Never stop promoting. Your launch isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning! Your book is your baby, you have to nurture it and help it grow long after it’s birth into the world. Make sure you’re keeping yourself out there and continuing to mention and promote your book on your own social media and website. Pitch yourself and leverage your book into other opportunities to extend your reach and expertise to new audiences. You are your own best promotional tool, so use that book you worked so hard on to create even bigger and better opportunities for yourself.
As a part of our series about “How You Can Grow Your Business or Brand By Writing A Book”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Bishop.
Jessica Bishop is a notable wedding expert with a top-selling wedding planning book who grew her brand from a passionate bride-to-be into an authority figure on how to plan a wedding on a budget. Jessica is the creator of The Budget Savvy Bride, the #1 online resource to help couples plan a meaningful and beautiful wedding on a budget they can actually afford. The site reaches millions of users each year who come to get advice, inspiration, and resources to help them plan their weddings the savvy way.
Jessica has worked in various roles within the wedding industry over the last 20 years– from a wedding cake bakery, event catering service, wedding coordination, day-of setup and styling, to assisting wedding photographers and even launching her own wedding invitation business. She’s seen the wedding day from nearly every possible angle and has written extensively about weddings since launching The Budget Savvy Bride in 2008, as well as spending 2 years as the resident weddings expert for About.com’s The Spruce.
Jessica has shared her money-saving tips and tricks with outlets such as Good Morning America, BRIDES, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Yahoo! and more. Jessica’s first book, The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer is a best-seller with over 150,000 copies sold.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what motivated you to become an expert in the particular area that you are writing about?
My first job out of college was working for a marketing company that produced regional wedding magazines and bridal shows for several markets in the South. During my time there, I became completely immersed in the wedding world and came to love how fun and positive the industry is. When I eventually got engaged and started planning my own wedding, I quickly realized how few resources were out there to help couples plan a beautiful wedding on an affordable budget.
As a bride on a budget myself, I decided to document my own process and collect creative ideas, tips, and tricks along the way to pay it forward to future couples. This is how TheBudgetSavvyBride.com was born! Along the way, I received great feedback and appreciation from readers who came across my writing. The idea of helping others navigate this sometimes confusing and overwhelming process is what motivated me to keep going.
Over the next few years, I took on various freelance gigs within the wedding industry so I’ve truly seen weddings from nearly every angle! From assisting wedding planners and day-of coordinators with setup, styling, and event management on the wedding day to serving guests as part of the event catering staff, to working as a wedding photographer’s assistant– I’ve just about done it all. I even had my own wedding invitation business for a while– but where my passion truly lies is creating resources to help as many couples as possible get through the wedding planning process in a simple and savvy way.
By sharing practical tips, personal advice, free printable wedding templates, and approachable inspiration, The Budget Savvy Bride educates, equips, and empowers couples to plan a wedding they are proud of and that truly represents their values.
Can you share a pivotal story that shaped the course of your career?
During my engagement, not long after starting the blog, I was laid off from my job. It felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath me as I was already in a tight spot financially with saving for our wedding. I worried that we would be forced to postpone or scale back our plans in order to avoid debt.
Instead, I was encouraged by a friend and fellow creative to take what I was building with the blog and turn it into a business. She helped me see the potential in my passion project, and her belief and encouragement in me changed the course of my career as I know it! I saw that creativity and passion could turn into profit and that I didn’t have to work for someone else or worry about getting the rug pulled out from under me ever again.
I started freelancing and building the blog on the side, dedicating nights and weekends to writing new content. In the end, I was able to not only contribute towards our wedding funds but also laid the foundation for the business I have today.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Are you working on any new writing projects?
The Budget Savvy Bride has grown tremendously over the last 13 years. We’ve expanded far beyond just written content, to providing free printable wedding stationery and offering exclusive deals on items couples need for their wedding day.
We’re currently preparing to launch our wedding vendor directory, which will allow couples to search wedding and event service providers in their local area. We also launched our official podcast in December of 2020 called The Bouquet Toss, to have conversations about wedding traditions and trends to help couples decide what’s most important to them so they can plan a meaningful wedding that reflects their values.
As far as writing, I’m currently working on the manuscript for my 2nd book — I hope to be able to share more details about that soon!
Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you please tell us a bit about your book? Can you please share a specific passage or story that illustrates the main theme of your book?
Absolutely– my book, The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer is my proudest achievement. It’s part wedding planning workbook, part how-to guide, and helps couples through the entire wedding planning process. With step-by-step instructions, money-saving tips, and interactive worksheets and exercises, the book helps couples decide what’s most important to them so they can plan a wedding that reflects their values and personalities.
The reception of the book has been so exciting– selling over 150,000 copies since its release and receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews. The book even reached #1 of all the wedding books on Amazon and peaked at #129 out of all titles on the site. I’ve been truly humbled by the success of the book, and I think it speaks to how needed the information was!
The appreciation and feedback I’ve received from brides has been so humbling and makes me so happy. Readers often share photos of the book on their Instagram accounts and we regularly receive DMs from brides saying thanks for writing such a helpful book. Hearing that something I created has really made a difference in someone’s life is the most fulfilling part. The book encourages couples to do things their own way, helps them clarify their values and priorities, and puts their wedding plans into context of greater financial and life goals when setting their budget. I’m grateful to aid in even a small way in opening up the dialogue on these important conversations that couples are having prior to tying the knot!
“STAY TRUE TO YOU. Take unsolicited advice and others’ opinions with a grain of salt. Remember, this is your day. You want it to be a true reflection of both of you, so feel free to block out the noise if necessary. “ from Chapter 1: Your Wedding Vision
You are a successful author and thought leader. Which three character traits do you feel were most instrumental to your success when launching your book? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Intention. From the moment I sat down to write my book, I set intentions for the impact I wanted to have on my future readers. I sat down and journaled about the feelings I wanted to invoke, the messages I wanted to relay, and the key points I hoped they would take away from the book. Being very intentional with both the messaging and marketing aspects were key to the book’s success!
- Dedication. When I was given the opportunity to write this book, I was asked to do so under a very grueling timeline. I had to be dedicated and focused in order to deliver the manuscript in a very rapid fashion. I wrote the entire book in just six weeks! Luckily, this is a subject I’d been immersed in for a decade at the time of writing so everything really flowed. I set dedicated writing hours for myself and stuck to a schedule to get things completed in time. Having a detailed outline helped to break my writing sessions down into chunks. My editors actually told me it was one of the most thorough manuscripts they’d ever received and that as a result, editing was a breeze.
- Empathy. Because I’d been in the shoes of my target audience and reader, I intimately understand her struggles, worries, doubts and fears. I wrote my book in a way to be of encouragement and support to my reader, and to help her through the wedding planning journey with heart, empathy, and optimism. I wanted to offer solutions to her challenges and supportive words of encouragement to guide her along the way.
In my work, I have found that writing a book can be a great way to grow a brand. Can you share some stories or examples from your own experience about how you helped your own business or brand grow by writing a book? What was the “before and after picture?” What were things like before, and how did things change after the book?
At the time my book was released, I’d been running The Budget Savvy Bride for 10 years. I had reached a level that gave me a personal feeling of success. I was able to support myself and run the business with some part time help. I was already writing regularly for my own site, in addition to serving as the resident wedding expert for a prominent lifestyle website. I received a few exciting opportunities over the years, but I wasn’t quite “out there” in the bigger way I hoped to be. After the book came out, it opened so many more doors for me.
Now, I’m frequently asked to give insight and expert quotes for articles and media segments about wedding planning. I’ve built my reputation as an expert in the wedding field and am now starting to speak at industry conferences, as well as to audiences of currently planning brides. I was even invited to appear on Good Morning America where I shared my savvy wedding tips with the nation– a true “pinch me!” moment. Becoming a published author with one of the most successful books on wedding planning has given me more credibility and raised awareness of my business and brand.
From a business perspective, the website has also grown in authority and reach. We’ve been able to build an engaged (pun intended) community of couples who are currently planning their big day. The increased visibility has allowed us to work with larger brands on more in-depth campaigns, helping to introduce couples to solutions and products that suit their needs for their wedding day. I’ve also been able to add to my team which has been so rewarding and exciting to take on. Over the last 13 years, we’ve focused on organic, natural, sustainable growth efforts and I’m so grateful for the ways that publishing my book has contributed to the expansion of the brand and business. I can’t wait to see how my career continues to unfold and the ways in which the business will evolve and grow moving forward!
If a friend came to you and said “I’m considering writing a book but I’m on the fence if it is worth the effort and expense” what would you answer? Can you explain how writing a book in particular, and thought leadership in general, can create lucrative opportunities and help a business or brand grow?
Publishing a book will open doors you may have never thought of for yourself. It gives you instant credibility and authority in a subject, and people truly will take you more seriously.
So many people have said to me how impressed they are that I’m a published author and how they wish they could write a book. I was among those people for a period of 10 years– always thinking about how I “wished” I could do it and waiting for the right opportunity to come to me. I believe that everything happened the way it was meant to, and I’m glad that I had a decade or more of experience in my field before I wrote my book. But I could have written my own permission slip much sooner than that!
The great thing is that thanks to the abundance of options online for self-publication and promotion, you don’t have to wait to be recognized or invited to write a book if that’s on your heart or part of your mission. You can begin anytime, all you need is gumption and belief in yourself– truly anything is possible.
Being a published author can be leveraged into so many other lucrative opportunities, depending on what your interests are! From public speaking to launching your own courses, podcasts, and more– there are many ways to extend your reach and your revenue streams after publishing a book. The book isn’t always the end goal– it can truly be just the beginning!
What are the things that you wish you knew about promoting a book before you started? What did you learn the hard way? Can you share some stories about that which other aspiring writers can learn from?
I wish I’d known how much I would have to do myself. Promoting my book really came down to me– I was my own best spokesperson. Networking with others in my field and asking for help in sharing my book was a great way to extend the reach.
I was overwhelmed by the response and support from family, friends, and colleagues. Your network is your biggest asset, so don’t be scared to ask for help. My community was thrilled to support and share my book for me, and it was a huge blessing during the launch period.
It’s not a one time marketing push– promoting your book takes evergreen efforts! Your book is your calling card and you should make effort to share it loud and proud, often and repeatedly, far and wide! You constantly have the opportunity to introduce new people to your work. Especially if your content topic is evergreen– you have no reason not to have regular marketing, outreach, PR, etc as part of your promotional plans.
The things I wish I’d invested more in would be active outreach or PR, and also potentially some additional public speaking or media training. If your book topic is newsworthy, you could leverage it for media appearances and you’ll want to feel confident and prepared if a big opportunity arises!
Based on your experience, which promotional elements would you recommend to an author to cover on their own and when would you recommend engaging an expert?
If you are self publishing or are in charge of your own book marketing, developing a launch strategy is definitely essential. My publisher gave me an outline of their recommendations, but I did much of the heavy lifting. With my online marketing background I was able to put together most of the promotional assets myself. I also relied heavily on my own contacts within the industry and media to network and get the word out. I assembled a launch team of my colleagues and armed them with marketing collateral as well as copies of the book for giveaways to generate buzz prior to its debut.
If marketing and design are not in your wheelhouse, getting a good designer or marketing consultant could be instrumental in the success of your book launch. It truly depends on your skill level and workload– but it never hurts to get expert assistance to aid in your success.
Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things an author needs to know to successfully promote and market a book?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Know Your Reader Intimately and Write Specifically to Them! When I wrote my book, The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer, there wasn’t a book out there that really spoke to couples who were working on a budget, or that featured the types of exercises and worksheets that we created to help them organize their thoughts and plans. Knowing the needs, challenges, and pain points of your reader helps you to write exactly what they are looking for.
- Start early. Let your audience know about your book as soon as you sign that deal or decide to start writing. Getting your community behind you will help build hype and assemble a team of ambassadors for your book when it debuts. You can even encourage them to place pre-orders when it’s listed on the major book sites to build buzz ahead of the launch. You can also use the time prior to launch to get your marketing plan and assets together.
- Assemble a great launch team. In order to spread the word effectively, it’s really helpful to get your network behind you. Survey your community, peers, and colleagues to find people who are willing to help you spread the word. You can offer them advance reader copies, copies of the book to host giveaways with their own audiences or communities, and ask for their support in announcing the book during launch week and beyond. You should also consider finding credible experts in your industry to read and endorse your book, or even to quote inside your book. Being quoted in your book would make someone even more excited to share and promote it for you. Don’t be afraid to ask your community for connections to press or media– they may just get you invited on-air!
- Create a Book Press Pack. Put together a shareable folder full of details, images, headshots, etc. for you to send to press, media, or colleagues to promote your book. You might have a list of the top subjects or topics you’re able to speak on if you’re looking to be invited for on-air appearances or interviews. Use the press pack to pitch to podcasters, TV, magazines, newspapers, bloggers, etc. Fill it with all the info and assets they would need to easily include your book in their content and you’ll practically be doing their job for them!
- Never stop promoting. Your launch isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning! Your book is your baby, you have to nurture it and help it grow long after it’s birth into the world. Make sure you’re keeping yourself out there and continuing to mention and promote your book on your own social media and website. Pitch yourself and leverage your book into other opportunities to extend your reach and expertise to new audiences. You are your own best promotional tool, so use that book you worked so hard on to create even bigger and better opportunities for yourself.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
How much time do you have? I’ve got a major business lady crushes on so many female founders and creatives.
From Sara Blakely of Spanx to Cindy Eckert of Addyi, Sarah Potempa of Beachwaver, Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble, Lisa Sugar of Popsugar, Brit Morin from Brit + Co, Lauren Conrad, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling… I could truly go on and on.
I am forever inspired and empowered by seeing what other savvy women are able to accomplish in business and creative fields.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can find more of my work at TheBudgetSavvyBride.com and also on The Bouquet Toss Podcast! We also have lots of great, beautiful inspirational content on Instagram @budgetsavvybride. You can find my book The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Target, and other places books are sold!
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success with your book promotion and growing your brand.