10 Tips For Aspiring Beauty Bloggers

Keyboard

Lately I’ve been getting a ton of emails from gals looking to start a beauty blog. I’m one of those “tell it all” bloggers. I have no secrets and don’t mind sharing information that I think can help motivate wannabe bloggers and current bloggers. I’ve been formally blogging for almost 5 years (wowsers!) and have learned a thang or two. This list would best help those who are seriously looking to get into blogging…any genre. And by seriously, I mean you want to eat, sleep and breathe blogging. Nah. I’m just kidding. Or am I? 😎

1. Take great pictures.

Okay, considering I’m a budding photographer, I WOULD say that, right? Seriously though…nothing sucks more than a blog with REALLY bad pictures. And you know what bad pictures are. Pictures that are fuzzy, too far away, grainy, have too much light, not enough light…get my drift? Many aspiring bloggers feel as if they have to invest hundreds of dollars in cameras to produce good pictures. Not true. Point and shoots and even smartphones can crank out gorgeous pictures. If you have 8 megapixels on your smartphone, you can take incredible pictures. Lighting and angle is EVERYTHING in photography. Learning how to take great pictures takes time. I’m still learning. Also, readers REALLY love to see your pictures. Not a picture that you found online. And for goodness sakes, don’t ever submit a blog post without a picture. That’s just wrong. When I see that I’m always like, “Dude. Is this a blog post or a thesis?” People need pictures to break up text. It’s a scientific fact.

2. Read and comment on other blogs.

Chances are, if you’re interesting in starting a beauty blog, it may be because you were inspired by other beauty blogs. Good. But even once you start blogging, KEEP reading those blogs. And leave comments. Not “Wow. That’s cool.” unengaging-type comments but comments that let’s the blogger know that you really liked their writing, pictures or information. Hold on though – leaving YOUR blog link in a comment is a huge no-no in the blog community. It’s rude. If you want to share your blog, kindly send an email. Camaraderie and community is everything in the beauty blogosphere. I never want to be that blogger that got so big that I stopped commenting on other blogs. Nope. I follow and comment on blogs daily.

3. Don’t just talk about the product, SHOW the product.

Love that new Clinique blush? Or Maybelline’s newest mascara? Awesome. But an advertisement of the blush or mascara doesn’t show me anything. Anyone can Google a picture. I want to see how it looks on YOU. The reason why I prefer reading blogs over magazines is because I get an in depth review with pictures. 9 times out of 10, a magazine is just going to show you a pretty picture of a NARS’ eyeshadow. I’d rather get a glimpse of that eyeshadow on your eyes. While I believe it is okay to display stock photos from time to time (I don’t though because I’m a snob. Ha!), the bulk of your blog should really be focused on what’s going on your skin.

4. Do more than just blog.

Blogging is great. But if I spent my entire time just blogging, I’d go insane. I love writing about beauty and all but talking about it 24/7 is a bit of a snooze fest for me. If you’re too lazy to put up a blog post, do a video. Create a Facebook fan page and engage your readers that way. Take your blog in the community and host beauty events. Connect with other bloggers in your area and have a volunteer day. The fact is, the most successful bloggers do more than just blog. Take heed and brainstorm ways of how you can go beyond blogging.

Random pic of me to break up the lengthy text. Hollaaaa!

5. Find a niche.

There are a million beauty bloggers out there. Seriously. There are bloggers in the U.S. Bloggers in Germany. Bloggers in Australia. White girls blog. Asian girls blog. Mexican girls blog. Dutch girls blog. There are bloggers who do videos. Bloggers who feature their pets. Bloggers who feature their kids. And on and on….. Find a niche that works for you. Attempt to stand out. Love planting and polish? Make plants and polish your focal point. You want to give people a reason to read your blog and simply saying, “I have a beauty blog.” isn’t enough. Saying, “I have a beauty blog and I also put coordinating recipes in each blog post.” makes me want to check your blog out. It’s memorable. My niche? Mascara, duh! 😉 I mean if the blog name Clumps of Mascara doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will. I also have other niches. Like ya know…being goofy and talking about embarrassing stuff on TMI Tuesday. Next week I’ll be discussing birth control. Weeeeee!

6. Treat your blog like a brand.

When I started Clumps of Mascara, I was graduating from college, moving across to country to volunteer for AmeriCorps and had NO idea that my blog would take off the way it did. Had I known, there would have been A LOT of things that I would not have done. You don’t know who is looking at your blog. It could be a potential employee or potential client. That means, watch your language and edit like you’re submitting a dissertation. Nothing sucks more than reading one of your blog posts and seeing messed up grammar. Yep. It happens to me too. Blog as if the world is looking. Create a logo for your blog. Get business cards and attend blogger meetups and social events. Treat your blog like it’s a big deal. You can’t expect others to take you seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously. And media kits for bloggers? They are SO in right now. Get one. Can’t make one? Hire someone to do it for you. Trust me on this.

7. Brag about your blog.

For the first few years Clumps was around, my family didn’t know it. Neither did my friends. I have a tough time tooting my own horn, and not doing so has made it so that I missed out on many opportunities. Your hard work should be seen by those who love and support you. Let people know what you’re up to. And who knows…they may be able to help in someway. In my case, my bragging about my blog (via resume) landed me a job in field I really wanted to work in: social media. Oh yeah, that’s another thing. Blogging CAN lead to jobs.

8. Don’t stop blogging.

Once you start blogging, don’t stop. I’m serious. Don’t. Even if you can only blog once a week…do it. Consistently not blogging will throw your readers off and you will inevitably lose some. At the same time, don’t think you HAVE to blog daily. If twice a week is more feasible, do that. I finally have Clumps running like a well oiled machine but it’s not because I’m up until 2am blogging. I’ve created a schedule that fits my lifestyle. Think of one that works for you and put it to use.

9. Focus on great content over numbers.

Every blogger wants a billion readers and trillions of comments. Numbers look good and they make us feel good. But if you develop great content, people will keep coming around. Do numbers matter? They can. Baby bloggers should really focus on creating content that makes people want to read their blogs before stressing over numbers. And dude – once you START stressing about numbers, you’ll never stop. For now – enjoy nursing that baby before s/he starts talking.

10. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers.

This is a tough one because we’re human beings. I get a ton of “Man, I wish my blog was like yours.” comments but what people don’t realize is that Clumps is almost 5 years old. I’ve invested hundreds and hundreds of dollars in my blog. I spend hours brainstorming, taking pictures and researching information for Clumps. I didn’t just wake up one day, start a blog and become successful. Uh no. It doesn’t work like that, home skillet. Even now, there are still SO many things that I have to do to get to where I want to be. Do I admire other bloggers? Absolutely. I am motivated by them. Everyone has to start somewhere. Even the biggest bloggers were baby bloggers at some point. Focus on YOUR blog and where you want it to go.

+ Honorable Mention: Worry about making money later. Seriously. I get so many questions asking me how to get free beauty products or how to get invited to events. Starting out, I NEVER emailed any brands asking for free products. They found me. If your number one goal for starting a blog is to make money, then honey, this is the wrong field for you. Sure, I make some revenue through sponsorship/ambassador opportunities and ads but guess what? I still have to work a 9-5 to make ends meet. Repeat after me: Content first. Money later.

Bottom Line:

Blogging takes time. If you plan to be a serious blogger, it’s an investment. Especially if you have to purchase a domain, layout and branding tools. Stay calm and keep it fun. The minute blogging STOPS being fun is the minute I will invest time in another hobby. Fo realsies.

Did that help? A little? Not really? Either way, let me know your thoughts.

If you’ve got a baby blog, shoot the link in the comments so we can support you. Fellow bloggers, feel free to add to the list.

TMI Tuesday: The Story of How I Married A Man I Met Online.

Okay class. Raise your hand if you’ve ever met a guy or gal online. Technically everyone should be raising their hands. I mean who hasn’t chit-chatted with someone in emails and then met up with them at a local event, conference or meeting? It happens allllll the time.

Sooooo what about dating online? Would you do it? Have you done it? Known someone who has? I do! I not only have gal pals who have met their husbands online but I met mine online.

Yep.

Esposo and I met on Match.com. I used to be embarrassed by it but now I have no problem with people knowing that I met the love of my life online. Does my meeting a man online mean that I’m too pathetic, lame or ugly to meet someone in real life? Hell no. Unfortunately, I think that’s the stigma that comes with dating online. People say…

-“Well, what if he turns out to be a serial killer?”
-“OMG, it’s toooo expensive to date online. Starbucks, I can justify…but dating online? No!”
-“I don’t want to tell my grandkids I met their grandfather online. That’s not romantic.”
-“What will my family say?”
-“What if everything he told me were lies?”

I was totally in agreement with the idea telling that the story of how we met wouldn’t be romantic. But that’s a lie. Everything about our story is laced with romanticism. I couldn’t see that because I was too busy caring about what other people thought. I’ve seen the light now and when people ask how we met, I tell them. With pride.

The internet holds a great chunk of my personal and professional life. I’ve gotten job opportunities, met amazing people and have developed my passions online. I even pay my bills online. With all that WE do online, is it really crazy to consider dating online? I don’t think so. I have one friend in particular who I met in a social networking site when I was 14 years old. We are STILL friends and in some ways closer than the people I went to school with (XOXO Stef!).

After a friend signed over her Match.com account to me, I innocently explored the site without any expectations. With only 3 weeks before the subscription ended, I had NO luck running across anyone interesting. While I didn’t have intentions of meeting Mr. Right, I didn’t even spot Mr. Halfway Decent.

The way Esposo tells the story, he says that I sent him a flirt. I believe it’s the other way around. Either way, after weeks of chit-chatting via email, we met.

I was all like, “Okay. If he is THIS cool electronically, he’s got to be even more awesome in person.”

Fail. He was nice but nothing clicked.

Nothing clicked on the second date either.

But like they say, “Three’s a charm.” I’ll never know what happened, but our third date was magical. We talked and laughed for hours. We fell in love that third date and almost a year and half later, we got married.

One of our wedding cakes.

I can’t remember where I read it but I saw a statistic that said couples that meet online stay together longer and eventually get married sooner than those that don’t meet online. Dude. I believe it. Considering there are so many websites that for people with all kinds of interests (religion, race, hobbies, location, etc), finding someone you may actually connect with can be so much easier. I realize that online dating isn’t for everyone. To even consider it, you have to be comfortable with yourself and you have to be extremely open-minded.

You should also be an undercover detective. Esposo didn’t know it then, but by our second date, I had run his license tag, found out his current address, date of birth and if he had ever been arrested. I didn’t spend all of those years watching Lifetime moves for nothing.

I could list a crap load of reasons why online dating can be scary. But so can dating the cutie you meet at the grocery store. Or at a party. Dating has its risks no matter how you do it. I just know when it comes to online dating, I can list list at least FOUR close friends who have met and married their online sweethearts.

Yep. He’s as silly as I am.

It’s hard not to believe that Esposo and I have lived in the same city for years and never crossed paths. Orlando is huge. We had different social circles. I don’t think I would have ever just run into someone as incredible as him by luck or chance. Maybe. Maybe not. Still. I think it’s pretty darn cool that a website matched us up and e-introduced us.

I’m sure every Match.com subscription doesn’t end in marriage. But neither does every Guy Meets Girl at a coffee shop scenario. All I know is, my experience with online dating led me to the love of my life.

Now that it’s out there. Who wants to reach out to Match.com to see if they’ll put us on a commercial?

Ha! I’m kidding. Unless they’re payin’. 😎

Seriously though – what are your thoughts on online dating?

P.S.
If you want to read lovey-dovey stuffs, check out me and Esposo’s Eloping Story.

The Lipstick League: Weekly Links, Volume 32

My cutie patootie goddaughter.

Yay for another post from the The Lipstick League! We are a group of beauty bloggers, bound together by the desire to save the world with beauty, one post at a time!

Nouveau Cheap – Pssst! Want to the know the quickest and easiest way to make drugstore rewards work for you? Get 25 to 50% off your beauty purchases ASAP and stop throwing money down the drain!

Pink Sith – has completely lost it over the new NARS Eyeshadow in Lhasa from the 2012 Spring Collection!

Prime Beauty – invites you to Sunday Brunch with Jouer. Relax, enjoy some champagne, good food and of course, makeup!

Phyrra – presents a variety of lovely lipsticks and pigmented lipglosses from Morgana Cryptoria.

Vampy Varnish – highly recommends the new Kat Von D Mi Vida Loca True Romance Eyeshadow Palette.

we heart thisDERMAdoctor’s Photodynamic Therapy lotion harness the sun’s rays to create a sunlight activated laser similar to red light lasers used in doctor’s offices. What has YOUR lotion done for you lately?

Clumps of Mascara – is in love with Finger Paints’ Twisted nail polish. What’s better than a flakie?

EauMG – falls in love with a natural citrus floral perfume, LUSH 1000 Kisses Deep.

Gouldylox Reviews – can’t stop raving about three things this week.

Krasey Beauty – Read all about the new Sigma Beauty Eyeshadow palettes, see the swatches, and then decide for yourself if they are worth your time and money. K.B sure thinks they are!

Question of the Week:

Do you have any makeup/beauty tricks
for looking more awake?

B says, “Sleep! And defining the waterline with black eyeliner. I look like a corpse without eyeliner. “

What about you? What makes you look more awake?

See you next week!

~The Lipstick League

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Politically Unpretty: Why I am against SOPA and PIPA

If you’re browsing the innanets today and see a ton of your favorite websites blacked out, here’s why:

According to SOPASTRIKE.com,
“On Jan 24th, Congress will vote to pass internet censorship in the Senate, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed. We need to kill the bill – PIPA in the Senate and SOPA in the House – to protect our rights to free speech, privacy, and prosperity.” (source)

I was following these bills for awhile. I forgot about them and within the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing a wave of oppositions from fellow Americans. This is a BIG deal, y’all. To bring awareness to the damage that these bills will do, popular sites like Google, Wikipedia, WordPress, Flickr, reddit and TwitPic have done a blackout. Without WordPress, Clumps of Mascara would disappear. Without the freedom of being able to Google WHATEVER I want, my ability to educate myself and future Clumps kids would be limited.

I mean, don’t get me wrong…there are still BOOKS, but come on. No Google? What kind of world is that? Not one I want to live in.

What else could be limited?

-Posting comments on Facebook.
-Updating your status on Facebook.
-Posting pictures on Facebook.
-…and Twitter.
-…and Pinterest.
-…and Tumblr.
-…and Instagram.
-Oh. And videos too.
-Posting videos on YouTube.
-BLOGGING.
-Commenting on blogs.
-Uploading pictures to blogs.
-And Flickr.
-Google-ing.
-Commenting on forums.
-Posting videos and pictures on forums.
-Checking email.
-Responding to email.
-Sending attachments in email.

Simply put, the only way to stay out of SOPA and PIPA’s way is to not even open browse the net on your computer. Or laptop. Or tablet. Or phone. If this sounds extreme, that’s because it is. Despite having worked in the Florida legislature *shivers* where I had to read many bills, SOPA and PIPA are quite convoluted, even for me. But thank goodness for  the amazing websites and authors who have put what these bills can do to us in laymen’s (and laywomen’s) terms.

Oh! And if these bills pass, who’s to say other countries won’t adopt similar bills? That would suck. In a major way. Freedom on the internet would be gone. So would my day job and my biggest passion. So yeah, I take this personally.

What can you do?

-Educate yourself. And pass that education on to your friends, family and coworkers.
Tell your U.S. Congresspeople just how much you oppose SOPA and PIPA by calling and emailing them.
-Join in a massive internet blackout today on January 18th.
-Tweet like a maniac to help get #STOPSOPA trending.
Sign the End Piracy, Not Liberty petition.

Ways to educate yourself:

Read the SOPA bill in its entirety. Brace yourself.
Find out what SOPA means for PR professionals.
What SOPA is and why it matters
Understand why SOPA is dangerous.
Watch a video posted by WordPress
25 Things You Should Know About SOPA

 

 Bottom line?

Censorship sucks. I can’t imagine ████what  I █████even though ██████is just ████forever and ██████just do ████that██████exactly █████I ████only██████internet ████you ████government █████sue █████video███████all██████.

 

Get my point?

 

 

The Lipstick League: Weekly Links, Volume 31

Yay for another post from the The Lipstick League! We are a group of beauty bloggers, bound together by the desire to save the world with beauty, one post at a time!

Nouveau Cheap – If you’re a fan of the Wet n Wild 8-pan eyeshadow palettes, the new Black Radiance 8-pan palette in Downtown Browns is a must-see.

Pink Sith – educates you on the dangers of Severe Chanel Blush Withdrawal (SCBW) and explains how the latest Chanel Blush Horizon de Chanel saved her life

Prime Beauty – got Mega Drag Queen lashes with RevitaLash Lash Conditioner and now you can too. Head on over to Prime Beauty to see the before and after pictures and enter to win a 3-month supply of RevitaLash and a RevitaLash mascara!

Phyrra – tries out a new line of eye shadows from well-known blogger Marlena of the Makeup Geek.

Vampy Varnish – checks out the new MAC collection called MAC, Naturally.

we heart this – you’re not a color lover if you don’t have a bit of Sugarpill in your stash.

Clumps of Mascara – has a guest editor discuss infertility and wonders why more women aren’t discussing it.

EauMG – is in love with this decadent, self-indulgent vanilla by DSH Perfumes.

Krasey Beauty – shows you some brand spanking new additions to the LUSH Cosmetics line. Bathtime is funtime, in LUSH land.

Question of the Week:

What’s your go to eyeshadow brush?

B says, “I don’t wear eyeshadow much these days but when I do I loooove the MAC 217 brush. I’ve got 3 of ’em.”

What about you? Do you have a favorite eyeshadow brush?

See you next week!

~The Lipstick League

 

TMI Tuesday: Infertility. When your mind says yes, but your lady parts say no

Note from B: Lots of love to my girl Kate for writing this post for Clumps of Mascara. 

Take it away, Kate!

When Brittany wrote her TMI Tuesday post on visiting the GYN, I was shocked at how many women had said they had never been.

I don’t say that to shame anyone, it just… surprised me. My mother brought me to the gyno, probably at like age 15 or so? And I have been a regular ever since. My gynocologist and I have been in each others lives a long time. Like feet in the stirrups (sands through the hourglass, get it? Not funny? Ok sorry). Moving on.

My relationship with my crotch doc has become even more important as I age, especially when I decided I was ready to have children. It never even crossed my mind that there might be any trouble for me in that area. I was a healthy person overall, I was in touch with my body, I visited the Dr. regularly. I thought when I made the choice to have a baby – I would dim the lights, have some sexy time, and bada boom bada bingo! I thought it would be easy.

I was wrong. TMI? It shouldn’t be.

I did a quick search of “infertility statistics” and the CDC gave me this:

Number of women ages 15-44 with impaired ability to have children: 7.3 million
Percent of women ages 15-44 with impaired ability to have children: 11.8%
Number of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile (unable to get pregnant for at least 12 consecutive months): 2.1 million
Percent of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile: 7.4%
Number of women ages 15-44 who have ever used infertility services: 7.3 million

Um, is it me, or is that A LOT OF WOMEN!? Why is this not talked about more often?

Unfortunately, having children is not just a given for every woman. For many, like me, it can be a struggle. I suffered two losses, and the emotional pain made me search out others who might know how I was feeling. I didn’t have to search far. Friends, relatives, neighbors…MY OWN MOTHER, shared stories of loss and struggle. I was shocked. Why was this all kept so secret? If I had a disease, such as cancer or diabetes, there would be no shame. I would seek treatment and find support in my community. But sometimes, support for women who can’t concieve is difficult to come by. It is kept hush hush, as if it is your FAULT that your body is not cooperating.

I was lucky – I had a wonderful GYN practice who immediately referred me to a Reproductive Endicronologist (RE). I was comfortable with my body and all the procedures, as I was already a gynocological regular. I had success with IVF, and now am the mother to 2 beautiful children. And I am not ashamed at all. I will tell anyone I meet I had IVF – what is there to be embarrassed about? It made me a Mom.

It is so very important that we TALK about these things, that they are NOT TMI topics. Take care of your body. Take charge of your reproductive health. VISIT YOUR GYNOCOLOGIST. Even if you are not even close to ready to have children, a good relationship with a GYN will make things so much easier when you ARE ready. And if you are struggling to conceive? You are not alone.

Did I convince anyone to take the plunge and get to the doctor? I hope so!

 

From B: Have any of you dealt with infertility or miscarriages?  And I know it sounds weird but while I’m not trying to conceive yet, I secretly have a fear of not being able to when the time is right. Anyone else have that fear? 

FAQ

Where did the name Clumps of Mascara come from?
It kinda just came to me. When I first started blogging, the goal was to create a place where I could post my findings (and mistakes) in the beauty world. I didn’t want to achieve perfection. And what’s more imperfect than clumps of mascara?

What’s your ethnicity?
I’m a Black girl. Or African-American if you wanna be politically correct. I would love to really dig into my roots. It kinda sucks not knowing your lineage.

How old are you?
30. I will never be ashamed of my age. Growing older is such a blessing. 

Is Clumps of Mascara your only job?
Nope. I work a 9-5 in the social media/public relations field. I also manage social media sites for other companies. I can’t just have ONE job. That’s lame.

What’s your complexion shade and skin type?
I am NW45 in MAC Cosmetics and my skin is normal/dry. I suffer from occasional acne and chronic eczema.

Is your blog only for other Black girls?
Yes. If you are anything other than a richly hued woman, get out nooooow. I’m kidding. But I die a little every time I get this question. Which is a lot. I write for everyone. I focus a lot on beauty for women of color because I feel like we aren’t targeted or even considered by many brands. I like to fill in the gap. So yes, I am a proud Black woman who loves supporting Black women but come on, man…this blog is intended for any and everyone. Guys included!

Are you on the whole “all natural” and “organic” tip?
A: When it comes to skincare, I find that less is more so yes, a lot of my everyday products lean on the “natural” side. This is mostly due to my skin allergies. Natural is in quotes because some brands claim to be natural but then they’ll dump synthetic fragrances and dyes and in their products. No bueno and definitely not natural.

What are some of your favorite skincare brands?
Mario Badescu
Clinique
Simple Skincare

What brands have foundations for women of color?
Shea Moisture Cosmetics
Cover FX
Becca Cosmetics
NARS
Silk Naturals
IMAN Cosmetics
CoverGirl Queen
Laura Mercier
Make Up For Ever
blackUP Cosmetics
Black Opal
Urban Decay
Cover FX
Face Atelier
Hourglass
Mehron HD
AJ Crimson
Ashunta Sheriff (Pefect Blend on QVC)

 I want to start a beauty blog. Where should I start?
Check out this post. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to email me.

What camera do you use?
A: A cheap one. It’s a Nikon D3100 and I use 40mm, 35mm and 18-55mm lenses. I’m not a fan of flash photography so my photos are shot in either natural lighting or studio daylight lighting.

What do you do to your hair?
I have a blog all about my natural hair journey, mainly surrounding my journey while growing locs. I have since cut the locs and rocked a short fade/taper for the last 2 years but I am growing that out to a funkier taper. Not sure what I’ll do again. Either locs or attempt an enormous fro. I’m a bit impatient so who knows what will happen.

How would you describe your style?
Funky and bohem chic. I love bold colors and prints. I adore skirts and flowy dresses. I do not like heels or tennis shoes (except when running). I don’t like wearing all black and I love showing my skin. I try my best to wear clothes that fit my body type.

What’s your favorite kind of music?
Funk and soul, baby. Earth, Wind & Fire, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, The Bros Johnson. I love disco. I love jazz. Especially big band, smooth and electronic. I adore swing – Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Neo-soul love through Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Floetry. R&B all day from Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys (her 1st album), Toni Braxton, Babyface, Maxwell (!!!!!), Jennifer Hudson (her voice blows me awayyyy), Debarge, SWV. Old hip hop from TuPac and some of that stuff from the 90’s. Mostly dirty south rap from T.I. and Ludacris. Reggae on occasion. Merengue and soca. Jungle music. Rock from Lenny Kravitz and classical from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Gospel through Israel & New Breed, Mississippi Mass Choir, Fred Hammond. And Yolanda Adams sings to my soul.

But if I could only listen to one genre for the rest of my life, it would be: big band jazz.