May 4, 2016

How to start a beauty or fashion blog and earn from it

A beauty blog is a regularly updating website in which beauty-related topics are discussed, products are reviewed, advice on traditional and new beauty concepts is given, latest offers and trends are brought to readers' notice. Similarly, a fashion blog is the one focusing on fashion and other things that go with it: celebrities, events, trends.

Beauty and fashion often go together and many blogs have sections for each of them. A wider niche is that of lifestyle blogs that have beauty and fashion plus many lifestyle areas such as parenting, DIY, decor and travel.

Beauty and fashion blogs can be standard blogs or can be accounts maintained on Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Instagram is now very popular platform for picture-heavy beauty/ fashion blogs; YouTube being a video platform, suits those who are expert beauticians and can post tutorials and for posting fashion events. 

In this blog, let's learn about making and running a standard beauty and/ or fashion blog. We'd talk about video blogging on beauty and fashion sometime later.

This is a long post. You can jump to lower sections of this post by clicking on section headings here:

A. Why are beauty and fashion blogging good niches?
B. What makes a beauty/ fashion blog 'great'?
C. Questions to ask before starting a blog on beauty or fashion niche.
D. To go for a free blog or a paid one? 
E. How to start a beauty or fashion blog from scratch? 
F. How much does it cost to start a beauty or fashion blog?
G. Content is what makes a blog great. 
H. Engagement, traffic and blog promotion are important. 
I. Ways to earn money from the beauty and/ or fashion blog.

 

Why are beauty and fashion blogging good niches?


Beauty and fashion had earlier been the preserve of the rich and women only. No longer. People of all ages, genders and income groups are now interested in looking beautiful. Sharing of photos over internet and phones has added to this. Rise in disposable income of more people is another factor. Incessant advertisements by companies in beauty and fashion areas keeps influencing people's thinking about how looking beautiful helps in social life and career. Men have lapped up beauty products and services like never before. There is an overall inclination towards being healthy, and that naturally includes looking good. 

All these developments have made beauty and fashion blogging attractive as paying niches, because people visit such blogs for authentic information, shared experiences and advice as against that given by companies and beauty shops. 

For those whose primary blogging goal is not making money can enhance their authority/ celebrity status and socialization through blogging.

Another important aspect that makes these areas attractive for bloggers is the range of specific topics that the beauty and fashion blog can deal with. The beauty blog can be all-encompassing or can have a very narrow subject relating to one part of human body or one beauty issue, such as hair coloring or acne removal. One can also decide to talk about products or beauty procedures or other services. One can just review new arrivals in the market. Health issues and aids related to beauty - and a very specific one such as hair fall or plastic surgery - can be chosen for blogging. On fashion blogs, one can talk only about a very narrow subject such as ethnic dresses or those made of a particular fabric. On the other hand, one could talk of everything that is happening in the world of fashion.

Since beauty gels well with photography, pregnancy, child-rearing, etc, the blog can deal with these too. Fashion gels well with travel, culture and photography.

What makes a beauty/ fashion blog 'great'?


A search on Google for 'beauty blog' gives 157 million results and that for 'fashion blog' 211 million! But if we evaluate these on high standards of content quality, regularity and blogging craft, only a few thousand blogs would remain on our list. Well, if you evaluate all these million on their earning, you'll get a few thousand blogs, many of which will be mediocre in one or the other aspect but well-monetized. 

What this shows is that if money is your primary concern, yours need not be a GREAT BLOG but it should have good content. On the other hand, if yours is a really GREAT BLOG going by content, it will earn reputation and authority, and also has a very high potential for earning.
start a beauty fashion blog


A great blog in this genre has all or most of these qualities:
  • Detailed posts.
  • High-quality content that shows expertise in one or more aspects of human beauty and fashion.
  • Content that is useful and informative. A variety of content.
  • Content that is without bias, and not based on hearsay or unscientific belief.
  • Reviews that are unbiased, and with a clear disclosure if they are sponsored.
  • Regular updation. 
  • Good blog design and looks; fine use of colors, spaces.
  • Good navigation, labeling of posts, archives.
  • Use of formatting, font styles and contrast for better readability.
  • Good use of images and videos on posts.
  • Engagement with commenters, and outreach through social networking sites such as Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter; also presence on photo and video sharing networks such as Instagram and Pinterest. If focused on action more than information and reviews, presence on YouTube.
  • Inter-linking of social platforms with the blog.
  • All content composed afresh. No copy-pasted content even from one's other websites.
   

Ask yourself relevant questions before starting a beauty and/ or fashion blog.


Analyze your strengths and weaknesses before taking any other step towards blogging.

Ask yourself all relevant questions, some peripheral ones too. Do you have a beauty parlor or boutique? Have you done a beautician or fashion designing course? Do you have good knowledge of human biology, especially skin? Or different fabrics and major fashion trends? Do you have some appreciation about diet, chemistry of beauty products, etc? Or (in the case of fashion:) fabrics, body shapes, tailoring etc? Do you keep yourself up-to-date on latest developments in these fields? Are you in a location where men and women go for beauty treatments? Do you attend beauty classes, workshops, fashion events, etc in your area? Do you have mastery over the language in which you will blog? Can you visualize writing long posts with very useful advice that other blogs don't have? Can you take photos with your camera or mobile phone, which will suit the topics of the posts? 

Also ask yourself questions relating to blogging and social engagement: How much time can you spare for blogging? 
earning from beauty and fashion blogging
A pretty face: StockSnap

Do you understand the craft of blogging - some style, some placement of widgets, some navigation tweaks...? Do you know a bit of html, SEO, social media management? Do you have a good friendship circle? Do you have a buzzing social media circle on Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, WhatsApp, Google Plus, Twitter, etc? Do you know some top beauty queens and socialites or are you one of them? Are you in beauty/ fashion business or are associated with companies doing these businesses? ... 

A question to settle your blogging goal: Are you really deeply interested in being beautiful and making others beautiful and fashionable OR you want to do beauty blogging just to earn quick money?

If you find yourself wanting in some area, will you be able to overcome that by spending more time and energy, learning new things, or investing money in getting those things done? 

Remember, successful blogging requires regular work on the blog and lots of patience. That also means reading fashion blogs and magazines and being up-to-date, closely following celebrity and movie makeup and fashion trends, networking, pitching your blog to brands and beauty magazines, and so on.

 

To go for a free blog or a paid one?


First comes starting the blog. You can create a blog very easily and with just a few clicks on Blogger and Wordpress free platforms. But that is not the best way to approach beauty/ fashion/ lifestyle blogging. But don't decide on where and how to create the blog before you have analyzed what suits you the best.

So, you have the following options:
1. A totally free blog as discussed above. Don't think beyond Wordpress or Blogger; don't look at other options such as Tumblr. 

Blogging in a broad sense also includes being active on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. In the present post, let us confine ourselves to standard blogs only.

2. Go for a blog with an independent identity but still using the resources of free blogging platforms for hosting the blog. 

When you open a free Blogger blog, its name would be something like this: beautyexample.blogspot.com. On Wordpress, it will be like this: beautyexample.wordpress.com. Both these platforms give you the option to map the blog to an independent domain name (e.g. beautyexample.com) so that it looks professional. 

Blogger does not charge for this type of mapping (or domain re-direction) but you need to buy the domain name for your blog (e.g. beautyexample.com). If you have opened your blog on free Wordpress platform, it charges you for domain re-direction.

3. Almost all websites and most professional blogs are fully independent. They are not hosted on a free blogging platform but independently on a web host (e.g. GoDaddy, BlueHost). For web hosting of any website, you need to buy a hosting plan. Based on the type of web hosting plan, you get the resources (i.e. server space, bandwidth, security features etc) from the web host. As in the case of second option given above, you also have to pay for the domain name. 

Before we move further, let's also face the reality: the beauty blogging niche is highly competitive and so is fashion blogging, because there already are thousands of established bloggers, and there is competition from companies and other commercial establishments. At the same time, there are immense opportunities for a savvy and determined blogger. 

The dilemma before a new blogger who has not yet tested waters of these highly competitive niches, is whether to take a jump like an entrepreneur and create a self-hosted blog or start with a free blog and then expand.

Let's make the decision simple if you are just starting your beauty/ fashion blog: 

If earning from the blog is your goal, go for a self-hosted blog; if that is not ever going to be your goal, you can choose between the free or paid blog based on other considerations. 

The two main free blogging platforms mentioned here give you a lot of freedom to customize the blog, with free themes, formatting options, facility to add photos, and so on. Blogger goes a step further by offering free video posting, customization through HTML/ CSS/ JavaScript coding and allowing advertisements. However, if you want to create the blog as a business, don't go for a free blog [except for testing purposes if you so like]. 

The second option given above suits only those bloggers who want to open a blog for socializing and sharing their expertise but earning is not their goal.

How to start a beauty or fashion blog from scratch?


The first thing to do is to decide on the area/ subject  in which you will compose posts. The area must be such that you a good level of expertise in that. A test to check your expertise is to write down at least fifty headlines of posts that you will be able to write immediately if forced to. 

Once you have decided that, think of a proper domain name or web address for the blog. The domain name should be short, easy to memorize and recall, and it should represent your blog's content. Don't make it too narrow so that it becomes restrictive when you later want to expand the blog's scope (e.g. if your blog is www.haircoloring.com, it will look odd when you later decide to add posts on bridal makeup and skin care).

If you are already a well-known industry expert or a personality or you own a brand/ shop, you can use your name or brand as the main part of the URL.

Keep more than one URLs in mind because there is a big probability that popular names have been purchased by people already in this business. If you are going for self-hosted blog (i.e.not a free blog but you will pay for the blog's hosting), decide also whether you will like .com suffix or your country name or some other suffix. For businesses such as beauty blogging, .com is the preferred suffix. Immediately register the domain name so that it is not taken away by someone else. There are a number of domain name registrars out there and you can make a web search to decide which one to go for. Remember that you will have to renew the domain name registration year after year.

Next comes the web design. You must go for an appealing design but not too flowery or with too many effects. In the long run, you will realize that beyond a point it is the content rather than the design that sells or attracts people.

The design must be such that it can expose your content well and visitors should be able to visit all your content easily. There should be sections to keep posts on one topic together. The design should be expandable and mobile friendly. 

You can design the blog yourself with some knowledge of HTML, using free content management systems (e.g. wordpress [this is a software, not the wordpress.com blogging platform], Joomla, etc) or free website creating tools. But if you are going professional from the beginning, it is better to either (i) go for wordpress, and choose a good free 'theme' or buy one or (ii) engage a web designer for the entire web design work.

Once you have chosen a theme and have the domain name registered, you need to host the blog. (For free blogs, this all this is taken care by the blogging platform.) There are hundreds of web hosts, some global, some local and a large number of small vendors re-selling others' plans. We'd recommend that you go for the best so that you do not repent later. These days, some global companies offer inexpensive shared cloud hosting plans.

The blog needs to be 'hosted' on the web host's server. Usually this is not too difficult a job and the web hosting companies do the required hand-holding. But, yes, if you are not sure, take help from some techie rather than messing up the things. 

If you already have a beauty/ fashion blog on a free blogging platform, you can export it to a new self-hosted website/ blog. The web hosts usually have a way to do that easily, but it can sometimes be painful too if you have a very large number of posts with local HTML tweaking. If you need to export an existing blog, do that patiently and carefully.

The biggest part remains: the content. We'd discuss this in a separate section below. 

How much does it cost to start a beauty or fashion blog?


Consider the following costs. Actual costs will depend on how many features you want to have.

All blogs:
  • Basic device cost: cost of computer/ laptop/ smart phone; internet connection
  • Creation of text posts: no cost except your time and energy
  • Creation of image and video posts: cost of smart phone/ camera/ video camera, other equipment
  • Visits to beauty events, fashion events, beauticians, experts, markets
  • Purchase of beauty products for use or review
  • Cost of software if you want to edit images and  video
  • Cost of subscribing to beauty/ fashion magazines and websites if you like
  • Cost of theme if you buy that
  • Further costs of promoting the blog by paid publicity including advertising - optional
  • Buying an email subscription service - optional 
Free blogs:
  • If you want to map to an independent domain: cost of domain registration and mapping.

Self-hosted blogs (in addition to costs given above):

  • Annual cost of domain registration
  • Annual cost of web hosting
  • If you do not want to do tech jobs yourself: cost of migrating old blog if doing so, cost of setting up new blog, web designing etc.
  • Cost of e-commerce facilities (in case you want to sell products and services through the blog)

Content is what makes a blog great.


We have already discussed what makes a beauty or fashion blog great, and also what all can be different topics of blogging. Being an expert on the subject, you would decide which ones to focus on. 

In this section, let's talk specifically about how to take care of content.

  • Keep the target users in mind. Think of the persona of people who are looking for the content you will create and who would take action (e.g. buy your product, act on your advice, click on the advertisement on your blog, write a useful comment, invite you for a beauty class or fashion event, offer you products that you can review, etc). Are they young people, adults or elderly? Are they the ones going to marry soon? Are they housewives or working? Are they likely to be influenced by home beauty and natural products? Are they the ones who suffer from overuse of beauty products?
  • Try to help people solve their problems. Try not to be too selfish by offering all things on payment. Even if your goal is to sell products through the blog, offer something - at least advice - free.
  • Keep original. Of course whatever you write will not be your own discovery even if you are the topmost pro. But, the way you describe something has to be fully your own. Your voice has to be unique.
  • Keep focus. You can sometimes have big posts covering a wide range of topics, but generally write on only one narrow subject in one post.
  • Keep the language of good level, and simple. There should not be grammar or spelling errors. When writing tips and 'how-to' posts, address the reader as 'you'.
  • Keep sentences short. Keep paragraphs short. Break post monotony with sub-headings, photos, etc.
  • Maintain a posting calendar and post different types of posts at regular intervals (e.g. a big post in a month; industry updates twice a month; tips on skin care after every four post; a review once a month...). This will also ensure that you do not run out of ideas for posts.
  • Schedule posts. Keep ahead of time; write more posts for future so that you do not run short of posts when you are busy on some other activities.
  • Have photos and videos. Beauty and fashion blogs without photos do not look good. But photos must be arranged properly and they should not clutter the blog. Be careful if using videos. It is a good practice to embed or give link to a video you have posted on YouTube rather than hosting a video on the blog itself. At the given links, you can visit ITB resources on best use of images on blogs and video blogging.
  • Give honest opinion. Do not praise a product or brand or service too much, and not when it does not deserve that praise. 
  • Disclose your dealings with brands. Disclose when a company has gifted you some items for review. Disclose when you do a sponsored post or a promotion.
  • Do not claim or assure benefits that you have not experienced yourself. Do not make universal statements. Do not use undeserved adjectives. For example, do not say that 'aloe vera gel with turmeric removes acne in all types of skins, when used every morning' or 'using this cream every day for two months will make your [a 40 year old lady's] skin feel like that of a teen and the result will be permanent.'

 

Engagement, traffic and blog promotion are important for authority and making money.


Any blog needs traffic, unless it is purposely kept private. One who blogs professionally, for earning, must take additional actions so that the blog is discovered and shared by people. Take these actions:

Be active on social media, and cross-post content. Comment on others' blogs and social media accounts - but only when you find something worth commenting upon. No 'you have written a fantastic post' type comments that do not add to discussion. 

Create a beautiful page on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or Google Plus. Maintain it well. Carry posts from the blog to these places. Regularly engage on these platforms. You can think of bookmarking your posts on such sites (e.g Digg, StumbleUpon).

Promote your social account so that your page gets more views and engagement. However, be focused and choose one or two of them; if you have too many social media entities, they would take a lot of your time. If one network does not seem working, choose another one, compare the two for some time and chose the better one. For beauty and fashion, Instagram is presently the top choice of most bloggers.
 
E-mail subscription is very useful in creating a loyal following. There are many email marketing websites (e.g. Aweber, MailChimp). They help you gather an email list and have features to send your posts or communications to blog subscribers. 

Making a community around the blog. Consider creating a Facebook group/ Google Plus community around your blog. Post useful content there. You can issue newsletter out of your posts (e.g. a monthly newsletter with all posts published during the month) and post them in such communities and mail them to subscribers.

Take at least some SEO action. Do not ignore this aspect. The competition in the beauty/ fashion niche is so much that your blog will not come in the first page of search engines - however good your posts may be - unless you do some SEO. 

You can take some simple actions that lead to search engine optimization of the blog and individual posts. Wordpress has some plugins that help in this. These days, themes come with SEO-friendly features in-built. If SEO is beyond you or you do not have time for it, engage an SEO expert to optimize the blog.

However, be careful not to fall into the trap of people promising lots of traffic quickly through shady actions. Such actions, even if they get you traffic quickly, are not liked by search engines and hurt the blog in the long run. 

There are many posts on this subject on ITB. You can visit this SEO checklist to check what is good SEO and what is not.

Paid promotion. You must consider putting advertisements on Google, Facebook or Twitter. You can give free gifts in return for subscription or as an award for suggesting something. Think of other ways of promoting your blog.

Offline promotion is very important too. You must visit events where you can meet celebrities and other bloggers. Take interviews, get tips, share your experiences, grab any chance to speak to an audience, exchange blog address...


Ways to earn money from the beauty and/or fashion blog.


Once you have at least a few dozen posts, some standalone pages, and the blog has run for 8-9 months, think of earning from it. By this time, you should have some following or friendship on social networks too, and if you have been gathering emails and have done some promotion and SEO, you would have a few thousand people visiting your blog in a  month.

Beauty and fashion blogs can be easily monetized, but due to so much competition, you must have a strategy. Keep visiting the strategy every few months and revising it - because everything may not go according to your wishes even if you have worked hard.

Also remember, blogging does not always pay handsomely on its own. Many successful bloggers add other activities to blogging (e.g. creating an ebook, running a beauty course, participating in online/ offline competitions on beauty) and make the blog the meeting point for all such activities.

Some ways to earn from beauty and fashion blogs are given below. Some would look repetitious because we have mentioned them earlier too:

Product review is one important stream for earning dollars from beauty and fashion blogs. If you regularly do good product reviews on the blog, beauty product makers and sellers will themselves approach you for paid reviews. They will also send you samples and background information on products. Of course, you will have to make known to them so that they approach you. One way is to send emails to their PR/ marketing departments. The other is to look at others' blogs to find out which companies offer their products for review.

You can review services of beauticians, spas, boutiques, massage parlors etc on your own, but such reviews are best done with their permission so that they do not object to use of their photographs etc. 

In all cases, you should be unbiased in your reviews; if a product or service is too bad, avoid reviewing it. 

Why just reviews, carry comparisons among similar products. Comparisons get many visits and you'd also see more relevant PPC ads (see below) on the blog.

Affiliate marketing is another paying stream. In this system, you put advertisements of affiliates (=partners) on the blog, and when someone buys their product through your blog, you get paid. The payment is much more as compared to pay per click (PPC) ads described below. 

For affiliation, you have to register yourself on  affiliate sites/ networks, and then they guide you how to select ads, etc.

The common affiliate networks and aggregators include CJ, Amazon, Clickbank and Chitika. Some of these might not be working in your location, some might have products not suitable for your blog and some might not suit you for other reasons. Some big merchants will not put ads on your website unless you have a minimum number of page-views and when your content is relevant to their product. So, be patient.

Your country might have some other retailer chains or networks that offer affiliation. Take some time checking them to find the best suited affiliate for your blog; it is not desirable to have more than one affiliate's links on the same blog.

Pay per click (PPC) advertising is the most common way to monetize a beauty or fashion blog. You have to put advertisements provided by the PPC ad provider and whenever somebody clicks on these ads, you are paid a small sum. If many people visit your blog and click on these ads, the total sum that you earn can be big. AdSense, offered by Google, is the best and biggest PPC advertisement service. 

We'll mention direct advertisements here but unless one is very well established, such advertisements do not come easily. Till you are a small blogger, you can forget them.

Look at successful blogs around and see what ads they are running and what else they are doing to earn from the blog.

Once you have run your beauty blog systematically for some months, you would get offers to cover promotional campaigns of beauty products and invitations to beauty events. With a buzzing fashion blog, you might get invites to fashion events, opening of new cloth-lines, etc. Mind it, these are not free; you have to write about them on your blog. Depending upon how well you write (that does not mean praising/ recommending the undeserving product or event), you'd keep getting more such offers and will also get offers to write sponsored posts. A few established bloggers have also got offers to write a book based on their posts.

Sky is the limit for beauty and fashion bloggers because of women's unending urge to look better and chase good product and services. Now they are joined by the new generation of men. Unlike many other niches, visitors like to look at ads relating to beauty and fashion and thus help in fast monetization. 

Despite crowding of these niches, there is good scope for hard-working, talented and determined bloggers. This is true for bloggers sitting in New York and also for those in developing countries (very poor, conflict-ridden countries can be obvious exceptions). We have many examples of people who had beauty-talk as their hobby and then became hobby bloggers and are now big beauty bloggers. We also have examples of bloggers who later branched out to beauty business and now have their own product lines. 

So, work seriously and take your beauty and/ or fashion blog as a business; enjoy it as a hobby and have fun; make friends; contribute your knowledge and expertise in making the world a bit more beautiful. All the best!
updated in October 2018