This is the full text of the talk I gave during the Vanity Fair event. Hope it can help you improve your blog!
I've been racking my head all night last night thinking about an interesting topic to present to you guys. I initially wanted to do something like “Vanity in the online space” but we’re all experts at that already - it would be redundant!
Kidding aside, I landed on a simple, but always overlooked question: how do you take your blog to the next level? Let's make it a little harder. How do you take your blog to the next level - without losing your credibility and integrity as bloggers? Now I know that blog conferences past have already tackled the topic. But I believe that none of them have answered these questions in the context of beauty and fashion blogging.
But why should you level up your blog to begin with? Well, you don't have to. If you're happy with the content you're creating and the readers that you have then that's great. Just be yourself and enjoy your online space. But let's be honest here. Why would you settle for what you have when you can have more?
Having a bigger, more successful blog is a fun thing to have. You get to help more random strangers get a new styling idea or a new makeup look - there's that indescribable kilig factor of inspiring someone! You can meet new friends, acquire business contacts, and generally just make a name for yourself online. Events and freebies are not must haves but they are always good - they help with content generation.
So, I'd like to share with you my experiences in building my blog for the past two years.
1. Let's just get the obvious out of the way: You should be passionate about beauty and fashion, your chosen niche. People always recognize passion, respect it, and follow it wherever it leads. Passion drives and inspires not only you but everyone around you - even if they're just online.
2. Be updated about the latest trends, launches, and issues. Know the ins and outs of your niche so you can talk about it intelligently. It's easy to say, "this eyeshadow is made of love and unicorns!" but what value does that add to the conversation? It's better to say: "this eyeshadow is smooth and well-milled, comparable to MAC or Urban Decay".
3. Write for yourself...and an audience. Now I know this sounds bad. Your blog is your home, and you should be free to post whatever you want. However if you want a dedicated following, you should also talk about topics that are relevant to your readers. It's easy to be seduced into believing that readers are interested in every single thing that you do or say - forgetting that they will eventually stop caring once you saturate them with irrelevant chatter.
I'm not saying that you should blog to please everyone. No. Just remember to always strike a balance between writing for yourself and your audience.
One way to get reader feedback is by simply asking them for it. Do an informal survey. Ask how you can help them. Read and remember comments and requests.
4. You don’t need to write well or in a detailed manner - it would be a plus if you can - but taking clear photos help visitors appreciate your work. Don’t use stock images or promo images. No one looks at those. Take your own photos and take them as best as you can. Google for tips and tricks!
5. Don’t copy paste press releases. No one reads those. Even PR companies and brand managers that I know don’t like reading press releases on blogs because doing so defeats the point. Just set up a separate page for press releases so you and your visitors can use it as reference.
6. Be honest and fair when you blog about a free product or service. Outline the pros and cons. I know how it feels to be afraid to say negative things about a brand, but in the end I realized that credibility is more important. People can sense when you’re spewing bull just to please a brand so learn the value of balanced reviews.
7. Blog regularly. By regularly I suggest everyday or every other day. I observed that this keeps people coming back and attracts more traffic, thus bringing up the average that you get.
8. Interact with your readers by diligently answering comments and visiting their blogs. Also interact with your fellow bloggers in their blogs and in events. This creates a sense of community and friendship. It’s time-consuming, but it works like magic.
9. Don't just socialize online. Socializing in the offline space is just as important. There’s nothing like good ol’ face-to-face conversations to build connections with potential friends and business contacts.
10. Once you’ve done all these things, we come to the hardest part of all - consistency. You need to be consistent about maintaining your blog and your network. Leveling up your blog requires a lot of hard work and perseverance, but I can confidently promise you this - it pays off.