Disclaimer: I don't for one second think I'm an expert, nor do I rate myself as a top beauty blogger / guru. I just see a lot of new / potential beauty bloggers asking a lot of the same questions and generally worrying about making mistakes / breaking the secret (non-existent!) codes of beauty blogging, so I thought I'd share what I've learned in my three years of blogging. I hope this helps some people who are new to blogging or thinking about starting out. These are in no way 'the rules'! I'm just passing on my opinions, opinions I've heard from others, and information I've learned along the way. I'm happy to be corrected on anything anyone thinks I've got wrong (in a polite and positive way please!) and also to be enlightened with any relevant information which I could add to this post - just leave me a comment :)
Every blogger has been there. That point where you decide you want to join in, but you're not quite sure how. Hopefully I can explain a few of the key things you need to know when you've decided you want to start.
First you need to decide which platform you're going to join. I went with blogger because that's what the bloggers I was following were using, Wordpress is also popular, and there will be others out there I'm not familiar with. Tumblr is also an option, although that's generally seen as a 'micro blogging tool' meaning it's mostly used for blogging images and short quotes rather than longer and more detailed posts. A lot of bloggers have a blog and a Tumblr, and post different content to each. All of these platforms are free to use.
Once you choose who to start your blog with, you can pretty much follow the on screen set-up instructions to get going.
Naming your blog
In my opinion, what you call your blog is very important. My blog had a different name in the beginning, and I soon realised I'd made a mistake in choosing a name which no linger matched what I wanted to write about. Changing the name of your blog later can be a massive headache and if not done properly, it can cause you to lose touch with readers / followers.
Now of course you can call your blog what the heck you like, it is your space. But these are the things I recommend you consider about the name you're thinking of going with.
Is it easy to spell?
Picking something unique and obscure can be good, but if readers can't remember how to spell it, or if it includes a commonly misspelt word, you might lose some of your audience this way.
Is it your real name?
There's a rather famous blogger who used her full name with the vowels missing for her blog, and I've heard her say she regrets it. Putting your full, real name out there on the internet with your blog can potentially be a risky thing to do - I'm thinking stalkers, identity theft etc. But also, consider whether or not you want your real life friends, family, neighbours, classmates / colleagues to be able to find your blog by googling your name!
Is it unique?
Is there already another blog with the same or a very similar name? Worth checking if you want to be a bit more unique and generally to make sure readers don't get you confused with someone else and land on the wrong blog. I remember at one point I'd come across three blogs all called something along the lines of 'Alice in Wonderland'. There could also be benefits to this too, but personally I'd rather not share the same blog name as anyone else.
Beware of copyright.
I think it's best not to name your blog something copyrighted - if you use the name of a brand, celebrity etc, there's a chance you might be forced to change it at some point.
Does the name sound silly said aloud?
This is a less serious point - most blog names can sound a bit silly said aloud - I know mine does. I think the thing to consider here is whether someone who asks your blog name in person would then easily be able to find it online. This is where funky spellings and plays on words can be an issue. Of course you can spell the name out, or write it down for the person, but this can be a pain.
Are you following a trend?
There are some obvious trends with beauty blog names which I'm sure you've noticed already. Plenty have 'beauty' or 'makeup' in the title - this can be a very sensible option as it immediately defines what the blog is about, and is also likely to come up in beauty related google searches (more about search engines later). Another trend (and one that I fell into) is to name your blog "something and something". Personally I like these (obviously), but have seen some say they think it's a bit overdone now.
I can only explain how blogger works as that's what I'm familiar with. After you choose your name (let's say you picked 'bananas hate mascara', because let's face it, nobody would call their blog that...) blogger would provably give you the domain www.bananashatemascara.blogspot.co.uk - this is the web address everyone will use to access your blog. As you can see, the '.blogspot' part adds a bit of length, so worth considering how long your url will be when deciding on a name.
If you wanted bananashatemascara.com (without a .blogspot part) you would have to buy it. I'll talk more about that in a later post - it's quite easy to change your blog over to a .com / .co.uk etc domain name that you're bought further down the line, so there's no real need to worry about this when you first set up.
Submitting to search engines
My understanding of all the technical stuff is not the best. I'm not an expert in computer geekery, I just tend to figure things out as I go along, and of course google is always your friend for finding guides on how to do something technical. So, where necessary in these posts, if I can't explain something well enough, I'll link you to someone who can.
Back to search engines. Once you've created a blog, you have to tell the search engines that you're there. You can encourage their little robots / spiders to come and have a little crawl over your site, and it will then get indexed in the search engine so that it can appear in search results.
Blogger automatically submits your blog to some search engines for you (blogger explains this here), but there are some that aren't covered, plus I think it can be a bit faster if you submit yourself. When I googled about where to submit my site, it was recommended that I should cover google, yahoo, msn and also something I'd not heard of called dmoz. To submit all you need to do is go to these sites, find the area for submitting urls to their search engines and adding yours.
Meta tags and descriptions
I mentioned earlier that some people who name their blog something containing beauty blogging keywords might be more likely to come up in a google search. But, that's not the only way. You can still name your blog 'bananas hate mascara' and be found when someone googles 'UK beauty blogger'. The way this works is through meta tags.
Meta tags are basically some key words relevant to your blog which you enter into your blog's code - these can be picked up by search engines to help them match your site with search queries. This post by Blogger Hints-and-Tips explains more about what meta tags are and how to add them to your blog.
You'll want your meta tags to be relevant to whatever it is that you blog about. So for a beauty blog, for example, you might want to add tags like - beauty, swatches, reviews, lipstick - etc.
You can also control what's shown by a search engine as the description of your site, and this is also relevant to how your blog can be linked to a search query. If you go to google and search for 'flutter and sparkle' you'll see the description next to the result for my blog says - "Part-time blogger, full-time shopaholic. Beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog featuring all things fluttery and sparkly. A British blogger from London."
Choose what you want the description for your blog to be by following these simple steps -
- Go to your blogger dashboard (this is the screen that comes up when you log in to blogger)
- Click on the 'design' tab
- Beneath this click on the 'page elements' tab
- In the screen below look for the block that says 'header' and click edit
- This will bring up a screen where you can edit an image for the header (top / title section) of your blog page and also a box where you can type in the description you want to appear for your blog.
- Click 'save' and you're done
This can be such a massive hurdle when you start a blog. If you've never worked with html code before, it can be very daunting. In the main, you can make most changes to your blog using blogger's friendly and easy to use template designer, but if you want to do something complicated, you may need to play with code.
The best advice I can give here is to always always always save a copy of your template code before you mess with anything. That way, if it all goes wrong, you can put everything back to how it was.
I'm going to be talking more about layouts and style in my next Beauty Blogger Tips installment, but it won't be super technical, as that's not my thing. A really great website to aid your understanding of the little bits of html you might need to know for blogging, and other technical blog related things, is girl does geek
That's all for part 1 of Beauty Blogger Tips - if you have any comments about anything I've said in the post I'd love to hear them - also happy for you to point out if I have missed something out or got something wrong. Here's a list of the next posts in the series which you can look forward to -
Part 2 - What's the best layout / font / style / theme for my beauty blog?
Part 3 - What should I write about on my beauty blog?
Part 4 - How do I get more blog followers / traffic and comments on my posts?
Part 5 - How do you get PR companies and brands to send you samples for your beauty blog?
The next post will be about layouts, style and themes for beauty blogs, so if there's anything particular you would like to see covered, let me know through the comments, or tweet me or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org