April 5, 2011 § 5 Comments
Another week has flown by already, full of fun meetings with clients, late-night design sessions and lots of amazing inspiration.
So, why am I so crabby? Ok, well maybe not crabby, but there’s something I need to speak up about, and not everyone is going to like it – what’s new, right?
Today we’re not talking invitations specifically, but more the wedding industry as a whole. I’m hoping you’ll forgive me.
When I see something that I think is confusing to couples, I feel the need to speak up about it and try to make things clear. And when something is bothering me, I like to clear the air about that t0o. So, let’s consider this a bit of a two-in-one: partly fact, for your information, and partly opinion, to make me feel better.
If this were a letter, it would start with, “Dear wedding bloggers – I still love you, but it’s tough love, and it’s time to get your ‘stuff’ together”.
Wedding blogs – they are all the rage right now and they are chock full of eye candy and inspiration. Do I have issues with wedding blogs as a whole? No, not really. But I do have issues with the practices of certain blogs out there (and no, I won’t be naming and shaming), and certain trends? You bet I do.
Mainly, my issue is transparency. My opinion is that wedding blogs need to be transparent about every aspect about what they are posting, because in the wedding business ethics need to be of the utmost importance.
***Disclaimer: I am not talking about every single wedding blog here – there are some that are very transparent and are totally doing it right. But there are way more that aren’t.***
So, let me drop some knowledge on you, for those who may not be aware of the following:
FACT: Wedding blogging is a business
I’m talking the big wedding blogs out there, and you know the ones I mean – the ones that post daily (or multiple times daily). Blogging is a business is the wedding world, and there are lots of people making money off of it. While the medium is different, a blog is in essence a digital magazine, making advertising revenue from vendors who are hoping that their content will entice you to visit and see their ads, click their links etc. Next time you visit your favourite blog, notice the sheer number of ads down the sidebar. Seriously.
OPINION: That’s cool, just don’t pretend otherwise
I have no issues with wedding bloggers trying to make money doing it – it’s a tough job, and not everyone is cut out for it. A successful wedding blogger has a certain type of talent that is rare, and deserves to be respected and remunerated accordingly. No issues with that either. I just think it is important to remember that in the world of “big” wedding blogs, there is definitely a business aspect – it’s certainly not someone working hours upon hours *just* because they love weddings.
FACT: Not just the ads are advertising
So, it’s generally pretty obvious where the ads are on a blog, but did you know that it’s not the only place where you’re going to find advertising? Often you’ll see things like sponsored posts – a vendor that has paid the blogger to be featured on their site, but in a way that doesn’t come of as advertising (sort like those “advertorials” in magazines). Or how about those popular “Preferred Vendors” – different blogs may have different names for their lists, but that’s basically what it boils down to. Those are advertising as well – the vendor is paying for their listing. While the listing is likely “curated” (meaning the bloggers pick and choose who is going to be included), it’s not like the blogger in question is just providing you with a list of vendors they like.
OPINION: Be transparent. Be transparent. Be transparent.
This one gets to me a bit, because while there are a number of very well-known blogs that are 100% up-front about identifying sponsored posts clearly or letting people know that they vendors on their “list” are paying them, there are so many more who don’t. Why is this an issue? First, because it’s misleading you into thinking what you’re reading is a true opinion or recommendation, when it fact it’s basically still advertising – someone is getting paid to publicize that vendor. Where’s the harm? Let’s say you’re in the market for, oh, I don’t know…invitations. You keep seeing the same company blogged about everywhere, on every preferred vendor list etc. You are going to assume that vendor is probably pretty awesome, because you are relying on their social credibility. If you found out that the only reason they are getting that exposure is that they are paying for it, do you suddenly feel differently? Probably. Does it mean the vendor isn’t awesome. Of course not. But it probably leaves a bad taste in your mouth, because you didn’t realize. It’s not necessarily an issue of right and wrong, but it *is* an issue of ethics.
FACT: Many “weddings” you see on blogs aren’t real weddings at all
These days, there a large number (and growing) of “weddings” featured on blogs that aren’t real wedding at all – rather they are styled photo shoots, where a number of vendors get together and work on a concept, then shoot all of their work together as a cohesive “look”. It’s a great way for vendors to showcase their work, and because everything has been specifically created to work together, it can be a fantastic source of inspiration. But, you need to keep in mind – it’s not real.
OPINION: Styled shoots are great, but be upfront
I personally think styled shoots are fantastic – great exposure for the vendors involved, and likely the opportunity to be a bit more creative and out-there than with most weddings, and a great way to show brides what kind of looks are possible and providing inspiration when it comes to their choice of style, colours etc. But, it’s imperative that it’s clear what you’re seeing is a styled shoot and not a real wedding. Where’s the harm? First, judging vendors based on their work on styled shoots is questionable – remember that it’s not a real wedding situation, so there is no demanding bride, argumentative groom, lighting issues, last-minute surprises etc. Styled shoots are a controlled, planned situation with perfect conditions – completely unlike an actual wedding. So seeing the work that a photographer has done on a styled shoot is great – but don’t ignore the work they’ve done on actual weddings, because they are two completely different situations. You want to know that your photographer can’t just shoot great pictures of models in a studio, but can shoot great pictures of real couples in real situations. Second, and probably more importantly, it seems like styled shoots are causing couples to aspire to have weddings that just aren’t realistic – whether it’s budget, style, theme, whatever. Styled shoots have their place – but probably sparingly, and always presented as such.
FACT: The real weddings you see are hand-picked
Blogs, like magazines, are intended to be aspirational – to show you the best of the best, the newest and most trendy ideas etc. They aren’t going to show you weddings like most of the ones you’ve been to, and probably not even like the wedding you’re planning. The weddings you will see often have a beautiful bride, an amazing location, great details, some quirky touches here and there (and usually a pretty big budget as well) – they aren’t necessarily attainable for the average bride.
OPINION: Reader beware
I completely understand why bloggers choose the weddings they do, and I love wedding eye-candy as much as the next person. But be aware of what you’re looking at – an above-average wedding in one way or another. It seems that some couples these days are feeling like “everyone” is doing this or that, or that they “must” have a specific style, or a specific vendor, or whatever, based on what they see on wedding blogs. It’s great to read blogs for inspiration, but they aren’t a roadmap for *your* wedding, and in fact many of them start to look very much alike after a while. If you want a wedding that is personal and unique – do what’s in your heart, not what everyone else is doing.
Do I have some kind of hate on for wedding blogs? Not at all – I think they can be a great resource, but as a reader, I think it’s important that you are aware of exactly what you’re consuming.
Oh, but I do have one last pet peeve:
Hey wedding bloggers, can you throw us stationers/invitation designers a bone please. I see tons of gorgeous photos of invitations, menus, programs, placecards etc. and then no mention in the vendor list of who the stationer is. Kinda irritating, if I’m being honest. Who seriously needs to know that the bride wore Jimmy Choos (when the label is obvious in the ubiquitous shoe shot anyway), but doesn’t need to know who creating the stunning wedding stationery? Get that stuff sorted, will ya? Thanks.
So, am I alone? What are wedding blogs doing wrong? What are they doing right? I’d love to hear your comments.
April 1, 2011 § 6 Comments
Have I lead you astray before? Of course not!
So when I post about something on The Invitation Blog – whether it’s another vendor, a product, whatever – you know it’s the real deal.
Up-front, honest-to-goodness truthiness: I have been a member of Let’s Talk Stationery for about a year, and was one of the very first Paper Clique members. So yes, you are getting an insider point of view, but I have not been and will not be compensated in any way for posting this information. Sharing it’s sheer awesomeness with other designers is what prompted today’s post!
Paper Clique is a game-changer in the invitation design business, hands down. As the new prestigious, premium membership section of Let’s Talk Stationery, Paper Clique is offering the best tools out there to stationers and designers: lots of freebies [membership to Wedding Clipart Studio, Tutorial Kits, Action Sheets, Guides, Ebooks, How to articles etc.], premium giveaways [gift certificates and more], premium discounts [myGrafico, Local Traffic Builder, Catprint and more] and weekly updates [The hottest blogs, newest discount codes, success tips]. All members are heavily vetted to ensure that the information shared among Paper Clique members is safe and secure.
Sounds good right? But you haven’t heard the best part yet. As a Paper Clique member, you have access to a huge library (currently more than 100,000) of Digital Stationery Engineering Templates. Yes, I hear you asking yourselves, “what the !@#$ are digital stationery engineering templates”. Ever spent an hour measuring and drawing a pocketfold in Illustrator? Cursing trying to match a paper colour on screen? Being stumped at how to accurately represent a patterned stock? Paper Clique’s exclusive templates (Currently available for Envelopments and Do It With More Options, with additional vendors coming soon) take all the guesswork out of putting together realistic, perfectly-sized and accurately-scaled mockups. Fantastic for custom designs, and an amazing tool for those who sell to DIY clients – not only can it save you time when designing, but imagine sitting with a client and literally showing them how their invitation will look (while switching out colours and options) on the fly.
A picture is worth thousand words, right? Well here are some to prove it to you:
You can also view a video of how Paper Clique Digital Stationery Engineering works on the Paper Clique homepage.
I’ve been using the Paper Clique Engineering Templates to do mockups for clients for the past couple of weeks, and it has been amazing – I never realized before how much time I was wasting just setting up mockups, and now it’s a breeze (and actually kind of fun too!). The great thing is that there is no software to install, no drain on your system resources, no steep learning curve – the Paper Clique Engineering Templates are available via download from the Paper Clique website in .png format, and can be used in any graphics program, in whatever way you like. Whether you need to create a custom sized cardstock layer, add items or manipulate a colour, it’s possible directly within the design programs you use every day.
The Paper Clique Digital Engineering Templates are the brainchild of the fabulous Renae Judkins, owner of Paper Clique and Let’s Talk Stationery, and all around awesome chick.
Paper Clique Digital Stationery Engineering is still growing – Renae’s goal is to double the current number of graphics to 200,000 by this time next year with more manufacturers, ribbons, graphics and backgrounds. And word from Renae is that the next evolution for Paper Clique will be a software plugin that will allow you to access the Engineering Templates directly from your favourite design program (Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop etc.). I know I’m super-excited at the prospect of this tool getting even easier and more efficient to use!
And what about Let’s Talk Stationery itself?
Have you ever wished there was a community of stationers and designers out there that you could look to for help, guidance and support. Where you could find out about the newest suppliers, the best printers and the answers to your toughest production questions. Where you could just talk…stationery? Well, that’s exactly what Let’s Talk Stationery is – an exclusive forum for stationery designers and vendors that brings together all aspects of the industry in a safe, supportive environment.
Let’s Talk Stationery has made such a huge impact, professionally and personally, on Hip Ink in the last year. When I have any kind of question, problem or issue it’s the first place I go – okay, these days, when I wake up in the morning it’s the first place I go. I have learned a ton, found great new suppliers, and uncovered the answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Most of all though, I have made so many great ‘friends’. Friends who are generous with their advice, who I know understand what I’m dealing with in this industry day-in and day-out and that I know I can count on for support when I’m having “one of those days”.
So, yes…I’m on my vendor love soapbox in a totally different way this Friday.
I.heart.Paper.Clique (and I’m betting that you will too!).