About blogging…

My perspective on some things you may not hear all the time.

I get asked questions about how to start and grow a blog often.
In lots of ways I am not at all qualified to answer that question. I am still so lost on so many things and I get very overwhelmed with all of the “other stuff” (you know the backstage stuff that has nothing to do with beauty or writing..)
In other ways I feel like what I have learned (mostly through trial and error) would have been nice to know from the start, so in hopes that any of you who are wanting to start or grow your blog can benefit from some of what I’ve leaned.

Picking the name…
If you haven’t already picked one I don’t envy you the task. It took me literally months to come up with mine…and it wasn’t even me who finally did think of it. I asked the opinions of family, friends and random strangers. The ideas ranged from pretty decent to pure garbage. Most of the pretty decent ones didn’t have available dot.coms or else I probably would have settled. During one particularly desperate brainstorming sesh Rachel threw it out as if it wasn’t the best thing I’d ever heard in my life. To which my response was something like…WHAT?! WAIT WHAT!? MASCARA WITH A K!? YOU ARE BRILLIANT!! There’s no way that has a dot.com right?…IT’S AVAILABLE!!!….Anyway, I guess that sweet little story won’t help you much in finding yours except that, it might take some time and some serious thought and you shouldn’t settle on anything you aren’t totally smitten over.

Buy your .com
Even if you are having a graphic designer help with creating your site I recommend buying your own URL. You want to have access to it at all times. I had a friend help me with mine and he had all the passwords for my hosting as well. My site started growing very fast and I needed to upgrade my servers but he was out of the country! I can’t tell you how much I appreciated his help in setting me up but I wish I had made sure from the get go that I had access to everything on my blog. I was being lazy and pretty much whenever I do that…I pay later. You can buy it at godaddy.com, there might be better places but that’s where I bought mine.

Have a Mission Statement.
There is a reason you want to blog, right? So spell it out. If I had done this early on I think I would have saved myself from a few miss steps because I would have seen that they were not in line with my overall mission. The mission I finally put into a statement is:

Help women see how beautiful they really are inside and out.

Knowing that is my main objective makes a lot of other smaller things simple. Will I post about something for money? Duh, no. Simply because it contradicts the goal. If I didn’t have that mission statement it might me more difficult to turn down offers like that which could lead me in an entirely different direction than I intended.

Be Honest, be yourself.
Don’t cover up who you really are. I am not saying you need to air your dirty laundry or be a Debbie Downer, just be you. That is what people want from a blog. The rest of the internet is peppered with commercials and airbushes and sugar-coated everything, we have enough of that. We want someone real, someone we can relate to.

Start small
I am a big picture kind of girl. I like to dream big and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Although, getting to those big goals doesn’t happen all at once, it takes doing small things consistently.

It is so easy when you’re excited about something to get carried away.  Take working-out for instance. You get a wild hair that although you have never stuck to your work out schedule before, this time, you will! So you go out and buy all new work out clothes, new shoes, sports drinks, weights, a gym pass & a bike. You decide to wake up at 5 am (even though you’re SO not a morning person) and you start hashtaging everything #gymrat.

Then $1000 dollars and two weeks in…you burn out.
You’re exhausted, out of money and feeling like a total failure.

Wouldn’t it be better to ease in? To do the work first and reward yourself later for meeting goals?  Run for a month straight and you get a pair of new shoes! Now that you have been running you’ll know exactly the shoes you need and you’ll feel like you really need and deserve them.  Since you feel confident with your run you can add some weights…this way of moving toward a goal is far more realistic and long lasting.

I hope that makes sense and translates into whatever you are blogging about… On to the next!

Take good photos
The images you take are incredibly important. I have asked Jim Harmer, owner of one of my very favorite photography sites to give his best tips for blog photography and he was nice enough to oblige  Here is what he had to say:

6 Quick Tips for Better Photos for Your Blog
1. Don’t stress your camera settings–seriously!
Most non-photographers believe that knowing the camera settings is the key to getting a great looking photo.  While the wrong camera settings can definitely ruin a photo, it is more important to get great lighting and poses.But if you feel like you must have the perfect camera settings for your shoot, and you have a DSLR that will allow you to adjust the settings, then I would suggest putting the camera on aperture priority mode (the “A” or “Av” on the mode dial), f/7.1, and ISO 400.  That’s at least a good starting place for general photos for your blog.

2.Remove all distractions from the frame
If you pay close attention to the photos you see on professional blogs and magazines, you’ll notice that they stand out for their simplicity.  All of the distractions and extraneous material have been removed so the photos look clean and simple.For example, if you’re shooting photos in your home, move to an area where you can have a clean background without lamps, furniture, dirty dishes, etc in the frame.

3. Wear clothing without graphics
Not only must your backgrounds be distraction-free, but also your clothing.  If the person you are taking pictures of is wearing clothing with large graphics or text, it will immediately divert the viewer’s attention away from the focus of the picture.
4. Spend a couple dollars on lighting
A proper photography studio will usually hold thousands of dollars worth of lighting gear, but you can get similar results by just spending a couple dollars on a lamp.

Soft, even lighting is THE KEY to a great photo.  To achieve this, I recommend pointing a lamp at a white wall near the subject.  The light from the lamp is spread across the surface of the wall and creates nice lighting on the subject.  This works whether you’re shooting people or objects for your blog post.  To do this effectively, you will need a bright bulb and remember to place the subject of the photo close to the wall.

If you’re a more serious photographer and you’re ready to spend a little money to buy flash photography equipment, I have a very handy list of recommended gear here, and it’s HUNDREDS of dollars cheaper than the name brand stuff!

5.  Use daylight balanced lighting
Most of us have taken pictures indoors and seen that it creates UGLY yellow lighting for the photos.  While a white balance adjustment on your camera can fix the yellow color temperature from the lights in your room, it cannot fix the fact that the color of your lightbulbs is different than the color temperature of the outside light coming through your windows.

The simple fix for this problem is to buy daylight balanced CFL lightbulbs.  These lights will match the daylight coming from the windows so all the photos you take in your home will be perfectly white balanced, which will go a LOOOOoong way to making your photos look more professional.

6. Shoot on a white background
White backgrounds in photos always look clean and professional.  In fact, notice for the next week as you look at magazines and advertisements how often the backgrounds are pure white.  You’ll be surprised just how common it is!

You can get a white background very easily.  One trick that works well is to buy a $1 piece of white matte foamcore or poster board.  This simple background can make a huge difference in the professionalism of your photos.

If you’re interested in learning photography, I teach photo courses through my website and have hundreds of free photography resources available at ImprovePhotography.com.

Dress it up!
I know this isn’t for every blogger but I really like adding fun graphics to help illustrate my point.
I usually use different brushes and fonts in Adobe Photoshop.
These are some or my favorite resources:
Other blogs are not your competition they’re your community.
I know it can be tempting to feel threatened or defensive and compare yourself to other bloggers. Fight it. There is nothing to be gained from that. Reach out to bloggers you like, ask them questions and make friends. Let them inspire you. It’s a great big world out there and the more bloggers there are the more people there are who are interested in blogs…WIN-WIN
Have a LIFE!
There have been times during the last year or so that I have gotten so wrapped up in beauty and blogging that  I have forgotten to think about anything else. Shameful, I know. Here’s the thing, at these times my writing and creativity really suffered! It’s so important that I turn off my computer and think about my family and friends and just anything else for the whole weekend or evening or whatever it takes.
I think I will go ahead and turn mine off now come to think of it…my sexy husband is sitting next to me on the couch and I don’t think I’ve looked up from this screen in hours!
Oceans of love,
signature


36 thoughts on “About blogging…

  1. Love your blog, and the tips here are great too. I’m a blogger too (well i am when I have the time!) and a web designer. One thing that would help me when using yoru site and to help keep people on it longer maybe would be to consider having a latest posts reel on your sidebar? So I can hit your site and instantly scroll through the latest things youve added without having to click through from home > older posts > older posts again etc…I could spend hours on a site i really like if Im given easy access to get to loads more content. Here to help with any tips you need, I love wordpress too :) xx

  2. Such great tips!!! I’m new to your blog but I have been checking in at LEAST once a day!! You are such a beautiful girl, inside and out ;) ! Your tutorials are the first I have ever watched AND tried, I am loving HAC-ing! I am trying to get a style blog up and running but had no idea where to start, this is perfect!! Thanks so much!

  3. What an amazing post! I just started a blog, and I only wish I had been able to read this a few months ago. I think it would have saved me a lot of time and stress, especially the part about picking a name.

    Your blog is beautiful and I look forward to reading it every day!

  4. GREAT post!!!! I am ALWAYS wanting tips and advice on blogging, my blog is still fairly new and getting the kinks worked out is no easy feat. So, I have a question for you, I have a lot of traffic going to my site but people aren’t subscribing or joining the blog… What is your advice here? Do you just wait it out (like I said it’s still fairly new), or is there something you did that enticed people to want to join? I’d love the advice :)

  5. I love your blog! This post could not have come at a better time for me:)! I literally just started my blog on Monday! It’s kind of scary starting out and it still looks pretty much like crap haha. I have a question for you…. do you think I should pay for a cool design first? Or just write a lot and hope people like me? I’m excited because I bought the domain and host and have been working on it a lot! Did you have a hard time starting out? I feel like I’m writing stuff that no one is even reading and it makes it a little awkward. Did you ever feel like that? Your blog is awesome and I love your honesty.. it’s so refreshing! Keep up the great work! You’re an inspiration:)

  6. Thank you!!!!
    I need all the advice I can get.
    Yours is the only blog I read, honestly:)
    Love it!! If I would have known about you when I was planning my wedding I would have flown you down just to do my make up. You’re the best!

  7. This is a completely random comment… I discovered your blog a couple months ago and am in love… Like check it daily in love. Haha. After having three kids in three years and living in Toddler Ville the past few years, I have become an expert in the five minute mommy makeup. Your blog reminded me how much fun make up is… And how different hair styles can completely turn around a long day. So I just wanted to say thanks, I love your posts, and keep me comin. Sportin’ a dramatic cat eye and some uber pink lipstick today! ;)

  8. I just found your website this weekend, but I already love it. I really like all the detailed tutorials you give on makeup, but this was an extremely helpful post. I have been contemplating starting my own blog (totally different subject matter), and now I feel inspired to take the next step. So glad that I found your website!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing! I just took the plunge last week and started my blog … and this post was a godsend. I’ve been watching your blog for awhile and I love your style and the way you relate to people!!! You’re an inspiration!!!

  10. Great post! I came up with my name and vision and bought my domain name (.com). Then I spent a month or two setting up my layout, downloading fonts, teaching myself HTML, etc. All that planning truly helped me start on the right foot.

  11. Thank you so much for all this great tips, these are really helpful for new bloggers like me. It is really a great post but… don´t let your husband wait ! You are right sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our work that we forget everything else ouside.

  12. I don’t want to start a blog but I think that you are possibly the sweetest person to offer up all of this advice to people. I love your tutorials/blog and love that you encourage others to not feel jealous of others and to encourage them to ask questions and advice as it is a “win win” idea. I hope this advice encourages other wonderful bloggers out there to be themselves :)

  13. The two I wish people would follow more… Buy a dot com and take good photos. I see several fairly successful bloggers who have had a blogspot address for YEARS. It’s only $10 to buy your own. Do it!

    • I just found you on Pinterest and now here on your Blog! You have inspired me. I always wanted to do a Blog. Now I am for sure! You’re awesome and beautiful.
      inside and out.

  14. What a great post :-) even for those of us that just follow blogs I think there are very important and inspirational things you’ve pointed out in this post. As always thanks again Cara!

  15. Oh my gosh thank you. I have emailed you asking about this and you were so kind in your reply so this definitely has helped me “gather my thoughts” if you will to making my blog become a reality. I was just so overwhelmed before. And you’re right. Coming up with a name is by the far the freaking hardest thing to do. I swear I was able to come up with my son’s name in one day. I wish a blog name was just as easy. I’m still in debate! And I just moved from Vegas but I hope you’re having fun! After I found the parts of Vegas that were more fun and…safe for a three year old, I had a blast living there.

  16. Love this post- thank you so much for all of these tips. I started my blog appx 1 year ago and feel like I’m going nowhere sometimes! I know I need to just stick with it and all will fall into place. Love your message, and personality! Will definitely stop by again :) ~Coleen

  17. Hi Cara,
    I just started a blog a few weeks ago and I LOVE yours! How long did it take for yours to get “off the ground” so to speak. I guess what I’m asking is, how long did it take to get more readers, subscribers, commenters, etc. And how did you get it out there to make it more popular?

  18. Hi Cara
    Loving the blog, really good tips too. Was just wondering where you got your social media icons at the top? They’re really stylish and neat, the whole theme is (guessing it’s specially designed though?)! xo

Leave a Reply