10 Years of Laura Lou Beauty.

blogging tips how to start a blog 2021Wow. I can’t quite believe it. 10 actual years.

Ok it’s actually 11 now but 2020 was a wild year and I actually overlooked my big blog-aversary. Plus I stuck all those flowers on my wall in the shape of a ’10’ and I honestly cba to shoot this again. 

I remember the first day I sat down to type a blog post. I literally had no idea really what and where I was going with it. I wrote about my favourite SPF’s. I had always dreamt of being a beauty journalist and this was kinda my way of doing so…..but not doing so. I honestly had it as a private blog (I was the only one who could read it – go figure) for the first couple of months as I was too embarrassed to be *out there* : I just wanted to practice my writing and then when I was ready and had enough posts I made it public.

I started this blog for my love of writing, my knowledge from working in the beauty and makeup industry for over 16 years and just an authentic love of all things beauty. There was no gifting, no glossy PR packages, no influencers, no meet-ups, no money. INSTAGRAM WHO?! Blogging wasn’t trendy, it wasn’t well-known and it was more for outsiders than *cool people*….perhaps our little way of finding friends in our weird little niches.

I remember going to my first ever blog event maybe 2/3 years later. I was like WOW this is AMAZING. This is FANCY….I get a free cocktail and a canape! Slowly they became more frequent, the #bblogger hashtag and chat was established on Twitter (remember those Sunday night chats?!), blogger meet-ups started happening (who remembers those?!) and it all became exciting, a buzz, a friendly space and a it became a *thing*.

In these 10+ years, the blogging and influencer world has changed wildly. We know that. It’s a career, it’s sought-after, Instagram has changed *everything*….there is money to be made and therefore there has been a HUGE influx of people who want in on the action. I sometimes feel like niches are forgotten, passion has taken a back seat as people just want in on that money, fame , that ‘easy’ work-from-home life and they mould themselves in to fit and succeed as opposed being their own person and having that expertise in…..something. 

I think it’s very easy for us ‘old school’ bloggers to look back and yearn for those good ol’ days of small events, catch-up’s and giggles, crackle nail polish, crappy iPhone pictures and 2-product goody bags. It was a lot less stressful, I think it was a lot friendly and kinder and….more gentle. However with the new-wave of bloggers and influencers coming through, it’s paved the way for bigger, better and ‘proper’ careers. The opportunities are greater, and if you can manage to keep the cogs turning, adapt and evolve as an ‘old school blogger’ then there is so many more benefits for you/me too.

I often feel overwhelmed, overlooked and like I’m drowning in a sea of way better and more talented people than myself. It’s a natural feeling and we all feel it, it can be hard when you are working from home, often alone and without anyone who *really* understands this industry. However, my love and enjoyment of putting out content keeps me going and helps to motivate me.

I think 2020 saw a bit of a revival for me on my blog. With so much that has happened in my life over the last few years I had taken my eye off it : I didn’t have the focus, the love, passion and I simply wasn’t making ANY money from it so it just felt like a one-way, unrequited love-less marriage! Lockdown 01 happened over a year ago and honestly, it reignited everything for me. I went back to the basics of simple beauty blogging : Good, in-depth reviews, makeup looks and swatches, launches  and all things in between. I put my time, energy and ideas into this little space right here and asides from going back to what I love, it also allowed me to focus on something that wasn’t pandemic related. It kind of kept me going! I started getting paid opportunities, brand collaborations and some amazing work and honestly I think my hard work really started to pay off. My growth in just one year has been nearly 400% in terms of my unique users and hits on my blog and it has made me really happy and it fuels my fire to keep on this long old slog.

I think we all have those low periods of questioning our space on the internet etc. It’s very easy to not feel heard, liked or seen and you just have to ride out the waves, take a little break and remember why you started.

I feel SO very fortunate to now call it my job, to connect and work with so many incredible brands and to chat to so many of you all over social media and I appreciate each and every one of you who comes along here once in a while to read up on my reviews and latest musings.

Before I share with you a few of my tips that-no-one-asked for, feel free to peruse my below collage of old blog and event photos. THIS was the standard. Grainy phone shots of products scattered on a bed, unfiltered selfies showing off my latest MAC lippie and I have NO idea why I actually decided to do a post about my makeup look wearing a faux fur russian-style hat (indoors)?! Lighting – whats’ that?! These are ALL picture taken off my old blog posts my friends, I kid you not (mainly archived soz). Also, can you spot any faces in the event photos?! I can spy Zoe London, Anna Edit, Amelia Liana, Lily Melrose, Lily Pebbles, Lisa Potter-Dixon and Jen BeautyJunkieLdn. 

10 tips / things I have learnt in my 10 (11 years) of blogging:

1.) It’s not too late!

I honestly think if you have a niche/ talent and you put the work in, you can make some kind of career from blogging. I’m so glad I have my professional makeup artist career behind me and knowledge of the beauty industry and that’s always been the driving force behind this blog. My love of it. It has kept me going and it also allows me to have endless things to chat about as it’s an extension of my life, if that makes sense? It’s not too late to start, just be you and share what YOU do….I think you need to have an expertise that you can share and teach. That’s why people come to read blogs : knowledge and information.

2.) Put in the work. It’s a LOT of goddamn work.

I did one thing in lockdown and it wasn’t just baking and eating. I put in a LOT of energy into this here blog. In the last year my blog growth has been pretty huge (humble brag soz). I honestly only noticed it a couple of months ago when I started looking in my Google Analytics of my blog in the last year and I was so blown-away by the growth. It just made it all…..more worthwhile, and it’s been nice to see the input give some output!

4.) You need to juggle about 569 things and be good at most.

Am I a writer? A photographer? A makeup artist? A model (lol)? A tweeter? An influencer? A comedian, Someone who has 25 hours in the day to spend engaging on social media? A social butterfly? A PR-woo-er? A girl Bo$$ babe with my shit together 24-7? A mum? A wife? A cleaning lady? A copyrighter? A schmoozer? An organizer? An innovator? A researcher? An expert?

I HAVE NO CLUE but I try to juggle a bit of everything and often find myself failing at a fair few tbh. Being a blogger / social media person often feels like you need to tick so many boxes to get ‘it’ right. Sometimes I feel like there are so many things I have to do and be and be good at I just end up being rubbish at all and having so little productivity. Focus on the shit you do well and make that a thing.

3.) It’s rarely overnight & you won’t be making £10,000 per Instagram post anytime soon.

Unless you go viral, get shout-outs from Zoella OR have something super unique and incredible to bring to the table. I am a slow-burner. *ahem* VERY slow. I have been here nearly 11 years and honestly I often struggle some months, have very little work and it can be financially really, really tough. I speak to so many ‘newbies’ who are worried about their growth and work and they are only like 2 years in! It takes time. So SO much hard work. From the outset it may look fun and easy but behind-the-scenes it’s pretty much a constant go. I can’t remember the last time I had a day off. I work for free 70% of the time. I am the majority.

2.) Not everyone will like you.

There is such a huge pool of us in this space now – SO MANY. Naturally there will be sub-groups, cliques, friendly circles and all the rest. Not everyone will like you, and that’s fine. I’ve spent wayyyyy too many hours over the last 10 years wondering why I don’t fit in here and there, why certain people have chosen to unfollow me, speak to me in the way they do and why I’m not accepted where I want to be. ALL NATURAL. I think it’s like any working environment really….but on a bigger scale. You are always going to have colleagues who you get on with better and some you don’t.

3.) Be Authentic and YOU.

I can’t emphasise this enough : there are no other ‘you’s’. You are what makes you different and what people like about you and want to follow you for. Show the real you. Be you. Share you. As above, not everyone will like you but those who choose to share your journey and follow you will and that’s what you want : an engaged group of followers who think you are trustworthy and honest. I LOVE my little Instagram bubble. Yes, it may take me a long time to build up my following but I am so VERY proud of what I have and I love the support, DM’s, sharing and input I get. I have pretty good and most importantly authentic (!) engagement and I know I’m being true and me.

3.) People Cheat. Bitches are wild.

I have wasted a lot of energy getting angry at cheaters, bot users, instagram-follower buyers, engagement-skewers (multiple pods, facebook groups and  the new thing…..instagram tags)….I honestly can name SO many who do it, I know ‘friends’ who I have known in this industry *many years* who are still……actively buying Instagram followers on the regs. Literally every time they go below a certain amount on the old follower count – Social blade see’s you ok. It’s just something that happens, I can’t stop it and neither can you. Instagram, hun can you please step in?!

The stakes are high to a big following and it causes people to do crazy things to get there. I’ve seen it all. What can you do? Sure you can start publicly calling these blaggers out or trying to subtly tell PR’s they are wasting their budget blah blahhhh but all I have done in recent times is simply stop engaging with them. Mute / unfollow / stop any interaction. 

It’s all well and good getting to that big 10k but when you have a huge percent of fake followers, your engagement will be dire.  If you do start getting paid gigs (the audacity tbh) then brands will see from your insights that you will have to give them afterwards that your following isn’t genuine = that work will dry up pretty fast. There’s only so long you can go on paying your bills with a new makeup palette and mascara. Brands will not want to work with you. It’s simple.

4.) PR is great, but it it doesn’t weigh up your value or success.

Every time I get sent things from a brand I am so grateful for it. I love beauty, I’m obsessed, so what could be better than being sent new products to try?! It can be very draining to compare yourselves to others in this online space but PLEASE try not to compare your value and worth in this by the PR packages that you are sent.

Some people are seemingly obsessed with getting free things and honestly seem to feel that it makes them better, more important and worthy because they got X,Y,Z. It’s honestly bollocks and if I may refer back to the point above..….people cheat. These people get PR. I know blaggers out here getting sent Marc Jacobs collections left, right and centre, getting brand collaborations and brand ambassadorships who have about 70% fake followers and use more bots than Charl*e I*ons and I can’t even get a text back (!) but honestly…..it’s just what happens. Suck it the fuck up my friend, you just need to focus on all the lovely stuff you get and try and avoid being THAT person who wants every single thing because 1) it’s greedy 2.) there’s only so much you can do with these things 3.) It adds no weight to your talent or value as a blogger.

9.) Find Your People.

‘We ARE the weirdos, Mister’.

They are out there you just need to find ’em. The blogosphere has notoriously a bad reputation….for various reasons. Sometimes the twitter spats and indirects give us a bad name (!) but honestly you will find your people. I only have a teeny tiny circle of blog/influencer friends. That’s fine by me. I have found some incredible people and the support and love I get from these people is incredible – sometimes having a good chinwag with people who understand the industry can really help you through, give you clarity and keep you on track.

On that same note :  make your space a place you enjoy, you’ll be there a lot. It’s cliché as fuck but it’s OK to unfollow people who make you feel insecure, upset, who trigger you, who you find rude, uninspiring or you simply think they are massive dick-wanks.

10) Enjoy the fucking ride.

It’s wild. It’s amazing. It’s incredibly hard. It can be really isolating but there are so many GREAT things about being a blogger and being part of this ever-changing and evolving industry. There is bad bits about it and we moan about them but when you look at the bigger picture it’s a small percent. The good outweighs the bad as it does in most jobs and industries. I’m constantly learning. I sometimes feel I have so much more to learn and I’ve been around a while so please believe that we are more often than not in the same boat….maybe just riding different waves. 

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x Laura x

I also have a 10 year giveaway over on my Instagram launching SOON. Keep your eyes peeled on @LauraLouMakeup : There are 3 incredible prize bundles up for grabs including my best in beauty, must-have makeup, new launches and even FLOWERS!