Commentary from the frontlines of the wedding blog world
Figuring our how to monetise successful blogs in a way that doesn’t compromise their spirit is a perrenial issue. Plenty of wedding blogs that are fundementally about consumerism and selling the the WIC dream, either exist as adverts (Martha Stewert Weddings), or bring in the cash via adverts, without any moral dilemma. But what about the blogs whose entire message is that you don’t need all this stuff?
This month A Practical Wedding kicked off its money-making Vendors Directory project, where vendors will pay a fee to be listed. Shortly after, APW announced there will also be a Venue Directory, where couples who have married will submit personal reviws of the venues they used. It’s interesting that these are operating completely differently.
For instance, right in the announcement for the Venue Directory, Meg notes that it is not a revenue generating project, as if expecting kudos, and as if the benefit of user-submitted reviews doesn’t directly negate the benefit of the Vendors Directory, where vendors will just review themselves (also known as advertising).
The thing is, the nature of business is such that adverts are never trustworthy. In this case, supposedly because APW is filtering the ads (for instance, vendors must support same-sex couples), we can therefore trust these vendors a little bit more. The glaring question then is: if this is so awesome, why not incorporate the venues thing into this model? Or: if the Venue Directory is so awesome, why not have a the vendors incorporated in that model? They contradict each other.
The reason, of course, is that Meg is trying to make money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does mean she doesn’t get to receive kudos for saying one the projects isn’t about making money.
But then this isn’t the first time Meg has dealt with a little controversy around monetisation. Last year, the results of an APW reader survey revealed some dislike of the ubiquitous posts-that-are-actually-ads, aka sponsored posts, that are the first thing you see 2 out of very 5 days you check APW. Meg thought the criticism was about women’s lack of support for other women making money:
I think as women we do a really good job about shaming each other about money. When was the last time you saw a guy tell another guy that because his new creative project was making money, he was a sellout? I mean, basically never, right? Guys say things like, “DUDE. That’s so awesome that you’re doing so well.” And women say things like, “Have you thought about how you’re selling out and destroying the soul of your endeavor by making this much money?” Because, you know, we’re ladies. We’re supposed to give things away for free, because we’re nurturers. Nurturers of the world, apparently, for free. So I need to learn how to turn those voices off, and see success as an ok thing. And yes, see MONEY as an ok thing. Even for me. As a woman. As a wife.
Of course, what Meg missed is that the dislike of heavy use of ads is not about anyone’s personal feelings towards her. In fact we can assume anyone who took the survey is probably a big fan. Here is what it’s really about: People look at blogs in order to read something interesting and/or entertaining. Sponsored posts are neither interesting nor entertaining, especially when they’re about a random unaffordable photographer that’s in a different country from you.
In other news, Ariel at Offbeat Bride launched a new blog under the Offbeat umbrella, and this one is about the business side of her blogs. She’s explicit that Offbeat Bride was launched as a marketing tool for her book, and I have no qualms about her use of sponsored posts and ads because a) she’s never promoted anti-consumerism as a key message, b) they’re not the first thing you see half the time, and c) she’s never begged readers for donations (*cough*). She still gets complaints though. Her take on it is ‘Read the disclaimers, people!’
Meanwhile Hindsight Bride and Rogue Bride have collaborated to produce a podcast they call the Bridal Koolaid Cocktail Hour. Among other things, they make fun of a photo in which a bride poses in the squat position, and I thought a hearty ‘hell yeah’ to myself throughout listening to it. Hindight and Rogue seem a little hesitant about the criticism they dish out, but I say screw that. For as you can see, even APW is not sacrosanct in my book :)