With their power to attract millions of views for their honest opinions of the latest must-have products, beauty bloggers have become the darlings of the cosmetics industry and many have carved a successful business from their scribbles and videos.
Tanya Burr is one of them. The beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger and vlogger trained in make-up and worked on beauty counters in department stores, but would record YouTube videos after work, using it as a creative outlet to play with all her products.
“I started off uploading celebrity-inspired make-up tutorials and my first views came from people who were hoping to recreate celebrity looks,” says Burr, 25. “However, when I branched out into vlogging about more than just make-up, my views spiked.” Today Burr’s YouTube channel has two million subscribers and it’s her full-time career.
So where should budding beauty bloggers begin? Anna Gardner, the blogger behind Vivianna Does Makeup, recommends joining weblog publishing tool Blogger as a starting point.
“It’s very simple, user friendly and 10 minutes after pinning down your domain you could have easily put your first post live. I moved onto WordPress a few years down the line, which has a bit more security and is fully customisable.” Setting up a YouTube channel is equally simple, she says. “Whenever I came across a stumbling block, I just Googled design help blogs or videos on YouTube.”
But of course, a blog needs readers and the best way to promote your blog and see those statistics creep up is by joining social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, and commenting on other blogs. “Be active online and make sure you are talked about,” advises Burr. “Get your friends involved to spread the word.”
However, don’t expect overnight success, warns Gardner. “Good things come to those who wait, so just remember that when you feel like smashing your head on your keyboard because you don’t have all the followers you wish you had. Blogging should be fun, and an extension of you and the things you love. If it isn’t fun, and you aren’t enjoying it or getting any satisfaction out of it, maybe it’s just not your scene.”
Sam Chapman, one half of the sister duo behind Pixiwoo, says her best advice is to always put your followers first. “Without them you don’t have a business,” she says. “Many cosmetic companies are looking to pair with social talent on sponsored content – these deals should only be made if you genuinely love the product and would spend your money on it because the second you lose credibility it’s gone forever.”
It takes years rather than weeks to become a successful blogger. Gardner set up her blog at university four years ago and at the start just had a few readers checking out her tips and tutorials. Fast forward to today and she has more than 224,000 YouTube subscribers and 200,000 plus unique users on her blog. Such popularity and influence has led to a number of bloggers turning what was just a hobby into a career.
Gardner is a full-time blogger, with about 70% of her income generated from advertising on her blog, and the outstanding stemming from affiliates and sponsorship deals with brands.
In order to earn money from blogging, Tales of a Pale Face blogger Kat Clark says you need to work hard, be professional and build good relationships. She says: “A lot of the work I do with brands tends to come from existing relationships that have been built up over time, but making a great first impression is really key.” Don’t be afraid to pitch ideas for collaborations to people, she adds. “Brands want to see results – greater sales, social media followers and brand awareness – so focus on what it is you have to offer and why it would be great to work with you.”
Now, more than ever, the biggest beauty bloggers are seeing their revenue streams venture off into new directions. Take Burr, who this year launched her eponymous collection of lip glosses and nail polishes, which is sold in retailers such as Feel Unique and Superdrug. Similarly, beauty vloggers and make-up artists Sam Chapman and Nic Chapman, who started Pixiwoo in 2008, have seen their hobby develop into a business that employs several people. And their business is no longer just the blog and vlog. The sisters head up Two – a free monthly digital beauty magazine with a readership of over 200,000 – run make-up courses and, together with a US firm, have launched Real Techniques make-up brushes.
Sam says the success of Pixiwoo has given the sisters the opportunity to be more flexible with their time. “That doesn’t mean we work less, just that we can work around our young families,” she says. “We often stop working for school runs and dinner time then start up again after the kids are in bed and when America is awake.”
As bloggers become more successful and subscriber numbers spiral, many invest in giving their output a more professional style. Gardner began by resting her camera on top of a cereal box to film videos – now she has a tripod and three studio lights. “I always wanted to upgrade my products but gave myself a year of blogging before making the investment of a full high-definition DSLR camera, which is still what I use today,” she says.
Most bloggers tend to work from their home, often recording videos of themselves in their bedroom. The Chapman sisters started recording from the kitchen then the spare room. The success of their business means they now rent a teaching space with a separate recording studio and office.
Some bloggers, like many freelancers, divide their time between home and cafes. “I’ve recently started popping down a local coffee shop a few times a week,” says Gardner. “Aside from giving me a little break from the same four walls, I’ve found it to be a really motivating place. The busy hum reminds me of working in an office and I have some of my most productive laptop sessions in there.”