How To Become a Better Nail Blogger


There is no exact formula to becoming an amazing nail blogger. But there are a few key differences between successful nail bloggers, and less successful nail bloggers. When I first started out, I thought I was pretty incredible – I thought my nail art was stellar, my photos were decent, and my descriptions were easy to understand. But looking back, I almost want to cringe at my mistakes! This little guide is to help you avoid those mistakes and be a better blogger, but remember – success doesn’t happen overnight. If you are just looking to get tons of followers on your blog with little to no effort, nail blogging is not for you. It’s taken me years to get where I am now, and I am still not a “famous” nail blogger. (And that’s fine with me!)

A great first step is to define who you are, right now, as a blogger. (That is, if you have a blog!) If you didn’t start your blog yet, take this time to consider what you want to do with it. Do you want to take swatch photos? Do you want to do nail art? Would you like to post tutorials? Decide what your main goal is, so you have a clear idea of how to get there. It’s much easier to build an audience if you’re consistent, rather than posting nail art every day for a month, and then suddenly posting makeup tutorials the next month.

Next, look at successful blogs that you aspire to be like, and write down what those blogs have in common. You’ll find that most successful blogs have high quality, well lit photos of professional looking manicures, and their blog layouts are generally very clean and easy to navigate.

Here is an example list of aspects of a blog you might want to emulate:
1. Lots of followers
2. Clean layout
3. Great photos
4. Honest, accurate descriptions
5. Access to new polishes and collections

Now, let’s break down that list!

1. Lots of followers

Of course, a blog that has a bunch of followers is a successful blog. And there are many ways to get followers that will be genuinely interested in what you are posting. But first, let me tell you the ways NOT to get followers:
- Hosting giveaways. Sure, you can have giveaways for your followers, but don’t host them to gain followers. People who follow your blog just to win prizes are less likely to read your blog posts, and more often than not, they will unfollow you once they lose your giveaway. I see this happening a lot, especially on Instagram – people want to gain followers, so they offer giveaways in hopes of getting more people to notice them. Of course, giveaways can be very effective, if you have already gotten your feet on the ground and have a consistent blogging style, because it also generates attention for your blog from people who ARE interested in your content, but didn’t know you existed. But there is a very fine line with giveaways, so please use caution, and don’t host a giveaway until you are ready. Hosting giveaways are difficult because people can get very rude about it, especially if they don’t win. I should mention, one of the worst blogging crimes you can commit is having a “fake” winner or letting a friend win your contest, because you don’t want to actually spend the money or give away the prize you offered to your followers – this will make people very upset, and you will not be trusted in the blogging world anymore.
- Spamming other bloggers with your blog link. Too many times, I have seen people comment on other blogs something like the following: “Great mani, check out my blog here www.heresmyblog.blogspot.com”. Posting this kind of spammy comment is not only rude, but it will make people want to go out of their way to avoid your blog. Imagine if you worked really hard on a blog post only to find that people were commenting on it just to advertise their own blog. Even those comments that only have your blog link as your “signature”, ie “great manicure! Love, Kelli. www.checkoutmyblog.blogspot.com” are considered advertising, and most bloggers do not tolerate it. If you really want other bloggers to notice you, just stay active on their blog! Leave thoughtful comments that show you actually read their blog post, rather than just one word. Being active in the community goes a long way. And, a lot of bloggers would be happy to check out your blog if you just send them an email asking for them to check it out.
- Generating negative attention. You know how they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity? Well, that’s not actually true. I don’t often see this, but sometimes, people are so desperate to get attention that they cause some sort of issue or controversy. Most often, this is in the form of rude comments – people comment on other’s work something like, “This sucks!” just to get people to click on their name and see their blog. I shouldn’t have to tell you that this is a terrible way to gain attention. The nail blogging community is all about respect and kindness, so those kind of comments are not tolerated.

Alright, so now that we know how NOT to gain followers, let’s think of some ways to get followers in an honest and respectful way.
- Be active in the blogging community. Follow lots of blogs that interest and inspire you. Enter nail art contests and join in on discussions. Do manicures inspired by other artists (and give them credit, of course!) Comment on other blogs and give your opinions! I have found so many great blogs just by interacting with my followers. Like I mentioned before, a lot of bloggers will check out your blog if you just send them an email, and some will even give you great tips and pointers for your blog! Just remember to always be kind and respectful.
- Create social media accounts for your blog. I can’t tell you how great it is to be able to reach people across all kinds of social media platforms. Not everyone has a blog or a blog reader to follow you on – so make your blog accessible to everyone! Have a Facebook, a Twitter, a Tumblr., an Instagram, anything you can think of, and post your photos and nail art reviews on there too. Each social media platform will bring you more followers, but it will also give you more chances to interact with your followers. And remember, you can start small; don’t overwhelm yourself by creating all of these accounts at once. Just start with a Facebook page or a Twitter to post your nail photos on, and build it up from there.
- Join groups and make friends. This is something that I never did before recently, and I really missed out! If you have a Facebook, you can join nail art groups and discussions to talk to people who have the same passion for nails as you do. If not, there are other ways to make friends – doing guest posts for other blogs is a great way to introduce yourself to other people, or joining in nail art challenges. Reach out to people and show interest! You’re bound to meet people that you will love. Some of the more bold bloggers may be interested in going to nail art meet-ups in nearby cities – I see a lot of people hosting meet-ups on Instagram. (Although, please do not do this if you are under eighteen. Always be safe and cautious!)
- Practice, practice, practice! One surefire way to gain followers is to improve! If you continue to work hard and practice your nail art or swatching skills, you are bound to gain more followers. Don’t ever stop improving yourself, because there’s always more you can do to be a better blogger.
- And of course, patience. It took me years to get as many followers as I have, and I am still growing. Be patient! You will not gain thousands of followers overnight.

2. Clean layout

Layouts are tricky. For those of us who aren’t HTML savvy, they can be a huge burden. Fortunately, the Blogger platform has a lot of easy templates to choose from, or you can download some other templates for free online. Some bloggers choose to pay designers for their blog layouts.

A lot of people get caught up in their layout design when they are just getting started, and I would suggest not worrying about having a beautiful design until you have a steady blogging process. Your content is the most important thing about your blog, so make sure that is perfect, and you can worry about your design later. Personally, I had a very basic template as my blog layout until just a few months ago, when I hired a designer to create my current layout. Paying someone isn’t the right thing for everyone – if you don’t have the funds, or if this is just a hobby that you aren’t sure about, don’t spend your money. Like I said, focus on your content until you have built yourself up into a steady routine, and then you can take time to tweak your layout.

However, there are a few very important aspects to your blog layout that you need to consider from the get-go. So many times, I have gone to a blog and loved the content, but there were no “follow” buttons to be found! MAKE SURE YOUR READERS HAVE A WAY TO FOLLOW YOU. This can be as simple as adding the “Follow via GFC” button, or adding a “Bloglovin’” link, or even having links to your social media sites. But please, make these links easy to find. There is nothing worse than finding a great blog and not being able to follow it.

3. Great photos

There are a few different aspects to having “great” photos of your nails. For one, you have to make sure that your nails and cuticles are in good condition before you photograph them. They may look good to the untrained eye, but as a blogger, your photos will be scrutinized, so your nails and hands will have to be better than good! Basically, what I am saying is, keep your hands looking nice. Most of what that involves is just basic hand and nail care – moisturize often, push back your cuticles, and keep your nails at an even length. You can watch my video on nail care here.

Another aspect of having good photos is where you take them. Look at your favorite blogs again and study where these bloggers are taking their nail photos. Some successful bloggers take their photos outside, or in natural lighting situations, but most often, you’ll find that your favorite bloggers use a light box.

A light box is a controlled environment where you can take your photos. These are great because you control how much light your photo has, and what color the background is. You can buy a light box, but I highly suggest making one of your own. Here is my tutorial on how to make a lightbox. I also use daylight bulbs, which emit a white light, so my photos are color accurate. Take a trip to Home Depot or Walmart and pick up a few different bulbs to see what works for you. You’ll have to do some playing around with the lighting in your light box, too – most people use one or two lights, but it depends on the room your light box is in and what quality camera you are using. Personally, I use three lamps to achieve the lighting in my photos, but that’s because the room I take photos in is naturally very dark.

A lot of people think that in order to be a nail blogger, you have to have a very expensive camera. This is not true at all! I know tons of bloggers who use inexpensive cameras. Some people even use their phone cameras, although I don’t recommend this unless you have an iPhone or a very high quality phone camera. Your best bet is using your old point-and-shoot camera. Photos not turning out right? Read the manual! You’d be surprised how much that can help you as a photographer. Learn how to set a custom white balance on your camera to help your photos turn out color accurate. Use the macro function for clearer close ups. I can’t tell you exactly how to set your camera (since everyone has a different one), but you can certainly Google photography tips for your specific model to help you out.

4. Honest, accurate descriptions.

Oh man, when I first started blogging, I didn’t know the difference between a cream and a shimmer finish on a polish, and you could tell by the way I described them. (Again, cringing.) Descriptions are important to have if you are swatching or reviewing a polish, because sometimes people’s monitors aren’t as color accurate. You also want to be able to describe application, dry time, and any other information you can give about the polish.

When you first start out, unless you have been reading blogs for a while, it’s going to be tough to describe the polishes you are reviewing. A good idea is to read polish descriptions on other blogs and see what words resonate with you. (But please, if you use their wording, give them credit.) If you are really struggling with describing a polish, you can always use the brand’s description of the polish.

As far as reviewing a polish, you need to be as honest as possible, but if you are hesitant to give a bad review, try to point out the positive aspects of the polish first. For example you can say “This polish was gorgeous, but application was tough and it took a longer time to dry.” This statement sounds honest and polite, but it also informs the reader that you had difficulty with the formula. This kind of positive/negative review is important if you are reviewing polishes that are sent to you for free, because you do not want to offend anyone, but you do not want to lie to your readers. If you are really struggling with a polish or if you don’t like the way it looks with your skin tone, be honest about it. That will always be rewarded over a dishonest review, because if you rave about a polish but forget to mention the terrible formula, your readers will feel betrayed and they won’t be able to trust you.

5. Access to new polish and collections 

Some people have the funds to shell out money for every new nail polish collection that comes out. Others don’t have that kind of money. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary to buy an entire polish collection if you don’t like them all, so there is no need to buy them just for your blog post.

And then there are the people who get sent nail polishes for free to review on their blog.

This may be the most talked about aspect of nail blogging, and often times, it seems like the only reason new bloggers are emerging is to get free polish. I will tell you right now, if you are only becoming a blogger to get free stuff, you may as well stop now. Surely I can’t convince you with just those words, but let me warn you – nothing in life is free. Yes, maybe you do get a few free bottles of polish in the mail. But consider all the time it takes to paint your nails, take color accurate photos, write a descriptive blog post, and promote it. You are paying for that nail polish with your time. (Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll realize just how much time all of that takes!)

Keep in mind that chances of you getting asked to review polishes are slim, especially right away. Companies probably won’t be flooding your emails begging to send you free polishes – but maybe, after you post some consistent nail art and reviews of polishes you buy yourself, you might get interest from a brand. I never got polishes sent for review in my first year and a half of blogging, and I was fine with that, since getting free polish was never a goal of mine. Now, I do get sent polishes occasionally, and I can’t deny that it is a nice perk of being a blogger. But like I said, I pay for those polishes with the time it takes me to come up with a review. Remember, it is important to always be very professional and courteous to brands that reach out to you – they are giving you their product, so you have to communicate with them and let them know when you receive it, and when you plan on posting a review. If someone sends you a new collection and you don’t review it for a month, they probably won’t be too happy (unless of course, you let them know ahead of time that it will take you a month to post your review.) But, like I said, getting polishes for review should not be one of your main goals and you shouldn’t worry about it until you are asked to do a review.

So, that’s all of the knowledge I can impart on you as a new or blooming blogger. I hope I have helped.


If you have any questions about nail blogging, feel free to send me an email at contact@thenailpolishchallenge.com


8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Debbie! That means a lot coming from a successful blogger like yourself :)

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  2. What a great blog post, Kelli. There is never enough to know about how to improve your blogging. We learn every day. Thank you for your time to describe everything in detail. It was really helpful.

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    1. Thank you so much, Paulina! Even though I have been around for a while, I loving hearing a fresh opinion on how to succeed. So I figured it was worth putting my two cents in ;)

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  3. Terrific post Kelli! Thank youuu! I learned alot (:

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  4. This is such a great post! Thanks for it! You've reminded me of some things I have forgotten along the way :)

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  5. I have never read a more true and honest post about blogging. All the posts say how it should be and stuff like that, but I can tell you have experienced it all and that makes it really confidential. This post is very helpful. People like me who are new in the blogging world really need someone experienced to show them how it's done. It all sounds very obvious and easy, but it isn't the truth. Thank you for showing the hard reality! I have one question, though. You mention groups on Facebook and I was wondering whether you know a group which is good (and maybe you are a member of)? I would really like to join more groups, but I'm not sure which ones... Thanks again! :)

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  6. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this! I love the honesty in the whole blog and will be keeping this in mind for my future!

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