I may not be a blogging veteran who served time in the Nail Polish War and travelled the seven seas fighting for colour freedom. I don’t even have any cool badges or pins.
But after sticking with Swatch And Learn since July 25, 2010, I have learned a lot of valuable lessons that I feel are worth sharing.
I strongly believe that everyone can contribute. It doesn’t matter if you have very little blogging experience or even professional blogging experience – we can learn from each other and I have learned from others.
This is my contribution.
Today’s Smorgasbord Sundays post is a little different than my previous ones. Firstly, it’s way more text-heavy than picture-heavy. Secondly, there are lots of photos of my face. And thirdly, I have finally admitted to being The Cheshire Cat.
I will talk your ears off about jealousy, perseverance, and how to get over other common blogging hurdles. If you don’t want to listen, that’s okay – there’s no audio.
My intention is not to be preachy, and I swear to you that I wasn’t wearing a white collar while writing this. My goal is to share my thoughts and advice with you because I’m curious to see whether or not you feel the same way. Sometimes issues that bloggers face are swept under the rug, and that rug may be a little too small to conceal what has become the elephant in the room.
What I’ve Learned Along the Way
When Jealousy Rears Its Ugly Green Head, Offer It a Makeover
While you feel genuinely happy for other people’s success, at some point, jealousy can creep into your beauty box like last year’s fad. “Why can’t I be as popular as [insert name of your favourite beauty blogger here]?”
There are several ways that people measure success:
- How many pageviews you get in a month
- How many returning visitors you have
- How happy you feel when you work on your blog
I don’t want to push blog statistics aside and say they’re meaningless. They’re very important to help you assess what visitors seem to like more, what requires improvement, and the progress you’ve made so far. (If you aren’t already utilizing Google Analytics, I highly recommend you do.)
The Bigger Picture of success (for me) hinges strongly on that last bullet point. If a blogger dreads publishing a post or constantly complains about having to photograph products, no matter how many people follow them on Twitter and no matter how many hits their blog has, I don’t consider them to be successful. Hating what you do is a terrible way to live.
As corny or as elementary as it sounds, I think that happiness is the true gauge of success. You’ve ‘made it’ when you feel good about what you’re doing.
Success doesn’t come overnight.
You often have to make plans with it years in advance, and even then, it’s like a stage diva that often arrives on its own schedule. (Sometimes it even demands extra sequins on its skin-tight dress.)
Unless you’ve secretly employed magical gnomes who have agreed to work in exchange for unlimited amounts of pumpkin pie (don’t ask how I’m privy to such details), then success requires hard work and persistence on your part.
Jealousy shows up on a moment’s notice.
It’s never far away, so it’s no wonder that it can be there in no-time flat!
Look at all the blogs you enjoy visiting. Someone (or even a group of people) spent time on the graphics, the layout, the content, and even just brainstorming ideas. They kept at it and promoted their blog for months and very likely, years, to get it where it is today.
If you want to have a successful blog, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort. You have to accept that when you first start blogging, it may feel like you’re talking with yourself and that nobody is listening. The beginning is sometimes very lonely, and you may have to be your own cheerleader. (If desired, the pom poms may be substituted with the nail polish of your choice.)
When Swatch And Learn first started, practically every published post had a whopping zero comments for months and visitor traffic was so low, you’d have a tough time limboing under it.
You have to keep pushing. In time, if you continuously work hard on delivering quality content, somebody will care enough to leave a comment and/or stop by again. But more importantly, you will care enough to continue growing as a blogger. When others see your passion, it’s more infectious than the common cold (and you won’t want to squash the symptoms with shiver-inducing cough syrup).
And if Jealousy is still nipping away at your heels like a fish pedi, flip it into something positive. Study your favourite blogs. See what other bloggers are doing that you’re not. Try to uncover patterns that may spawn original ideas for your own blog.
- How are they using social media?
- Who are they networking with?
- What topics get more attention?
- When & how often do they publish new posts?
- Have they held a giveaway or other promotional event?
In an allergy-free nutshell, don’t let Jealousy eat away at you or give you hives. Instead of sulking about why you’re not as good as so-and-so, do something about it! Change something on your blog, incorporate a new feature, try something different, and dare to take risks. It has been said that being successful often means getting uncomfortable.
Being Green May Not Be Easy, but Having No Green Is Even Harder
When you visit any beauty blog, chances are that if you poke around long enough, you’ll feel The Itch. And I don’t mean an itch that can be treated with a medicated cream. The Itch is the impulse to go on a wild shopping spree and to buy what you want right away. (Beware! Online shopping can provide instant gratification, but also buyer’s remorse!)
“It’s so pretty!” or “It’s available only for a limited time!” are two things that The Itch whispers in your ear while you’re drooling on your keyboard. And with just a few clicks of the mouse, your limited-edition nail polish is on its way to its new loving mother.
Listen, I visit lots of beauty blogs and the temptation is always strong. I’m not saying that you need to resist all temptation. We’re human, after all. (Well, actually, I’m a cat.)
As a beauty blogger, you may feel the additional pressure to buy, swatch, and review the latest products for your readers. That is a slippery slope, and your wallet will be squealing in no time.
Try keeping your temptations in check. No matter how gorgeous something is, it’s never worth getting into debt over.
Here’s what I do:
Every time I see something that I like, I try to sleep on it. Oh, sure, I’m bouncing off the walls and the little kid inside me is urging me to just buy it, but I find that when I take at least a day to mull it over, a lot of times I end up squashing my desire to make an impulsive decision that I might regret.
Also, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I already have something similar that I can use?
- How much use will I get out of it?
- Is this something I want just because of all the hype?
- Will I be able to purchase it later or do I really need to buy it right this moment?
Your answers will be very telling.
If you’ve looked around Swatch And Learn, you’ll see that while I do really enjoy featuring new products, I’ve also dipped into my collection and pulled out stuff I really liked that’s older.
Just because a nail polish isn’t from the latest or upcoming collection doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth sharing with your readers. Shopping your existing stash is a great way to revisit colours you love or even to try colours that you already have, but just didn’t get around to trying.
Even if a colour or product is no longer for sale, I still feel that writing about it has value. While people can’t buy it, there will be people out there who already own it and maybe it has been neglected. Your post may remind them to take it out for a spin again. And this saves not only you money, but also your readers’ money.
Don’t Ignore the Elephant in the Room, Especially When It’s Pink
I’ve touched upon some issues that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while.
Oh wait! There is one more very important thing. If you don’t take any of the above advice, please take this last critical pointer: If all else fails, hire a human to do all the work for you so you can enjoy your catnip in peace as you read your fan mail. I was lucky enough to find one person who, like the magical gnomes I mentioned earlier, agreed to work for unlimited amounts of pumpkin pie.
This is the first installment of the From Mary’s Desk series. I’ll continue this another Sunday because I have lots more to share. It may not be next Sunday…because I still want to keep the Smorgasbord Sundays posts totally random, but keep your eyes peeled like a banana for the second part in a future post.
- Website with rodent picture that I was looking at can be found here.
- The 2 bottles of polish I was photographed with were OPI Mad as a Hatter (left) and OPI Absolutely Alice (right).
- My human blogging slave was wearing China Glaze It’s Alive.
More From Mary’s Desk:
- Part 2: Pictures & Swatches
- Part 3: How to Plan & Execute a Blog Giveaway
- Part 4: Public Relations (PR) & Requesting Press Releases & Samples
Would you like to read more posts like this? Did you find any of this helpful? Were you shocked to find out that I’m the Cheshire Cat or did you know it all along?