Friday, June 7, 2013
I just took her a pretty flower arrangement: white roses and lavender alstroemeria. I was pleased to find an artistically designed arrangement at the grocery store. I would have sent flowers by my favorite floral artists at Art with Flowers, but, sadly, they closed on April 31, another casualty of the recession. I miss them already.
I continue my search for the right job, and I've been busy in the last week with contacts, meetings, and interviews. If you noticed a drop-off in my attention lately, that's why. In the frustrating process of hunting for new work, I've met some interesting people doing great things, and I hope I'll be able to join them. I love a challenge!
During the last few months, I've thought a lot about blogging and whether I can - or even should - continue. Beauty blogging has changed so much. When I started, four short years ago, there were plenty of good beauty blogs, but I saw a niche and thought I might be able to fill a gap. Now, with Lord-only-knows how many beauty blogs in existence (seriously, I think too many - does every teenager need one?), and with readers having only so much time to devote to reading about beauty products, it's hard to feel accomplished. It's hard to earn your visits.
My statistics tell me that many readers stop by my blog every day - anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 (fewer of you on Saturdays than Mondays, for example). Those numbers far exceed my initial expectations, and I am so grateful to all of you. I've tried very hard to keep up with the latest and greatest in beauty, and it has been very expensive. Most "normal" people would think it's lunacy to buy so much makeup. Very few bloggers receive gratis products for review from the brands I cover, and I'm not usually one of them. I don't have 100,000 visitors/day.
I have never "monetized" my blog to much extent. Monetizing means many things, but can include selling lots of ads or placing affiliate links all over the blog's posts. Affiliate links can look like ads (many of the display ads you see on blogs are really affiliate links - the company (e.g., Sephora) did not choose to pay the blogger for the space), or they can be links within a feature that direct the reader to a site where a product can be purchased. Every time you click on those links, the blogger makes money. It's not much per click, but it can add up.
I never embed affiliate links in my features. I put links in features to show you more about the product or where to buy it. Period. I do not want you to wonder whether you are "enriching" me or "supporting my blog" (a common ruse) if you click on links. You do see Google ads on my sidebar and one text advertisement that brings me a few skin-care products/year (barter). I don't chase after affiliate ads because I think too many usually make blogs look junky.
Every day, I am offered opportunities to accept or write sponsored posts. Many bloggers love sponsored posts because they charge the sponsor for them - anywhere from $25 to $500 (or more). Sell a few sponsored slots each week, and you could make plenty of money to buy beauty products - or pay the rent. I just can't do that. Selling space on my blog is not me. I assume you visit to read what I have to say, not what someone else pays me to say - or what someone else wants you to think is editorial copy when it's really advertising copy. In fact, many sponsors absolutely hate the requirement for labeling sponsored advertisements and try to get around it by asking the blogger to use another term, for example, partner.
Many bloggers continue to gnash their teeth over the FTC guidelines requiring them to clearly label the source of the products being reviewed (something I have always done within features), the fact that they use affiliate links to make money, and sponsored posts. Advertising must also be labeled (something I've done from the get-go). To me, that's full disclosure, but there are bloggers who resent the rules, feeling that if magazine don't have to do it, why should they? I think what some really resented was the clear requirement for disclosure - not all, just those who felt their path to the big payout was endangered. There are many bloggers (and I'm not just talking beauty) who blog for money, not fun. It's a business, not a hobby. There's nothing wrong with that as long as it's clear to readers.
Another thing about blogging that has started to concern me is the ugliness that underlies some of the fakey kiss-kiss among bloggers. You can't see most of it - and that's for the best. Those who hold themselves as the standard have the same warts as those they criticize. They complain that other bloggers make all bloggers look bad. I don't believe that's true, although I've seen bloggers stage hissy fits that don't sit well within the industry. The stories I could tell you... Yes - you might point out the resentment that bloggers have created in fashion, elbowing their way backstage in some cases, and annoying those who were "there first." There has been plenty of industry chatter about this. In the end, the best, most observant fashion critics survive, and the rest land on the wayside.
Every day, I am spammed by social media outfits that try to tell me I'm not making enough money from my blog. I should be using certain key words, adding this and that, using their search engine optimization techniques to monetize my blog, and so on. One writes every single day! I've marked her e-mails spam, but they keep getting through Google. I don't care about SEO! The sad fact is that many beauty bloggers do care. They prater about it endlessly.
I've rambled on - I've always been good at free association - but my point is that I'm occupying space in an industry in which I sense a change. I don't know whether I'm ready for the ride forward. I'm not making an announcement - just letting you know what's on my mind these days as I try to figure out if I can and should continue to publish Best Things in Beauty. It's a big investment, not only of time, but also money. If I were to stop, what would I miss? You, my faithful readers, and the wonderful people in the beauty industry (brand representatives at headquarters and the stores) and their PR folks - many of whom have become friends. I don't want to let anyone down.
So please cross your fingers (and toes) for my job search if you like Best Things in Beauty. If I don't find work soon, my decision may be based solely on whether I can afford to support it in the manner I prefer.
My regular giveaway - this week for a NARS Blush Bronzer Trio I found in "storage" - will end tomorrow, Saturday, June 8, at midnight. Don't forget to enter.
This week's extravaganza giveaway for Le Métier de Beauté's brand new Summer Night's Dream Kaleidoscope Eye Kit runs though Sunday night at midnight. Le Métier de Beauté generously donated the Kaleidsoscope, and the contest is open internationally. If you met the criteria for entering, but didn't tweet, I'd recommend you tweet anyhow. It might improve your chances. Good luck! It's a beautiful prize. If you don't win, it should arrive at Bergdorf Goodman momentarily. I'm not sure what day we will be able to announce the winner, so stay tuned.
Photo courtesy of redbubble.com