Apr 9, 2013

Starting a Beauty Blog 101

Hello everyone. Today I'm taking a break from all those beauty stuff. Sometimes it gets a bit tired when you have too much of it. My day job is very related to beauty products promotion, so I'm trying to run away from it for awhile (just for today).

Few days ago I met up with a friend and she told me she is going to start her own beauty blog. She asked for tips and advice from me. I guess I should share it with you all since a huge chunk of my readers are beauty bloggers as well.

I don't claim expertise in blogging, nor I'm super experience in this area. But I am certain that I've picked up some tips and knowledge along the way that I can share with you all. If you have anything that you want to share with me, you can also add it in the comment. We are all learners and I believe that there is no such thing as no room for improvement.

1. Expectation & Purpose

Before you start your journey in beauty blogging (in fact, on anything in life), you have to set your expectation and purpose. Some people have an unrealistic dream of quiting their job to start a blog because they see other bloggers earning a lot of money. The truth is.... no one make money out of just blogging. There are a lot of work done behind the computer screen that you can't see. Those bloggers that made it are probably sitting at home brain storming on ideas that will bring investors to their blog or they're probably having a meeting with some brand partners that will bring in the moolah. My main point is, you can never make money out from just typing a few words and publish it on your blog.

If you decide that you want to do it for a hobby and want a no-strings attached blog, then very well do it your own way as you like. I think most of us start blogging from this perspective. For me, I am a shopaholic by nature and I love beauty products. Even without the existence of this blog, I still have that enthusiasm on beauty products and shopping. Maybe I will share it with my friends via word of mouth. Having a blog is just like having a platform to tell people what I bought, what is nice to use, what is not worth to buy, where to shop, etc. etc. etc.

If you want to blog for big money that you wish can use to pay your rental and loans, then you have to start your blog differently. The first thing that you have to do is to look for investors to bring in money to generate your content and readerships. This whole thing is more of a business model/e-commerce instead of normal blogging style. I really don't have any experience in this field because I blog mainly for fun and the money I earned from this blog is not even enough to pay my internet bills. If this is what you're looking for, you should look at other websites for a better tips, I can't provide you the head start.

Getting sponsors (i.e. getting free beauty products) is one of the perks of being a beauty blogging. I think I should leave this discussion to the points below.

2. How to get readers

Market your blog to people around you. I used to hide my blog from my friends and family because I thought people would laugh at me for having no life. But then after they discovered my blog, I realized that my friends and family are my frequent readers! Those are the quality readers which you want to keep instead of those one-off readers that landed on your blog via Google search.

I market my blog via word-of-mouth. Sometimes I do a giveaway to generate hypes on my blog, but the hypes die off after the period of the giveaway (that reminds me that I have a giveaway to close this week, come back tomorrow to check out who is the winner for the Korean hair accessories). I also join various beauty forums so I can share my blog link with people of the same interest.

The most important thing to keep your readers is to have quality content. If you have shitty posts, no one will bother coming back to your blog. And remember, when it comes to content, you are fighting against beauty magazines, beauty websites and beauty talk show. You have to be different in order to keep readers interest. If not, they can always buy magazines with prettier photos than reading your blog. One big tips I can share with you is..... figure out the advantages of blog against other mainstream medias. The biggest advantage is time. Once a product is launched, you can immediately update it onto your blog. Whereas, for magazines, they will need to print it on the next month's issue, or newspaper can only print the news the next day. Treat your blog like a place where your readers can get first hand information.

When you first starting to blog, remember to maintain at least 3 posts per week. It can be a turn off if people go back to your blog and find that you don't bother to update.

3. How to get sponsors

This is the hardest part. First you need to get a certain level of readership first. If no one reads your blog, no brands would want to sponsor you. That is the general rule. For the first half year of blogging, do whatever you can to hike up your readership.

Make sure you provide your email on your blog. This is because most beauty PR companies do a Google search on beauty blogs. If they land on your blog, they will be able to contact you if they can find your email. If your email is nowhere to be found, then you might just miss that sponsorship deal.

The first year of blogging would be the hardest time for you to get sponsors. Sometimes you have to go an extra mile by asking for sponsorship instead of sitting around and wait for them to find you. You have to be very careful when you ask for sponsorship. Remember, there is nothing as free lunch. If you ask for something, you have to pay back with something. Normally, bloggers ask for sponsorship because they can give the coverage and brand marketing for their sponsors. But if you just started out, you have to squeeze your brain juice what valueable returns that you can give to your sponsors. At the end of the day, by giving you the free items or service, it is a costs for them to absorb. You have to justify why they should spend that costs on your blog.

4. Balancing relationship between readers and sponsors

When you blog long enough, sometimes you might go off tangent from the expectation and purpose you first set out when you started.

You finally made it in the blogsphere, you get non-stop sponsorship, and things seems pretty much as what you've expected. But at the end of the day, you lost readership. Because you're trying to suck up to the brands that sponsor you, you forgot that your readers are reading for genuine content. If they want to consume advertisements, they can always turn on the TV, read those first few pages of magazines, buff TVC from Youtube, etc. The reason people still turn to blogs when it comes to beauty products is because they want a honest review of the products. Don't spoil your own market.

I don't mean you can't go mainstream with the sponsors. If you're running a 100% ads beauty blog and still have readership, then continue what you're doing as long as you are clear this is the direction you want your blog to be.

This blog is coming to its first year in June. After so many months of posting up photos and writing about beauty products, I do learn a lot of things, I met a lot of other beauty bloggers (I call them my colleagues now), and I also received a lot of free stuff. I don't deny that I love receiving free stuff (whoever say they don't are probably liars). And I'm very happy that I have a healthy sponsorship now and I still able to maintain the style of writing that I want. I really don't like hardsell blogs, so I wish my blog don't turn into one. There's still one more things that I want to achieve with this blog. I wish that I can sell some ad spaces (that don't affect my content) to earn money to pay my rent. If that can happen it would be totally awesome. At the mean time, I just don't see it coming yet.

By the way, in June would be the first year for my blog. I am thinking of asking 4 sponsors to do giveaways for readers on this blog, one giveaway for a week. What do you guys think? Do you think it would be too hardsell or do you guys want me to buy a small gift for the giveaway? Let me know so that I have the time to prepare for it.

Til then... I will spill more tips some other time.