How to Launch a Successful Beauty Blog, From Someone Who's Done It
Being quarantined has not only given us extra time to take on new hobbies, but it's provided us the ability to tap into some lesser explored interests.
We personally think it would be fun to pursue beauty blogging during these times. While we're our own versions of beauty bloggers here at Sweety High, we wanted to speak to someone who has made a self-sufficient career out of launching their own platform.
We chatted with Loreen Hwang of Coucou Jolie. Pre-coronavirus, you could find the longtime influencer at the chicest skincare events in town, and you can currently find her reviewing the latest trends in all things beauty and getting paid to write about some of the finest hotels in (and out of) town. Keep reading for what she told us about launching her successful site and maintaining it effectively all these years later.
Sweety High: Tell us a bit about your background with beauty. How long have you had your blog and what made you choose this career path?
Loreen Hwang: I started a blog 10 years ago when my father passed away. I was in biotech and worked for him. When he died I fell into a pretty bad depression and a friend suggested I start writing a blog and to do a post every day to keep busy and start a schedule again. I didn't even know what a blog was then. Her suggestion was to do beauty because everyone used to ask me what products I used. I started writing every day, and in three months, RoC skincare, a Johnson & Johnson company, asked me to be a brand ambassador, which I did for three years.
My first blog was called Tried and Tested Beauty, and that was 10 years ago. I rebranded to Coucou Jolie ("Hey Pretty" in French) six years ago. I wanted a lifestyle blog with beauty being my focus, but I love travel, food and wellness, and wanted to talk about those things, too.
SH: Approximately how many product reviews do you post on your blog per month?
LH: I do a lot of beauty and incorporate beauty into my travel posts, too. It can be like three to 10 a month.
SH: How many products do you receive per week on average?
LH: It's slowed down since COVID-19. Right now I'm receiving three to eight press boxes a week from several brands, and they usually send several products per line. Before the pandemic, I was receiving a lot more.
SH: What's the best way to go about reviewing a product?
LH: All my paid collaborations get priority. If it's makeup, those are faster to review. If it's skincare I like to use the product for at least two weeks before writing about it. If it's non-paid, it really depends on what I'm doing in my life. If I'm doing five favorite foundations or skincare routines, I'll write about those, or if there are seasonal trends I'll focus on those.
SH: How do you determine which products you'd like to review when reached out to by a publicist?
LH: Well it depends what I'm working on. Since I do work for myself I get to write about the things that interest me. I do say no a lot because there are certain things that I don't need. I don't ever get acne so I don't review those products as much unless it's something that I can use if I get that one blemish a month.
I also don't want to take products just to take. So if I'm not working on a story about a product they're pitching then I won't accept it. If it's something that is really cool that's a new launch and I think my audience would love it, I'll review it.
SH: Do you keep most of the products you review? If not, what's the best use for them?
LH: If it's open skincare I do keep it. If I've opened it but I know I won't use it I give it to my mom or a friend. Also, most charities won't accept opened beauty products, and I'd feel bad giving something used. I don't do giveaways with products gifted to me because I think that reflects poorly on me. If a brand is sending me something they want me to try, I'm not going to give it away.
Sometime a brand will send every shade of foundation. I keep my shade as well as one shade lighter and one shade darker. For the other shades, I then ask friends and family If they want it. The rest I donate to charities to women who are looking for work and need it, or shelters I work with.
SH: What's the best way to make time to determine if you truly like something you try?
LH: I make the time. I'm a full-time influencer, and I've been lucky that I have been from the beginning. This is my job, so if I'm just laying around I'm the only person who loses. The downside to that is I don't know when to stop working. I've been doing this for so long and understand what's in products because of the many experts I've worked with. I can know pretty fast what I want to try and things I'll pass on.
Makeup is easy, and same with hair care products and tools or facial tools. When it comes to skincare, I really give it a try. Something like a moisturizer I'll usually know right away if I love it, I don't need to test it for a week straight I can use it several times and know. But if it's a product that's claiming things like anti-aging or spot removal I want to try it to see if it works. I don't want to suggest products to people if they don't work. I want people to trust me and not think I'm just pushing products because I'm getting paid to. My reputation is everything. Also, some of the skincare I review is high-priced, and I don't want anyone to be disappointed in spending a lot on a product that won't give results.
SH: Do you ever have trouble getting a brand to send you product samples?
LH: To be honest, I haven't had to pitch myself in a long time. I haven't asked a brand for product samples since I started my first blog. There are brands that I would love to work with that I haven't like La Mer, Augustinus Bader, La Prairie and so many more. Those I do buy on my own. I still write about them because I don't just write about things that are gifted. I write about and share anything I love.
SH: It's interesting that even as a successful beauty blogger, you've still had to purchase some of your own products.
LH: La Prairie is one that is a constant in my life. My dad introduced it to me when I was eight years old and I've used it ever since. I probably won't be buying it any time soon because of COVID-19. I'm trying to save money.
I also buy a lot of skincare because sometimes it's easier to do that without having the pressure from a brand or company. If you accept it as a gift I feel like I might have to try it right away or write about it when I don't have anything it fits in.
I buy a lot of my makeup. I don't get that gifted as much as skincare. I love Pat McGrath's black kohl liner. I buy my foundations and I love Armani, I used to buy Smashbox all the time, but I haven't in a long time. I have a few other favorites, too.
SH: What do you do if you reach out about reviewing a product and you don't end up liking it? Do you still feel compelled to include it on your blog or on social media since it was your idea to review it?
LH: If I reached out to a brand and didn't like it, I probably would tell the brand. I would not include it in a post or social because that would be a lie. I need to be honest with my readers and followers. I also don't do bad reviews. For me to say publicly say something bad it would have to be a very extreme experience.
SH: Tell us about your bathroom and beauty cabinet. We have too many products as it is. We can't imagine what your space looks like.
LH: This is going to sound crazy. I don't put anything in my medicine cabinets or else I'll forget them. Inside my medicine cabinet are random things like hair ties, Q-tips, dental floss and who knows what else?
My counter, on the other hand, is a mess. Things are grouped by favorite washes, day serums, PM serums, day cream, night cream—masks are in drawers. It's what works for me I need them right in front of me or I'll just open something new.
It's taken me a long time to find an organization method. I have one bedroom of just products. Every drawer is labeled with the type of product it is. Once reviewed and written about it goes into a new area where I will freely use it. I finish all my products. I hate wasting them.
SH: Anything else you want us to know about your platform, beauty blogging or reviewing products?
LH: I love trying new things, I answer every question I receive in DM and respond to all my comments. I want everyone to feel like I'm their beauty BFF. My platform is an extension of me, and I love sharing, talking to people and learning new things. There have been so many times that someone has given me a tip, or shared a cool beauty DIY. I have people who write me from all around the world and that's why I love social so much. It's a big world that really feels like a community.
SH: What are some DOs and DON'Ts you can share with aspiring beauty bloggers reading this right now?
LH: There's room for everyone. We're all different. Don't be afraid to start. Everyone's beginning is a little messy and that's okay. You learn that way and you learn what works for you. Use your voice, be yourself, be inspired by others but don't copy them to the point where you lose yourself. The way to capture an audience is by showing off your personality. Don't get down and compare yourself. That's a poisonous road you don't want to go down. At first you might have to buy products you like. Start by sharing those.
If you're just starting out, don't worry about your follows and likes. You'll grow and enjoy the small victories. Find the platform you love, focus on that one and use the other platforms to drive traffic to the one you want to use the most.
Social media can be a great community. Be kind to everyone you meet, be aware of what you're talking about and how. There are teens who will really look to you and if you're mean they think that's okay, too. Social is a place where we should really encourage people to make a difference in the world. We all need to do our part. Even if we're talking about beauty, there are aspects about it that can really change someone's day. Whether it be clearing up skin conditions or putting on your favorite lipstick, that can really uplift your day and mood.
Collaborate with other influencers and treat your blog, vlog or whatever as a business. Your brand is you, and invest in yourself. Never be afraid to ask someone you admire for advice. No one becomes successful overnight—it takes work. If you're feeling uninspired, that's okay. Take a break to do things that do make you feel good, and come back to what you're working on with new eyes. The bottom line is to have fun with it!
Speaking of some of our favorite bloggers, THIS fashion blogger launched her own line of incredibly stylish face masks.