If you hadn’t noticed already, then this week marks the fifth birthday of London Beauty Queen. Way back in 2010 I published my first every blog post and this site was born. The last five years have seen a gigantic change in the bloggersphere – it’s practically unrecogniseable from the tiny and mostly badly-designed sites of times past. Now everything is big, glossy, polished and professional, but that’s not to say it’s not just as exciting. In celebration of this milestone, I asked you guys to submit questions to me that you’d like answered – covering everything from how I got started and my top tips, to where I think the bloggersphere is going to in 2015. Enjoy.
Why did you start your blog in the first place?
I’d worked within the beauty industry for years, having done everything from developing new products and writing the backs of shampoo bottles, to running press and television campaigns while looking after in-store marketing. I became aware of blogs in late 2009, and after deciding to take a new direction in my career, started one of my own to keep my toe in the water of the industry. I quickly realised I loved beauty too much to not work within it somehow, so the blog became somewhat of an obsession! It was never meant to be anything other than a platform to keep my creative juices flowing and to share my knowledge with others.
How did you come up with the name London Beauty Queen?
It was a spur of the moment decision. I wanted it to be obvious what I was writing about, reflect my location and not be dependent upon me individually – having worked within branding for years I applied what I’d learned to do something a bit different. The only problem now is that I no longer live in London, so it can be somewhat confusing!
What are your tips for keeping up with consistent content?
Planning is absolutely vital; I have endless spreadsheets to plot out content and notebooks that I can jot things down in. It’s important to decide how much content you want to product on a weekly basis and stick to that schedule, so readers know what to expect – whether it’s morning and afternoon, or just Tuesdays and Thursdays. Scheduling is also a great tool if you’re juggling blogging with multiple other roles and responsibilities: before I went full time I’d write all weekend long and schedule content for the week when I knew I’d be too busy. Now I spend Mondays and Fridays writing and setting myself up for the forthcoming few days so I’m not continually chasing my tail.
How do you strive to increase your readership?
I’m always trying to reach more people in new ways, so I’m very present across all social media platforms. Twitter has been vital for me as it allows access to an infinite amount of beauty enthusiasts, while Pinterest has brought me a whole new audience focused on imagery. Putting yourself out there, sometimes investing a little money, can really work wonders – as can collaborating with the right people and the right brands. Increasing my readership is a real focus right now, so I have a few ideas simmering away!
If there was one thing you could change throughout your blogging journey what would it be?
I don’t think I would change anything, just because you learn from every mistake you make. Every part of this journey has taught me something and I’m not the kind of person to regret! However, I do wish I’d jumped on the YouTube bandwagon years ago and stuck with it – it’s so much harder now and who knows what could have been. I could’ve been the next Zoella 😉
What do you enjoy least about blogging?
Blogging can be incredibly lonely; as a one-woman-band I’m often hauled up in my flat for days on end without speaking to anyone other than my boyfriend. Working from home and for yourself has its benefits (pyjamas and This Morning being a couple!) but it also has its downsides – you have to be very regimented and self-motivated.
How do you make your blog stand out from the crowd?
I try to be as honest as possible, not being afraid of saying something is rubbish or controversial if I believe it to be so. I like to discuss topics others shy away from, start conversation and engage in debate; although reviews and product features will always be a bit part of the site, I hope I bring a little more sparkle to the party.
What advice would you give to people that have just started blogging?
Be prepared to spend time building a platform through hard work and
dedication. Success doesn’t happen overnight and you shouldn’t feel like
a failure if your door isn’t being knocked down by brands after three
months. Enjoy it. Carve a niche. Network. Be nice.
How did you have the courage to make blogging a full time thing?
I worked on the blog part time as a hobby for over three years before making the transition into doing it full time. It was never an active decision, but something that just started to generate more income the more time I spent on it; eventually it became clear that I needed to make the leap and try it. If I failed I would’ve gone back to employment, but luckily it worked out quite well! I did have a significant financial cushion to see me through the first six months, which I think was incredibly important in setting me up to win.
What advice would you give someone who is thinking of taking their blog full time?
Definitely ensure you’re in a financial position to take your site full time; if the money doesn’t come in straight away, can you still pay your bills and eat for the next few months? Networking is also vitally important, so make sure you have great relationships with brands and PRs you think may be willing to work with you in a commercial sense. Also, ensure you have the readership there to justify working on your site full time – it’s all well and good wanting to take the leap, but if you only have 1000 readers a month it’s not going to be sustainable or generate the income you need.
What do you think the future of blogging holds?
2015 is going to be a very exciting year for blogging; there’s so much conversation going on with brands about how they can work with bloggers and capitalise on their influence. I wrote this post at the beginning of the year and stand by everything I predicted… So let’s see!
Do you find the number of bloggers getting an influential voice a threat or a gain?
The internet is infinite, so theretically there’s space for everyone. There are so many brands out there that want to work with blogs in so many different ways, but inevitably there will be less slice of the pie to eat as time goes on. However, I believe the increasing numbers and influence of the bloggersphere will only benefit us all individually in the long-term; if people are talking about blogs, visiting blogs and working with blogs (no matter who they are,) then it’s a good thing.
How have you and your blog changed in the last five years?
The site is totally unrecogniseable from where it was five years ago – it was clunky, poorly designed, pink and what I thought it ‘should be’ rather than what I wanted it to be. My photos were taken on a Blackberry and there was no creativity whatsoever. Now, I feel like the site has progressed to be a better reflection of who I am and what I want to talk about. Everything digital changes so quickly that it’s vital to stay on track and evolve with the changing nature of media.
What’s been the most rewarding thing about blogging?
It’s amazing to know I make a difference to other people; having that relationship with my readers is second to none. I love the fact I can provide a recommendation that makes a huge difference to someone – be it a new mascara, tips on applying lipstick to give them confidence or a face cream that helps reduce their problem areas. If it wasn’t for the interaction I don’t think I would be as passionate about running a blog as I am.
Was there ever one key moment that you felt ‘yup, LBQ is going to be big!’?
To be honest, not really! I still don’t see it as a big site or myself as well known – until I get spotted in a queue or meet people at an event that all know who I am. Quite often my friends see people on the train reading my site or talking about a post to a friend, which is still surreal. The growth of LBQ has been so gradual that I never really noticed or had that lightbulb moment, but after being nominated for a Cosmo Blog Award within three months of launching definitely made me take it a little more seriously.
I hope you enjoyed gaining a little insight into me and my journey, and that you’ll continue to be part of it in the coming weeks, months and years. Until next time…
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