Saturday, October 2, 2010

Blogging Tips From The Beauty Look Book


I have reached over 1,000 google followers and as my blog attracts more attention, I have received numerous e-mails from newer bloggers for tips and advice on blogging.

Blogging is very personal and I don't know exactly what makes one a "good" blog. As the sole writer of this blog, each post I write is a reflection of my own personal taste - some like it, some do not. By no means do I consider myself an expert. There is no set formula to make your blog a success. I'm flattered that so many would ask for my advice, but here are a few do's and don'ts from my own personal perspective. Note this is rather lengthy and unedited as I have tried to answer all the questions and concerns I've received over the past several months.

Question 1: How do I get more followers?

The best way I know if is word of mouth. Getting more followers is an enigma to us all, and all I can say is that it doesn't happen overnight. I still remember when I only had 10 followers and thought that was huge. If your goal is simply to get a large following then I'd question your motives for blogging. Although it's easy to get caught up in the numbers, you should be more concerned with your content rather than popularity.

a) Start with your friends - A number of friends I had made over beauty message boards helped me spread the word. Many of them were bloggers. I can't thank them enough - they were sweet and supportive and motivated me to keep blogging. Do proceed with some tact though. Simply e-mailing every blogger friend "I have a new blog, please follow me as I follow you" is a turn-off and just tasteless. I can't think of any blogger who thinks that is a great sell. Just start to let people know in an appropriate way that you've started blogging, maybe ask for feedback, but if you ask, be prepared for an honest answer. Don't just e-mail hoping for flattery.

b) Find a blog who is asking for guest writers - Writing for a popular blog can be a great start. I submitted an idea for a guest post for Karen at Makeup and Beauty Blog when she asked for submissions even before I started my blog. She did have a few requirements (one of them being that the content must be unique) so I brainstormed a couple ideas and she liked it! Thank you Karen from the bottom of my heart! If you submit an idea to a blog and don't get picked, don't give up! Be aware established blogs who ask for guest posts are looking for something specific. If they took just anything it wouldn't be as meaningful, right? The key phrase is "asking for guest writers." If a blogger isn't looking for guest writers and you email them, be prepared for no response.

c) Get on Twitter - I have to chuckle at this one because it took me 6 months to figure out what a "tweet" was and how Twitter worked. It's confusing at first but can be a great tool. I find blogs through the people I follow all the time. Once you start tweeting, don't spam you blog on tweets, we can already see your profile name which will link to your website if you set it up right.

d) Start commenting on other blogs to get noticed - Commenting on other blogs can be a great way for others to find out about your blog. Be respectful and don't spam them with links. The best way to get noticed is to write something insightful or meaningful instead of simply "love it!" (although those are appreciated as well). Many of us get numerous comments on more than one post throughout the day, sometimes it can be difficult to sort through all the noise.

e) Be patient! Sometimes weeks can go by without the numbers going up. Do keep in mind that if you are actively networking and reaching out, but your numbers aren't going up at all, your content might need to be reworked. Simply starting a blog that is a collection of press releases or copying content from other blogs has been done a million times over. But getting followers does take time and lots of hard work.

f) Join a blogger network - This is something I can't give much input on as I haven't joined any. I would love to but don't have the patience or time to follow all the rules they each have, but I know from others it's a great resource for support, generating revenue, getting PR contacts etc.

Question 2: Do you have tips on how to blog?

A few do's -

a) Haru from Rouge Deluxe wrote an excellent article on blogging. Check out her article linked here. She makes some excellent points.

b) Be original and find your own voice - I roll my eyes at bloggers that copy other bloggers. Yes, there are only so many ways we can write about certain things, but the posts that have a unique twist or the posts that show passion & enthusiasm always bring a smile. We are all inspired by what's around us and bloggers are no exception. We inspire each other constantly. Just be original or try to contribute something meaningful from your own perspective.

c) Moderate your comments - Nobody likes spam. Some bloggers don't mind you linking your own blog through the comments but it's really just plain rude. I don't like spam of any kind so I typically don't publish comments with links that self promote. Also people can write crazy, hurtful, unrelated or just plain stupid comments. I'll publish most of them (even the hurtful ones) but if it's just completely over the top, moderating allows you to filter out the ones that aren't relevant.

d) Be honest and consistent - We all know of a certain someone who has said "I won't do glitter" and then released glitter products in a number of her collections. As trivial as it may seem, so many women have jumped on the criticism bandwagon saying, "can you believe she said that?" I chuckle at the drama this causes, but apply this to your blogging methods. We can change our mind and preferences as we age. Sometimes a hot trend one season will be out of fashion the next. If you change your mind, it's ok to say so. Be honest and avoid writing in absolute terms like "this is the worst product ever!" Instead tell us what you didn't like and why it didn't work for you. If you try it again in the future and like it, just say you gave this product a second try and liked it better the second time around.

e) Make an effort to write properly - I am guilty of making mistakes on numerous occasions. I don't have anyone editing my work and don't always proof read. Sometimes commenters will post in the comments "you used the wrong version of that word." I am always appreciative for any corrections but am usually embarrassed too. How could I get "bare" and "bear" mixed up? Is it "peek, peak or pique"? Where do I put that apostrophe? In my haste I've written "there" instead of "their." If you at least make an effort, people will be forgiving of a mistake every once in a while. (I hold my breath now wondering how many mistakes have I made in this article? If you see any let me know.)

f) Again, be patient! Blogging has a learning curve. Taking photos and swatching are both difficult. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying. If someone tells you your photos look like crap, they just might, but ignore them and keep moving forward. We all get better with practice!

A few don'ts or proceed-with-caution tips

a) Don't steal content or photos from others - Take your own photos and be sure to source the ones you use from other websites that are public and not subject to copyright protection. I can't tell you how angering it is to see my hard work show up on other websites. It's especially angering since I don't receive any sponsorships and don't make any profit from affiliate links. Even more angering that I purchase the majority of the product I write about. I feel taken advantage of when people steal my photos. When I see photos from other blogs stolen and it makes me angry. If I see any stolen content on your blog, I will never follow it or promote it. So this don't will partially be a do: GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE AND DON'T STEAL COPYRIGHTED CONTENT.

b) Don't spam - This is my personal opinion, but when in doubt, don't spam my blog or any blog with links to your website. There are fields that you can fill out in the comment section that will allow you to properly link your blog.

c) Don't accept anything that seems too good to be true - If companies contact you to send you product, verify it with someone you trust. Don't give out your information or address to anyone without verification.

d) Be careful how you self promote - Make sure you try to find out the rules beforehand. Even though I've already written that I don't like spam, I guarantee you this post will still get spam comments. So if your comment isn't published, it's either spam or just plain stupid. (Sorry, I have to be frank.)

e) Be careful of what you write on message boards - I can't tell you how many hate comments I've seen about my blog and that same person will later e-mail me "can you help me get started with blogging?" I won't respond to these e-mails. I don't visit message boards much anymore for a variety of reasons, but know what you write on the internet on a public forum can be accessed and viewed by anyone.

f) Do be careful about posting your face online - I don't post photos of myself for two main reasons. I am self conscious and like my privacy. Having already been told I'm fat, don't want to subject my face to even more scrutiny. If you think I'm fat or ugly, that's fine, I can take it. I just don't want my face out there and think it's a waste of time to moderate the "you're ugly" comments. I also don't want random strangers coming up to me. So if you decide to post your face, just be ready for criticism. Know there are good angles and bad angles. Taking pictures of yourself can be a challenge in itself.

g) Don't blog just for free products - It's clear to me when a blog has 5 followers and a big note that says COMPANIES CONTACT ME HERE on the sidebar that they are simply blogging to get free stuff. I get e-mails every week for free products I have never heard of and have only accepted one. The day Chanel or Dior or any of the brands I love come knocking on my door, I won't turn them down, but this is more wishing than anything. Even if you get large following and write unique articles and reviews - you aren't guaranteed to get sent anything. I have yet to be contacted by any major brands and I've been blogging for over a year, have over 1,000 followers, 150,000 hits per month and have reached over 1.2 million hits total since I started tracking activity. I want to clarify that I don't think there is anything wrong with getting products to review (I've met a couple bloggers who do receive PR samples and they were TOTAL sweethearts, they know who they are). If your main goal is to score freebies by blogging people will see right through it.

Again note that this list is simply my own opinion. There are many who won't agree especially with linking blogs in comments or stealing content as it's done frequently. I hope this helps give some perspective. Know that blogging is hard work and requires commitment and an open mind to change your technique to improve.

It's always a battle between pleasing readers while staying true to yourself. Take control of your own blog and take criticism and requests with a grain of salt. I used to have my blog background yellow, then someone told me they hated it. Once I changed it, I got 5 e-mails asking "why did you change it? I liked it better the old way?" I was thoroughly annoyed and still get annoyed when people make demands that will only suit their likes with no consideration for others.

Blogging can bring out both the best and worst in people. All I can say it's like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I end up crying. Still, it's a hobby I hope to continue. Half the time I don't know what I'm doing when I blog so many times it's just a matter of trying something out. If it works, yay! If it flops, I won't give up and I'll just try it in a different way next time.

Find a support group - people you can talk to and who will tell you when you're wrong. Find people who will say "it's ok to cry, everything will be ok." Sometimes we all just need to vent and get over whatever is bugging us. Reach out to people. Make new friends. Be open to feedback.

Most importantly - STAY POSITIVE and know that's ok to get discouraged every once in a while. I definitely know I go through slumps. Knowing it happens to everyone kinda makes it better - having that feeling you're not alone.

Have a great weekend everyone!

41 comments:

  1. These are great tips.

    What you mentioned about why you don't post your face is why I haven't gotten into doing anything on YouTube. Some people are just plain nasty and mean. I appreciate the people with thick skins who keep plugging along. I don't know what I will do if everyone quits YouTube.

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  2. Loved your article. A lot of it really made so much sense to me, and thanks a lot for writing it. Sometimes blogging gets very depressing. I see people doing so many things wrong going by this article, and I used to wonder if I was the one wrong and others were just smarter and right. Now I feel I am okay :D

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  3. This is an awesome post!

    I get a lot of emails from people asking me how to get a load of followers. If I knew that I'd be charging people for the secret!

    You make some very excellent points here. I had to put my commenting over to moderated a while back after some issues. Best decision I ever made with my blog!

    I'd also like to mention that if you're posting pics, then you should add a watermark. I started after a few pictures appeared at a message board, hotlinked without any mention of who's pics they were.

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  4. This article was really interesting for me! Thanks so much for writing it! When I first started blogging I did used to link my blog in peoples comments without thinking....but I now understand how rude it is. One of my pet hates is when someone writes a comment that clearly demonstrates they haven't read the article and then link their blog! I can see why your blog has been so successful so keep up the great posting! xxxx

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  5. This is such a great post. I know bloggers all over will refer to your blog for this post :)

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  6. Oh... I agree with Nic. I have received comments like "love your post!

    http://blogname.blogspot.com"
    Like wth? And it's in every single comment she posts everywhere!

    Oh and I particularly like the g) Don't blog just for free products. I've seen some new blogs with the HUGE words on the side bar : "If there are any companies that would like to give me free stuff or sponsor me, my email is _____." *smacks forehead* I'm just speechless..

    Btw, is that you in the photo? (Sorry I have never been to your blog before so I don't know) You're not fat >.< Even if you are, so what? Most people who say mean things don't leave a name. I like to think that they are sad people hiding behind anonymity, preying on others to make themselves feel better. That's just mean and plain wrong.

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  7. great post! I also freaking LOVE YOUR DESK. where is it from??

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  8. Fabulous post. I know what you mean about pictures ... I've included a picture or two of myself from time to time--mostly because I blog about Baby Boomers and style, and I think it's important for my readers to realize that yes, I'm actually 53. But I'm in awe of the people who do daily outfits or face-of-the-day posts. I mean, just from the standpoint of the photography--I'll never be that good, or that organized!

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  9. great post:) all the things you said are very true

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  10. lol I just have to say, I thought you looked skinny in your photo, didn't even notice an alleged jelly roll. So there! One strike against the rude comments people make on blogs! Great blog! :)

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  11. Thank you so much for this post! I started blogging to keep my friends up to date as I have a busy job, and that was when I started reading other blogs... and was so surprised to find out how many many people are actually following blogs... mine is not "officially followed" by many people because my friends read it and don't get registered at bloglovin or any other follower-site... but somehow I have a few followers (that I don't know in person) and I was surprised about them ;-)

    Keep on with your great blog, I am really into beauty stuff and I love your detailed descriptions and that you share your buys, experiences and opion with all of us!

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  12. Hi,
    Excellent post! I agreed with everything that you wrote. Your blog is one of the most useful resources and I am always checking it for swatches and real-life pics of products that are not available in Singapore.

    Don't let the negative and stupid comments get you down. It's not worth it. For every troll you get, there are hundreds, if not thousands of readers who value and appreciate your hard work. I've found that the trolls usually disappear when their comments do not get published.

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  13. Sabrina, What a beautiful and heartfelt post. I never realized how much work blogging is--or how rewarding it can be. Your advice about staying true to yourself (and your principles) is so true... I'm still finding my way, but I found myself nodding as I went through your post. ... And can I just say that I love how your computer is surrounded by nail polish and glosses?

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  14. All good points, people are too focused on followers I think, I was too when I started my blog. It's not about followers though it's about readership, I get less readership per day than followers.

    I love your blog though and just being a part of this great beauty community is loads of fun. We don't do it to make money or get free stuff, we do it cause we like interacting with others and sharing our opinions.

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  15. Thanks so much for your post. I got so much great and inspiring info from you! I have been following so many beauty blogs for a couple of years now and decided to start my own just recently. Your tips are greatly appreciated!

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  16. Great post! I agree with all of your tips :)
    And, seriously? people call you fat? You are like a size 2 or 4! People can be so vile. I'm positive you're gorg!

    I love your blog, the beautiful swatches and dupe comparisons are my favorite!

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  17. Thanks for sharing all these great blogging tips!

    I agree in all points you stated, and yes taking other blogs' content or photos is something I can't understand. I just can't see the point of blogging, when you don't want to make an effort. I mean, blogging should be fun and just do it, when you are really passionate about it.

    You deserve all the attention to your blog! I love your high quality pictures a lot!

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  18. Ha, I actually keep my blog fairly low key and don't really promote it, because I've been around long enough to see all those nasty comments people leave on other blogs, youtube and various forums, and I don't think I want to be part of any of that! Besides, mine is very personal - I don't go into the latest of collections of this and that, it's really just a bit about me in this one particular area, so I am never going to have a massive audience anyway. :-)

    Interesting post, anyway. We've all seen people guilty of those things and it's quite irritating.

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  19. great post!~ i completely agree about bloggers blogging for free stuff! it's very transparent. i usually judge by where the "contact me to review" side bar is vs where the "followers" sidebar is.

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  20. Your blog is just beautiful, and I really appreciate your photos and writing. I should comment more. I just have to say, also, that whoever said you're fat is insane. You are absolutely not fat!

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  21. Your blog is my absolute fave for checking out swatches and comparisons of higher-end brands like Chanel, Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, etc. Thanks for all the hard work you put into your blog! Oh, and your figure is adorable, so just ignore the haters:)

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  22. I just found your blog a few days and I LOVE it!
    This is a great post and you make some very good points.

    You have a new reader!!

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  23. Thank you for blogging and thank you for writing this post. Your blog was one of the first beauty blogs I discovered and along with the nice lady at Cafe Makeup, are my favorites. I semi-started a blog because some people asked me too. I had no idea how time consuming and job like it could be and honestly, I don't know if I can keep up the pace. So I definitely appreciate the time it takes to make a blog and keep it current. Please continue to write if you love it. I know we love to read it. Thanks for the HUGE dent you have caused in my wallet in recent months. :)

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  24. I learnt so much from your blog, thank you very much!

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  25. A fantastic post with very sound advice! I've been following you blog from early days and I can see why you've grown such a loyal readership - well done!

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  26. Hey Sabrina,

    Since when did "gorgeous" turn into fat?

    Now, about blogging...

    I applaud you for writing up your experiences and feelings about blogging. As you said, the rewards far exceed the negative experiences.

    I love your advice to pay attention to your writing. We all publish typos now and then. They are my biggest annoyance with myself. I blog when I get home from work (often tired), and sometimes the typos get past me. I do see sites that are continuously riddled with them (or grammatical and punctuation errors), and I wonder what they are teaching in schools these days. (Many bloggers are decades younger than I am!)

    Keep up the good work! Your blog is a fabulous resource for women who want to learn and see. Don't change a thing! Your blog is unique to you - go where your heart leads you.

    One more thing...you're in a network - ours! We just didn't name it. We couldn't think of a name we liked. Got any ideas?

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  27. I love your blog. In the hundred years we've both been on MUA, you and I have always liked the same lip products. Your pictures and recommendations are invaluable tools to me in selecting my lip arsenal. Thanks for being in my computer.

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  28. Hi! I am just starting out with my blog and this article has been really helpful, thanks very much for posting it.

    I would be very grateful if you could let me know that you think of mine. I know I have got a lot of improvements to make but I am still just figuring out how to use it to the full at the moment! :)

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Thanks!
    Zoe x

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  29. I would not even fathom that you would receive negative comments or even bashing on forums. I absolutely love your blog, I can't see any reason for negativity.

    I thought this post was very well written and helpful to those who are new to blogging. Btw I am loving the daily entries.

    P.S. You look so cute in that blogging photo.

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  30. Thanks for this Sabrina. I feel like you are reading my mine. Maybe I should email you personally for the idea I have been kicking around for my own blog. This helps me immensely. Your blog is definitely one of five I check first in the morning before I start officially working haha

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  31. But you are not fat! D: I do understand your self-consciousness though. Especially with such mean spirited people on the internet.. It is the main reason why I don't think I could ever post a picture of myself. I don't think my heart could take it lol. Thank you so much for your tips. ^^

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  32. Thanks for this amazing post! I've considered starting my own blog, but I'm not sure I'm cut out for it. Your post has helped me appreciate how much time and effort goes into blogging. Thank you for sticking with it and for your high quality content. I love your photos, comparison swatches, and the brands you choose. Keep up the good work!

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  33. Well written and very appreciated Sabrina. Blogging has brought me so many great friends that share my interest and passion. Being a "Type A" pesonality, I am constantly trying to improve my blog and am very critical of myself.

    I can honestly say your blog, Karen's (My Makeup and Beauty Blog) and Blogdorf Goodman are the blogs I aspire to. Keep up the good work and honey, if that's roll, then I have a MAC truck tire around my middle!

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  34. My blog has its first birthday this year, and after 300+ posts I'm still not sure I'm "doing it right." So thank you for the reassuring words about the ups and downs of the blogging world. (And oh my God I had no idea how hard it was to photograph yourself until I started putting up eye and lip swatches. I still stink at it, but I'm getting better.)

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  35. I love this article! And I also love your blog. Google suggested that I can be interested when I added some other beauty blogs in my reader. So after 3 month of following you I can say that your blog is really unique! I love the way you write, your photos and swatches and products you review. Beige and neutrals are not my colors. I wish they were. They are so posh and stunning! So I'm really waiting for your posts. I'm not sure if saying it is appropriate but your blog is much more stylish for me than Temptalia is. Keep going!

    Best wishes,
    Natalia

    Please disregard any mistakes. I'm not native speaker^^

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  36. Mad props to you for having the balls to post anything personal whatsoever. Your blog is a daily read for me and I've depended on your honest, thoughtful and articulate posts more times than any other sites combined. You always present yourself in an elegant manner, in both how you write as well as the posts of how you dress. I hope you'll continue to keep blogging, you have more power than you may realize (and hence the hate comments). Keep up the incredible work.

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  37. Great post, some really good tips in there. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it and help out newer people like myself! x

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  38. Thanks for this very heartfelt post. Anyone that makes a negative comment about your appearance is simply jealous. Not only do you have fantastic taste in makeup, you are a class act through and through. We readers want your makeup and wardrobe, but we also appreciate and aspire to be a bit like you, too. You work hard, have fun, and you have a great attitude. Keep up your great work. It is sincerely appreciated.

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  39. This was incredibly helpful! It was very motivating to tread on with my blog because ultimately it is a collection of my own thoughts and experiences. I believe my blogging is really for myself and I cannot let me down =)

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  40. wow!(I am late commenting on this- u did it a several months back) I took most of your tips into serious consideration and it helped my blog even though I had to move it to onsugar (blog social site). onsugar is a bigger blog network and it doesn't take as long to get followers (rules are not ridiculous). it also enables facebook and google sign in.

    I agree with u on several things: don't say follow me and I'll follow back - the blog isn't fantastic (the blogger is "forced" to follow back). I see this alot in twitter bios. the blogger or tweeter (if that makes sense) would possibly be stuck with followers and blogs they don't like.

    I respect your choice not to have photos of your face on your blog and feel very strongly on this like you do. "if u have no intention of meeting these people then there is no point in showing your face." its for privacy and a personal choice.
    I don't do it either mostly because of "hate comments" since I am puerto rican I am kinda worried about what people would think of me. Sabrina, people calling you "fat" is terrible because your not at all. Those are just mean terrible people.
    SPAM and plagiarism tics off bloggers in general. it should be posted somewhere noticeable don't like don't like comments or don't steal photos in big bold letters or something to attract the rules. I highly recommend using wibiya(dot)com because it literally "forces" a person to share the photos or posts on social sites. I use it for my blog.

    I agree heavily with this post. yes, after blogging for several months- i see the importance of rules.

    I respect your blog greatly.

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