Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blogging 101 - How To Start and/or Grow Your Nail Polish Blog

Hey guys!

Today's post is something a little different. I frequently receive emails asking for advice on how to become a successful blogger. When I first starting getting these, I was a little confused - I guess because I had never considered myself "successful". But, I suppose my little blog has become rather successful in the almost 2 years that I've been blogging! 

So today I'm going to be discussing tips and tricks for starting and growing your polish blog. Keep in mind, following these guidelines will not make you an overnight blogging sensation, but they will keep people coming back to your site.

Warning: This is going to be a very long and very wordy post! I put a lot of time into it though because I definitely think that some will find it useful.


Start for the Right Reason:
In my mind, this is the most important factor to consider before you start a blog. Ask yourself why you want to start it! As far as I'm concerned, there's only one reason that you should start a polish blog - because you love nail polish and you want to share that passion with others through photos and writing. 

Readers are perceptive enough to realize when you're blogging for the right reason and if you're not, most of them simply won't visit your blog.

Create and Maintain a Blogging Schedule:
Another important question you must ask yourself is "Do I have enough spare time to dedicate to blogging?" Blogging is a commitment and if you want to be successful, you have to be willing and able to put in both the time and the effort. 

Personally, I strive to post once a day, but not everyone can afford to dedicate that much time to blogging. Basically, just make sure to post frequently enough to keep people interested in your site. Infrequent posting and long hiatuses are sure to make people lose interest. A good way to avoid this is to create a schedule and stick to it. For example, I usually dedicate a couple of hours of my Sunday morning/afternoon to swatching. This gives me plenty of content for the week to come and then all I have to do is write up my post the night before I plan to post it.

Theme/Background:
When it comes to your blog's theme, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you're not very tech savvy (I'm not), there are many sites that offer pre-made templates that you can use (I used one myself until only recently). Blogger also offers a variety of templates that provide you with more versatility than a pre-made theme. If you so desire and you can afford to, you can also pay a graphic designer to create a custom theme for you.

With all of those options, I think the most important things are to showcase your own style and personality and to also keep it on the simple side. In other words, let your posts do the talking - blinding backgrounds and flashy gadgets are only going to distract from your content.

Post Titles:
This may not seem like an important factor when it comes to growing your blog, but I promise that it is! If you use abstract phrases/terms in your post titles, search engines can't find them as easily. However, if you use phrases that incorporate what your post is about, people are more easily able to find it through a search engine. 

For example, let's say you're doing a review post of the China Glaze Electropop Collection. Your post title could be something along the lines of "Review & Swatches - China Glaze Electropop Collection". Then, when readers are searching for "china glaze electropop swatches", the search engine can easily find your blog because it's right there in the title! On the other hand, if you title your post "New CG Collex", for example, and readers are still searching for "china glaze electropop swatches", your post won't be as easily found.

Spelling and Grammar:
If you want people to return to your site, make sure to use proper spelling and grammar. If you're not comfortable with your spelling and grammar skills, I'm not suggesting that you go take a course before you start blogging or anything. Instead, just type your posts up in a word processor beforehand so that the built-in spelling and grammar check can help you out. 

Now, don't get me wrong, we all make spelling and grammar mistakes from time to time, even if we use the proper tools and we're vigilant about it - that's ok (although some readers will still jump on the chance to point out the error). But if all of your posts have frequent spelling and grammar mistakes, it not only looks unprofessional, it's actually harder to read!

Photos:
A common blogging myth is that you must own a super expensive DSLR camera with many different lenses, but this is not true. Sure, it can't hurt to have a really good camera, but it's not necessary for taking good, colour accurate photos. The camera I use is a simple point and shoot that's roughly four years old. The difference is: I know how to use it! I read my manual and played with the settings until I found what works best.

Also, lighting is extremely important. It doesn't matter what camera you have, whether it's a $200 point and shoot or a $1200 DSLR, if you're photographing in bad lighting, you're going to end up with bad photos. Some people like to take their photos outside in the sunlight and if that works for you, that's great. But for people like me who live in foggy, rainy and often unpredictable climates, sunlight photography isn't very reliable. In these cases, you can try building an inexpensive light box if you haven't been able to find a reliable lighting source.

One last photography tip is to make sure your background is not distracting and that it's consistent throughout your photos. If you're using a light box, this won't be an issue. Otherwise, use a neutral coloured bed sheet or piece of matte poster board as your background.

For more photography tips, check out Sarah's (Chalkboard Nails) tutorials page

Swatches:
Once you've got your photography down, you need to make sure that your hands and nails are aesthetically pleasing. A big part of being a nail blogger is taking good care of your hands and nails! That doesn't mean that you must have perfect hands, nails and cuticles in order to become a nail blogger, but just keep in mind that you're going to be posting photos for anyone and everyone to view, so take pride in that and do what you can to maintain healthy nails and cuticles. My Manicuring 101 Series will be helpful in that area.

Furthermore, when actually polishing your nails, be as careful as you can. Remember when you were a kid and you were always told to colour inside the lines? Well that still applies today! However, if you happen to flood your cuticles with a little polish or you happen to get some on your skin, simply take a small paintbrush or angled eyeliner brush, dip it in some acetone, and run it along the area that requires clean up. This makes your swatches look so much cleaner, more professional and easier to look at.

After clean up, be sure to moisturize your cuticles! This is super important because dry, flaky cuticle can distract from the polish or nail art that you're trying to showcase. I covered all the basics of cuticle care, including moisturizing in my Cuticle Care post, so that might be worth checking out.

Link Dropping:
This is a general "don't" in the blogging community. Commenting on other's posts is great and I'm sure they appreciate it (I know I appreciate all the comments that you guys leave me), but when your comments are clearly selfishly motivated (i.e. "Cool post. Check out my blog!"), it's a pretty big turn off. In fact, a lot of the time it'll have the opposite effect that you want and it will just turn people away from your blog.

Instead, comment regularly on blogs that you like and read frequently. People will eventually start to notice you and they might even click on your name to see what you're all about. Sure, it's a lot easier to link drop, but I promise you that you'll be much more respected this way.

Social Media:
A good way to establish yourself in the community is through the utilization of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Avoid link dropping, but post your photos on Tumblr and Pinterest and get to know others in the community through Facebook and Twitter. 

Samples from Companies/PR Reps:
One of the perks of being a nail blogger is that sometimes companies will send you their products to review! This is an excellent way to try new products and to save money on products that you might have bought on your own. But as much as being sent free products is all kinds of awesome, it should not be your goal as a blogger. Instead, it should be a bonus.

Companies generally want to have their products advertised on bigger, more established blogs, so it's best to wait until you've established yourself in the community before trying to contact any companies.

On that note, I should mention that sometimes companies or their PR Reps will contact you (especially if there's something unique about your blog that interests them), but a lot of the time you'll have to take the initiative on your own. But, since getting free products shouldn't be your goal, don't feel too bummed out if companies say no to your requests or if they don't respond at all.

With all that said, the nail polish blogging community is very saturated right now, so it's a lot harder to build relationships with companies and their PR Reps than it once was. I've been blogging for almost 2 years and it's not often that I'm sent items for consideration, so you can imagine that it's even harder now.
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Of course, I myself was guilty of some of the "blogging don't" tips discussed above, so don't feel bad if you've also been guilty of them. Blogging is a learning process and we all improve as we continue to blog and I hope that these tips will help with that process!

Good luck and happy blogging!

75 comments:

  1. Extremely helpful - thank you :)

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  2. Thanks For the tips... They're are going to be really helpful for me :)

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  3. Thank you, this is so helpful! Social media is my downfall, I have only just got used to Twitter and Instagram, the very thought setting up a page on Facebook fills me with dread, I think I'll leave that one until I feel a little more established! X

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  4. I 100% agree with Alexis! Thanks for a useful post!! (not to say your other posts are not useful :) )

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  5. Awesome post, I think there are a lot of good tips for the new and old bloggers. Thanks for posting this!

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  6. Thanks so much for this post! It's a great help!
    Some of the things you mentioned I totally didn't think of, and reading it now, black on white, gives a good idea as for what i need to think about before my next posts!
    Thanks again!!!

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  7. this is so cool of you I started my blog in march, so I'm new to blogging I just love it when people comment and subscribe it literally makes my day! This is so helpful thank you!

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  8. Wow this is really helpful!! Thanks so much for the time and thought you put into this post!:)

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  9. Thanks so much for the tips! I appreciate it :-)

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  10. Thanks so much for posting this! I definitely will keep these tips in mind while blogging. :)

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  11. I suppose I really should set up a twitter for my blog... I just don't want to!
    I've been blogging for a little over a year and I haven't really gotten my blog to catch on. I wonder what I need to do...

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  12. Great post! You covered pretty much everything. I'm a total offender with the spelling and grammar section, I dot my i's & cross my t's but I write in such a lazy and slang way, almost like I am just speaking to you in my post haha!

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  13. Awesome post! Thanks for sharing what you've learned.

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  14. Excellent tps! Thanks for taking the time to write this up!

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  15. Thank you so much! The timing was spectacular. I just started a couple months ago. This really helps.

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  16. I'm in awe of how neatly nail bloggers paint their nails, how healthy their cuticles look, etc. It's made me much more aware of how bad mine look at times - but it's also motivated me to get better!

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  17. Another blogging tip (from when I used to have the time to blog): if you are showcasing some nail art or were otherwise inspired by another more famous blogger, giving them nice credit and linking back to them can be a way to make bigger-blog friends. I used to have a google alert for when people did this with my blog, and I would always check them out and often ended up following/promoting them for being so sweet.

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  18. Great post! It's awesome to have all this information in one easy, accessible place! I used to get a lot of flack from people for having oodles of nail polish. It used to bother me, but then one day I decided to tell them all to shut it and I started a blog. It feels great to have an outlet! As always, I love your blog! Keep up the great work!

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  19. that's a super helpful post, thank you so much! I've been blogging for a while now, and I'm sure I can use your advice! :)

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  20. Nice post. :)
    Though I've been blogging for a while now, I guess I still haven't figured out all the tricks. ^^;

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  21. I'm kind of figuring this all out for myself right now so THANK YOU! I saw this post in my Google reading list and literally got excited haha :)

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  22. Thank you for writing up this post. I've had my blog for about a month so this helps me out a lot.

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  23. I began my blog righ after christmas and i only have 10 suscribers, but i love writing and share with them my passion(even if they are only ten) is very kind of you to share those tips with us, thaks a lot :)

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  24. WOW! This is amazing! This inspired my to make my first nail blog!

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  25. Thank you for the tips :) I must consider making tumblr account I guess ;) It's so hard to get nocited... Every month there's more and more new blogs...

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  26. Thanks for this! Some of these tips I knew already, but I learned a few new things. This is definitely a huge help for new bloggers like me! :)

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  27. fabulous post - this should be required reading before anyone starts a blog. Well put together xx

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  28. Thanks so much for the post, Kayla. A very nicely organized list of tips. One question for you- what kind of lighting do you use, since sunlight is not guaranteed in your part of the world? I struggle with making the window when I can take photos in the sunlight, and my one natural light lamp isn't enough for good pics in the evening.

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  29. What a great post. Thanks for your insight!

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  30. I don't know how i missed this post, I'm just reading it, thank you for this post. You are really great. X0X0

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  31. Thank you for this! I'm thinking about starting a blog and this really helped, especially the part about the cuticles! I always wondered how nail bloggers' nails looked so perfect all the time. Awesome post! :)

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  32. Thanks for the helpful information on starting a Nail blog. Please keep providing us with helpful information. I an eager to learn from you tips.

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  33. Thank you very much for your tips on blogging, I have recently started my own nail polish blog and was so confused on where to even begin!

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  34. Great post. I just sent you a email and I broke the link dropping rule...LOL...Thanks to all your help that I am learning.

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  35. Yay! so much help, I will be following these tips a lot now!

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  36. Thank you, this is really helpful. x

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  37. Thank you so much for posting this!!! It was very helpful to my new blog which should be up and running this week.. I'm so excited!! I don't plan on using water marks but dont want my pictures used on eBay like you were saying, anyways, I was wondering how you found the item your pictures were used for?? It seems like it would be really hard to find! Thank you so much again!!

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  38. Thanks you so much for making this! It helped me a lot and I can't wait to get my first subscriber and comment on my blog! :) You made my so excited to hopefully see my blog grow! :)

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  39. I love this post!! I think it's something every blogger should read, especially if they're new. I get so frustrated when people just leave their links and short comment like "cute nails," but love my regular posters! Heaps of helpful, well-written tips, thanks a lot!

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  40. Thanks for posting this, its people like you who really make us successful bloggers!

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  41. I've just started out a couple of weeks ago and this is a fantastic post, thank you so much! I still have soooooo much more to learn, I can't wait to get better and start getting followers/comments, this is really helpful :) x

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  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  43. Thanks for this post! I've just gotten started blogging, but this post helped give me the confidence to get started. Getting started was the hardest part.

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  44. So helpful! Thank you, appreciate the time taken for this!

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  45. Apprecaite your effort to jot this down and help people around..I am a very new blogger who is very passionate on nail art. So was just browsing today when I stumbled on your post.Its helpful and your theme is wow...I am just thinking how to have it on my nails:)

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  46. I've just started my own Nail Art blog (it's only about 2 weeks old now!) and found this really helpful. Although I am guilty of giving my posts titles which are slightly less ordinary (I love a good pun/song lyric I'm afraid) I think there are some really good hints and tips in here. I found your page from Chalkboard Nail's guest post and am glad I did because it has some really lovely manis and some great tutorials I shall definitely be trying once I feel a bit more confident as a nail artist!

    THANKS!

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  47. That's so helpful! Thanks so much! :D Guilty of a few, but this defiantly helps!

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  49. I love this post! So helpful, thank you for sharing!

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  51. Thanks so much for posting this on your blog! I just started blogging and i really needed help on where to start. I hope one day I can be very successful.

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  52. Thank you so much for posting this. I'm a new nail art blogger and am so glad my search engine brought me to this post. It was very helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to help small time newbie bloggers learn the ropes. You're awesome!!

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  53. Extremely helpful & kind of you to share with all of us! Thank you!

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  54. Thank you for this post! I'm thinking of starting a nail polish blog soon so reading these tips was helpful to me :)

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  55. I was linked to this post by NailPolishDistraction and I'm so glad I was! This is such a helpful and informative post for people starting out (or in my case wanting to). I read a tonne of nail and beauty blogs daily and I absolutely love the community feel and it's helping me to become more confident in my own designs! I've got a tonne of tabs open with all the other helpful posts you have linked in, such as the cuticle one and I am about to read them all now! Thank you so much for this :) I will definitely be coming back to your blog, and this post more often! xx

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  56. Awesome blog!!! This helped me a lot! :D

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  57. where did you get your template from?

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  58. Thank you! These tips are going to help me out so much!

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  59. These tips where so helpful for me! Gonna put them in to action on my blog! Thanks so much!

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  67. This post must have taken alooott of time! But it was super helpful. Thanks for posting :)
    *I pledge not to drop links and maintain a blog schedule*

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  68. Thank you for the tips! While I've been blogging for a long time (a personal blog), I decided recently that I want to share my passion for nail art as well, and I was in search of tips, do's & don'ts in the nail art blogging world (which is obviously different than blogging about your personal life). Now all I have to do is to decide on a name, and I thiiiink I'm set to go.

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  73. Hello, I just came across your blog today and I'm a newbie in this nail blogging. Nice article and I want to ask you what would you do If you have 'link dropping' comment? Do you remove it? or ignoring it? Thanks

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