This is pretty late, lol. A few weeks back I got interviewed by Jori Pamintuan, a columnist from The Philippine Star, about fashion and beauty blogging. As you all know, that's my favorite topic so I was really happy to ramble on about it.
Here's the full article online. It's surreal to be on print - I'll never get used to it although I've been on print a couple of times (once in UNO Magazine October 09, a mention in Smart Parenting Dec 09) and once on TV (Fit N' Fab on beauty bloggers - I'm embarrassed to share). I don't know! It's fun, it makes me feel good that all my hard work is actually manifesting itself physically.
Anyway, the feature just has a few snippets of the full interview so I want to share the whole thing. I must warn you that it's pretty long but I hope you get a few useful insights from my ramblings.
First of all, how did you get into blogging? How long have you been doing it?
Been blogging since 2005. Gosh, that's like five years ago! I've always enjoyed writing and kept notebook diaries of my boring daily life. Like everyone else, I wanted, needed an audience. A blog was the perfect way to share my personal thoughts to anyone who cared to read them.
Did you start out blogging about personal things, or was it fashion and beauty from the very beginning? How did you become interested in fashion and beauty, and what inspired you to blog about your thoughts on them?
At the start, it was all personal. But during my second year in college I started to really get into makeup and clothes. I researched the niche. I was so fascinated! I didn't know that there were so many things I can do to improve myself physically. I'm from UP, so everyone is smart, but not everyone knew how to look good. Well, I wanted to be smart AND look good. It was the way I wanted to set myself apart from the usual UP crowd.
Also, for me, makeup is art. It's like painting, except the face is the canvas. You can alter features, hide flaws, create an ideal. That's really the most amazing thing about the niche - the ability to alter and create.
Of course, I wanted to share this passion. I loved makeup and fashion. I loved writing. A blog is the best way to combine these! I've been building Project Vanity for around two years now.
Is it very difficult to maintain your blog?
Yes, if you're not really into it! Say if you're doing it for the wrong reasons like trying to be cool because everyone's doing it, or trying to get free stuff, or get paid, blogging can really be a chore. Blogging takes up a chunk of my time, and I'm doing it for zero pay, but I really enjoy doing it. It's therapeutic. There's this feeling of validation whenever someone enjoys something I wrote.
Coming up with content can be challenging sometimes. Since I have a beauty blog, I have to come up with looks, review products, make tutorials, write about tips, and so on. It's a one-woman show that costs me time and money. But yeah, it's so fun I don't mind doing it.
I know you told me that blogging is only one of the things you do. So, what other jobs do you have, and do they help you in thinking about what to post?
Haha, blogging can't feed me. I don't get paid to do it. I haven't monetized my site like other bloggers have. It's really all for fun. In the real world (well, not so real, because my paying work is still closely linked to the internet), I work as the editor for the Beauty and Fashion channel of thePOC.net. It's an online news magazine. I manage a team of writers that come up with amazing content.
I also have an online store called Ukaymanila.com. We sell thrifted finds from all over the metro.
And my real-est job (I guess you can call it)? I'm a marketing consultant for the Philippines' official domain registry (domains.ph). I conceptualize ads, marketing campaigns, and help with product development.
Okay last. I also do odd jobs like write copy or do per-project work for PR agencies.
I mostly work from home, by the way.
On that note, where do you find inspiration for entries? I've tried blogging before, and I would stop posting because I never knew what to blog about. Is it the same for you? How do you overcome blogger's block?
Where do I find inspiration? From the internet! I follow tons of beauty and fashion blogs/websites and lurk in local forums. It helps me feel the pulse of the niche. What are people buying? What are people wearing? If I find something interesting, I buy it and of course, write about it.
Aside from the internet, I do "real-life" research. I go to malls and check out everything, I do a lot of people-watching.
It also helps that some companies approach me to join their events or review their products. They help me with content-creation since I'm always interested to try new things and share them with other people.
When you do post, what in particular do you like to talk about?
I like writing about the interesting stuff I come across, like new shoes, a new anti-aging cream, makeup looks, tutorials, tips, and events. I love reviewing products!
Are you required to write about an event, like the mainstream media is? - you're your own editor, so ultimately, it's your call whether you want to write something or not. I don't know if you've worked with media outfits, but if you have, how different is writing for a blog, compared to writing for a publication?
I'm not really required - explicitly. But event invites of course come with expectations. It's equivalent exchange - you get to experience a product for free, so it's only fair to them that you write about it. Besides, blogging about an event gets in a lot of traffic because people are always on the look-out for new things.
Unlike mainstream media writers, bloggers are not bound to write about a product positively. In fact, copy-pasting press releases is frowned upon not only by readers and fellow bloggers - even some PR agencies dislike this kind of blogging. It defeats the whole point of the exercise, which is to share real experiences from a real person.
It's obvious that bloggers are getting more respect and attention now. How big of a role do you think bloggers play in the media landscape today?
Internationally, bloggers are taking the media by storm. Bloggers have become not only legitimate news sources, they've also become news makers. They report news (in their respective niches) as they come. There's no need to wait for editors' approval or copywriters to finish processing their work. Bloggers provide content, in real time.
They have also become news topics as they get to sit in the coveted front seats during fashion week, release their own fashion/makeup line, hobnob with luxury designers, get featured in major magazines, sign deals with big brands and so on.
I think the power of bloggers come from how easily they walk the thin line between being a layman, a nobody just like everyone else, and the glittery, high-profie world of fashion and beauty. It's just all so...engrossing. Everyone loves Cinderella because everyone dreams to be her in some way or another, you know, penetrating the glass ceiling of high society from the sooty fireplace, or in this case, the glass ceiling of mainstream media. Bloggers are the darlings of the press and the brands, the Cinderellas of mainstream media. There's Bryanboy, Tavi, Jak&Jil, Scott Schuman, Garance Dore, Rumi, Jane Aldridge, etc.
Locally, bloggers don't have the kind of power international bloggers have. The trend is more on celebrities and demi-celebrities like Chuvaness, Daphne Osena-Paez, Kris Aquino, Ruffa Gutierrez, Angel Locsin, Mo Twister etc. having blogs or micro-blogging accounts. They're the ones that really draw in a huge following. I guess it's because Filipinos are more interested in getting a glimpse of the celebrity world than watching someone from their ranks make it there.
I think that the role of local bloggers in the media landscape today is more on bringing news and providing analysis/opinion from the layman's point of view - in other words, citizen journalism. Hence we have sites like thePOC.net, Filipinovoices.com, Blogwatch.ph, and niche blogs like mine.
Do you know of other bloggers in the same boat as you - bloggers who are invited to events, and basically given the same treatment as the press and broadcast media? Also, do you have any bloggers that you look up to, or are inspired by? If you do, why do they inspire you?
Yup there's quite a lot actually. They come from different niches like politics, technology, pop culture, food, music, fashion, beauty, even personal blogging. These days, a lot of events both big and small have at least one blogger covering them. You know it's a blogger when you see someone with a camera, taking pictures of everything, haha.
Bloggers I look up to... from the international scene, there's Jane Aldridge of Seaofshoes.com, Scott Schuman of Thesartorialist.com, Rumi of Fashiontoast.com, Christine of Temptalia.com, Karen of Makeupandbeautyblog.com off the top of my head. I admire their sense of style, their keen eye. They have real talent in posing, taking photographs, cooking up outfits/looks. Here's the thing. Not everyone who wants to be the next big thing in the blogging world can make it. It looks easy, really, I mean, just taking photos of stuff and talking about them. But it's not. Building your reader base, traffic, brand, creating relevant content - all of this requires a lot of personal investment and talent. Only those who don't see it as "personal investment" or as "work" makes it big.
Okay...locally, I like Chuvaness.com for her honesty. Denisekatipunera.blogspot.com for her breathtaking outfits and photos. I like Shensaddiction.com and Askmewhats.com for makeup news and tutorials.
Fashion bloggers are a dime a dozen nowadays. It seems like everyone and their uncle has something to say about this and that new fashion line or beauty product. What makes you different from everyone else? And, what can you say about this new trend in the blogsphere?
What makes me different? Lol. Good question. Well, you're right, everyone can say everything about anything under the sun in their blogs. But a lot of people still see blogs as a fertile rant/gush space. I take blogging seriously in the sense that I make sure to provide clear pictures, detailed reviews and coverage. I try to make it as personal as possible while being professional at the same time. My goal is to keep my blog informative while still being entertaining. Like I said, it's all fun, but it's more enjoyable when I know that I've provided quality content. That's the writer in me.
It's only natural that people talk about the things they care about. That's the beauty of blogging! That kind of freedom to share things to an unlimited number of people is a precious thing. It's a luxury. Not everyone has that.
As I said in a recent blog post, blogging has evolved quickly in the past few years. It's hard, nay, it's stupid to set a standard for bloggers. I say, let everyone say their piece. It's up to the reader to read or discard them.
What do you enjoy most about blogging? What don't you like about it? And lastly, what keeps you going? Why continue to post entries?
I enjoy the act of sharing. Pang- Miss Universe yang sagot na yan, but that's really it. I am passionate about beauty and fashion - I want women to discover themselves by trying new things, getting out of their comfort zone. A lot of people may think that beauty and fashion are such shallow occupations, but these are the sort of people who don't know how much a good outfit or nice makeup can change someone's day for the better. It can help them score an important contract, meet new friends, make the right, lasting impression, things like that. Having the brains is well and good, but a person's appearance is the first thing that influences any relationship.
I want to help women realize this by sharing with them the products I find useful, the tips and tricks that worked for me. I love it when they send me emails or leave messages telling me that I've helped them in some way, however small. I can see myself doing this for a long time.
What I don't like about it...long pause. Hm. I don't like paying for my blogging service (squarespace.com). It's expensive for a service of its kind! It's amazing actually, I love it to bits, but that money could have gone to a new pair of shoes every month. Heh.