Welcome to my newest blog installment: ASK MANDY! I'll be taking your most requested questions from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and answering them. Sounds like fun, right? Today's post will discuss tips for beauty bloggers!
Granted, I'm a relatively new blogger myself (4 months and 1 week today!) BUT that doesn't mean I haven't learned a thing or two along the way. Also, I did a lot of research on blogging before I even started one of my own, which I feel helped me tremendously.
Here's what I've learned so far:
- Find your niche.
- So you want to be a beauty blogger. That's great. But what about "beauty" intrigues you? Do you like nails? Hair? Makeup? Skin care? Of course, it's certainly fine to have a well-rounded beauty blog and cover all of those topics if you truly love them all.. but it always helps to narrow your focus so that you stay on track.
- Decide what to post.
- I strongly suggest keeping up with trends. Now would be a good time to subscribe to email newsletters of brands that truly interest you. Not only will you get the latest press releases from them, but you'll have first hand (and sometimes breaking) information that you can pass on to your readers!
- As far as daily posting goes, just write about whatever interests you but always keep your readers in mind. (You're not writing your blog for you, you're writing it for them. And if no one is reading it.. then what's the point?) For instance: sometimes I feel like I have too many nail polish posts so I'll go ahead and write an entry but save it to post the following week.
- Lastly, keep a list of posts that you want to write to help yourself stay organized and on-track. Sometimes ideas come to me when I'm out shopping. I always keep a journal with me and I jot the topic down so that I don't forget it. Nothing's worse than having a brilliant idea for a post and then not being able to remember what it was!
- This also helps for when you're just plain out of ideas, too! If you have a list of standby topics, you'll never have to worry about not knowing what to write!
- Promote yourself... the right way.
- Visiting other blogs and spamming their comments with "Great blog! Please visit mine!" is, well, just plain tacky and rude. While there's certainly nothing wrong with forming relationships with other bloggers, spamming will never get you far. Especially if the blog you're spamming isn't even in the same niche as yours. Instead, try leaving a comment that provides thoughtful insight on the post you're commenting on. A blogger is much more willing to check out (and follow) your blog when you've shown theirs respect.
- I've had several well-known bloggers that I follow actually follow me back by simply leaving well-written comments on their posts without ever linking my blog. Once you've established your reputation as someone who is sincere and interested in a mutual topic, most people will want to check out your work for themselves.
- Some bloggers will actually give you space to promote your blog either on their blog rolls or they will have "Plug Yourself" days where you can leave your blog info and they will post it to their followers. Another version is a permanent post where you can link your blog info.
- Find forums and websites that promote blogs in general or blogs in your niche and respectfully ask if there's a way you can be added to their blogging list or get a link added on their site. Most sites will ask that you "trade buttons," meaning that you place a button on your sidebar that links back to their site in exchange for being posted on their site.
- Here are some sites to get you started. Granted, some aren't sites that you can trade space on, but you can post content from your blog, or meet similarly interested people in forums and share your blog that way!
- Also look for submission Tumblrs, WordPress and Blogger blogs in your niche. Since I do a lot of nail art, I submitted one of my posts to a nail art Tumblr. It was featured and right after being posted on the Tumblr.. that one post got over 1500 page views in under 4 hours!
- Get connected!
- Once you've gotten followers, set up a Facebook page or Twitter account (or both!) for your blog! Not only will it help promote your content, but it gives you another way to interact with your readers.
- Also set up an email strictly for your blog. This will help you (again) stay organized with your blog account, Feedburner account, and any readers, companies or PR Reps that contact you. Just make sure that you check it regularly, or have it synced/forwarding to an account that you DO check regularly. Plus this will protect the privacy and integrity of your personal email and make you look more professional to companies that might be interested in contacting you.
- Set up an RSS Feed! This is so crucial! Feedburner is a great option and easy to set up and use. Feeds are used to streamline content across the web so that it's all in one place for people to access. Many people won't follow you with GFC (Google Friend Connect) but WILL sign up for your RSS Feed. If you look at my current numbers, you'll see that I have almost as many Feedburner subscribers as I do GFC followers!
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- I'm going to be completely honest and tell you that I'm still figuring out how this works. If you'd like to learn more about it, I suggest reading up on it here. What I can tell you is this: The higher your blog comes up in a search result, the better the likelihood of it being visited. Thus, when you're titling your posts (for the reader, not for you.. remember?) avoid titles like "My Favorite Hair Products" and instead choose something like "Must Have Hair Products!"
- If you were doing a search for hair care products, which of those 2 posts would you click on? ...My point exactly. :)
- Be sincere.
- Yes, by now everyone knows that beauty bloggers have the potential to get a lot of free swag to review. However, if you're only blogging to get free stuff it's going to be very apparent and you're probably going to end up very disappointed. Companies aren't just going to start blowing up your email and offering you free stuff right off the bat.
- And let's say you are sent products to review.. be completely honest about them. If you don't like them and don't feel you can give a generally positive review, contact the company and talk to them about it. You might end up having to send the product back, but it's better than publishing a review that you don't believe in. Remember, reputation is EVERYTHING to a blogger. Once people suspect that you're just trying to shove promoted products down their throat your credibility will be ruined.
- Speaking of getting free stuff...
- Use labels as your friend. Whenever you mention a brand in a post, tag it. Once you've built up a repertoire of work, then it's much easier to approach a company and say "I've been a loyal user for some time, and I would be interested in reviewing X product for my blog. It would be relevant to my readers for [this reason]. And here is a selection of my work so far that features your company." (Just.. make sure you haven't completely and repeatedly slammed them and trashed their products.) Also be sure to give them the link to their tag, and your website stats.
- However, and I don't mean this to sound discouraging.. expect not to hear back from them. Their HR/PR people get hundreds, if not thousands of emails like yours every single day.. and someone has to sort through them all. It's possible that yours will get lost in the shuffle, that you simply don't have enough of a following yet, or that they aren't accepting any new reviewers at that time.
- Another way to try to get products to review is to watch company Facebook and Twitter pages. One company tweeted that they were looking for new reviewers a while back. I sent them an email like the one I described above and they sent out a mass email saying that they usually pick bloggers with a following of 300+ and YouTubers with 4000+ subscribers. I'm nowhere near those figures. However, they were so impressed with some of my posts featuring their products that they decided to send me products to review anyways!
- And the last way to get products for review is to let the companies contact you. Most of the YouTubers and Bloggers I know who constantly get free products are approached by companies and PR Reps because they've established their reputation. Again, be honest and sincere in your efforts and success should come.
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Whew! That was a lot! ...And took forever. But I hope it's been at least somewhat helpful to those of you who have just started your own beauty blog, or have wanted to but didn't know where to start. If you have more questions (about anything!) be sure to leave them in the comments and I'll answer them as well!
Want more beauty blogging tips? Check out Part 2 here!
Want more beauty blogging tips? Check out Part 2 here!