Beauty Blogging- The Ugly Truth

My name is Nia Patten and I blog part-time, work for the NHS and have two kids. Thanks UK Bloggers for letting me guest post!

I started blogging just over a year ago. I had just had a baby and got fed up of playing Candy Crush Saga on my phone while feeding the kid. I decided to act on something that I had been mulling over in my head. I have a borderline fetish for makeup and beauty products and no one to talk to about it. So I started my blog with about 30 minutes of planning. I’ve learnt so much and some it has really surprised me.

I was totally naive and genuinely believed that I would write honest content and my family and friends would share it widely and everyone would give me a high five. There’s been a bit of that to be fair. I’ve had my eyes opened to the ways of the world in a big way, here’s what I’ve learnt along the way.

It (Probably) Won’t Make You Rich

I had an acquaintance I don’t see very often recently say “so you don’t have to go to work anymore then, do you?” She literally thought that I had been able to give up my day job completely because she’d seen that I have a blog. I replied that no, I’ve made a grand total of £5.20, I had better not hand my notice in. I honestly don’t know how you’d make blogging your permanent day job.

You would have to be sooo very cunning and business like. A sponsored post can bring you £50-£100, an appearance in a newspaper around £200. By my calculations you would have to do a sponsored post nearly every day to earn enough money to support a family. You would need thousands of views a day to make any substantial affiliate fees. In short, you would need to be extremely popular to get to the level where money rolls in. It would take a lot of time, talent and effort. You can’t just stick up a couple of paragraphs on your favourite mascara on the internet and retire to the Bahamas. It’s a long way from people’s perception that’s for sure.

You can do whatever the hell you like

There are tens of thousands of beauty bloggers. So, so many of them trying to get attention, it can make a new blogger feel totally deflated. But the cool thing about blogging is that there are no rules, no career pathway, no one telling you what to do. That can be scary and liberating. It can be tempting to look around at other blogs and have thoughts like “oh that girl has such great shots of her eye makeup, I should do more of that” or suffer website jealousy. Blogging has to be self expression or it’s not real, and readers will be able to tell if something is real or not.

Me trying to look like a beauty blogger

I have a blogging friend who is truly inspiring, she doesn’t worry about figures, she just goes for it. She emails companies and newspapers and publishers. I love talking to her because she has no fear. That’s the cool thing about blogging- you’re free to find your own way. Be it a blog purely for venting, a space where you can geek out or a platform for a new career. It’s yours, do as you will.

It’s All An Illusion

My photos portray beautifully arranged palettes on decorative surfaces. But just out of shot is a pile of laundry and a half eaten apple. I’ve had comments about my lovely skin but I deliberately only take upper face shots when my chin is brewing a zit.

Take these pictures- I couldn’t face publishing the picture on the left. My eyes look really tired and dreadful. The one on the right I look fine. Always take beauty photos with a decent pinch of salt.

I was trying to take photos of eyebrows- the pic in the left was rejected because my eyes looked baggy, the one on the right was the one I used

I for one don’t airbrush my pictures, I don’t think it’s helpful when you’re showing the finish of foundation or whatever. I know of many beauty bloggers who use beauty filters. I think it’s bad for women’s psyche.  There’s a line you have to walk when you’re a beauty blogger- you don’t want to gross people out by looking appalling and disheveled but I think there’s a responsibility to other women to keep it realistic. There’s a lot of pressure for young women to look a certain way, there’s nothing honourable in using a filter on every photograph you publish of your face.

Working with Brands Can Change Your Voice

If you want to make money beauty blogging (or any other blogging for that matter), you need to work with brands. This is bound to affect your tone of writing. You can’t write terribly scathing comments about products and expect people to give you money to write about theirs. And if someone is paying you lovely money to review their product, that’s bound to cloud judgement. Readers look to bloggers for their honesty, they’re trying to find out the facts behind the advertising spiel. Are they getting honesty?

Recently the ASA published guidelines for influencers making it more clear to the public what they are reading. I think that for smaller bloggers this is a bit of a pain because it makes it look like we’re earning pots of cash from affiliate links. (Like I said my annual blogging income last year was £5.20). In general though, more clarity can only be a good thing for the reading public.

People’s Perception of You Changes

I definitely feel the judgement of others. Lots of people don’t know what I’m talking about, they don’t know what a blog is full stop. My mother thinks I’ve lost my mind. She keeps asking how she can blog me. I’m like, “No mother, it’s like an online magazine that I write myself, I haven’t invented a new social media site”. The support I expected from family and friends simply isn’t there because they don’t get what I’m doing.

I just hope that people around me see my blogging exploits for what they are, rather than attention seeking or money grabbing. I can’t control what others think of me, it’s healthier for me not to think about it.

I’m over a year into blogging and I’m loving every minute. I’ve learnt new skills and I’m expressing myself.

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15 comments / Add your comment below

  1. These are some good points. I guess blogging for some can be a hobby or a way of testing out new items but for others it is a full time business and then you would have to blog daily. I blog 3-4 times a day but then I love it and yes… there is an illusion to it, your sharing just small clips and parts of your life but every magazine, blog and book is a narrative is some form and we do choose what we show and don’t. 🙂

  2. Thank-you for your honesty. Especially around how much effort it takes and how difficult it would be to turn it into a full time career. There are certainly people who have .. but not many. I can also relate to people around you saying “wait, now what it you’re doing again?” As long as you’re enjoying it .. I really hope you’ll keep going!

  3. There is so much truth in this post and I love how open you with it. I think the perception of blogging as an easy way to make lots of money is quite common and so many don’t realize the amount of work that goes into it and how difficult it is to make a more than a few dollars while doing it.

  4. I’ll be honest I am not a beauty person, but I really enjoyed reading this post. You offer great advice for an aspiring blogger (me). I love the fact you are real, raw and genuine. I look forward to seeing more of your posts.

  5. Wow, I had NO idea other beauty bloggers used filters. I really thought that the make up was great. Might explain why a foundation I purchased never performed or looked like the blog post.

  6. Your so right, when you tell people that you are a blogger people automatically think that you are jetsetting on holidays and are able to give up your day job. It takes time to earn that kind of lifestyle!

  7. I think beauty blogging can be quite a tough niche to make your mark in because it’s so incredibly popular and already well-served with great blogs. And it’s doubly hard if (like me) you don’t have a conventionally young & pretty look. I think readers want authenticity but too often brands are scared of it – look at how many of them send out anti-aging products to twentysomething bloggers to review.

    And I agree with you that it’s virtually impossible to make a living from directly, although you can use it to gain skills which can lead into a career in digital media – which is what I’ve done.

  8. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve said.

    I always say to new bloggers if you’re going in it for money and fame you’ll likely be very disappointed.

    It’s harder to work with brands now than what it was when I started 7 years ago, back then I’d get sent stuff every week and to the point I couldn’t get through it all.

    I love my Blog but I don’t spend as much time on it as I used too so, I don’t have a regular readership anymore so, when I write I’m doing it for me more than an audience, plus you know life is more important!

    I’ve subscribed to your blog as I needed some fresh new blood to read 🙂 xx

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