Karla Powell Make-up Artist
Beauty & The Geek
Search Engine Optimisation
So…where to start, this is one of those grey areas where there is no definitive answer.  There are things you can do to help improve your search engine rankings and I’ll be talking about a couple of things that you can do now to help improve your search results.
SEO is mainly about including the words which you’d expect people to enter into Google (or another search engine) into your blog posts so that when someone types something like “eyebrow blocking” your blog post appears high up in the results.  So first of all we’ll talk about keywords and custom url names.
Keywords / Tags
These are the short descriptive words which you enter in the keywords or tags section when creating a blog post. They are words which describe your post which people are likely to enter into search engines.  The trick is to be as specific as possible, so use words like ‘eyebrow’, ‘block’, ‘blocking’, ‘creative’, ‘sculpting’, ‘makeup’, etc.  Try to avoid really generic keywords like ‘good’, ‘new’, ‘cheap’, ‘red’, etc.

Custom URL Names
Most blogs allow you to give your blog post a custom url name, so that instead of ‘site.co.uk/blog/posts/15782789’ you get ‘site.co.uk/blog/posts/creative-eyebrow-blocking-tutorial’.  As you can imagine, the randomly generated string is not going to help anyone find your blog post, were as a well named url which contains your best descriptive keywords will help.  It also helps to structure the keywords like I have into a readable title.   The words that you use should be separated by dashes ‘-‘ not spaces, as URLs cannot contain spaces. Search engines such as Google will treat the dashes as if they were spaces, so don’t worry about that. 

When I got Karla to do this it made a big difference to how many blog posts turned up in Google search results, and they were showing up on the first page a lot quicker too. 
So what else can you do?
When you insert a picture into a post and you get the option of giving it a title, which is not displayed, or sometimes you can enter an Alt or alternative text, then again name the picture descriptively as that will help it appear in Google Images.
Blogs like Tumblr and Wordpress are very search engine friendly, and your posts will be quickly picked up by them.  How quickly depends on how many visitors you have to your site and how many incoming links you have from other sites, the more the better.  And the bigger the site that links to your blog, to higher you’ll go up Google’s ranking and the higher up the search results.   You can instantly help to improve this by adding links to your blog from your social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  and from any other sites you have profiles on, such as Model Mayhem.
Google changed the way it ranks sites recently so as to stop people spamming links to their site everywhere on forums, comments on blogs etc.  This now means that they pay more attention to links from social networks, likes on posts, links from tweets which get a lot of retweets and which trend.  So remember to put in the hard work from a social networking point of view, share your work, link to your blog posts, push, push, push…don’t just expect to add a couple of keywords and a custom url and sit back and watch the magic happen.  As with many things in life, you have to work hard to get what you want. 
One last thing I would recommend is not being tricked by these online companies that contact you via email and offer to get you to the top of Google overnight.  There is no fast track to it.  It takes time and following the tips above will help.  

Beauty & The Geek

Search Engine Optimisation

So…where to start, this is one of those grey areas where there is no definitive answer.  There are things you can do to help improve your search engine rankings and I’ll be talking about a couple of things that you can do now to help improve your search results.

SEO is mainly about including the words which you’d expect people to enter into Google (or another search engine) into your blog posts so that when someone types something like “eyebrow blocking” your blog post appears high up in the results.  So first of all we’ll talk about keywords and custom url names.

Keywords / Tags

These are the short descriptive words which you enter in the keywords or tags section when creating a blog post. They are words which describe your post which people are likely to enter into search engines.  The trick is to be as specific as possible, so use words like ‘eyebrow’, ‘block’, ‘blocking’, ‘creative’, ‘sculpting’, ‘makeup’, etc.  Try to avoid really generic keywords like ‘good’, ‘new’, ‘cheap’, ‘red’, etc.

image

Custom URL Names

Most blogs allow you to give your blog post a custom url name, so that instead of ‘site.co.uk/blog/posts/15782789’ you get ‘site.co.uk/blog/posts/creative-eyebrow-blocking-tutorial’.  As you can imagine, the randomly generated string is not going to help anyone find your blog post, were as a well named url which contains your best descriptive keywords will help.  It also helps to structure the keywords like I have into a readable title.   The words that you use should be separated by dashes ‘-‘ not spaces, as URLs cannot contain spaces. Search engines such as Google will treat the dashes as if they were spaces, so don’t worry about that. 

seo search engine optimization tumblr unique url

When I got Karla to do this it made a big difference to how many blog posts turned up in Google search results, and they were showing up on the first page a lot quicker too. 

So what else can you do?

When you insert a picture into a post and you get the option of giving it a title, which is not displayed, or sometimes you can enter an Alt or alternative text, then again name the picture descriptively as that will help it appear in Google Images.

Blogs like Tumblr and Wordpress are very search engine friendly, and your posts will be quickly picked up by them.  How quickly depends on how many visitors you have to your site and how many incoming links you have from other sites, the more the better.  And the bigger the site that links to your blog, to higher you’ll go up Google’s ranking and the higher up the search results.   You can instantly help to improve this by adding links to your blog from your social media, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  and from any other sites you have profiles on, such as Model Mayhem.

Google changed the way it ranks sites recently so as to stop people spamming links to their site everywhere on forums, comments on blogs etc.  This now means that they pay more attention to links from social networks, likes on posts, links from tweets which get a lot of retweets and which trend.  So remember to put in the hard work from a social networking point of view, share your work, link to your blog posts, push, push, push…don’t just expect to add a couple of keywords and a custom url and sit back and watch the magic happen.  As with many things in life, you have to work hard to get what you want. 

One last thing I would recommend is not being tricked by these online companies that contact you via email and offer to get you to the top of Google overnight.  There is no fast track to it.  It takes time and following the tips above will help.  

Beauty & The Geek
This week I thought that I’d answer a question which a lot of you have been asking since last weeks post, how did I embed the images within the text on a tumblr Photo post.
Stand Out In A Crowd
With so many different blogs out there it is important to make sure that yours stands out in a crowd.  This can be done by having an interesting layout, logo or background image, however if your posts are mostly text then people are going to take one look at your blog, get overwhelmed with how much text there is to read and they will move on to the next blog. 
This can be improved by adding eye catching images to your posts.  If it’s a short post then you can just include a header image, on tumblr this is as simple as creating a Photo post.  However if you have a long text post, having one header image still may not be enough.  This is where enbedding images within your posts comes in. 
Tumblr allows you to create either a Photo post which has images at the top of the post and an optional text at the bottom, or a Text post which allows you to have a mixture of text and embedded images.  You’d think that it was a no-brainer then, if you have a long post, say a how to post, then create a Text post so that it can have embedded images.
There is a downside to Text posts in Tumblr, they are less likely to get read and re-posted as in the Tumblr dashboard only a small amount of the post is shown and if that is just text then people are less likely to click through to read the rest of the post.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could embed images within the text at the bottom of a Photo post?   Well you can!
Embedding Images In A Tumblr Post
The trick is to have two tabs open in your browser when you’re creating a Photo post.   The first one is the Photo post you are creating, the second is a Text post.
When you want to embed an image within your Photo post, go to the Text post and click on the “+Upload photo” link. See below:

This will open up a file selection dialog. Simply select the image which you want to embed and select the Open button and the image will be embedded into the Text post. Now comes the clever bit! 
This image has now been uploaded and stored on Tumblr’s servers, which means that even when it’s been deleted from this text post, it will still be stored on their server.  So we can take advantage of this and copy it across to the Photo post. 
To do this you select the image by clicking on it and then click on the “Insert / Edit Image” icon. See below:

Then select and copy the Image URL text in the dialog that appears. This is the location of the image on Tumblr’s servers. See below:

Then simply select Cancel on the dialog and delete the image from the Text post.
Go back to your Photo post and in the Caption section where you’ve added text, decide where you’d like your image to go and again select the “Insert / Edit Image” icon.  See below:

Then in the Image URL box paste the URL which you have just copied from the Text post and select Insert. 
And just like magic your image will be embedded within your Photo posts caption.

You can do this as many times as you like within a Photo post.  This technique has been used to create this post and the previous Beauty & The Geek post which resulted in a lot of questions by other tumblr users as to how we did that.

Who knows, maybe one day Tumblr will allow you to embed images into a Photo posts Caption in the same way you can a Text post, but for now at least we have a work around. :)

Beauty & The Geek

This week I thought that I’d answer a question which a lot of you have been asking since last weeks post, how did I embed the images within the text on a tumblr Photo post.

Stand Out In A Crowd

With so many different blogs out there it is important to make sure that yours stands out in a crowd.  This can be done by having an interesting layout, logo or background image, however if your posts are mostly text then people are going to take one look at your blog, get overwhelmed with how much text there is to read and they will move on to the next blog. 

This can be improved by adding eye catching images to your posts.  If it’s a short post then you can just include a header image, on tumblr this is as simple as creating a Photo post.  However if you have a long text post, having one header image still may not be enough.  This is where enbedding images within your posts comes in. 

Tumblr allows you to create either a Photo post which has images at the top of the post and an optional text at the bottom, or a Text post which allows you to have a mixture of text and embedded images.  You’d think that it was a no-brainer then, if you have a long post, say a how to post, then create a Text post so that it can have embedded images.

There is a downside to Text posts in Tumblr, they are less likely to get read and re-posted as in the Tumblr dashboard only a small amount of the post is shown and if that is just text then people are less likely to click through to read the rest of the post.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could embed images within the text at the bottom of a Photo post?   Well you can!

Embedding Images In A Tumblr Post

The trick is to have two tabs open in your browser when you’re creating a Photo post.   The first one is the Photo post you are creating, the second is a Text post.

When you want to embed an image within your Photo post, go to the Text post and click on the “+Upload photo” link. See below:

This will open up a file selection dialog. Simply select the image which you want to embed and select the Open button and the image will be embedded into the Text post. Now comes the clever bit! 

This image has now been uploaded and stored on Tumblr’s servers, which means that even when it’s been deleted from this text post, it will still be stored on their server.  So we can take advantage of this and copy it across to the Photo post. 

To do this you select the image by clicking on it and then click on the “Insert / Edit Image” icon. See below:

Then select and copy the Image URL text in the dialog that appears. This is the location of the image on Tumblr’s servers. See below:

Then simply select Cancel on the dialog and delete the image from the Text post.

Go back to your Photo post and in the Caption section where you’ve added text, decide where you’d like your image to go and again select the “Insert / Edit Image” icon.  See below:

Then in the Image URL box paste the URL which you have just copied from the Text post and select Insert. 

And just like magic your image will be embedded within your Photo posts caption.

You can do this as many times as you like within a Photo post.  This technique has been used to create this post and the previous Beauty & The Geek post which resulted in a lot of questions by other tumblr users as to how we did that.

Who knows, maybe one day Tumblr will allow you to embed images into a Photo posts Caption in the same way you can a Text post, but for now at least we have a work around. :)

Beauty & The Geek
First of all I’d like to say thank you for all of the positive feedback we’ve been getting about the first Beauty & The Geek feature, I’m really glad that my advice is able to help.
This week I’m going to be talking about portfolio websites.  This is something that Karla has been wanting for a long time, even before I met her.  We’ve evaluated a number of different services and in the meantime Karla has been using Behance as a way of displaying her portfolio and sharing it with others, as it’s easy to update and is part of a large community of creatives.  After trying out several different website building tools and services, we eventually opted for Behance’s own ProSite service, which allows you to wrap your existing Behance projects up into a professional looking website and you only have to update your work in one place.
There are LOTS of different services out there which allow you to easily create visually stunning portfolio websites, with easy to use Content Management Systems (CMS) which allow you to upload your images, drag and drop them into galleries and rearrange them as often as you like.  Most provide you with pre-designed templates for your site, some allow you to customise the layout either through an easy to use drag and drop interface,  lists of options, sliders, etc, or through more advanced HTML and CSS editing.  
I found Behance’s ProSite one of the easiest to customise and also allows for more advanced HTML and CSS updates, but do be aware that if you make changes to the HTML and CSS then you loose the ability to update the sites layout with the easy to use sliders.
Here are a few portfolio website services to get you started.  Please note that we don’t endorse any of these sites, they’re just ones that we’ve come across, it’s up to you to try out any service which appeals to you first and find a solution which best fits your needs.
http://prosite.com
http://www.livebooks.com
http://www.foliolink.com
http://carbonmade.com
http://www.bigblackbag.com
http://www.squarespace.com
I’m going to leave you with some hints and tips to get you thinking.
Avoid Flash Websites:  They may look stunning at first, but there are drawbacks to them. They’re slow to load.  The content is wrapped up in a flash video, which means it’s not easily searched and indexed by Google. The images within the site are also less likely to turn up on Google’s Image search!  Another big downside is that Apple doesn’t support Flash, also the Android operating system is moving away from Flash too, so think of all of those potential clients who won’t be able to view your site on their smartphone or tablet device!
Focus On One Target Audience:  You should focus your portfolio at one, maybe more if they’re complimentary, target audience.  Think about the type of clients you want to attract, for example if you want to appeal to wedding clients, make sure that your portfolio showcases your best wedding work.  This may seem obvious, however I’ve seen many makeup artists (and photographer) cram their website full of every example of their work that they have, wedding, glamour, creative theatre, body painting, special effects prosthetics and horror!  A wedding client does not want to see that you can turn someone into a zombie and likewise a theatre company don’t want to see that you can do glamour and wedding makeup.   I’m not saying that you can’t do both, but they should be on separate sites.
Show Only Your Best Work: This is one of the hardest things to get right, as you will be personally attached to each and every piece of work you have.  My advice is to keep a gallery of pictures to no more than 20 images or the viewer will get bored.  Showcase only your best work, if you have images which aren’t up to scratch but show a technique or look that you’re keen to show off, DON’T include them, re-do the look and get better pictures taken!  If you’re finding it hard to pick your best images then ask a friend of fellow makeup artist to pick their favourites.
Second Best Image First, Best Image Last:  This may sound weird, but when someone views a gallery, the first image they see will grab their attention and make them want to scroll on and view more.  Eventually when they’ve scrolled through your galleries images which one sticks in their mind?  The last one…so make it a good one!
The 3 Second Rule:  It takes someone 3 seconds to decide if they like your work, after that no matter how many images you show them, you’re not going to change their mind they’ll just move on to the next website.  Make sure that your homepage showcases your best work, not a lot of boring text about your skills and services you offer.  Your homepage can be a static page, showcasing your best image or images, or it can be a gallery, the one that targets your primary customer.
Make Navigation Easy To Find:  The most common place to put navigation links is at the top of the website, as people naturally scan websites from top to bottom, left to right.  Logo at top left identifies who you are, then navigation top right to show how to get around, your work in the middle and then anything else like copyright text at the bottom as it’s the last place a viewer will look and on certain devices or monitors may never look as it’ll be chopped off as they may not realise they have to scroll down.
Social Media Integration Is A MUST: Pretty much everyone has a Facebook account now, so make sure that you have a Facebook fan page advertising your work and link to it from your site.  A simple ‘F’ logo link can be enough, same with Twitter, Google+, etc.  Also think about adding a share button with your work so that people can share work that they like with their friends, it’s all about getting your work out there in front of as many people as you can.   A good place to start is http://sharethis.com
Give Pages Obvious Names: Give the additional pages on your site obvious names, such as Contact, About, Prices, Portfolio, Blog, etc.  Don’t try and be fancy, as you’re just going to confuse people and ultimately loose work.  Don’t hide prices at the bottom of the About page, make it obvious, have a page called Prices.  Also think about your target audience and make sure you have pages for each kind of information they’re going to want to find out about you.  
Make It Easy To Contact You:  Portfolio website services will often give you a choice of pre-made contact forms.  Make sure that they’re simple and easy to use, try contacting yourself through it, as you’d be amazed how many times they don’t work and you end up missing out on potential clients while you sit there wondering why no one has been in touch.  Also think about including a CAPTCHA of you are getting a lot of spam but choose an easy one as you don’t want to make it difficult for clients to contact you too.
Size Does Matter:  There is a fine balance regarding size of images.  If your images are too small clients won’t be able to see your stunning work at its best, however if you have hi-resolution images then there’s the risk of people stealing your work.  Don’t get hung up on this, between 500 and 1000 pixels is a good size and if you’re worried about people stealing your work, watermark it.  Facebook recently upped its image size as it realised that the small images were lost on the new large monitors and devices like the new iPad.  Don’t be tempted to go for a fancy site which resizes your content to fit the screen, as it has to resize your images on the fly and this will never look good! Make sure you have nicely resized images before you upload them, that way you’re in control of how they look.  
NO MUSIC!: Last but most definitely not least…Don’t add a music player to your site.  It may be tempting to try and set a mood with your favourite track or artist, but DON’T!  It’s one of the most annoying things out there.  People like to listen to their own music when they are browsing the web, or watch TV in the background, they do not want your music suddenly blasting away in the background, most likely clashing with their music!  Just don’t do it….EVER!

Beauty & The Geek

First of all I’d like to say thank you for all of the positive feedback we’ve been getting about the first Beauty & The Geek feature, I’m really glad that my advice is able to help.

This week I’m going to be talking about portfolio websites.  This is something that Karla has been wanting for a long time, even before I met her.  We’ve evaluated a number of different services and in the meantime Karla has been using Behance as a way of displaying her portfolio and sharing it with others, as it’s easy to update and is part of a large community of creatives.  After trying out several different website building tools and services, we eventually opted for Behance’s own ProSite service, which allows you to wrap your existing Behance projects up into a professional looking website and you only have to update your work in one place.

There are LOTS of different services out there which allow you to easily create visually stunning portfolio websites, with easy to use Content Management Systems (CMS) which allow you to upload your images, drag and drop them into galleries and rearrange them as often as you like.  Most provide you with pre-designed templates for your site, some allow you to customise the layout either through an easy to use drag and drop interface,  lists of options, sliders, etc, or through more advanced HTML and CSS editing. 

I found Behance’s ProSite one of the easiest to customise and also allows for more advanced HTML and CSS updates, but do be aware that if you make changes to the HTML and CSS then you loose the ability to update the sites layout with the easy to use sliders.

Here are a few portfolio website services to get you started.  Please note that we don’t endorse any of these sites, they’re just ones that we’ve come across, it’s up to you to try out any service which appeals to you first and find a solution which best fits your needs.

http://prosite.com

http://www.livebooks.com

http://www.foliolink.com

http://carbonmade.com

http://www.bigblackbag.com

http://www.squarespace.com

I’m going to leave you with some hints and tips to get you thinking.

Avoid Flash Websites:  They may look stunning at first, but there are drawbacks to them. They’re slow to load.  The content is wrapped up in a flash video, which means it’s not easily searched and indexed by Google. The images within the site are also less likely to turn up on Google’s Image search!  Another big downside is that Apple doesn’t support Flash, also the Android operating system is moving away from Flash too, so think of all of those potential clients who won’t be able to view your site on their smartphone or tablet device!

Focus On One Target Audience:  You should focus your portfolio at one, maybe more if they’re complimentary, target audience.  Think about the type of clients you want to attract, for example if you want to appeal to wedding clients, make sure that your portfolio showcases your best wedding work.  This may seem obvious, however I’ve seen many makeup artists (and photographer) cram their website full of every example of their work that they have, wedding, glamour, creative theatre, body painting, special effects prosthetics and horror!  A wedding client does not want to see that you can turn someone into a zombie and likewise a theatre company don’t want to see that you can do glamour and wedding makeup.   I’m not saying that you can’t do both, but they should be on separate sites.

Show Only Your Best Work: This is one of the hardest things to get right, as you will be personally attached to each and every piece of work you have.  My advice is to keep a gallery of pictures to no more than 20 images or the viewer will get bored.  Showcase only your best work, if you have images which aren’t up to scratch but show a technique or look that you’re keen to show off, DON’T include them, re-do the look and get better pictures taken!  If you’re finding it hard to pick your best images then ask a friend of fellow makeup artist to pick their favourites.

Second Best Image First, Best Image Last:  This may sound weird, but when someone views a gallery, the first image they see will grab their attention and make them want to scroll on and view more.  Eventually when they’ve scrolled through your galleries images which one sticks in their mind?  The last one…so make it a good one!

The 3 Second Rule:  It takes someone 3 seconds to decide if they like your work, after that no matter how many images you show them, you’re not going to change their mind they’ll just move on to the next website.  Make sure that your homepage showcases your best work, not a lot of boring text about your skills and services you offer.  Your homepage can be a static page, showcasing your best image or images, or it can be a gallery, the one that targets your primary customer.

Make Navigation Easy To Find:  The most common place to put navigation links is at the top of the website, as people naturally scan websites from top to bottom, left to right.  Logo at top left identifies who you are, then navigation top right to show how to get around, your work in the middle and then anything else like copyright text at the bottom as it’s the last place a viewer will look and on certain devices or monitors may never look as it’ll be chopped off as they may not realise they have to scroll down.

Social Media Integration Is A MUST: Pretty much everyone has a Facebook account now, so make sure that you have a Facebook fan page advertising your work and link to it from your site.  A simple ‘F’ logo link can be enough, same with Twitter, Google+, etc.  Also think about adding a share button with your work so that people can share work that they like with their friends, it’s all about getting your work out there in front of as many people as you can.   A good place to start is http://sharethis.com

Give Pages Obvious Names: Give the additional pages on your site obvious names, such as Contact, About, Prices, Portfolio, Blog, etc.  Don’t try and be fancy, as you’re just going to confuse people and ultimately loose work.  Don’t hide prices at the bottom of the About page, make it obvious, have a page called Prices.  Also think about your target audience and make sure you have pages for each kind of information they’re going to want to find out about you. 

Make It Easy To Contact You:  Portfolio website services will often give you a choice of pre-made contact forms.  Make sure that they’re simple and easy to use, try contacting yourself through it, as you’d be amazed how many times they don’t work and you end up missing out on potential clients while you sit there wondering why no one has been in touch.  Also think about including a CAPTCHA of you are getting a lot of spam but choose an easy one as you don’t want to make it difficult for clients to contact you too.

Size Does Matter:  There is a fine balance regarding size of images.  If your images are too small clients won’t be able to see your stunning work at its best, however if you have hi-resolution images then there’s the risk of people stealing your work.  Don’t get hung up on this, between 500 and 1000 pixels is a good size and if you’re worried about people stealing your work, watermark it.  Facebook recently upped its image size as it realised that the small images were lost on the new large monitors and devices like the new iPad.  Don’t be tempted to go for a fancy site which resizes your content to fit the screen, as it has to resize your images on the fly and this will never look good! Make sure you have nicely resized images before you upload them, that way you’re in control of how they look. 

NO MUSIC!: Last but most definitely not least…Don’t add a music player to your site.  It may be tempting to try and set a mood with your favourite track or artist, but DON’T!  It’s one of the most annoying things out there.  People like to listen to their own music when they are browsing the web, or watch TV in the background, they do not want your music suddenly blasting away in the background, most likely clashing with their music!  Just don’t do it….EVER!

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.

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.

Tumblr 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!

Karla Powell Behance Profile

Karla Powell Behance Project Page

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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...