Jessica Bishop is the woman behind The Budget Savvy Bride, a platform that's all about helping couples plan a wedding they love without breaking the bank. It started as a blog and now it's grown into a website, a podcast, and even a book!
In this conversation, Jess shares her journey from graphic design student to entrepreneurial success story. She opens up about the challenges and wins along the way, how living in different parts of the world has influenced her work, and the impact she's making in the wedding industry. Let's dive into the inspiring world of Jessica Bishop!
Can you tell us a bit about your background: where do you come from, what kind of family were you born in, what did you want to become when you were a child, what were you doing before being an entrepreneur?
My family moved around a bit when I was young, but eventually landed in Tennessee when I was 12, so that’s where I consider “home.” In my younger years I was always a creative at heart. I loved to dance, draw, and write– I was always an avid journaler and doodler and I wrote many poems and short stories. In high school I was really into art classes and eventually joined the yearbook staff where I realized my love for layout and design. I went on to pursue a graphic design degree in college and minored in journalism, both of which have served me well in my experience running an online publication!
What inspired you to start The Budget Savvy Bride? How has your motivation evolved over the years?
I started The Budget Savvy Bride immediately after getting engaged as a way to document my wedding planning journey. At the time, I had been working for a marketing company that produced bridal shows and local wedding magazines for several markets in the southern US.
I fell in love with the wedding space– it was such a fun industry to be in. But I soon realized how expensive throwing a wedding could be and realized that my budget wasn’t close to what was considered “average.” As a creative, I figured I could use my DIY skills and think outside the box to pull together a wedding I would be happy with on my limited budget. So I made that my mission and used the site to document my ideas and process along the way.
I soon realized how many other couples were in a similar mindset and over time I pivoted the site from a personal journal to a nationwide resource. My motivation now is to help as many couples as possible find ways to put together a beautiful wedding on whatever budget they can afford. We aim to remind couples about what truly matters about their wedding day so they don’t get swept up by the wedding industrial complex and overextend themselves financially for their celebration. Our hope is that it helps couples start their marriages off on solid financial footing by avoiding taking on debt to pay for their wedding.
How did you manage to stand out in the competitive wedding industry?
I think having such a strong focus on one particular niche of the space has served us well. We’ve always strived to make content accessible and available to as many folks as possible. And over the years, we’ve enhanced our content far beyond just blog posts. Our site now includes free printable resources, special deals from our brand partners, and filterable real wedding inspiration that actually gives a peek into what things cost and how other couples have done it on a budget.
While the rest of the industry suffered throughout the pandemic due to restrictions on large events, The Budget Savvy Bride was really poised to meet the needs of couples who were forced to pivot their plans. Our business has been growing year over year ever since. While many other platforms serve up pretty pictures for inspiration, we’ve always strived to serve our audience. By providing free, useful tools as well as helpful, practical advice, we’ve established ourselves as a trusted resource for brides to turn to (and return to) throughout their journey to the altar.
Can you share some of the biggest challenges you faced when starting and growing your business? How did you overcome them?
One of my biggest challenges has been investing in growth. Coming from a very frugal upbringing and mindset, getting over the fear of outsourcing and growing a team has been a huge challenge for me. I tried to do everything myself for far too long and it delayed the growth we could’ve achieved by building a team sooner! I’ve done lots of work on mindset through learning from coaches, books, and programs to help overcome the blocks I’ve struggled with.
What strategies have you used to grow your audience and reach more couples planning their weddings?
Writing great content and learning SEO has been huge in growing our audience. We hope to be able to answer any questions couples have when it comes to planning their weddings. Additionally, we’ve expanded our reach far beyond blog content. The Budget Savvy Bride is a multi-platform brand with a best-selling book, a podcast, and a presence on all major social media platforms to reach newly engaged couples wherever they are spending time! I regularly share my advice and tips with news outlets in print and radio, and occasional on-air segments as well.
What role does social media play in your business? Can you share some approaches that worked for you?
Social media is a great way to attract new audiences to our content. We aim to catch newly engaged couples via our content on social media to introduce them to all the wonderful resources we have for them on our website. The more recently engaged a couple is, the better! So we try to create content that speaks to those newly engaged folks to let them know that we can help them get started on the right foot so they can plan their big day the savvy way.
What's next for The Budget Savvy Bride? Can you share any upcoming projects or goals?
Our long-awaited vendor directory, The Savvy Wedding Guide, is launching very soon! It’s the last piece of the wedding planning puzzle that we’ve had in mind to serve our audience. Our goal is to provide wedding vendors with an affordable platform to market their services, while providing engaged couples with a roster of fabulous service providers to bring their wedding vision to life. It’s bringing together both sides of the aisle and will help both vendors and couples save time, money, and stress!
Question from the community: How long did you contemplate starting your e-commerce platform before you finally took the plunge? Can you share what the defining moment was that pushed you to go for it?
We waited far too long to start selling products to our audience! After the success of my book, The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer, we decided to test out selling some other info products that have driven incremental revenue for the business. For our primary audience of consumers, engaged couples, we’ve got an e-book about travel hacking and a wedding budget spreadsheet that have both been great additions to our offerings. Our vendor directory will be our first offering we’ve made to a B2B audience, so we’re excited for the launch and to help vendors gain more avenues for visibility and discoverability to our engaged audience!
Question from the community: What has been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur?
Hearing from couples who’ve found value in our content and felt supported along the way is absolutely the most rewarding part of what I do. I’ll never forget the messages I’ve received from people who’ve reached out to let me know how much my book, the blog, or podcast has helped them in their journey to the aisle. It’s amazing to know you’re making a difference and an impact. I’ve also really enjoyed supporting amazing charity partners, such as VOW for Girls, an organization that aims to end child marriage worldwide. It’s really rewarding to know that our business is supporting their efforts to empower girls to live a life on their own terms. Giving back is something that I want to do more of as we continue to grow.
Can you talk about your experience as an expat entrepreneur? How has living abroad influenced your business?
It’s been a bit of a wild ride, and can be a little chaotic at times with travel and changing time zones, but seeing the world has opened up my eyes to so much. Living abroad reminds me to take time to savor and enjoy life and all the unique experiences it can bring.
Travel has made me more open minded and introduced me to inspiring people I would never have met otherwise. It’s also allowed me to work with people from other parts of the world and learn new perspectives. I’m really grateful to have the opportunity and flexibility to do my work from anywhere.
As an entrepreneur, what are some key learnings you've gained from your journey that you can share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t wait to start outsourcing or to build a team. Document everything and develop systems so you can easily train someone to do the things you find tedious. Use the time you’ve freed up for yourself to focus on things you can do to grow the business or create new revenue streams. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Diversity of revenue streams is key. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. With our online business, we’ve currently got six different streams of revenue that make up our income. Display advertising, affiliate revenue, sponsored content, podcast sponsorship, book royalties, digital product sales, and soon we’ll be adding our seventh with sales from our vendor directory. We have several other ideas for additional streams to pursue in the future, as well.
The only way you fail is if you quit. We’ve ridden the waves of Google updates, changing social media algorithms, new competitors and platforms, but yet we’re still here! I believe in the mission of what we’re doing and I truly want to help people– it’s what keeps me going. I could’ve quit or sold the site a dozen times over the last fifteen years but at the end of the day, it’s what I love to do and what I’m passionate about. Sometimes the best thing you can do is keep your head down, ignore what everyone else is doing, and just keep swimming! It’s always gotten me through to the other side of any storm.
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