This Former Teacher Sold Her Online Business for Six Figures and Now Advises Others Looking To Exit

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This Former Teacher Sold Her Online Business for Six Figures

When Maggie Lord was planning her wedding in 2008, she struggled to find information and inspiration online specifically for rustic-style weddings. While printed magazines included some helpful articles and photos, very little was available online at the time (before Pinterest and Instagram).

Although she had no previous experience with online business, Maggie decided to launch Rustic Wedding Chic, a website dedicated to this sub-niche. Over the next twelve years, she grew her audience to reach millions of visitors every month before selling the website to David’s Bridal for a six-figure sum.

Teacher Turned Entrepreneur

Maggie was working full-time as a middle school teacher and finishing her master’s degree in the spring of 2008 when she started Rustic Wedding Chic. She continued to teach part-time while building the business until 2010 when she left her teaching job to focus on the business.

Needing photos and stories from real-world weddings to feature on the site, Maggie initially reached out to wedding photographers and wedding planners to get permission to use their photos to inspire brides and couples in their planning.

“Within a short time, our readership was very healthy, so we had photographers and planners submit their real weddings directly to us,” Maggie said. “In addition to having submissions, we used a few platforms that allowed wedding professionals to submit their work to be considered for publication.”

Early on, the site’s traffic came mostly from organic Google searches, Facebook, and links from a few brands and wedding professionals who directed visitors to Rustic Wedding Chic for inspiration.

Rustic Wedding Chic website

Growing Rustic Wedding Chic

There’s no doubt that Maggie benefited from being the first to start a website specifically for rustic weddings. “At the time that we launched, there were only a handful of other wedding inspiration sites in the business,” she said, “and we were the only ones in the rustic niche.”

Maggie decided to keep a tight focus rather than expanding the site and covering weddings of all types. “We worked very hard to stay in our niche and not try to take over the more general wedding space,” she said. This decision enabled her to establish a strong and recognizable brand image and become the go-to source.

After gaining initial traction, visual social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram entered the scene, and Maggie knew she needed to capitalize on the opportunity. Over the years, Maggie grew Rustic Wedding Chic’s audience mainly through a combination of search engine optimization (SEO), Pinterest, and Instagram. Maggie pointed out that becoming an early adopter of Pinterest allowed Rustic Wedding Chic to grow a very large following that significantly contributed to the site’s growth.

Maggie wrote all of the content herself, publishing 10 articles per week from 2008 to 2020. “Rustic Wedding Chic had several revenue streams,” Maggie said, “including advertising options and branded content for brands, a directory for wedding professionals [included 5,000+ vendors], a strong affiliate program, a book publishing deal, and a licensing contract for the product.”

Although Maggie ran the business and created all of the content, she had a team of four contractors who helped with social media, ad sales, the vendor directory, and technology.

The Exit

“Over the years, several companies approached me with potential acquisition offers,” Maggie said, “but the timing or fit never seemed quite right. However, in early 2019, I began actively strategizing and identifying the ideal fit for Rustic Wedding Chic’s acquisition.”

Maggie gained attention outside of the wedding niche when she began writing for Entrepreneur Magazine about growing a business while raising kids. This exposure led to advisory and consulting work from others who wanted Maggie’s insight.

Aside from the growing demand for her consulting services, Maggie said the decision to sell was also influenced by Rustic Wedding Chic’s growth. She knew the business had grown to the point that it needed more resources than she was able and willing to dedicate to it, so selling seemed like the best option.

Once Maggie decided to pursue a sale, she hired an advisor. Maggie also reached out to the CEO of David’s Bridal in early 2020 to see if there might be a fit for a potential acquisition. “I had worked with their social media team a few times on some small content,” she said, “but before reaching out, I didn’t know anyone at the executive level.”

Maggie’s proactive approach paid off, as David’s Bridal announced the acquisition of Rustic Wedding Chic in October 2020. The site particularly appealed to David’s Bridal because they wanted to use it to help with new planning tools they were developing. As the leading source for rustic wedding inspiration, the site was an incredibly valuable resource to aid in the planning process.

After the acquisition, Maggie stayed on as David’s Bridal’s VP of Partnerships until 2022 and then as Head of Wedding Planning until 2023.

Helping Other Entrepreneurs

Today, Maggie is a strategic advisor and business coach to startups and businesses, predominantly those founded by women. She helps clients with developing an entrepreneurial mindset, strategic vision, marketing and branding, public relations, and mergers and acquisitions.

“Much of the time, I found myself navigating the business landscape solo,” Maggie said, “making crucial decisions without the support of a complete C-suite team at Rustic Wedding Chic. Now, in my advisory role, I have the opportunity to rectify this issue by providing guidance and assistance to founders and brands as they progress and expand, ensuring they have the support they need to thrive.”

Maggie’s top piece of advice for those looking to sell a website or business is to invest time in identifying the brands and businesses that would gain the most by acquiring your business. “Once you have this information,” she says, “you can tailor a compelling narrative highlighting how the acquisition would benefit them, as well as how they or their customers stand to gain from the deal in the long run.”

One common mistake that Maggie sees from entrepreneurs looking to sell their businesses is the assumption that potential acquirers will automatically recognize the benefits of the acquisition. “It’s essential to explicitly outline the reasons and mechanisms through which the acquiring company would benefit from integrating your brand,” she said. “I frequently collaborate with my clients to address this challenge, emphasizing the importance of articulating the rationale behind the acquisition.”

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