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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wedding Blogs & Photographers – Do They Go Together?

This of course depends on what the question means. Many wedding photographers will use a blog for exposure, and for sharing tips and other articles. But that’s not what we mean when we say “Wedding Blog”.

In this case, it’s a blog for a bride and groom to allow their friends and family to keep up with their wedding plans. Lots of couples do this today. Some use free wedding websites, some use free blogs, and some might even be lucky enough to have a Wedding Planner who provides such a service.
But a photographer who provides a free wedding blog is probably going to be a pretty rare occurrence. Mostly because, well photographers are photographers and not usually web designers.
sampleweddingheaderminimaWith the world of free blogs out there just waiting to be created (see the end of the article for a list of free blog spaces) a small home-based wedding photography business can easily opt to provide a free wedding blog for their clients. Keep in mind, in these articles we are dealing with very small “on the side” businesses and lower-budget weddings and if the only difference between the couple choosing your business over the closest competitor’s business is the fact that you’ve got the ability to offer them a wedding blog set-up, then for some of you, it might make sense to delve into this.
In fact the only thing it should cost you is the time to set it up, and if you handle your wedding blog service right, it won’t take much of that.
Two free blog services that make this an easy proposition are Blogger.com and Wordpress.com. Since blogger allows you to edit the html and CSS and create custom blog templates, it would probably get my vote over the free wordpress blogs. Wordpress has some nice options and functions, but you are limited in how much change you can make and have no access to make template changes.
Another benefit to blogger is that you can pretty much use any template that was designed for blogger, and if you run a search for “free wedding templates for blogger” you can find quite a lot of nice templates all ready to upload, such as this ivory wedding template.
Initially, creating your first basic blog layout and setup designed primarily for weddings is going to take you some time – depending on how much editing you want to do, it could take you from half an hour to a couple of days, but once you’ve got a site design that you like, that will be the basic set up for every free blog you set up. You simply will change the image designs for the header, and the blog names whenever you set up a new free blog for a couple. That should take you anywhere from a few minutes to 20  minutes.
Below is a sample site I set up in about half an hour (the picture will take you to the site to see the page set ups)
sampleweddingblog
There are a couple of ways you can set this up – either all under one umbrella using a single account you create specifically for that purpose or setting up a separate account for each couple.
A blogger account for instance would allow you to set up hundreds of blogs in one place. For each individual blog, you can determine who has access to edit that blog, and you send the couple an “invitation” to author the blog. Once they accept, they become an admin or author, depending on how you set it up. They only have access to the blog they receive the invitation for, not for any of the other blogs under your umbrella. This method would make it simple for you to keep track of the one’s you’ve set up, and allows you to create multiple blogs in advance, simply changing the names at a later date when a blog is assigned to a couple.
The other method is simply to open a gmail account (free) for the couple – in this case we’ll use John and Jane. So the gmail account you open might be johnandjaneswedding @ gmail . com. Then you can open a blogger account using that email, and set up a blog using the template design you created. Then you turn the email address and password, along with the log in information over to the couple, who carries it on from there.
Both Blogger and Wordpress offer the opportunity for the couple to purchase a domain name, and point that at their free blog, so if the couple decides to buy the domain name john and janes wedding . com, the free blog can easily be converted to their domain with a minimum of fuss.
Creating a blog on blogger using an blogger account created for the couple also gives them access to Picasa Web Albums. All the images uploaded to the blog are stored there. This means that you could place additional wedding-related images – your own selection of “stock images” you create for this purpose, thereby giving your couple options to change images or add other images to their blog. Picasa also provides free slideshows, easily inserted into the blog.
In either case, one of the things you will require are simple instructions on how to edit the blogs and log into their accounts. This is something you can do either by writing your own simple instructions, or giving the couple the address of Blogger’s help center. My own inclination would be write instructions that even a non-web person could follow and keep photocopies to hand out.
Once you have turned the blog over to the couple, your responsibility for it should end. From there on out, the couple maintains the blog on their own – blogger is very easy to learn, which much help available, so even “newbies” to web blogging shouldn’t have any problem using it.
Some things to keep in mind – the couple may already have started their own blog or website, or might want something more than a blog. In that case you can keep a list of free wedding websites to point them to, instead. And of course, this makes it much simpler for you.
To be prepared for this, simply keep a list of wedding websites that offer both a free website, and/or the ability to update to a premium website. There are many such sites available as you can see by this list, which took me less than five minutes to find:
Momentville
Wedding Space
Big Day Page
Our Bride Space
Wedding Project
If you do weddings as a sideline to supplement your income, and you are a photographer who deals often with couples whose budget is very limited, this might be an option that is worth thinking about.

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