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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