The State of the Professional Wedding Blog Industry

Thursday, April 22, 2010

wedding blog conference - the b-list
Attending bloggers of The B-List included: back row, from left to right: Harmony from Bridal Bar, Ami from Elizabeth Anne Designs, Maddy from Inspired Bride, Lara and Kelly from So You're Engayged, Lyla from Globetrotting Bride, Amanda from 100 Layer Cake, Courtney from Little White Book, Amanda from Ruffled, Dana from Broke-Ass Bride, Anne-Marie from Perfect Bound, Janice from Bridal Wishlist. Middle Row: Kelly from Santa Barbara Chic, Grace from The Cinderella Project, Jackie from Merci New York, Emily from Once Wed, Karol and Meredith from Dallas Wedding Planner, Cyd from The Sweetest Occasion, Nole from Oh So Beautiful Paper, Jen from Green Wedding Shoes, Jessica from Budget Savvy Bride, Kelly and Maria from Ritzy Bee. Front Row: Vané from Brooklyn Bride, Anne from From I Will to I Do, Vanessa and Cortnie from Lolliblog, Liene from Think Splendid, Christy from Junebug Weddings, Justine from The Unbride, Jillian and Jennifer from 100 Layer Cake, Cathie from Weddingbee.

Professional wedding blogging, as an industry, is still relatively young, with the oldest wedding blog being just eight years old. The advent of social media in the wedding industry has brought with it its own set of pros and cons. Never before have brides been able to find so much inspiration as quickly as they can today. Never before have wedding professionals had to fight as strongly the glut of misinformation mixed in with the good.

Every niche in the industry tends to complain about the newbies flooding their specific area: photographers deal with hobbyists putting an expensive camera on a credit card and calling themselves a pro, planners know very well that anyone who "walks by a wedding" now considers themselves a professional consultant, anyone with Microsoft Publisher and a nice printer is an invitation designer, and at Catersource I heard several complaints that "anyone with a kitchen and who watches the Food Network" now fancies themselves an event caterer. The barrier to entry is low across the board (event industry veteran Howard Givner wrote a great post about this last week), but in no segment of the industry is it easier to start up than as a professional wedding blogger.

In 2009 alone, the professional wedding blog industry took in over $9.4 million in advertising revenue. It's no surprise then that professional wedding bloggers (which are different than wedding professionals who blog) are now facing the same issue that everyone else is: brides who just adored chronicling every detail, decision and argument with their dearly beloved in their own wedding planning process are now blogging for the masses from the position of an expert and trying to monetize it.

This past weekend, I attended The B-List's annual conference, an association of the most influential wedding bloggers worldwide. To be honest, I was a bit nervous going into this event. Several issues had cropped up in the industry in the year that had passed since the last conference and I knew that discussing them as a group could go one of two ways: it could be a giant sob-fest where everyone complains and no solutions are found, or it could be open, productive dialogue. Fortunately, it was the latter.

In my opinion, the state of the wedding blogging industry is strong. The blog editors are not naive about the difficulties, and realize that some business models will have to adapt as the level of influence shifts, competition increases, and some legal issues force changes in the way things have been done thus far.

Is the wedding blog market saturated? Not even close. Out of the thousands of wedding blogs available to brides, there are still less than 100 that can truly be considered mainstream or garner high amounts of traffic. Is there room for new blogs in the professional wedding blog industry? Absolutely, but to survive financially they should focus on the niches rather than try to be all things to all brides.

The new bloggers entering the market will find out quickly whether they have what it takes to survive in an increasingly competitive industry or they will close their doors when they see how difficult professional blogging really is. Writing a blog about the planning process as a bride is very different than soliciting advertisers, developing and publishing original content, getting brides to read rather than just vendors (perhaps the most difficult part), and then proving to the advertiser that the site was valuable in both the number of targeted readers and the number of clickthroughs and qualified leads delivered so that they renew.

While the professional wedding blog industry is still in its "wild west" stages, it has a long way to go before we even realize the potential it truly holds.

Photo by Kate Headley

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