Blogging has had a great deal of press lately, partly due to how many of us there are, and also due to inflammatory media stories such as 13 year old Tavi’s front row position at New York fashion week. The leads us to question further the role of the blogger in everyday media, and identify just who these so called bloggers are. Can people who have been involved in the industry for a short span of time really be valuable as critics, or does passion and enthusiasm outweigh years of expertise and in depth knowledge? Hmm.
Weigh this against the fact that many home grown bloggers have no financial constraints, such as advertorial policies or big brands to please and you start to question the authenticity of everything. In one respect, start up blogs are the most honest as people review products they buy, but as their readership grows and they get stuff for free**, everything becomes *slightly* compromised. I’m not saying this to disparage anyone, as I personally receive around half the samples I review gratis, but to make people aware of quite how confusing the industry is.
Here’s my guide to the beauty bloggers that you’ll experience.
In a sense, this is where it all begins. The technological age has meant that scribbling in diaries are now replaced by musing on blogs, with Blogger.com (gives the url .blogspot.com) being the preferred platform due to its incredibly simple set up process. These bloggers share their unbiased opinion on a wide variety of products to the world. They often provide swatch tests of various palettes, and go into great detail on everything they buy, providing a comprehensive view of their product purchases. They blog for the love of it, and this is evident in their writing, sharing their experience with other readers, and commenting on products they love and hate. There are a huge number of these blogs out there, of varying quality, but the ones which have been going for a long time have a very loyal readership- the goal being to make it into the next category!
Bloggers have been getting a lot of national press coverage lately, and this has had a positive effect on their blog figures and reach. It’s natural to piggyback off this success, and this leads to the more famous bloggers getting magazine column deals, TV appearances and in the case of Lauren Luke (the famous YouTube girl Panacea81) her own cosmetic line! Whilst these writers are still in it for the love, the likelihood is that they’re verging (or have made the move) to beauty writing full time, thus losing the amount of time they have to dedicate to their blog as they’re now contributing to all different sources. Now they’re being paid to write about things they love, they’ll also come across the thorny issue of making sure they keep their integrity when they’re being offered loads of free stuff. Great ones to read are All Lacquered Up and Lauren Luke.
One of the first blogging companies in the UK was Shiny Media (now Shiny Digital and Aigua Media) which was a blog network. It was founded by three people who loved the blogging medium and they decided to work on this full time, and monetize it. They employed full time staff bloggers, paid to write editorial on beauty and style with no constraints, a online editors in the blogging world. The world we live in means that a web presence is now enough, and that a physical presence like a magazine is now unnecessary (Sugar Magazine closed and now they only have their website). This is probably the type of role most bedroom bloggers dream of, and if they create a strong enough presence for themselves, something they may well get. Great examples of Blogging Companies are Handbag, BitchBuzz, iVillage and Handpicked Media.
Rewind back 10 years and it’s extremely unlikely that most major magazines had any sort of web presence. Sure, they might have a holding page, but they didn’t have content regularly uploaded, or any kind of ongoing story, or regular writers- the essence of a true blog. Nowadays most magazines have a dedicated web team (often made up of interns and junior staff) who update the site with stories and galleries, and allow readers to comment on articles. These sites have the budget of the magazine to use in terms of design and layout and also the same access as the magazine staff to product releases, exclusives etc. Some that I think are particularly well done are Grazia, Vogue, Elle and Company- no real surprise there, eh? The one way in which these sites sometimes lose face is the fact that they may have the same advertorial pressure that magazine writers have to deal with , where they *may* not be allowed to criticize the product of a major sponsor. This can mean you’ll only ever see glowing reviews, and never know about products they don’t rate, as whilst (hopefully) won’t lie, they may not feature ones they don’t consider worthy. Some magazines are still slightly backwards in promoting a web presence, and good learn a trick or two from the ones mentioned.
Blogs are such popular tools nowadays that companies have got savvy and have realized that they can use editorial on site to promote all their products. This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t an interesting read, but other than news and celeb trends you’ll never see a negative product review, which kinda throws the whole integrity of the site into question. Despite this, they are often very well laid out (they have the budget) updated regularly, and often have great giveaways. Good e-commerce blogs to check out are Look Fantastic and Cult Beauty. They create relevant up to date editorial which comments on current beauty news and trends, and often has links back to their site where you can purchase the products.
Now this is the worst type of Blogger. Essentially this is someone who has read that blogging provide freebies and thinks, ‘Oooh, I wanna get me some of that’. Their blog regurgitates press releases and provide glowing reviews of anything they happen to be given.. EVER- whether it’d a deodorant or a tampon. Credibility, zilch- but it’s difficult for a brand to distinguish between a blagging blog and a bedroom blog initially.
NB. This guide doesn’t cover every eventuality, and naturally some people will find they fall into multiple categories.
** Magazines receive everything for free, and always have done, yet somehow their integrity is never questioned. Not that they lack it, but why are they generally seen as all-knowing and bloggers as grasping grabbing creatures?