Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Introduction: How I Started

The most frequent question I get (seriously!) is, “How do I start my own blog?” followed by a few questions in the same vein.  I’m not always able to answer everyone in detail, so I thought putting together a series of posts would be helpful for those interested, and then I can point future inquiries to a really in-depth answer! :)  I thought the best way to start would be to tell you where and how I started, to give you a better idea of who I am, what level of knowledge I have, and how things have changed.

Temptalia began in October 2006, and frankly, I didn’t know anything about blogging when I started. I’ve grown up on the internet, and I’ve always done quirky things on the web, but the concepts of blogs and blogging were not in my vocbularly.  In my teens, I managed (to my horror, now) ten e-zines, two of which were daily, and then after going away to college, I moved on and eventually landed myself on Livejournal.  After I fell in love with makeup (also, when I went to college, so I was around 18), I started posting makeup looks on a community called MAC_Cosmetics on Livejournal.

Two years went by, and it seemed like a good idea to put all of those looks in one place, like an archive.  I was also doing photo-driven tutorials, and those were included.  For the first two months, it was largely an archive, and then I started posting my collective thoughts about the most recent MAC collection, and by December 2006, I was posting some swatches and photos of products I had purchased.  In August 2007, MAC reached out to us and invited us to go backstage at San Francisco’s Fashion Week (which no longer exists). It was a Big. Deal. at the time, because I didn’t know this stuff was important, that brands would read it, or that it was anything more than an extension of my makeup obsession.  It’s pretty amazing to be writing about one brand exclusively (gateway drug! yeah!) and having that one brand know you’re alive.  That same month, I received my first press samples ever (which were from MAC).

By the end of 2007, we were working with multiple brands, including Clinique, Elizabeth Arden, La Mer, NARS, Prescriptives, Renee Rouleau, Too Faced, and Zoya. In late 2006, we were reaching a few thousand people a month; a year later, over 100,000; two years later, 200,000; and so forth and so on.  Now? We reach around a million unique people a month.  The rest, as they say, is history!

Temptalia started completely organically. It wasn’t a planned operation; there were no real expectations.  I certainly didn’t expect it to become a career path open to me five years later!  When it all began, it was a lawless time, so I made plenty of mistakes and will continue to make them going forward but hope to learn something from each of those. A lot of blogging was trial and error; there weren’t rules or even helpful guides on what to write about, how to get more readers, or what to focus on.  It’s funny to think about, because it’s hard to believe this time ever existed, but indeed there was: a time when product photos, real swatches, and the like were not standard protocol.

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31 thoughts on “Series: How to Start Beauty Blogging — How I Started

  1. addoony

    I would like to tell how big of an audience you have in the middle east.. I live in Qatar, where Makeup is a VERY BIG DEAL.. other countries esp Kuwait and Saudia Arabia are big makeup loyals.. Your blog has the most credential and we always go back to the reviews.. I base my list for every mac launch where you give A to B.. thank you for your efforts and good work..

  2. Love this series! Your blog is inspirational to me :)

  3. Thank you for this!! It is always awesome to see how things start :)

  4. Brimbelle88

    Thank you for this article, it’s always nice to know how it all started.
    Your blog is always the first one I check when I want to find out about a product I look for, because it’s deeply documented, with comparisons with other brands and products, well described, I can feel the love for the beauty products. It happens very little that I don’t find the info I want on Temptalia.
    No wonder the brands have understood the need to build a better relationship with your site!
    I hope you will keep this passion long alive :-D

  5. Thank you so much for this, I’m just starting out and love to hear about how/what got people into blogging.
    http://nineteenoone.blogspot.ca/

  6. Avatar of Etaoin baby in a corner

    1 million unique hits – I knew I wasn’t the only one reading this blog but I didn’t realise you’re practically a rock star!!! Keep rocking Christine! :)

  7. Thanks everyone for your fantastic feedback on this series! :)

  8. Avatar of Kafka Kafka

    Fascinating! I could read about this stuff all day long.  I’ve often had questions about how you started, as well as the mechanics of your start, so I really appreciated the insight you’ve provided in each part of this series.

  9. I’m so fond of this series…. I have to say that your blog is definitely the best beauty blog out there… I read it EVERYDAY! But I’ve always wanted to know, how did you get the name temptalia? Its a really unique and a really nice name!

    •  @Ananya I really have no idea other than I was looking to create a name and wanted to come up with a “word” that embodied the perfect woman – she’s smart, sexy, confident, etc.

  10. Avatar of Kate FaerieEvenstar

    Gosh you started in M_C on LJ?? I’m an active member in that community now! It’s still going strong (but still woefully under moderated) Hee :D That has made me quite happy for some reason! People think LJ is dead now, but it’s not! The communities are hotter than ever in some places.

  11. Jen

    Hi Christine, U say “we” alot…Who are all the people involved? Was it always a team since day one or was it just you?

    • Shaun has always provided the technical aspect of it. Temptalia supports a family – myself, Shaun, and Mellan! My sister is also an assistant for me (though she does more than assist, we haven’t figured out the right job title) now that she’s graduated.
       
      I’ve always thought of it was a community, though, so it feels very selfish to say “I” all the time. It makes me very uncomfortable!

      • Avatar of Kafka Kafka

         @Christine (Temptalia)   Awwww, that is such a lovely, lovely sentiment. And its generosity is completely typical of you!  BTW, I adored that you included Mellan as the family that supports Temptalia and contributes to the community!  He should be listed in the FAQ they way Petplan’s founders’ dogs are on their website and in their magazine: Dog-in-Chief or Associate Petitor.  Mellan could be Lab-in-Chief and Senior Petitor. <grin>

  12. Thank you for sharing this! I appreciate your generosity in sharing behind the scenes like this. I found your blog through Youtube, which is funny because I’ve been reading blogs a lot longer. You are the queen of beauty blogs! :D

  13. Love this series Christine. It’s great to hear your story, because of how much success you’ve had. Best wishes for continued success, and best wishes to those who may begin their blogging journey upon inspiration from yours!

  14. LucyLaw

    Thank you sharing. Its very inspiring “how you started out”. Its amazing when you are passionate about something and life takes you down a road where you get to enjoy it and help others as well!

  15. Thanks so much for sharing, Christine! It’s so much fun to see how my favorite blogs evolve. Isn’t it funny how it seems like *everything* originated on LiveJournal? I loved that site so much in my earlier community days. 

  16. Avatar of Keturah kdrake31

    Hey, Christine.  I was wondering, do you think your education and training helps you in your career?  I think I read somewhere that you were a lawyer!

    •  @kdrake31 I completed my JD/MBA May 2011, but I’m not a lawyer :)  It definitely helps, though I wouldn’t say anything like you NEED it in this field or to be successful. Helpful but not necessarily a directly related.

      • Avatar of Abigail AbigailOD

         @Christine (Temptalia) Wow, super congrats on your degree(s) Christine! =)   How impressive!
         
        And on another note, thanks so much for taking the time to let us know you more and more. It’s very refreshing to know that million(s) of people read your blog but you’ve remained so personable and reachable. =)

  17. Avatar of Amanda Rae AmandaRaeStewart

    I’ve been with you since Rockstar! It’s a small world. Started with zines, transitioned to LJ around the same time you did, found MAC pigments on ebay, then found on you mac_cosmetics and I was one of your first followers (under a different name). I’ll always be a fan and your success story is awesome.

    •  @AmandaRaeStewart OMG! That is crazy! We’re twins ;) I found “MAC” pigments on eBay, too – and I say “MAC” because at this point in time, I’m 90% sure they were fakes, lol!
       
      Thank you for being with me on this long and crazy ride!

  18. Boone

    I’d like to hear more about the “plenty of mistakes” you made in the beginning…. not because I’m interested in starting a beauty blog, but because I’m a shameless fan of schadenfreude!  :)

  19. Avatar of Aditi Aditi

    This is all so interesting to read! But I still have a question—obe day I had accidentally clicked the “last” button on the navigation and found some posts that were from like1996! That was like before there was Internet! How does that work out?

  20. girliexx00

    I can’t believe you’re Christine from Rockstar! I was a hardcore ziner back in the day.. from like, 1993 to 2006? haha starting with crap newsies, and moving up to Rockstar, Groove Daily, Bishette, etc. It’s so great to see that you’ve made it.. you were the most dedicated I’d ever seen! Congratulations :)