SMB stories – how Nicole built an affordable wedding blog


Nicole PicOur account managers are best-in-class energy experts, but there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye.

We’re constantly in awe of how innovative, energetic and just plain impressive they are – it’s one of the things that makes us proud to work here.

Case in point: when 5pm rolls around busy mum and all-around energy superstar Nicole switches hats and becomes the centre of a thriving local wedding community that makes a real difference to small suppliers and budget conscious brides.

Nicole sat down with us to share her insights on setting up a blog, building a readership and how to become a whizz at Google Analytics, for free:

Tell us about your website…

Bridal Chic in the City provides a place for small independent suppliers to reach brides. It shows that despite what you may think incredible quality can be had at reasonable prices. As well as providing a resource for budget conscious brides, the website helps suppliers by providing them with much needed exposure and advice. I’m so proud of how I have brought a group of mums, dad’s and home based entrepreneurs together and created a lovely friendly community in which we all offer support and personal mentorship.

When a bride buys a wedding magazine she’s presented with something that isn’t realistic and is often really expensive. We bring reality into it, showing you that you don’t need to bankrupt yourself to have an amazing wedding.

What advice would you give to people who are looking to set up their own blogs – business or otherwise?

Just start! If you set up a simple site using a platform like WordPress it’s so easy. It’s a creative outlet and it’s lots of fun.

How did you ‘find your blogging voice’

Write the way you speak – it’s a blog not a school essay. People like to see that you’re a real person, with a personality, not just a faceless business. I like to be a normal person rather than creating a fake image of myself.

How did you build your audience?

I developed relationships with other mid-level bloggers – we share each other’s content and help each other out. I know people who’ve targeted top influencers, paid a fortune to be featured on famous blogs and seen little in the way of results. My way is cheaper and far more enjoyable!

How do you make money from the website?

Monetisation is a work in progress, however we’ve tried a few different things. We do wedding fairs – we did six last year. We charge vastly reduced prices for suppliers – most wedding fairs will charge £2000 for a stand but ours start at £75, meaning they’re accessible to everyone. I also host networking events where I teach people how to make the most of their websites and marketing. So often the products are incredible, but they just aren’t shown at their best online!

What’s next?

I was recently a finalist at The UK blog Awards which really raised my profile – I had a lot of emails off the back of that. I’m also currently doing an online event planning course with The Wedding Academy. I try to keep bettering myself – it’s so important to keep learning.

You work as part of a small team, how did you recruit people to help you on your site?

Our sales coordinator Rachel helps me out a lot. I’m balancing the blog with family which can be tricky – it’s great to work with somebody who lives in the city centre and can meet up with people when busy. Rachel treats it like it’s her business which is incredible. A lot of people offer to help but don’t want to make the commitment when it comes down to it. You need reliable people when you’re running a website on top of an already busy life. I can’t afford a salaried employee but Rachel gets a percentage of any profits the site makes. Many of the people I work with, such as photographers, are just setting up their businesses – so working on the website gives them exposure and pieces for their portfolio.

What tools do you use?

Imagery is really important to our website so we use a lot of visual tools such as Instagram, Picsart for editing photos and Majisto for making short films out of pictures. I also use Canva to create graphics.

I use Google drive so I can have all my files available to me at the click of a button – no matter where I am. I also use Facebook to check out how well our social media is doing – the free insights are really useful. In the past I’ve worked with The Wedding Biz Coach who gave me great tips about leaflet design.

What would you say is the most effective way for building blog traffic?

Mainly social media – I find pictures work best. I also always ask people to share content and spread the word!

How did you choose a platform to build your website on?

I chose WordPress as it’s simple, easy and affordable. I’m self taught and manage it all myself. Likewise, I taught myself Google Analytics with a little help from Google Digital Garage – a free service that I found at Manchester library – they’re there all day and you can get expert advice about any issues you’re having.

What support have you had?

I’ve had the support of my family and the wedding community in Manchester. I’ve also worked with a mentor, which was invaluable. When you work on your own it’s really motivation that you need – having a mentor helped with that. She also guided me with finding the right direction and focussing on what’s important – it’s so easy to have your attention in fifty different directions so having somebody to bounce ideas off and give you objective advice is a huge benefit.

How do you balance your blog with your day job?

It’s a constant balancing act. Initially I was working as a manager in fashion retail and worked unsocial hours, meaning I had no family life. Working at Switch My Business means that I have evenings, weekends and bank holidays to see family and work on the blog – although it’s never easy to fit it all in. When I do get a free moment I just blast through whatever I can so that at least something gets ticked off the to-do list! If you leave it too long without working on your website you can get out of it and then it’s harder to restart. The blog awards have boosted my motivation and I’m really proud of what I’ve built.

Be sure to pay a visit to Bridal Chic in the City or follow them on Twitter.

 

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