Once upon a time….(because that’s how all good stories begin so who am I to alter tradition?) I started this blog of mine and had a very heavy beauty focus. In fact, this blog – and the YouTube channel that accompanies it – were beauty-based for almost 2-1/2 years. It was long enough that I’m still very often referred to as a “beauty blogger” even though I haven’t created true beauty content in almost a year.
When I started blogging I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I didn’t have some strategy or idea or niche. I didn’t have a business I was trying to support with my blog or a vision of where I wanted it to go. I was a teacher, it was the summer, and I was bored. My blog was a fun hobby. Up until this point, most of the blogs I read in my spare time were beauty related and so naturally I followed this suit. There was also a community of other beauty bloggers and so I felt like I could find a community in the beauty world.
I’m not a makeup artist. I wasn’t trained in cosmetology. But, I’ve always loved makeup. Many of my friends already came to me for advice and I loved sharing my favorite products or simple tricks to make your makeup routine easier. I used to say I did beauty for the “everyday woman.” Beauty that was simple to recreate. Hacks everyone could find helpful and useful.
This was also during my budding years of blogging and creating YouTube videos. It was finding my feet in the industry and my voice in my brand. I can’t deny that creating content about beauty was, in some ways, easy. And I don’t mean the actual process of creating the content was easy – because if you’ve ever tried to take high-quality product shots or take a good picture to show off your smokey eye then you know it’s a gosh damn art. I honestly admire beauty bloggers more now because I know how nearly impossible it is. But, what I mean to say is there was never a shortage of what to write about. I was never at a loss for content ideas. I could also review a new product, try a new palette, or share a new tutorial. Coming up with my content ideas was easy and in this period of growth and learning that was important for me.
In 2016 I was in a great groove with my YouTube channel and blog. I think I had just hit about 50k on YouTube and I was pumping out blog posts 2-3 times a week. And, I was on the radar of SO many amazing brands. I was getting packages from brands I only used to DREAM about owning (girlfriend over here doesn’t have an expendable budget for makeup). Every other day packages from BECCA Cosmetics, It Cosmetics, Living Proof, Urban Decay, Dermalogica, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Lancome, Nordstroms, (the list goes ON), were showing up on my door. For someone who didn’t come from a lot of money and lived on her drugstore essentials, it was crazy. I had never spent more than $50 at one time on makeup and boxes with over $400 worth of product would show up like no big deal. I’m not going to pretend like I hated it. I loved it. I had tons of high-quality products to try and I took a lot of pleasure from being able to share which products I thought were worth the money.
The Weekend That Changed Everything
But, as 2016 wore on, I started to lose myself a little. I started to find myself caught up in the numbers of this game (how many followers, how many subscribers, how many pageviews) and found myself chasing numbers instead of following my heart. I found myself trying to do what other successful influencers were doing instead of forging ahead on my own path. I was creating content I THOUGHT my audience wanted to see instead of creating the content I was PASSIONATE about making. This went on for about six months or so until I found myself in a place where I didn’t know if I loved what I was creating. I was creating content for followers, for views, for likes…and not because I wanted to.
That September, I attended a YouTube event (which name I’ll purposely leave out) that is mainly for other beauty creators. It was a weekend-long event including an all-day workshop on Friday, a rooftop party Friday night, and a conference the next day. Most the women I met were super nice and I actually connected with someone I still correspond with to this day. But, I was also sort of turned off. Over and over again the conversations were about things that were materialistic. “She has over 100k subscribers!” or “I made this video and it got 500,000 views” or “Did you see how much product we got in our swag bags!”
I remember feeling very turned off by the culture. Like I said, the women I met were SO nice and supportive and this isn’t a dig at any of them in anyway, but more about the overall vibe of the entire event. I realized I didn’t care about the free swag bag. I didn’t care about competing to have more views or subscribers. I was there because I was hoping to connect with others and to talk about things like SEO and video production and channel analytics…but instead, the conversations never reached that level of depth.
I left wondering if I fit into the YouTube community at all. I was ready to give up.
Then, the next month something happened that I didn’t realize until over a year later would change the game for me. I got an email from YouTube letting them know I had been selected for their NextUp competition. This is a 5-day crash course where YouTube picks a handful of growing YouTubers and brings them to one of their YouTube Spaces. The goal for YouTube is to support their budding creators because if “we do good…they do good.” If you’re curious you can read more about my NextUp week here.
I spent a week in NYC with a group of about 18 other growing creators. For the first time, I was around this group of people who loved creating content for the JOY of creating it. People who treated video creation like an art. I was blown away by their skill and inspired by the creative energy. I remember being energized by all the different types of content they were creating. People making daily vlogs that were cinematic or creating videos on all sorts of topics from tech gadgets to how different foods grow to crafts. It made me feel even more in my bubble than I had been before.
Shortly after my NextUp experience, I took a month off from YouTube. I had a lot going on in my life on top of moving houses and figured it was the best idea. It gave me a chance to reflect and re-evaluate the type of content I was creating. I was able to do the same with my blog. I really started to think about WHAT TYPE of content I wanted to make.
Changing my Niche
Shortly after that, I started to make a shift. On my blog, I started sharing more DIY posts and some posts that had to do with budgeting and tips for living a more simple life. I LOVED writing them. I did the same on my YouTube channel, adding in crafting videos I’d never made before and taking risks with videos about saving money that was way off from my normal “niche.”
While I was trying new types of content, I also knew I needed to have SOME type of niche or focus. Being a lifestyle blogger is fine, but I still wanted to be known for something. Before, I was known for affordable and easy beauty. What was my niche going to be now? That March, I was on my way to a local news station for a short segment I was going to be on. I remember thinking about how I would describe my blog in one quick sentence when I got the question I always get, “what’s your blog about?” Usually, I’d say something like “a beauty and lifestyle blog,” which always felt lackluster and undescriptive. Thinking about the shift I had made in my content I said to myself, “my blog is about things that will help save you time and save you money.” That tagline stuck with me. That’s EXACTLY the kind of content I wanted to be making!
So, I forged ahead with my new theme. There were definitely some growing pains and some learning curves along the way. My new content took a little time to develop and some of my audience who was there only for beauty content started to fall off. But, slowly and surely the shift took place. I gained traction with my new content and started to be known for “money-saving tips” and “hacks for making life easier.” After just a short transition period, I saw the immediate rewards of writing content I cared about. And, I had a passion for creating content again, too.
What I learned?
Looking back, finally making the switch was the best idea I had ever had. I learned a few really important lessons through the process.
- Don’t be afraid to switch your focus: I literally preach this from the mountaintops now. Sure, you might experience some growing pains. You might lose some followers who don’t like your new content. But, you need to create content you enjoy creating and not create content because you think other people will like it. Sure, there was a learning curve for me, but the switch was nothing but I good things. My blog and YouTube channel (both which were basically on life support) were reinvigorated. I hit 100k on YouTube and then 200k all in a 3-month span. I was able to double and then triple my blog traffic as well. And, I attest that all to point number #2 and #3 below.
- Create content you care about: This is everything. If you’re creating content on a topic you no longer care about a few things are going to happen: You’re either going to burn out or you’re going to lose your passion and it’ll reflect in your content and your audience will notice.
- Don’t try to recreate someone else’s success: I think one of the best lessons I learned is that I can forge my own path and be successful. At the time I didn’t know anyone who was creating affordable DIY videos or budgeting content and doing it successfully. I think part of this was really liberating. When you’re in a niche it can be SO SO SO easy to fall into the trap of trying to recreate someone else’s success who is in the same niche. It’s crippling and stifling to your creative process. While I’ve since found people in my niche, I don’t ever try to recreate the success they’ve had because I know I’ll have a lot more success by following my own path.
- Listen to your gut: This has become a big takeaway from this process that I’m STILL learning. When it comes to deciding on what content I want to create I listen to my gut. I still listen to my audience so I know what they enjoy seeing from me, but I also listen to my gut on what content I want to write about or make videos on. This is even more so for taking new brand deals. I’ve literally cut my brand deals by about 80%. I listened to a podcast and the speaker was talking about working with brands when she mentioned that “sometimes you can just feel if a brand will work well with you or not.” I really took that to heart. I stopped working with any brands that I didn’t think truly fit my message. I’m not lying when I say I’ve turned down $1,500 payouts over and over again. At first, it meant making less money but in the long run, it gave me the creative freedom I needed. And, eventually, I was able to make up for the money I wasn’t making on brand deals organically by my traffic and growth
And that’s it. That’s my long-winded story of how in the last year I switched my focus and changed my niche. Now, that’s not to say I’m never going to share another piece of beauty content. Hells no, guys. I still love makeup. I still adore lipstick and highlighter and sharing the BEST deals with you. But, I’m going to find ways to make that type of content in a way that fits my new focus. I’ll never lose it completely, but I defintiely had to make a switch to find my true voice.
Let me know in the comments about a time you had to make a change like this and how did it go? Or, a time listening to your gut worked in your favor.
Why I QUIT at being a beauty blogger. Click To Tweet