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Blogging Tips From The Beauty Look Book

October 2, 2010

I have reached over 1,000 google followers and as my blog attracts more attention, I have received numerous e-mails from newer bloggers for tips and advice on blogging.

Blogging is very personal and I don’t know exactly what makes one a “good” blog. As the sole writer of this blog, each post I write is a reflection of my own personal taste – some like it, some do not. By no means do I consider myself an expert. There is no set formula to make your blog a success. I’m flattered that so many would ask for my advice, but here are a few do’s and don’ts from my own personal perspective. Note this is rather lengthy and unedited as I have tried to answer all the questions and concerns I’ve received over the past several months.

Question 1: How do I get more followers?

The best way I know if is word of mouth. Getting more followers is an enigma to us all, and all I can say is that it doesn’t happen overnight. I still remember when I only had 10 followers and thought that was huge. If your goal is simply to get a large following then I’d question your motives for blogging. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers, you should be more concerned with your content rather than popularity.

a) Start with your friends – A number of friends I had made over beauty message boards helped me spread the word. Many of them were bloggers. I can’t thank them enough – they were sweet and supportive and motivated me to keep blogging. Do proceed with some tact though. Simply e-mailing every blogger friend “I have a new blog, please follow me as I follow you” is a turn-off and just tasteless. I can’t think of any blogger who thinks that is a great sell. Just start to let people know in an appropriate way that you’ve started blogging, maybe ask for feedback, but if you ask, be prepared for an honest answer. Don’t just e-mail hoping for flattery.

b) Find a blog who is asking for guest writers – Writing for a popular blog can be a great start. I submitted an idea for a guest post for Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog when she asked for submissions even before I started my blog. She did have a few requirements (one of them being that the content must be unique) so I brainstormed a couple ideas and she liked it! Thank you Karen from the bottom of my heart! If you submit an idea to a blog and don’t get picked, don’t give up! Be aware established blogs who ask for guest posts are looking for something specific. If they took just anything it wouldn’t be as meaningful, right? The key phrase is “asking for guest writers.” If a blogger isn’t looking for guest writers and you email them, be prepared for no response.

c) Get on Twitter – I have to chuckle at this one because it took me 6 months to figure out what a “tweet” was and how Twitter worked. It’s confusing at first but can be a great tool. I find blogs through the people I follow all the time. Once you start tweeting, don’t spam you blog on tweets, we can already see your profile name which will link to your website if you set it up right.

d) Start commenting on other blogs to get noticed – Commenting on other blogs can be a great way for others to find out about your blog. Be respectful and don’t spam them with links. The best way to get noticed is to write something insightful or meaningful instead of simply “love it!” (although those are appreciated as well). Many of us get numerous comments on more than one post throughout the day, sometimes it can be difficult to sort through all the noise.

e) Be patient! Sometimes weeks can go by without the numbers going up. Do keep in mind that if you are actively networking and reaching out, but your numbers aren’t going up at all, your content might need to be reworked. Simply starting a blog that is a collection of press releases or copying content from other blogs has been done a million times over. But getting followers does take time and lots of hard work.

f) Join a blogger network – This is something I can’t give much input on as I haven’t joined any. I would love to but don’t have the patience or time to follow all the rules they each have, but I know from others it’s a great resource for support, generating revenue, getting PR contacts etc.

Question 2: Do you have tips on how to blog?

A few do’s –

a) Haru from Rouge Deluxe wrote an excellent article on blogging. Check out her article linked here. She makes some excellent points.

b) Be original and find your own voice – I roll my eyes at bloggers that copy other bloggers. Yes, there are only so many ways we can write about certain things, but the posts that have a unique twist or the posts that show passion & enthusiasm always bring a smile. We are all inspired by what’s around us and bloggers are no exception. We inspire each other constantly. Just be original or try to contribute something meaningful from your own perspective.

c) Moderate your comments – Nobody likes spam. Some bloggers don’t mind you linking your own blog through the comments but it’s really just plain rude. I don’t like spam of any kind so I typically don’t publish comments with links that self promote. Also people can write crazy, hurtful, unrelated or just plain stupid comments. I’ll publish most of them (even the hurtful ones) but if it’s just completely over the top, moderating allows you to filter out the ones that aren’t relevant.

d) Be honest and consistent – We all know of a certain someone who has said “I won’t do glitter” and then released glitter products in a number of her collections. As trivial as it may seem, so many women have jumped on the criticism bandwagon saying, “can you believe she said that?” I chuckle at the drama this causes, but apply this to your blogging methods. We can change our mind and preferences as we age. Sometimes a hot trend one season will be out of fashion the next. If you change your mind, it’s ok to say so. Be honest and avoid writing in absolute terms like “this is the worst product ever!” Instead tell us what you didn’t like and why it didn’t work for you. If you try it again in the future and like it, just say you gave this product a second try and liked it better the second time around.

e) Make an effort to write properly – I am guilty of making mistakes on numerous occasions. I don’t have anyone editing my work and don’t always proof read. Sometimes commenters will post in the comments “you used the wrong version of that word.” I am always appreciative for any corrections but am usually embarrassed too. How could I get “bare” and “bear” mixed up? Is it “peek, peak or pique”? Where do I put that apostrophe? In my haste I’ve written “there” instead of “their.” If you at least make an effort, people will be forgiving of a mistake every once in a while. (I hold my breath now wondering how many mistakes have I made in this article? If you see any let me know.)

f) Again, be patient! Blogging has a learning curve. Taking photos and swatching are both difficult. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. If someone tells you your photos look like crap, they just might, but ignore them and keep moving forward. We all get better with practice!

A few don’ts or proceed-with-caution tips

a) Don’t steal content or photos from others – Take your own photos and be sure to source the ones you use from other websites that are public and not subject to copyright protection. I can’t tell you how angering it is to see my hard work show up on other websites. It’s especially angering since I don’t receive any sponsorships and don’t make any profit from affiliate links. Even more angering that I purchase the majority of the product I write about. I feel taken advantage of when people steal my photos. When I see photos from other blogs stolen and it makes me angry. If I see any stolen content on your blog, I will never follow it or promote it. So this don’t will partially be a do: GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE AND DON’T STEAL COPYRIGHTED CONTENT.

b) Don’t spam – This is my personal opinion, but when in doubt, don’t spam my blog or any blog with links to your website. There are fields that you can fill out in the comment section that will allow you to properly link your blog.

c) Don’t accept anything that seems too good to be true – If companies contact you to send you product, verify it with someone you trust. Don’t give out your information or address to anyone without verification.

d) Be careful how you self promote – Make sure you try to find out the rules beforehand. Even though I’ve already written that I don’t like spam, I guarantee you this post will still get spam comments. So if your comment isn’t published, it’s either spam or just plain stupid. (Sorry, I have to be frank.)

e) Be careful of what you write on message boards – I can’t tell you how many hate comments I’ve seen about my blog and that same person will later e-mail me “can you help me get started with blogging?” I won’t respond to these e-mails. I don’t visit message boards much anymore for a variety of reasons, but know what you write on the internet on a public forum can be accessed and viewed by anyone.

f) Do be careful about posting your face online – I don’t post photos of myself for two main reasons. I am self conscious and like my privacy. Having already been told I’m fat, don’t want to subject my face to even more scrutiny. If you think I’m fat or ugly, that’s fine, I can take it. I just don’t want my face out there and think it’s a waste of time to moderate the “you’re ugly” comments. I also don’t want random strangers coming up to me. So if you decide to post your face, just be ready for criticism. Know there are good angles and bad angles. Taking pictures of yourself can be a challenge in itself.

g) Don’t blog just for free products – It’s clear to me when a blog has 5 followers and a big note that says COMPANIES CONTACT ME HERE on the sidebar that they are simply blogging to get free stuff. I get e-mails every week for free products I have never heard of and have only accepted one. The day Chanel or Dior or any of the brands I love come knocking on my door, I won’t turn them down, but this is more wishing than anything. Even if you get large following and write unique articles and reviews – you aren’t guaranteed to get sent anything. I have yet to be contacted by any major brands and I’ve been blogging for over a year, have over 1,000 followers, 150,000 hits per month and have reached over 1.2 million hits total since I started tracking activity. I want to clarify that I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting products to review (I’ve met a couple bloggers who do receive PR samples and they were TOTAL sweethearts, they know who they are). If your main goal is to score freebies by blogging people will see right through it.

Again note that this list is simply my own opinion. There are many who won’t agree especially with linking blogs in comments or stealing content as it’s done frequently. I hope this helps give some perspective. Know that blogging is hard work and requires commitment and an open mind to change your technique to improve.

It’s always a battle between pleasing readers while staying true to yourself. Take control of your own blog and take criticism and requests with a grain of salt. I used to have my blog background yellow, then someone told me they hated it. Once I changed it, I got 5 e-mails asking “why did you change it? I liked it better the old way?” I was thoroughly annoyed and still get annoyed when people make demands that will only suit their likes with no consideration for others.

Blogging can bring out both the best and worst in people. All I can say it’s like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I end up crying. Still, it’s a hobby I hope to continue. Half the time I don’t know what I’m doing when I blog so many times it’s just a matter of trying something out. If it works, yay! If it flops, I won’t give up and I’ll just try it in a different way next time.

Find a support group – people you can talk to and who will tell you when you’re wrong. Find people who will say “it’s ok to cry, everything will be ok.” Sometimes we all just need to vent and get over whatever is bugging us. Reach out to people. Make new friends. Be open to feedback.

Most importantly – STAY POSITIVE and know that’s ok to get discouraged every once in a while. I definitely know I go through slumps. Knowing it happens to everyone kinda makes it better – having that feeling you’re not alone.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Chanel Rouge Coco Mini from Saks

April 4, 2010
One benefit of being on a mailing list is that you get notifications of new products and sometimes cute promotions. The most recent one I received was for a sample of the Rouge Coco in Mademoiselle (good when you present the mailer at the counter). Also at the counter were cute little pink and white flowered perfume spray cards to sample their new Chance perfume. I really wanted to get it because who can resist a pretty pink bottle of perfume? But alas, the scent was just not for me. The card however was irresistibly cute and I happily smelled it all the way home trying to convince myself that I could possibly wear that scent.

Dear Chanel, If you read this, this is the cutest sample + packaging I have seen in a long time! Please do one for the new Hydramax Lip Care Treatment. I would definitely consider splurging on an expensive lip balm if I had the chance to try it beforehand. (I saw the tester at the counter, but who trusts lip testers of potted lip products where anyone can stick their finger in if not watched 24/7?)

I doubt Chanel would take the time to read this blog, but who knows. These days I find that it’s hard to come by good samples. Even store events typically have crummy samples of products I would never use. This may be rude of me to say, but getting bad samples for spending $100 is almost worse than no sample at all. For me, a mini or sample size product should be given of something a store or brand wants to sell + also be relevant to customer interests. It should let the customer try a certain color or product so they can get a feel for how it can work for him or her.

While it is hard for me to find good samples, there are a number of skincare items I’ve fallen in love with from samples. NARS, Shiseido, Clinique, Paul & Joe are a few brands that have good samples to name a few. Things like skincare require a few trial uses before I can truly make a decision on whether or not that product will work for my skintype. If it weren’t for the fabulous GWP Paul & Joe skincare samples I received from BG, I probably would have never tried their skincare line and would have totally missed out.

Also, since customers have so many options of where to buy, I think customers should be given more incentives in the form of loyalty programs as a token of appreciation for giving a certain brand or store their business.

I have been guilty of getting sucked into numerous beauty events with the gift being a cheapo tote + 6 stingy samples that I don’t know I’d ever use. Many times, I already know there is something I want to buy – my mind has already been made up that I do intend to purchase something (ie the Chanel Rouge Cocos). The decision for me is where to buy it? Stores or brands that typically have better customer service, friendly more sincere sales reps, and better incentive programs usually get my loyalty.

I’ve been trying to convert my mother to Chanel for sometime now. I already have the Mademoiselle Rouge Coco, so this will be passed along to her. Hopefully she will be as excited about the cute little bag and packaging as I am and will maybe branch out of her usual go-to’s. (She’s an loyal EL + Lancome fan, which are great each in their own way, I just want her to try new stuff!)

Hope everyone has a Happy Easter!


What Are the Best Makeup Tips & Tricks You’ve Learned From Others?

January 26, 2010

In my most recent NARS makeover, I learned quite a few tips/tricks to brighten the face with the NARS multiples and it made me appreciate the artist’s knowledge and creativity in giving me a look that made me feel like a better version of myself. I’m one of those girls who has a lot of stuff but doesn’t always know how to use it all, so I find beauty events are a great way to get advice, tips and tricks from the pros.

Over the years, the best tips I’ve received from others that work for me are the following by category (these are by no means new tips, these are just the ones I didn’t know about that I found worked for me from advice of others):

* Mascara Tips – I have the straightest thinnest lashes in the world. Without mascara they are practically invisible. I’ve learned that curling the lashes does indeed make a huge difference – but you need to find the right curler for your eyeshape which is difficult since you’ll need to do this through trial and error. I’ve found some lash curlers pinch my eye because they are either too deepset or too small. My favorites today are Trish McEvoy and Shu Uemura. Also – if you find your mascara has gotten clumpy on the brush, just wipe the entire brush with a piece of paper to remove the build up and then it will work just like new again.

* Even Yet Natural Foundation – Sometimes my favorite foundations just don’t look right on the skin because of a bad skin day or weather changes. I typically apply with a sponge after moisturizer. I’ve tried numerous primers but don’t like having so many layers on my face so I’ve learned two tricks: 1) Apply moisturizer and a spritz MAC’s Fix+ on your face and let it sit for a minute, then apply foundation, or 2) Mix a small amount of the primer with your foundation so it applies smoother and sheerer without having that heavy feel. My favorite primers are MAC Prep + Prime (regular), Nars Primer (regular) and Chanel’s Le Blanc de Chanel. Right now I’m alternating between the Chanel and Nars.

* The Multiple Uses for NARS Multiples – I’m a HUGE fan of multiples but have always used them either under blush, over blush, or as a cream eyeshadow. I find some of them to be a bit too emollient but it doesn’t stop me from using them. A few tips I learned from my recent makeover and in the past:
* Apply South Beach on cheeks before you apply foundation for that inner-glow
* Mix a lighter shade like Luxor/Copacabana with concealer for brightening under eyes
* Mix Luxor w/concealer and apply over browbone to lift up the face and define brow
* Layer powder blush over multiples to intensify color of the powder

* Layering Blushes – I love blush. It’s probably the item I have the most of in my stash. I wish there were more perfect shades of blush for me, but I find that I layer 2 different colors of blush about 90% of the time. This is typically the case I’ve heard from most makeup artists. I don’t know if it’s just a selling tactic to sell more blushes, but they’ve showed me in the mirror the before and after effects with 1 versus 2 layered blushes. 1 blush is often good enough, but the effect when you see 2 layered together is “wow.” Artists layer just about anything together: pink over peach, peach over pink, bright pink over lighter pink, pink over bronze, gold over orange, gold over rose, light over dark etc.

* Contouring Tips – Contouring is something I’ve never really known how to do until I learned from several Trish McEvoy events. Trish McEvoy is another line I love because their artists are really phenomenal. For contouring the face, they recommend taking a bronzer brush and applying bronzer in a 3 motion from the temples to the cheeks and down to the jawline. For someone who has a round face, I have to say I was amazed that this trick did make my face look a bit less round and it gave me some depth without having to get a tan.

Are there are any tricks or tips you’ve learned from others that work for you? Please share them with me, I’m always up for learning more about the application process!!!


Where Do You Get Your Beauty Inspiration?

December 28, 2009

I absolutely loved reading each of your comments for the post Why Do You Love Makeup & What Do You Look For in a Brand! It was fun for me to read and gave me a bit of insight into your style and personality. Thank you!

Thanks to those who filled out my mini-survey on your beauty habits from a few days ago. Your responses indicated that 38% of you looked to blogs for beauty trends while 31% of you looked to magazines/publications for beauty trends the most. This was of particular interest to me because of a few recent conversations I’ve had about where women look for beauty inspiration and how the internet has changed the way women view fashion.

I have read beauty and fashion magazines for about a decade now and while I love the articles and layout, I have to say these days, I find most of them lacking in inspiration for someone like myself. As a woman in my late 20’s I find that I end up finding only about 10-15% of the content in these major publications interesting or something that I would actually wear that is at a reasonable price.

One of my favorite magazines has a monthly feature titled “Smart Shopping: Under $500” which I find a bit ridiculous since to me “smart shopping” is not something under $500 and I have yet to see some fashion or accessory in that series that makes me go “oooh, want!” Perhaps I am just reading the publications that target a different demographic.

I used to rush to flip open to the beauty sections of these magazines – I loved the different looks or up close features from the runway and how-to’s. Today, it seems like most publications are mainly advertisements and I question the validity of editor comments like “we were blown away by this product . . . “ as I wonder is this product really all that or was there something extra paid for this product placement/feature?

So why do I keep shelling out money for these month after month? I have no idea. How many times have I bought an issue only to feel, “ugh, what a waste of $5” after flipping through 100 pages of product advertisements?

I’ve been told that print is dying. It seems that everything is moving towards a digital trend where we can get more information faster through the Internet. I find it amazing how blogs and YouTube have exploded because it allows so many people to express themselves creatively and share it with everyone and anyone.

Since we can get information faster and sooner, why pay $5 for a publication when you can get the same information (or more) on the Internet for free?

So – my fellow readers, tell me more about where do you get your beauty inspiration from.


Why Do You Love Makeup & What Do You Look For in a Brand?

December 23, 2009

I want to get to know more about my readers so I thought it would be fun to ask why you love makeup & what you look for in a brand. My love for high-priced beauty products is a constant mystery to my husband as he has asked me on several occasions “how many makeup brushes does a girl need?” To that, I cannot give an definite answer, I only know that I have accumulated way too many and that it didn’t happen overnight.

I’d also love to hear what you look for in a brand. Are you brand loyal? Or is there something else you look for in buying beauty products? As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with advertising coming at us from all angles. With the millions of products out there promising us luminous skin, luscious full lips, dramatic eyes and silky hair – how do you sort through all the information to decide what to buy and try out? Sometimes it’s easier to just stick with a few familiar brands because you know you can rely on them for consistency.

Here are my answers:

1) Why Do I Love Makeup? I can’t exactly explain why I love makeup so much, but for me it’s fun, addictive, pretty and I have little willpower to resist a sparkly eyeshadow, light pink lipstick, or soft fluffy eyeshadow brush. I like makeup because it makes me feel like a better version of myself when I have even skintone from a bit of foundation and powder. Part of it is that it makes me feel better about the areas I am insecure about, while it doesn’t cure a bad mood or depression all the time, it usually makes me feel better when I at least feel that I look good.

2) What Do I Look For in a Brand? This is a bit more complicated for me. There are a lot of things I look for in a brand. I’m not the type to be loyal to one brand, although there are definitely brands I feel like I can rely on for consistency and quality. I like products that give a classic timeless look, but I also like new things. So what else do I look for?

  • High quality, good pigment, nice textures at a decent price
  • Natural wearable feminine colors but I love unique shades too
  • Packaging needs to be sturdy, design needs to be cute or classic or simple
  • Decent incentives (GWPs or samples) to show appreciation for business
  • Products that are timeless and classic, but modern and new at the same time

Last but definitely not least, I think the whole experience of buying something makes or breaks a brand. There have been a few brands I have fallen completely in love with because of the GREAT customer service I have received. Likewise, there have been a couple occasions with some brands that have totally killed my desire to try any more products or shop at a particular store.

Am I too demanding as a customer? After all, how much can companies innovate? Can they keep bringing us new things that fit our needs/wants/likes? Many times I feel like certain brands repeatedly release the same types of colors year after year – but perhaps that just means I have maxed out on my product capacity and should focus on using things up rather than focus on looking for new things.

3) What are my top favorite brands? I have to admit this has changed over the years and is still changing.

  • In my early 20’s it was Stila, Nars, Trish and Bobbi Brown.
  • In my mid 20’s it was Chanel, MAC, Dior and Armani.
  • I’m now in my late 20’s and today, my list of favorite brands has expanded to include a wider variety Chanel, Armani, Bobbi Brown, Paul & Joe, Edward Bess, Dolce & Gabbana.

So, beauty addicts unite! I’d love to hear your reasons for why you love makeup and about your favorite brands.


What’s Your Makeup Look for a Job Interview?

October 5, 2009

Anyone looking for a job or career change? Those of you who are will most likely be familiar with the excitement of finally getting an interview but also know the anxiety of having to go through the process.

It’s nerve-wracking being evaluated on your skills and competencies from a grilling 30-90 minute interview. The best thing I feel I can can do is be prepared to the best I can and be confident about it. For me, a key part of feeling confident is feeling comfortable and looking my best. I like to keep it simple, polished and professional. But, each time, I still go through a “what should I wear?” moment, so I stick to basics and neutrals and avoid new things and lots of shimmer at all costs.

I’d like to open it up to my readers and ask you what is your interview face?

Tell me:
* What types of jobs have you been looking for (corporate, finance, marketing, retail, fine arts etc.)?
* Do you have any tips or techniques or a go-to look that you feel worked for you for interviews?
* What are your favorite colors (specific brands and shades) you like to use?
* If you’re on the employer side – any tips or input from you? What are some no-no’s?

One upside to having gone through several interviews is being able to observe how your interviewers dress and present themselves. This has helped give me some guidelines on how to dress and what not to wear. Here is what I wore to a recent interview with a Jcrew Navy Pinstipe Suit, cream scoopneck sweater-shirt, black closed-toe pumps (for corporate finance type position):

Face: Nars Sheer Matte Foundation in Punjab
Chanel Double Perfection Powder Foundation in Tender Bisque dusted very lightly
Le Metier Fresh Blush + Whisper Highlighter for a barely-there blush

Eyes: Bobbi Brown Malted Cream Eyeshadow
Nars Abyssinia Single Eyeshadow dusted lightly over 3/4 of the eye
Le Metier Milan Eyeshadow to contour softly (blended so there was no visible line)
Dolce & Gabbana Coffee Liner smudged with Nars Bali (for a soft defined liner, again no visible defined line)
Diorshow Iconic Waterproof (just to define the lashes)

Lips: MAC Sublime Culture Lipliner
Chanel Ming Rouge Allure Laque

My husband gave me his approval before I left the house. What do you think?

I know it’s not the makeup they should notice, but rather the applicant – but there still requires some planning and thought for getting that “no-makeup look,” of course with makeup. I’d love to hear what colors and products you use for your interviews!


The Limited Edition Factor: To Back-Up or Not To Back-up?

September 14, 2009

I think we’ve all experienced the “oh no!” panicked feeling from having discovered that a beloved product or shade was discontinued or limited edition. How do you feel about limited edition items or back-ups?

I have to admit I’ve been sucked in a number of times to products because of the limited edition factor, yet there are certain lines (which will remain un-named) that I now refuse to buy from because of so many product revamps, constant product discontinuations or because of overzealous sales associates pressure me to buy because “it’s limited edition, you have to buy it now.”

We all like new things, so I have to ask myself, why do I a back-up or duplicate of something I already have? My back-up obsession has gotten out of control as has it has exceeded capacity of my MAC Train Case and now filled up a drawer in my Ikea unit. I think I need an intervention to help get rid of my pack-rat tendencies.

(For example, I have a number of MAC Mineral Skin Finishes duplicates such as the So Ceylon released back from 2004, yet I have never come close to finishing a MSF! Why do I continue to buy backups of such items? I have no idea.)

I’m interested to know in how you all feel about “limited edition” collections. Especially when certain lines have been known to release monthly limited edition items. The pros are that they release a number of products with innovative colors or textures that are inline with seasonal trends. I value creativity and innovation. The downside is sometimes you will see a re-hash of similar colors when it seems that they have run out of ideas of what to release next.

Since I hate falling in love with something only to worry that it might be discontinued someday, I have come to appreciate lines like Nars which doesn’t release “limited edition” items unless it’s in the form of a palette or a set.

So, all that being said, what do you have back-ups of? What are your thoughts on limited edition items? What do you do when you are desperate to find something that is no longer available?

Perhaps your insight will help me avoid getting sucked into buying so many back ups. Especially when some cream-like products have a certain shelf life.