Well I never thought I would be sitting her on my 35th birthday posting an article about my first years as a beauty and lifestyle blogger and what the high and lows of my progression from totally clueless to slightly more savvy has meant to me along with how I see my blogging future – but here I am doing just that and loving every minute of it as I am so very proud of what I have managed to achieve in the past twelve months, especially with my poor health and I hope that people who are considering starting a blog will find it useful as I would have loved someone to sit me down when I first began and gave me some tips and pointers on where to start and what and who to avoid at all costs! This last year has been just great and I really can’t wait to see what the next twelve months of my blogging journey have to offer too but please do accept my apologies in advance for the vast amount of writing and lack of pictures in this post, but I hope it isn’t too boring for you all and that you maybe learn a little from this post!
Why I started Blogging
After years of suffering ill health I had to put my career in the beauty industry on hold and sadly call time on my beauty therapy business which broke my heart, and after several failed attempts – some of which were absolute epic fails on my part I may add – to start my own online beauty business I decided that enough was enough and that I needed a way to not only use my creative skills, but also maintain and indulge my passion for all things beauty and so twelve months ago, after months of careful planning ‘The Diary of a Beauty Addict’ was finally born!
This has not only given me a new sense of purpose to take with me through my day to day life, it has also silenced that nagging thought that was constantly in the back of my mind telling me that due to my illnesses I was good for pretty much nothing most of the time! I started this blog to express my thoughts and feelings with the world and help my readers and followers find out the best and the worst the beauty has to offer and over the last twelve months it has grown from me posting the odd beauty box review to me talking about a range of health and lifestyle topics too, which is just an amazing progression and I am so glad I took the initial plunge and begun my blogging journey!
Over the past twelve months I have been lucky enough to experience some amazing high’s including working with fantastic new beauty box brands such as Moi-Même, Ms Flow and Little Bit Lavish on their recent Subscription Box launches, as well as making connections with big brands like Fab Little Bag, SASS, Redken 5th Avenue and Coconut Lane to bring my readers both varied product reviews and recommendations and have proudly been able to offer exclusive discounts, subscriber giveaways and a whole range of other content that I never imagined becoming a reality in just twelve months! I have also seen my social media following go from zero to over 10,000 this year which makes me feel so thankful and blessed for all the support I have received from both the blogging community and my fellow beauty addicts as without them – none of my highs could ever have happened!
I may have put in the hours and worked really hard, but seeing the results of my hard work begin to pay off and seeing total strangers enjoying my photographs and reviews gives me total job satisfaction and spurs me on to become better and more diverse in the future. Another huge high for me was being able to get to know some amazing people too, and whether they be fellow bloggers, the brains behind the brands we know and love or the support that total strangers have given me – without my blog these wonderful people would never have become, in a lot of cases, some on my most treasured friends!
Of course when you open your life up to scrutinisation on the internet, whether it be on a blog or via social media of some description you will always find that the high points will come with a few low points too, and my blogging journey has by no means been an easy one especially after I discovered that some bloggers aren’t as supportive and friendly as others, and that some even resort to scare tactics, trolling, bullying and harassment to try to eliminate you from the ‘blogosphere’ and ensure that they maintain their social status at all costs! A few random comments on Instagram and Facebook are to be expected but the hardest thing for me was when one blogger targeted me on a very personal level and when online jibes didn’t get the response she was after, she somehow found out my personal mobile phone number and began what turned into months of late night prank calls – all anonymous of course – repeatedly just calling and hanging up then calling straight back again and again and again. I was lucky that although it was disturbing and annoying at the time, I was able to put an end to the insane harassment thanks to my local police when on one occasion my caller forgot to with hold her number and gave me something tangible to work and the calls finally ended.
I never imagined that when I began blogging someone would be that petty to subject someone to that level of harassment and as a total newbie to this more public lifestyle – I found this invasion into my home life a very unsettling experience but at least it ended, which it doesn’t for everyone, and it has taught me that while some people may look nice from the outside, on the inside they can be the opposite of that and the truth will always come out in the end. I have also used this ‘experience’ to fire my passion for what I do, and stretch my horizons a little more and start blogging out of my comfort zone because I now know that anyone is able cut and paste product information, take some nice photographs, and pass it off as a review, and while I never wanted this to be how I operated from day one, I am proud to say that I am now working even harder to make my blog a success and strive every day to be as original as I can be with my content as I never want to be accused of being a ‘wanna be’ ever agin, especially when the real talent lies with the ladies (and gents) who give a bit of themselves to their work so we get to know them as well as their opinion on what ever they happen to be blogging about!
What I’ve learned in my First Year Blogging
I have learnt so many lessons in the last twelve months, both blogging related and things relating to my own personal life and personal development too, and I want to continue learning from fellow bloggers for as long as I can as even though a lot of us blog about the same products and the same experiences, we all have different ways of making out blogs our own and choose many different routes to present our work to the public giving us an amazing resource bank and so much combined knowledge that if we all worked together and not in competition we could really become better bloggers and better people in general. I have also learned that background information is key to a successful post, and getting even the slightest bit of information wrong can cause a lot of aggravation, especially if you are working on a PR or Sponsored Post – so ‘mental note to self’ – always research your topic before you publish and always proof read, check the layout in preview and spell check, spell check, spell check!
I have also learned that organisation is key to being a good, reliable blogger so keeping good notes and using a blog post planner have both been so valuable for me, especially when I am working with companies rather than simply blogging about my latest make-up haul or what my Summer Essentials are! There are some great tools you can easily access to make your life a lot easier which I will detail below and I am also working on some free blogging resources of my own to help newbies get ahead and not fall into some of the same traps I did twelve months ago!
My Top Tips for Blogging Newbies
1. Always purchase your own domain name if it is available and affordable as although it may cost you a few pounds in the short-term, it makes you blog seem much more professional in the long-term and with most domains providers a free business email account with your domain purchase, not only do you have a professional web address but you also have a much more professional sounding email address that matches your blogs name and will help you stay organised by separating work and personal emails and allowing you to approach people without letting them have any of your personal details before you’re happy to hand them over! I personally chose to go with GoDaddy as their starter package was great value for money and they had my perfect domain at a great price but there are a lot of companies out there that offer the same kind of service at a budget friendly price too!
2. Go Self-Hosted from the start! It sounds like a no-brainer, but when you first start out and you don’t know exactly where your blog will be going keeping costs down is a key factor especially when you may not be making any actual money from your blog to begin with, but while adding self-managed WordPress to your domain name may sound expensive it is actually well worth it as I have known a few bloggers who have lost followers and subscribers when they made the move from a free WordPress site to a more flexible self-hosted option, so I would always say this is the way regardless of what you blogging about!
3. Purchase a Blog Template! While there are some fab free templates out there for new bloggers to take advantage what I noticed when looking at these themes is that they didn’t have the amount of flexibility I personally wanted so I would also recommend purchasing a Blogger or WordPress template from one of the many wonderful companies who design beautiful templates that can start from as little as £10.00 which is not a bad investment at all and it can not only help you personalise your blog a little more but also make you stand out from other bloggers who may have opted for the same free template and be blogging about similar topics!
4. Chose the right Plug-ins! I am not 100% sure how Blogger hosted site plug-ins work, but with WordPress there is usually a good free option for almost all your design needs, one of which is Jetpack which covers everything from social media links to share button, real-time twitter and instagram tracking and handy SEO software too which are all really handy to have when you want your blog to look as interesting and as inviting as possible and will save you £££ purchasing expensive add-on services from your domain provider for SEO Optimisation that doesn’t actually work any better than a free plug-in! There a lot of free plug-ins about and although not all of them work, the majority are essentials for me and I do love a good freebie!
5. Don’t use other bloggers photographs on your blog with out their express permission! I know – It may sound like another no-brainer but when I first launched my blog I mistakenly did just this, and although it was made clear in my disclaimer (another handy thing to have on your blog even though it isn’t a legal requirement in the UK) that these were not my photographs, this is the situation that landed me with months of internet trolling and late night harassment so if you need a stock picture and search for one on google, just make sure you contact the owner (if you can find them) or at least credit them in your post so they can see you are not ‘stealing’ their work and passing it off as your own. I have had this done to me, so I know how frustrating it is, but people do make genuine mistakes and knowledge is the best way to avoid mistakes than may sour your blogging experience.
6. Stay Organised! I spent my first few months flapping around not knowing where I was with my posts and pictures and so I made the choice to look for something I could use to help organise my week and be a more productive and consistent blogger! There are a few places that have free printable and I am hoping to create some myself towards the end of this year, but in the mean time by far the best planners I have discovered are from PaperChicCo – a company set up by a blogger who, like me, was frustrated by the lack of blog planning resources out there and her Ultimate Bloggers Pack has been a real life saver for me!
7. Join in Twitter Chats and get involved with blogging communities! Communities like The Girl Gang, We are Thirty Plus and The Bloggers Post as it is a great way to not only connect with brands that may want to work with you but it is also a way of meeting new people, networking with other bloggers and gaining untold amounts of knowledge and advise for free! It also helps you get questions answered, keeps you up to date with blogger events in your area and allows you to see first hand what blogging can do to change your life!
8. Finally I would recommend that no matter how many PR Samples you receive – you always include products that you have purchased with your own money too. It gets really easy to write good things about freebies and I am always slightly concerned when I see a blogger that only writes about products gifted to them, or that they have been paid to review as in some cases they can be ticking boxes to keep the revenue and freebies rolling in! This is by no means a bad thing – we all need to minimise costs and maximise earning potential is we want to profit from our work, but as an avid blog reader myself, I love to see posts about the items people actually purchase with their own money and regardless of whether you write about things you’ve been sent or that you’ve bought yourself – I cannot stress enough the importance of honesty in every post as no one on earth ‘loves’ every beauty box they’ve been sent, or mascara that they buy and although there is no need to be unkind in your reviews and posts, an honest opinion is worth 100 times more than one that has been influenced by the fee you’ve been paid, or the value of the item that has been gifted to you!
My Favourite Bloggers
As I have already said – I have been lucky enough to connect with some amazing bloggers over the last twelve months, some newbies like myself and some who have been blogging for years so I thought it would be a fitting tribute to these wonderful woman who have helped support me, inspire me and shape my blogging journey if I shared with you the ladies that have made all the bad experiences seem like background noise and who continue to inspire and motivate me with their work on a daily basis – so please show these ladies as much love as you can as they are not only some of my all time favourite bloggers, they are talented and inspiring human beings too!
There are so many more amazing bloggers out there who support and empower fellow bloggers and create amazing content, overcoming immense odds to do so too, but these are my main sources of strength and inspiration and I would like to thank them for being fabulous influencers and in some cases fabulous friends too!
My Year Two Action Plan
After an amazing first year I am hoping to build on my success and expand my blog into something much more than it already is and begin including more posts on health and wellbeing as well as food and travel posts and feature articles to run along side my beloved product reviews and lifestyle posts and also begin adding a selection of handy blogging resources to my site to help fellow bloggers, especially newbies, to begin their journey in an informed and organised way so they can get the most out their blog and have fun with it! I would also love to be able to attend one of the many Blogger Award Ceremonies as I can, and although I am under no pretenses that I may actually be nominated for an award personally, let alone win one, it would be such an honour to be in the same room as some of the biggest and best our booming industry of influencers has to offer!
These may not sound like massive life goals I know, but the way I look at it is – if someone like me can go from nothing to where I am now in just twelve months fitting everything in as and when I can around illness and my husbands erratic work life , just think where I could be this time next year, so I hope you have enjoyed reading my first real non-beauty based post since my blog launched this time last year as more emotional posts are most defiantly on the cards going forward and I must thank you all again as your support is invaluable to me as I wouldn’t be able to do what I do with out my readers, followers and supporters from both the blogging and non-blogging communities!