Miss Polka Dot, as she calls herself, was working in the wedding industry when she sat down one Sunday afternoon to start a blog, posting bits and pieces she loved which she came across in her day job. “I’ve always been passionate about weddings, because essentially they’re just a really big party around two people’s love and all that corny stuff.” As the then sole Australian wedding blogger, she attracted readers fast, drawn in by her cutesy pseudonym and mysterious anonymity.
“I wanted to write from the heart without any fear or favour towards any wedding business,” she explains, “and then it turned into a branding exercise. People identify with Miss Polka Dot.” Anonymity has kept her grounded, she says. “I’m not out in the industry going to glitzy nights and fancy events. I’ve just got brides and vendors talking to me.”
It wasn’t long before requests from advertisers started to come in, and she started off charging $10 a month. “I was really scared about asking for money and renewals. I took it very personally.” A good friend took her aside and told her she really ought to start running it as a business. But nothing had really changed for Dot, who was still sitting at home writing in her Ugg boots.
With the launch of an advertising directory and an advertising-friendly redesign, Polka Dot Bride kicked into business mode two years ago. It now has a waiting list for advertisers. “We’ve been very lucky, but we’re still very much bootstrapped, a little start-up that runs a very tight ship.” Dot’s private consulting work sustained her financially in the beginning, but wound back gradually. “Polka Dot Bride took over my life!”
Dot continues to innovate on the commercial front, encouraging advertisers to be assertive. “The industry has taught advertisers to just pay the money and be passive, but we encourage them to post on the blog and engage with our readers.” Despite attracting 121,000 visitors a month, Dot says she struggles to get recognised by PRs on the same level as a magazine.
When a bride sends through her wedding photos and points out the places where Polka Dot Bride has helped her, it’s all worth it, Dot says. “Unless someone buys me out for five million dollars, I want to keep doing what we do: inspiring unique, heartfelt weddings with soul.”