Aug 2, 2017
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Interview with Dubai’s Star Blogger Rhiannon Downie

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I met Rhiannon at Arabian Travel Market 2017 ( ATM Dubai ) at the Blogger Speed Networking event,  22 days after my own wedding in Dubai. The reason I mentioned that is because Rhiannon is one of Dubai’s original wedding bloggers. She first came up with the idea behind brideclubme.com when she got engaged in April 2012, and found she had a barrage of unanswered questions and wanted inspiration and ideas at her own convenience. After researching the bridal media market in the UAE, Rhiannon saw a gap for a modern, stylish and interactive website and launched wwww.brideclubme.com. Almost five years later, Bride Club ME is now the region’s leading online wedding inspiration website and directory for brides and grooms in the UAE, and has since gone on to win the award for ‘Best Wedding Website In The UAE’.

Dubai Blogger Rhiannon Downie

Dubai Blogger Rhiannon Downie

Rhiannon’s background in print and online media spans 15 years, and encompasses some of the largest and most respected publishing houses in both the UK and UAE. She is also a professional industry speaker, industry business concultant and Founder of The Engage Academy, the first community of its kind in the UAE for wedding entrepreneurs, with the aim of facilitating networking within the growing UAE wedding industry and encouraging education and excellence.

She has contributed to various articles published by global entrepreneur websites, newspapers and wedding magazines, including The National, khaleej Times, Time Out Dubai, Good magazine, Asian Bride, 7 Days, Style Me Pretty and The Media Network and has been invited to speak at several high-profile wedding industry events across the UAE. Rhiannon is the official wedding ambassador/columnist for AQuarius Magazine and a member of the Emirates Wedding Planning Academy advisory board.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do

Interview with Dubai’s Star Blogger Rhiannon Downie

Rhiannon Downie

My name is Rhiannon (Rio), I’m a new mummy to baby kai (6 months-old) and the Founder of www.brideclubme.com, an award-winning wedding inspiration website based out of Dubai. I am also Director at Club Media FZE. In addition to running Bride Club ME, I consult for and mentor aspiring bloggers and wedding entrepreneurs.

How did you start blogging and how did you come up with the idea to start a wedding blog?

I started blogging to keep my family and friends abroad up to date with my wedding planning musings, over at expatbride.com. It wasn’t until I started to do research for my own wedding, that I noticed a distinct lack of wedding information online for engaged couples in the UAE. Rather than simply carry on with expat bride as a hobby, I decided to launch a professional media site and directory for the industry. So www.brideclubme.com was born five years ago, an online portal (with the personality and friendliness of a ‘blog’) dedicated to helping brides plan their big day. I initially launched the website in partnership with CPI Publishing and went it alone 1 year later.

What are your favourite wedding venues in the UAE

The question I am always asked, and always find hard to answer… There are just way too many to mention, but for arguments sake, I’d obviously have to put the Desert Palm Resort high up on my list, as this is where I got married.  I love outdoor venues personally, and am quite fond of one of Dubai’s classic hotels; The Park Hyatt Dubai. Dubai is home to some impressive ballrooms and beach venues too.

How many weddings have you attended in the UAE so far?

I have had the privilege of attending quite a few wedding events here in the UAE. Three weddings and two engagement parties to be precise. One was a vibrant Pakistani engagement at the Atlantis hotel, one was my best friends wedding at the stunning Park Hyatt, Abu Dhabi (I was bridesmaid) and lastly, I attend a mixed Arabic wedding at the Intercontinental, festival city. The engagement party was for a Syrian couple, one of who was my client. I’m looking forward to attending a good friend’s wedding next year in March at the Arabian Ranches Golf Club, she found the venue on www.brideclubme.com😊

Can one make a living out of blogging

Yes, absolutely, but it takes commitment, consistency, professionalism and hard work!

BCME is Dubai’s original wedding blog.

BCME is Dubai’s original wedding blog.

Honestly, how do you manage your expenses? Can you give me a practical day to day example of your costs involved?

Luckily, I have a husband who is better with numbers then I am, he manages our accounts/invoices and so on, and keeps me up to date with our PnL (Profit and loss). We use systems such as FreshBooks to keep track of accounts. My costs involve the cost of my websites hosting, paying my team members/freelancers, my annual trade license, visa, and IT related systems…I also have yearly costs when it comes to exhibiting at certain trade shows.

How easy it is to get married in the UAE?

Relatively easy, depending on where you are from and your religion. You can visit this feature for guidance.

How easily available is the information  about getting married in the  UAE?

With websites such as Bride Club ME, it is now readily available at the click of a finger. I honestly believe our website has also helped increase wedding Tourism to Dubai over the past five years.

What’s the best season to get married in the UAE?

The wedding season in the UAE runs from September/October – April, for obvious reasons; THE WEATHER!

Do you also offer wedding planning services or similar services?

Nope, I strictly run a digital media company. I do organise events, but these are events for the industry, such as networking events and workshops. I offer consultcuy services for wedding entrepreneurs and bloggers too, but you won’t find me planning a wedding any time soon 😊.

Do you feel burnt out by constant blogging? If Yes, then how do you deal with it? If No, then how do you go about it?

I did, but I implemented systems to help. I was doing almost everything myself for the first 2 years of my websites launch…the sales, the editorial, marketing, admin and so on…I was up all hours, working until 3am sometimes and rarely going out. I was on the edge of completely burning out and something had to give. My husband convinced me to hire freelancers. So, I started with a graphic design/admin assistant and then an assistant editor. I haven’t looked back; these ladies have allowed me to breath and focus on what I enjoy the most. They have also allowed me to enjoy my pregnancy and first few months of my baby’s life! I am now back into the work grind, having just hired a part time nanny, but I can now delegate and choose to fully concentrate on what I am good at!

Can you share Some hacks about getting married in the UAE,  which are generally not known by people?

Dragon Mart (near international city) is a brides and wedding planners dream! You can find everything there from wedding favour gift boxes, to parasols for your guests at an outdoor wedding.

What is your advice for those planning to get married in the UAE?

Visit www.brideclubme.com, use our vendor club to source vendors and read our articles for inspiration, tips and advice. Plan early and have a budget spread sheet, keep a small budget aside for unexpected surprises. Oh, and have a wet weather plan, if you plan on marrying outside. Even the UAE’s weather can be unpredictable.

What’s your advice for those aspiring travel bloggers who want to start blogging?

As well as writing about the wedding industry, I also write about and cover topics related to romantic travel and honeymoons. My advice to an aspiring travel blogger, would be to firstly assess if you can dedicate the time and energy it takes to run a successful blog. Look at your competition and see if there is space in the market for a new blog and then figure out what makes YOUR blog unique, what is your focus and who are your target audience? Are you passionate about eco travel or adventure travel for example? Do you just want to write about travel in and around the UAE? Don’t just start a travel blog because you think you will get free travel! There is no such thing as ‘free’, you will have to work for that 5* stay in a resort, you will have obligations and commitments. PR and marketing managers will expect ROI and coverage as a result and that takes work from the blogger. Too many people think that start a blog is simple, it is, but to create a popular and successful blog, you need a plan and to treat it as you would any business.

I would like to thank Rhiannon for taking time out of her busy schedule and sharing her knowledge and experience with us, I would like to wish her all the best for her upcoming blogging adventures and  hope she will keep on sharing her awesome stories with us in future. ~ Khawar J

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Khawar Jamil is the Founder and Chief Editor of Dubai Blog,Khawar is a UAE based Blogger and self made Internet entrepreneur with 5 years of experience in Internet Marketing and blogging . Read more about Khawar and our team Here!

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