In what seems to be a bit of a coincidence, I recently received a slew of emails with questions relating to blogging. The predominant theme that stood out was “How do you get a successful and popular blog?” and I must confess that I was stumped.
You see, when I started out back in 2007 it was not with the intention of becoming a successful or popular beauty blog. Back in the day, there was no such thing. People laughed at you for wasting your time blogging, and they would say “You write about beauty products? Why? Who would want to read it when there are magazines with prettier pictures?” But I stuck with it anyway because I was having fun and enjoying writing for fun instead of for work and well, as we are all now aware, things have moved on. About 2 years after I started blogging, it exploded with a cosmic bang and here we are.
But I know there are some of you who may be wondering the same thing as those who have written in, and I thought I’d share some tips to get you started. I hope they are helpful and if you blog, I’d love for you to share anything that I might have missed out on 🙂 If you’re an avid blog reader, do share too what you enjoy seeing in the blogs you read and we can all aim to improve 🙂 (please settle in for a read – its long 😛 )
1. Blog because you love it
I cannot stress this enough. As with everything you set out to do, do it because you love it. Talk about nail polish, because its something you do well and enjoy. Are you good at nail art? Show everyone your talent. Swoon over a blush, because it makes you look alive and chirpy. But above all, love what you do because you are doing what you love. It will show and people who read it will see it and come back. Those who are just writing or blogging for the sake of being part of the (now very crowded) bandwagon will similarly send that message across and really, when there is no passion, there is nothing.
2. Choose a simple fuss free blog theme
There are a billion blog themes out there. I swear there are. But know what your focus is on i.e. your content. If you are good at graphic design (and I’m utterly jealous of you, if you are!), design something pretty for your header, but leave things minimal where it matters – the content box. Don’t crowd it with a fussy background or fancy buttons that will distract more than attract. Its a delicate balance and I will not presume to tell you how to design your blog (because its YOUR blog) and I will never tell you mine’s the best because its always a work in progress. But in the main, I think beauty blogs with large plain (not necessarily white) content boxes work the best to show off your photos and pictures and text to best advantage.
3. Use photos or pictures
People are visual creatures and you could be the best writer in the universe, but people wouldn’t read a block of plain text on the internet. Admit it, you don’t either (I don’t) 😛 So, use photos and pictures to give emphasis and break up the text and monotony. If you like taking pictures, do so. Remember, practice makes perfect and you do not need a swanky DSLR to take good photos, just a good eye. Otherwise, there are lots of stock product photos you can use. Just remember not to steal photos and you’ll be good.
4. Be honest
Be honest not only to your readers who are getting more and more savvy these days, but to yourself. Why are you doing this? Is it because you really want to or because you see others getting recognised and want a piece of the pie? This comes back to Point #1 above, and will be the deciding factor if you manage to hang on or not. Did you receive a product or service from a brand or company for you to try? Say so. No one will think any less of you if you did, and that honesty will stand you in good stead as you go along. Did you dislike a product that everyone else loved? Say so. Its honesty that readers are looking for in a product review, not a press release going rah rah rah! The world of PR and beauty blogs and bloggers isn’t a very large one and news travels. But if you are honest, you’ll never be caught out.
5. Check your spelling and grammar
Confession. My pet peeve is reading a blog riddled with broken grammar and misspelling. I’m prepared to overlook a small error. I don’t boast of being perfect myself and some of you may have picked up my errors from time to time. But before you hit the Publish or Post button, check your spelling and grammar. This applies to every language you blog in, not just English although I personally can only read English… but whatever hehe… spell check! 😀
6. Have an outside interest
No, I’m serious. If you’re going to sit at the computer all day cracking your head thinking of your next blog post, its going to be quite a lonely boring existence. Have other hobbies or an outside interest. Go out, travel, eat, live, laugh and love and then share all of that in your blog within reason. It not only makes you more interesting, it breaks the monotony and makes your blog more interesting.
7. Make friends – Use social media and comment on blogs
I’ve talked about social media and blog comments before and I stress this again. When I started out blogging, it was a howling wilderness peopled by few in the beauty blog niche so, when you do spot one on your radar, it stood out like a beacon in the dark. These days, toss a stone and you’d hit at least 2 blogs professing to be beauty blogs. Not to say its a bad thing, but it makes it harder to be noticed. So aren’t you glad you have social media now? 🙂 I found my fast blogging friends from the days of the blogging wilderness. I found my new friends on Twitter. Its easy these days to see if you will or can get along with people because face it, we can’t get along with everyone right? Commenting on other blogs too may bring you visibility but don’t go peppering blogs with your blog links – everyone hates it because there is a proper place for it i.e. in the URL box of the comment form. Social Media is a powerful tool to get you and your blog noticed but if you spam, yeah you get canned.
8. Text Size and Colour Matters
This is something you may not think about, but please do. I’ve come across some blogs that are or maybe interesting, but I can’t focus long enough to read because their text size is miniscule and in a light grey font on a white background. Gah! Or maybe even colourful font in varying sizes. Gah! 😯
9. Avoid excessive bashing and swear words
So you dislike a product. Well, see Point #4 above and say so. But you can say so nicely and not have to resort to “OMG This product was such a failure! The cream was thick and oily, and the whole brand sucks! I don’t know why they even bothered to sell this…” you get the idea. Or how do you feel when you read something like this “This cream was such an f**king useless piece of f**king crap. I don’t know which f**king fool will buy it because it is absolute s**t” I don’t know about you, but I switch off after the first line and click away. I come to read blogs to learn something or find out what people think and just like when I watch movies, if there is excessive swearing, I just switch away. The internet makes it easy to hit the X button.
In fact, you could have 20 good posts but when I come on one rant that is incomprehensibly peppered with swear words, I strike the blog off my radar. Its a personal thing. If you think about it, there is a whole English vocabulary out there at your disposal. You can find ways to say something doesn’t work or that you dislike, without having to resort to the most popular 4 letter swear words all the time. Some take the snarky sarcastic but funny route, others just tell you as it is, but keep it short. Learn to find a balance but know that you do not have to like everything all the time. Granted, its your blog and you can write and say what you want, but know also that the general public may not like nor enjoy it and there goes all your hard work.
10. You don’t have to go broke buying lots of stuff
This is an interesting point and comes back to Point #1 and #4. Why are you here? Are you blogging about beauty because you have already got so many blushes, you need a cabinet just for them? Or are you blogging because you enjoy playing with makeup and want to share your makeup looks with the world and perhaps even land you a plum job as a makeup artist, if that’s your dream? Or are you here because “I want freebies”?
If you are the former two, you will already have a ton of things to talk about, and chances are, you already spend a lot of time and money on your interest and hobby. You wouldn’t think people are interested in something as basic as a shower gel, but you just never know! Or perhaps you are just wondering aloud if a product may be causing your skin problems – it could be the next big thing. I wondered aloud once if the shampoo I was using was causing my acne and till today, I get people commenting on it because they just made the connection too.
If you are the latter, then well, I’m going to have to pump you by the hand and wish you lots of luck. If you do get what you wish for, congratulations. But its a tough going world because blogging is very very lonely and abjectly boring if you have no one to share your passion with, for bloggers do know when someone’s going at it just for the “free stuff” and word does get around about bloggers who spoil it for everyone.
11. Be yourself
Don’t try to be someone you are not. Don’t try to copy another person’s style because you aren’t that person and it will just stress you out. Blog like you’re talking to your best friend and sharing a piece of happy or unhappy news or results with them. I’d say blog like you’re talking to your sister, but you probably don’t really want to know how I talk to my sister and the stuff we talk about 😛 So blog as yourself and enjoy yourself blogging because its fun! 🙂
12. Success doesn’t come overnight
To those who have been reading for the past 5 years, goodness, I take my hats (yes plural because I wear many!) off to you. I know who you are and I love all of you 😀 To those who maybe new to the MWS community, yes, its coming on nigh 5 years. While I agree that I enjoy a certain measure of success now, it did not come overnight. I was plodding along for at least 2 years before there was even a glimmer of interest and even then, it was primarily from overseas, because blogs were gaining momentum there and not locally. So the local scene is still quite new and everyone has a fair share of the pie and I must say that it may even be easier to get a leg up these days early on, rather than having to wait 5 years the way I did 🙂 If I were in it for the popularity, money or success, I’d have given up a long time ago, but I was in it and I lasted because I enjoyed it, which brings us back to Point #1! 😀
Everything said, I’d like for us all to be friends and blogging buddies and not competitors because the former is helpful and supportive, and the latter is destructive because I’m not sure what we’re competing for and what the prize is – anyone? 😉 Maybe if I did know what is at stake, I could amp things up and do something about it 😛
Thank you for reading my thesis if you survived this far 😛 If you have a new blog or are thinking to start one, I hope this gave you some food for thought on how best to proceed. I will be sharing more simple blogging tips from time to time if anyone’s interested or if you have a burning question please feel free to drop me a line on email, on Twitter or even in a comment here 🙂 You may also enjoy Tine’s Bloggie Wednesdays – which I admire because I could never keep up a weekly blogging column for talking too much 😛
If you have more tips you’d like to share for new bloggers, or if you are a reader and want to share what draws you to certain blogs, please do because I could always learn something too – we never stop learning for once we do… we die 😛
Simple Blogging Tips are some simple tips I have for fellow bloggers, based on my own experiences. I’m no ‘guru’ but I hope they will help you. You may read up on previous Simple Blogging Tips here.