ago. Sat on a sun lounger in Mexico (that’s how all great stories seem to start around here!) I read ‘How To Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table’, written by retail experts Sophie Cornish & Holly Tucker founders of Notonthehighstreet.com. Their story was incredibly inspirational and I totally related, as we too have always been extremely passionate about championing small, unique & innovative wedding businesses on Bespoke Bride.
I thought about how awesome it would be to create a similar platform for weddings, not only selling stylish and personalised items, but also promoting creative services such as photographers, venues and videographers. When I got home I shared the idea with Jess and she was instantly onboard. For some time we had been chatting about how impractical traditional blog advertising had been for our couples and thought this would be a fantastic tool to effectively help couples find the best suppliers to make their weddings personal and unique.
As we started our search for a web designer we soon realised our business idea was going to be costly and we would definitely need a lot more cash. We exhausted our own savings, took out personal loans and even borrowed money from family but it wasn’t long before that had run out too. By chance we happened upon a competition being held by Upstart Women, looking for women in startup tech businesses like ours to enter for the chance to win a place on a business incubator and a £10,000 investment. This was the first time we had ever seriously considered investment, and we certainly didn’t take it lightly. So after a lot of research we finally decided if we were ever going to grow this little business idea of ours, we would need to take the leap. To our surprise we ended up winning and since then a business idea born on the beaches of Mexico is finally a reality.
Arrow Cinema Sign by Hey Style Hire
So why raise more investment?
Since its launch, it was soon obvious that we desperately needed more manpower if we were to make BB boutique the success we had always wanted it to be. Some also rather unforeseen circumstances meant we were forced to release a beta version of our site instead of the more complex software we had originally planned, which meant it wouldn’t be long until we would need to find more money to help evolve our software and that is where we are at right now and is why we have turned to ‘crowdfunding’.
We already have an extremely supportive community here at Bespoke Bride, many of you have shared your words of encouragement for both our blog and BB boutique and have told us how excited you are to see us grow! You guys are our ‘Crowd’! And a pretty rockin’ crowd at that!Details
Photos by Bespoke Bride
I felt a little uncomfortable writing today’s post as I wasn’t sure if I would class myself as having enough experience or knowledge to give advice on how to ‘break into the wedding industry’. I am by no means an expert and although our blog is now 3 years old I would say we are still very much in the learning phase, in fact I don’t think we will ever stop learning? I am sure many owners of businesses, big or small, will agree that a lot of owning a successful company is to keep acquiring knowledge on your industry. Things change all the time and so it is vital that you are open to new ideas and not afraid to try something new in order to keep up with this ever changing, crazy world!
So what spurred me to write today’s post? Well, to our surprise over the past few months we have received a lot of enquiries from businesses, from fledgling to much more accomplished, looking to break into a new industry. Questions have ranged from who they should network with? What events they should go to and How should they market their product?
As I said before I am not an expert and the only advice I can offer is based on personal experience, so if you are reading this and think you can offer even more help, then hop on down to the comments section and feel free to share your pearls of wisdom. After all that is what this blog is here for. Now lets get started!
1. Get Some Experience
This is more for the newbies but I suppose this could also apply to those more established businesses looking to break into a completely different sector? For example if you are a fledgling photographer looking to go pro, why not enquire with a couple of photographers about second shooting, not only will this help build up your portfolio but you will pick up some great hints and tips from the pro’s that you might not have learnt anywhere else, not forgetting to mention making some super valuable connections. If on the other hand you already own a well established company but are thinking of adding wedding packages to your repertoire, then make sure you do your research first. Is there a real need for you in this market? Will you have the extra time, staff, money needed to take on extra work? You might even want to offer your services to a friend for a trial run (the wedding industry isn’t for everyone!) or maybe offer a discounted rate whilst you build up a bigger portfolio in that particular niche.
2. Define Your Brand
This is something we are particularly passionate about. Your brand is so important for attracting the type of potential customer that you would like to work with. For example when considering our branding, we chose bright colours,geometric shapes and bold fonts. Why? Well, first we wanted our brand to reflect our personalities and second we wanted to attract the more modern couple, those that weren’t afraid to stand out and be different, those looking to make a statement.
Not to blow our own trumpets or anything, but I think we did pretty darn good job too, as we have achieved exactly what we wanted!
3. Get to Grips with Social Media
Personally I think every business should have at least a Facebook page? I know there may be tonnes of business out there without one and they might be doing perfectly fine with the clientele they have and that is ace, but in order to get new clients and spread the word I really feel that your business needs to be on Facebook. Personally I don’t think it is difficult to set up and it requires minimal input, so even the busiest person can keep it up to date. Ideally I would look at posting at least 2-3 times a week if you can manage it, if not, just try to be consistent and use it to network when you have time, then you won’t go far wrong. If you are already a well established business consider setting up a wedding specific page that promotes the services you offer for this particular niche.
Again if you have time, I would suggest Twitter being the next platform you log into. I can honestly say that we have made some of the best business connections through this platform and I would highly recommend it for building relationships with others in your industry. It is especially good for being helpful so Twitter gets a big thumbs up from us!
Another note I would like to make on social media, which I have mentioned before, is to make sure you are keeping it professional at all times. I not only speak for myself when I say I can’t stand to see business pages slagging off other businesses, it gives me a bad impression immediately and I am scared to build a relationship with them, in fear I will one day be the subject of their latest rant. It is a huge no no!
If you really are ready to go full steam ahead with social media other platforms you might want to get involved with are Pinterest, Instagram and Google +, however I would make sure I was at least a master of one before I started on another. There is nothing worse than seeing a bunch of social media platforms, with some half arsed attempts.
4. Build a Portfolio
I don’t know about you but I will never book or order anything without seeing it first. So why would booking for a wedding be any different? Couples want to know they are getting value for money, so they will want to see examples of your previous work before they consider hiring you. This is where a portfolio comes in, some businesses display this on their website whilst others will have good old fashioned hard copy. If you are a fledgling business this might prove to be a little problematic but this is where experience comes in handy. Try to get involved with as many projects as you possibly can? Talk to other newbie suppliers about setting up a styled shoot, this will be a great way of you all showcasing your skills without any added pressure and who knows, if it turns out to be successful you could also get it featured on a blog and then you will have a shiny ‘featured on’ badge to display on your website.Details
Photography by Craig Dearsley Photo
As many of you will know last month saw us celebrate our blogs 3rd birthday, so in light of that I wanted to get all warm and fuzzy and reflect on the amazing time I have had working with Jess – ‘happy Friendiversary’!
To this day I still find it quite unbelievable that three years ago, I was living a completely different life to what I am today, I was still at university, had just been made redundant and was looking to make some extra cash getting creative with eco stationery. It was around about that time I contacted my hairdressers daughter (Jess – who at that time was a start-up wedding photographer) to find out if she would be interested in taking some product shots of my stationery. She came to my house a few days later and it was on this very first meeting that I told her I had just read an interesting article about ‘blogging’ which I thought might be a great way to promote my business. To my surprise Jess had also been wanting to create a blog for her wedding photography and so naturally for fear of the unknown, we thought it would feel a lot less scary if we went on this journey together and combined our skills.
It would be much more professional for me to sit here and tell you that before deciding to go into business together we sat down and had serious discussions about the legal bits, the business bits and the money bits but in all honesty we didn’t and that is because it was never our intention to make our blog a business. It wasn’t long however until we wanted it to become more than a hobby. Blogging for us felt more fulfilling and exciting than our own individual projects. It was refreshing to be able to work on something together, as many small business owners will know, self employment can be terribly lonely sometimes and we found ourselves looking forward to the days we got to work together on our blog!Details
Photography by CRAIG DEARSLEY PHOTO
We are so excited to be launching our brand new media kit within the next week or so! It has been a long time coming and will see a few changes to the way we do things around here. Whilst putting it together we have been reviewing our sponsored posts to see what has made many of them so successful and we thought it would be useful to share these tips with you too.
In blogging world we are still only babies, so trying and testing has been our preferred method of learning. We have spent the last two years evaluating our sponsored posts to find out what makes them so effective, we have experimented with different layouts, formats and content and would like to think after all that, that we now have a good idea of the types of information and features that will make a sponsored post that bit more awesome!
Now I am not saying these tips are relevant to all blogs, as we all have our different ways of doing things and I am definitely not saying that adhering to all these tips will open the floodgates for millions of enquiries. Instead I would like to give you a little insight into our sponsored post process and hopefully shed the light on a few hints and tips that might maximise your chances of a successful sponsored post.Details
By now many of you will have read how this blog came to be, in short we launched Bespoke Bride back in 2011 out of a love of weddings, photography & DIY. It is no secret that we never intended for our blog to make money, I was in the final year of a Animal…Details
I don’t know what to do with my life. That’s literally what I typed into Google 5 years ago. Most of my friends were looking into universities at the time, some were going travelling and others had already landed themselves a job. I however, had no clue what to do. And because of this, I didn’t feel it was right to go to university, I didn’t want to invest 3 – 5 years of my life into something I wasn’t exactly sure on.
“Oh but think about all of the parties you’re going to miss!” some people said to me, which I thought was ridiculous. That really isn’t the point of going to university, sure it’s a huge part of the social scene but REALLY?! So what if I missed out on that?
All I knew was that I wanted to LOVE what I did. I just didn’t really know what I loved. And that was the worst part. I’m a huge believer in the notion that you can be whoever you want or do whatever you want, dream big! Go wild! Achieve your dreams! And I so WANTED to achieve mine!! I just didn’t know what they were. If I knew, I would plan out my path, figure out what I needed to do to achieve it and get to work! But it really wasn’t that simple, in fact, it rarely is.
So, back to Google, typing that in led me to this article on Gala Darling, and I distinctively remember this being the first time I had ever even seen a blog! Gala was instantly an inspiration! And me being the classic Gemini that I am I started researching into blogs and self employment and living a fulfilling life and quickly became obsessed with the idea. I wanted to read blogs all the time, especially once Gala had led me onto Steve Pavlina, who’s articles fuelled the fire in my belly even more! (Read: 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job)
By this point I had now got myself an unfulfilling full time job in a reception of a holiday park, it required sitting at a desk, in an office and I can honestly say I dreaded going. I felt like the place sucked away my creativity but, it was full time money. So I awaited my time there, actually most of the time, if the reception was quiet I would often waste away the minutes reading other blogs (which later on down the line got me into trouble! Oops!)
Then came Pinterest. And with an A-level in photography under my belt I yearned to take gorgeous images like the ones filling my screen, I wanted to save them all, and share them, and keep them. I wanted to try out the recipes and look at the beautiful clothes padding my feed. It was also around this time that Emily got in touch to ask me to take some photos of the wedding stationery she was creating. And then the light bulb turned on. Me & Emily could have a wedding blog, sharing her invitation designs and the weddings I shot, we could keep track of things that we loved and share inspirational posts and images!Details
For the second time this week I was sat at my laptop with my cursor hovering over delete as I urmmmed and ahhhhed over my most recent attempt at a semi decent blog post. Before I knew it this post, like the last ended up in the trash. As a blogger you have a natural desire to write, you want to research and produce content that has never been covered before and with that comes a certain amount of pressure. You wouldn’t have much of a blog if you always covered what others did, so its a bloggers mission to write new and original material, be the first to cover a certain topic or create a little controversy. Lately I have found myself questioning my blogging ability more and more, am I interesting enough, cool enough, do people really pay much attention to what I write? Should I write something a little more left of centre just to see if it would raise a few heads?
It was time to take a moment and have a stern word with myself so I started to question why I wanted to blog in the first place. First and foremost I love to write, it has always been my biggest passion, for as long as I could write full sentences I started to keep a journal, I would write stories and sometimes I loved to write that much I would copy passages out of books just to get my fix. When I write I am transported to a world in my head where it is just me, here there are no worries and no distractions.
Second I have always wanted to run my own business. Once I had left college I made my way into the world of work with my first job being in a bar. It was my first shift that I started to brainstorm ideas on ways to make the business expand and grow, which should tell you a lot about the type of person I am, I can always see more potential in a business. I stayed in that job for almost eight years, five of which I was the the manager and I loved it, I thrived under pressure and was always looking for ways to get more people through the door.Details
Going through a rebrand can be a stressful time. Believe us, we know. When we decided to re brand Bespoke Bride just over a year ago it felt like we were moving 2 steps back with our business instead of forward and The Online Wedding Show has gone through 3 rebrands before it has even launched!
But we can honestly say that rebranding both of these sites has been one of the best things we’ve ever done! Not only did it allow our personalities to shine through more but it also oozed out the message we wanted to get across the moment viewers arrived at our site.
If you’re thinking of rebranding or evolving your website then here’s an easy guide to help you through! It may not be easy, but we promise it will be worth it!!
Firstly, Ask yourself exactly what it is you want people to see and feel when they arrive at your website.
In fact, make a list of it. Originally bespoke bride looked very pastel and vintage which is pretty much the opposite of what we wanted. We wrote down on our rebrand list ‘Fun, colourful & modern’ so we had a starting point of what we wanted to achieve in that very first moment of someone arriving at our blog.
Take Inspiration from places other than your niche.
Instead of looking at tons and tons of other wedding blogs when we rebranded we decided instead to look at fashion magazines, artwork, typography & print design. These are the things that helped Bespoke Bride to mold a unique look instead of designing a look that we thought we should look like.
Gather Your Ideas On Pinterest.
When we first decided to rebrand we literally had NO IDEA what we wanted this wedding blog to look like, we just knew how we wanted it to make our readers feel, so we started pinning images that made us happy on Pinterest. Any styles of font we liked, images we were drawn to, or colours that caught our eyes and we soon started to notice a real pattern. Our ‘Operation Rebrand’ board was filled with bright and colouful images, simple yet fun fonts and was bursting with tons of powerhouse women looking happy!Details