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How to start a beauty blog (and what to expect once you do!)

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The #1 question that I get asked is how to start a beauty blog. Sure, there are variations, like “How do I transition my current blog into a beauty blog,” or “How can I start making money off of my beauty blog,” but what seems to be on everyone’s minds is how you do the whole, y’know, blogging thing. 

My answer is always the same: don’t. 

Behind the blog - Nov 2015

1. Make the commitment

Now, it’s not that I don’t love beauty blogging, and it’s not that I don’t want to see the community grow — I very, very much do. But I don’t think that anyone should start a beauty blog on a whim. It’s more like adopting a pet than eating a sandwich: you have to be ready to make a huge time commitment, and if you want to blog seriously, you need to be ready to keep it up for years.

We’re talking anywhere from 15 hours a week (for a casual blogger) to 40-60 hours (if you want to make a living off of it) for the next 10 years of your life, with no “paid vacation time” or sick day coverage.

The first step in starting a beauty blog is putting in the time. After that, everything else is easy.

Wordpress Dashboard

2. Pick the right blogging platform

Choose WordPress. 

No, but seriously — it’s not up for discussion. WordPress is a little more intimidating right out of the gates, but it’ll give you the room to grow that Blogger simply doesn’t. With a WordPress blog, each little bit of styling is made to adapt with your layout; with Blogger, each bit of styling is made to be particular to that post only.

I made the mistake of starting out with Blogger back in 2007, so please, for the love of god, learn from my mistakes. 

(The only time you’re not required to choose WordPress is if you go with Squarespace, but that’s a whole other can of worms.)

BlueHost - host recommendation

3. Get your own hosting plan & domain name

Your HOST is where your site lives; your DOMAIN NAME is the url that readers will use to access it.

My other “must” for new bloggers is starting out with your OWN domain name and hosting plan. Paying for your own little space on the web is surprisingly affordable (my current web host offers plans that start at $3.95/month, which is the price of a single freaking coffee), and it offers you a level of credibility and flexibility that “.blogger.com” and “.wordpress.com” just can’t give you.

With a free site on Blogger or WordPress, you’re limited in the kind of ads you can run, the kinds of plugins you can use, and sometimes even the types of content you can publish (Blogger haaates sex bloggers, and WordPress.com doesn’t like it when bloggers make money, too.)

BlueHost control panel

I currently host with BlueHost, who I absolutely love. They make hosting your site super easy, with a control panel that’s basically designed for dummies and excellent (free!) 24/7 tech support online and by phone. I’ve found that Bluehost’s rates are equal to GoDaddy’s and lower than HostGator’s, and since switching over from GoDaddy, I’ve noticed a lot less downtime and faster loading times on theNotice.

» If you’re thinking of signing up with BlueHost, I would love if you could use my affiliate link to show them that I sent you!

You can also buy your domain name through BlueHost (use the widget above to see if your dream domain name is available right now!), but Namecheap also comes highly recommended by bloggers, too. (Namecheap is–you guessed it–a little cheaper, but sometimes having an integrated web host & domain registrar can be handy!)

WordPress org vs com

wpbeginner has a great infographic on WordPress.org (self-hosted) vs WordPress.com (free) here.

4. Make some contacts

In the beauty blogging world, your #1 asset is your friends. If you really want your blog to take off, don’t focus on making money or hooking up with brands — focus on finding bloggers who you respect and admire, and build actual relationships with them.

My favourite thing about the beauty blogging world is the people, and those people are going to be the exact same ones who will help you grow your own blog. Comment on others’ blogs, start chatting with strangers on Twitter, and make sure you send good vibes back out into the blogosphere.

There is no limit to how many blogs one reader can or will read, which makes blogging one of those rare, wonderful industries where supporting your peers wholeheartedly will only ever help you reach your own goals. Take advantage of it: form blogger crushes, collaborate with them, and most importantly, don’t be afraid of learning from others & telling them when you think their work is awesome!

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5. Get writing!

Okay, so I know that I said making the commitment was going to be the hardest thing, but–um. It’s not. What makes that commitment hard is following through on it, not just wishing with all your might.

The beauty blogging world looooves a heavy poster, and while it’s not make-or-break, it’s definitely important. I always chuckle when I see a tweet from my sex blogging friends being all, “oooh, I posted twice this week, kneel before me!” because while that’s an awesome posting frequency for the adult industry, it’s really low for the beauty industry.

If you wanted to blog occasionally, you should have gotten into electronics or types of ash instead. The beauty world lives off of bloggers who post 3-7 times/week, and those making a living off of their blog usually need to post at least twice a day (if not more.) So grab your camera, give up all of your future Saturdays to photo-taking, and start by reviewing the products that you already know and love!

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Still think you’re cut out for beauty blogging? Awesome! Come back on Wednesday for tips on how to partner with brands & more.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to leave ’em below and I’ll answer as many as I can in my next post. 

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  • Amen to all of it. Your first point was definitely the most important though. A blogging schedule is something everyone has to stick to if they want their readers to stick with them over the days, weeks, months, etc. People who blog irregularly are usually the first ones to ask "where did all my readers go??" and it's such an obvious question to answer!

    • Yes!! I stopped blogging daily a couple years ago, when my fibromyalgia got really bad, and I saw my readership drop dramatically over the next couple of months. Now that I'm back to posting 3-4x/week, it's gone up a tiny bit, but it's just not the same if your readers have no idea when the next post is going to come up!

  • I know Blogger is the most hated platform out there among bloggers (and developers), but I have absolutely no problem with it. I bought my domain name for a handful of quarters and integrating it on Blogger was basically automatic (and free). I pay $0 for hosting and I haven't had a single minute of downtime since I started using it in 2011. Photo storage space is virtually unlimited (files under a certain size don't count towards the limit). I've heard, although I can't confirm, that Blogger also performs better in terms of SEO than other platforms. And I have a pretty basic layout right now, but I've seen blogs hosted on Blogger with a much more complex and dynamic layout, so I know it's possible (although I don't have the knowledge to do it myself). Maybe I'll run into something that makes me change my mind in the future, but for now, I enjoy the simplicity and free hosting!

    The one thing I hate with all my heart is Blogger's native comment system. That's why I installed another commenting system and it works perfectly well, except for that annoying CommentLuv icon, but you know about that!
    My recent post Review: OZ Naturals Ultra Ageless Eye Creme

  • Elysse

    You are so right about Blogger. I hate it! I've had so much trouble with it and come to think of it, it is one of the main reasons I don't blog more often or regularly. Your post had inspired me to do better. I have many things I want to write about and they will remain in the realm of thoughts&ideas unless I schedule time for my blog. Thank you!
    My recent post Essence 51 Miss Captain and Polka Dots

  • vaaaane123

    Such a great post! One thing that really helped me get started was doing tons and tons of research. I think if someone wants to seriously start a blog, there should be a preparatory stage of at least two months where you just research the more techy side of blogging. For example, although I did so much research prior to launching my blog, I wish I knew the difference between CSS, HTML, and PHP. It's a lot of work, but I think the end result is super worth it!

    • I definitely agree that it's worth it! I'm not sure about the two months of research (I'm kind of a "GO FOR IT!!!" gal) beforehand, but I would totally recommend learning at least a bit of HTML when you start! The PHP is optional, and CSS is basically just styling, but a grasp on HTML makes your life so much easier as a blogger! ;)

  • I think #5 is a great tip for anyone who wants to start a professional or semi-professional blog, but personally, I feel no pressure to post several times a week. My blog is purely a hobby and I have no aspirations to monetize it or partner with brands. That said, I think it's really important to get in the habit of posting REGULARLY, whether that's twice a day or just once a week. Without a posting schedule, it's easy to sink into the mindset of "meh, I'll do it eventually"…and suddenly six months have passed and no one is reading your blog anymore.

    One thing I think new bloggers should have in mind before they start is their specific angle on beauty. There are hundreds of beauty blogs that post swatches and matter-of-fact reviews, so what are you going to contribute to the conversation that no one else already is? I've noticed that new beauty blogs without a unique slant tend to peter out quickly.
    My recent post Pan That Palette 2016: Nude 'Tude Revisited

    • Hahaha, oh yes — the illustrious "I'll do it eventually." Nothing kills a project like an "I'll do it eventually"! I've been meaning to get my licence for seven years of eventually, and so far, it's going nowhere. :P

      Your specific angle tip is SO good! I would definitely recommend that new bloggers consider that. I don't think it needs to be part of your branding, per se, but if you have a driving force (like publishing about French beauty products, or focusing on silicone-free content! ;)), it can do a lot for the quality of your content.

  • A++++++++ I particularly love the "Choose WordPress" – yes. I had a Blogger blog before I started the beauty blog and wordpress is so very nice. It's currently KILLING me not being able to blog because of my dumb computer. Agh.

    • Hahaha yessss, I'm glad you agree!! And I'm so sorry about your computer, babe :( It's awesome that you can borrow your other half's laptop, though — that must be helpful!

  • becky

    HAHAH, I love the "Choose WordPress." I started off with Blogger, moved to Squarespace, and then moved to a self-hosted WordPress blog and I love it. For me, I started blogging because I wanted to be cool and get free stuff (lol) but now I don't care about that anymore. I think the friendships I make from blogging is so much more rewarding than getting sent the occasional product. But, it'd be pretty darn cool if I could make a living out of this hobby someday~
    My recent post irresistible me diamond flat iron

  • I agree with all your points! I started on blogger and moved to self hosted wordpress. No regrets!
    My recent post Best Beauty Tools

    • Vivi.m

      Hey, if I'm already on wordpress.com and want to pass to their paid program, is that like passing to .org?
      Or do I have to move the whole site to an independent host and then download wordpress.org?

      • You should be able to export your blog and import it into your new .org framework (hooked up to your new webhost)! :)

        • Vivi.m

          Excellent thanks :)

    • Yeahh!! :D

  • Erin

    I am so thankful for this. I have been wanting to start a blog and had no clue where to start. Loads of great info in your post and the comments. Thank you!

  • I use blogger and I kinda love it! Maybe I'll switch to wordpress in a couple of years!
    My recent post It was the year 2015 | beauty dislikes

    • I hope the switch serves you well if/when you go for it, Natasja! :)

  • Posts like this make me realize what a complete NOOB I was when I got into blogging. I really knew nothing, I was Jon Snow.
    My recent post Make-up look | MAC Faerie Whispers Collection

    • HAHAHA Melissa. :D

      I really was, too! I had a sad little point and shoot and a Blogger account and everything was TERRIBLE. I'm glad I've (uh, hopefully) come a long ways since then!

  • Zoe

    I ran a blogger blog for a few years before this one and I definitely appreciate wordpress…although I am going to hate hosting renewal with the Canadian dollar. I definitely do find it's easy for your blog to get dusty if you don't post quite often. Great tips!

    • Oh, geez. I totally forgot about renewing hosting with the Canadian dollar. >.< :(

  • Anonymous

    can I add another rule? Be ready for the “hate” that comes with it. Everyone will have their own “opinion” and “perception of your reality.” I have never once taken a product for free, I have never accepted a single thing, in fact, as a sponsorship or to review. I have purchased literally every single item I have reviewed or discussed/photographed on my blog. And because of that I have been called a liar–because people assume I really have gotten all of it free or in exchange for something despite the fact that I have not–but also I get constant crap for anything I buy, called out for how I spend my money, how much I spend, where I shop, “why did you return used makeup?!” “why did you buy that if you didn’t think it would work?” “all you do is buy expensive stuff and then show it off here! You’re such a snob! You should donate that money to people who really need it!” I am sure you can imagine that people say anything and everything. But it gets old fast when 90% of your comments are obnoxious crap like that, and not genuine comments from people who are actually interested in what you have to say.

  • esharp1978

    I really enjoy the community aspect of blogging. I loved many blogs before I had my own and was supporting my favorites. Some I've discovered since I've been doing it myself. I'm two years in and still consider myself a noob.
    My recent post Anthropologie Winter Tag Sale

    • Yes!! The wonderful people you'll meet are definitely my favourite part of blogging, too. You guys are really somethin'. ;)

      To be fair, I'm eight years in and I totally still have my noob moments! You should have seen me when I was learning how to transfer domains — my friend (who works in IT) was explaining it to me and just totally giving me a "dude, how do you not KNOW these things already???!" face. >.<

  • Clementine

    This is really practical advice. I'm still new to beauty blogging (but not new to blogging – I've been doing some variation of it since 2006) and I completely agree with it all. I started my current blog with its own web space and domain name straight out of the gate and I'm so glad I did; in addition to making it look more legit to outsiders, I think it also helps you see your own blog as worthy of your time and respect! And I couldn't agree more with WordPress – I've been using it since maybe late 2007/early 2008 and I've never looked back!

    • That's such a good point, Clementine! It definitely helps when you see your own blog as "proper," too — it's not just for others.

      Speaking of which, I guess I should really get on with updating theNotice's layout, eh? It's been years! ;)

  • Curvylicious Belle

    Very informative!!

  • hyukta

    Agree to WordPress. I used Blogger once (though many many years ago), but didn't like the interface that much. For some, Blogger is fine just for simple blogging. For blog expansion, WP is the better option. :)

    Thanks for the tips, by the way. I found it easier to make friends with those from the blogging community before than now. Such friends definitely help in blogging. I really need to be more sociable again. Especially with the beauty blogging community. ^^;;;