I’ve always had an addiction to beauty products. It started off when I was a tiny ballerina, applying blue eyeshadow and pink lipstick before a big show, and kept evolving until I was a fully fledged adult with an overflowing collection of mascara. I’ve always scoured the shelves of Boots, researched the latest beauty products and discussed lipstick with my friends in the pub, which is why I started to channel my passion and launched this site in 2010. My original posts were (although terribly written and illustrated with awful stock images,) focused around products I was using, trends I was seeing, tips on how to cover up a hangover and what I’d discovered that weekend in Selfridges. PR samples didn’t start dropping through my letterbox until a good year or so after I started writing, putting me in a fortunate position and enabling me to start covering new things and being exposed to new brands. However, with the growth of blogs comes the growth of demand for those precious samples – there simply aren’t enough to go around.
Although the large proportion of bloggers are genuinely passionate about
their chosen topic and conduct themselves with nothing but decorum,
there’s a growing trend that bloggers are sending brands ‘shopping
lists’ of products they want to try when their readership simply doesn’t
warrant the cost associated with a freebie. Even more baffling are the
increasing requests PRs are getting from those bloggers ‘thinking’ or
‘just about to start’ a blog… Excuse me while I try and compute that
one. It seems to have been lost along the way somewhere, but every single sample or free lipgloss comes with an associated cost; that cost of sending it out to a blogger, journalist or influencer needs to be justified. If your readership is small, if you’re just starting out or if you’ve not quite found your niche yet, then you may not be quite right for a lot of brands and PRs. However, you can still establish and grow a kick-ass blog without the need for samples or freebies. Here are some of my suggestions as to how to generate great content without an endless supply of complimentary eyeshadow.
Shop Your Own Collection
We’ve all got products we’ve forgotten about or that seem to blend into the background of our routine. Sometimes those lipsticks lurking at the back of the drawer can spark an idea or provide a great basis for a post, as can that concealer that you’ve relied on for years. Regularly shop your own collection of products and you’ll be amazed at the ideas it can spark; after all, people want to know about the products you really love rather than simply what you’ve been given to try.
Open Your Eyes
Inspiration is all around us. By opening your eyes and ears you’ll always be coming up with ideas and angles, all of which are more shareable and much more likely to spark debate. It may be that you’ve overheard a makeup dilemma, seen a new trend popping up on the streets or even been asked by your friends if they really need to apply foundation with a brush. Every day can provide a pile of ideas which could keep your creative juices flowing.
Read Magazines & Other Blogs
I love to flick through magazines and read other websites; not only does it keep me in touch with what’s going on outside my own bubble, but it sparks ideas and leaves me feeling inspired. Although magazines may only write a one-sentence response to a query, you’ve got the capacity to turn that into a full blog post. Other bloggers may gloss over a topic that you feel has got more legs, or featured products may lead you to research a whole new category.
Write About Your Own Experiences
The reason blogs are so popular is because the reader has a personal relationship with the writer. Documenting your own experiences, opinions and tips is a great way of building an engaged readership, as well as ensuring your content is shareable (which is what great blogs have really nailed down.) Some of my most popular posts are based around my experiences, opinions and tips, so I’m going to continue with this type of content as long as I’m able to write!
It may sound silly, but spending time wandering around department stores and chemists can provide a huge amount of inspiration. You don’t need to even spend any money (as a lot of counters will provide sample sizes or even give you an on-counter makeover,) but it could make a great post. I used to wander the aisles of Boots and Superdrug every Saturday and write up new products or trends I saw emerging. I may only have bought one or two things, but it gave me enough inspiration for a week’s worth of content.
How do you keep your content fresh and engaging? What do you feel about the ‘shopping lists’ and endless reliance upon freebies to keep blogs going? I’d love to know your thoughts.