Claire Gould of The English Wedding explains the secrets to writing and running a successful blog
Blog name? The English Wedding Blog
When the blog launched? 2009
Visitor stats and awards:
• 200k annual users
• 30.2k Twitter followers
• 10.6k Facebook likes
• 3.5k Instagram followers
• 1.1m monthly Pinterest viewers
• Consistently ranked a top 10 UK wedding blog since 2013
Tell us a little bit about The English Wedding Blog…
My blog is all about the amazing weddings we have in the UK, full of creativity and personality. We feature real weddings from everyday people, to inspire normal couples to create their own celebrations – and I hope to inspire brides and grooms to plan their own unique weddings with a real personal touch.
For me it’s all about promoting brilliant UK wedding designers, suppliers and photographers to our readers.
How much planning went into the initial design/layout of the website?
None! It was all about the content, and it still is. Blogs change, the internet changes, fashions and trends change and we do a redesign every 12 months or so.
It’s hugely important for any wedding business to keep up with times – I don’t like wasting time designing my website!
What was the blog that got the biggest-ever response?
The time I set a wedding magazine on fire! I’ve written a lot about the industry – the truth behind wedding awards certainly got people talking. But English Wedding is less controversial these days, and people read the internet too quickly to really bother replying to blog or social posts.
Blogging isn’t about getting a reply, it’s about sharing inspiration freely, without expecting anything in return.
We love your ‘Wedding Weather Calculator’. Where do you get ideas for web features like that?
That idea was sent in! My inbox is always bursting with ideas from suppliers and creatives, and this little gem only landed last week. It’s brilliant, isn’t it? I’d take it with a pinch of salt, mind – wedding brollies are a must in the for weather in the UK! – but it’s still a bit of fun.
How do you use social media to your advantage? Do you use hashtags, or schedule your posts for specific times? What platform seems to work best for you?
I have become very wary of Facebook and Instagram – but I appreciate they are really important platforms to any business. On Instagram, I look for the hashtags our featured photographers are using, and that’s my starting point.
Every social media post is scheduled – I’ve learned a lot about work/life balance over the decade I’ve had a wedding blog, and I focus 90 percent of my energy on the blog, and ten percent or less on social media.
Most brides and grooms use Google to find suppliers. Blogging is way more important to The English Wedding than social media.
Do you come straight out if you regard something as second-rate and advise retailers and consumers against it?
No – and the reason I don’t is because I don’t want to get sued. You have to be really careful publishing opinions on the internet – over the years I’ve seen bloggers get in trouble for doing this. Therefore, the way I get around this is I won’t feature anything that I myself don’t agree with, or things that I don’t like, or things that I don’t support. Blogs should be positive and uplifting, happy places – it’s not my role to criticise or judge.
What’s the criteria that makes one story better than another?
The people in it. It’s really hard to put a finger on why I choose a particular wedding for a blog post, but it comes down to the people: the bride and groom who smile all day, who put a really individual stamp on things with styling touches that don’t follow clichéd trends on Pinterest; the photographer who sees things in a very unique way and creates amazing, beautiful images; a dress that is genuinely different, brave, colourful… It’s all about having a fresh and different perspective.
What makes a great photograph?
Smiles. Light. People. Creativity. Memories. Also, great photographers!
I have a little saying when it comes to ‘culling’ the images I’m sent for a blog feature: “never delete a grandma”. Weddings are all about people, connections and emotions. So while I look for designer details and craftsmanship in the features I post, it’s the people who really make great photographs. Smiles and laughter on my screen make my work a very happy place!
Should bridal boutiques run blogs on their own website? What are the top tips for getting it right?
Definitely. It’s more important since Facebook have changed their algorithms, and Instagram is likely to follow suit. My tips would be to use beautiful images – with the photographer’s permission every time – and try to blog regularly. No one gets it right every time, but you’ll never learn if you don’t have a go…