Let’s have a chat about blogging shall we? I felt really deep and meaningful after reading Hannah Gale’s post on the matter and it got me thinking that I should write a debrief of my own thoughts. So big up Hannah for the inspiration here. Blogging has had quite the ride hasn’t it? When I first started ‘Vivianna Does Makeup’ back in March 2010 (I did have a blog previously called ‘Lil Miss Makeup‘ which lasted about 3 weeks prior to that), it wasn’t much of an industry. There were a handful of people across the world typing away their thoughts to an audience that could probably squeeze in your school hall for assembly. In the beauty world there were about four big cheeses and I read their posts daily lapping ’em up and writing my own a few times a week. These days you couldn’t even fit the entire U.K beauty blogging contingent into your school hall – we’re probably talking multiple football pitches now stuffed with bloggers; including those who blog as a hobby, those who have the intention of making it a career move and those who have managed to turn it into a business. Who’d have thought it, eh? ‘Blogging’ as a word is something that is recognised across generations and across the world. It’s no longer our nerdy little secret. So eight years later, what’s the crack?
I feel like bloggers and readers alike, are at a bit of crossroads right now (side note: I’m unable to type that world without singing the Blazin’ Squad song). As Hannah mentioned in her post, as a new Mum grappling with the luxury of time, she’s planning to up her ratio of Instagram posts to blog posts as Instagram is where she sees the most engagement, enjoyment and business opportunities which makes SO MUCH SENSE. Hannah I love your IG stories and gobble them up daily, much like I do Mini Eggs at the moment. It’s a sentiment that is shared across the industry as we as consumers want snappier content: a quick swipe up on Instagram to link a top that we want to buy, a location tag on a photo so we know where to visit for brunch next time we’re in town, a podcast to listen to so we can multi-task and cook dinner whilst we listen to it, a YouTube video that’s mostly audio without swishy music so we can watch out of one eye as we do our skincare routine in the morning. We’re busy (and heck don’t we like to tell people about THAT!?) and easily bored and with so many social media platforms out on a smorgasbord for us to enjoy 24/7, we’re more likely to pick at those canapés that are easily ingested in one quick mouthful. It’s why blogs are becoming neglected by some and why Instagram is the most opened app on my phone BY A MILE. With it covering Instagram stories (like mini vlogs, snapchat and a really visual version of Twitter), traditional IG posts (almost a bit like micro blogs if you thump out a hefty caption) and Instagram Live (like YouTube live videos) – it’s basically ticking every content need off the list.
Here’s the thing though, I still LOVE blogs and LOVE blogging. Sure, I accept that the competition from other platforms might be shifting traffic a little, but for me it will always have a special place in my heart. Firstly, it’s the medium I started with and there’s nothing quite like snuggling up on my sofa with my laptop rested in a way that definitely wouldn’t be Chiropractor-approved and putting fingertip to keyboard. Sometimes the idea of filming makes me want to bury my head into a pillow (huge props to daily vloggers) and so it gives me an alternative and a way to balance out the fact that sometimes I’m down to clown around on camera, and other times I’m not.
Secondly, I feel like some content lends itself still to a blog format – even all these years later. A city guide for example that you can bookmark and load when you’re not sure of where to have dinner at your new destination. Packing guides with PDF’s that you can print out. Recipes. A good ol’ heart to heart that you just don’t fancy doing on camera. When you fancy a distraction but don’t have your headphones. When scrolling has given you a headache and you just want something to READ. Sure there are some ideas that work best on IG, others in a YouTube video, but there’s still some that are best suited to a blog too.
Finally – and probably the most important point of all – a blog is YOURS. You own it and it’s 100% your corner of the internet. Look! It’s even got your name on it like your school P.E kit did! In a world where the Internet giants can tweak their app so that it absolutely shoots the competition out of the water, it’s nice to have a place to call your own where outside influences don’t throw things off kilter at the drop of a hat. So if you want to blog – BLOG! If you don’t fancy it – DON’T! But I say balls to the numbers and if you enjoy it, then type your heart away till your nails no longer need filing.
MY TOP BLOGGING TIPS
Get your design down. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, nor does it have to be professionally designed BUT a design that’s easy to read on both desktop and tablet, along with pictures that don’t take hours to load and a format that makes it easy to spot new posts, are just a few features that make reading a blog a fuss-free experience. So whether you’ve tweaked a template a little, or have upped the standard font size to make it a little easier on the eye, it’s worth having your friends and family do a quick audit of your site to feedback any user experience issues. It’s boring and one of less sexy sides of blogging but it might just take one Sunday afternoon of tweaking, to please your users and want them to click back for more instead of being CBA to move to grab their glasses and clicking the cross of doom.
Write a blog for you. It’s a complete cliché, so feel free to roll your eyes here, but if I had to blog by ONE mantra, then it would be this ‘Write a blog that you would want to read‘. It’s simple, but effective and means that you’re constantly tapped in to you. Listen to your gut feeling when you’re coming up with new post ideas, design re-jigs, replying to comments and if it doesn’t feel right, then take a second to evaluate why and what can be done to change that. A niche might help tap into an audience in the early days, but really all the blogs I read are because I’m into their tastes and current likes and loves, so don’t feel bogged down in one subject area. If it’s a post that would make you click on it, then write it and press publish.
Spread yourself out. Although I don’t think it’s necessary to have a YouTube channel AND a blog unless you really want to, I do feel like the blogs I enjoy the most are from people who I’ve got to know better through other platforms like Twitter and Instagram Stories. You know the mundane everyday stuff that will make you pick up a Blueberry Muffin Nakd Bar? Yes I’m looking at you again Hannah Gale. It’s an age where we like to feel we know the person behind the copy, so get plug in to the social media world and show ’em your dazzling personality. If making videos isn’t your thing then there are so many other platforms to explore; podcasts, e-books and Instagram Live, just to name a few.
Shout about new content. People just don’t use blog feed readers like they used to. Before I remember scrolling through and clicking on post links until I got to the place where I’d ended the previous scroll session; now I revisit my favourite websites and tend to swipe on links through Instagram Stories as my main method of finding new content. So when you have posted something new, don’t be shy – SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS! Post tweets, link it up in your Instagram bio, do a drop on Instagram stories, tell your Mum to tell her mates! Self promo might feel a little cringe sometimes, but it should help to drive traffic to that post that took you two hours to write (no joke, this post has taken me 1 hour 57 minutes!). Time for a Blueberry Muffin Nakd Bar…
Photos by Lauren Shipley
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