Five Year Mark / Thoughts on Blogging

May 24, 2014

The Beauty Look Book turned five years old this month. Time literally flew by in the blink of an eye. I’ve received so many e-mails from my readers over the years on a wide range of topics from skincare advice, foundation recommendations, product comparisons, dupe recommendations after a favorite product has been discontinued, budgeting to career and school advice. There is so much I’ve learned from writing this blog and interacting with readers, bloggers, brands and retailers, I can’t possibly write them all in one blog post but I did want to share a few thoughts and highlights. Blogging started as a hobby although I have always taken a rather serious approach to it. What I like most about blogging is that it allows me to do what I love. This blog is a conversation on beauty that allows me to share what I’ve discovered. There have been lots of ups and downs over the years with this blog on all aspects of my life emotionally, personally and professionally – but at the end of the day what keeps me going is passion and being able help others with reviews and photographs. Some thoughts I wanted to share on blogging:

Getting started – Even though the world is full of blogs in virtually every category such as beauty, fashion, lifestyle, food, home decor etc. and although some say it’s over saturated, if you want to start a blog, just do it. I’ve had friends who wanted to start blogs but didn’t know how or were overwhelmed with all the options. There are so many amazing articles and videos on the internet on how to start one. Most bloggers are self-taught. It’s a learning process and your blog will develop over time. Mine is still evolving. You don’t have to get it right the first time and you can always write for yourself and keep your blog private until you’re ready for it to go live. You won’t know if blogging is for you until you try it. A few of my favorite resources:
Be dedicated and don’t give up – Until you write your first blog post you really won’t know how much behind-the-scenes work there is for each article and every photograph. Blogging takes time and writing consistently requires good planning and dedication – but it will be what you make of it. Many of us have busy lives and schedules so finding that “extra” hour here and there can be tricky. When I started this blog I was in grad school for finance and marketing. I used this blog as a creative outlet and blogged when I had free time in between classes, a part-time retail job and several internships. After I graduated I was lucky to find a full-time job as a business analyst at a Fortune 500 company, but as with many 9-to-5 jobs, this required me to be at an office indoors 40+ hours per week. To maintain this blog over the years while working at a full-time corporate job, I photographed items on the weekends, woke up early on weekdays (sometimes at 4 am) and stayed up late blogging after work (sometimes past midnight). There were weeks when I didn’t have time or energy to write or edit pictures every single day so I wrote when I could devote my time and efforts to publish quality articles with photographs as best I could. Be selective in what you write about, blog when you can, try not be too hard on yourself, and if you don’t get all positive feedback or if you get negative feedback don’t give up.

Motivation and inspiration – Surround yourself with positive inspiration, write what you want to write about and focus on the good. I’ve been really blessed with supportive friends and family. They didn’t always understand what blogging was, why I did it or why I spent so much time taking all those pictures but they’ve always been supportive. I’ve been fortunate to have made some good friends through this blog as well.
Once you start blogging you will get occasional negative comments that are hurtful and offensive – directly on your blog, through social media, e-mail etc. These can kill any sense of confidence, motivation or inspiration to blog. As my husband and friends say, “ignore that nonsense.” Blogging brings out the individual creativity in each person – you cannot expect to make everyone happy or appeal to every reader. It’s still hard for me to not be affected by negative comments but really there are much more important things in life to focus on. For inspiration I recommend making lists of ideas you want to write about.

Make mini goals and celebrate milestones – Some blog on spur of the moment inspiration while others prefer to be more organized and have a structured publishing schedule. I’ve done both but rarely can I ever stick to an exact schedule (I’m working on being more organized and timely). No matter where you are in your blog (or even in life in general), make goals (small or large) and celebrate milestones. I’ve tried to track every time I reached a goal or milestone – looking back on accomplishments small or large will help motivate you and will also make you realize you’ve probably accomplished more than you realized. Even if you’re more of a in-the-moment kind of blogger, making small goals can help focus direction and make a world of difference. Goals can be anything you want such as improving your photography skills, learning more about social media, redesigning your website, committing to write 3-5 times per week. Milestones to celebrate can be your 50th post, making it to your first year of blogging (or any anniversary), reaching a certain number of followers on a social media platform (you don’t need to make this a priority but yes, you should celebrate!), being featured in a magazine etc.

Don’t be afraid to try something new – This is something I tell myself on a regular basis. It’s a challenge for me in blogging, my career and various aspects of my life but I always try to go outside of my comfort zone and try something new or different. The beauty and skincare industry is always coming out with something new to try so in a sense beauty bloggers are almost always trying something new. Long time readers know I love neutral colors, especially nude lips. I’ve received so many comments and e-mails asking me to wear more color but sometimes it’s hard for me to go out and buy something bright outside of my comfort zone to review it just because someone asked me to. Still I’ve been pleasantly surprised when I try new things on occasion. Sometimes new things won’t work out, but that’s the beauty of exploration and trying things outside of your comfort zone.
Finding balance can be challenging – Finding the right balance in time or content can be a challenge. Whether you blog full-time or part-time the whole blog process is pretty much non-stop. Inspiration or the thought process of what to write about and how to write about can be constant. I would say don’t uproot your entire life just to blog, although this is a challenge because blogging has changed a lot in my life. Finding a balance between work, life and blog is important – try to make boundaries. 
For content most will say hands down blog about what you love, but at the same time many of us also want to be relateable to our readers. Many readers want to read about what they like and some will disagree with your opinions, writing style, favorites picks, brand preference or lifestyle. Finding that content balance can be challenging as well, for example some want me to publish more negative reviews, but I have limited time to write and test products and really like to focus on what I like. It doesn’t mean I like everything I’ve tested or have a biased view on what’s featured. There’s no right or wrong formula – but try to focus on what you want to write about on your blog, after all it’s your web space and time.
Thank you to each and every one of you for your support and inspiration. Without you this blog would not be possible. If you have any other blogging questions or advice you’d like to share please do so in the comments. If you have any interest me writing a blogging tips series please let me know. I know many of you have asked about my camera – I have been working on a camera post, for now you can see what I use here.

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  • Anonymous

    Congratulations, Sabrina, on your blog anniversary. I have followed you for two years, and even though were are years apart in age, I find your clear, concise, and objective product reviews very helpful. Your excellent photographs also make shopping–especially online shopping–much easier when I don't have a local retailer with the branch or products to view in person. Excellence in beauty blogging is synonymous with The Beauty Look Book. –Maureen

    • Thank you Maureen for your kind words!

  • hi Sabrina, thanks for such a lovely love-letter to us your readers! Even though we are not the same complexion, your blog is one of the first places I go to find info and swatches of new products. Your reviews and photographs are always excellent and detailed. I hope you keep going, we will be here to support you all the way. Thank you so much for what you do!

    • Thank you for your support, I'm glad to hear swatches are helpful even if we're different skintones! Your skin is gorgeous by the way!!

  • Hi Sabrina, congratulations on hitting 5 years and here's to many more! I don't comment often but your swatches are very helpful and I salute your consistency and attention to detail, 2 things I can't say I have ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you too for the mention. I was terribly chuffed and honoured! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ Love your blog!

  • Kristina aka cubicledweller

    Congratulations from a long time reader! I don't remember exactly when I found your blog, but it's been at least two years! Keep up the fantastic work and best wishes!

    • Thanks Kristina, love your instagram pics, do you have a blog?

  • Thanks for this post- it gave me a lot to think about. I was inspired to start my own (very humble) blog by others like you and the other blogs I go to for swatches and info. I had no idea what I was getting into, and am still learning by leaps and bounds. It's been a learning process, one which I'm still admittedly a beginner. Congrats on your 5-year!

  • Congratulations on five years of The Beauty Look Book! Intelligent, articulate, thoughtful, sincere, genuine, artistic, and creative describe both you and your wonderful blog, Sabrina. Here's wishing you continued success!

  • Congratulations with an anniversary! Your blog was the very first one I came across when I decided to find out a little more about nail polish… that was over 2 years ago and oh my what a beautiful journey started since then ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you very much for you blog – consistent, positive and very helpful (those awesome colorwheel comparisons! love them!)

    • Thank you Viktoria – the nail wheels are a labor of love ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Congratulations! Thank you for your blog, I learn something every time I read your posts. Whether it be on blogging or on great beauty products. So glad I found your blog:)

    • Thanks for your support Sherry!

  • Congrats on making the five year mark! That's so exciting! I think you've written a fantastic article and I'm definitely taking your advice on board.


  • Hi Sabrina, congratulations on your 5 years mile stone. I have to say that your blog has been such a inspiration to me. I love the pictures you took and posted on the blog and instagram. Please keep writing as your blog is such a pleasant platform to read reviews on beauty stuffs ๐Ÿ™‚

  • This is a very inspiring post Sabrina! Thanks a lot and many congratulations to you.. its so endearing to read how you have come this far.. I am sort of going through the same with full time job and a new blog so its quite encouraging to see that people as successful as you have been through it too.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lipstick Queen Saint Eden Review | TheConscienceFund

  • Congratulations and continued success! The others have expressed more articulately the many reasons why I am also a big fan of The Beauty Look Book!

    • Thank you bumblebee ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations! Your post and reviews are always very helpful. My favourite beauty blog. Ana.

  • Congratulations! If it's been 5 years, I guess I've been following you almost since the beginning. I completely agree with the previous commenter who said that "excellence in beauty blogging is synonymous with The Beauty Look Book." Your photos in particular are excellent, and I would love to read your blogging/photography tips series!

    • Thank you for your support all these years!! I will definitely work on finalizing my photography post ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Congrats! I just surpassed one year in January! xx

    BerrieBlogs| {beauty blog}

  • Congratulations, Sabrina! Your blog is one of the best beauty blogs (in my opinion), and you've done a great job balancing work and your hobby. I do want to comment briefly on trolls. They aren't critics, my friend. They are flawed people who think that it's fun to write nasties to bloggers, criticizing everything – even our readers! It takes a long time to be able to hit that delete key with glee. Never take criticism from a troll personally. They need help from a mental health professional. Here's wishing you another great five years from a neutrals lover!

    • Thank you Charleston Girl – I adore you, your blog and all your helpful insights ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Congratulations Sabrina! I am a faithful reader and admirer of your wonderful photography, artisitic sensibility, color selections and editing choices. Raising a glass to your next 5 years!

  • Congrats on five years! It's really motivating to hear of how much energy and heart you put into the blog even after all this time. I do it because I love it and only do it when I feel the inclination to, which thankfully is pretty constant and without break. But I'm not nearly as organized or dedicated as you are, to lose sleep and rest time over it! I usually don't comment out of awe and sheer intimidation, but I always click on your new posts with a lot of excitement. You're a valuable resource to the beauty community at large and I'm really thankful that we're actually quite similar in skin tone and general colourings, lol. Here's to another five years more!

  • Great advice for bloggers like me who are just starting out!
    – Grace

  • Congratulations on your fifth anniversary! Your words of advice will be very helpful to anyone who is thinking about starting a blog as well as seasoned beauty bloggers. The Beauty Look Book was one of the first beauty blogs I discovered back in 2010 when I started reading blogs, and I am always excited to see a new post. Your detailed product reviews, comparisons and swatches are a tremendous resource to beauty shoppers and enthusiasts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Best wishes and keep up the great work!

    • Thank you my dear, I'm completely in love with your work and so happy each time I see a new post on makeup magpie ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Hi Sabrina,

    Congratulations on 5! What a landmark! I agree with so many of the comments above. I know I can always count on TBLB for beautiful content and inspiration — it always puts a smile on my face when I see when you've posted anew! Best wishes in your future blog adventures. I can't wait to see what's next ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you Dovey ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Petunia

    Congratulations and thank you. Thank you for making time in your life to write this fantastic blog. Your blog is a joy to read and your photos and swatches are always fabulous. I wish you many more years of success.

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations and thanks again for your hard work!
    I love reading your site and looking at swatches prior to purchasing makeup.

  • Congratulations on 5 years! I've recently started a lifestyle blog and you're a great inspiration!

  • Wow congrats for 5 years. Thank you so much for sharing this, I really find it hard to make time for my blog but I'm really trying to commit, this gave me some inspiration. X

  • Congratulations!
    I started beauty blogging at a community site around the same time, and I do wish I had just went ahead and put together my own blog. It would have been less competitive back then. But anyway, after much ho hums, I finally set mine up and it's for me, rather than anything, and though it excites me to see the statistics jumping up, I write for me.

  • First and foremost, congratulations on your 5th year anniversary.

    I have to say that this post resinated with me so much. I'm in a corporate job Marketing job at the moment as as manager and I utilise my blog to post about what I love the most and as a creative outlet. Reading this just kept me motivated to continue blogging.

    Thank you.