Getting published is something that is high up on just about every wedding professional’s list- and if it’s not, it absolutely should be. Recent occurrences have brought to my attention the fact that what I know about getting published is actually pretty uncommon knowledge to many wedding professionals, so I thought it was about time that I shared…
Why get published?
Having your work published- whether online or in print- gets your work out there and in front of brides. Brides are constantly searching for inspiration, and publications are where they turn to find that inspiration.
Getting published is like word of mouth times ten. You get posts on social media from the publications. People who may have never seen your work or heard about you before, will now be able to thanks to a publication. Those who support you will comment on your feature and/or the social media posts. It’s pretty awesome. :)
Not only that, but when you are published on a reputable website, your business name gets an extra “bump” in Google. More and more brides are turning to the internet and publications to plan their weddings. As brides get younger, it becomes more of a second nature for them to turn to Google for answers.
For Example: Whenever I myself Google a wedding pro (which is quite often), if they have been featured several times, their features will come up in addition to their website and review pages. Guess what I do? I open up new tabs for all of those search results and look at all of the features, including the vendor’s website. (This example is also why you can no longer try to attribute inquiries and/or bookings directly to any one source online. But that’s another post for another day.)
How to decide where to submit
Know a publication’s audience
I mention this because it’s really easy to get caught up in numbers and popularity. Believe me- I get caught up in it too. If you’re submitting your work to the place that hast the most viewers and is the most popular, then your chances of getting seen are even greater, right? In theory, yes. However, the drawback to this can be the audience focus of the publication.
Let me ask you this…
Did you know that 76% of brides spend less than $30,000 on their weddings? [Splendid Insights]
This makes those who are spending over $30,000 (read: hiring professionals) less than 25% of brides out there.
So knowing this information, can you guess which audience of brides the publications with the highest numbers and most popularity are targeting?
I point this out because if you are publishing your work with a publication that focuses on a particular type of bride, then you should expect to get those types of brides (1 to 2 years after your publication- see the last topic). If you are features with a publication that has an audience focus on DIY/budget weddings, you may receive inquiries from brides who might not be able to pay your rates.
[Note: This is NOT saying that the brides turning to these sites are not hiring professionals, and this is NOT saying that publications with a DIY/budget focus are bad! Many of my close friends have publications with this audience focus. There are different brides out there, and it’s up to you to choose what bride you want to reach. :)]
[Another note: When I say DIY, I do NOT mean handmade! DIY to me is a wedding in which a bride is literally doing everything herself, whereas a handmade wedding is one which incorporates DIY/handmade details- and those weddings are awesome!]
I’m not saying these things to throw a tantrum because I target the bride spending over $30,000 on her wedding. I’m saying these things to point them out to you. Because like I said- it’s easy to get caught up in what is popular. Just because it’s popular does not mean that it’s right (for YOU).
How do you find out what a publication’s audience is?
It’s really quite simple. Look at the information being shared on the publication. Look at the weddings and shoots that are featured. Look at their social media messages. Taking those things into consideration should give you ample information about a publication’s target audience. It may take a few extra minutes, but trust me- it will definitely be worth it!
Number of published features
The number of features that a publication showcases should absolutely be something that you consider when deciding on where to submit. This could mean how many times per year a magazine is published, or how many times per day a wedding is featuring on an online publication.
The less that is published, the better your chances of being seen. This also betters your chances of having your work actively publicized by the publication, as well as it provides a bit more “prestige” to your feature.
Exclusivity is a big topic among wedding bloggers, and it should be among wedding professionals too. Having your work exclusively featured with a publication means that the feature will only be seen on or in that publication. Over the years, the term “exclusivity” has been bent, stretched, and questioned, but exclusivity still remains and is preferred when it comes to publications- especially with the popularity of image sharing platforms such as Pinterest.
Publications designate themselves as “exclusive” and “non-exclusive”. Exclusive publications require that you submit to only that publication, and they will not feature anything that has been previously published anywhere else. They also ask that after your feature, you not submit that wedding or shoot to any other publications- but this is being bent lately, and many commonly ask that you wait a few months after publication to submit to non-exclusive publications.
Non-exclusive publications will feature something that has already been seen in or on another publication, but they also have specific standards to what they will feature. Publications with a focus on a small location or small niche may be non-exclusive in what they feature, as long as what is submitted to them fits with their focus. Because of the focus on a specific audience, the readership of a non-exclusive publication is likely less than that of an exclusive publication.
Deciding whether or not to submit to exclusive or non-exclusive publications can depend on what your goals are when it comes to publicity and who you want to reach. My recommendation would be to submit to an exclusive publication (one at a time please), and then upon being published there and passing the exclusivity time frame, submit to select non-exclusive publications. The thing to keep in mind here is that you don’t necessarily want to blindly submit your work- because as I previously mentioned, each publication has a specific audience, and you want to make sure you are reaching your own target audience with your features.
Tip: Multiple publications of the same shoot or wedding is not always a good thing. Brides read and frequent many publications- if it is something that has already been seen countless times, a bride is less likely to pay attention to it.
Too busy? You should still submit for publication!
It’s important to remember that you will see the “fruits” of getting published up to two years after the feature. This is why you have to be thinking ahead when it comes to being published. Features with publications- especially those online- cycle through for years to come. Pinterest, Google, Loverly- brides are turning to all of these resources to find inspiration for their wedding… often times before they’re even engaged or before they’ve booked a single vendor. Some of my most popular features are ones from 2, even 3 years ago! This is why submitting your work and getting featured IS going to have an affect on your bookings in the future- both in number and in style.
All this to say that if you’re super busy one year and don’t have a chance to submit your work or do photo shoots, be prepared to see a lull in your bookings a year or two later. I’ve personally seen it many times over the years. Someone who is newer in business does lots of shoots and makes sure to submit their work to be published to get their name out there. As they start to get busier, shoots and submissions fall to the wayside. A year or two after hardly having any publications, there is a lull in bookings, and that professional wonders what happened and where they went wrong.
I know what you’re thinking- “All of my bookings come from word of mouth, so I don’t count”. But the thing is, a huge part of word of mouth is exposure in front of those who will refer you, and part of that exposure is having a reason (getting published) to be in front of your audience. Remember how I said that getting published was like word of mouth times ten? I rest my case. :)
So if this is you- too busy to do shoots or submit your work- I encourage you to look at your process and do what you can to add submitting into the mix. Make the time to focus on submitting and getting published. Hire someone to handle submissions for you. Stay in touch with the vendors involved in the wedding. Do whatever you can to make sure you don’t fall behind on submitting your work to be published!
So there you have it- a few of the things that are constantly running through my brain about getting published that are so very important for you as a wedding professional to know! I’ll be working on another post regarding my best tips for *how* to submit to an online publication, but for the time being, if you have any questions, please comment here or head over to my Facebook page to ask!