Friday, July 9th, 2010

The Photo Station:  Where the fun happens!

The Life & Times of a Beauty Blogger

I think one of the most popular question I get via email is regarding beauty blogging:  how did you get started, how do you get readers, how do you take photos, how do you balance school and blogging, and so on and so forth.  I find that a lot of the answers and advice I give are redundant (which isn’t a bad thing), but I think it’s time to have a nice post to refer others to, as well as give you a more behind-the-scenes look at how life goes by here at Temptalia.

Get the Resources and Tools to Become a Beauty Blogger

Note:  I take blogging seriously–to me, even though it is a hobby and passion, I want to be the best that I can be.  I’ve always been this way with my hobbies.  I take great pride in what I do, particularly since it is public and once it’s on the internet, forever.

What my typical blogging day looks like…

  • 6:00AM:  Wake up, check e-mail and Twitter on my phone, then head to computer.
  • 6:10-6:45AM:  Approve comments and reply to quick questions asked via comments on the blog.  (Yes, the more complicated or difficult your question, the longer the response time, since I have to either research, reference, etc.  But I do try to get everything answered as quickly as possible.)  Check Facebook Fan page for any questions to answer.
  • 6:45-7:15AM:  Read, send, and reply to email–this includes replying to pitches from brands/PR, replies to readers’ comments and questions sent via email.
  • 7:15-11:00AM:  Write 1-2 posts for the day’s postings.  Reply to comments, questions, etc. on blog and YouTube.  Either photograph/swatch products to review or crop and edit product/swatch photos so they’re ready to be used in a review.
  • 11:00AM-12:30PM:  Walk Mellanhead & eat lunch!
  • 12:30PM-5:00PM:  Try to do a look and film it as a YouTube tutorial, then hand it off to the boy for editing.  Then test and write notes on various products.  More photographing or editing of photos, sometimes writing a post or two.  One or two days out of the week, I spent 1-2 hours watching TV with Mellan during this time.
  • 5:00PM-6:00PM:  Eat dinner.
  • 6:00PM-11:00PM:  Read, send, and reply to urgent emails.  Reply to comments.  Write 1-4 posts for the next day.  Try to log off the computer by 11PM!

Keep in mind, this is a blogging day, which is when I don’t have school.  I typically have school in the mornings on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays for 2-3 hours and then again in the evenings on Mondays and Wednesdays for another 3 hours.  On days when I do have class, I will spend less time taking or editing photos.   I do all my schoolwork on one day when possible.  I usually take part of Friday or Saturday to spend reading next week’s assignments and doing any homework.  I know how to speed read (one of the most valuable skills I have ever learned), which has helped me immensely in every aspect of my academia.  My weekends are often considerably less intensive, though sometimes more so, depending on how I feel and what we do–we often visit with our friends/family on the weekend and then relax together on the other day.

My schedule is flexible and that’s how it should be. Even though the above is my approximate schedule, it is a flexible schedule.  Sometimes we go out for lunch or dinner, and we don’t rush through it so I can stay on schedule.  Sometimes we go for walks, head to the mall, do grocery shopping… dessert runs, coffee runs… whatever!  I frequently take 5-10 minute breaks to go play and cuddle with Mellan.  Sometimes I’m tired from not sleeping well and will just take a break–watch some TV, go for a walk, whatever.  There are always areas where you can scale back for a day or two without anyone noticing, and it is important to allow yourself breaks and some fun when you need them, so you don’t burn out.

The Hows & Whys of Blogging…

Blogging for Love, Not Money

It is important that this your motto.  The majority of successful blog I’ve seen and read, not just in the beauty blogosphere but in general, have one thing in common:  passion.  The authors of successful blogs have an obvious passion for the topic they blog about.  They are passionate about learning more about their chosen topic and passing along that knowledge to their readers.  It is not about the bottom line.

Where I Began

Many people reach out to be for advice on how best to start their blogs and how can they get a lot of readers quickly.  Just like most get-rich-quick-schemes are scams, get-readers-quick-schemes are also scams.  There is no right or wrong recipe for gaining a readership, but the key is to blog honestly, passionately, and always be yourself.   I would also say there is an element of luck to it as well.

For me, I lucked into having a natural readership because I used to post my looks everyday on the MAC Cosmetics Livejournal community, so I had a place where people already knew me, my style, and those who who interested, could also follow me on my blog–which at the time, was more of an archive of my looks than what it is today–so I did not start at ground zero.  I also lucked out in terms of timing.  I did not start blogging at the beginning of time, and I am, by no means, the first or even one of the first few beauty bloggers.  However, I was able to start blogging when blogging was becoming more accepted and blogs were being read by more and more people, but the beauty blogosphere was not crowded, either.

By providing useful content and information, readers stayed, continued to visit, and referred their friends or linked to the site as a reference.  You have to provide value to your readers.  Value does not have to mean something new and different, either.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you post!

My Blogging Advice

  • Always be you–even if not everyone likes you, your style, what you say or how you say it–be yourself.  You would be surprised just how much is picked up between what you say (or don’t say).
  • Enjoy it–you have to enjoy it, because blogging is very much a labor of love for the majority of bloggers.  If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.  If you’re bored with your blog, take a break.  If you have writer’s block, take a break.
  • Figure out what you can do better than anyone else–it’s important to find some sort of signature item that you can have on your blog.  Just something that makes the blog you.
  • Write original content, because nobody wants to read a regurgitation of other people’s work or press releases all day.
  • Take your own photos. Adding something visual to your post to complement the writing can go a long way in making it relevant and interesting.  Stock and promotional photos can be great tools, but they should be more of a supplement than the majority of your content.
  • Remember, Rome was not built in a day. Cheesy and overused, I know, but it’s true.  Many successful blogs were not overnight successes, so don’t get discouraged if it takes you months to gain even a small readership.
  • Don’t let other people get you down. This is a hard one, and it is one that I’ve struggled with time and time again (though happy to report, nobody’s made me cry with their internet insults in well over a year).  You just can’t.  There will always be those who don’t like you or what you do.  They may genuinely dislike you (it’s not always jealousy).  They may make assumptions, some may even make up “facts” about you.  You can’t always change them, but you can try by doing your best and being yourself.   If you do your best, you’ve done all that you can, and there is nothing to be but proud of yourself for it.

The Photo Station

For two years or so, I’ve been using a Nikon D90 DSLR.  I use both a kit lens and macro lens for photography. I don’t use a lightbox.  I have made my own lightbox in the past, and I’ve purchased lightboxes as well, but I have never liked the results.  I always ended up going back and just laying a product on top of the lightbox (rather than in it) and shooting that.   In an effort to be more organized and keep things in one place, I have a simple white table I purchased from Ikea for about $20 that I use as my “background.”  It’s in front of a window, and I use the light that streams in as my lighting.  It’s not fussy, and it didn’t cost me much at all.

The most important piece of advice I can ever give you about photography is to read your camera’s manual, regardless of whether it’s a point and shoot or DSLR.  Read it.  Learn it.  Understand your camera, what it can do, what each setting is capable of doing.

Next, I recommend reading photography blogs like DPS.  Even though I surely don’t know very much about proper lighting, how to set everything up just right, and such, I have tried to garner a basic understanding of photography principles and incorporate those into how I take my photos.  If you’re shopping for a camera, make sure you read reviews before you buy.  And you don’t need a $1,000 camera to take good photos.  Many point and shoots are amazing and go for $150-300.  I would not invest $1,000 into a camera if you’re only just starting to blog.

When it comes to beauty, it is most important to take color accurate photos.  A swatch is only as good as it is accurate.  The best way to work on accuracy is to take photos under different conditions and settings–just test it out.  See what part of your house seems to generate the best lighting for photos or what settings result in the best images.  Digital photography makes it so easy to take a thousand photos and view them–don’t like ’em? Delete ’em.

How do you stay motivated?

My readers motivate me! Everyday, my readers push me to be better and to do more.  It’s humbling to have anyone come to you for advice, even if it is just about makeup and not how to solve the crises of the world (please don’t come to me for those, I have no solutions!).  Everything Temptalia is today is a result of the readers that support it with their comments, questions, and loyalty.  It would be nothing with each and every one of you.

I also have an amazing support system from my friends and family.  They get blogging, and they don’t see it as frivolous.  They support me whenever and however they can, whether it’s as a sounding wall, shoulder to lean on, or simply to get some feedback from.  Their support is invaluable to me!

I hope some of this was informative, even if it was about ten thousand words longer than I intended or wanted to be.  If you made it this far… kudos!

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

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301 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of Temptalia… as a Beauty Blogger

  1. Ashley

    I’m glad to see that you don’t do this for the money. I really enjoy your swatches and reviews.

  2. Christine! i think this is such a great post and great advice for all the other newbies starting out!

    and that’s so neat you posted your life as a beauty blogger! that’s some serious dedication and i admire that! :) keep it up!

  3. This is so interesting!! You are a busy busy bee :)

    • I gotta admit — I totally thrive on being busy! I feel really blah when I just try to take the day off and veg. I’m like ahh! need to do something!

  4. piggles

    I can’t fathom how this blog could make someone angry. Temptalia is successful because it keeps makeup fun with pretty eyeshadow pics and tutorials on the art of playing dress-up. So how can someone be angry at having fun?

    I’ve seen a lot of beauty blogs that focus too much on covering flaws and looking photo-shopped. The writing ends up negative and the reader gets turned away. The irony is that every successful makeup artist I’ve ever seen looks nothing like the Glamazons they paint up everyday. They instead look as though they don’t put so much effort into their own face and instead focus on their work. It shows a dedication to makeup as an art, instead as a mask for an individual to hide behind.

    I’m a cosmetics junkie myself and my daily makeup is this: eye-brightener, mascara, and chapstick/balm/gloss. I’ve been asked if I wear foundation and I just reply “I try to focus on wearing sunscreen instead.”

    • True! Makeup is for fun – definitely how I view makeup :)

      I think it’s important to be able to wear as much makeup as you want – but to also be able to leave the house with next to none, too. I leave the house without makeup at times, but at the same time, I’ll rock a black smoky eye to get groceries!

      • piggles

        To get groceries? That’s so totally random, but still so awesome! I bet the bagger hits on you and carries your groceries out to the car too!

        On days I don’t have to look presentable I’m literally bare-faced. I color eyeshadow on my arm instead of my lids. Then about once a week, after I’ve figured out a new color combo I like, I’ll put on something really showy. It makes people smile because they can see that I’m doing it for fun.

        And if it wasn’t for this site, I’d have no idea what I was doing. So thank YOU Christine for being inspirational and so much fun! You’ve made Temptalia a huge success and I’m sure once you finish school, you can show all of this to potential employers and they too will appreciate not only your creativity, but your dedication and hard work as well. In the meantime…let’s play with makeup!

  5. Nicole

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoy your blog immensely. Your posts and replies are fast and informative. You are so polite and seem to have a great passion for what you do. Keep up the good work and much success to you.

  6. Cherokee


    I came across your blog doing a Google search for something. I added you to my favorite list instantly because I loved the layout and the content. I am a very visual person. You are by far my favorite beauty blogger. I want to thank you for taking the time out to write reviews and swatch makeup and take pictures plus do tutorials. You and the Tech Guy invest a lot of time and energy and passion into this blog and I just want to thank you. Keep up the fantastic work and all the best for Temptalia.

  7. Katie

    Great post! I was always wondering what the background was in your photos! For those who are looking for a good camera, but are very new to taking pictures, and / or are on a budget, I recommend the Nikon P90. It’s a super zoom camera. Meaning, the lens doesn’t detach, but you have some serious zoom power. I bought mine from Best Buy from anywhere between $250-$300. I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it, so I didn’t want to spend the extra bucks on the DSLR. Still, I LOVE this camera and it gives me amazing results; whether I’m taking pictures of my daughter or photographing makeup. I hope this helps someone!

  8. Hi girl,
    I just started a few months ago and I truly know what you mean. School is very important for me too, but my blogging schedule, tweetting, posting on blog, ect, takes hard work, and it’s great that you shared that behind the scenes, it takes alot to do a post, a tutorial, feedback, ect. Keep doing what you are doing, you inspire your readers each day and that’s something worth sacrificing for. I love my readers, and I know you love them as much too. =) BIG FAN!!! Two thumbs up!!!

  9. diana

    how exciting was it for you as you realized more and more people were reading your blog/enjoying what you do with makeup/highly regarding your opinions and recommendations?

    • It’s very, very exciting to receive comments and see everything grow. As far as people taking my opinion for anything… very, very humbling. I am even more careful to try and be as descriptive as I can be!

  10. Katharine

    I have to say you have the BEST swatches out of any site, and I see your blog as a ‘go-to’ for any beauty news and ideas. Unfortunately I’m on the pale side, so the swatches and looks would look completely different on me, but you have still managed to help me become more adventurous, and I adapt your looks to suit me, and give me inspiration. The swatches give me a rough idea of what a shade looks like, and definitely guide me in my beauty purchases, or at least get me into a store to look at the products myself on my skin.
    This post has been insightful, and I really appreciate the time and effort you put into this blog! Bravo!

  11. This is one of my favourite posts Christine! Thanks for sharing your day-in-the-life with us!

  12. Thanks for sharing this. I was really curious about your day schedule as a blogger and now I have the answers. I don’t know how you can do it. I mean when do you find the time/energy to do something else beside blogging. You always have at least 4-5 articles a day and you still have time to study and go to school. You are energizer bunny girl :) Keep up blogging you surely do it great. :)

  13. Amy

    Christine–I’ve enjoyed your site so much for the past several years and appreciate how thorough your reviews are. I am not at all surprised at the time that you put in — all that wonderful work really shows! What would you like to do after you earn your degrees? Do you think that you will continue blogging? Thanks again for all of your tremendous work. After reading your post, I really want to say–applause applause!!!

  14. Wow! I really admire how you do you blog. I have my own as well, just to have references of what I used but sometimes, when I try to blog, my head is blank. For example, at the moment, I’m not blogging at all because my head is blank. I want to blog, but no words to describe such beauty products inside my head. Anyway, keep on blogging! I really love reading your blog from day to day!


    I got my first Milani Lipsticks ( Mandarina, Orange Gina & Rose Hip) the other day because I love your photos. And well, it looks good on me too! 😀

    Thanks again! :)

    • Just don’t worry about it — if you have nothing to say, wait until you do :) I’ve learned that you shouldn’t force yourself!

      So happy you’re lovin’ the Milani lipsticks!

  15. Nadine

    Thank you so much for this post!It was very helpfull.I started blogging about three months ago,and even though I put a lot of time and effort in it I hardly gain new readers.But your post is really motivating to continue what I’m doing and never stop trying to improve:)

  16. Hi Christine!

    Great post and congrats on your endeavors! I was about to send you a question regarding the speed reading, but that has already been asked so I decided to leave it off 😛 Off to self-teach! hehehe

  17. Laura

    I absolutely love your blog! You are so involved in it and that is great. I love how you actually respond to readers comments(and on youtube also.) You post many posts a day and all your posts are very informative (especially the swatches & reviews) Thank you so much!! and keep up the great work! You are inspiring me to come up with a plan to start my own blog. :)

  18. Cindy

    Christine, I absolutely love your blog. It is the best out there (IMHO). Anytime MAC has a new collection, I run here to see your swatches and opinions. Your love of makeup really shows. Thank you!

  19. viva

    Just wanted to be the 4 millionth person to say thank you for this blog! I’m starting law school next month and I’ve found myself wondering how you do it all – I’m nervous enough and that’s not counting a double degree or running a heavily trafficked blog at the same time! Really interesting about the speed reading. I definitely need to be more efficient about reading. I know you’re super busy, but any tips for a rising 1L would be welcome! The internet is so full of nasty, negative people who just want to scare you, so I’m ignoring all that but I’d love to hear what you have to say. ;D I don’t even know what’s appropriate to wear to class, or what kind of purse/bookbag situation to use! Do you just use a laptop or do you take notes by hand in class? (Feel free to email me too, if this is getting too off topic!)

    • Thank you so much, Viva! :)

      I don’t think law school is as hard as they say, but it definitely depends on your study habits and how quickly you can read. Use the internet, use Legalines and other “cheat sheets” – very helpful, particularly at first to make sure you’re getting it. Nothing worse than reading a 40 page case and extracting the wrong information!

      I use a laptop :)

      People wear whatever – trust me, nobody is coming in with fancy clothes, lol!

  20. Diana

    You”re amazing and so dedicated. Thank you sooo much it’s truly appreciated!!

  21. Oh my dearest, you spoke the very truth! I am a beautyblogger for five years now and though I am big in Germany and Austria I am by far not as big as I would like, but I do it for fun and passion and I will not sell my content or my credibility for any money in the world.
    I guess I could do more with photos but I am not a freind of photoshop and I am a nice woman but by far not as beautiful and young as you are, so I do not like to see myself online. Maybe I should find a nice model :-)

    Keep on going Christine!

  22. Gigi

    Dang Christine!! I wish I had your blogging life :3

  23. Pearl

    I’m in awe with the amount of work and dedication you put into this blog. You have the best swatches and reviews that are very helpful in making my decision to buy makeup products. Your work is much appreciated. You know, my brother is in law school too and I’ve seen how hectic his school life is, so I’m amazed at how well you manage school, life, and blogging. In addition, you write so well and quick that I’m so jealous! :)

  24. Wow, I’m really impressed that you can complete your homework for the week in one day. I’m also a university student, double majoring in Astrophysics and Engineering Physics and i’m assigned an average of five problem sets a week. There’s no possible way I could complete them all in a day. I’m lucky if I can finish then before they’re due!

    • I usually spend 4-6 hours getting stuff done when I can! But in law school… there is rarely assignments outside of reading for the week. I think once you get through a year or two of law school, reading cases gets way, way easier. You just start learning what parts you need to focus on, how to extract the information, etc. In business school, I don’t find that there is a ton of weekly assignments — maybe a couple of papers here and there in a class, plus a midterm/final. Last quarter/semester, it was about 30-45 minutes of reading per law class, then maybe 15-20 minutes of reading in business, and an hour or two of homework (like problems) per week. Then again, my last quarter business classes were pretty cake (unintentional, I swear!).

  25. Sarah

    Wow, this was really fun to read! I’ve started blogs in the past with my face attached to it but always seemed to edit and try to present a ‘better’ version of myself. Now I write on four blogs without reservations (anonymously) and I’ve found my enjoyment and the feedback to be sooo much better. Way to go for being able to put it all out there :)

  26. i envy you for being able to manage your time very well. I work for almost 10-12hrs a day and sometimes even on weekends. i miss those times when I can do bloghopping and answer my readers’ comments or questions. now i can hardly blog. but this post inspired me. i hope i can be back to my blogging energy soon! thanks, christine

    • I hope you find your blogging mojo soon! Working 10-12 hours a day must be exhausting–I don’t think I’d have any energy left either! Props to you, Brigitte!

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  28. I remember you from your livejournal days and I remember I loved to look at your FOTDs so it’s kinda sad you’re not as active over there anymore. But hey, I love this site and I keep coming back and I introduced you to the girls at who now keep coming back as well, especially for all your MAC info. 😀 So keep up the work, it’s much appreciated (although quietly ;))

  29. shilpa

    hi christine……..
    oh my my tough life….getting up at 6 am…..ooops…lats time i woke up at 6 was during my exams………

  30. Samantha

    Hi there
    I stumbled across your blog by accident about a week ago now, and I had a quick look and thought ‘mmmm I’ll bookmark you because you look quite handy’. I teach Beauty Therapy in Scotland and would absolutely love to have my own blog because I have so many thought’s and opinions in my head regarding skincare (mostly) and make-up but in all honesty I dont have the time to really put my heart and soul into it (like you clearly have here!) and I have no idea when it comes to designing websites etc. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I’ve had chance this week to have a closer look at this website and I absolutely love it! Not only is it beautifully presented, its mega organised, which as a self-confessed ‘Monica’, I adore! Plus you’re reviews, videos and pictures are fantastic, honest and very helpful

    I especially love the storage suggestions! I have so much make-up and loads of nail polishes (although, not as much as you!) and you’re suggestions are fantastic because not only are they useful they’re CHEAP!!! Also, with regard to your photo desk and using the natural light when taking pictures, that is THE best light to use when applying make-up as an artist so good on you for not forking out loads and using your natural environment

    I do have to ask though, what are you studying at school? I dont remember seeing it in the FAQ and wondered if it was related in any way to this industry?

    Other than that, I think you are doing a fine job for someone who is not an ‘expert’ so to speak! I 100% heart this blog and I also have a serious case of the green eyed monster :) xoxo

    • Thank you so much, Samantha! :) You are really sweet, and I’m so glad you were able to find us here on the web.

      I am studying law and business – so absolutely not related to the industry, lol!

  31. Thanks for the words! Help me soo much to have motivation to continue my blog. =)

  32. Wow! I never realized how many time and effort you put into your blog.
    This post is really inspiring and motivates me so much! Thank you for your job! Your swatches are really the best in the Internet! But please tell me one thing… Do you buy all these products by yourself or now you get something as promotional products for free? Couse I don’t understand how somebody can spend a fortune for a lot of lipsticks for example. And maybe the color is wrong for you and you don’t even like the texture. Do you really can spend 30 dollars for 1 lipstick just make some swatches, write a post, admit that you don’t like it and it doesn’t work for you and don’t use it? It’s not like I envy than somebody can afford so many make up:)). I just wandering how this blogging system is working.

    • Thank you so much, Natalia! :)

      Every post indicates whether the product was received through the brand/PR, but there are many times I purchase products that I have no real interest in to review them on the blog (e.g. entire MAC collections).

  33. great post! I missed it when you originally posted it and I am glad you made the top posts list of 2010!

  34. Rachel

    Thanks for all you do Christine! Your blog is amazing and I am always excited to see what’s new on here!

  35. Khateter

    Dear Christine..
    You can consider me a bif fan to your site or blog, it does really offer valuable information especially on MAC products which I am mad first, I was wondering you look young and surprisingly you are able to afford almost the entire collection range but now I know!
    Your site is unique, your reviews are amazing and please do not pay attention to the negative feedback they are just so negative in life just like their comments..
    So keep up the good work !