Getting StartedWhen it comes to getting published by a wedding blog or publication, often times you have no idea where to start or why you should even consider it. An important first step is understanding why getting published can benefit your wedding business. Getting published creates more leads, as 95% of engaged couples use real weddings on blogs and websites to plan their wedding, which increases your exposure to potential clients. There is a huge demand for real weddings or wedding inspiration from those planning their special day. Getting published creates brand awareness for your business and gives you credibility as one of the industry's best. Published features have link backs to your business' website, which positively contributes to your SEO strategy and by increasing your chances of being seen by more prospects. When it comes down to it, more leads + more demand + increased brand awareness + industry credibility = more potential revenue for your business. (Plus couples love seeing their wedding featured!)
How to Shoot for Publication
Shooting for publication is a term that gets thrown out a lot when talking about blog submissions, but what does it mean? The images your clients love may not be what ends up catching the eye of editors. They are looking for details, a variety of poses, wide shots, venue shots, and vendor connections. Think about shooting your photography from start to finish in order to tell a story, capturing all of the details that are important to the personalization of the wedding. Wedding features serve as inspiration for other couples who are planning their special day, so make sure you put yourself in their shoes when choosing the right images to include. And what are those key images? Download our Wedding Shot List to find out.
How to Find the Right PublicationFinding the right publication for your work is key to your submission success. For starters do some research on the publication's website and social media channels. This will allow you to get a better idea what type of photography they feature and whether they would be a good fit for your work both compositionally and stylistically. It's also a good time to evaluate your priorities: are you hoping to get published as often as possible, or are you looking to be published only by exclusives a few times a year? By assessing this upfront you will be better prepared for the submission process. On Two Bright Lights, we created the Publication Matching Tool which allows you to tag your albums with descriptive tags that convey the style and characteristics of the album. On the publisher side, editors input the descriptive tags that best represent their publication and the type of work they like to feature. From there an algorithm helps recommend publishers that your photography best fits that you should submit to when you go through the submission process on site.
Creating a Submission
Now that you have completed some shoots and done your research, it's time to sit down and create your submission. Below we will walk through some general guidelines and some specific shoot guidelines. We also recommend that you take a look at our Do's and Dont's of getting published, as some good rules of thumb.
- Images should be high resolution, non-watermarked images
- Images should be a minimum of 2000 pixels wide: Some editors request other sizes, but 2000 pixels ensures that the images are large enough for the editor to size down to what they need
- Albums should be a minimum of 100 pictures for wedding submissions and at least 75 for portrait and lifestyle submissions.
- Include a completed album story with relevant details about the event, subjects and location
- Carefully curate and vary your images – enough so that editors can get a sense of the style, character, and perspective of the shoot
- Ensure to tag of all vendors that were involved in the shoot – it is important that everyone receives credit for their work
Specific Shoot Guidelines
- Include a section of the album story dedicated to how the couple met as well as other event details
- Include detailed shots that highlight what makes this wedding unique
- Offer a variety of shots ranging from the couple, to the venue, to the smallest of details – the more variety the better it will be for the editor.
- Avoid too many pictures of wedding guests. Editors want to see the experience of the wedding, not those who experienced it.
- Include a section of the album story dedicated to how the couple met
- Showcase flattering, natural poses that express the couple’s love for one another
- Think out of the box for engagement shoots – You want your images to stand out: include unique, inspiring settings or that feature creative details
- Include the inspiration behind the shoot in the album story
- Showcase a variety of shots in your submission
- Put a great emphasis on the details, you want your styled shoot to stand out and to not look overly "styled"
- Highlight the distinctive, personalized nursery or setting
- Take images of mom, dad and siblings
- Showcase natural, flattering poses that reflect the beauty of a growing family
- Highlight your creativity: whether it’s an unusual setting, stylish outfits, or a themed session
- Submit natural poses that reflect the the subject’s personality
- Include a section of the album story dedicated to the subject and why this shoot is important to them
How Publication Types Affect Submissions
Now that you have the guidelines for creating a submission, it's time to consider the types of publications that you will encounter and how they can affect your submissions.
Print vs. Online
Print and Online publications are inherently different, however a key difference when submitting your work is that both operate on different timelines. Online publications can vary in response time from editors when accepting your publication as well as the time it takes to publish your work. Online can work on shorter timelines and your submission could be accepted and published in a matter of weeks or it could take a few months if that editor has many other features in the queue. Print typically works a season ahead or a few months out. Much that will be printed will need to be reviewed, sent to a printer, etc. Essentially there is more work that goes into the overall finalized print product. This means that it wouldn't be unusual to go a few months before hearing if your submissions has been accepted for a print feature.
Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive
Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive can also affect the publishing timeline. By definition an Exclusive means that your specific submission can only be featured by the publication that is featuring it. Non-Exclusive means that you can submit to that publication, as well as any other Non-Exclusives that peak your interest. If you were to submit to an Exclusive publication, it may be a few months depending upon whether they are Print or Online, as well as the publication's exclusivity period, which you have to wait once the feature has gone live to submit this photography to any other publication.
How to Capture An Editor's Attention
While much of the submission process you'll experience from the submitter side, it is important to understand what editors are looking for to better grab their attention and communicate with them. First off, editors love to look at your work and often times create Requests for specific submissions. Keep an eye on these requests to see if your photography is a perfect fit as a key opportunity to get published. From a workload point of view, editors are often working on many things at once. A digital editor could be responsible for the publication's social media content, strategy, influencer partnerships, etc. on top of their editorial duties. Understanding that editors have their hands in other tasks outside of publishing will allow you to sympathize with their work balance. With this in mind, this may be the reason why sometimes editors do not respond immediately to your inquiries.
When it comes to getting an editor's attention, many of them want a submission with photography showing a complete story. If you are submitting a wedding, editors want to see the venue before guests arrive, the bride, the groom, the wedding party, the ceremony, small details, and few of the after party and guests. Doing your research beforehand on the types of photography and content the publication features will also help you to create a submission that the editor will love.
What Happens After SubmittingYou've created your albums and submitted for publication—now what? Sometimes you will quickly hear back from editors and sometimes it could be a few months. It can all depend on the publication type and exclusivity of the publication (refer to How Publication Types Affect Submissions for more). During this downtime continue to research publications that you would like to submit to and be featured in, develop unique styled shoots, and consider what upcoming shoots and weddings you have that could be great candidates for publication.
The Waiting Game: From Submission to Publication
So it's been a few weeks and you've heard nothing. And because you put a lot of work into your submission you start to worry that the editor didn't receive it or didn't like it or utlimately, you assume the worse. But why does it take so long for editors to respond to submissions? Fear not, sometimes being accepted for publication takes time. There could be a number of reasons why you haven't heard back about your submission.
- Editors take the submission review process quite seriously. Each publication can receive hundreds of submissions per month, and each submission needs to be carefully reviewed. This can take a great deal of time, which contributes to the response and acceptance period for the submission.
- Their editorial calendar requires a fair amount of curation. Often times the publication cannot immediately review your submission. They may love your work, but it may not fit with their current editorial calendar.
- Reviewing print submissions can take time. A print publication may only be published once every six months, meaning that the editor will be reviewing submissions only a few times a year.
- They need a variety of content for their varying editorial needs. Publications feature events and shoots in a variety of colors, styles, locations, and more. They have to make sure that what is going into their editorial calendar is balanced amongst these factors.
- Deadlines can be set far in advance. Many publications work with long lead times. Editors often put out feelers for submissions with certain themes in the early stages, but aren't able to narrow them down until the submission deadline has passed and they can review everything at once.
- Editors can be stretched for time and resources. Many publishers are small business owners, with even smaller teams. To make sure they have time to thoughtfully review submissions, they schedule it into their workflows by setting aside time once or twice a week or month to review their submissions.
Marketing your Wedding BusinessOnce you've been published, it's time to celebrate! Don't let these features fall to the wayside; use them to effectively market your business, garner new leads, and gain credibility for your work in the wedding industry. First off, email your clients to let them know their features is live. This will encourage them to share with their friends and family, exposing your work to more prospects right from your happy clients. Next, you should share your features on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are our recommended social outlets) to show your followers your beautiful work! You should also contact the vendors that worked on this shoot so that they may use it on their social pages and feel that their hard work was recognized as well. Keep in mind that the more that you are published and featured, the more you will have link-backs to your personal business site when the publication credits you. This inturn will positively impact your SEO ranking, making it so your business and services are more likely to come up as a top search result when users search for keywords tied to your services. Overall, getting published and partaking in the suggested steps above will increase your business' visibility, meaning you will likely be seen by more prospects online, you will gain credibility in the industry which may lead to in-person speaking events, potential collaborations, media opportunties, as well as builds relationships with editors & publications.
Download Our Wedding Shot List
Are you going to be participating in an upcoming wedding and unsure what images need to be included in your submission in order to get that wedding published in the future? Look no further than our recommended shot list.
Download Two Bright Lights' wedding shot list here!