February 28th 2013 marks the day when I published the first post on this blog. This means I can now celebrate 3 years of blogging, spiced up with plenty of articles, collaborations and opportunities.
I still have a lot of work to do before getting to that blogging level that I aspire to, so I am not an expert here. However, I feel like there are so many myths and misconceptions in the blogging world, so I figured it might help if I share some of my personal experience with you.
So, let’s get started with the 10 things I learned about blogging. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, because it’s gonna be a long post.
1. Your opinion does count
I know many people say “there are already thousands of bloggers with gorgeous images and fantastic writing skills, so there’s no place for you here”, or “with such a big competition, do you really think you will succeed?”. The answer is yes, you just need to think about what this actually means to you. I feel like I succeed if I help my readers find a good product, if I inspire them or make them smile after reading my articles.
As for beauty blogs in particular, I think it doesn’t matter if 10 people already reviewed a mascara. You can always come up with a new approach, give your own opinion, and somebody is going to read it. You might include some features/ swatches that were not present on those other 10 blogs, or you can have a great sense of humor and make the post funnier to read. I think you should just go ahead and do it.
2. You shouldn’t be here for the freebies only
You will invest a lot in blogging at first, and maybe see no return. You might pay for a domain, hosting, a good camera, etc. And then be disappointed if you don’t get companies knocking at your door, begging you to write sponsored posts to promote their brands.
That’s not how it goes. Plenty of the big bloggers didn’t get famous overnight, and they have been included in major brand campaigns only after proving what they are capable of. If you love blogging, you’ll keep going even when your stats are down, comments don’t exist and your self-confidence is at the lowest level. Speaking of which…
3. If you compare yourself to others, you’ll never be good enough
It makes sense that a lot of the newbie bloggers started with the thought that they might someday overpass their favorite bloggers and get into this world which, from the outside, seems like an explosion of glitter, pumpkin lattes and expensive shoes. But, the thing is, not all bloggers have the same style, same budget or preferences. Therefore, if you simply start copying somebody else, you’ll never succeed.
You need to let your personality flow, you need to be honest and say what you think, you need to stop thinking about what everybody SEEMS to be wanting (emphasize on that word) and start sharing what you really want to.
I also did this mistake last year, I let myself fooled into thinking that if I don’t own expensive clothes and an impressive make-up collection, it wouldn’t make sense to keep posting. Because people WANTED to see this.
Well guess what? I have come to the conclusion that every blog has its own audience and it’s important to be able to differentiate yourself from others. Having the same layout, same topics, same style and approach as everyone else can make you pretty boring. And people actually love strong personalities. So although it’s a risky bet, you’ll be a lot more enthusiastic to write and constantly update your blog this way, rather than simply following the same common agenda.
4. Haters are a part of the package
Although it’s obvious, we tend to forget that it’s impossible to please everyone. Somebody will hate your eyebrows, some will judge you for using the “f” word in your posts (guilty as charge), and some will hate you because you said something wrong about their favorite product. Things happen, people are different, so you should get used to it and ignore the mean stuff. You know better who you are and you shouldn’t let internet trolls get you down.
However, do not confuse constructive criticism with hate. Some people can try to help, or might have a different opinion than you, but that doesn’t mean they are automatically haters. Try to look at the nuances: if they say “you are ugly”, that’s rude and hateful. If they say “that foundation shade doesn’t fit you so well, you should try a lighter one”, that’s simply an advice. You might listen to it, you might not, but that’s not a hater, but simply a normal person who wants to share her thoughts. That’s why you have a comment box in the first place, right?
5. The big bloggers are normal people too
No, they are not all in a secret group where rivers of goodies flow, and won’t let anyone new get in. They are not trying to make you feel bad because they own designer bags and high-end make-up. They just got to a higher level, and it’s normal to upgrade the brands they are using, to answer less to comments or to attend major events. This doesn’t mean they are suddenly vain, arrogant or ungrateful. It’s just a normal progress and they still need the support of their readers, to advance further in their blogging career.
And since we are here, kissing their ass to get famous yourself is not cool. But please pay attention to what “kissing ass” really means. If you like their dress, go ahead and tell them. Big bloggers have feelings too 🙂 But if you can’t stop commenting “you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen” + link to your blog at ALL SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS of that blogger, you should stop and take a breath of fresh air. This is not how you will get exposure (at least, not the good kind of exposure).
6. Quality beats quantity
I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I personally don’t enjoy the posts that don’t have anything to say. Each post should have a purpose: help you learn something new, get inspired, discover new trends or products, etc.
Of course, some posts are just meant to entertain, some are just hauls meant to show us what the blogger just bought. I’m not saying it’s wrong; I’m just saying that the “one picture + one line” type of blog post won’t help you get links or shares. Hell, it’s hard already to get even likes (we’ll get to that soon). Actually having people recommending your article with their friends or readers is very difficult and you must give them something meaningful for this to happen. So if you want visits, influence and the so-called “success” in blogging, you need to create quality content.
7. There’s nothing as hard to get, but as rewarding as ENGAGEMENT
Views are just numbers. Facebook page likes are just numbers. The actual people who like, share or comment? They are the holy grail. We are in such a big hurry all the time, that we just scan articles, read the titles and move on. So if a person dedicates 5 minutes of his time writing you a comment, or giving you feedback, that’s awesome. And if that person actually cares and enjoys what you said, he can share it also, which is a great proof of recognition.
I noticed a lot of amazing blogs, with quality content, gorgeous visuals and a great sense of humor, who only get 2-3 likes/ comments per post. And this is sad, because those people actually put a lot of work in creating the posts, promoting them and so on.
As a blogger, you should keep your standards high, but lower the pressure from your shoulders and follow the rule: “Be so good that people won’t be able to ignore you anymore”. You should just remember to do your best to engage people, get them talking and laughing and expressing their thoughts. There’s nothing more rewarding than getting meaningful comments on your posts and making friends.
8. The other bloggers should be your friends, not your competition
I’ve had the chance to (virtually) meet some amazing bloggers from all around the world, and most of them are very kind and supportive. However, there are also people who love drama, and they might get involved in pretty nasty fights on the blogosphere. And this is not so cool.
As a beauty blogger, why would you think that everyone is trying to copy you, steal your ideas or visitors? I mean, come on, it’s not like you’re the first person ever to review a MAC lipstick. You’re not the first person to write about feminism. So stop complaining and start giving back to the community.
Encourage other bloggers, comment as often as you can on their blogs (back to point 7), share their posts. Like their shares on groups, tweet them. Don’t be silly, this is not kissing ass, is simply spreading the love and supporting people around you. I discovered a lot of lovely blogs by doing this, and I got great inspiration and pieces of advice from them.
9. Social Media is essential if you want anyone to read your blog
You need to put yourself out there, to constantly share your posts and do the best you can to get noticed. You need to be everywhere, and this can be terribly exhausting, especially when you see no return on your time investment. Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat… they are all there for a reason, and you can get great visibility by using them. Not to mention Twitter, which is a golden mine if you know how to use it, or Reddit/ Stumble Upon, which are harder to manage, but a great source of traffic.
If you do fashion posts, Chictopia and Lookbook.nu are also good to have; Snapchat is a great way to share authentic content, funny videos and simple life sneak-peaks; YouTube is huge for tutorials, vlogs and not only. And there’s basically a new platform rising about any minute now… and soon we’ll need to be there too.
Happy life, right? It is, if you really enjoy social media. If not, it can become quite overwhelming, so you can switch the focus on 2-3 platforms only and just let the rest of them go, for your own mental health (although you will know you’re missing out on some great audiences).
10. And don’t forget about SEO
Search engine optimization is the best way to get constant quality traffic. If you have useful and well-optimized posts, people searching on Google for those specific terms will get to your blog. And that’s a hell lot easier than juggling around with social media. But does that mean that you just do your job and wait for visitors to come? Yes and not really.
Sure, your on-page SEO can be great, but maybe 20 other bloggers also did the same thing for the same term, so you can’t really rely on this only, since Google tends to change its algorithm every once in a while. And he also cares about domain authority, social media influence, back-links (which are the hardest to win – so getting a free do-follow link on another blog is always a reason to celebrate) and many more criteria.
So the best thing to do is mix them both together.
What do you think about blogging? Do you agree with the facts I included on my list? Any other thoughts and insights about the blogging world? Let’s talk 🙂