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Monday, July 23, 2012

Behind The Blog


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I need to begin this post by stating that in no means should I be considered an “expert” in blogging. I do love to blog and share my love of beauty products. I was asked by Danielle to write a post around the topic of blogging. I am also going to write about how I got started and how to conduct yourself while blogging. Keep in mind that I am only going to talk about beauty blogging.

                                           How I Got Started:


    I began watching YouTube videos back in 2009 and instantly became addicted. I loved how makeup addicts like myself were talking about what products that they loved or were not so fond of.  Some of the vloggers had blogs where they went into further detail than they had in their videos. To be honest, if they had went into every tiny detail in their videos, it would have been a very large video file and no one can keep an viewer’s attention for anything longer than 15 minutes. I have read comments that if a vlogger goes over 10 minutes, the viewer starts getting distracted. However, this is  just an example, and I am not going to dictate how someone does their videos or blog posts. The style is truly individual.

    I began thinking “I can do this!” I am not a makeup artist, nor I ever will be. I just like makeup and seeing what works for me and what does not.  Was I worried about what people would think? I was at first,  but I then stopped myself. If I let myself get worked up about the thoughts of others, then I would only be holding myself back. I began to put my ideas onto my blog........

 

     How Do I Get People to Read What I Wrote?


Ahhh traffic. I’ve been asked “What good will my blogging do if I don’t have anyone to read it?”  To have people read your reviews, look at your hauls,  and practice with your tutorials is a great feeling. It also gives you the encouragement to keep doing what you love when they comment or constructively critique (but more on that later).  I do need to state here that I am not intending to sound pretentious. In saying that, you cannot grow readership over night. I have had a person complain to me that no one was reading and that they should just give up. I wanted to see for myself how I could give advice to them that suited their blog.

    Write well and write often:  I think that the most appealing blogs are those that are structured with proper sentence structure and punctuation. A blog is not an academic paper, but it is a representation of who you are.  Internet chat-speak is acceptable, but only in small limits.  For example: “OMG this nail polish is HG LOL I absolutely adore it”. First, the way the sentence in structured is acceptable for chat room speak. Keep in mind that there are people that have no idea what computer acronyms mean, and I admit that there have been times where I did not know the meaning of SMH or “shake my head”.  If you are going to use acronyms, it would be most helpful to have a page for “Commonly Used Acronyms” that are used on your blog. Back to the example :If you are going to use “HG” write out “holy grail” or add it to your acronyms. You can also use “holy grail” the first time you mention it, then use the acronym. So, restructure the sentence to say “This nail polish is holy grail. I absolutely adore it”. Simple, and to the point.
         I understand that life is busy and that it can be very hard to write every single day. I do not expect anyone to  start a blog with the intention to write every day. I am especially guilty of not writing every day.. This is where a blog schedule is handy.  For example:

             Sunday: take morning for self; prepare or plan blog post
             Monday: Finish blog post; publish and promote
             Tuesday: Prepare or plan blog post
              Wednesday: Publish and promote
              Thursday: Prepare or plan blog post
               Friday: Publish and promote
               Saturday: Take time off!


When I prepare or plan my blog posts, I think about what products I have been using or any reviews that need to be completed. Or if there is a running theme such as day specific topics like “Getting Ready Monday” or “Fantastic Finds Friday”, this can also help immensely with blog planning.   Do what works for you!!!


   Blogging is more than just taking pictures and writing a paragraph. I state this here because I consider taking your own pictures to be more work than sitting down to write.  PLEASE take your OWN pictures.  When you steal the work of others, it makes you look completely shady and unprofessional.


 Network: We live in a social media world where others are writing about topics that may interest us. Facebook and Twitter are two ways to meet other people that have similar interests. By putting your blog link in your Twitter bio or in your About Me section on Facebook, you can not only promote your blog, but you can also gain new readers.  Do not forget to include your links on your blog.  If a reader has any questions, social networks are great tools to receive a reply from you. Also, create topic-relevant discussions as this will help share ideas. Most importantly, you can create new friendships!!!     
   
Post your blog email on your “Contact Me” page: It is not only just for readership; companies may contact you to do reviews for their products.


  How Can I Make My Blog Look Professional?


 Become familiar with the blog host that you are using
:  Two popular blog hosting sites are Blogger and WordPress. I personally use Blogger, but I have also heard positive things about WordPress.  When starting a blog, it is very overwhelming!  i’ve been blogging for two and a half years and I still get overwhelmed ( I’m still working on my coding skills).  The blog is not just what is displayed; it is the time and effort put into it.  I have spent hours making my own graphics and editing pictures. If I did not know how to do something, I began scouring Google or asking other bloggers.  I wanted to implement pages into my blog, and Blogger allows that feature.  By becoming familiar with Blogger, I was able to implement the pages I have today.

De-clutter your sidebars
: If your blog looks sloppy, what does this say about how you represent yourself? I have been guilty in the past of having my sidebars being stuffed. Implementing pages into my blog has really helped with cleaning up my sidebars. You can specifically utilize your sidebars for say sponsorships on one and network promotion on another. It is purely up to you!!!

Have font that is easy to read: You may have something to talk about, but if the font takes away from what you are saying, then the message is lost. Having fancy font may be fun; but when it distracts from your message, your blog does not look professional. If you want a fancy font, perhaps utilize it in your title rather than in the post itself.

Gratitude: There are two words that are always appreciated.---thank you!!! Someone may comment on your post, send an email, or a brand is wanting to provide you product in exchange for review. When you thank them, it not only shows that you are interested in them. It shows that you appreciate what they have to say.




 How Do I Handle the Negativity???


 When someone blasts you in your comment section, you may want to retaliate by giving them some negativity. However, this is not the best reaction.

 It is best to keep your readers and if you feed into negativity, then you add fuel to the fire. Always thank the person for their comment and acknowledge what they have said. Be honest and state that it was never your intention to be hurtful or offensive.  Sometimes, a person will write a rude comment and they are mean-spirited. For instance, I had someone comment me by saying “Thank you for doing this post, but you are quite chubby. Don’t you think?”  Some people will try to get to you, and believe me,  I was hurt. However, I just replied with a “Thank you” and sarcastically replied with a “Wow I did not know!” Some mean comments require a sarcastic reply. One good thing is that sometimes the rude commenter only shows up once and then goes away.


You can also moderate all of your blog comments to where you need to approve them before they are posted on your blog posts. 


    “So When I Start My Blog, Can I Get Money and Free Products Too?”

  
I know that this section is the most controversial one. I have had people assume that I get tons of free products and money sent my way just by being a blogger. First off, let me say that I do get sent products to review. I have never hidden that from my readers. I always let you know that I was sent a product for review. I am always honest in my reviews and I never let a brand influence my opinion in a review.  If you are going to blog just to get free things, then you are doing it for all the wrong reasons.  While I have made money through my blog, I have not made enough to be financially set for the rest of my life. There are bloggers who blog as their full time job, but I am not one of them.  I never set a goal to make money through my blog. I always said that if there was any money made, then it would be put directly back into the blog. I have stayed true to this statement as I put that money into the blog by having more products to test and review. I am always honest with the fact that I purchase most of the products I review and talk about.



Do Not Ask the Brand or PR to Compensate You Through Money: If the brand is providing you with a product for review, then that is your compensation. You are getting to exclusively test and review a product before anyone and sometimes before it even hits the shelves.



 Contacting Brands or PR  for Products to Review:  If you are just starting your blog, do not contact brands and PR to say “Hello, I have a blog so give me free stuff!”  Take some time to develop what you want your blog to say and represent. Don’t forget to gain readership and network. The brands and PR will contact you if they want to provide you with product to review.  It’s like a ‘Don’t call my people, I’ll let my people call you” deal.  Let them see you for who you are---- and not for desperation.



 Always Keep An Open Mind---But Be Selective On Whom You Choose to Work With:
  Be open to working with brands or PR, but do not say  yes to every single review request!! Ask yourself:
                 Do They Fit My Niche? Being a beauty blogger, I always want to share new beauty products with my readers. If it does not fit beauty products in any way, I will not review it. 

                   Do I Know This Brand?  I’m all for supporting small companies, but if I receive a review request and I get a feeling that it might not be for the best, I do not say yes. 

  • Do not let brands or PR try to tell you that they will only accept positive reviews
 If a brand is sending out product for bloggers to review and the product is not the greatest, they need to know that. There is a way about doing so, and it is called constructive criticism. For example, say a brand that I’ll call Company A emails you a request to review their new eyeshadow palette. This palette may have three things that are considered not the greatest. Rather than just saying  what is wrong, say  ‘There are three ways that Company A can improve their palette”. By providing ways to improve, Company A can  go back and then implement changes.  If a brand or PR requests a positive review, I write to let them know that while I never say anything slanderous about a product or brand, my readers deserve my honest opinion and that is what will be said in my review. Most brands or PR are not demanding a positive review with absolutely no constructive criticism.


 Do Not Let Companies/Brands or PR People Tell You What You Can Review
As stated numerous times throughout this post, your blog is a representation of yourself.  I have had experience with a company that wanted me to review an expensive item that I had never tried nor had easy access to. They mentioned nothing about providing me with this product to review, and just stated that they wanted me to review it.  I told them no. I told them no because I had never tried this product and would not review it when I had not actually tried it.  I would never say to my readers that I had tried a product when in fact I had not. That is lying to those that trust your opinion and to me, is unethical.  If they were like “Don’t worry about not having tried it. We’ll send you the product to review so you can give your honest opinion to your readers”, I would have said yes. It comes down to this: If a company does not respect your readers, they do not respect your time.


   I know that this post is quite lengthy, but I can talk and talk about blogging!! Thank you so much for reading. If you have any questions, please let me know. Hope that you enjoyed this post!!!

1 comment:

Dani said...

I am so glad you wrote this blog. Many people don't understand why we do it or what the process is. It takes a lot of work and planning and we (bloggers) are always tweaking and fine tuning. Xoxo