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Pro-Blogging.. Is it for you-

I know there have been a couple of recent blogging
gatherings.. I wasn’t able to attend but kept an eye on feedback coming through
my Twitter time-line to get the general gist of what was going on.

One thing that seemed to feature quite highly was the
issue of monetizing your blog, or even becoming a Pro-Blogger (i.e. your blog
is your primary source of income and you are doing it pretty well
full-time).? I think I would say that
now, I would probably be classed as a Pro-Blogger, and initially when I started
my blog I longed for a time in the future where I could just blog and nothing
else. Although my blog was never started with any set goal in mind (I just went
with the flow) and in fact, there still is no set goal, being a Pro-Blogger is
not quite the euphoric state I’d thought it might be. It’s a huge risk to throw
all your eggs in one basket and because blogging is a constantly evolving
genre, there is no path already beaten; I have the constant feeling of finding
my way.

For a start, the tricky issue of monetizing is always
at the forefront of your mind and it is inextricably linked with stats. I saw a
tweet from one of the blogging conferences that said something along the lines
of ?‘the biggest blogs aren’t necessarily
the best’ which of course it is true, but when it comes to advertisers, they
really don’t care what you’re writing about, just as long as you have enough
viewers reading it. At the end of the day, they want eyes on product, and many,
many of them. The harsh fact is that if you can’t keep your stats at a certain
level, there won’t be a high enough revenue to feed your cat, never mind
yourself. There is still an assumption from advertisers that they pay less for
on-line advertising than they would to be between some glossy pages. And it is
generally way, way less.?

Magazines aren’t asked to prove how many people
actually read about a particular lipstick – bloggers are. Because we can prove
it, it is now expected that we will. I generally don’t give out individual post
figures because over time these change dramatically and unlike a magazine, a
blog post is always there. It doesn’t go in recycling and the information is
accessible for just about ever if Google is your friend.?

I source a lot of my own ads, and have very carefully
used a count-down system which nobody has done before. So, rather than create a
simple ad, I do a countdown to launch to create a buzz and anticipation about a
forthcoming launch. It is rare that I advertise a product already available. I
turn down more than I accept because I want to keep a certain benchmark for BBB
and featuring endless cosmetic surgery clinics or similar isn’t it. The
collective I belong to, Handpicked Media, is unfailingly supportive. I am not a
natural sales person and will only tell the absolute truth about my stats so I
don’t inflate or make stuff up, but without ads or countdowns, this blog can’t
flourish. It’s the hardest aspect of pro-blogging – I always feel bad if there
is a low response.. to the point of giving money back.. see, I said I was
rubbish… but nor can I use any manipulative tactics to increase response. It
just has to be what it is, and reader response is in fact a very good learning
indicator.?

Some bloggers have looked at the agent option; if you’re
a really, really successful blogger then that seems like a very sensible course
of action, although I nearly fell off my chair a couple of years ago in
disbelief when I first heard bloggers were getting agents. I might do it, I
might not. Nobody might want me! Eek. Having an agent will definitely bring you
more revenue, but you’ll need a good point of difference and a heck of a lot of
business nouse and self-control if you don’t want to end up as just a party-filler.?

I don’t want to use an affiliate link company, because
as I’ve mentioned before, I want a proper relationship with the retailers where
I can negotiate special deals for BBB readers that aren’t the same as everyone
else’s. Affiliate linking is where I would get a small percentage of any sales
made from a link I provide – if I feature a £4.99 nail polish and ten people
bought it, I’d get about 49p, just so you know how that goes. Beauty, unless it
is very, very high end and expensive, doesn’t do quite so well on Affiliates
as, say fashion, where retail price per product is generally higher. I am
currently only working with two e-tailers on an affiliate basis, although more
are in the pipeline.?

Then, there are sponsored posts. I take these pretty
seriously and again, turn down more than I accept (one a month on average). My
conscience couldn’t take writing about rubbish for money, and anyway, my
readers would know.. they’d just know.

Which brings me round another tricky issue. The more
time you spend on your blog, the more you know your readers and the more you
write for them instead of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that and I
actually love seeing a product I know that readers will respond well to, but on
the down side, and again stats related, I end up not featuring some products
because I know that it won’t be of great interest and I won’t get the stats
even though it will bring more diversity to the blog. This issue also ties into
PR, because it is very hard to say no to a PR about to lose a client because
they haven’t managed to get enough coverage that you can’t help them out
because you won’t get the stats. So you lose, or they lose. Once you start
knowing this stuff, you can’t un-know it.?

The bottom line of commercialised blogging is stats and
they rules your life, night and day. When Google decided to change its algorithm
(I say that as though I actually know what that means, but only in the very
vaguest sense!) it wiped away 20 thousand from my stats in a couple of weeks. I
couldn’t sleep, never mind eat. I’m slowly, slowly building them back again and
have totally relaxed about it… but for a time, I was beside myself.

Finally, the more successful you see other bloggers
being, the more you want a piece of the action. It’s natural, but it’s not
nice. It is never nice – especially with friends – to feel jealous, but I do
sometimes. The rational me gladly wants them to succeed, the blogging me thinks
‘why didn’t I get chosen for that trip’, or ‘what did I do wrong that I didn’t
get that exclusive-’ Because it all matters for stats and that piles on tonnes
of pressure. You have to work relentlessly on a pro-blog. I am not naturally a jealous person but there is something about seeing others chosen over you that can nearly break you.

You can’t turn the clock back to the early days of
blogging; it’s marching onwards and evolving every single day, but really,
really think hard if pro-blogging is the way you want to go. I love blogging, I
love the remnants of the ‘old days’ which are still there if you look, I am
amazed every single day that so many people want to read what I say about
beauty. And, I love the variety, the excitement and the achievements, which on
a good day are better than any fairground ride. But, it is not an easy ride,
not by a long chalk. There is no way, at this stage, that I could support
myself fully on blogging alone. I am full of admiration for anyone that can,
because I know what has to go into it for the slightest bit of hard cash to
come out of it. And I am in the very lucky position of being able to be
experimental about whether pro-blogging can work for me without losing my
integrity or the very thing that readers come to BBB for – the truth.?

PS: Just after reading this through – it started fairly
aimlessly with no end conclusion at the beginning – I’ve realised that even
just saying all this is what blogging is about. Being able to say it out loud
and being prepared to take the consequences, good or bad, with no editor
editing out the unsavoury bits or the bad grammer. Blogging, even about beauty,
is about laying yourself bare. Brilliant!

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Marks & Spencer New Beauty

So, Marks & Spencer are opening up beauty sections within stores to contain brands other than their own. They’ve started at High Street Kensington in London and will roll out gradually over time and the sections will come complete with impartial beauty assistants and advisors who won’t do the hard sell. That is something to be welcomed; you can browse at your leisure and won’t get brow-beaten into leaving with something you aren’t entirely sure you want or need. 

The brands they are taking are, in my view, slightly hit and miss. The plus is that they’re bringing on Apivita which is a skin care range doing a roaring trade in other parts of the world and gets rave reviews. Also, a brand called H20, which is a mid-price skin care range that again, is popular overseas, and some specially commissioned fragrances from Lynn Harris (of Miller Harris fame).  There is also the welcome return
of Comptoir Sud Pacific fragrances which left the UK ages ago and are a
must-try (but they’re £49 a pop); they’re just stunning scents. It’s great that you’ll also be able to get Roget & Gallet – a fabulous brand that is just too hard to find at the moment.

The concept is nature and science, but I hope they don’t stick too rigidly to the idea; there is so much inbetween that is amazing and if they’re going to be rigid then they’ll miss some great opportunities. Brands such as Nuxe I feel quite blah about – it’s been around for a long, long time, and if I’m honest, I hoped to see some real excitement from the buying team – imagine if they’d got the BioDerma Crealine line for example; that’s a brand we’re crying out for here (and Mr BBB would be very happy not to have to lug it by the bucket load back from Paris) and to have it in wide distribution would have been fab. Another brand they’re taking is Dr Brandt – a great brand, but it’s very readily available so I don’t quite get the point of having it as part of a new line-up. Skyn Iceland will also be available – it’s been tried and tested in the UK several times and never managed to appeal enough to British women to stay. But, there is also the welcome return of Comptoir Sud Pacific fragrances which left the UK ages ago and are a must-try (but they’re £49 a pop); they’re just stunning scents.

I think this is entry into the mainstream beauty market is too safe, with too little to draw in new consumers who might not consider M&S as a stop-off point for serious beauty. It’s also a shame for new or hard to find brands who are desperate to work in a different way; they’re squeezed to the very limits by existing beauty retailers making it very hard to survive against big and more established brands. It would have been great for them to have somewhere that deals perhaps a little bit more ethically and fairly with would-be best sellers. 

However, the plus points are many – a non-pushy environment to really take your time over choosing your products, with help if you should like it or not if you prefer, a clear and unchaotic environment in which to shop (the floor design is excellent) and a chance to experiment with a few new beauty brands or stock up on favourites from existing lines. There is also the welcome return of Comptoir Sud Pacific fragrances which left the UK ages ago and are a must-try. You can also see on-line what they have HERE.

Please let me know what you think on this one- Is it a hit or a miss in your view-

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Thalgo Ocea Sun

I’ve been taking Thalgo Ocea Sun supplements for a couple of months now and am in no doubt, after the few days of sunshine we’ve had, that they work, and work brilliantly. To cut a long story short, the supplements contain Carotenoids to help develop a tan, Asaxathin to boost melanin production and best of all, Lutein, to protect your retinas from sun damage. 



After really a very short time in the sun – a couple of hours possibly – my skin started to tan. I also religiously use Institut Esthederm in the sun and that also has melanin enhancing ingredients, so the combination means that it takes very little sun for my skin to start going brown. 


Thalgo Ocea Sun (£25 for a month’s supply) should be taken three weeks before sun exposure, and to be fair, I’ve taken them for double the amount of recommended time, but none the less, I love it when a product completely lives up to expectations and there is a tangible result from the claims. 100% recommended.

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Peel Towards Beautiful Skin: ARCONA Mandarin Brightening Peel

  • Laid Brand No More Headaches Hairspray Review: 3 Sprays in One!
    I’m not a big hair spray girl. I blame it on the early 1990’s. My heyday, and it was the time of grunge, Nirvana and plaid shirts. Nary a teased and sprayed bang in site! So, I’m not a big spray g…

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    Guerlain Blue Lip Gloss: Emilio Pucci Terra Azzurra Gloss

    Ever since I heard about this blue gloss as part of the Emilio Pucci Terra Azzurra range for summer, I’ve been dying to try it – and now I have. 

    The first thing to say is that it is really blue – it is of course highly translucent but there is a definite blue tinge. When I put in on my bare lip, it gave a very lightly greyish glaze – it’s pretty and light enough that nobody is going to start giving you the Heimlich manoeuvre because your lips are blue. Swatches on the arm look REALLY blue, but because of the pink of the lips, it is not that shade on the mouth. I was curious to see what happens if you layer it over other colours, so I used it over Urban Decay Super Saturated in hyper-orange Punch Drunk, and then over Clinique Chubby Stick in Chunky Cherry, a mid pink.

    The range is out now at House of Fraser but they haven’t taken the blue shade of gloss, so it’s a wait til the 3rd of June when it goes nationwide to see who’s been brave enough to back the blue lip!

    The absolute stand-out piece from the collection is the Terra Azzurra Bronzing Powder & Blush in a chunky wooden palette that has a magnetic lid making for the smoothest possible opening. Mind-blowingly lovely!

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    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes




    26
    May
    2012

    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Japonesque is a US-based brand that specializes in makeup brushes and beauty accessories. The Pro Long Handle makeup brush range (as opposed to the Travel Short Handle range) is Japonesque’s standard range of makeup brushes for the eyes and face. Today I am featuring four items from the range: Pro Eye Shadow Fluff Brush – Large, Pro Eye Shadow Fluff Brush – Medium, Pro Eye Detailer Brush – Small, and Pro Blush Brush.

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    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Pro Eye Shadow Fluff Brush – Large (above) is suitable for applying base shades from lashlines all the way towards brow bones. The bristle-heads are soft and feel comfortable on the skin.

    The large brush works efficiently over the entire eyelid areas. The hair is nicely spread out so the edges of color are easily blended and blurred. Personally, I would like the brush to be a little smaller, but this is my own preference and not a criticism.

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    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Pro Eye Shadow Fluff Brush – Medium is designed as a shading brush. The hair is slightly harder than that of Pro Eye Shadow Fluff Brush – Large for a more precise color placement.

    I like the fact that the hair is slightly spread out so the brush places color and very gently blends it at the same time (without compromising definition). I like using it in a flat position to sweep the eyeshadow across the area just above the upper lashlines and then (when desired) blend it further outwards to create gradational shading. My slight issue with this brush is that the bristle-heads are not soft enough so they can feel a little scratchy.

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    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Pro Eye Detailer Brush – Small is mainly designed for lining the eyes and smudging the eye-lining color. With the relatively soft hair and the rounded shape of the brush tip, the brush creates a soft line, which I like. However, I find that it is slightly difficult for the brush to get right to the base of the lashes because the hair is slightly too sprayed and not tight or flat enough. The bristle-heads are decently soft but could be a little softer.

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    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Pro Blush Brush is a beautifully made blusher brush. The hair is dense and soft and it feels luxurious on the cheeks. I like the large size as well as the gently rounded shape of the brush. This combination, along with the dense hair, makes blusher application very quick and easy. The cheeks are comfortably hugged and enveloped by the brush as it dispenses color. There is not much blending needed after I sweep the color onto the cheeks.

    Overall, all the four brushes are more than decently made and there is no hair fallout after weeks of trial. Personally, Pro Blush Brush is my favorite of the four and it is one of the best blusher brushes I have come across.

    In the UK, Japonesque is available at John Lewis stores and www.johnlewis.com.

    (The products featured in this article are provided by Japonesque.)

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    SUQQU Cheek Brush & Eyebrow Brush L

    EcoTools Makeup Brushes

    Purple Dot Makeup Brushes

    Review: Japonesque Pro Makeup Brushes

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    Keith Lemon Nails!!

    You might want to remember before you proceed that once you’ve seen a thing, you can’t unsee it.

    Ever since I got these Keith Lemon decals I’ve been dying to try them out…they’re hilarious..kinda so bad they’re good. I used a nude coat first (Deborah Lippmann Naked) on my nails in the hopes that the yellow (NARS Amchoor) would be easier to get an even finish with..no such luck though – this is three coats and could well have done with another. Anyway, I’m both horrified and delighted with these… !

    The decals are from www.nailartcompany.co.uk

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    More Hong Kong Beauty Buys


    As the week went on I got more and more tempted, but there were a couple of disappointments, too. I couldn’t find any Anna Sui at all and the Sonia Rykiel make up was totally blah. Other than a striped blush (of which there are millions out there) there wasn’t a single thing that caught my eye. So, it was back to Sasa and Mannings for more cheap and cheerful quick fixes.
    The pink plastic thing you see above is to stop you smudging your mascara when applying it. It’s actually quite handy for bottom lashes, especially if your lower lashes are long and spidery. The second is brow mascara…


    …and look how worried you should be if your lashes turn upside down and drift up your forehead.
    This is the same principle as the Bourjois 3 second nail polish remover that I love so much and it is just as good.

    So, we have clear and utilitarian decanters from M&S or Muji – Sasa has gorgeous little decanting pots with pretty lids, showing you can do anything beautifully, even something as mundane as decanting your face cream.

    This is Maybelline Baby Lips, a week long intensive treatment to revamp the condition of your lips. They have it just about everywhere but the UK.
    This has to fall into the things-you-never-knew-you-needed category – an elbow mask to moisturise and smooth your elbows. I can’t help thinking that you won’t be multi-tasking when you use this. 

    Above is a squalene wash mitt and a silk cleansing puff.. I’m not sure if I have the heart to actually use them.. they’re too cute! 

    So, if you want to know what’s on the BB horizon, have a look at this BB ‘Boomer’ (great name); a boosting cream to help your BB last longer. I’ll put money on it that this is the next trend. 
     

    My Missha BB – the coverage is absolutely amazing.. this colour, No 27, is exactly right for my darker skin-tone and Missha is one of the few brands that I spotted in Hong Kong that actually make for those whose skin is not light. It’s almost like a foundation in consistency and coverage and my goodness, it really does even out the skin tone. It’s my favourite buy.

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    QUICK TIP: MATTE CONTOUR

    photos + post by amy nadine, graphic design by eunice chun

    Did you know you can use your eyeliner to contour your crease- I prefer it to shadow when I want a really strong + matte look. Here’s how:

    TOOL: I used Le Metier de Beaute Dualistic Eye Pencil in Champagne (a smoky taupe) to show you the most natural version. But you can certainly use brown, dark gray or even black for a more Sixties-inspired version. Just make sure it’s a kohl pencil and not a longwear or kajal liner as it needs to be blendable.

    STEP 1: Practice first with the cap still on or with the back end of the pencil by starting in the inner corner then tracing in a half-moon shape so you can  ”feel” out where the hollow socket is. Technically you’re tracing the outline of your eyeball (oh so chic!). Now that you’re confident where to draw the line, take the cap off and sweep the liner back and forth like a windsheild wiper from one end to the other until you have a nice color payoff.

    STEP 2: Blend the line gently with your finger to smooth out any edges. That’s it! I didn’t go further with Carissa’s makeup because I wanted this technique to be the only focus but you can then trace the same liner on your bottom lashline for balance and finish with mascara.

    Tags: 60’s, amy nadine, beauty, blog, crease, easy, eye, eyeliner, Eyeshadow, how to, make up, makeup, matte, pretty, sixties, smoky, style, the beauty department, thebeautydepartment.com, tip, tips, trend, tutorial

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    Aerin Lauder Beauty Range: Aerin LLC


    WWD have the scoop on Aerin Lauder’s foray into going it solo with a beauty and lifestyle range. Significantly, Aerin is Estee Lauder’s granddaughter, and with homes in Aspen, Manhatten and Long Island, we can summise that she isn’t short of a penny and that can only mean that beauty is in the genes (see, it’s like the shopping gene.. it DOES exist ;-)). In fact, Aerin still sits on the Estee Lauder board. The collection to me looks like Tom-Ford-Meets-Michael-Kors-Meets-Estee-Lauder – and that’s not necessarily a good thing in a market that isn’t looking for ‘safe’ beauty any more – we’re searching for beauty adventures. The body product (whatever it is) looks extremely uninspired.. a little too tasteful, maybe. 

    That said, the collection is luxury and that pretty well always sells. I’ve no idea if we’ll ever see it in the UK – I’d be very curious to see how it would slot in. 

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