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Farewell!

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT | by — June 15, 2014

5 Things I will miss about beauty blogging

This is going to be my very last blog post on Beauty Swatch! Luckily I drafted the post 3 months in advance because time has just slipped by, and I now find myself 10 days overdue my “blog birthday” (5 June) which was supposed to be the day I wrap up Beauty Swatch.

What has taken me so long to finally wrap up the blog is because I’ve been in full swing into my photography hobby, dabbling in calligraphy in between and my parents have been staying with me on & off since March for both work and house hunting! My study is quite small so once the guest bed is set up, my computer is pretty much out of reach – for blogging, online shopping and catching up on Mad Men.

It seems that many people have trouble digesting the news that I AM REALLY saying goodbye to Beauty Swatch. “It’s the end of an era!” have been muttered a few times, along with comments in denial such as “Will someone else take over the website?”. I also get asked if I will miss my beauty blogging days, and the truth is that after 3 months of deliberating followed by a 6 month “sunset plan” I am finally ready to let go.

I have much to be grateful for in my beauty blogging memory lane, and am proud of the achievements as well as the knowledge that I sought after to set myself apart from other bloggers on the topic of lipstick. Blogging has also influenced my life in unimaginable ways and I’m glad that I decided to take the plunge at blogging when I was once skeptical about it all those years ago.

5 things I will miss about beauty blogging

1. Connecting with fellow beauty and social media enthusiasts

The hardest thing to grapple with departing from Beauty Swatch is moving on from the blogging and social media community. It’s got me thinking about how I should continue to harness social media into my photography hobby and establish my new presence. I realised that whilst I am ready to move on from beauty blogging, I’m not ready to move on from social media as it’s now part and parcel of how I interact with others and make my brand visible to others. People become known for the types of projects they get involved in, and it’s given me something to think about in terms of what I try next so that I can find a new community to engage with.

2. Experiencing the newest products first hand & learning about products directly from the brands

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I get a buzz from trying the newest skincare and beauty products, and I really believe that having direct engagement with the brands or PR themselves takes brand engagement to another level that I wouldn’t have ordinarily experienced as a consumer. Seeing beauty products advertised on a magazine doesn’t move me anymore, and I hope the beauty blogging community will continue sharing their authentic experiences of the product to keep me informed as I take a back seat.

3. Five years worth of content, readership and projects

Most people think I am crazy to give up a blog with traffic the size that I have. And yes it’s humbling to see my new site grow from digit to digit in contrast, but there’s nothing like a desire to change creative focus to keep things in perspective. I will keep the site running for a bit longer so that you can continue browsing on the content curated over the past 5 years, and my Pout Perfect book will remain on sale while stocks last.  Seeing my photography Instagram following grow encourages me to improve what I do & it feels really rewarding to see that people enjoy the pictures that I take without needing to know anything about who I am and what I stand for.

4. A topic to stretch myself on

Let’s face it – a lipstick blog doesn’t sound like the type of thing that one would describe as game changing or a key influencer. But I have surprised myself in what I have managed to achieve by stretching myself beyond what I thought was possible and willingness to trying new things (like the eBook I dreaded writing). I am going to miss the familiar territory of lipstick as I venture onto the heavily saturated photography scene.

5. Helping you find your way through the lipstick jungle

I will definitely miss the heart-warming comments from all of you about how Beauty Swatch has helped you find a lipstick that you’ve been looking for! From an idea that started as a flash across on my mind, through to registering the domain 24 hours later, it has been such a great experience having you join me on my journey over the past 5 years in having a go at something different on the beauty blogosphere.

 

As for the other 5 things that I won’t miss about it…

1. They say a hobby is no longer a hobby when it starts to feel like work

In the earliest of blogging when my work wasn’t so intense, I could fit in blogging easily on week nights as a way to unwind the day. But lately the only time I have now to blog is on Sundays and those with family would know that spending one’s time engaging hundreds of thousands of people across the world is not as important as experiencing life at your fingertips.  Now I spend my Sundays trying to get fit, attending calligraphy classes and getting out and about to snap new photos to build my portfolio.

2. The politics of beauty blogging

The only thing I want to say here is that I wish there was as much energy spent on creating great content as there is on discussion about it. Beauty Swatch is proof that you can create your own definition of success, no matter your niche. The key word here is “your” definition of success, not others.

3. The politics of commercial blogging

I admire those that have taken the plunge into making a career out of blogging & support the idea of commercialized content. What I won’t miss is the requests from brands to create bespoke unique content for nothing more than a few bullets of lipsticks. My collaboration with Clinique is proof that my ideas are award-worthy and capable of selling out lipsticks.

4. Overflowing beauty cupboard

I know, this is a first world beauty blogging problem, but I am really looking forward to simplifying my beauty cupboard to my trusted favourite products & going back to “hitting pan” like normal people.  Since clearing out my study to make room for my parents frequent visits, I have used up a lot of beauty products diligently and find myself exploring again like a newbie relying on my own research for the next beauty product to try.

5. Swatching

There I said it!! I remember the days when I would feel pumped when getting through a productive swatching day, and even mastered my own lipstick swatching routine that would get me through several weeks of content in one sitting.  Once I set my mind on wrapping the blog, it started to feel like a chore and I knew from that moment that I had to tell the PR companies to stop sending me beauty products well in advance of my actual farewell date.  Getting through the last few bullets of lipsticks was tough and in the end I still had to de-scope some products for my own sanity.

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Photography, on the other hand, is giving me a new buzz as I have been diligently learning to shoot in Manual 100% of the time, and it feels really rewarding when the results turn out amazing.  A few of my favourite events that I shot are: One Fine Day Wedding Fair, She Hacks and just this morning I shot the Oscar Oscar St Kilda blogger event.

As I say goodbye, I’d like to leave you with a photo I took at One Fine Day Wedding Fair that sums up how I feel about this time of my life.  I’m thankful for the past, appreciative of the present and optimistic about the future.   THANK YOU so much for tuning in all these years! I wish you all the best in your own adventures! Stay in touch with me via my personal Instagram and photography site, and if you still feel like chatting lipstick my book is still on sale, browse my popular posts and I’m only a tweet away.

OneFineDay-4

 

Facebook Marketing for Blogs: The Anatomy of Beauty Swatch’s 250K Likes

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT | by — March 18, 2014

Beauty Swatch Facebook

I can remember the early days when I first created Beauty Swatch’s Facebook page.  I used to wonder what was the point of creating a Facebook page for a blog, and the thought of replicating content on multiple social media platforms seemed like overkill and frankly a chore.

As my blog traffic grew by the tens of thousands (and my Facebook page barely moved a digit or three), I became increasingly frustrated at the low number “Likes” on my blog Facebook page and there was even a time when I was hesitating whether to even bother including it in my media kit / blog business card, for fear of the thought that my successful blog traffic would be downplayed by the dismal Facebook traffic.  But like many things I have experimented with Beauty Swatch, I persisted anyway to see if I could prove myself wrong.  And so I dabbled with a bit of Facebook Ads and Marketing.

Please note that Facebook advertising is not the same as “buying likes”, which are a big no-no.  In simple terms, Facebook advertising is like purchasing ad space on Facebook, where the cost of the ad depends on how long you run it for, how many people you target and the ad placement (eg. side bar or news feed etc).   Facebook advertising is one form of Facebook marketing, which includes strategies that don’t necessarily incur a cost to achieve successful results.

I know I’m the odd one out in the blogosphere by sharing the anatomy of the traffic of their beauty blog.  That’s because the difference between me and other tight-lipped bloggers is that blogging and social media is my digital sandpit for me to play, experiment and learn in.  The nerd in me gets a buzz from seeing the results (good, bad and mediocre) from SEO, Facebook marketing strategies and the like.   This is also the reason why I persist with trying different things, and I also know when it’s time to wrap up when I have done everything I have aimed for.

Without further ado, here are the 3 main Facebook campaigns I have run on Beauty Swatch that are most worthy of a mention.   By “campaign” I’m referring to a defined period where I trial a marketing approach.  The first two cost me money, whereas the third (and most successful) campaign didn’t cost me a cent.

Campaign #1 – The Lip Swatch 

My first ever attempt was a simple Facebook Ad campaign that was targeted at virtually every age and country in the world.  The image I used was similar to the one below – one of my standard lip swatches, with the following caption ” Beauty Swatch – lipstick blog helping you find your way through the lipstick jungle”.

I capped the ad campaign to a strict budget and I only needed to pay if someone actually clicked “like”.  If no one liked my page, the budget would remain untouched for the duration of the campaign period.

From memory this approach got me to around 30,000 likes over several attempts, and I believe this was due to Beauty Swatch being a niche blog with an eye-catching lip swatch.  30,000 likes may sound like a great result, but in hindsight this was the poorest performing campaign in terms of Return on Investment (ROI).  Both engagement and the conversion from Facebook to my blog traffic was low as I wasn’t optimising my Facebook page with my blog content to drive referrals.  More on this later.

Moral of the story: Facebook advertising has limited Return on Investment (ROI) in terms of engagement and driving referral traffic to your blog if you don’t optimise your Facebook page.

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Campaign #2 – The Lip Tutorial + Targeted Facebook Marketing

It didn’t take long before I got the itch again to try something new and decided to run another Facebook Ad campaign, this time changing the image to a “lip tutorial” style photo to illustrate the concept of Beauty Swatch as a place for lipstick tips.  I also changed the header image to an array of lip swatches, knowing that this is the first thing people see once they land on your Facebook page that drives the next call to action.  I wanted new visitors to immediately get a sense of what to expect when they arrived at my Facebook page.

This time the Facebook Ad was targeted to fewer regions (based on my research on which countries perform well in the cosmetics industry), placed in the news feed (as this location outperforms the side bar) and most importantly – targeted it to Facebook users who “liked” pages of similar nature to Beauty Swatch (hint: think heavy weight beauty related Facebook pages).

This approach worked like MAGIC and for the same amount of money as campaign #1, my Facebook “likes” skyrocketed to approx. 80,000 and grew organically to around 100,000 until I stopped counting.   Talk about value for money, considering I paid the equivalent of a foundation (Australian prices LOL) for this campaign.

Moral of the story: Choose images wisely for your Facebook ad & remember to customise your header page to welcome new visitors to your Facebook page to drive referrals.   I know it’s basic, but targeted marketing concepts apply to Facebook just like any other form of advertising.

6 THEBALM Pink My Lemonade - Facebook Ad

Campaign #3 – Facebook Marketing tips I learned from Amy Porterfield

The most successful campaign of all was the one in which I didn’t pay a cent.  Having tried paid advertising a few times already, I was now ready for a new challenge and was determined to apply what I had learned from Amy Porterfield when I attended her Facebook marketing seminar at Problogger Event 2013.   Essentially, Amy’s secret for building engagement and quality referrals on Facebook comes down to:

  • Post regularly  (she recommends 3 times a day, mixing it up with Instagram posts, content and conversations.  I barely manage 3 a week!)
  • Post engagement content  (eg. behind the scenes, or show your best drool worthy content)
  • Upload images with links as captions, as opposed to posting links
  • Ask engaging questions.  The best are those that compel people to share their opinions and only require one line responses.

This approach took my Facebook likes from 100,000 to the next milestone of 200,000 without paying a cent, and at time of writing it has now grown to 250,000 and counting.  The success of this approach stems from the new Facebook algorithm where pages and posts that you “like” are visible to your friends.  If one person “likes” your image and their friends share similar interests, chances are they will like your post (and hopefully your page) too.

My most engaging posts are those of lust-worthy products such as the MAC Nocturnals Glitter Collection which drives my followers crazy.  The next is swatches.  To overcome language barriers with my followers from around the world, I would keep them engaged by asking simple questions, such as which shade lipstick they voted for in a featured swatch.  The pic below is my most successful “lipstick swatch” post, where the choice between a pigmented red / nude / pink lipstick is clearly a universal question.

Not only was this approach successful in terms of organic growth, but engagement and blog referral traffic has improved.  It’s still by no means the highest source of traffic for my blog (predominantly driven by Google), but I now treat my Facebook page as a standalone social media platform for people to engage without necessarily needing to read my blog post in its entirety to engage with me.

Moral of the story: Facebook marketing achieves greater ROI than ads alone. Get onto Amy Porterfield’s Facebook Marketing free webinars. My little summary doesn’t do it justice.

Beauty Swatch Facebook Page

I suppose you could argue that each campaign may not have necessarily been “successful” had it not been for the learnings from the previous campaign.  Which is why I believe in giving things a go rather than holding back in fear of getting it perfect the first time.  I hope you enjoyed snooping in the anatomy of my Facebook following and I wish you all the very best for your Facebook pages!

Winner: Becca The One Perfecting Brush

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Giveaway, IN THE SPOTLIGHT | by — February 25, 2014

BECCA The One Perfecting Brush 1

Thanks to everyone who entered the Becca The One Perfecting Brush Giveaway!

Congrats to Clare M. who was the winning entry #18.

The winner has been contacted by email so please check your inbox!

xx

New Year Habits

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT | by — January 26, 2014

This year I’m taking on a new approach to New Year Resolutions, focusing on new habits  as an alternative way to set and achieve goals.

As you know, I have been trying to make the switch to my new photography hobby since late last year, but work has not been kind to me, demanding very long hours that isn’t likely to change in the near term.   For someone like me whose wellbeing is dependent on an active creative life outside work, it’s been a stressful start to the new job whilst keeping up with blogging on Sundays and trying to incorporate photography into my routine.  This year I’m going to keep it simple with 4 new habits

 1. Getting back my work life balance

My first goal is to cut down my hours by letting go & finding the right people to handle the work.  Trust me, delegation is not the problem.

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2. Make photography a habit

My second goal is to find new spaces, occasions and people to photograph.  So far I’ve ticked off my parent’s profile photos, followed an updated one of mine and next month I have lined up a friend’s baby celebration.

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3. Make an effort to primp one’s self

They say life is too short to have bad hair.    In an effort to primp myself better this year, I’ve invested in a new GHD Air hairdryer.  To say that I’m in love with my  GHD Air is an understatement.  A salon-style blow dry is now easy as a cinch at home.  It does also help to have an amazing hair cut by Jacky Chan from Oscar Oscar Salon.

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4. Unplug. Read. Cook.

For many years I’ve not been able to keep my resolutions on this, but as soon as I’ve set aside 10 minutes reading time per day I’ve now powered through a book and started on my next one.  And also knitted 99% of an infinity scarf that I’ve only stopped because I’ve run out of wool.   Where did I find extra 10 minutes of time you might ask?  Cut down on social media and TV.  To improve my cooking repertoire, I’ve bought a few new cookbooks, such as Maggie’s Verjuice Cookbook (pictured below), subscribed to food blogs and youtube channels and trying to challenge myself to make a new dish once a month.

Maggie Beer Verjuice Cookbook

 Have you tried setting new habits instead of resolutions?

Read this article to see if setting a new habit or system is just the thing you need to get started on your goals this year.

Need help with blog photography?

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT | by — January 12, 2014

FOA Glossy Lip Crayon 1Blogging, once upon a time, started with humble beginnings and rapidly transformed into a genre where these days a blog is as good as its photography.   For the majority of us, taking blog photography to the next level is one of a hundred other things to juggle when running a beauty / fashion / lifestyle blog, not to mention costly as well.

If you haven’t heard, I’ve been quietly blogging away at my new photography blog – YishanChan.com.au – whilst slowly building my portfolio.  I’ve kicked off a new series of blog posts dedicated to blog photography, where you’ll find exclusive interviews with Jenny (My Funny Valentine), Christina (Hair Romance) and Tine (Beautyholics Anonymous) who have kindly spilled their blog photography secrets, everything from their camera & lens set up to creative choices of back drops.

I want to help other bloggers improve their photography skills and prove that you don’t need a complicated set up to produce high quality images.

If there’s a blog photography question you have, leave me a comment below & I’ll do my best to create a blog post on it!