If you follow my blog then you may know I used to run another a few years ago called Fluffy Candy UK.
I’ve always been into my beauty and make-up, and love writing about it. These are passions that stay with me consistently even when I’ve ended up being a total flake in other aspects of my life.
Setting up a new blog was bittersweet for me. Part of me wondered if I should relaunch my old handle and page. There was content, there were followers (in fact I think my old Twitter handle has more followers than my current one!) but I made so many… mistakes doing it. A fresh break and a bit of organisation were required.
Here are some of the things that I have re-evaluated this time around.
Scheduling and Consistency
I’m the first to admit I have a tendency to be a touch flakey… borderline LAZY. It’s a terrible trait and it’s something that I’ve been working on gradually over time. I certainly still have my moments but it’s improved a lot over the last couple of years.
I would post willy nilly on my old blog. Sometimes twice a day, sometimes not for weeks. And if content is King, then consistency and dependability are Queen. Have you ever loved a YouTuber who does daily vlog months and the disappointment when, for one reason or another, they don’t upload one. THAT. That is why.
When you write and engage with readers, like any publication, there is an element of trust. Trust you’ll review honestly, write honestly and post when you say you will post. If you don’t do these things then how can people truly be on board with whatever message you are trying to portray. You don’t care enough yourself to keep it going, why should other people?That’s not to say if you have an erratic posting schedule you won’t be a success but, in terms of foundations of building an audience, it’s something I find quite important personally. The newspaper doesn’t just get cancelled one day because the journalists couldn’t be bothered.
The main way I have changed this time is by forward planning. It’s not 100% all the time and I’ve had a few days when I’ve written the post on that day. I make sure I keep my notebook stocked with ideas and try to keep a post or two ahead of schedule. This gives me time to plan, write, correct and make sure that photos are taken.
The same goes for social media. I’ve been sitting down and scheduling tweets today for the first time since restarting and already I’ve seen a spike of traffic. Coincidence? I think not.
Not Getting OBSESSED With Free Stuff
It’s very easy to get over excited about the opportunities that are presented as a blogger. Brands want to work with you, they want to send you things and most of the time that’s brilliant.
When I started my blog I was so excited at the thought of potentially getting things to review and try out. I accepted any offer and made some very rookie mistakes. I didn’t hate anything I was sent but sometimes I probably accepted things that were not well aligned to my blog. And if I was turned down for something because of lack of followers etc I took it to heart.This time around I’m understanding, from both sides of the coin, that how much “stuff” you get offered is not a measurement of success. I’ve put myself forward for things this time and some things have been for me and some have not. I am not adverse to saying “Thanks, but no thanks”.
PR and marketeers appreciate you being honest and direct. At the end of the day they have to spend time organising and arranging this and would prefer to have bloggers who are going to like and appreciate a product, thus write honestly and positively to it. I know that when I speak to bloggers I always thank them for their honesty and ask if I can keep their details on file in case something comes up that is relevant. People like this I WANT to work with because it makes my job easier.
Not to mention it can be quite easy to tell when someone runs their entire blog on freebies and it can make for quite boring content after a while.
Having Realistic Expectations
It’s the dream isn’t it? Running a blog and it being your “job”, your “career”. With bloggers and vloggers becoming celebrities in their own right nowadays and glamorous videos of visiting LA and getting lots of swag. It’s easy to dream.
But for many of us mere mortals, it’s not the reality. Some people get a lucky break and some people don’t. And that’s ok!
This time setting up my blog was more about getting into writing again. If I earn a few quid along the way, happy days, but if not I can enjoy the process, enjoy the products I try and how they can improve my life. I want to be able to look back and think, yes. I had fun doing this.I freelance on the side and a lot of my blogging skills and knowledge come in very useful but at the same time, when faced with a choice between writing a post for a free lipstick or putting together a social media campaign for a client who will pay me, I’m going to always prioritise my paid work.
In the same heartbeat I make a point of trying to keep them as separate as possible. I would never write about any of my clients or their products from my own blog as it’s a massive conflict of interests and ethics as a blogger. I may use my outreach to make contacts but that’s about it.
The Importance Of Photography
I am a TERRIBLE photographer. I really wanted to do A-Level photography but without an Art GCSE I wasn’t allowed. 😦
They say a picture speaks 1,000 words and this is certainly true. I may be a words person (thus why my posts end up especially long!) but many people are visual.By taking time and practicing my photography this time around, I hope to improve and, one day, be able to convey my writing in a visual way.
Still a work in progress and all that though 🙂
Understanding My Value
I’ve seen a lot of posts, almost to a point of rage, in the blogosphere recently about companies asking for free promotion. And I get it!
Last time round I ran posts and links for companies for free, with no return. Not even any products! I did this because I thought, foolishly, that they might pay me to work with them later, it boosted my content and gave me topics to cover in a bind.
This was dumb. Very dumb. Because ultimately you are spending, time, energy and resources on making someone else money.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t necessarily do things for free sometimes. If a product or a company has an ethos you truly agree with, or is a fledgling company that is struggling to launch, or even a personal friend, these are cases when I would make an exception.
However I would always need at least something in return. Whether compensation through a product, affiliate scheme, preferred blogger scheme or even just a bit of quid pro quo social sharing.
I can actually remember the exact moment I gave up on my last blog and it was because of this very reason. I got asked for my rates and I panicked.
It was SO stupid. I had spent 6 years working in media sales for gods sake! I knew how to price and negotiate with advertisers but when it came to my own worth I put myself down.
So I never responded to the email and I stopped blogging because I thought by asking for any amount would be stupid. Who was I anyway?When I started back up I went back and looked at the email I had received and spotted that it was from a betting website. It made me realise I really wasn’t thinking properly when it came to selling myself. If I received an email like that now, it would be a swift “No thank you!” It’s not relevant and it’s not going to benefit my readers.
I now price myself based on my experience, my knowledge and my expertise. With time, followers and readers will come but if I sell myself short at this point, like with any type of advertising, it’s hard to get your rates back up once you’ve set them low.
It may sound incredibly cocky, perhaps even borderline arrogant, when my traffic is still in its infancy but ultimately if a potential advertiser says no to me, I don’t mind.
In my eyes they can either invest their trust in me that I would work with them honestly, ethically and use my experience to give them their moneys-worth or if their marketing is purely based on stats and figures, I wouldn’t be the right person to go with anyway.
These are just a few things that I’ve realised when looking back at my previous work. It’s by no means 100% correct but it’s certainly a start.
I think my key point is, at least in terms of myself, that I must keep in mind that this is my hobby and not my job… at least at this point. It’s not worth getting myself stressed over, upset over this and that and if at any point the fun stops, it’s time to re-evaluate.
What do you think of my points? Am I wrong? What advice would you give to someone starting out? Did you make any mistakes that you regret now? Let me know!