Every week, the same two questions show up in my inbox without fail.
“Hai, what camera do you use?”
“I want to start a beauty blog, do you have any tips?”
In answer to the first question… I own the greatest camera on earth. I press a button and it makes all my photos look amaze. I don’t even need to look through the viewfinder ‘cos it auto-poses, auto-focuses, auto-corrects and auto-applies my makeup for me. It costs £548993 and is available to purchase 1 day a year. On leap years. When there’s a full moon. Not really.
How about the second question?
I’ve been blogging for longer than I’d like to admit with varying degrees of ‘success’. And by ‘success’ I mean ‘audience’ seeing as that seems to be an acceptable standard by which one should grade themselves as a blogger.
Of course that’s not how it works in reality… I’ve written blogs that have had next to NO readers and adored the bones of the templates they sit in. My last blog was a photography blog that fizzled out in late 2008. I didn’t lose my love for photography… nor my love for blogging. I just lost my love for blogging ABOUT photography.
I’ve never professed to be a beauty expert or insider. When blogs get bashed in the media for being written by unknowing, uneducated bedroom dwellers, I’m often the first to nod my head in agreement. I muddle through a world of brands, PR, bloggers and beauty writers in the best way I know how… full of naivety as to how things work, faux pas aplenty and a good healthy dose of “shit, I probably shouldn’t have said that”.
I may not know my subject as well as an industry expert but I do know blogging and I know that blog readers love blogs for a variety of different reasons. One being precisely because many bloggers aren’t experts, we’re a community who simply devour any beauty info we can lay our hands on for the sheer pleasure of it. And as quaint as it may sound… we’re kinda in it together.
I turn up to press events hoping that I look the part of the nonchalant attendee, like I’ve just finished sipping cocktails with Natasha Fosterly-Smith on the roof terrace of Hotel d’Swankyville, when in reality I’m hiding a Big Mac wrapper in the side pocket of my H&M handbag. Why do I feel the need to act in a certain way? To establish credibility in a world that considers my world a very un-credible place of course!
But talking of credibility, don’t get hung up on it. With all these industry blog awards flying about (duck, here comes another one…), it’s really easy to get caught up in the excitement and ‘glamour’ of it all. There is no glamour, be equally flattered by the compliments awarded by your blogging peers and readers.
Here are my tips on better blogging… now, if only I took my own advice…
1). To write about what you love with any kind of sustainability, I firmly believe that you shouldn’t change who you are to please people around you. You may be entering new worlds and dealing with new and wonderful people who can help bring content and exciting times to your blog… but ultimately (in the blogging world at least), one needs to find their voice and stay true to it.
2). You need to dedicate time to it. A lot of time. It’s kinda true what they say about bedroom bloggers/cave dwellers… when my daughter goes to bed, I dedicate anything from 60-90% of my spare time to blogging. Whether that be writing, replying to emails, reading other blogs or just thinking about what I want to write next… I go to sleep thinking about blogging and often wake up doing the same.
3). You don’t need to publish multiple posts a day. Some of my favourite bloggers post a few times a week and the anticipation of their next installment is tantalizing! You do need to be consistent though.
4). All bloggers experience burn out. From posting too much, thinking too much, analysing whether their posts are any good or not. There’s only one thing you can do in this situation. Take a step back. This gives you time to re-evaluate, re-position the importance of blogging in your life and hopefully re-discover your love for blogging.
5). Do you have to be a great writer to be a great blogger? NO! That’s one of the things I love most about the medium. You can simply post photos, create FOTDs, forecast trends, get scoops on the latest and greatest. There is room for everybody in the world of blogging. Always has been and always will be but it’s good to recognise our differences and embrace them. Do what you’re good at but don’t let yourself be lumped in the same box as everyone else for ultimately, what is probably someone else’s convenience.
6). Please don’t send your beauty shopping lists to brands and PR. It makes us all look fucking ridiculous.
7). It’s easy for me to say “blog for yourself!” – I hear that little gem often enough. But it’s BS… I totally blog for anyone who stumbles upon Lipglossiping.com – sure, I love blogging for myself but from cradle to grave, we all need that affirmation, that pat on the back that says “you’re doing an alright job, keep going!”
But how do you get it?
You just hope that it comes. There is no magic formula… A + B doesn’t = 5495545 blog followers. MAC + GIVEAWAY does but you probably won’t feel quite so proud about it when all is said and done. If it doesn’t come, then take a look at your blog with an honest appraisal and see where you’re going wrong.
8). Establish guidelines for yourself and your blog but be flexible. Do you want to monetize your blog? How much time do you want to dedicate to this hobby?
I’m not very flexible… I started my blog with rigid guidelines in place that I now find myself bumping up against all the time.
Circumstances change. I pay a considerable amount of money each month to keep the site running. My husband is the most patient, supportive man in the world but he recognises how the ratio of blog –> work has shifted and do I stop doing something I love because it’s not fair on my family or do I look for ways to make the ‘something I love’ bring home the bacon too?
I’m always looking at ways to monetize without ‘selling out’… and it’s truly not easy. Sponsored post opportunities are often sorry excuses for content. I accept them very occassionally and do so on the high-tech basis of whether I can read the pitch without cringing my way through it in embarrassment.
Of course, there are other ways to make money from blogging. I have the pleasure of being able to blog for other websites but I’ve never been much good at ‘selling’ myself, I’m working on it!
9). No one can represent you better than yourself. I’ve always been fiercely protective of my ‘voice’ on the internet, perhaps too much and I’m inherently suspicious of any network that wants to represent me to brands and advertisers. If you prefer to be part of a blogging collective, make sure that they represent your blogging ideals on all levels and remember that they exist to make money for themselves first and foremost.
10). When in times of trouble, keep your head down and blog on. Bloggers often dwell in tight-knit communities that court and feed on drama. The best thing to do in such situations is to keep out of it, no matter how tempting because it rarely ends well. Of course, you will get involved… and like me, you’ll probably wish you hadn’t – diplomacy and keeping your lip buttoned is a sign of a wise blogger and it’s no coincidence that some of the bloggers I have the hugest amount of respect for never get involved in twitter fights or comment wars.
11). Without trust, you have nothing. Please be transparent with your readers and allow them to absorb your posts, reviews, and rambles with their eyes wide open. Disclose affiliate links clearly, mention when a product is a press sample and tell your readers if you were paid to write a post. Doing so doesn’t damage your credibility, it enhances it.
Well there you go, I don’t know who died and made me blog-god, infact I hate it when bloggers get all prescriptive about blogging on Twitter so I shall now go and punish myself severely by letting Leila play with my Chanel. Take all of the above with a pinch of salt and make of it what you will – it’s only one opinion and not necessarily the correct one, though of course, I totally think so!