Richard Millington, community builder and author of the online community…
I’m consistently fascinated by the other online communities out of the main stream news -and one of the most engaging, and lively I had come across was in the wedding industry. A clear passion point for men and women a like, it’s a natural draw card for conversation, recommendations and purchasing.
Weddings are about people and passion: what better fuel is there? Couple this with photographs, experience and event planning – it’s story telling at it’s best (before, during and after). Polka Dot Bride was one such community that caught my attention and I was lucky enough to catch up with Ms. Polka herself.
What’s remarkable about the site is that it’s so much about the people behind these weddings that are photographed with some very clear outcomes for customers and audience, sponsors, publishers and suppliers.
I think the biggest one I’ve learnt is to never underestimate the power of community.
1. What’s the business you’re in?
Writing online about all things wedding- I publish online wedding blog (or publication) Polka Dot Bride.
2. When did it begin?
3. How big is your community?
We average about 2500-3500 unique visitors a day from all over the world. Australia, USA and New Zealand are our lead markets!
4. What have been the biggest challenges in developing your community?
Australia has had a much smaller base to jump from than the US wedding blog industry (mainly due to population). It’s been challenging not being able to participate in the same opportunities they have due to distance or simply being in another country. The uptake by print media and Australian wedding vendors has also been slower. Having said that, this has been a challenge I have loved overcoming as it also allowed me to carve my own niche and do things in an Australian way. It’s also pushed me to really work hard at sourcing content- it never fell into my lap; as for a long time I simply didn’t exist with vendors and PRs (although my statistics said otherwise!).
5. How does the community drive your business?
My focus as I have developed the business has always been “inspiring weddings” Our readers demand high quality content and Australian wedding content. The pure social aspect of the blog- commenting, emailing, questioning has all lead me to mould the business model to what they’re demanding, needing and requesting. We seem to have fallen into this wonderful place where brides literally pour their hearts out and talk to me in ten paragraph long emails during the planning of their weddings, something I treasure but also learn a lot from. My brides love to talk and tell me what they need! We also balance that with many vendors now reading and interacting with us.
6. How would you describe your community in 5 words?
Passionate, inspiring, intelligent, creative, innovative.
7. Best community-based story since launching the community?
My Brides Seeking posts always blow me away- we get so many email requests every day of wedding dresses or fabrics or where to get this or find that venue. So I group them into one post which everyone answers. The response we get is huge and allows a place for brides and vendors to connect with each other.
When a newlywed emails their wedding photos in saying they were inspired to do things different, to pick a fun coloured dress, add a special touch, do what they wanted because of Polka Dot Bride just helps me get up every day.
8. If there’s one lesson you’ve learned and would like to share?
Blogging is full to the brim of lessons! I think the biggest one I’ve learnt is to never underestimate the power of community. I don’t limit that to engaged couples that read the blog, but in the connections I’ve made with vendors, other bloggers (wedding or not) and generally the wider community. Connections have such an amazing power.
9. What will be big for you or the industry in 2011?
More of the traditional wedding media is moving online (I saw a lot of this in early 2010) and wedding websites in Australia are becoming more content driven with better design- there’s more flourishes, more thought put into aesthetics.
I think the wedding blogs in Australia will push forward; more will start up and really carve a niche for themselves.
As for Polka Dot Bride? We have great plans for really pushing out more unique and creative content. We’re also focusing on getting Ms Polka Dot’s Directory right- our readers have told us what they want in a directory and we’re going to make it happen!