Being a part time blogger and juggling a full time job, a relationship and a few volunteering gigs can be challenging at times. Often I find myself having a sort of a writer's block. I find it hard after a long day at work to sit down and write, I am tired, I don't always feel like I look the part of a blogger and find it hard to get inspired. I am lucky enough to work with many amazing brands and receive a lot of products to review and share with you guys but sometimes that proves to be overwhelming and most of my days are scheduled down to the minutes. Wake up, have my coffee, squeeze in a quick workout, wash up, dry hair, put make-up on, take pictures, head to work, come home, edit pictures, go to bed. Repeat the next day. As a blogger I find it's my duty to stay on top of trends and social media and try to get inspired by everything that goes on around me but sometimes I just crash and short circuit. I figured it might be a good idea to sit down and share a few techniques I have to help me stay on track with blogging, get inspired and be motivated.
1. Blogging Calendar
I use the Google Calendar along with a daily planner to keep track of deadlines, events, big press releases and blogging things I must post about a certain week (ie. new MAC collection coming out). I am not as good as I would like to be when it comes down to planning posts but I at least I make sure I keep track of events and deadlines which are important. Having a social media calendar is useful but it can be hard if you blog part time and are away from home a lot. I will often get press releases in my email when I'm staying at my boyfriend's or when I am at work and I can't jot things down in my home calendar. In that case I like to start a blog draft and write the title first, this way I know I need to work on getting that stuff published later on that night when I am brain dead. I will simply open my drafts and there it is, I know what I have to do.
Sometimes I wonder if all the work I put into my blog is worth it, I do have those moments (and my mother to remind me constantly) when I wonder if my blog is really a waste of time. To overcome that I need to remind myself why I started blogging. Personally, it was a coping mechanism when I was going through my eating disorder treatment and the online beauty community helped me tremendously. I somehow channeled all the energy and thoughts I would put into self destructing myself into researching new make-up, learning about the beauty industry and falling in love with the world of make-up. The more my blog grew the more I got to enjoy it and I got some amazing opportunities. Every time I get invited to attend a media event I remind myself of that. I get to sit in these amazing media previews with beauty editors and make-up artists and get learn from them. I get to be an insider in the beauty industry and I got there one blog post at the time. I always make sure to mentally bookmark those feelings in those moments. I feel lucky and privileged to have access to all this information, to all these amazing brands and products that make me happy. Bam, That's it! That's why I do all this; because it makes me happy. That's why I wake up early each morning and stay up late at night editing... because it makes me happy and I know another beauty fanatic on her own path will get to experience a fraction of that when they read my blog posts. At least I hope so.
How do you get constantly inspired to come up with interesting blog and social media posts? I sometimes can't help but feel like a fraud, I look at all the amazing make-up artists I follow and I am in awe at the constant stream of art they put out there. I look at the trends they set each season and can't help but feel that I am a fail as a blogger because I am not particularly talented with make-up nor do I ever do amazing works of art with my make-up brushes. How do they do it? Surely there's a whole team behind any image we see out there and I learned to look to those very people for inspiration. I was obsessed with middle parted hair, vampy red lips and roses after Dolce and Gabbana's last year's iconic fashion show and I am not ashamed to say I am still to this day trying to emulate the look. But that's my thing. I'll never be a trend setter, I am merely a consumer and my niche is to blog about stuff I see out there and review products. I've learned not to be afraid of it anymore nor to have unrealistic expectations of myself. I like to take advantage of the events I often attend to get inspired by, whether it's a fashion show, a new make-up collection preview or beauty trends curated by experts. I use and harness the power of the creative minds in the field and try to bring them down to my level, incorporate them into my daily life and share them with the world.
I also find posting challenges as a good way to keep me on track, I regularly post on Fashion Canada's Beauty Panel, where we are given challenges twice a month. I also like to jot down ideas I get throught the day on my phone, these can be triggered by anything, someone asking my what foundation I used, me asking them about a lipstick they're wearing, a guy friend asking my for skin advice etc. Look around, inspiration is everywhere.
4.Staying on Track
This past month I was feeling a bit overwhelmed given the huge amount of all the new beauty collection and product releases. We saw most brands put out their holiday collection previews for which I was lucky enough to get products, we saw new fall products trickle in drugstores, I've had new opportunities to get and review new items and things can quickly pile up. This is what I like to do when in these situations: I will usually make sure I check the products out and get them photographed as soon as I receive/buy them. This is when I will usually try to swatch them after I made sure I get good shots of the "virgin", untouched product. I will then stock them all in a box next to my desk/beauty vanity and I make sure I reach for them and use them in my upcoming looks and get them photographed in action along with swatches on my face. I only start putting products away after playing with them long enough to have a well formed opinion of it for a review. Most of the times I will jot down notes on the performance or will record a review type of voice memo on my phone while swatching it: how does the product apply, how does it feel etc and use those notes later on in a review.
Another trick I have is to edit my photos as soon as I can and label them accordingly and then store them into filed labeled by month in my PC. Whenever I have down time I will go through the photos and remind myself on what I need to review, making sure I don't miss certain products. I will try to prioritize certain items according to how important it is to get the review up in time. If it's a limited edition product I need to make sure I get working on it as soon as possible, if it's a seasonal product I need to make sure I get it out there in time etc. I will usually have little post-its to help me remind of certain products or press releases that are time sensitive.
5. Be Authentic
What I mean by authenticity is staying true to who you are as a blogger. I often look up to other bloggers I admire to remind myself to stay authentic. Honesty is important and it can sometimes be difficult to navigate the relationship you have with brands and your readers. We've all had products that haven't worked for us or lived up to our expectations but how do you convey that message without jeopardizing your relationship with the brand? I am going to be honest, getting products sent to me for review or as media samples is not only nice but it's essential for my blog. I get access to new items before their release date, having the privilege of testing and reviewing them in time for their launch and financially it's crucial to get a constant supply of products that I need as material for the blog. However, it's important to me to stay true and be honest with my readers. Whenever I get a product that doesn't work for me I almost get upset because I find myself in that dreaded situation where I have to talk about it in a way that is constructive for the brand while letting the readers know about it. I will never lie or be misleading about my experience with products and I rely on brands to be open to my constructive criticism when it comes to a flawed product. Sometimes a product doesn't work for me in particular and the experience might be personal and I feel I know enough about make-up to be able to tell when that's the case. The point is, try to be honest in your reviews and if a product fails short be constructive in your criticism. Point out what you didn't like about it and remember that brands also rely on bloggers as a consumer voice in improving their service and quality of products they put out there. I've had brands that took my criticism well and I applauded them for it. After all that's what we do as bloggers, we give the consumer a voice and I love it when brands listen.
Well, there it is. Let me know your thoughts.