Today I have Part II of my series How To Start a Nail Polish Blog. If you haven’t yet read Part I, visit it here first!
You now have your blog name, and have decided which platform to go with. It’s time to pick a template and start blogging! Here are some things that are very important to remember.
Picking a template
- It doesn’t have to be super fancy or be filled with images. In fact one of the first things they say in any book about graphic design (which I am reading about now) is that less is more. Many people think that all the white space on the screen needs to be packed with colors or something to look at. In fact that’s totally the opposite of what you should do. You should have a lot of white space, and keep it clean and clutter-free. Try and think of these words when deciding on a design: clean, open, welcoming, fresh and unique.
- It’s my personal opinion that too much color or girly swirls (or cats) all over the place don’t look professional, and can be really distracting. Maybe think of 3 or 4 colors that work well together and use that as your palette.
- I’m personally not a fan of the three column format (two column is fairly standard), it’s too cluttered looking. Another thing to remember is try not to pick a background color that clashes with the font color. Some people find it really hard to read white font on a black background (myself included). Red and bright fonts can also be hard on the eyes. Try and choose a font style that is easy to read. You don’t want to use any “decorative” fonts (dripping blood for instance) or cursive or bold block letters because most people cannot read for long with those.
- The number one MOST important tip is…make sure you use correct spelling and grammar on every single thing you write! I’m not just saying this because I have a college degree in English, and am totally anal. 🙂 I am saying this because I don’t know anyone that takes any website seriously if it has more than one or two errors from time to time. We all make mistakes, I am sure I have made them on this site. But seriously, this is really important! Use spell check! If grammar is not your strong suit, ask a friend or family member to proof it before you post it.
- If you are going to be swatching, which I assume you will be, you need good photos! This is just as important as the spelling, in my view. The expectation from readers when they go to your website will be that they will see nice, clear pictures of the polish before they buy it to decide whether they like it or not. If you are taking pictures with a cell phone, that’s not gonna cut it. My iPhone takes really good pics, but not macro shots of polish. When I started I wasn’t using the best camera, and my pictures quite frankly sucked! When I look back I am horrified that I posted them. Now I use a Canon SD 990 IS Digital ELPH camera with Optimal Image Stabilizer technology and 14.7 mega pixels. This camera takes amazing macro shots, which is what I use for all my polish pics.
- Watermarks. Don’t do them. I did them at first, but then realized that I hated them, and they took away from the photos. I understand a lot of people use them because those eBay thieves LOVE stealing pics and using them on their site. Unless you put the watermark directly over your hand/nails (which looks terrible), they will take them anyway. My pictures are taken from Google and used on eBay almost on a weekly basis. I just email the person, tell them to either remove them ASAP or they will be reported to eBay or link back, and they always respond. It’s just the nature of the biz.
- There are benefits and drawbacks of both indoor and outdoor photo taking of nail polish. I do mine outdoors as much as possible because I feel that natural sunlight shows the color best, and certainly shows shimmery or glittery polishes better. Also I live in a fairly warm climate, so I don’t need to worry about snow or freezing temperatures. Another reason I don’t take photos indoors is because I live in a cave. Ok not really, but my house is very dark, and I get hardly any natural light coming in. I have tried light boxes and lighting systems, but so far haven’t been able to get any pictures to come out halfway decent. I think if I slapped down some major cash for better equipment, it would work out. I might be doing that in the near future.
Hot tipSomething that a fellow blogger told me that helped her a lot was to actually sit down, and read the manual that came with her camera. Many people don’t do that, and they never really understand all the features on the camera, which can GREATLY help (or harm) how your pictures turn out. I did that and it really did help. I still think I need to re-read it again though, I have so much to learn still!
Time and money commitment
- I never realized the huge time commitment this blog would be when I started! I wanted a hobby, but this has pretty much taken over my life outside of work. For me, that’s fine. I had always just assumed that I would just snap a few photos, post them, write something up, and be done. Noooooo, that’s not how it works! I spend each and every weekend swatching or getting posts ready. I spend a HUGE amount of time on my computer or iPhone doing things related to my site.Â When thinking about the time commitment, realize that you might have to learn a little about photography and writing. You will have to swatch everything, which can be REALLY time consuming, and not so much fun. You have to download and edit the photos, which might mean you need to learn Photoshop or some other software. You have to upload and name the photos. You have to write the blog post and insert all the photos into the post. You have to edit the post. Then once it’s posted you have to monitor the comments, and respond to people. Depending on how often you post, you might have to do this daily or more!
- As you might have already guessed you might need to pony up some moolah and invest in a better camera or lighting equipment. I have bought countless blog related items since I started including: camera, computer, computer software, light boxes (2) and lights, books, etc. Oh and I also paid a company to design my new website. Ca-ching!
- Don’t forget you will also need to buy your nail polish, remover, cotton balls and other nail related accessories! That’s another expense that can really add up. As you probably know, I do get most of the polish on my site sent to me gratis by the polish companies or PR agencies for review. This didn’t start happening until I had been blogging for about 4-6 months though, and you definitely cannot count on that happening.
- Depending on where you want to go with your site, you might want to take some classes like Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML, CSS or photography classes (I have taken classes in almost all of these).
Before I started blogging, and even now, I read a ton of books and websites related to my site. Here are the best of the best.
- Problogger website & book
- Blogging for Dummies book
- The IT Girls’ Guide to Blogging with Moxie book
- Photoshop CS4 The Missing Manual book
- Illustrator CS4 WOW! book
- The Non-Designers Design Book
- The Grammar Devotional book
- Digital Photography Tips website
- Search Engine Optimization for Dummies book
I really hope that you find this post helpful and not too “preachy’. Remember these are only my opinions, not the written law! Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts you want to add.