Recently I have been getting quite a few emails from people who either want to start a beauty blog or recently started one and are asking me for some tips.
As weird as it is for me to believe, I am considered a veteran now since I have been blogging three years next month! Time flies.
I actually wrote a two-part series on this very topic back in 2009 here and here, but I’ve learned quite a bit since then so I figured it was time for an update. Also that post is extremely detailed and assumes you don’t necessarily even have a blog name yet.
Why start a beauty blog?
This is probably the very first question you should ask yourself. Why are you starting this type of blog? Is it because you love makeup? Is it because you are bored and want a hobby? Do you love writing? Are you looking for free products? Do you want recognition from companies and cool invites to events?
The very best reason to start a beauty blog in my opinion is because you LOVE beauty/makeup and want to create something. I started this site because I love makeup, love writing and wanted a hobby I would stick with.
The worst reason to start one is for free products or some kind of recognition. More on that later…
How do I get people to come to my site?
Post! A lot! No really, posting frequently and consistently is definitely one of the keys to getting people to come back over and over.
Commenting on other people’s blogs is another good way to get noticed, but it’s a tricky one. You don’t want to just randomly go to blogs and leave generic comments just to get noticed. Only visit blogs you would normally be reading even if you weren’t blogging yourself, and leave comments that actually mean something. In other words not just “Nice” or “Cool post”. Try to add value to the post and you might even get a conversation going. Meaningless link dropping will definitely get you noticed, but not for the right reasons, and I frequently will trash those types of comments if they are left on my blog.
Twitter is KEY in growing your blog. KEY!! Basically if you are a blogger you have to have a Twitter account these days. Twitter has been at the #5 or 6 spot in my Google Analytics for how people find me for well over a year now. Twitter is also a great and fun way to “meet” other beauty bloggers and get in contact with companies and PR people.
Writing a guest posts for other blogs can be a great way to get some blogging experience as well as get you noticed. I did a few posts for a large beauty blog a few years ago and that definitely helped me gain readers. But again, don’t just offer to write for just anyone, chose a blog you love and pitch a topic to them that fits in with what they normally blog about.
How can I get companies and PR people to send me review samples?
I mentioned above that you don’t ever want to start your blog with the sole purpose of getting free samples. It’s very obvious when people are only blogging for free products and believe me, companies and PR folks can spot this behavior a mile away. It just doesn’t work that way.
You have to work hard for a long time to establish yourself get to know people via Twitter/Facebook/Commenting on other people’s sites before you can begin to think of PR samples. I think a good rule of thumb is you should be blogging at least 9-12 months before approaching anyone for samples, and be prepared to show your site analytics.
There is no set in stone rule about what companies are looking for when they send samples, so that can be tricky. Some look for your actual website statistics like Google Analytics to see how many people visit your site. Some want to see how many people follow you on Twitter and/or Facebook. Some are interested in seeing how many people comment on your site. Some won’t ever tell you what they are looking for or respond back to you. Annoying perhaps, but that’s the reality.
Something else to keep in mind is companies won’t always contact you, sometimes you need to take it into your own hands and contact them. I would say at least 50% of the companies I work with I contacted first. But I waited until I was more established and had a few posts I could show them before I would reach out.
A really good way to ensure you won’t get samples sent to you is to complain about not getting samples in a public forum like Twitter. You have to remember to stay professional if you want to work with professional companies. Also remember when you complain about a particular company publicly, all the other companies who follow you will see that and trust me, they will take note and get turned off. There are plenty of bloggers who act in a professional manner that they would rather give samples to!
I will admit though that it’s harder than ever to get the attention of companies, even for more established blogs. There are SO many beauty and nail bloggers out there now. You have to stand out, do something that makes you different from every other blog yet still always be yourself.
A harsh fact is a lot of this world revolves around who you know. It isn’t always about who works the hardest, or writes the best posts, takes the best photos or whatever. It can be really disheartening and frustrating, but you have to just move on and keep your chin up!
One way to start meeting these people though is to attend blogging conventions and events such as Blogher, Cosmoprof, IMATS and the like. That way at least you are getting out there and possibly meeting the PR people and those who work at various companies you are interested in working with.
When you work your butt off and are serious about what you do it will show and things will eventually fall into place.
What about all the technical stuff, what do I need to know?
Part of blogging is always growing and learning new things. When I look back on posts from my first year of blogging I cannot believe how much I have improved! Especially the photos, I did NOT know what I was doing back then!
I took a bunch of classes in things I was interested in like Photoshop and Illustrator but also read a ton of books about photography and blogging and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) when I started.
You don’t have to have a super expensive DSLR camera to take great photos, but it definitely won’t hurt. The most important things are learning about lighting and how to take macro shots if you’re doing up close product photos. I have a lot to learn still, but have improved even from 6 months ago.
I use a Canon Rebel T1i for my photos usually with the Canon 58mm Close-up Lens. For product shots and swatches (non-nail) I use a tabletop photo studio and some fairly inexpensive umbrella lights. For nail shots I do them indoors with a flash. I used to take them outside in the sun but found that was more work and way too unreliable.
How time intensive is beauty blogging?
It all depends on why you are doing it, how often you post and what types of posts you are doing.
For me this is pretty much my life outside of my 4 day work-week. I spend a good 25-30 hours per week on my site and that’s on top of working 32 hours a week in a normal job. I could easily do this full time if I wasn’t working also. This is what I want to do for a living and I am determined to somehow make it work! Keep in mind though that I post 2-3 posts per day during the week and then usually 2 on the weekend, so your schedule might not be that crazy.
But if that’s not your thing, then that’s totally cool also. It can be as much or as little as you want, but the more you post, usually the more followers you will have.
How do you handle other people’s successes when you seem to be getting nowhere?
This is definitely an issue we can ALL relate to, I don’t care how large or small your blog is. At some point in time the green eyed monster will raise its ugly head at someone else’s success.
Every now and then you will hear about other people getting press or a really cool opportunity and think, “Man, why didn’t I get asked to do that?” It can sting. Been there done that a million times.
I try my best to look at it objectively though. They weren’t rejecting ME they were accepting THEM. It’s not personal. Frequently those whose names you hear about the most who have the most readers will get the better opportunities. It’s the way it works pretty much everywhere in the world, not just in beauty blogging. And that comes back to the whole “It’s who you know” thing, which there isn’t much we can do about.
What I do when this happens to me is wallow in it for a short period of time, maybe commiserate with a friend then move on. The best thing you can do is keep your nose to the grindstone and keep on posting.
There is a reason my motto, which can be seen all over my house and various items I own, is Keep Calm and Carry On. 🙂
Why do I keep blogging?
When I started blogging back on September 7th, 2008, it was kind of a test for me. Part of the reason I started was because I was bored to DEATH in my daily administrative job (still am) which allows for zero creativity. Also, I had been searching for years for a hobby that I actually would fall in love with and stick with. I tried everything from jewelry making to scrapbooking to creating models, to World of Warcraft, etc. Some of these didn’t even last past me buying the stuff to start the project!
So when I started this blog I wondered seriously how long it would last. But it kept lasting and lasting and I didn’t seem to tire of it. After a good 6 months of doing it I kind of knew that this wasn’t just a hobby anymore, it was something I really enjoyed and now needed to do to add some fun and creativity into my life.
There have been moments where I have been frustrated with something or totally overwhelmed because I try to keep up with people who actually blog for a living and I think, “Ok I’m done.” But that feeling goes away usually after a couple minutes to a day, then I get back on the horse and push on.
Now I blog because A. I love it B. I want to do this for a living and C. I love interacting with people all over the world!
Thanks to all of you who have visited my site and gotten some useful information out of it, or chuckled at something I wrote. It wouldn’t be the same if I had no readers. You are what keeps it interesting and fun!