Monday, May 29, 2017

Blog Life

Since today is the official 3rd birthday of the blog I thought it might be worthwhile for those who may be interested in blogging or who are curious as to my blogging process to peek into some of the behind the scenes work.

To begin, I had always enjoyed reading blogs and was more often than not content to read and not comment. That all changed when I started reading a few wax blogs and became friends with Deb, Sunnee and Lauren. As the only non-blogger in the group I felt I was missing something and wanted to join in on the fun. With their help and support I did just that. 

My goal first and foremost has always been and will always be to describe as accurately as possible, my experience with products to help consumers be informed. But sidled right along side of that goal is my wish to chronicle some of my life goings ons, discuss goals and dreams to better be held accountable and to have fun along the way.

Once I decided that my blog would encompass not only fragrance but also lifestyle content I brainstormed a name and chose Blogger as my platform. Now we could go 'round and 'round about whether to use Blogger or WordPress or any other platform but I am not here for all that. I chose Blogger and 99% of the time I am thoroughly happy with it. I purchased my domain name from Google for about $12/year and I have thousands of photos and almost a thousand posts and have not had any impending limits mentioned or issues (so far). The commenting has some bugs but if that is the only thing then I am ok with that.

I started out with the basic free layouts to get on my feet and get a feel for the whole process. After realizing this was an endeavor I would want to continue I splurged on a $35 layout from Etsy about a year into it that I still use today. If I ever get a bug to rebrand I would go the same route. 

Blogging is a hobby for me. I do not get paid. I do not get tons of free product. I do not expect to make a living from this. Yes, there are definitely benefits. I do get to meet amazing people and I do get to try some freebies once in a while but by and far the majority of the product is bought under my own steam. I could use a ton of ads or affiliate links but I know I personally do not enjoy reading blogs that are so inundated with pop-ups and ads that I can hardly read the content. That is my personal preference though. I will say that the blog has afforded me the opportunity to take on some free lance work and that is another benefit. 

There are rules for blog and social media posts that must be followed according the FCC regarding whether it was a sponsored post. I do make a point to clearly let my readers know when a product was received free for reviewing and testing purposes. And those companies do know that the reviews will be honest and not guaranteed to always be positive. So get your thick skin on if you need to make a less than glowing post and remember, you don't have to post something you don't feel comfortable dissing. Often times if I am not in love with the product at all, I just won't review it. No need to bash a small company that is trying to get on its feet because it didn't work for me.

Writing is the backbone of blogging. Your voice. Your style. It helps if it is grammatically correct and edited (though I am notorious for rushing a proof read and posting errors, I do go back if I catch it but sometimes I don't). Once you hone your voice decide how you will execute it. Some bloggers like to develop rating scales for wax or makeup or nail polish or fragrance. Those work great! I never really found one I like for myself without feeling like I lifted it from someone else so I just write about my overall experiences. But a scale or system might work for you. 

My blogging starts with the product. I like to see it, smell it, use it and get familiar with it before I start writing. Sometimes that means I do research or background digging. And sometimes that means I cannot get a post up the same day. I am sure it would be better for readers if my turn over rate was quicker but I work at a comfortable pace and sometimes I am not in the mood to blog or I have a cold and can't smell. So the product sits. And that is ok. Again, blogging is my hobby. I still hold down a full-time job, being a mom and a wife and a teacher. Keeping a reign on the hours spent blogging is important. 

Photography is a big part of blogging as well. You do not have to be a pro by any means. My biggest advice is to use natural lighting and practice. Play with editing apps if you use your phone or play with camera settings if you use a point and shoot. It really doesn't matter what the photo looks like as long as you show the products. I personally love photography and took some courses so I could improve. I use an old Nikon D40 with a 35mm 1.8f stop lens. I use twinkle lights as bokeh and I set everything up in any area of my home I think I can get some good lighting. If I go on vacation sometimes I will take product with me if I think I can get a few good shots. I try to mix things up so I don't get bored but other times I just have to roll with whatever I have going on and sometimes that isn't much.

Photos also can be used on other social media platforms to advertise your blog. And you will want to do that if you want readers to know you are out there. SnapChat is popular as well as Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. A new one called Ello has popped up as well. I don't do SnapChat, I closed my Twitter and Intagram has me fed up with not being able to see everyone's posts. But I still dinker around on mainly IG and FB. 

One of my biggest pieces of advice is to meet and get to know other bloggers. Find out how they operate, hook up for collaborations and make friends who can help encourage you onward. 

Blogging expectations that I strive to meet for myself:
- Reply to any and all comments. If someone took the time to write on my post, replying is the least I can do to thank them for their time.
- Post consistently, maximum of once per day and minimum of 3 days per week.
- One photo per post minimum.
- Keep stock internet photos to a minimum.
- Delete spam comments with links as soon as possible.
- Read and comment on others' blogs out of respect and to generate conversations and friendships in the community.
- Photograph and write posts on the weekends and schedule for posting during the week.
- Incorporate as many non-product focused posts as possible when able. 

If you have any questions about blogging or need advice or are curious about anything feel free to comment or send me a message. Again, these are just my personal experiences and ideas, the beauty of blogging lies in its customization.

Thank you for being here! I will post the winners of the giveaway tonight.


  1. Congratulations again on three years! I had to chuckle at the part about proof reading because there are a few errors in this post. :P We still love you though.

    When I was researching blogger etiquette years ago, one of the biggest pieces of advice that I kept coming across was "Always reply to comments!" I try to do it as soon as possible but sometimes it all has to wait until my next day off. It bugs the heck out of me when bloggers don't reply! It makes me not want to bother commenting.

    Another piece of advice I found interesting is to try and end each post with a question for the reader to answer. I think it works. I do seem to get replies when there is a question to engage readers, instead of just me nattering about a scent.

    I like your mention of making it clear when a post is sponsored or products were received for free. Many times I've seen bloggers (or YouTubers) think they're being sneaky but it's pretty obvious in the name dropping that it's a sponsored post.

    Your blog is gorgeous, so clean and professional. You've really stepped up into the world of high-end, well, everything. You have the patience to go after those hard to get vendors. You have the energy and know-how to utilize other social media. And you have a warm and friendly personality that draws people to you. I bet YOU, out of all of us, COULD make a living doing this. Well done, friend!

    Looking forward to see who wins the giveaway! One question though... With a giveaway this big for Year Three, what the heck is Year Four going to look like? LOL


    1. Lol!!! Hey! That is the human element I am providing. Proving I am not a robot. At least that is what I tell myself so my errors don't make me feel like a doofus. :-) At least I can rely on you to shoot me a message and let me know I have the blogger equivalent to spinach in my teeth. <3

      I agree with commenting! It does feel like a snub when comments aren't replied to.

      You are totally right about asking the questions at the end. I actually feel weird if I don't end a post with a question.

      Thank you for your kind words. I feel like you are my anchor in the sea of the internet. Your friendship means a lot to me, Deb, way beyond blogging and wax. Thank you for hanging in there with me.

  2. Julie,
    Thank for all of your hard work and dedication to your blog. It is my daily joy (and escape) to read about your experiences and opinions! Thank you for "toughing it out" with Instagram, as that is how I found you. I know how you feel about grammatical errors! It makes me crazy to post any little thing because I have to read and edit 17x. Don't be too hard on yourself! Congratulations on three years! I LOVE your pictures and recommendations!!! I have learned about so many wonderful things and all new small businesses from you! Best wishes and all good things for the future!
    Lindsay (JasmineCat00) ��

    1. Awww... thank you so much Lindsay for your kindness!! <3 It made my night after a long tough day. The funny thing is that I love grammar and teaching it and reading well written work but often times my mind goes faster than my fingers and I make so many mistakes. Sometimes I catch them and sometimes I am so tired that I hit publish before I finalize the work. Thank you for kindly over looking my errors and reading along! xoxox

  3. Happy belated birthday, blog! I hope it was a nice one. Three years! That's such an amazing milestone. And largely achievable because you're well organized and thoughtful and take the time to really engage with your readership, which - you're totally correct, by the way - is SO important. Like, somebody did you a solid and paid you a compliment and you're just going to sit there and accept your accolades without giving anything back? Sort of one of my biggest blogging aggravations. That and bloggers who start every post with an apology for something (not having posted in a few days, a few months, whatever) that they don't need to apologize for. This is an awesome accounting, though, of your process - so helpful. :)

    1. Thanks! I look up to your blog too. You have been chugging away at this much longer than I have.

      Right. I don't understand it. I have commented on blogs several times in the past and they just sit there like open air.

      I noticed those apologetic posts too!!! And after a few times of that inevitably the blogging stops all together. If people are still stopping by then they want to read whatever you have to say, don't be sorry about taking breaks.

      I would be curious to read about how your process goes. <3