A list of I have learnt since surviving a year, running a makeup blog on Instagram.
You can find me on Instagram as @justashine where I talk all things makeup, how beauty products work, how much of a nerd I am, do makeup looks, and post general pretty pictures
Last week I got to celebrate a day I didn’t think was worth celebrating: my one year insta-versary, that is, one year managing a makeup account on Instagram. I thought it was as strange thing to celebrate, I mean, is it an accomplishment? Is it considered an achievement? It is no olympic medal, grand prize, and I by no means have made any financial gains since starting, but yet, I did feel strangely proud. I thought would be a great time to reflect and share some of the things I have learnt in the past year:
- It is hard work to amass any type of following
It isn’t nearly as easy as it looks; you have to coordinate timing, types of posts, who your audience is, what you can show them, and how you can deliver it. It is pretty time consuming between doing makeup, researching and reviewing products, and then some. I STILL haven’t given my friends or family my blog (bar 3-4 that found it accidentally) in fact, I have actually blocked a few people who may find me! I guess I can take criticism from strangers, but not from people I love. This made it much harder for me to get my account off the ground. I can easily saw I add about 20 hours a week of my life by doing makeup for my blog and Instagram, PLUS reviewing, writing, researching. Which brings me to:
- You have to be dedicated
I was casually posting pictures and my gosh, some of them were awful! The rule of thumb I have come to learn, is never post an average picture. Only ever do your best work, your best editing, and your best pictures: because if you think it is average, other people will too. I challenge myself regularly and join all sorts of Instragram picture trends; I attempt to do those monthly makeup challenges with a stunning Instagramer @isabellethornton – who takes the time to make complete challenges like the 9th July was the theme ‘Smokey’, 10th was ‘Orange’ etc. I found by churning this looks out I was finding more beautiful people who liked my stuff; in turn, it helped me find like minded people in the community I now call ‘insta-pals’ and more importantly, it has definitely made me a better artist sometimes pushing my creative barrier (what am I supposed to create with the theme ‘ice cream’ for example?) and I have improved a lot of my skills because of it, so if you are considering joining one of those #100days or monthly challenges, I highly recommend it!
- Trends matter, and you have to almost ALWAYS do them
Makeup great Alex Box recently has had a few blasts at this concept; that trends matter. How unfair it is, that perfectly perfect artists are being overlooked, denied acknowledgement, employment opportunity (working as movie makeup artists etc) and have their work stolen, re-created, and re-moulded to fit current trends. To be frank, she basically said “I don’t care if it is cut crease season Margaret, I’m not doing one.” It is pretty disheartening to put work and effort into an editorial look for a beauty shoot, and have it passed over for notice on a page because a 12 year old from the US did a cut crease using a Maybelline palette. For the record, I have nothing against 12 year olds, or Maybelline palettes, but a lot of artists struggle and the over saturation of the market is getting intense, it is about being the best, and biggest flash in the pan, because that fire will keep burning. So you either succumb and recreate 1800 different glitter cut creases and become “someone”, or you don’t and stay put. Sounds bitter, but if Alex Box, an international makeup artist, who has graced every Vogue cover from around the world has noticed it, then surely, I can say it?
- Businesses thrive on making you insta-famous
“Wow, I love this look! You should submit to page XXX”
“You look amazing! I’d love to feature you on my massive page with over 1 million followers, check your DMs”
The DM will tell you it costs $20USD a photo to be published, but hey, think of all the exposure you’ll get! All the money they make, all the potential followers you may get, so you can be featured, to make them money, to get followers – it is an endless cycle. If you choose to opt for that, then totally go for it! I haven’t, and I know someone personally who has, they are sitting pretty (literally) with free PR and thousands of views day while I’m not because of this, while I am obviously not. Am I bitter? A little, I won’t lie, but I am super happy for my friends because she is having so much fun and the time of her life; it is super great to have like minded people around you, no matter how different the roads traveled are. It pays to remember a moral high ground will make you feel better in yourself, but it won’t always yield better results. Oh! Also do remember:
- Businesses thrive on taking advantage of your hard work
I was once pushing out pictures and spending hours a day interacting so much that I was amassing >15 followers a day, which wasn’t bad for a little account (my husband did feel a little neglected but hey, it is business!). I managed over >100 in a week and suddenly, I was getting emails about “Coupon codes for your followers” and “Here is a free necklace, and you can give a promo code!” Some of these companies were for “cruelty free mink lashes” which I morally have an issue with, because a) it is grammatically incorrect, (b) it is an oxymoron at best, but (c) I personally don’t feel it necessary for animal-fur lashes, so I turned them down. But that isn’t the point – the point is, those companies rely on you to work hard, to boost your following. By giving me a promo code with a low 200 followers, I suddenly felt amazing! I was BASICALLY an instagrammer now: all I had to do was use their product and use some hashtags! I soon realized this was all for the company to gain free advertising and publicity, and I felt embarrassed and lame. Like super lame. I had thought, for a brief second, someone DID like my work, but it was all for show. This is a shame because there are young women and men who think they are making it when really, they are being used. I won’t get into it here, but it has come out full circle and if you are interested, you can google cases of the promo code fiends and there are numerous websites set up to close them down and hold them accountable for their actions
- Your opinions do not matter, and if no one likes them, they shut you down Hate pages are amassing at a ridiculous rate, with big time bloggers and influencers and even brands trashing each other on live time! Guys, it has to stop. There is one page I was a big fan of, showcasing a perceived issue with a product and if it was unsafe due to a chemical. Knowing some cosmetic chemistry, I posted how it was actually safe and it was a regular component makeup; I wanted to help and alleviate the panic rising in the comment section that turned into slandering the company for ‘poor products’. My post was deleted time and time again, eventually I managed to get it posted and was ignored. I messaged the admin, because they were refusing acknowledge any logical reply (not just by me, by many at this point) and instead were fueling commentator’s speculation – they were just stirring the pot. They replied back to my DM with ‘thanks’ and nothing was changed. My suspicions were confirmed when I told a fellow follower to take their spiteful energy on a particular brand and convert it into good, like working in a soup kitchen, helping the needy, or investing time in self development instead of slagging a stranger online; and my advice got me blocked. Deleted. Banned. I later found out, it was because I was seemingly defending the brand in question. I’m glad I am no longer in that community as it turned from a useful place of information about new releases, unsafe products and dodgy companies to avoid, into spiteful, angry comments, akin to cyber bullying. The makeup community can be pretty ugly, and it does carry an air of a ‘You can’t sit with us’ attitude. Us versus them, and if no one likes what you have to say, they will just shut you up
- Practise makes perfect, and your feed will show that
I‘ve told you posting is exhausting, time extensive, and long. But man, is it worth it! Seeing the difference between then versus now is amazing – I can’t believe I thought I was good at makeup a year ago! Practise does make perfect, don’t do what I did and delete a lot of your older younger photos, because that is your corner stone for seeing how much better you have gotten, or the ‘glow up’ as it is called. I regret it now as I don’t have many to look back on. Hang true to yourself, your artistry, style, and skill. It will pay off my friend!
- Followers don’t matter, likes don’t matter – interaction matters Ashamedly, it took me a long time to realize this. If you look carefully, some instagrammers have over 400k followers, but notice how they only get 1,000 likes or comments? That means 0.25% of their followers like, comment or interact. Do you think maybe, that is because they can’t? Now this is not necessarily always true, but companies sell ghost followers and you can spot them – they are the ones that follow you randomly and in 6 hours are gone or, they follow you with no posts, pictures, or info on their page. But as I said, some people just don’t have very regularly active followers, so this can affect numbers too, but 0.25% does seem low?Personally I sit at about 33% interaction not minusing brands, dead accounts and ghost accounts that just scroll. However, when I get a notification, I recognise their name and I know who it is from. I’ve spoken to them. They’ve liked all my stuff, I like theirs. I’ve met some amazing friends and had some amazing opportunities all due to interacting; leaving a thoughtful comment that isn’t just an emoji, not following randomly without liking a post, genuinely complimenting people, and being thankful for receiving them! I have over 330 followers and when I sat down to think I only know, maybe 10 in real life, that means 320 strangers like my makeup, and me enough to want to interact with me on a regular basis. Some I now speak to outside of Instragram via email and Facebook – and yes, I’ve checked, they are not my mum making multiple accounts! Each to their own, but I’d rather 10 insta-pals over 100 ghost numbers any day! Don’t get caught up on followers as they reality is, they will come when they want to and when you’re ready
- The beauty community is wonderful I made the comment that the beauty community can be pretty ugly, but it is also pretty wonderful. It is nice to know there are people like you struggling to make a foundation work, someone is just as excited about an eyeshadow palette that your significant other is sick of hearing; it is nice to meet people who want to change industry standards, challenge the beauty halls on what is the norm, shake the system, and encourage individuality in a world of complacency. I’m sure this happens in other artist industries, like how celebrities have celebrity friends, it is all about being in it together, understanding the journey, and helping each other along the way
- It is tiring, demanding, but so much fun!
I cannot stress how much fun this really is! Despite the heart break of not having enough brushes clean to do looks, crying over spilt glitter, and cursing my imperfect winged liner – this has been one of the most creative, positively challenging, fantastic and brilliant opportunities. I started my Instagram before I started my blog; and I found it a great way to start blogging. If there is something you are passionate about, be it makeup, art, being budget conscious, global issues, veganism, marbles, or weird shoes – just get out there! It took me a long time too, to post my full face but hey, I’ve done it since and I have loved it; my confidence has grown, as has my network, my skill set, and my dreams have gotten much much bigger! I hope you fall in love with it too and remember, no dream is too big! It requires planning, patience, and work but hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it!