Are you a blogger? Come help us ALL be fairly paid! | The business of blogging

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

If you’re a blog reader but you don’t run your own, feel free to skip this post or send it to your favourite bloggers!

One of the things that has been nagging at me ever since I wrote my How to start a beauty blog & How to monetize your blog posts is that no one quite knows what to be charging for their services — and brands are taking advantage of that fact to both undercut our prices & convince bloggers who run smaller blogs to work for little or no pay.

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workplace inspo via west elm

You can’t buy groceries with free product, so what I want to do is create a spreadsheet to compare stats to fees in a manner that we can all access. Once I have enough information, I’d also like to share a general summary with you guys to give everyone an idea what to be charging based on their stats without each person having to sort through all of the raw data.

The results will be completely anonymous and only available to other bloggers, but will be free to any blogger who wants to access them.

» Click here or scroll down to fill out the survey «

So here’s where you guys come in. If you run a blog, please take a minute to fill out this Google Form! You don’t need to look up your exact stats or answer any questions that don’t apply to you/that you don’t want to (estimates are totally fine!) This information is only going to be a general picture that other bloggers can reference, so don’t sweat it.

I’m hoping to have this form open for about a month, so please get your entires in as soon as you can, share with friends, and return at the end of April for the results!

» This survey can be found at http://bit.ly/tnblogging if you want to share it with other bloggers! «

How to monetize your blog, partner with brands, & more: The do’s and don’t of blogging

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

» How to start a beauty blog

1. The do’s and don’ts of blogging

2. Working with brands

3. Monetizing your blog

4. Branching out from (or into) beauty blogging

The do’s and don’ts of blogging

Burberry Beauty launches Canada Vancouver Nordstrom

For those of you on your coffee break, here’s a snappy list of the do’s and don’ts of blogging!

Edit: DON’T try to monetize every single sample offer from your contacts. I keep seeing newbie bloggers deciding to do this, and it makes me want to shake them and yell, “TWO THOUSAND HITS PER MONTH IS TINY. SIT DOWN.” Start instead by using affiliate links or selling banner ads (read below!), and focus on creating great content and building relationships, not squeezing naïve small businesses for cash.

DO leave lots of comments on other bloggers’ blogs, and DO leave a link back to your blog in the “url” form field, but DON’T leave a link to your blog in your comment text — I can’t think of a single person I know who doesn’t find that to be incredibly rude!

DON’T get into spats on social media. Someone is always watching, in the creepiest of creepy Big Brother ways.

DO be funny! 

DON’T send your new followers automated messages.

DO use a blogging calendar to keep you on track. I’ve recently started using a sticky-notes-and-tape eyesore, and I love that I can touch it and move stuff around.

new camera 2014 copy

DO learn the difference between HTML, CSS, and PHP. My favourite resource for all three is w3schools.com, which is easy to reference for simple fixes & arranged like a textbook for those who want a crash course.

DO buy a good camera — and editing software. If you’re serious about blogging, I recommend a camera body that gives you room to grow, like the Canon T5 or Nikon D3200. I shoot with a Sony A6000 (the A5100 cheaper option with a 180˚ screen) and an old Zeiss lens, and then edit in Photoshop.

DO proofread. Accidents happen, but if you mix up your there, their, and they’res, I won’t be the only one quietly mocking you in my head.

DO nerd out over your non-beauty interests. This is the easiest way to find other people like you in the herd, whether your special interest is ramen noodles or alpacas!

cats cats cats

My special interest is cats. My special interest has always been cats.

Working with brands 

Okay, so once people start blogging, the big question always becomes, “How can I start collaborating with brands?” Which is a valid question, but like — you have no idea how gross it makes me feel to hear it. It’s like someone asking how to get into your ex-girlfriend’s pants: it’s not that you definitely don’t deserve to, it’s that you really seem like you’re only in this for the sex and you should really be proving that you’re good enough on your own.

I don’t make a lot off of theNotice, and if I had to buy every single product that I tested for the blog & featured here, I would barely break even. But while it’s awesome to have a brand validate your work by working with you, it’s important that you view press samples as a way to help you do your job better, not the reason for doing your job at all.

stop being greedy

So: I’d recommend waiting for at least a year (yes, really) before reaching out to brands. If someone contacts you before then, awesome; if not, it’s worth the wait! That way, you can show brands your archive, stats, and social media following when you do contact them, and your reader base will know that they can trust you — and so will other bloggers.

Highlight whatever YOUR BLOG really excels at. You don’t have to be the biggest fish in the pond to show people that you’re doing great work!

Next, create a media kit in the style of your blog that includes your stats, your blog’s message, and a little bit about you, the person they’ll be working with! It’ll help give you a leg up in the PR department’s inbox, and it’ll work kind of like an online business card for your blog.

One of the best tips I’ve ever heard about creating a media kit is to highlight whatever your blog really excels at (I think maybe it was Natalie?), whether that’s the number of comments you get or the number of page hits. Your blog doesn’t have to be the biggest or the most polished to stand out.

Moody pastels - YSL Spring makeup look

I recommend starting on a brand’s website to look for contact info, or pitching in person if you can. I know bloggers who recommend contacting brands via their social channels or employees’ LinkedIn accounts, but I’ve always found that if a brand really loves your blog, a general email to the company will be enough. Let your work speak for itself! 

The hard part about PR relationships, though is keeping that relationship going. If you want to stay in the loop, you’re going to need to review new launches quickly (most brands prefer to see features within 30 days, which is whiplash-and-a-concussion fast), forward links back to the brand after a review goes up, and always be reachable by email.

Once you’re in, remember that blog-brand relationships are a two-way street, and you do not work for the brand — no matter how well or poorly they treat you. Accepting product for a review is a fair (and industry-standard) practice, but make sure you don’t let your to-review pile overwhelm you. It is a real, breathing thing, and it will suffocate you in the middle of the night and hide the evidence. 

Graphic sunset eye look

Monetizing your blog 

Unfortunately for all of you up and coming beauty bloggers, ambassadorships and sponsorships are a rare thing in this industry. Sure, they exist, but it’s not exactly “cool” for a beauty blogger to post their Amazon Wishlist or have a Patreon.

Instead, beauty blogs tend to survive on the Golden Trio of advertising: sidebar ads, affiliate commissions, and sponsored posts.

Keep reading! »

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

Monday, January 18, 2016

theNotice layout screenshot

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!

theNotice logo

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. 

Clinique #FaceForward: What advice would you give your future self?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Clinique Face Forward Fall 2015 Turnaround facial mask

“If you could give your future-self any advice, what would it be?”

Right now, Clinique is challenging millenials to ask themselves a question: “If you could give your future-self any advice, what would it be?”

The #FaceForward campaign flips the usual conversation (“what advice would you give your past self?”) and encourages women to break boundaries, challenge themselves, and reach their goals. To #FaceForward toward the future, if you will ;)

Clinique Even Better mask, Pore Refining charcoal mask

I’ve been thinking a lot about this question recently, and I think that if I could only give my future self one piece of advice, it would be this:

Keep saying YES.

Keep saying yes is the mantra that I’ve been operating on since the summer (paired with my old standby, GO HARD), and it has inspired and encouraged me every single day since then. To me, it means be better than you are — not to be better than your peers, but to be better tomorrow than you are today. It means saying yes to new opportunities and challenges, no matter how scary, and operating in a way that would make your past self proud.

Together, “keep saying yes” and “go hard” are a way to conduct yourself that leaves you always striving: if, at any given point, your very best is the comparison point for not good enough, then there’s always something pushing you.

Clinique Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen

It was easy to keep saying yes while I was away, but it’s more difficult now that the summer is over. When you’re no longer surrounded by creatives and cityscapes and beauty left and right, staying on track is like trying to get your six glasses of water a day: hard, likely to make you pee a lot, and as gruelling as it is rewarding.

Here on the prairies, everything is so far, and the ground beneath my feet never feels quite like home. I find that I struggle to stay inspired, but I’ve been keeping my little #FaceForward on my desk to remind myself to look to the future and keep saying yes. 

And you know what? I think it’s helping.

Clinique Face Forward Even Better mask

What piece advice would you give your future self?

BISC Vol. 15: How do you overcome blogger’s block?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

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AGATA | USA | Her and Makeup

In my opinion “blogger’s block” can mean two things. One, like a writer’s block, having a hard time with writing itself. You do have pictures and the idea in your head but words just won’t flow. If that happens, I usually try to just jot down some loose ideas on a piece of paper, start with a short few sentences and later on build up on that. I think a bigger problem though is running out of ideas in general. That can happen quite easily in blogging, especially if you don’t receive PR samples and you cannot buy every new makeup item that comes out. Then I usually read a lot of other beauty and lifestyle blogs to look for inspiration, I check Pintrest to see if there are any looks that tickle my fancy that I could recreate.

RAE | Canada | the Notice: a beauty blog

Honestly, I’m not the person to ask about blogger’s block. When it comes, I often just kind of… let it come. I’ll take a little bit of a break, posting minimally as it happens, and just wait patiently for something to grip me again! Travelling always helps, and so does testing out a really great new collection, but I’m more likely to try and wait it out than I am to try and “overcome” it!

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SUNNY | Belgium | Mostly Sunny Blog

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to sit it out. I used to push myself really hard. However, with my increasing workload, my options really come down to finally getting some sleep and writing a blog post on some days. Learning to let go is a big part of staying happy as a blogger (for me). Other times it’s good to read, talk to people, go out for a coffee, or admire some stunning photos. You never know when inspiration might come to you!

MATROMAO | Philippines | FoodWorldMe

I don’t force it, because that only burns me out faster. Usually, if I take one or two days on break, I’m okay to start writing again. I also accept that some posts can’t be finished in one day. Sometimes, I’ll just start with an outline, then I’ll come back tomorrow with “renewed vigor” and the ability to edit and finish immediately. It also helps to switch up topics every now and then. I also do restaurant reviews, so I can just transition back and forth.

JAA | Thailand | Hello Jaa

I usually just let it be. Sometimes I even think of it as a blessing because I’ll have more time to spend with my friends and family doing “life” things. I’ll try to stay off social media, too, if possible. I find that when I’m happy, I’ll have a lot of energy, and ideas will flow naturally. I also find it easier and more fun to write about things I’m genuinely happy and excited about!

[Interested in joining BISC Network? Send your request to jaa*at*hellojaa.com]

BISC Vol. 3: If you could start your blog all over again…

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Beauty Influencer's Sunday Column 3

If you could start your blog all over again, what would you do differently?

RAE | Canada | the Notice: a beauty blog
If I could start my blog all over again, I’d skip the first few years of terrible product photos! And I’d start on WordPress this time, tagging everything extensively, so that none of my old posts would be weighed down by unchangeable Blogger styling and old posts would be easier to find. Day to day, however, I think it would be run much the same as it is right now — it would just have a better archive.

SARA | Germany | Color Me Loud
This is a hard question because I am not blogging for a such long time (less than 2 years). I believe I would invest in a light box a little earlier than later. I am still struggling to find the right lighting for product and portrait photography. Since my lights are not bright enough, it takes longer to edit the photos. I have just installed a new banner this summer. I wish I could have done it before because it changes the website a lot. But the most important of them all, I would write PR of the companies before the first year is over. I always waited for the right moment, the right page hits etc. only to find out much smaller/newer blogs keep the available slots occupied. Another thing I would do would be starting with social media as early as possible, because it takes time to build it up. But whatever you do, do things you like because it is your hobby and not a job.

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MELISSA | Switzerland | Kiss & Make-up
I’d probably think things through a lot better. When I started my blog I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. It was so cringe… My lay-out was a nightmare, my photos were embarrassingly bad and I just basically had no idea what having a beauty blog really meant. Of course over the years I learned a lot and I’m very happy with where I stand now with the blog, but if I could do it all over again I’d definitely do more research before launching myself as a beauty blogger and I’d try to approach it all a lot more professionally and less than a hobby.

LAARNI | Philippines | Xoxo Laarni
This is a funny question because I already started my blog all over again. My #1 reason was my old blog’s niche was too broad. It was running for five years but I eventually got tired of it. Also, it was penalized by Google because of sponsored posts so buying a new domain name was my best option.

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KRISTEN | USA | Glambunctious
I’d focus on spending money on products that are exciting to me, even if they aren’t new to the market, and not go broke trying to keep up with every new release.  There’s no sense in spending so much money on each new collection when there are already blogs upon blogs that cover these releases that receive the items gratis from PR.  I also started out posting 7 times per week which quickly became exhausting (blogging is not my full-time job).  I decided to only post when I was inspired and that decision has led to 2 years of happiness!

JAA | USA/Thailand | Hello Jaa
I’d start experimenting with portrait studio lighting sooner. My older posts would have been more complete. I’d also make sure to choose a layout that accommodates larger picture size because I believe larger photos create higher impact. Another thing would be to tell myself to not be shy and connect with other bloggers sooner! It is more fun to have someone with the same interest to talk to and you just learn so much from them! Last thing would be to implement a Pin It button on all my photos right away because Pinterest is among the top three social networks that drive traffic to my blog the most.

[ Interested in joining the BISC Network? Send your request to jaa(at)hellojaa.com ]

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