Offbeat Bride Tribe burndown: why we're tearing it down to make it better

By on Nov 24th

tribe burndown

Last week I mentioned that one of the many projects we're undertaking before the end of 2014 is what we're calling "The Offbeat Bride Tribe Burndown." It sounds scary, because it is a big deal — but it's actually not as bad as it sounds, I promise.

If you don't want to read this post, here's all you really need to know:

  • The Tribe will be completely offline from December 15-December 30
  • The main Offbeat Bride blog will remain online
  • During that time, my developer Kellbot will export ALL DATA (member info, journal posts, comments, forum posts, checklist data, etc etc), wipe the slate clean, build a complete fresh install of our tools, and then import all member data. Nothing should be lost.
  • When the Tribe comes back online, it'll have a new look, but all members posts should be right where they were before.

For those of you who want way more information, keep reading!

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Retreat done, now entering serious heads-down mode

By on Nov 17th
From left to right: Chris Wolfgang (Offbeat Bride Assistant Editor), Caroline Diezyn (Copyeditor/Assistant Editor and Offbeat Bride Tribe Community Manager), Kelly Maguire (Lead Developer), Me (founder), Megan Finely (Managing Editor, Associate Publisher)

From left to right: Chris Wolfgang (Offbeat Bride Assistant Editor), Caroline Diezyn (Copyeditor and Offbeat Bride Tribe Community Manager), Kelly Maguire (Lead Developer), Me (founder), Megan Finley (Managing Editor, Associate Publisher)

As those of you who have been barraged by photos on Offbeat Bride's Instagram know, the Offbeat Empire staff retreat in Maui was a raging success. We swam under waterfalls, made staffer soup in hot tubs, forgot to wear pants, and watched both sunsets and enormous waves. We also worked:

Working in the carbana

…but not that much. And not enough considering how much work is underway in these parts. For some, November/December is basically just a series of slack-off weeks connecting holiday weekends. Certainly, for the wedding industry, it's the quietest time of the year. It's not just taint week — for the wedding industry, November and December are taint season. Nothing in the wedding world really happens until January. Know what that means? That the Offbeat Empire is going to be working its ass off in preparation over the next six weeks. Here are the projects we're all heads-down on:

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BRB: Currently at Offbeat Empire staff retreat in Maui

By on Nov 3rd

outside8

Look, you guys: I know that it seems like it would be all WHEE FUN working for the Offbeat Empire, but the truth is this: I'm a demanding boss who doesn't pay enough and basically leans on all my "part time" staff to be available full-time. I'm terrible at training and too chatty on Slack. My editorial standards are stupidly high (six revisions on a 400-word post about shower curtains, seriously?!), and I'm a total hypocrite ("So, you shouldn't start all these sentences with transitives. And you should also watch for fragments. But don't remind me that you totally learned your style from me.").

This is all to say, while working for the Empire might seem it's all sunshine and rainbows and octopodes, trust me when I say that my staff really truly deserves the annual staff retreats I've been doing since 2011. And we're doing one this week.

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Comparing traffic from social media sources… wow, Twitter

By on Oct 30th

twitter offbeat bride

I started out my morning today reading this article: To Be Blunt, a Lot of Your Social-Media Marketing is Getting You Nowhere. It includes this key line: "Let's say, for sake of example, you are a bank. Does it really make sense for you to keep on pinning?"

I have a pretty good anecdotal idea of how Offbeat Bride's social media channels perform, but this article prompted me to do a quick audit to see if I could confirm my suspicions that despite 18k followers, Twitter doesn't really do much for us. Pulling the numbers not only confirmed that, but blew my mind:

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Announcing our new ad platform for native-sold ads: DARTH VENDOR

By on Oct 17th

darth-vendor

Since 2007, I've used a tool called OIO Publisher to sell all the native ad placement on all the Offbeat Empire sites. "Native ads" are the ads that we sell directly to businesses, as opposed to third-party ad platforms like Google AdSense, where we're just delivering ads that Google has sold. Native ads include stuff like vendor listings, sponsored posts, social media campaigns, and the non-gross banner ads in the sidebars.

OIO Publisher has done its job decently, but the code behind the tool has always been a bit finicky, and for the last five years I've basically been waiting for it to break. Every time we update WordPress, my developer and I would hold our breath waiting to see if OIO will still work. Keep in mind, this is the tool that processes at least half the Offbeat Empire's revenue! It breaking would be horrifying.

This fall I decided to just bite the bullet and invest the money in having a developer code a custom ad platform tool catered to the Offbeat Empire's needs. Conveniently, my lead developer Kellbot happens to be married to a developer (who happens to be one of the cofounders of Etsy)… so I hired Chris to code the new tool from scratch.

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An interview about the evolution of Offbeat Bride's brand

By on Oct 8th

inclusivity kindness

I got an interview request recently from a woman named Claire Hawkes. She’s the Social Media Manager / Keeper of the Shire at WeddingMix, but she’s also majoring in Advertising/Public Relations at Loyola University in Chicago. She asked if she could interview me for her senior thesis, and I said sure. With her permission, I thought I’d share the interview here.


After reading through The Business of Offbeat Bride white paper, I was especially excited to get your thoughts on brand strategy and catering to your readership.

Cool! That white paper was written in January of 2008, so while it accurately represents my early strategy, a lot has changed since then — both in terms of my business, and in terms of online content as an industry.

I read that you originally envisioned Offbeat Bride would attract non-traditional brides searching the web (in addition to your book readers). After so much audience growth, how do you define and segment your current target reader(s)?

My strategies have definitely shifted over the years. My initial target readership was super weird people planning super weird weddings. I assumed that if they were using the web to plan, they’d be pretty nerdy, like me.

It became clear within a year that the majority of my readership was not actually all that weird, nor were they especially tech savvy. The majority were brides planning what initially appeared to be relatively traditional weddings, looking for creative and unique ideas to make the weddings feel personal. Despite the fact that many of these folks didn’t define themselves as especially non-traditional, they were attracted to the tolerance, supportiveness, positivity, and thoughtfulness of Offbeat Bride’s brand values.

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Meet the Offbeat Empire's new Vendor Relations Manager, Tiffany!

By on Oct 1st

meet tiffany

Ooh, it's always so exciting when I get to introduce a new Offbeat Empire staffer.

For the past year and a half, my editor Catherine Clark (who I call Superman) has been doing sales for the Empire, while also still producing posts for Offbeat Bride. Catherine is shifting her focus back to editorial and project management work, and so I'm bringing on a new Vendor Relations Manager… meet Tiffany! That's her over up there with the red hair.

Some of you may remember Tiffany from her fabulous Offbeat Home & Life post about her hairless cat smelling like potatoes, but here's more about her:

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In-image ads on Offbeat Home & Life

By on Sep 29th

gumgum

Normally the business side of running the Offbeat Empire blogs lives, well, here on the Offbeat Empire's behind-the-scenes blog. But today on Offbeat Home & Life, Megan did a post about her and my joint decision to add in-image ads to the site. It felt important to do over there, since it's something we anticipated the reader community would have LOTS of opinions about.

First, I want to give Megan major snaps for the way she walks the line on that post — she framed it as good cop/bad cop, and at first I was like, "Omg, you're being really negative about this!" and then I got to this part:

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