From finance… to foundation? Lindsay Rogers envisions her blog, Belle Belle Beauty, like be a beauty blog for fashion people. “It's not necessarily for the insane beauty junkie, but for someone who knows they're looking for something specific – and I'm the place to go.”
Rogers started her foray into blogging by doing one-product-at-a-time reviews on Tumblr, and she's one in a very small community of bloggers based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her business background led her to develop a more scientific approach to reviews, and she prides herself on helping to dispel the stereotype that beauty bloggers only review what they get for free.
Whether it's waiting a full three-to-six weeks to blog about skin products or guest blogging for Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf's – she's established a professional approach to her site and social media – that's now her full-time job. From monetization to pitching and posting, we caught up with Rogers last week to get her best blogging advice.
How did you get into blogging, and beauty blogging specifically?
I was doing freelance consulting, building websites and social media platforms. Many clients were blogs or wanted to incorporate a blog into their online presence. I figured I needed to have one too, to better understand the platform. I've always been a product junkie, so it would naturally be a beauty blog! I wrote my first post two years ago. Also, my Tumblr sort of evolved as a street style blog and I spend time over there creating content as well. It is about 18 months old (su-perb.com).
Can you talk a little about your blog's growth, and how this became your full-time gig?
I was working in finance, but had a passion for social media and wanted to do something more entrepreneurial and creative. I did some career counseling to make sure this was the right path and set up some planning so I could make the transition. And with my educational background, I felt confident I could do social media consulting and build websites on a freelance basis. Frankly, saving up a little nest egg is key. I made some (major) lifestyle changes to adjust for a much smaller budget.
My experience as an entrepreneur has been and probably always will be a 24/7 job. I am never “off.” But, as I spent more nights and weekends building my brand as a fashion and beauty editor, I could do less work as a consultant. As I invested more time on my own media channels, I saw my traffic grow. This growth has been very slow and very steady. I believe this is because I am consistently putting out content, on the blog and social media channels. I've had tremendous support from contacts via Twitter and conferences (As a non-New Yorker, Twitter has been a huge connector for me). I have connected with mentors, brands and retailers by networking on and off line. In my experience, it wasn't just about writing and photos – you really have to put yourself out there.
What do you think it takes for a blogger to run their site (and additional elements like social media) as a business?
I have a finance background and went to law school. So I came to the table with some really great tools. I think you need to look at blogging like a job and make sure you have some accountability in place. As you grow, you need to set up an LLC (or other legal structure) along with accounting infrastructure (business accounts, business credit cards, invoices, and software like Quickbooks).
How do you monetize your site?
I have ads served by Lucky Magazine Style Collective. I use affiliate links through rewardStyle. I get paid to freelance (providing copy to other media outlets). I am currently exploring sponsored posts. My affiliate links appear sometimes on Pinterest, Tumblr and Pose. I have more fashion content in those outlets, making affiliate links more rewarding (being paid commission on $500 boots > $18 mascara).
What kind of strategy do you use to develop your content?
I don't schedule posts out too far ahead (except when I travel). I feel that way I am most invested in what I have reviewed while I discuss it on twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I only recommend fashion and beauty items that I love (or would love) to wear and use. I do have an editorial calendar, but I use it very loosely. I know this casual approach doesn't work for everyone. But my perspective is: I recommend what I love using, in my personal life. The best way to do this is writing about what your favorite things are at that very moment – what foundation I reach for lately, what my skin care routine is that time of year, how I am getting the best hairstyle. I occasionally tweet out links to what I put on my wish list at Shopbop, Sephora, etc. Or what I recently purchased for a trip or big event. When my day is slow content-wise, I promote sales or announcements I've received via email on my Facebook or Twitter – those emails can be great fodder for social media engagement.
What advice would you give to beauty or lifestyle bloggers who are looking to become professionals?
Cultivate a relationship with an affiliate company, like rewardStyle or Fashion Traffic, and use affiliate links in multiple channels. Network yourself as much as possible. I have a TV appearance that is scheduled next week just because a colleague made an introduction yesterday. Constantly advertise your willingness to work with retailers and brands. Don't be afraid of being told no – keep trying. Do not underprice your services. Be willing to work 24 hours a day. I am often writing, pinning, tweeting into the wee hours. Look at your life through an monetizing lens. Pin everything with affiliate links you loved on a recent shopping trip. Ask a local business if they would like to buy ad space while you are out running errands. Love a brand? Contact them as ask if you can be paid to create content for them. That being said, maintain your voice. If I love a product, store or experience but I was not compensated, I still post about it (frequently).