It’s been over six years since I started blogging, and my life has changed in so many unexpected ways in this time. One of the most valuable byproducts of my job as a blogger is without doubt the personal connections that I have made with other women – women both in and outside of the industry – brides and business owners, each of us sharing a connection in the world of weddings. It’s a part of my job that I treasure most dearly and truly am thankful for.
As we look to growing Love My Dress in 2016 and beyond, I am really keen to build our community. Our community isn’t just contained within these blog pages, like it used to be back in 2009 when I first started to venture into this online world of wedding stories – it has spread its wings throughout the social media domain, and is particularly active within Facebook, Twitter, and my current absolute favourite, Instagram. Only two weeks ago, we set up a private Facebook group just for brides and newlyweds and I’m thrilled that we have over 300 active members already (ladies, apply to join here if you haven’t already).
I’ve been asked in the past on many occasion if I intend on branching out and setting up a separate ‘post wedding’ community/lifestyle blog. The answer, for now at least (never say never) is no. It’s just not part of my vision right now to have a separate blog in addition to Love My Dress. But this doesn’t mean we can’t enhance what we already have and make our content more appealing to a wider, post-married audience.
I’ve long strived to balance our content with interesting and informative reading material that complements the world of weddings and sits comfortably alongside the many inspiring nuptials that we share. We’ve covered lots of topics already, you’ll see an example on our about page – and we’ve never been afraid to tackle issues that more mainstream media would avoid. ‘Taboo’ doesn’t frighten us.
I have to confess though, 2015 was a little lacking in this style of content and this was really all down to the fact that we were so crazy busy working on Little Book For Brides. But now that our beautiful new wedding directory is up and running, I’m eager once more to turn my focus to the incredible community of readers that frequent this blog for inspiration and support and make their visits here even more worthwhile and valuable – generate conversation they can engage with and that will resonate with them on an emotional and intellectual basis.
I really hope that doesn’t sound patronising. I genuinely want to create, for want of a better expression, a ‘sacred space’ on the internet – a bullshit-free zone where women (and maybe even the odd gentleman!) can share their thoughts on matters that I know will resonate with readers.
The enthusiasm shared in the quote below, taken from our new private Facebook group – is what made me realise how important it is that we follow this path…
I’ve absolutely loved your practical posts recently – the double post about transparency in the wedding industry (see part 1 and part 2) was spot on, and of course ‘Unapologetic Bush’ was AMAZING. I would love to see more opportunities for readers to submit posts to you too. Not just directly about weddings themselves, but also around topics like fitting wedding planning around a super busy career, the name debate (his/mine/double barrelled?), why getting fed up of talking about your wedding is ok etc etc (if you’ve got any of these topics already written about them please point me in the right direction!). The Lovettes features are exceptional, but really focused on one story, and I loved how your recent posts which I mentioned above, give a Birdseye view of topics. I’d jump at the chance to be able to submit opinion posts like this to Love My Dress.
It’s enthusiasm from our readers like this which really spurs us on.
With this in mind, we are freeing up a dedicated portion of our blog and handing it back to you, our readers.
My aim is to share a ‘from the heart’ post every Sunday. I myself love turning to my favourite blogs on a Sunday morning for a good read and I love the idea of being able to share something of interest and value with our own reader community every weekend when they may have more time to digest and enjoy such content.
In order for this to work, we need to hear from you. It doesn’t matter what it’s about – we’re looking for honest, authentic, personal, sad, happy, family, relationship, marriage, health, baby, trying for baby, children, real life issues. We just need you to write from your heart. Keep it upbeat and witty, or share your thoughts anonymously on a more challenging or emotional subject. It doesn’t have to be heavy – we want to hear about everything and anything!
It may take just a little while to get this feature up and running on a regular basis, but we’ll be sharing our first from the heart feature this very Sunday. Our first post will focus on the story of three exceptional women, colleagues of mine in the wedding industry. It will highlight the heartbreaking struggles and unadulterated joys associated with motherhood and trying for a baby.
My goal here is to develop Love My Dress in a way that won’t blow our ship off course from its focus on weddings and marriage, but that will enhance our content, making it richer, more enjoyable, welcoming and supportive – a blog that offers inspiration and support to the community of readers who visit and make everything that we do worthwhile.
So, what do you think?
Does this all make sense?
Are we on the right track?
Are you keen to *read* more on this blog?
Would you like to submit a ‘from the heart’ feature for our consideration?
Below, I have included a form and instructions to help you get involved and submit your own feature for consideration. I am genuinely so excited about hearing from you and making new connections.
Thank you so very much everyone – and please do leave your thoughts below or on one of our social channels, I love to hear from you.
Love Annabel xxx
Guidance for submitting features
1. Try to aim for 1000 – 2000 words but don’t stress over this! Some features are shorter, some longer – we will work our editing magic if we feel we need to.
2. Please remember to include website links where you are referencing other sites.
3. If you’re worried about sharing anything in particular, you can drop us a line with any queries on firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. There is a note above about photographs but please feel free to send up to 10 images via the form above. Images should in JPEG format and 960 pixels in width. It doesn’t matter if they are not professional images – and pictures shot on your phone are fine! We will get back to you if we have any issue with the images you share (size, quality etc).
Things to keep in mind
1. We will respond to all submissions within 5 working days.
2. We promise you that we will treat your story with sensitivity
3. We promise to maintain your anonymity if you so wish
3. We ask that you kindly do not share your story if it has already been shared with another blog or magazine
5. We kindly ask that you do not share your story with another blog or magazine if it is accepted for publication on Love My Dress