Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My blogging tips and tricks

Last week Emma from Fluff and Fripperies told us about her love of blogging and what it means to her, giving us some great tips along the way.  Then on Sunday, Leanne from Thunder and Threads gave her advice for new bloggers and as I've had some emails lately from new bloggers asking for advice, I thought I'd give you some of my own tips, so you'll have three posts you can reach into to find out what you need to know about starting up a blog.  You don't have to take them all on board, these just work for moi!  I wrote a post last year with some other tidbits of info, so have a squizz of that here.


Blog about what you have! 
One of the first questions that I'm asked is how I get free stuff before being told the person in question would blog more if they'd free stuff.  Listen, if you're any use as a beauty lover, you'll have a grand stash of products you already own that you can photograph and review.  You don't need freebies to be able to blog as you can tell from my massive load of purchases when I was away.  I'm always buying and trying new things because I love beauty products, end of.  It's also how I know if brands stopped sending me products to try, I'd still never run out of things to review.  This will never change and I'll continue to buy lots of stuff I don't need long after I stop blogging!  If you don't have much of a stash, then go to your local chemist.  They're full of brilliant budget brands like NYC, Essence and Catrice.  You can have a dozen posts there for a few euro!  So no excuse!

Work!  
Blogging is hard work and if you expect instant rewards, you're in for a bit of a shock.  When I started blogging, beaut.ie was the only blog I read and there wasn't the network of bloggers that there is now.  I blogged solidly for a good six months without having anyone to ask for help and just had to find my way and teach myself the ropes.  I didn't know what a press release and the thing is, it was never about that.  Yes, it's hard when you're starting out and you feel like you're not getting anywhere, but just keep blogging.  I saw someone recently asking if PRs take into account if a blog is only a few months old and they do, but you also have to realise that everyone's blog was a few months old at one point and everyone goes through the same early stages of a blog.  Keep working at it.  I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that blogging is easy.  Sure all you have to do is take pictures, write a few lines and that's it!  If only it was that easy!  What you put in to your blog is what you'll get out, so it's up to you to figure out how much effort you want to put in.

Check yo' spelling!  
I know we're not writing for the Irish Times but there's a certain level of pride we should have when turning out a post.  I'm not saying we need to be totally profesh and write like we've a journalism degree, but seeing something littered with spelling mistakes shows laziness.  If there's one thing to take away from this wee paragraph, please please please spell the name of the brand correctly.  You owe it to yourself, the reader and brand who may have sent you the item, not to mention the fact that when someone googles the name of product, they'll never land on your post because of incorrect spelling.  Waste of your time.


Spread the word!  
I don't mind people leaving their links in the comments.  But just know that someone who reads your comment is smart and knows the difference between a generic comment that has no effort put into it and one where the commenter has actually read the post and left a meaningful comment.  If you don't already, make a Twitter account.  It's one of the best ways to promote your blog but if you're going to post the same link 10 times a day, I won't be following you!  Try to find a balance between promotion and having the Twitter chats.  If your friends aren't on Twitter, try making a Facebook page to keep them in the loop.  Try putting your blog link in your email signature and on your Twitter profile.  It's a non pushy way to spread the word.


Love it!  
At an event last year with some fellow bloggers and press people we've gotten to know over the past year, we got a goodie bag which we had to have a little look in.  Of course, squeaks of happiness (squeaks not squeals) occurred and then we chatted about how our friends don't understand how we can still get so excited about new products all the time.  We came to the realisation that the day we stop getting excited is the day we stop writing about beauty products.  If you don't love beauty products, then maybe writing a beauty blog isn't the best idea.  Your passion, or lack thereof, will come across to everyone.


Click, click!  
For the first year and a bit of blogging, I had a really inexpensive point and click Canon camera that I'd had for years.  I experimented with making my photos as clear as possible and it took a while to figure out how to take clear photos of my eyeballs without blinding myself, but I sat and practiced.  Right now it's hard to do this but try to use natural light when taking photos of swatches to show the true colour of the product.  Roll on daylight savings time, a blogger's best friend!  Also, macro is your best pal on your camera.  If you're not sure what that is, it's the setting with the little flower on it and means you can take really great close up photos of your products.  I use Picassa to edit my photos and I don't really edit them much other than cropping them and making collages.  PicMonkey is also great for editing your photos.


Stand out!  
As I mentioned before, when I first started blogging, there weren't many other Irish bloggers in the blogosphere and it was easier to be noticed.  Now with the big influx of newer bloggers, it's harder to stand out from the crowd and be different.  I mean, if 20 people go to an event, the reader isn't going to read 20 versions of the same thing.  The same goes for a new product review.  Try to put your own spin on things.


Be prepared!  
My head is always buzzing with ideas on what to blog about and I'm always afraid I'll forget a good one!  So if I'm at work and hit by inspiration, I'll send an email to myself with a list of ideas, or a little outline of the main points of a post.  When I used to get the train to and from work, I'd draft posts on the journey home.  I mean right now, I've about 15 drafts started!  Some of them mightn't make it to the blog, but I can relax my brain knowing that my thoughts are there, just a click away.  I also like to make a list in my phone of ideas for posts and it means I know what photos I need to take and saves time messing about.  If you're prepared enough, in an afternoon you can have a few posts scheduled and ready to go for the coming week.


Technical schtuff!  
Google is your friend.  I see lots of bloggers on Twitter asking how to do things like remove the borders from photos, resize images and all I can say is just google it.  I taught myself how to play around with the column widths on the blog, make my header, add pages, add buttons.  Just if you're going to play around with html, make sure you back up your bloggy code.  Teach yourself!


Show your personality!  
The difference between a blog and a magazine is the person behind it and you can have all the qualifications in the world but if there's no personality there, people won't want to read what you've spent ages writing.  Be yourself.  If yourself is boring, then there's nowt I can do for you!  Ah just kidding.  Personally, I like blogs where I feel like I know what the person is about, that I can relate to.  And those are the ones that keep me going back every day to see what they're up to.

Know your worth!  
Brands and companies know the power of the blogger now.  Right now my stats are the highest they've ever been and I'm pretty damn proud of that.  It's taken me two and a bit years to feel comfortable in the knowledge that I have a good platform now for brands and know when I'm being taken advantage of, which hasn't been very often to be honest.  I do get the occasional email asking me to blog about an upcoming event for a company, but honestly, it's not my style.  I'm not getting paid for what's essentially an advertisement.  I'm not afraid to say no thanks.

So that's it folks!  I'm not the queen of all things blogging, these are just the things that have helped me and that I've learned over the past couple of years.  I'm still learning the ins and outs of it and will continue do to so.  There's room for everyone in the blogging world, so as Fluffy Emma says "The best we can do is love what we do, be kind to each other, try and support one another, read and comment on each other's blogs and try to make our own the best it can be."  She's very wise our Emma!
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43 comments

  1. Thank you so much for this post and the lovely email. I have to say the thing I love most about this blog is the sheer volume of posts. When u had a break over Christmas I felt bereft! I also love the Marian Keyes style humour. You're personality shines through and your posts are hilarious. Would love to see u do some videos! All the best for 2012 and thanks for being such an inspiration! X

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    1. Thanks so much for the lovely comment Nicola! I can't wait to read yours and hope this post was helpful!

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  2. Really really worthy advice Missus thanks. Not just 'be interesting' but real take out advice for starting up. ...not that I'm ready yet still! ...

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    1. You definitely should take the plunge and start blogging! Come on in, the water's fine!

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  3. "If yourself is boring, then there's nowt I can do for you! Ah just kidding." LOL, that's gas Karen! Great read tootsie! x

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    1. You can't fake a great personality and you my dear have a brilliant one ;)

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  4. Oh and can u recommend a gdcamera? X

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    1. I must say, I'm a Canon girl! But it doesn't have to be a fancy camera, if it has a macro setting, you're good to go!

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  5. This is a great post, and exactly what I was looking for. Thank you! Starting a blog IS really difficult. I squeal whenever I get a single comment. I guess I'll just have to keep going!

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    1. I'm glad it was helpful! Keep plugging away and it'll be worth it in the end :)

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  6. Fantastic post, you have some great tips and I really enjoyed reading it. Xx

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    1. Thanks so much Lauren, glad you liked it!

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  7. This is Ab Fab K - and not just cos of the lovely shout out. Brilliant advice - you're clearly the wise one! X

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    1. We are the wise elders of the blogging world ;)

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    2. Ooft don't say that, not when I've a birthday coming up!

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  8. Hi
    A fabulous post
    I would love to have my own beauty blog am a junkie
    Love buying products and then evaluating on them
    Thank you

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    1. You should start one now! Especially if you're a product junkie!

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  9. I love these types of posts, sooo helpful for us newbie bloggers! :)

    Sarahkayblogs.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Sarah, I'm glad it helped ;)

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  10. I love these types of posts, sooo helpful for us newbie bloggers! :)

    Sarahkayblogs.blogspot.com

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  11. Brilliant post karen and you are kinda the queen of blogging ;)

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    1. Thanks mags but am far from being the queen! More like the queen's lady maid ;)

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  12. Great post I love you honesty. I'm so bad at spelling it's unreal. Spell checker is not enough for me I have to have my boyfriend proof read and then sometimes if it's a normal hour of the night I have a friend check for me too!

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    1. I love it, so each post is a team affair ;) glad you liked the post missus x

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  13. Top post! I'm so bored of hearing 'you need to spend money on products/clothes to be a beauty/fashion blogger'. Not True!

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    1. Completely not true! It's all about being creative with what you already own and seeing if blogging is for you. I spend ridiculous amounts of money on products because I want to, not because I need to!

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  14. This "newbie" would have loved to read this a year ago. Thank you so much for this!

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  15. Fab post Karen! I was nodding along as usual! It is a lot to teach yourself, but definitely Google is your friend! I'm always so proud when I figure out how to do something new as well! And without a doubt, being obsessed with products helps! I've no shortage of that, whatever about anything else...! :)

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  16. Karen , fair play to you for sharing your tips and tricks. You, Emma & Leanne are legends!

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  17. Very very informative article Karen! I will keep the pointers in mind.

    Love,
    Wasifa

    www.sifascorner.com

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  18. I'm new to the blogging world - although trying to make mine more of a 'beauty review site' and less of a blog. But your post has been really helpful - so thanks! :)

    Kate
    x
    http://deceptive-beauty.com

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  21. I actually needed this post today. I was having a doubting thomas day, wondering what I was doing wrong and how to build my numbers. You have reminded me why I started blogging. Because I just like makeup. Not freebies or follower, Makeup

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  22. Thank you, some great advice :)) Love your blog & reviews <3

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  23. not that i'm a blogger but you'll always stand out even if there is another 100 bloggers at the same event, you are one of my top 2 bloggers, so down to earth and funny, love your videos

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  24. I love reading these types of posts from bloggers, great job!

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  25. Love reading posts like these from experienced bloggers! It's so nice that the Irish beauty blogging community is so supportive and welcoming! :)

    alex @ http://pinkelephantbloggin.com/

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