Beauty and the Geek
Welcome to a new series of blog posts which are hopefully going to demystify the tech speak involved in having a website, blog, social media, etc. When I first started out in the beauty industry I was aware straight away that I needed a website to showcase my work and that I needed to be on Facebook to help me connect with other makeup artists and network. Facebook is an easy one, most of us have an account now and it’s almost become part of everyday life, a website however is a completely different ballgame.
I did as we all would and Googled “portfolio website” which gave back thousands of responses, from other people’s websites to many different services which offer customisable and tailor made websites. Information overload would be an understatement!
Where do you start? That’s the big question. In my case I was lucky enough to have friends around me who were able to offer advice and in the end it was a photographer who I had shot with a couple of times before who came to my rescue. He is what I affectionately like to call a geek, he works as a computer programmer full time and twilights as a photographer, loves everything web and computer based and knew exactly what I needed to do and the direction to take.
This person is Rich Hinton, who also happens to be the photographer I’ve been working with for over a year now on my food inspired beauty series. Now that I’ve introduced him and stroked his ego enough I’ll hand over to Rich and let him hopefully demystify things for the rest of you.
Hello and welcome to the first in what I am hoping will be an interesting series of posts which aim to explain the technical terms and reasoning behind having an online web presence. I know that Karla gets a lot of messages from other makeup artists asking how she setup her blog, YouTube channel, etc. and from my personal experience speaking to a number of different makeup artists who are struggling to set up a website to showcase their work, it’s a tricky subject with a lot of different options and technical terms such as Content Management System (CMS), Analytics and Social Media Integration. I’ve been there myself when I started out in photography and wanted to set up a website, I’ve been through many different types of sites, spent many hours Googling for answers and inevitably making many mistakes along the way. So this is why Karla has asked me to help out her readers, in the same way I helped her to setup an online presence.
In this first post I’m going to tackle a simple question…Website, Blog or Both?
It may seem like a simple answer, both, but it’s not as simple as that. Here are a couple of things to take into consideration.
With a stand-alone site, you are showcasing a static collection of your work, in other words your portfolio. It’s a good tool to be able to point clients in the direction of when they ask to see your portfolio. Remember though that this alone will not get you work, you cannot just set up a website and expect clients to find you via it.
A website on its own will just sit there alone on the web, no doubt on a domain which matches your name, for example www.karlapowellmua.co.uk. This is a great way of showing your work off to people who already know your name, be it by meeting you, through a business card or word of mouth. However it will take a lot of hard work to get it noticed by people who are searching on Google for things like “makeup artist London”, you’ll need some killer search engine optimisation (SEO) and incoming links from big sites to boost your web ranking (yes that’s some lovely geek speak there). SEO is basically naming pages on your site with meaning full names that will show up in searches and adding relevant meta tags, etc. which takes time, effort, practice and experience to get right. Incoming links means that your site is linked to by big websites which rank high up on search engines, the more of those sites which have links to your site, the higher your chances of appearing in generic searches on Google.
A blog on the other hand is more like a diary, a news feed of posts detailing the work you have done, the products you like, inspirational messages, anything you want really. It’s a great way of building a following, as unlike a website which gets updated irregularly, say once a month when you’ve got some interesting new pictures back from shoots, a blog can be updated daily or in some cases many times a day. People like to keep coming back to blogs to see what new and interesting posts have been added, they will bookmark them or even subscribe to them via rss feed readers, which deliver the latest posts directly to their inbox or phone. However a blog tends to attract fans, people of a like mind who are interested in the same topic as you, in other words other makeup artists, not clients.
You could integrate a blog into your website, so that you can post up details and behind the scenes shots from your latest makeup assignments, give clients a more content rich experience and let them see what your work life is like and get to know you a little better. However again this style of blog will just sit there alongside your website alone in the vastness of the internet!
So what are the other options?
Well you can get a blog which is hosted on a blogging platform such as Tumblr, Wordpress, or Blogger. They are easy to set up and provide you with lots of free templates to choose from. You can be up and running within about 10 minutes and if you want to you can even point your domain name to them so that they are more personalized than say karlapowellmua.tumblr.com.
A big benefit with a hosted blog is that the likes of Wordpress or Tumblr have already done all the hard work for you and made the blog SEO optimised which means that your posts are more likely to appear on Google. There are a couple of other things you can do to improve performance on search engines which I will discuss in another post, but for now most of the hard work is done for you.
Tumblr is a micro blogging platform which encourages you to keep your posts short and post often, however this isn’t the rule, as you’ll see from posts like this. If you choose Tumblr as your blogging platform you will also get another added bonus, followers. This means that other Tumblr bloggers can choose to follow you and when you post, it will appear in their dashboard stream.
Karla chose Tumblr over Blogger and Wordpress because of this feature and with over 150,000 followers in two years I think she made the right choice.
All three blogging platforms allow you to customise your blog, add extra static pages, such as about page, contact, etc. You can also add widgets to the side bars if your layout allows it such as twitter and Facebook feeds. Also if you know html you can edit the layouts further to really customise the site, which is what I did with Karla’s site, taking an initial template and moulding it to meet Karla’s needs.
So which option of website, blog or both should you choose? To be honest that decision is up to you. I would advise against just picking one as having multiple ways to showcase your work is always a good thing.
Remember though that there are lots of free ways that you can showcase your work, such as a profile on Behance, which allows you to have project pages which can contain images, embedded videos and text. And as it’s a community site, your work will appear in searches, and when users browse on a subject, plus your images will be more likely to appear in search engines as Behance and other sites like it are high up on Google’s page rank! Karla for example doesn’t have a portfolio website yet and instead posts her work to Behance, whilst also linking to it from her blog. When clients ask to see her work, she sends them a link to her Behance page. So before you rush out and spend hundreds of pounds on a fancy website, remember that there are free alternatives out there!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post and find it useful. It would be great to get your feedback as to what sort of topics you’d like to read about in the future, which technical areas you are having issues with and I’ll try my best to include these into this series. Future posts will include more detail on setting up a blog with the likes of Tumblr, including how to customise a template, how to optimise your blog for search engines, social media integration, setting up a Facebook fan page, Google Analytics, plus many more. I’m also planning on running a Q&A session in the future so watch out for that.
Big thanks again to Karla for inviting me onto her blog and for revealing the geek behind her beauty blog.