Hope Rises and Falls: A Response to Style Me Pretty closing...
For the past 12 years, Style Me Pretty has been a vital resource to brides and wedding vendors. If you ask me, I think it's been the most influential wedding website in the industry, featuring photographers like Jose Villa, Elizabeth Messina, Erich McVey, Julie Paisley, along with many others. It goes without saying that to be published at SMP was a goal of many photographers and was seen as the seal of approval, a "I have arrived" moment. Because of this, it has been instrumental to the success of other photographers who are not as well known as the ones I previously listed. But alas, it helped build a clientele for those who get to make a livelihood out of wedding photography.
Some photographers are dealing with grief, others are jumping for joy. But most of us are wondering why the sudden end to a seemingly successful company? No one really knows why. The speculation is that it wasn't as profitable for their parent company Oath/AOL, which sounds likely. It has been reported that the site alone held up to 18 million views per month. So much dedication, effort and work has been put into Style Me Pretty that it is sad to see them go.
After putting much thought and soul searching, I have a few things to say in response to Style Me Pretty shutting its doors.
Publications are good, but it can't be the "end all" of your marketing. I stopped submitting sessions last year in an effort to put in more energy on the wedding experience I offer and making sure I take care of my website and blog. Yes, publications help build your SEO and it provides a reference for potential clients, but at the end of the day, I found that publications couldn't be a priority in my business. But if it is for you, here's a list to get you started.
Support local blogs. SMP isn't the only blog that has closed recently. Borrowed & Blue is another one that said goodbye. Make a list of blogs in your city/state and reach out to them on how you can support them, join their vendor list and get to know the editors. You might be surprised to find that you might reach your target audience way more efficiently by supporting local blogs.
Make a marketing strategy. Think about the future of your marketing, what would happen if all social media platforms closed? Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, all of these platforms are not your own. Consider what baskets you've chosen to put all your eggs into and make a marketing strategy. Email lists are really good because you can control the info you put out and you can build a connection with your audience without having to depend on anyone else.
Referrals. Get to know other wedding vendors around you and treat your brides to an amazing wedding experience that bring referrals. Nothing is worth more than people talking to others about you. I once heard that marketing is just getting people to rave about you and that has stuck with me. It has proved invaluable to my business. My clients know how important reviews and referrals are because I am constantly showing appreciation for them.
Stop letting others define success for you. Success is not easy to determine. We all thought SMP was successful with 1 million followers on Instagram, and such a big site following but it was not successful enough for the big AOL corporation. The same is true for us. We have to keep working hard to find join what we do. We have to stop letting others define success for us. Success for me is being at home, raising my daughter and having weekends to capture couple in love. It means I get to travel. It means I get to sleep at night soundly because my husband isn't crumbling beneath the pressure of having to work multiple jobs. What is success to you?
Personally, I'm looking forward to this 'blank canvas' that's happening in the wedding industry. There's a shift going on and it gives me hope that I can help shape the wedding industry for the next 12 years. It is helping me reconsider what my legacy will be.
Hope rises and falls and right now, it has fallen with this shocking news. But perhaps tomorrow it will rise as we choose to focus on meaningful connections and celebrating each other in the midst of these changes.