Tuesday 26 April 2016

Blogging tips for beginners (part IV) - writing beauty reviews. Tips + what to avoid?

Hello, muffins! This post was originally going to be part two of my celebrity perfume collection, but I thought I'd break it up with another installment of blogging tips (make sure you check out parts I, II and III)! Today, I'd like to talk to you a little bit about writing, which is really the main part of any blogging process (and often the most difficult one!). Writing is something that's very individual and subjective, and there's no real right or wrong way of doing it. Everyone has their own style, and that's something we shouldn't shy away from - it's what makes our blogs special and unique! There are however a few things to look out for, especially when it comes to writing beauty reviews. Today, I'd like to share with you a few writing tips, and things I've learned from working on beauty reviews. Hope you enjoy!

There aren't any real rules as to how long your post needs to be. The general consensus amongst bloggers is that the ideal post length is anywhere between 500-700 words (although personally I tend to write articles that are much longer than that). I will say one thing, though - I think it's better to make your post too long, than too short. Sometimes I come across beauty reviews that are only a few sentences long, with no depth or insight at all. You can always tell when a blogger couldn't be bothered with the post, and published it just for the sake of doing so. It's ALWAYS quality, not quantity when it comes to blogging. If you have to work around a busy schedule, it might be better to post less often (for instance, once a week) instead of sacrificing the quality of your content!

This may seem obvious, but I often come across beauty posts and reviews that don't include product details such as the price, the shade name (in case of makeup like lipsticks or eyeshadows), or even the name of the product itself. Always double-check your information, and if you can't remember all the details - try to look them up. It's good to always aim to make your reviews as comprehensive as possible, so that your readers don't need to look at other sources (or blogs!) for any extra information!

The way you structure your reviews is completely up to you - some people (including myself) like a clear, defined structure; some prefer more of a freestyle form of writing with a loose outline. Either way, there are a few key points that are worth including in every review: 

♥ Write an introduction. A few sentences introducing the product you're reviewing will be enough to grab your readers' attention. What's the name of the product? Where did you find it? Why did you buy it? What made you want to write the review?
♥ Describe the packaging. This isn't something I like to spend too much time on. Personally, I think that photos are good enough to show what the packaging looks like, so there's no need for detailed descriptions. You can briefly share your thoughts on the packaging, and point out any specific or unique features.
The main part of your review. This includes your honest thoughts on the product. It all depends on what you're reviewing - for example, with makeup products, you may want to consider things like the formula, texture, colour and lasting power. Take a look at what the brand says about the product, and compare it to your own experience. Did the product live up to your expectations? Was the application easy? Does it feel comfortable on the skin? Are the colours true to how they appear in the packaging? 
♥ Pros and cons. This part is completely optional, but it might be useful to combine a short summary of things you liked/disliked about the product - it makes your review a lot clearer and easier to reference for those who don't want to read the full thing. 
♥ Conclusion. A few sentences summarizing your experience with the product. Would you purchase it again? Who would you recommend it to? You may also choose to rate the product - for instance, out of a maximum of five stars; or you can even introduce your own rating system. 

Every beauty review needs swatches - they are the visual representation of everything you've talked about in your post. It's really disappointing whenever I read a great, insightful review only to reach the end and find that there are no swatches included. Your readers shouldn't have to imagine what that makeup looks like based on your description - they want to see it on YOU! Sure, anyone can just go ahead and google the swatches, but the point is to give your readers all the information so they don't need to do that. In this day and age, with thousands of amazing bloggers creating top quality content, we have to aim very high to get any recognition. This means no half measures, and making your reviews as detailed as possible.

Another reason to include swatches? They increase your blog traffic! Google Images is one of the top traffic sources for my blog, with people searching for things like 'so-and-so lipstick swatches', etc. Honestly, your swatches don't need to be perfect (mine never are!) - the fact that you've made the effort to actually show the product is enough! 

To me, this is easily the most important point of all. Don't say that a given product is good just because everyone else raves about it, or because you were given it for free. There is nothing more disappointing than seeing great bloggers sell out, sharing dishonest reviews just because they got paid to do so. I'm not against sponsored work in general - in fact, I think it's amazing that we can make money doing something we love, and try new products for free. However, it's important to always keep your reviews honest and genuine. Once you lose your credibility as a blogger - you lose it for good. It's incredibly difficult to restore your readers trust. Remember that your blog is your own little corner of the web where you can talk about anything you like, and be as honest and open as you want. Use that to your advantage - YOU are what makes your blog special, so don't lose that for the sake of any sponsored work! 



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