One of the great things about blogging is that you don’t need to have a reason to write a post. You can just write a stream of thoughts and if people like what you write, or it resonates in some way, they’ll say so – also if they don’t like it, they’ll say so too. That, funnily enough is a more common thing – disagreeing or not liking something seems more motivating to commenters than liking or agreeing. So, you can do a hundred things right and one thing wrong and it’s the wrong thing that get noticed!
Anyway, this is one of those ‘whirl of thoughts’ posts about blogging because it’s been a while since I’ve done one. Even though it’s only April, this year has been quite a journey. My stats have come back (remember the post where I told you the blog broke and I couldn’t stop crying at a launch – awkward!) thank goodness, but to be honest, the lesson from that is that I am so much more grateful for the readers that stuck with all the breakage and move to WP than I ever am for the accidentals that add nicely to my stats. I am absolutely sure that being ill in February was related to all the stress of the blog, and I’m having to be more careful about how much I’m investing in blogging so it doesn’t happen again. I think unless you are a blogger, you do not truly know the horror of potentially losing your blog.
It’s not a financial investment (I can do other things to earn money so while it’s a factor, it isn’t the b-all and end-all of why I blog) but an emotional one. BBB has been going for five years and I can say I have never worked so hard in my life. As a beauty writer for mainstream press, I never connected with readers – there was never an opportunity for anyone to feedback and say whether they liked a thing or not. So, it would be fair to say that some features were done quite carelessly (if I knew then what I know now, they wouldn’t have been). I would actually not know if a thing worked or not, but would just go with what was on the press release. These days, I still write for a paper, and HowToSpendIt.com, but I am SO much more conscious of not blindly parroting things I’m told. Someone tweeted me not so long ago to let me know they thought one of my posts was lazy and that I was wasting nail varnish. Now, I am quite good at taking flak but I did lose my cool over that one, because you cannot blog at this level if you are lazy. LAZY!! Urgh.
I was contacted recently by a PR asking me to feature a new hair range; I said I didn’t want to as it was already in the shops and I like to preview products. The response was that it wasn’t their strategy to let me preview (more or less). But, the point is it’s not about their strategy. It’s about what I want for my readers because it’s MY blog! Why should I want any less for the people who read BBB than any magazine editor would want it for hers/his? I am constantly looking for new information because that’s kind of what BBB has become known for – and many a PR probably is cursing the moment I email or phone – but you do have to hustle if you want the best. And I do really hustle for it.
Behind the scenes at BBB, I am not being spoon-fed information; I’m researching as much as I can to find news that isn’t widely covered already because I want BBB to have a point of difference. There are many, many conversations that go on with me negotiating to show some or all of a collection as soon as I possibly can. But, it’s not straightforward. Recently, some pictures of a very much hyped collaboration surfaced that I wanted to immediately blog about. Instead, I had a long conversation with the PR and we’ve sort of worked out a compromise, but it’s done knowing that other images will surface first. So, she’s not happy and I’m not happy but this time around, it’s better to try and be agreeable with each other for the future of an on-going relationship where maybe I can snag something fabulous for BBB readers that’s even more exciting and relevant.
I don’t like brands that try and pull the wool over my eyes, I don’t like brands that don’t play fair with social media (stats grabbers) and I don’t like PRs who allow all the energy to drop out of their voice when they hear I’m asking for an image for the blog and not the paper. I don’t like having to explain what my blog is to those PRs who have no idea about it but it’s certainly a humbling experience and gives me a proper insight into what it’s like being a new beauty blogger. I don’t like seeing tweets from superior beauty editors who think bloggers are a lower form of life. I don’t like any of these things, but they happen ALL the time.
So, I probably should stop my ramble, because I could go on for pages and pages, but here are some of the things I do like and that I appreciate every day. I love the immediacy and interactivity of blogging; every comment (positive or negative) is a validation that something is going right. I love that I can give exact feedback to brands based on actual stats and not some woolly figures. I love that my Twitter timeline is a diverse, happy place with interesting people that I actively like following. I like how, despite the incredible changes in beauty blogging over the years, bloggers will and can pull together. I like it when PRs come to me with an exclusive – that’s the ultimate compliment and I’m thrilled when it happens. I like it that I think brands and PRs are starting to realise that beauty bloggers are walking in un-trodden footsteps.. nobody knows what will happen or what the future evolution will be – I don’t know – I’ve never had a blog at this stage before; few of us have. I like the fact that some brands have supported my blog, and other bloggers, unquestioningly from the beginning – they took a leap of faith and they have their PRs to thank for that.
So there you go.. an aimless ramble that I feel much better for!
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.
I like reading your rambles 🙂 I think they’re informative and interesting. If it makes you feel better I didn’t notice many kinks while you switched platforms and I’m glad for your sake that you’re back to normal now!
As one of the new bloggers you talk about it’s been a fun experience for me to dive into the blogosphere. I still buy pretty much every product I review and am fine with that. It’s a great outlet for me to talk about something I love that most of my in-person friends couldn’t care less about. I can also justify my purchases is I get a post out of them! A simple comment on one of my posts still makes my day and the whole exercise is a great way to keep my writing muscles in shape for other projects.
Keep up the good work! I love reading about what’s launching across the pond. Someday when I get back to London I’ll have a list of all the items I desperately need to buy.
Thanks to your blog and other bloggers who write with integrity, honesty & balance, I now look to the blogging community for advice on skincare & anything beauty related instead of turning to glossy mags that lower my self esteem every time! I really do appreciate the work that you do, and it means that I make much wiser purchases.
you’re really kind..thank you so much for that lovely comment x
I’ve found some really good products that I wouldn’t have considered from your blog. You and other bloggers have also saved me money because I’m not buying so many dud products. There do seem to be more ways to be critical in a response than approving, sometimes everything that springs to mind has already been said. Perhaps you need a like button or gren arrow at the end of an article to capture more positive feedback.
Thank you very much – a like button is a great idea xx
The hard work that gets puts in really shines through. I started admiring you because what you were doing was being true to yourself, you haven’t adapted yoursel when the climate has changed or to please anyone else, you’ve stuck to your guns everytime. I am still humbled that you follow me and interact on twitter, it really means a lot to me.
oh wow.. I love chatting on Twitter.. it’s such a great thing. Thank you for your kind comment. xx
I really admire you as a blogger and writer Jane. You can tell that you are always honest and upfront and it’s clear to me that you have a lot of knowledge is several areas of beauty. I think it’s totally your perogative to turn down reviewing products already on the shelves – its part of what makes you such a fantastic blogger. People will always read and respect your posts because you always bring fresh products to our attention and never lie because you want to please a company, well done you x
awww… thank you so much.. I promise I didn’t write that post for compliments but they are a very happy by-product! Thank you x
I have never commented in the past but I love this blog. I love your writing style, your honesty and loved this ramble..just so you know xxx
you’re really kind..thank you for saying it out loud! really so appreciated x
I just really wanted to leave you a comment to say that I love reading your blog and check it multiple times daily. I’ve been off work sick for 3 1/2 half years ( went back last week) and I can hand on heart say that reading your blog has took my mind off my pain even for the 5 mins just checking it takes.
Also it has to be said that I have reached out to many other bloggers via Twitter and email and its not very often I get a reply especially via email, infact you are only the second blogger to ever of done so, I very much appreciate it!
Any way Thank you!
well, thank you really, but am so glad you left me this message *smiling*
I’ve only been following beauty blogs since upgrading to a smartphone last summer, but am now an avid reader — and BBB is one of a select few which I turn to just about every day.
As a fellow journo (not in beauty, don’t worry!), I know what you mean about negative feedback — but rest assured, your efforts to sniff out an exclusive are appreciated by your readers. And I too, have saved myself time, money, and frustration, by avoiding dud launches which weren’t all that, thanks to you. My skin thanks you too, for not having to get back on track after mis-trials!
Thank you so much. It’s lovely to hear that.. xx
I think you have to stick to what you do and do it well, personally I’m all about online fashion that’s my thing and I just don’t want to disappoint my readers by selling myself and blog short. X
I’d just like to say thanks, for your blog & the many different subjects you cover. I used to go straight to the beauty pages in the glossy mags to see what was coming up in the shops, but your blog has saved me a fortune, as by the time it’s printed in the magazine, it’s old news 😉
thank you very much for taking the time to comment.. it’s really appreciated x
I want to give you a cwtch then a large Gin! First up the person who called you lazy…hilarious! I think he can go on the asshat pile! Secondly, you’re amazing! You’re a powerhouse and work SO hard anyone can see that!
It’s hard. It’s really hard and it’s personal! Keep on doing what you do so amazingly well xxx
Rachael.. I’ll that gin! thank you so much. xx
Well I enjoyed reading your ramble. I imagine it was incredibly stressful when your bog ‘boke’ 🙁 So glad for you that it is back in tip top shape.
Blogging is hard work and it would just take somebody to try it to see that! You have a wonderful blog and I enjoy reading it xx
Thank you Ashly x
I haven’t bought a magazine in years and I get pretty much all of my beauty recommendations from blogs – in the last month alone I’ve bought brushes, cleansers, moisturiser, bronzer, eyeliner, eyeshadows and facial oils (yes some of those are in the plural!) on the recommendations of blogs and I literally never buy a product without reading a review online. I don’t think anything in my current skincare routine would have been bought without the recommendation of blogs.
I love the way that every blog has a different personality and each blogger will research a slightly different area of beauty depending on their own interests and needs. I love it when a small brand that I never would have even heard of pops up on a blog and it’s exactly what I need (incidentally thank you for introducing me to etat pur- it was exactly what I’d been looking for).
I don’t buy magazines because I prefer blogs- it’s not that I’m cheap (perhaps brand think if you can’t afford a magazine you can’t afford their product?) I just think blogs are better. I don’t trust magazines as much as I do blogs- I think blogs are more honest, more personal and more invested- if a blogger writes something incorrect they’ll get called on it, immediately! There’s no free pass for bloggers if your readers don’t like you they’ll go elsewhere so I think that committed longterm readers show that we value your judgement and trust you- we’re not picking up the magazine for the interviews or fashion and coming across the beauty accidentally, we are coming to your blog just for you. I think that brands that ignore blogs are shooting themselves in the foot in a big way.
I love your blog because I can find out about new products, even if they aren’t available (yet) across the pond. Plus you’re probably the only beauty blogger that has explained the “inner workings” of the blog world and how it works, what it’s like, the negatives, as well as positives. I also like that after 5 years, you still care and put effort into your blog. Some beauty bloggers go through the motions and it shows. So it’s great that you still care and put so much time and effort into it. (Despite probably having a million other things to do ie: family, life, etc.) Thank you and again, I love your blog!!
thank you Danielle x
I used to buy Red, Elle, Vogue, Grazia, etc, etc. Since stumbling across your blog a year ago, I have not bought one single magazine. Tell that to sniffy beauty editors……..
If I dare!! thank you So much x
Hooray for you Jane! I live in Japan and Western products tend to be quite expensive over here so I really have to research what I’m buying. You’ve cut down my research time considerably with your swatches and detailed reviews. Thanks so much!
thank you.. and so pleased to hear it!
its soooo true! everything you just wrote, and I think people have no idea how much hard work and time goes into blogging, and not for the money but because we want to!
ps: love ur work xxx
thanks so much x
I love your blog!!! Keep up the good work 🙂 It’s great that you can stand up for yourself & your blog. Have a brilliant day, cheers
Really loved this post and love your rambles in general!
It’s really great to hear how much hard work goes into the blog, I’ve always wondered how on earth you keep it up! There are only around three beauty blogs that I check daily (yours is one of them) because I really trust the info and opinions of the writers, and that’s a huge credit to you and the content you share. As a fellow journo in beauty I like to think that online journalism (not just blogging) is changing the way we write about products so that’s it’s a lot more transparent – it certainly makes me a lot more aware of what I say or recommend and I’m not comfortable with basing anything purely on a press release. People like you have created that change and for that I’ll always be grateful! xx
Judy thank you so much x
Fabulous post! I read lots of blogs (far too many), and yours is one of the ones I like and trust most, because your integrity really comes accross in your posts. Your reviews are always honest, and never, ever sound like you’re writing what I PR has asked you to.
I hope you’re able to keep up the great work!
thank you! xxx
Jane your blog is in my “most visited” sites in Chrome (right there with Caroline’s), I come here every day (and throughout the day) because I know I’ll always find something to read. I started my own blog back up because I feel a kinship knowing that you are a real person and struggle the same way I have done with the trials of being “just a blogger” when my blog means everything to me. It’s a part of me and a labour of love in the best way possible. I will support you as long as you stay true to yourself and don’t let any of those buggers get you down. The rest of us will always be here.
Sara thank you so much… that is more than appreciated x
Thanks Jane, a great inspiration for new bloggers like myself. Your daily posts are a great motivator.
I think any print journalist – or PR – who doesn’t respect what’s happening with bloggers/blogging now is a bit foolish. As someone told me recently ‘Print is like being a telegraph operator at the time Graham Bell said, ‘I think I might have something here.’ And I’m a print journalist (with a blog!)
Print is dead for sure. Just heard more! is closing down…the future is digital of course.
I do enjoy a blog or two but I often find I don’t identify with the bloggers as many are 18-22 gorgeous and never had a skincare issue in their life (or know how to cover thread veins, crows feet and hooded eyes!) They tend to witter on about their own experience with the product rather than advising the reader – eg best moisturisers for dry skin, best blush colours for women of colour.
Yours is definitely in a different league – I’ve seen you advise readers and talk about who certain products might suit and it’s always interesting to read about upcoming launches as a previous comment said – by the time it’s in a glossie – it’s so over. You set a nice balance between how personal you get and bearing in mind your readers aren’t carbon copies of yourself.
So keep up the good work and watch as those snippy magazine editors in 5 years time will be setting up their own blogs as they will be out of work! (if they haven’t done so already)
Keep calm and blog on!
thank you .. that’s a lovely comment and I’ve loved reading it x