A peek behind the offbeat curtain

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the new offbeat hqI've gotten a few emails asking about the nitty gritty of Offbeat Bride, and how things are run behind the offbeat curtain, as it were. If this kind of thing is interesting to you, read on!

The Offbeat Empire (as I lovingly call it) is my full-time job, and I gotta say that after a decade of corporate servitude for companies like Microsoft and Amazon, it's fucking awesome to self-employed. I love finally having the time to focus on my own schemes instead of scheming for someone else. The Empire at this point includes Offbeat Bride and Offbeat Mama, and will hopefully expand to include Offbeat Home later this fall.

One of the joys/pains of being self-employed is that you get to wear a LOT of hats, and mine include:

  • Editor In Chief (All post ideas come through me, and I review and approve all content that appears on the sites)
  • Director of Ad Sales (The Empire exists thanks to advertising from offbeat businesses, and I spent a lot of time coordinating with amazing photographers, dressmakers, designers, and jewelers to help them introduce their stuff to y'all)
  • VP of Business Development (I'm constantly scheming new partnerships. I'm working on one now to try to bring y'all the vendor listings you've been asking for.)
  • Chief Marketing Officer (since I spent over a decade working in corporate marketing, so this one is second nature)
  • Web Usability Strategist (How can I get more people to explore the archives? What platform should the OBT be built on? Why don't people grab the correct URLs when they link posts? How can I fix it?)
  • Customer Service/IT (You should see the emails I get from people who can't find the search box)
  • Online Community Manager (Facebook, Twitter, OBT, Flickr, etc)
  • Etc x 500

As the flagship of the Empire, Offbeat Bride actually has a team of four of us working on the site. Y'all are familiar with Megan and Shrie who help me on the editorial side of things. But then there's my long-suffering webdev, an enigma in Virginia named J.M. Dodd. When it comes down to the nitty gritty of this website's code and keeping it actually functioning, J.M. Dodd pretty much has the keys to the whole shebang. She's sort of like the CTO of the Empire. Without the Dodd, there would be no Offbeat Bride.

In terms of editorial work, Megan's job as managing editor involves producing the bulk of the posts on the site. She and I scheme content (vegan week! geek week!) and each week she pulls Real Wedding Profiles and puts guestposts together and writes a couple posts of her own. Shrie pitches us with her hottest DIY projects and guestposts, produces a DIY post each week, and also has her ear to the ground for links and wedding newsy bits to broadcast via Facebook and Twitter. I review all the posts, and also try to crank out at least a couple myself each week, too.

As for Offbeat Mama, it's just me at this point — with lots of help from a few regular contributors and guestposters. Eventually I'm hoping it'll grow to be like Offbeat Bride, where advertising funds can make it feasible to have a managing editor … but it's not there yet, so I produce all the guestposts over there myself.

The Empire is definitely virtual. Although Shrie and I are both in Seattle, since Megan is in LA and J.M. Dodd is in Virginia, pretty much all offbeat communication happens via IM and email, with Basecamp for the larger projects. Side note: Aargh talking on the phone is hard for me. My most awkward Offbeat moments involve the rare potential advertiser who asks to actually TALK on the PHONE.

Anyway, things are super exciting with the Offbeat Empire these days. Tons of growth and development are happening here behind the curtain. Here are a few of the things in the works:

  • We'll be rolling out a complete redesign in a couple weeks. The site was originally designed in 2006 to be a little blog promoting a book. It's since become something much bigger than that, and we outgrew the current design at least a year ago. I'm beyond excited about the new look. I think you guys are going to love it!
  • Offbeat Store is going to be launching in a month or so. I'm pretty emphatic in my encouragement that y'all go indie and custom with your wedding purchases, but I recognize that not everyone shares that vision, so I'm building an online catalog of my favorite offbeat wedding shtuff. Sort of like my shoe posts, but with dresses, rings, cake toppers, etc.
  • Bringing the OBT home. I launched the OBT on Ning.com in 2007 as a way to experiment with the platform. It hasn't ever quite worked the way I hoped it would, and there's a lot of confusion around what's the OBT and what's OBB. Well, I think I'm finally going to solve the confusion by moving the OBT off of Ning and bringing it home to offbeatbride.com sometime this summer. This is a HUGE undertaking and there will be some major casualties, but ultimately it's going to make things much better.

Have I mentioned lately what an honor it is to do all this for y'all? It's really just a wonderful thing, and I'm so appreciative of all of you who've helped to make the Offbeat Empire a reality. Through my work on this site, I've met so many inspiring, asskicking, thoughtful, independent amazing people … and I know it's supposedly my job to produce the inspiration, but y'all are a massive inspiration to me every day. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Comments on A peek behind the offbeat curtain

  1. And THANKS to everyone for reading it and supporting us. I love contributing and hope to contribute even more in the future. YAY OBBers!

  2. I'd love to talk cross promotion with COMICS! We have a couple who created an AWESOME comic for us over at Girlamatic.com who are very off beat brides, and they had a rockin' wedding that's right up your alley! I'd love to share my creators' comics with your readers or do some commissioned comic work for your site and ours!
    being self employed totally rules! Thanks for sharing with us! Anytime you wanna chat possibilities, drop me a line!

  3. This site kicks ass. It's helped me get back in touch with my *pseudo* sanity. Ha. And … if you ever need a (pro bono?) copy editor, I'd be more than happy to offer my services. Just sayin' …

    Keep up the awesomeness.

  4. Ariel, first let me say that without OBB and OBT I would be seriously lost. Before I found you all I had was various so NOT me wedding sites to reference. I was getting so bummed that I totally didn't even want to plan anything. When I found your book late last year at the store it was the beginning of such a wonderful journey that every day I want to write you an email and say "THANK YOU". You made me feel "normal" for wanting to put Beetlejuice & Elvira on my cake, and for designing everything in the vintage/classic horror movie theme. I can not say thank you enough, really! I am really looking forward to your design changes on OBB but I must admit I'm a bit worried about the changes you are planning for OBT. I trust you though! I really do look forward to continuing the journey with the Empire no matter where you take it!

  5. As a new OBB-to-be, I would like to say a huge thank you… I traveled home last week to KY to scout locations for the big day and started to read your book to my mom in the car as we rode around. Well, she couldn't get enough of it. Every time I'd take a break she asked me to go on to the next chapter! It sparked many many fun and meaningful conversations and made it clear that we are all on the same page (oh my, no pun intended, seriously!) 🙂 I could go on and on….
    So – a very heartfelt thank you. Your Empire here is making a very real difference in our (my fiance and moi) approach to putting together the day we want… I hope to share our story in a year!

  6. I'm so looking forward to being my own boss, this desk-jockey bit has gotten old. This site has been SUCH a life saver for me. When I announced my engagement I was inundated with so much bridal crap that wasn't me. Even many searches hit dead ends rather quickly because anything with "wedding" in it brought up all kinds of foo-foo princess stuff and well, that's just not me!
    I just wish I'da thought of it first =0P

  7. I, too, despise talking on the phone. This is literally the hardest thing for me and whenever the phone rings at work, I cringe. Which is, like, ten times per hour.

  8. you are amazing. period. full stop.
    i love that in the midst of all this day to day stuff you do every day you even find time to post video posts answering questions while comforting your baby.

  9. Keep up this awesome site. Can't wait for the redesign. Show all of those bureaucratic bosses of old whats what by continuing to put on this awesome site while keeping it fresh and down to earth. More power to you, you're doing a great job.

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