Can a Beauty Blogger Survive in an Influencer World?

Can a Beauty Blogger Survive in an Influencer World? Los Angeles Blogger Stef Andrews reports

we heart this turns 10, and contemplates the future…

It’s a big birthday for us: we heart this is 10 years old! And much like I am with my own birthday, I find myself wondering where the time went? It truly is amazing how fast time flies.

It’s also pretty amazing that I managed to keep the we heart this ship afloat all this time. If you have never owned a blog, let me tell you: it’s hard. Anyone who tells you it’s not is lying (or not human, so back away slowly.) There are legit obstacles ALL the time. You might think “So, you write some content and take some pics? What the big deal?” To which I’d say: You be quiet, I said it’s hard!

My enthusiasm as a young Blogger was palpable…

If you have never owned a blog, let me tell you: it’s hard.

Seriously though, content can be a challenge. 10 years in, I can bore even myself with product descriptions. (Buttery? Seriously Stef, that’s all you got?) But I will say, I’m thankful that myself and my founding partner Tyna had the whereabouts to build we heart this to be more than just beauty from day one. Even though we heard things like “You need a laser-sharp focus. It’s not enough to just blog about beauty. You need to be a lip gloss blog, for example. Or you’ll never stand out.” I mean, I love lip gloss and all, but I would have been gone long ago if I was writing about just gloss since 2009.

We wanted to be more like a magazine. A blog where you’d bookmark a recipe, spy a fab coat that was on sale, read about a travel destination or try a DIY that looked totally do-able. I can proudly say we were a lifestyle blog before “lifestyle” was the category du jour. Although honestly, I find the term kind of silly. It reminds me of when I used to tell my mom I was “going” with a boy. “Where are you going?” she’d ask, fully knowing what I meant. But, I digress.


Fun fact: our first big break was a Colbert Bump; one of our very first posts, We Heart Stephen Colbert, was shared on The Colbert Report!

One thing has remained true; beauty was and always will be our driving force. Because I actually do really love lip gloss.

To pull it all off, we were really lucky to have a talented team of writers, as many as 20 at one point. Today, I’m down to just six, plus myself. I’m also the sole editor and owner now. You know when people tell you not to go into business with friends. Yeah, that. The loss of my partner and, more important, my friend has been hardest of all. These gals that are with me now have been here since the beginning; my steady boo crew. I could not do it without them and appreciate them more than they could possibly know.

It’s just me dealing with blogging’s Big 3; the occasional hack (which feels like the end of the freaking world when it happens and I’m not exaggerating one bit) the financial strain (hostin’ ain’t free) and the time-suck factor (if you have a full-time job, a family AND a blog, get ready to consistently be ignoring one of them and feeling guilty about it.)

Actual footage of website hack mid photoshoot

And there’s a new challenge that has popped up over the last few years. One that’s turned blogging on its head; the Influencer. (And I thought “lifestyle” was a perplexing term!) Now, this isn’t going to be an Influencer-bashing session. Especially when so many of them HUSTLE, and I can not fault that. It’s more of a case of don’t hate the player, hate the game.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the beauty industry. And more to the point, I’m not exactly sure where my place is in it anymore.

Brands used to be delighted with in-depth reviews of their products; take a mascara, for instance. What’s the packaging like? Does it have plastic or nylon bristles? Is the brush symmetrical? How long is the wear-time? Does it smudge? Does it clump? Does it give you volume, length, etc. But lately, it seems like a selfie with an oversized mascara prop taken by someone with a 250K+ following carries WAY more weight than any actual knowledge. (Unless, of course, you’re Temptalia. Because damn, she good!)

Two of the press events I’ve been to in the past couple of months were full-on sweaty parties packed with people, plenty of which didn’t even seem to know why they were there. “Oh this is Brand X?” a DJ/Magician (I shit you not) asked me. “Cool. I’m just here with some friends.” The new launches that these parties were thrown for served as merely a backdrop to it all. I learned zero about the products.

Me, still doing the damn thing

Social media has become a beast. And Influencers are celebrities because of it. The number of followers a Blogger has was always important. (Another fun fact: Instagram launched a year after we heart this did!) I’m just not sure how I can keep up with someone whose whole life seems to be one big photo opp, and a handsomely paid one at that.

And I’m going to be honest, it HURTS to be dropped from PR lists by brands that you faithfully reviewed for years (for free!) Especially when they’re flying Influencers on exotic getaways left and right.
Me: Sees pics from press trip to, let’s say, Dubai. Emails to ask for new highlighter for review.
Brand: *Insert cricket sound*
Me: Thinks to self, well, stamps ARE expensive these days…

Here’s my ultimate question; can’t there be room for both of us?

Here’s my ultimate question; can’t there be room for both of us? The answer is, duh, YES. A huge thank you to the brands who know this, and keep we heart this (and my UPS driver) in business.

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, I’m really not. I am so lucky for all the opportunities that we heart this has brought me. I traveled to Iceland and Montana. I filmed with Harry Josh. I got to see/chase Jon Hamm when I went to the Emmys, for crying out loud! Plus, I’m unbelievably proud of the work we’ve done.

I guess what I’m saying as I enter the 11th year of blogging is that I’m not sure what the future holds. I’m getting older, too (cue “Landslide”). The sea feels a bit murky at the moment. But I’m going to try to figure out my place in it and keep sailing as long as you’ll have me. Because I love lip gloss, damn it. Actual-sized lipgloss that you apply, not pose with. I’m hoping you still do too.

Love you, bitches!

stef

stef

Stef is a plethora of things. Amongst them: co-founder of we heart this, photographer, condiment connoisseur, Philly girl in the California desert, borderline hoarder and a hardcore beauty junkie. She also has a touch of wanderlust and, arguably, the cutest dog in the whole world...
skin tone: NC 25/30
skin type: oily with a fear of rosacea
favorite beauty product: high end skincare and lip products
stef

18 thoughts on “Can a Beauty Blogger Survive in an Influencer World?”

  1. It really is such a shame about what goes on at the launch party. SURE, there should be a celebration/party… but why wouldn’t they want to make sure people got the right info out there first? I see a lot of the dinners where they’re giving the info, which seems like a much better idea in terms of wanting to actually sell your product.

    Same about the PR lists. I was on MAC’s PR list for 5+ years and last year I was dropped from it without a word. I emailed when I saw a collection launch that I knew nothing about and heard nothing back. I’m not going to beg to get PR and promote an item for free. It’s just a shame that when the dust settles and IG starts to fade out (like most social media) I think the brands will regret ditching bloggers. I’m thankful for the ones that have continued to have a relationship with me and will always remember that loyalty.

    1. stef

      Same here on the events; smaller, intimate events feel so much better all around. And same again with the PR lists! Being dropped isn’t just a bummer because you can’t cover the brand anymore (or you can, you just need to buy it yourself, which is near impossible if you want to swatch a whole collection!) It’s a bummer for the psyche – at least mine! “What did I do wrong?” Yuck. Side note Brooke, I think your reviews are some of the best around! I love your photos and I love to see how you use the products.

  2. As someone who pays a LOT for hosting my blog and puts the blog before just about everything else in my world, I totally agree with this. There’s a lot of value to bloggers. We take 100 pictures to make sure we get 2 great ones. We describe products in detail. We don’t gloss over the important factors. But there’s little respect from the companies nowadays and I find that sad.

    1. stef

      It’s SO time consuming, isn’t it? I don’t think a lot of readers realize. I hope you find/keep your groove; there is a lot of merit in what you do!

  3. You said out loud what I’ve been thinking/feeling for a while. I started in 2005 and some days I wonder if my beauty blog is still relevant, read or even liked anymore. But I keep plugging along. I don’t have 250K followers on Instagram and no one is putting me in a jet to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland any time soon. But I feel like I still have a lot to say, reviews to do and informative articles to write. No one comments much anymore… so I hope beauty bloggers aren’t a thing of the past in this influencer economy. :/

    1. stef

      Shannon, you are such an OG! I’m happy you’re still at it, and hope you stay at it. The lack of comments is a total bummer though, I totally agree. I’m hope bloggers will have a resurgence like vinyl did (and oversized props will go the way of the cassette!)

  4. Thank you for this. Today, I was wondering why do PR companies who used to sent me products for review, email me about a new launch saying they have samples, and when I say, yes please, the response is crickets. I was feeling pretty crumby about the whole thing. Glad I’m not alone. I love your writing. I hope you’ll continue.

    1. stef

      I have to say; I’m both happy and sad that fellow bloggers understand! I wish we weren’t feeling undervalued, but it’s my hope if we hang in there, a tide will turn. Keep up the good work, Allison!

  5. Stef, sorry it took me so long to find this article–I was caught in an avalanche of PR products–NOT!!! Next year will be my 10th and I’m trying to hold on until then but it’ very discouraging. You put words to what I’ve been thinking for the last few years. I think next year might be my retirement date.

  6. turboterp

    As someone who purchases a lot of makeup and skincare, I go to blogs for reviews before I purchase, not to Insta for pretty pics. I don’t understand what companies are thinking in how they choose to promote, but I share your hope that the tide will turn back your way. And as one of your writers since (almost) the beginning, I’m proud to be a part of We Heart This. I heart you and what you’ve created, Stef!

  7. krista

    As someone who has been writing for you from the beginning: I’m proud of the work that we’ve done. We’ve taken pride in providing in-depth reviews, commentaries, recipes, and so much MORE. While I enjoy an Instagram feed as much as the next girl, I don’t buy something solely based on a pretty picture; I turn to bloggers and their detailed reviews for the real skinny. I hope beauty brands start to again recognize the value of beauty bloggers and ease up on the superficial “wow” factor of pr stunts and events that tell you nothing about a product. Here’s to hoping! *fingers crossed*

  8. spitfire77

    Love this post. And I’m proud to be a part of an amazing blog, for many years now, that you have poured so much into. I feel like the pendulum HAS to swing back the other way at some point. I teach 9th graders and have seen, first hand, the influencer culture. Their generation is attracted to hype and pretty Instagram pics. But, I also hear them talking about video tutorials and learning about the products they are using. At some point, after buying products simply because of a pic, and having fails, and products that don’t work for them, anyone who truly is into beauty products will tell you, you HAVE to do your research. Some of the best products I use were because of this blog and reading about how to use it, tips and who it works best for. I really hope that companies realize there is a place in the world for both. And serious beauty lovers will always want to hear from the people who actually know what they are talking about. I think bloggers can compete by upping their social media presence. There are many blogs I found from Facebook and now show up in my daily feed. WHT has had an amazing 10 years, and I know will have another 10, because you @Stef have run it so well.

    1. stef

      Very true! I think it’s even scarier how Influencer culture (or more so, social media) can mess with self image worth/image. As an adult, it affects me. I can only imagine how it can make a 9th grader feel. Thanks for the support, and for being part of the team.

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