The Business of Blogging – Backstage

It’s the question we get asked everyday, and in honor of our new submissions tool, I wanted to go through the anatomy of a perfect submission. Above all else, a wedding has to have a whole lot of heart to win us over, but here are a few tips to make your gorgeous submission stand out.

The Title

Like an invite to a wedding, the first thing we see is your submission title. To catch our eye, LBB members try to format it: LBB + State + Your Name + Noteable Vendors, so for example: “LBB Texas Wedding from Suzi Q Photography & Bird Dog Weddings”

The Description

Ideally, we would love to have the complete description from the bride. Please note the bride & groom’s name for our reference. The readers want to know all of the details they can get their hands on. Here are some ideas for guiding brides to give a great description:

What was your “perfect wedding” vision?
What are three unique details that you infused into your decor?
What was your most memorable moment?
What song did you do your first dance to?
What was on your menu?
What – if anything – did you DIY?

If you can’t get a description from your bride, the wedding planner, floral designer, event designer are the next best bet as they had a hand in the vision and construction of the wedding. If that doesn’t work, just do your best to outline what you remember most about the day. Make sure this is original text, not copied from a blog.

The Images

The best submissions have the following where images are concerned (give or take as we realize not every wedding fits this mold):

-100-150 Images
-2/3 Vertical Images
-80% – 90%  color, 10 – 20% black and white
-at least 900 pixels across, dpi of at least 72

Our submissions server will automatically resize large images for our blog. However images larger than 5MB will not upload easily.

A Handful of Tips

TIP #1 – Tell a Story

Each submission should tell a story. Above and beyond just the day itself – getting ready, first looks, ceremony, cocktail, reception, details, departure – it should also be cohesive in photography style, in color, and in tone. Just like a magazine would feature images that naturally work together so that the pages flip fluidly, we do as well. We generally pull out images that are too jarring or interrupt the flow of the majority.

TIP #2 – Discover Details

SMP is primarily an idea blog for brides. They come to get ideas on style, on fashion, on decor, flowers, cakes, invitations, photography, cinema and so much more. Which is of course why we love to share all of the details with our brides. That said, details are not necessarily just the crafted “stuff,” for lack of a better word. It’s the view out the window, a beautiful image of the bridal jewelry, a sweet picture of the family pet. It’s the signs gracing the property, a great vignette within the hotel, a simple understated shot of her veil or his bow tie. Please consider everything around you a detail and include those in the submission.

TIP #3 – Give Credit Where Credit is Due

The more vendor credits with URLs you can provide, the more we love you. Because it’s surprisingly hard to discern the correct website for vendors not within our book in this industry. The more you can share the love and get really specific with us, the better your chances of having peers that love you. We will of course correct any that are published wrong, but the more information we have from you, the better. Vendor with Correct Spelling + Complete URL is the perfect combination of information for each credit.

TIP #4 – Help us Understand YOU.

We want to feature your work in the light that makes you proud. If you have a strong opinion about certain images that you want to be shown or certain experiences that you want our readers to have as it relates to your work, please share that in the description box of your submission. While we can’t guarantee that your ideas on layout or image selection will match completely with ours, we promise that we will listen to you and do our very very best to make sure your feature reflects who you are as an artist.

Finally, A Few Insights

Erin is the primary Editor who sifts through our submissions. Be nice to her because she’s a softy and she loves to feature LBB members.

We get around 400+ submissions a week. Of those, we publish 15 weddings on our front page, 50 weddings on our 10 local blogs and 10 weddings a week on our Little Black Book Blog.

To find out if your wedding is being published, please note that we run about four weeks behind. Every now and then it slips to six weeks. We’re pushing hard to improve our process so that it’s a two week turn around time. We think we’ll get there very soon but in the meantime, always feel free to reach out to our support queue about the progress of a submission if it’s been four weeks.

Once a wedding has been selected, it should be up within 2-4 weeks time.

Hey Backstagers. It’s Mallory, your tried and true LBB Blog editor. When I’m not gleefully poring over some pretty seriously pretty weddings, I’m a mom to a little boy named Harry and a wife to an Air Force pilot. And thrifter, runner, crafter, official photographer of the aforementioned Harry. You know me best as the lover of all things little, black, and book, but I’m about to let you in on a few extra (ten, to be exact) little tidbits behind this blogger.

Mallory Tidbits

Image courtesy of Erica Hampton Photography.

1. I am obsessed with tea. Black, green, red, white. Chai, Breakfast, Earl, Peppermint. It’s not about the caffeine, but I can’t go a day without my beloved tea. In fact, I’ve been known to order a big package of the stuff straight from England, because, well let’s just face the facts, I’m a tea snob.

2. I’m a big, old documentary lover. If you would have told me ten years ago that grown up Me thought a good documentary and a comfy couch were my idea of a great Friday night, I would have laughed in your face. But that it is, my idea of a good time. I can’t help but get sucked into a good documentary, every single time. Some favorites? Babies, Hungry for Change, First Position.

3. I met my husband in a high school drama class. I had such a crush on that senior boy (I was a sophomore). It was a good day when we were cast as the married couple in one of our daily exercises. Later, like four years and two graduates later, we reconnected and I learned he had a crush on me too. And the rest, as they say, was history.

4. In high school, my mom sat me down and gave me a lecture about money, bills, and jobs. You see, I didn’t work at the local ice cream shop. Or the mall. Or McDonalds. What she didn’t realize, however, was that I was making more than all my friends cleaning houses in our neighborhood. What can I say? Girl likes things clean.

5. Okay, okay. Let me preface this by saying I was always a Joey Fatone kind of girl. I never had a crush on JT. And I still don’t. But it has been my New Year’s resolution for the last 5 years to become best friends with Justin Timberlake. Just friends. I’m happily married, and so he is (to my girl crush, no less). I have a whole, well thought out plan to accomplish this goal… and let’s just say it involved Ellen Degeneres. It will happen one day.

6. Winter’s my favorite. My absolute favorite. I could live in a cold, gray, snowy wonderland 360 days of the year. Yet, somehow, my husband tricked me into moving to the Mississippi Gulf Coast with him…

7. Anne of Green Gables was always, always my favorite book growing up. I’m much more of a Diana, but Anne was just so romantic. I still imagine learning to communicate with flags, and worry about someone sticking my hair in ink. And, funnily enough, after rereading the book again a few years ago, I realized I always imagined Green Gables to look exactly like my dad’s farm.

8. Sometimes my husband goes out of town for work. (Duh, he’s a pilot.) But the day he leaves, my son’s head always smells like the hubby’s shaving cream from the extra goodbye snuggles. I smell the little man’s head more than normal (and that’s saying something) on those days. It’s my new favorite smell. Baby + Shaving Cream.

9. I once had a vacation where I slammed my finger in a door, lost my fingernail, had an epic fall rollerblading and road burned off half my skin, forgot my bathing suit (yes, we were at the beach), and lost an earring in a volleyball net mere days after getting them pierced. I think Petosky, MI and I need to try it again. Maybe we can do better next time.

10. I have pretty good self control. I waited 16 weeks before giving into my butter pecan ice cream craving, while I was pregnant. I’ve been craving a chocolate chip cookie for months now, but I’m waiting for a special occasion. But if you put one of those cravings in my house, all control goes out the window and I find myself wiping caramel off my fingers as I explain to whomever will listen “Well, I am going to eat the whole box of Samoas anyway… so I might as well eat them all NOW.”

Hi, SMPers! I’m Melissa, the Membership Coordinator for our lovely Little Black Book and the newest addition to the fabulous SMP team. Seriously, everyone is awesome, I couldn’t be luckier to work with them all. To all of our crazy talented LBBers out there who are reading this, I’m your gal. I specialize in those fun spotlight features you see popping up on the LBB blog and getting to know you is what I do. So, it’s only fair that I share a few fun tidbits about me! xo

melissa_headshot

1. Call me Scuba Steve. I am a certified scuba diver, like legit. I didn’t do a fun 2 day course in the warm Caribbean waters. Oh, no, I did it Gloucester style, in freezing cold New England waters, in the fall. But hey it paid off, now I get to dive for lobsters and we steam them up right on our boat.

2. I sit on the accident prone throne. I’ve never broken any bones, besides my big toe (knock on wood) but I am known to spill a drink, I always seem to be wearing white on spaghetti night and I’m the worst nightmare of pretty glass Christmas ornament. Gotta own it—it is what it is.

3. I grew up listening to rock, so naturally, Aerosmith was my first concert and ever since I can remember, my favorite band. I met guitarist Joe Perry when I was 16 in my grocery cashier line and still remember that he got vanilla Häagen-Dazs and bok choy.

4. Don’t worry, be happy. I will never get sick of reggae music. As much as I love rock, you can find me jammin’ out to reggae on Pandora most of the time, whether I’m working, cleaning the house or enjoying a cocktail on the porch or our boat in the summer.

5. I make a mean crepe. I have like 98% French Canadian blood running through these veins, so you can be sure that I learned from the best. Bon appetit!

6. The other 2%? I do crave mexican food at least once a week, I put jalapeños on everything and my cocktail of choice is a margarita. It will forever be a mystery.

7. I would eat ice cream every day if I could. In a cone, cups are no fun. In fact I have four favorite flavors and I sometimes request one of each scoop on the cone: black raspberry, chocolate, coconut and pistachio. Best thing ever.

8. My worst fear? A tsunami. Ok, I’m sure a tsunami is scary to everyone, but I have nightmares of big waves coming at me on a regular basis. Movies like Deep Impact or more recently, The Impossible, scare the daylights out of me. Ironically, I can’t imagine living anywhere but on the coast.

9. I can recite the alphabet backwards in 5 seconds. Don’t ask me why, it serves no purpose, but I can.

10. Despite #8, my happiest days start with a sunny walk at the beach with our two year old pup. There’s nothing like sand between your toes, the crashing of waves and a happy pup.

Howdy SMPers! I’m Matt, one of the few male SMP Staffers. It’s hard to say exactly what I do for SMP, because I do a bit of everything. My main focus is on support. I answer all questions our SMP readers have about the site. If you have post corrections, issues with your vendor portfolio, or just general question about the SMP site, I’m your guy! I also work with the technology department, programming and improving your experience on the site. I’m a gymnastics coach in my off time, and love working with kids. Here are some fun (and goofy) facts about me – Hope you enjoy!

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1. I love playing my guitar. The first time I ever picked one up was in 8th Grade. I begged my mom to buy me one instead of going on the class Washington D.C. trip. It just so happened that the day I got my guitar was my Grandma’s birthday. It took me about 4 hours, but I learned how to play ‘Happy Birthday’ for her.

2. Gymnastics is my #1 passion. In second grade, on the playground, I decided to teach myself a back handspring. It took me the whole 45 minute recess, but I got it! When I showed my mom, she immediately enrolled me in gymnastics, for fear that I would break my neck without proper training.

3. Coheed and Cambria is, and forever will be, my favorite band. I have a tattoo of their Keywork on my arm. I’ve seen them about seven times in concert. I can listen to them all day, every day.

4. Ever since high school, I have dreamed of owning a Mazda RX-8. I used to watch videos, and “build” them on the Mazda website. I’m happy to say, my dream came true last September!

5. I was not always a New Englander. I grew up in Oxnard, California. I moved out to Massachusetts, because that is where my dad grew up. Now he’s back in California, and I’m stuck in this cold New England weather. How does that work?

6. I LOVE mexican food. I understand that it’s all the same food, just wrapped differently, but I don’t care. Nothing makes me happier than a nice spicy burrito.

7. If there is one show that I have seen more times than any other, it’s Scrubs. I think I’ve seen every season at least 10 times. I almost decided to do something in the medical field, solely because of my love for this show.

8. As much as I hate to say it…I inherited my dad’s corny sense of humor. He gave me his genes…they were Levi’s.

9. When I have a son, I want to name him Jackson Carter Lincoln. Sounds cool, and it’s three presidents names.

10.  My first kiss was with a lovely girl by the name of Sarah. I was 7. She was 15. We see each other from time to time, mainly because she married my brother.

Driving around last weekend I heard an interview on NPR with designer and philosopher Ian Bogost about his creation the Facebook game Cow Clicker.

http://www.npr.org/2011/11/18/142518949/cow-clicker-founder-if-you-cant-ruin-it-destroy-it

If you’ve got 8 minutes, please go to the link above and take a listen. This provocative little clip will make you laugh out loud. Here’s the gist of what happens: Bogost makes a game, Cow Clicker, meant to parody mindless, addictive Facebook games like Farmville. All you can do in this game is click on a cow and make it moo. He expects people to encounter his game, have a laugh, and move on. Instead the game builds a loyal following of rabid fans who don’t get the joke and play it frequently.

The story of Cow Clicker has me thinking a lot about social media and addictive behavior. How much of our online experience is dictated by habit? For those of us, like Style Me Pretty, who try to build up a following online how much of our efforts should be focused on pushing content or providing features that build habits with our readership? After all, you want to build a loyal following of rabid fans. You just want them coming to your site for all the right reasons.

Do you have any less-than-productive online habits you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.

At Style Me Pretty we pride ourselves on being more than a blog. We’re always looking for ways to improve what we offer brides by building a little something that they can use to make their wedding planning experience more fun.

One of the ideas we had that we hoped would drive reader engagement is allowing readers to specify images in the comment section of a post. This allows readers to talk about which photos move them or which details of a wedding they love. Interested in seeing how this might work? Watch the following screencast.

We’re still considering if this is right for SMP. There are lots of display and UI issues to consider before rolling something like this out. This is just one of the many additional features we’re working on. Let us know what you think. Leave a comment below.

I’m sneaking backstage for a moment because there is just something that needs to be said, and that’s what Backstage is for – right? Well, it’s our fearless leader’s birthday today, and if anyone deserves a whole lotta love on their special day, it’s Abby Larson. The Queen Bee of SMP, who just happens to be just as lovely as you imagine her to be – if not lovelier. The mother of two of the most gorgeous children I ever did see and an awesome boss to boot – I think it’s safe to say, all of us at SMP (and anyone that knows Abby, really) are so very thankful for today. So raise a margarita (Abby’s favorite), and help us toast to another awesome year for the ever so lovely Abby Larson! X and O’s all around! xoxo

And a big thanks to Eddye, Abby’s mom, for bringing us such a doll!

Photography: Kari Herer

Happy Monday! For those of you looking for a little inspiration to start out your week, you’ve got to read this inspiring graduation speech. Here’s a little excerpt:

What you should prepare for is mess. Life’s a mess. You are not entitled to expect anything from it. Life is not fair. Everything does not balance out in the end. Life happens, and you have no control over it. Good and bad things happen to you day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Your degree is a poor armour against fate.

Don’t expect anything. Erase all life expectancies. Just live. Your life is over as of today. At this point in time, you have grown as tall as you will ever be, you are physically the fittest you will ever be in your entire life and you are probably looking the best that you will ever look. This is as good as it gets. It is all downhill from here. Or up. No one knows.

Truth is, I’m a sucker for a good motivational speech; one that grabs me and briefly changes my perspective on the world. Spring is here. Graduation season is upon us. Seems like the perfect time to do some reflection and start anew. I hope you enjoy this speech as much as I did.

Today marked a very big day in the Larson household. William’s first major temper tantrum. He’s fussed, he’s cried, he’s even screamed a few times. But today, he gave me the real deal. The shaking, clenching fist, screaming like I was chopping off his big toe, real deal. We had to leave our picnic at my daughter’s school because I was afraid the teachers were going to think I was torturing him. So let the fun begin.

All I can say is…thank God for moments like this one…

…or I’d never get through the moments like this….

We got a bunch of new pics from our Film Photography experiment in that I’ll post in a day or two and my fav, Kari Herer, was back to shoot the kids a week ago and they turned out beyond adorable. I’ll post those as soon as I can! Hope everyone had a great weekend and is enjoying getting back to the grind.

xoxo, Abby

One of the questions that we get from new bloggers is about how we manage and organize our content calendars. So today, you’re getting an insider peek at our desktops and the way that we streamline the work that our editors do by keeping a really tidy content schedule. We’ve tried different paid solutions and calendars but for now, Google Calendar works the best for us. It’s a little cluttered and scary upon first glance though after a week of working within our color palettes and flow, it’s easy breezy.

Here is the general flow.

1. Weddings come into our submissions queue at an alarming rate. Erin goes through each wedding, noting the ones that we would like to publish, then imputing them into our calendar. We have 12 different blogs so there are a lot of content streams that need management. Erin handles all of our main page calendar. Our other editors manage the calendars on the local level.

Each type of content has a color code. So that at a glance, we know if we are writing a real wedding feature, an e-sesh, a paid sponsored post, a photoshoot, etc. The color coding system is key to ensuring that our content is balanced and doesn’t overwhelm with any one thing. All editors and salespeople have access to this calendar and can update as needed.

The great thing about this shared calendar system is that changes are super easy to update, content is easy to rearrange with a drag and drop interface, and the color coding means that everyone always knows what’s up. If the week’s view is too chaotic, we can drill down to just the day’s view to stay on track. Google now grays out any event that has already taken place so that makes it even easier for us to keep moving forward.

So the real beauty of our system is that we’ve got our own groove down pat. And the calendar allows us to work quickly and efficiently. After a wedding is set, the individual event is updated with a few pieces of key information. First, the date and time that the post will be scheduled which allows us to work ahead and schedule out posts. The submission link is there so that we can easily access the original submission if needed. The gallery link allows us to build our photo boards right there in the galleries. The prepped post itself is linked- and by prepped post I mean that we have someone who creates a draft, adds in verbage, links and such – and any other important information to add is pasted in, like a video code if there is one.

This calendar is our editors’ bible. Erin schedules up to a month in advance so we can all work ahead if we need to. That means that we are never (or almost never) scrambling for content. Which makes blogging much, much more enjoyable. It’s up to our editors if they want to work way ahead, like our LBB editor Mallory who is always like a month ahead of everyone else, or they want to work the day-of like yours truly.

So there you have it. An insiders’s view of how we manage the crazy amount of weddings that come in the door! Someday soon, I’ll show you how our back end technology allows for a single submission to be auto populated to our galleries where we build inspiration boards, tag and color code images, create rollover credits and publish to the blog. It’s a well oiled machine round these parts!

xoxo