Beauty Blogging with Class | Julia’s 5-Year old blogging Wisdom

Once upon a blog there lived a girl who unknowingly stepped into the world of beauty blogging.  After her first post on Lanolips and being utterly delighted by fellow blogger Lipglossiping’s first look entry on the Urban Decay Alice in Wonderland Palette she decided with all her heart that she wanted to take better photos and once in awhile wax poetic about her on-hand beauty bits.  She didn’t just want to post something that amounted to the decoupage of a press release, she had to personally be in there with her words settling the real-life score on a product’s essence, benefits, and proper use.  Well, Hello me, and before you stands Bless My Bag a 5-years and running beauty adventure and I continue to blog on beauty and beyond.  


Kikomachine comix by Manix Abrera

What do you think content that builds trust looks like?
“I think that it’s human, it’s personal, it’s relevant, it isn’t greedy, and it doesn’t trick people. If the recipient knew what the sender knows, would she still be happy? If the answer to that question is yes, then it’s likely it’s going to build trust.”

Here in this simple article I aim to share some tips for newer bloggers or even some who’ve been around awhile about how to work on your posts with integrity. Through the years my site has drawn various brands who support the way I write and present content even from overseas.  From abroad I’ve worked with M&S, StrawberryNET, Luxola, and ASOS online all of whom approached me voluntarily without me putting out a smudge for attention.  I remember how shocked I was when in my second year Anastasia Beverly Hills seeded me through PR from the West Coast and sent me product, it was a one time thing because they were surprised I was all the way here in the Philippines but still!  None of that involved my calling for attention, ambush emailing, social-media lurking (following is okay of course, and I post sincere comments, not notice me comments) or tagging them.  I may or may not step on a couple of toes in this post.  I’ve decided if there’s any place I can be brutally honest it’s in my own backyard, not some thread or group where fights ensue.  If I do step on yours it’s only because I believe differently about how we ought to blog and I want to help disinfect certain layers of “attitude” our community and inspire change. The first key I’d like to share is it isn’t ever primarily about what you GET as a blogger, it’s more about the value of what you GIVE.  To keep this simple I will post 5 Points that have guided me through the years and share a couple of my mistakes and tendencies, too.  Click through to the full post to read them. 

1. Blog positively, forget the mob, and mind your own business

I’ve never severely bashed a product but that doesn’t mean I’m an ineffective blogger, I just prefer to focus on the stuff that actually works for me and proactively report back.  I have mentioned once or twice in a post that a product gave me an allergic reaction but I email the brand in advance that I’m going to do so and I wait for their reply before I post so we’re agreeable before it goes up.  There’s no need to dwell excessively on a product’s shortcomings and create a negative post that attracts product vultures.  Now if your eyelids peel off in your sleep after using a certain eye cream that’s a whole ‘nuthah level of serious.  Will the brand consider working with you again once they’ve revamped said “bashed” product and it becomes a cult fave?  I wonder.  Writing honestly and dealing fairly lets brands in on the fact that you are a gracious person.  Also as much as possible keep incidental and personal criticism of other bloggers to yourself and far from spreading to Pluto so your blog will still manage to delight earthling readers.  As a blogger you’re either an eagle or a vulture, respectively one who soars on their own and hunts for what’s fresh, the other preys on someone else’s dead kill (gossip), choose.

2. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation do matter…in that order for me. 

My mother was an advertising giant for decades.  She was so direct about proper grammar and punctuation growing up that sometimes I’d be so excited to tell her something and she’d tell me to repeat what I said with proper pronunciation and of course the demise of my excitement lol.  Or sometimes my turn of phrase in a text would be wrong and she would ask me to rephrase what I said so that she’d understand and be able to reply correctly.  You’d think annoying, pero tama naman.  In advertising it’s all about the exact message for the right audience.  When I had my blog for a year she would lurk through posts and text me from home “you have an error in the second paragraph on yesterday’s post…”. Texts like “was there supposed to be a comma somewhere in here?” would give me goosebumps.  This unsolicited advice in my early years as a blogger annoyed me no end at first.  My pride was seared in text, but friends told me to look at the facts constructively and appreciate that someone cared about the COMPLETE quality of my content, perhaps even more than I did at the time.  She also swaddled me in books as a child, I was an only child for 13yrs.  Mom always said “The main way to expand writing is to read more real literature.” Some people will say but their blog is just a blog “anobeh”, but you don’t want your blog to be just any blog right?  I also began spending time reading and interacting with more British than American bloggers online and naturally from reading truly English content my blogging banter and content also improved.

3.  Read other blogs but only from time to time.

The truth is I personally read more foreign blogs than local blogs but only because of a personal quirk…not because I don’t like the blogs of my friends, I do and sometimes their posts comfort me.  It’s mainly because I want to refrain from shopping more over here (LOL, THERE’s THAT) and also resist getting the wheel of unhealthy comparison in my head turning.  “Comparison is the thief of joy” said Teddy Roosevelt.  I keep up with local blogs more through Instagram and Pulse reader so I see excerpts rather than the whole thing which might pressure me to purchase or begin the cycle of negative thinking like “I’m not as good as her at this.” or the ever corrosive “oh man, that brand invited her not me”.  If I focus on what’s in front of me, the brands who know me, and what I have my content also remains more original.  And I am more content, gets lol. There is a Bible verse that says “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

4.  Have faith in the value you put out and be patient.  Respectful classy citizens purchase what they are not given.  And for the love of all that’s classy, please DO NOT ASK TO BE INVITED to an event or even worse ASK WHY YOU WEREN’T INVITED. Kill the GEE blogging MONSTERS: GREED, ENVY, ENTITLEMENT. It’s all about behaving like a well-bred grown-up if certain brands just haven’t tapped you yet.

Gifts are GIVEN.  Invitations are RECEIVED.  There is one reward that can never be replaced, the reward of being discovered and invited by a brand because they loved your site and the tone of your posts.  You rob yourself of that reward when you ambush brands and flag them with your stats card and say “I’m a blogger and this is my site, I’d like to try your stuff.”  It’s almost like holding the brand hostage or walking up to a cute guy with a page of your vital stats, would he have approached you otherwise?  You’ll never know coz you killed the possibility.  Some brands will bite I’m sure, hook, line, and sinker but you lose the reward and will forever smell a little fishy.  What makes you any different from a journalist looking for an x-deal?  Blogging is supposed to be more personal, beauty products ought to be received as treasure not commodities.  It’s good to be deemed worthy of treasure without lifting a social finger.  There is of course professional blogging and that in itself has a whole different string of ethics but most of them, us (I disclose a sponsored post once in awhile) began blogging to the air.  Have I ever requested stuff?  Yes, but from brands that I have already worked with who openly told me in advance I could request for anything I wanted to review.  Have I ever felt bad about not being invited by certain brands?  Of course I have but I just have to suck it up, zip my trap, and behave like I’m over 30 and move on.

5.  How do I organically improve my readership without cheaply selling myself or having to buy lots of stuff ?  Take great photos and blog about pure things, stuff that’s beautiful, and stuff that matters.  Borrow products from friends, put on testers and shoot them at home.  List other people’s faves. Blog about the daily grind as well, your life always matters.  Blog on living, do not live on blogging.

My tips are write well, blog real, blog more, and make sure your photos don’t suck and are way bigger than the size of this word.  Nobody knew about Seth Godin before but now he is one of the most sought after analysts of relevant strategic marketing and social content in the world.  In this interview ‘Marketing Legend Seth Godin on the Future of Branded Content’ he answers questions.

I think your blog certainly qualifies as something people will miss, and part of that is because you’re such a prolific writer. What’s your secret?
I don’t have a secret. I just write like I talk. I think almost anyone can do it, but most people aren’t diligent enough for our trade. You know, I blogged for three or five or ten years, depending on how you measure it, with almost no one reading my work. If you show up—the same way we get good at walking, the same way we get good at talking—you can get good at it.

What metrics do you think best measures the fact that you’re doing work that matters?
I think the only one that I care about is: Will people miss you if you are gone?

I believe in being honest with my readers.  I’ll tell you 3 true things now: I’ve written this whole article for 3 hours on an iPad mini (might’ve been 1 otherwise) with my index finger, the fan is pointed at my back and I want to stop already.  Since this is my post we’re ending with me, not Seth, just in case you miss me.  See you, lovely ladies and random men, in my next post or video.

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  • I’ve never understood why there’s been talk of ‘why wasn’t I invited?’ or ‘why didn’t I get this sample?’ To me it’s really simple: the brand doesn’t know about you yet or does but doesn’t like you. Either way, you can’t sourpuss (publicly) about it. Whatever I don’t receive I just buy. If you wanted it bad enough to complain, you can pay for it.

    I agree that it’s tacky when people don’t know their boundaries (overhustling, misplaced self promotion, self invitation and random requests). I used to wonder why people were like that, and then I realized some people just never develop self-awareness.

    This is an awesome post. Happy 5 years and stay classy!

  • Thanks Tellie, stay classy, too. You write really well, it’s so rare to be able to tell from someone’s well-made comment.

  • I learned a lot. I still consider myself as a newbie blogger and I am still uneasy calling myself a beauty blogger, and sharing my posts to my family or friends. My blog makes me feel happy and I am happy to have online friends too. I super agree with being honest with the readers and having beautiful photos! I love your blog! Happy 5 years! 🙂

  • Keep blogging 😉

  • The thing about ‘getting invited’ has always bewildered me. The products people get from these events are rarely ever free. The ‘free stuff’ is paid for by the amount of money spent on gas or taxi fare/ mass transportation cost. Add to that is the need to appear at least presentable by dressing up and consuming makeup. This lifestyle, I think, is expensive.

    I would like to think that most people go to the events for the qualitative rewards like making new friends, building a network, or getting the feeling of happiness when surrounded by fellow makeup and skin care-loving people. If that is not the reason, I think it’s not worth it, from a math perspective. Even if the amount of the product you get is more than the money spent, at the end of the day, money still flowed out (unless bloggers are paid to attend these events).

  • Lol yes, and that’s why it amuses me when people hop on planes to go to certain “great Sales” and say they saved so much in HK/SG…when come on, on top of all that, you still had to pay for a plane ticket. I am guilty. But yes free product doesn’t come 100% free…it in effect just costs less. No, I’ve never been paid for attendance, but I think it happens more sometimes in terms of celebrity and absolutely top, top bloggers but…most of us really attend coz we want to get together and we want to be in on the news!

  • Happy 5th blog-birthday, Julia!

    You are definitely right about having good photos and proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. There have been times where I would just scroll through a blog post because the photos are great, the products are interesting, but the writing is just off.

    Stay classy and happy! 🙂

  • kikaysikat

    Read this twice already. This is wisdom every blogger needs, old or new. Shared this to one of my readers too (and will probably share to everyone who asks haha) really helpful!

  • Thank you, Kat!

  • I wished this was written dati pa when I’m new and no idea with the sharing my thoughts through blogging.
    Thanks for the wisdom <3

    Happy 5 years! 🙂

  • Reading this at 1:41am today haha! Thanks for writing this, Julia. I find this very helpful especially now that I am particularly pressured to post something about the Christmas season on my blog. I have a lot of ideas but I just can’t get myself to start writing.