This week’ “Friendor Friday” is all about Anna Coats- the wedding blogger extraordinaire of Marry Me Tampa Bay!
How did you get into blogging?
I’ve been writing for almost 20 years. I was my high school’s sports editor and even had my own advice column “Ask Anna.” My degree is in print journalism, and I was previously a reporter for the U.S. Army and a newspaper in upstate New York. Though, after transitioning out journalism and into marketing, I missed writing and looked for a creative outlet, which led to the creation of Marry Me Tampa Bay.
What attracted you to the wedding industry?
After intensely planning my 2011 St. Pete wedding, which was featured on USAToday.com, I didn’t want to let go of the wedding world. As a bride, I frequented national wedding blogs, but noticed that there wasn’t an outlet for local wedding planning inspiration. I realized that need and created Marry Me Tampa Bay fewer than two months after my wedding.
What are some sites or blogs you visit frequently for inspiration?
I’m very lucky to be a member of a wedding blogger group that includes some of the biggest names in the wedding blogosphere, so a lot of my insight comes from them. However, my biggest source of wedding inspiration comes from seeing what my preferred vendors (like Andi Diamond Photography) posts on social media, because they are sharing what’s relevant to our area.
What do you think is the main thing that entices people to read blog posts?
In this era, brides and grooms plan their weddings online. They want relevant information to their personal wedding style and the plethora of wedding blogs allow them to discover what complements their personalities. When it comes to Marry Me Tampa Bay readers, couples want to see what’s available locally. That’s the great thing about a local blog, if you fall in love with a wedding on the site, you contact those exact vendors; you’re not hiring someone to attempt to copy another company’s work.
What response do you get from your posts and how do you monitor your success?
I love featuring weddings, because everyone involved is so excited and proud to be published: the couple, their family and all the vendors involved. Readership is extremely important to any media outlet, whether it be in print or online, so Google Analytics is my best friend. This year, Marry Me Tampa Bay has seen amazing growth! In 2014, we reached almost 100,000 users and this year alone we’ve already reached almost 40,000 readers, which is over a 50% increase compared to this time last year.
What do you look for in wedding submissions? Do you have any tips for photographers who would like to be featured on MMTB?
The number one criteria is that the wedding be in the Tampa Bay/Sarasota area. From there I focus on details uniqueness and picture quality. No matter how much a couple spends on decor, if they don’t hire a professional wedding photographer, those elements won’t be properly captured. To be featured on Marry Me Tampa Bay, photographers need to select weddings that stand out from the norm. This doesn’t mean that only expensive weddings are featured, but that the decor and theme aren’t your typical white table linens with chair covers and bows and “flowers submerged in water” centerpieces.
What is your favorite current wedding trend
It’s refreshing that brides and grooms are going away from feeling that they need to choose a particular theme. Sometimes this can result in a dated or matchy-matchy look. Now, they are combining elements that are complementary, but that don’t necessarily have a direct relationship.
A trend you wish brides would leave behind?
Chair covers with bows.
Bes advice for brides? Or wedding tips?
Hire professional wedding vendors. The last thing you want is be putting out fires the day of your wedding. Professionals know how to make your day smooth and worry-free and how to handle situations that are less than ideal, without you even knowing that there was a problem. Don’t skimp on your photography budget. Sure anyone can take pictures, but only a handful of professional wedding photographers can capture those moments that truly make your day special.
Will there be any expansion for MMTB in the future? Some new cities?
Funny you should ask! Marry Me Orlando is in the infant stages, as well a few other cities in the Sunshine State! Just last month we hired a contributing writer and launched blogging management services for other wedding professionals who need help setting up and maintaining their own blogs. Blogs are no longer an extra, they are a necessity for vendors who want to grow their businesses.
Any advice for wedding/event bloggers hoping to grow their own blogs?
Post regularly! If you want readers to return, then you need to keep it up-to-date. Don’t be that website whose last blog post was six months ago. Also, make sure what you’re posting has value to your readers. If they find your content helpful, they’ll recommend it others and share on social media.
Most rewarding aspect of having MMTB?
I love that I play a part in one of the biggest and happiest days of couples’ lives. Whether it’s featuring their wedding on the blog, assisting with the vendor search or being an inspirational resource, my work has shaped couples’ wedding days.
Tell us a little about yourself! What do you like to do for fun?
I love to travel. I’ve visited close to 20 countries. Most recently, I attended mass by Pope Francis at the Vatican. I’m also passionate about natural and organic food. Maybe I should start a blog for foodies who travel the world searching for wedding hot spots. 🙂
When you aren’t blogging, what do you normally do?
I live in downtown Tampa and love strolling the new Riverwalk! My guilty pleasure is Bravo reality tv. I’m a housewives superfan and have met half of the cast of original Real Housewives of New Jersey.
We’ve been lucky to have some of our beautiful Tampa weddings published on MMTB! To see their full articles, click below!