A lot of newer beauty bloggers ask me the same question: how do I earn money from my blog? Can I/ should I even earn money from my blog? How much do you earn, at Projectvanity.com?
This used to be a touchy subject back when blogging was the sole realm of glorified journal writers - when business-minded bloggers didn't yet exist. I look back on that time with a sense of nostalgia, but I am also aware of the hard facts today. Bloggers are extremely influential in their respective niches and can drive up sales if a brand approaches them the right way. At least, that's how it is for small-medium businesses. Very few bloggers in the Philippines have the kind of following that can put a big brand front and center of its target market.
And that is why some bloggers charge for services now. Not because they're greedy little pieces of junk, but because they are influential or at least give a brand some much-needed, quality exposure online. I keep saying this - it's not a small feat to run a good, updated blog. It takes money, time, expertise, and passion (or at least a certain hard-nosed gumption) to create a website that's worth reading and coming back to.
Model: Alexis Urbiztondo | Makeup: Theresa Carbonel | Photographer: Karen Sarte
I think it's not fair for a brand to take advantage of that and give absolutely nothing valuable in return. Likewise, it's unfair for a blogger to demand free things and cash from brands if he/she doesn't have high traffic, quality content, and influence to offer in the first place.
Confession: I kinda get irritated when I find out that people think I blog for a living. I honestly, truly don't. I earn money from this blog every once in a while it's true, but companies always take a while to pay up and unfortunately my bills can't wait. Boy, do I have a lot of bills. My lifestyle is not extravagant but it's not frugal either.
My actual day job is consulting for retail brands and sometimes ad agencies. I handle my clients' marketing, social media, PR, and events along with an assistant whom I dearly treasure. This is something I'm very proud of because it means I have a wide set of skills and a network I can collaborate with. This is where the real money comes in
Established beauty bloggers like myself have many incentives to blog. The passion for the niche is a given already because it's difficult to go far as a blogger without it; I mean, imagine all the time, money, and research that have gone into building a website worth reading and coming back to! We may have started our blogs casually, as a hobby, but maintaining it takes dedication.
I wouldn't call it an investment because when we started we expected very little from this (ad)venture. Nonetheless, our efforts are - whether we like to be coy about it or not - being rewarded handsomely.
We get freebies and invitations to fun parties. More importantly, I think, we're part of a close-knit community that you would be surprised to know isn't competitive. These are some of the things that motivate us to blog regularly, to come up with interesting free content for our readers. But. How about new beauty bloggers who are largely ignored by brands and the community? Being just one of hundreds of new bloggers in the niche, how could they hope to keep their blog going?
And why should we care?
Have you guys seen the Preview September cover? It features fashion bloggers Tricia Gosingtian, Laureen Uy, and Camille Co. When I saw it, I was like, whoa! Whoa.
I think these girls deserve to be on the cover - they are intensely influential and it's only fitting that a magazine steeped in the hottest trends would recognize that. I mean, not just by featuring them inside the pages but by putting them right up there in front!
This cover makes blogging mainstream here in the Philippines. For real this time.
I started beauty blogging four years ago. My blog ran on nothing but my time, computer, internet connection, and a student's allowance. Starting out I wrote general information articles on beauty and reviews on products I buy. Four years later, I am earning quite a good sum of my money from my blog alone. The swag I get every month is maybe worth five figures. And I still write general information articles and reviews on products. :)
I sound like a bragging asshole just about now but I'm telling you this because my "success story" is not as simple as it sounds. For the past four years I invested a huge chunk of my time and money on this website. Waking up at 6am just to write and process photos, planning my content days beforehand, marketing my blog and personal brand, these things are not a walk in the park. I have what I have because I'm passionate about my niche. I did this when I got nothing out of it. I will still do this even if all my sponsors leave me.
My actual job is handling the social media and PR of retail brands. Every so often, a new blogger messages or emails these brands asking for "sponsorship". That is, free stuff for their blog review or contest.
No one sent me a letter for advice this week, hmp! I'm hurt, you guys! You need to give me something to work with! Haha. Okay, to hopefully encourage you to email me, I will send a gift to the chosen letter sender - could be skincare, could be makeup. I will ship it to you as long as you're based in the Philippines.
Please keep the letters coming!
For this week's Liz Says, I will just answer a question I received on the forum. Clarissa asked:
Hi Liz. I've always been a fan of your blog. I'm starting my own today, but I would like to ask...How have you achieved everything that you have achieved? How did you start out and how do bloggers get in to blogger events, etc. I'm really curious! Thanks!
This is a bit of a tired topic since I've answered these questions several times in the past, but since it's 2012 - hey why not. I started beauty blogging in 2008. I was still in college and starting to really get into makeup. I've been learning so much, reading reviews and watching tutorials, that I decided to put up a blog to share all my cool finds and tidbits of beauty wisdom. Snap, it was that simple.
My family was not rich. We're comfortable, but not loaded enough that I could ask my parents to buy me expensive makeup. So like any teen I started with Ever Bilena, Nichido, and Avon makeup.
The other day, some random troll on Twitter said that beauty bloggers like Shen, Sophie, Nikki, and I shouldn't be beauty blogging because we're not pretty. I forget the exact wording since I immediately blocked the account. I'm not even irritated or anything - I just rolled my eyes. That particular Twitter account was set up solely to troll celebrities like Solen Heussaf and the Magalona sisters.
Anyway. The comment reminded me of a conversation I had with other people over on Twitter some months back. A well-known fashion blogger commented that most beauty bloggers don't have the looks to be actually doing it. Again, I'm not offended, but the comment did hit a chord since it misunderstood the essence of what I do.
I replied to her and said that the point of beauty blogging is to demonstrate how average women can look better than they already do.
I was surfing through the interwebs yesterday when I saw a young personal blogger wearing a questionable outfit. I won't go into details but the look is so wrong on so many levels! I'm not being mean or trying to position myself as a fashion expert, but I will think of myself as sensible when it comes to clothes. And the things that I am seeing some young women wear these days do not make a lot of sense.
I wore this when I met Daniel Matsunaga last year. I wish. I didn't.
I know I've worn some questionable outfits in the past myself (above), but I have learned not to repeat my mistakes thanks to some people's catty comments. Criticism is painful - often unbearably so - but they need to be said and heard if anyone is to move forward. And this is what I think about the fashion blogger culture and their truckloads of followers.
Do not aspire to (e.g. copy) everything that fashion bloggers show you. That sounds harsh, but again, I am not trying to be mean. Famous fashion bloggers are famous for a bunch of reasons - they are pretty, with (usually) svelte and willowy figures, and they are one step ahead of local trends.
If you are not any of those things, then restrain yourself from copping all their looks.
I'm a voracious blog reader. Personally, I enjoy reading honest-to-goodness writing and lovely photos. Professionally, I need to listen to the pulse of the industry. That's why I'm happy that there are so many new beauty and fashion blogs that cropped up this year! They introduced me to more individuals with interesting styles and points of view.
Photo from Paul
Aside from following popular beauty and fashion bloggers (like Nikki, Sophie, Shen, Jill, Laureen, Camille, and such), I also like to browse through every blog in the niche that I can find. There are other bloggers, however, whose updates I really look forward to reading. I like how they talk, mostly. :)
Bless My Bag. Gorgeous photos, writing, and blogger. Julia is now working as a professional makeup artist, which I really admire! If you don't follow her blog yet, you MUST.
Anartechoke. Ae looks like a model, but she's actually an architect. Her makeup musings and looks are practical and straight-to-the-point, but she has a quiet glamour about her. I know because I met her once. Love.
The Vanity Fair is the second event I co-organized this year. It was stressful but totally worth it of course! I got to hang out with the beauty and fashion bloggers I see in other events. Better yet, I got to bond with new young 'uns like Krissy, Ava, and Ana! I was also happy to see Karl and Nicole (of Soule Phenomenon) - such a chic duo. I think that Vanity Fair proved that we have a vibrant local blogging community in the beauty and fashion niche.
So what was the event about anyway? Held last Friday at SM North EDSA Skydome, it was a health and beauty expo featuring brands like The Body Shop, The Face Shop, Organique Acai Berry, Philips hair and body tools, and the like. There was a special segment exclusively for bloggers where they participated in a game, a short essay writing contest, and listened to talks held by a rep from John Robert Powers (poise and posture), The Body Shop (makeup tips), and me (blogging).
Enough talking and on with the pictures!
Bloggers! photo by Kira
The Face Shop's busy booth. They did free hair and makeup for everyone!
More photos after the cut.
Note: To clarify, this post pertains to bloggers who deal with businesses, not to those who write about what they ate for lunch or how their dog died.
Now, I normally don't join the fray of blogger politics. I usually have better to do with my time than bicker about issues like this. I do think however that this one is different.
Blogging is only now treated with new respect by Philippine companies and traditional media outfits despite being around for a decade. Why? Because there are a lot of bloggers who work very hard to be professional in doing their blogging duties such as attending events and reviewing products. They practice proper decorum and courtesy when facing media contacts, and then objectiveness and meticulousness when reviewing products. In other words, professional bloggers make themselves relevant by being ethical, well-mannered journalists and media personalities in their own right.