Is my blogging schedule going to change?

I’ve seen the discussion in several places now – on Twitter, YouTube, and people’s blogs.

What do we do now in this time of uncertainty, change, and constant references to the C word?

I’m not here to tell other people what to do. I know some people want their blog to be a place where they can get away from everything that’s happening in the world for a couple of hours, and who has the right to stop them?

On the other hand, the changes are very real. People have fears, questions, and a need to talk through all the emotions or anxieties they are going through. Sometimes it’s just good to let those thoughts out rather than trying to hold them in, or to open up a safe space on the internet for other people to do the same.

If you do post about the coronavirus, some people will switch off because they don’t want to hear any more about it. If you avoid it and put out your normal content, others will think you don’t care. You can’t please everyone!

In terms of my blogs, I’ve decided to do a bit of both. So there might be more posts like my one from last week on how it brings out the best and worst in us because I do write about current events and opinion pieces were one of the most highly ranked in the recent Unseen Beauty survey. That surprised me a bit, but it’s good to know.

Particularly on my business blogs, I’ll still be putting out educational content, because now more than ever, due to social restrictions, many of us have a bit more time on our hands, and some people are wanting to use that time for learning.

I also want to keep putting out my other content though. Sure, there will be less travel content because I’m not going anywhere. Thanks to a suggestion I got this week, I’ll be creating some content about working from home. I’ve been doing that full-time for the last eight years, so I have a few things to say on the subject and some of the tips might help people who suddenly find themselves needing to work remotely. But I also want to keep up with my other posts that I was planning to write anyway, because sometimes it’s just nice to have a break from current events and talk about dogs or a good book!

For those of you who are content creators – are you going to do anything different over the coming weeks?

For my readers – I asked about topics that you’d like to see on this blog when I did my survey, but if you have any extra ideas, let me know in the comments. What kind of things are you reading more of at the moment? Books? Blogs? Newspaper articles? Online courses?

And to everyone – please be kind, be responsible, and do what you can to keep yourselves and those around you safe.

More from Unseen Beauty

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

Unseen Beauty – 2020 survey

This year I’d like to try something new and find out a bit more about what my readers think. This includes what you’re enjoying, which content you find most useful, and what you’d like to see more of. So, if you have a few minutes, I’d be happy if you could fill out this quick survey!

Ultimately it’s a two-way thing. Some of my most popular posts fit into the same general category, but I would get bored writing that content all the time and soon fall out of love with blogging. Still, having an idea of what my readers enjoy will help me to decide on what content I’ll be producing this year and what won’t be coming with us into the rest of 2020.

The feedback is only sent to me. Name and email are optional if you want me to know that it was you or to discuss any ideas for future content.

1. How did you find out about my blog?

2. Which content do you find most enjoyable/useful on Unseen Beauty or what would you like to see more of? Tick all that apply.

3. How do you keep up with new posts on the blog?

4.Which of these ways to contact Kirsty would you use if you wanted to comment on something or suggest an idea for a post? Tick all that apply.

5. I’m interested to know a bit more about where my readers are. What country are you in?

6. If you could suggest the title for my next post, what would it be?

7. Do you have any other comments about the blog in general, or the kind of content that you would like to see on Unseen Beauty in 2020?

8.Are you interested in blog giveaways?

9. If you’d like to sign up for the newsletter, you’d like me to know who you are, or for me to reply to any of your comments, leave me your contact details so that I can get in touch.

Thank you for filling out my survey!

When is it good not to approve comments on your blog?

I found a bunch of comments that I hadn’t been alerted about. They were stuck in the queue and I worked my way through them, approving and deleting. The exercise got me thinking about comments and when it’s better not to let them through. It’s not just about whether or not you like what someone has to say.

I don’t want to create an echo chamber with only people who share my views being allowed to speak. But equally, my blog isn’t a free-for-all and I do moderate all comments before they go live.

Generally I let most comments through. Most of the time people are just commenting on the posts, sharing their own experiences, asking questions, or joining in with a discussion. But here are the times when I spam or delete comments.

1. When people don’t play nicely!

Probably the most obvious one – you don’t have to agree with me, but if you start writing things that are discriminatory, offensive, or rude in some other way – why should I have that up on my site? This includes people who think that snarky comments are the same as having a discussion. Fortunately I’ve only had one or two of those in my time as a blogger on both my business and my personal blogs.

2. When people add links to sites that I don’t want to endorse

This is a tricky one. The comment may be fine, but it also includes a link to an organisation that you wouldn’t necessarily support. The waters are muddied even further if you generally support what the organisation stands for, but not how they are going about raising awareness for or promoting their cause.

It’s something you just have to decide. Delete the comment? Let the comment through, but amend it to remove the link? Let it through, but also note your concerns in a comment underneath?

The only problem with the last suggestion is that by providing a back link – a link from your site to the other site – you are giving it credibility in search engine optimisation terms, and if that’s not something you want to do, it’s best not to have the link at all.

3. When people are posting spam comments for back links

This includes companies that can’t be bothered to pay for advertising “hey I thought you’d like my product – find out more here!”, and people who just want to bring readers to their site “Great post! Check out my latest post here!” In both cases, it just feels like spam. It’s obvious what they’re doing. They aren’t really interested in what you’ve written – they just want more eyes on their products or posts which might not even have anything to do with your article. It’s rude, and most of the time I bin them! If people really want someone to engage with them, they should put a bit more thought into their comment and not spam people’s blogs. The point about back links is relevant here too.

4. When people post innocuous comments with links that point to questionable sites

Most of these comments are sent straight to spam if you have a spam filter. The comments themselves usually look fine and often just say how great and educational your post was. The problem is with the rest of the form and the URL which they entered, which often leads to some dubious site that you wouldn’t want to visit. When the comment goes live, the person’s name becomes a link to that site. It doesn’t matter that the comment itself was not offensive in some way – you don’t want to be sending traffic to sites that contain malware or that are pay per click links generating income for someone else (also see point 3). In some cases it’s not even clear where the traffic will be ultimately redirected

5. When the trolls come out to play!

A troll is generally someone who starts arguments or upsets people by posting inflammatory or off-topic comments – usually to get a reaction. Often they become easier to spot, the more time you spend in online forums. Sometimes you may want to give people the benefit of the doubt because they may have a genuine question or just not know how to express themselves properly – but usually if it growls like a troll and stomps about like a troll – it probably is a troll! The best advice is to not feed the trolls – and an online troll’s favourite food is attention and other people’s time.

It is hard though. Some you can spot a mile off. But there are people who have been written off as trolls who were just struggling to know the rules appropriate for that particular social situation. I can think of times when I have had perfectly reasonable conversations with people whom others had written off as trolls – so it’s not as easy as some of the other points. I usually listen to my intuition first, but it’s not completely fool-proof.

But sadly there are some people who just want to sew negativity, stir people up against one another, or say the things that they know will get an angry or otherwise emotional reaction.

In a business sense, if you think there is a discussion to be had, it’s often better to take it out of the public arena sooner rather than later. Private messaging is always an option, as long as you feel the person isn’t just trying to get attention for the wrong reasons or waste your time.

How about you?

For those of you with blogs, what have been your experiences of deleting comments? Let us know in the comments!

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy the one about 15 things that I wish people would stop doing on social media!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

25 lessons from 2.5 years of Unseen Beauty

I can’t believe I’ve had this blog for two and a half years now! From what started as an idea buzzing around my head whilst I was supposed to be relaxing in the bath, it’s been an interesting journey and I am really glad that I now have this little corner of the internet for writing. Writing is quite a big part of my job, but I really wanted to do something that would get me away from thinking about work for a while – which is basically how Unseen Beauty came about.

Here are 25 things that I have learned since setting up the site in January 2017.

1. As time goes on, you’ll change what you want to write about

At the beginning I thought it would just be a beauty and skincare blog, but I found this too narrow a niche, and also some of the people who read my articles couldn’t care less about that! Also, there are so many beauty and skincare blogs out there. What makes people stand out is when they bring something new and different to the table. So I still have my product posts about once a month, but Unseen Beauty has become more than that.

2. Sometimes it’s surprising what people want to read

It’s that thing – you never know which posts people will like. You can spend ages with your finger hovering over “publish” thinking “shall I just bin this?” and then when you finally click the button because the indecision is getting too much, you find that people really relate. Or, you can spend ages on a piece of content that you’re really proud of, and barely anyone reads it! You just never know until you send the posts out into the world!

I’m never going to be the kind of blogger that bears her heart and soul to the world, but I have found that the posts where I share a bit more honestly are the ones that people respond to. I think there’s a lot of generic content out there, so people want something a bit different.

3. If you set out with the idea that it’s not about the photos, the right people will come

On my work blog I wasn’t that bothered. It’s an educational blog, and people come for the educational content.

In the whole lifestyle arena, photos have a more important role. Instagram invaded the blogosphere and suddenly much higher importance was placed on the photos – which is an issue when you’re blind and can’t take them yourself.

Blogging has always been about the words though, and I didn’t want that to be taken from me. So I was just honest about it. If I’m talking about a place or a product, I’ll try and get someone to take a picture. If I don’t manage it, you get the article without. Blogmas is enough work anyway without stressing out over images, so you may just get my stock Christmas photo.

And you know what? On the whole, people are fine with that. My articles tend to be on the longer side, and people come because they want something to read.

I’m grateful to S and my mum for helping me out, and I know the photos add value. But it makes me sad when I read that people don’t want to publish posts because they don’t have the right photos.

4. Blogmas is a challenge, but it’s a lot of fun too

I’ve done it twice now and will probably be doing it again this year! Posting every day in December until Christmas Eve, coming up with the content, and not reusing ideas is challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun. Readers who engaged with the posts kept me going, and it’s also good to be part of the community of people who are doing it as well so you can see what content they are creating and encourage them too.

5. You’ll meet some cool people through blogging

Yes, there’s drama if you choose to get involved in it, but generally I steer clear of it and it stays away from me. I’ve found the blogging community to be really friendly and had some great conversations with people, either via the comments, on Facebook, Twitter, or privately.

6. Ideas will come at the weirdest times!

In the bath, when out running, in the middle of the night … Never when I’m at my laptop ready to write them down!

7. It’s ok to take a break

Having a plan and a schedule is good, but sometimes if you’re running on empty, the best thing to do is take a break. Give yourself space to think about other things. Then the ideas will come again.

If you try to force it or churn out posts when you really don’t feel like it, you’ll lose the sense of enjoyment, and a hobby blog is supposed to be fun!

8. Blogging is about community

It’s not all about only communicating with your own readers. You can make some great contacts through interacting with others and also discover new blogs by seeing who comments on things that you find interesting. You may well have things in common with them. Apart from that, community = the chance to do interviews or guest posts – and perhaps my favourite, swap boxes!

Also, knowing that my genuine recommendations have helped someone else feels good too.

9. Things change and you have to come up with new plans

When I was reading my notes, I couldn’t remember why I wrote this at first, but it was in relation to WordPress. Sometimes the platform changes. Horrid new editors are forced upon you that are inaccessible for blind people. You have to come up with a solution or give up. I didn’t want to give up, so yay for plugins that disable the new editor!

10. The internet can be a mean place, but it’s often not as bad as you think

I was really anxious about posting some of my content because I know some of my opinions are unpopular. Not with the people I know, but particularly when criticising the disability community or things that challenge the accepted way of thinking – they can bring out the trolls! It’s not that I particularly care what some troll on the internet thinks, but things can spiral out of hand quickly and it takes time and energy to manage. Fortunately I haven’t had to … yet!

11.The stats will never tell the whole story

I look at them. My number-crunching brain likes them. They are useful. But particularly when it comes to people who don’t have their own blogs, they may just read and won’t give you any idea of what impact your words had. That’s ok! We don’t all do the comment, like or share thing. That’s ok! It often amazes me how people come out with things that they can only know because they’ve been reading my blog – and I had no idea they were!

12. If you get bored with a topic, stop writing about it

I got bored doing some of the product posts, so I reduced them. People will know if your heart isn’t in something!

13. There is so much blogger junk mail

Every… single …week! Offers of high quality content directly related to my audience. People who love my blog about parenting, even though I’ve never written a parenting post in my life! People who think my audience would just love to see their infographic. Because blind people just love infographics – the clue’s in the name! Ugh!

14. Collaborations are fun

Whether that’s the swap box or the posts I did collecting views on a topic – involving others in a non-spammy way is a different way to create content and get to know other people at the same time.

15. Readers can be so kind

From comments that say “I know where you’re coming from” to those who regularly support the blog. From people who look out for things I might want to feature, to others who say the kindest things. Then there was the reader gift of new products to try that nearly made me cry because it was such a lovely thing to do!

16. You might think you’re the only one, but often many people can relate

I’m thinking about some of my opinion pieces now, and the things I don’t usually talk about…sensory difficulties, the disability-related challenges that we don’t talk about. Someone somewhere knows how it feels and might even be happy if you put it into words!

17.Blogger events aren’t actually that scary!

Admittedly I haven’t been to many, and I still think I’d find some of them a bit pretentious or be mistaken for someone’s mum, but there are low-key ones out there where it’s just everyday people writing blogs, rather than going after that perfect Instagram-worthy life that only really exists in people’s heads!

18. Beauty box fatigue is a thing

So I cancelled them all at the end of December and only restarted one in June. I’m up for looking at new and different things, but if there’s a lot of repetition and things you don’t really need, it’s not really a bargain!

19. Broken links are a pain!

I now have a plugin to tell me about them, but often shops will just pull a product and then you have a broken link. Or people will delete their site, meaning that any links to it from comments or linked posts will just lead to nowhere. This is not a great user experience for anyone wanting to visit those pages, but broken links are bad for your SEO too, so it is worth fixing them – even though it’s a boring task.

You probably aren’t surprised that I have a massive spreadsheet for logging them all!

20. This is not my job

And I’m happy about that! I have 2 businesses. I think some people put themselves under a lot of stress to monetise their blog, which sometimes leads to collaborations that look a little out of place or endorsing products that they normally wouldn’t. I’m not judging because we all need to get the bills paid, but this not being my main job means I can turn things down without measuring everything as a business opportunity. However, if I do make some money through the blog, it’s a bonus.

21. People sending out phishing emails seem to love bloggers

Your site, that you don’t host with us, will be taken down if you don’t give us your credit card details immediately! Your email address, which also wasn’t set up through us, is about to be deleted! Oh no! Give us your money quickly!

22. People don’t just read Blogmas content in December – who knew?

I think it’s because it’s linked – so someone reading a doggy post might also read dog-related Blogmas content. It just makes me smile to see those pages getting views in June!

23. You can use your blog to do good and support charities

I’ve done posts with two wolf sanctuaries, two donkey sanctuaries, and a couple with Dog’s Trust. I know that as a result, a couple of new sponsorships have been set up and that makes me really happy. I’ve found too that charities are happy about the publicity and willing to help with information requests.

24. You can reach people all over the world

Location data isn’t always accurate – people aren’t always where they claim to be – but it can give you a good idea of where your readers are. Most of mine are in the UK, but I sometimes scroll through the list of countries and am interested to see how many readers are based in other parts of the world.

25. I still have ideas!

Yes, there’s a spreadsheet for that too! I haven’t run out of ideas after 2.5 years and I still have plenty more.

Finally I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has read, commented, supported me, or contributed in some other way to the first 2.5 years of Unseen Beauty. You’re amazing!

I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey!

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.


5 types of emails bloggers don’t want to receive and what to do about them

I get a lot of interesting emails as a result of my blog – sometimes from blog readers, sometimes from people who want advice about the topics that I write about, and sometimes from family or friends who have something to say about one of the articles, but they don’t want to post a public comment.

That’s all great!

Sometimes I get emails about opportunities for Unseen Beauty. Some of them are things that I want to pursue – others aren’t. But people won’t know that unless they ask.

However, I can think of 5 types of emails that come to my Unseen Beauty inbox that I don’t want to receive, so I thought I’d write a quick post about them with tips for other bloggers. In most cases my advice is to do nothing with them, but a couple might convince or unnerve particularly new bloggers, so I thought it was worth highlighting them.

1. Phishing emails

These are malicious emails that claim to be from legitimate sources, but which take you to their own site in the hope that you will input sensitive personal details such as passwords or credit card details. Previously these were so badly written that they could be spotted a mile off, but the criminals behind them are getting smarter and sometimes they manage to write an entire email without any spelling or grammar errors.

These criminal activities are nothing new, but the relevance to bloggers is that I’ve seen a couple which claim that my blog-related mailbox will be deleted if I don’t take action and follow their dubious link very quickly!

I knew it wasn’t true, but the emotional language used in this kind of mail can get people panicking, and if you’ve got someone reacting with their emotions rather than thinking logically, you’re one step closer to persuading them to make a bad choice.

I don’t actually know what opening the link would have done. It was asking me to update my details, so it could have been after login details to my site, my financial details, or it might have just opened me up to some kind of malware.

The basic advice is, don’t click on links in random emails. Know who hosts your site, and your blog-related mailbox if you have one, and communicate with them directly if you are unsure. Look at the message headers – these will often help you to see that something is wrong or the person isn’t who they claim to be.

Domain registry emails

I have a couple of blogs. I received an email to say that someone was trying to buy the site that had my site’s name, but with the .cn (China) top level domain and asking whether I wanted to buy it instead.

There are two problems with this. Firstly, Unseen Beauty has a .com domain. If I wanted to and it was available, I could for example buy the version and redirect it to my .com site – so whether you use .com or, you would end up on my site. Sometimes from a business point of view, it makes sense to buy several variations, both in case people make a mistake when entering the name of your site, and to prevent other people from having that domain.

But the list of possible top level domains is endless and the only people who can really afford to snap them all up are multi-national companies with loads of money! This is further complicated by discussions about trademark infringement and domain names, but I’m not going to get into that here because I’m focussing specifically on bloggers and people trying to target them to purchase domain names for countries where the bloggers generally don’t have an audience or do business.

The only site that is really yours is the one that you have paid for – and that is only true for as long as you continue to pay for it. Someone can’t take something away from you that doesn’t belong to you in the first place.

If people want to buy a website whose name looks like mine, but with another top level domain, that’s their choice. There are so many top level domains – as well as all the country-specific ones, there are also the well-known ones such as .net and .com, as well as the newer ones such as .blog .club etc.

Secondly, if you’re going to purchase a new domain or a variation on one that you already own, go to a trusted domain registrar, not some obscure company that nobody has ever heard of until they sent you an email. For all you know, it could be someone just trying to extract money fraudulently that doesn’t even have authorisation to sell and register domains.

3. Horrible comments

I’ve been lucky so far and haven’t got any abusive comments from people trying to contact me directly. They’ve tended to be more of the nuisance creepy variety. But I know some people have had to deal with this. It’s not fair, but if you write something controversial or people just decide to be mean, they may choose to do it privately, where your friends and supporters can’t see it and stick up for you.

Don’t suffer in silence. There can be drama, but overall if you don’t join in the drama, I’ve found the blogging community to be very supportive.

4. Spam and guest post spam

The blog spam filters work fairly well now, although it’s worth checking out your comment spam folder once in a while to make sure there are no false positives – genuine comments that have been marked as spam. For example, if you have people leaving more than one link in a comment, it might be sent to the spam folder because this is a technique that spammers often use to get backlinks from your page to their sites.

I’m a bit of a control freak, so I moderate all comments before they go up. If you’re more trusting and you use WordPress, there are settings to reduce the work for you here.

Guest post spam is also a thing. It’s a term used for people who want to write for your site, but the email looks very generic – they probably don’t even have your name right. It’s all about getting other sites to link to their site or products, because this makes them appear more trustworthy or popular in terms of their search engine ratings.

You don’t benefit from this at all. You may get some content, but it’s often poorly written and more likely to drive readers away than make them want to read more.

I’m not saying this is true of all guest post requests, though I don’t think I’ve accepted any of the ones I’ve received out of the blue from complete strangers. If someone that I had been communicating with already should ask me, I’d probably view that a lot differently. But the point here is about the mass emails that are sent to hundreds of bloggers at the same time in the hope that one will respond, and that really just look like spam.

5. Unwanted attention

I’m not going to write a lot about this because I pretty much covered it in my being female and the face of your business can lead to unwanted attention post. But again, you don’t need to suffer in silence, and don’t think that just because someone emailed you, it means that they deserve a response. Sometimes silence is the smartest, and in their case most annoying, thing that you can do!

More from Unseen Beauty

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

Post index update and change of direction for Unseen Beauty

I was quite ashamed to realise that I hadn’t updated my post index page since October 2018! I had it on my list of things to do every week, but somehow it slipped off my radar and the next thing I knew, I had over 3 months of posts to add – not good really as I know that some people use it.

The idea for the index was to break down the content into topics because I know some people are only interested in certain topics here, so having the content arranged under headings makes it easier to find what you’re looking for.

So, I’m up-to-date again now, and I’ve rearranged the sections. If you want Blogmas, you need to scroll right down to the bottom. The empty products and favourites have also been shifted down now as I’m not planning to continue with these regularly.

I know some readers just follow along with the blog as new posts are published, but hopefully the index will help anyone who’s looking for something specific. And if you did notice I hadn’t been updating it – sorry!

Changes to Unseen Beauty

In January the blog celebrated its second birthday. I didn’t do a post, but I had some celebratory chocolate and thought “yay! Unseen Beauty is two years old”!

When I started, I didn’t really know where I was going with it, but I knew a lot of the things I wanted to talk about would be out of place on my business blog.

In those two years, the audience has grown, and I’ve known for a while that it has broadened out a lot. It’s read by friends, at least one family member, and people in the UK and other countries whom I’ve never met. I called it a beauty and lifestyle blog, but it’s become a lot more lifestyle than beauty, because there are so many other things I want to talk about.

So if you’re mainly here for beauty product reviews, you’ll probably be disappointed. But there are so many people doing that. My take has always been a bit different, because I can’t just go on looks, but even so – it’s a very busy space online.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that my content is being read by people who would never come for the beauty and skincare posts.

I haven’t abandoned those posts completely – although I am pretty much an all-or-nothing kind of girl in most other respects. I’ll still do round-ups when I’ve got some products to talk about, but I’ve cancelled all of my subscription boxes now and am focussing on what I have.

It’s not that I’m bored of skincare and trying new things, but I reached saturation point in terms of constantly testing the latest releases, and I don’t want things to go to waste – especially as I pretty much bought everything myself as opposed to being sent it by PRs.

I’ve also got a bit bored with the content in the beauty blogging scene. Some people are still doing a fantastic job talking about what they like or have tried recently, but it feels like there is a lot of noise with people churning out sponsored posts with products they wouldn’t normally buy, or saying that a skincare product is the best thing ever, when they’ve only had it for a few days. It doesn’t work like that, and as a result feels a bit fake to me.

People can do what they want with their blogs, but I’ve had a bit of a spring-clean of the blogs I read, and the people who are still there are people with something unique and individual to say. I think this is going to become increasingly important as the number of blogs gets higher and higher – we need to stand out from the crowd by having something original to say. Otherwise we just melt into the noise. I don’t want to do that.

So what’s coming up this year?

I’ve already changed my tag line on the blog and am not entirely happy with it, so what you see now might not be the final version.

  • My course is definitely a bigger part of my life now – I wasn’t even doing it when I started the blog – so I want to talk about it in a way that is engaging for those who understand far more than I do and those who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. That could be a challenge, but I’ll try!
  • Accessibility has always been something that interests me, so I’ll continue posts on that, with a focus on websites, apps and access to information.
  • I abandoned my book reviews last year, but I quite enjoy writing them if I have something to say about the issues in the book as well. So you’ll probably see more of those.
  • There will still be some beauty and skincare posts when I have something to say, but you can expect fewer of this type of post.
  • Animals, and especially dogs, will no doubt still feature, along with the charities that Unseen Beauty supports.
  • I’m not feeling inclined to publish guest posts, unless I think the subject’s really relevant, but I do have plans to interview people who have interesting stories or insights to share – watch this space!
  • More general things that interest me. I noticed that some of the posts that got the most engagement were the ones where I shared a story or idea that started a discussion. I’d like to see more of that because I am genuinely interested in what my readers think!

So, whilst people are still being told to find their blogging niche, I’m busting out of mine and looking to make Unseen Beauty more diverse! Hopefully you’ll stay with me on this journey of discovery!

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Blogger tips – 10 things I learned from doing Blogmas

So, Blogmas is over, and I haven’t yet decided whether I’m doing it again next year. December is a looong way off!

I actually found it easier this year – mainly because I didn’t have the week before Christmas off, and it was easier for me to get my act together and write when I was already sitting at my desk in work mode. The weekends were a different story and the only times I nearly didn’t make it were weekends.

Overall I had a lot of fun and asking questions also helped me to get to know my readers a bit more to, which was a bonus. There are lots of positive things to write about during December, and although it was quite a lot of work, I enjoyed the experience of doing it again!

I think these things that I’m going to talk about are definitely true for Blogmas, but they also apply to any kind of regular blogging challenge such as Blogtober.

Did you do Blogmas this year? Would you add anything to the list? Do you like it when blogs that you follow take part in regular posting challenges, or does it drive you crazy when you suddenly have more posts in your feed? Let me know in the comments!

So here’s what I learned!

1. Decide before December whether you really want to do it

I wasn’t going to this year, but then one of my readers changed my mind. Some people like to plan more than others, but it does help if you can do a bit of thinking and preparing before you start.

2. Plan out your ideas

Following on from point 1, I’d already decided that I didn’t want to repeat any of the posts, which that meant that I had to come up with around 24 new ideas. Could I do that? I needed to know before I committed to Blogmas.

I didn’t write any of my posts in advance. That’s not to judge anyone who did, but I wanted it to feel fresh as I was writing it. But I did have my spreadsheet with the ideas all mapped out, which meant that on the day I just had to get the text written and posted.

3. Reciprocate – it’s about the community!

It’s obvious that most bloggers are going to have less time around Christmas, but if you want people to take the time to read your posts and engage, it’s nice to do the same. Ok, you won’t always have something meaningful to say and I don’t like leaving comments that just say “great post” because they don’t really convey more than a like would.

Sometimes it just feels as though people get so caught up in the act of creating and promoting their own stuff that they forget to engage with other people in the blogging community. This can happen even more when time is at a premium and you’re working to turn around posts quickly and at the same time enjoy yourself before Christmas. So even if you’re doing Blogmas yourself, it’s nice if you can try and find a bit of time to read and comment on other people’s posts as well.

4. It’s hard when you’re not at your desk

I’ve already touched on this. The discipline needed to sit yourself down and write a blog post, when really all you want to do is curl up on the sofa with a good book and mug of hot chocolate is not to be underestimated. My strategy was to try and get it done earlier in the day so that I could relax afterwards, rather than leaving it till I was panicking at 11 o’clock at night! Obviously that doesn’t work if you have plans to be out all day, but you can look at what days each date will fall on, and if you know you’re going to have less time, plan something for that day that won’t take as long to write.

5. Eliminate the one thing that will do your head in!

This is going to be different for everyone, but have a think about it – what is the one thing that is likely to derail your attempt to complete the challenge? Is there one thing that you can say up front that you’re not going to do?

For me, as a blind blogger, it was the photos. I can’t take my own photos. I can’t see the quality of, or even what’s on stock photos. Stressing out about getting photos for daily blog posts would make me want to give up before I even started. So I didn’t.

I got help with photos of specific things like stroking the reindeer or the cheese advent calendar, but if I wanted to write a post about looking after your hair in winter and didn’t have an image for it, so be it. I’m not going to have my life ruled by the expectation that every post needs 20 photos before people will look twice at it.

This is my space on the internet. If people like what I do, they’ll come back.

For you it might be something else. Maybe you hate writing long posts and that’s stopping you from signing up to something like Blogmas. Ok, then write short ones and make this part of how you do Blogmas.

Do you hate writing gift guides? Don’t do any then! There are plenty of other things you can do.

IF 24 days will be too many, start with 12! Or do 24 days about something you enjoy, rather than something that everyone else is doing.

Or don’t do a challenge like this at all – I’m not saying you have to. I’m just saying that the way everyone else does it doesn’t mean it’s the right and only way. It makes me sad to see people wanting to be a part of something, but then not doing it because they can’t do it in quite the same way as everyone else.

6. Answer your comments

It’s only polite. If someone has taken the time to leave you a comment, and by that I don’t mean the spammy “Love your post now come and look at mine” ones, it’s not good to ignore them. Carry on the conversation if you can, and if there’s nothing to say, at least acknowledge it with a like or a thank you.

I admit I was a few days late with mine, but I do always try to come back to them.

7. Make the content feel like yours, not just a list of generic prompts

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using prompts if you’re stuck for ideas, but there are only so many posts that you can read on the same topic before it gets a bit boring. Unless, that is, someone did something a bit unusual to make their post stand out. Maybe they told a story. Maybe instead of a generic gift guide, they did one for someone with a specific hobby. Maybe some of the posts could be tied in to what the blog is about the rest of the year, but still have a wintry twist.

I don’t know. It’s different for everyone, but when people’s feeds are inundated with posts, you need to be a bit creative if you want to get people’s attention.

8. Send out some emails before December

You don’t have to do this, but if you can think of a couple of brands or charities that you’d like to work with, or another blogger who you’d like to ask about a guest post, why not see if the idea has a chance before December. Then, if they don’t get back to you, you know that you need to fill the space with something else. Or, one thing may lead to another. Originally I contacted Dogs Trust about interviewing a volunteer, but we were also invited to visit the rehoming centre, which meant that one idea generated enough content for two posts.

Many people are planning events way before December, so if you want to find out what’s on, it’s also good to plan in advance so you don’t miss anything that you’d like to have gone to.

9. Find other people who are doing it

It’s nice if you can read what other people are doing and encourage each other along the way!

10. Don’t forget to share

It’s like blogging the rest of the year. You’ll hopefully build up a following of loyal readers and sometimes they’ll share your posts. Sometimes people will magically find you via the blog reader. But most of the time, people won’t know your posts are out there unless someone tells them – so don’t forget to take the few minute to post or schedule on social media so that more people find out about your posts.

Let me know if there are any other tips that you would add!

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Blogmas giveaway winners

Happy New Year everyone!

It feels as though everyone has written a new year post about goals and stuff – I do have some, but I’ll talk about that later when I’ve had some time to work towards reaching them!

For now I’ll just let you know about the winners for the Unseen Beauty giveaway!

Here’s a reminder of what was in the box:

  1. Huda Beauty Winter solstice palate Featuring one pearlescent creamy formula and three icy pressed pearl powders.
  2. Spa of the World® French grapeseed body scrub from the Body Shop.
  3. Black eye liner pencil from the Body Shop
  4. An eye make-up brush from the Body Shop something will be coming later to go with that!
  5. Real Techniques expert face brush
  6. MUA Cosmic Vixen palette with 15 eye shadows.
  7. Karmameju konjac sponge
  8. Luxie Beauty highlighter brush
  9. Himalayan charcoal face mask from the Body Shop.
  10. Oils Of Life™ Intensely Revitalising Facial Oil


I did the draw with help from Siri and the winner – out of 101 entries – was number 8, which belonged to Kerry.

So congratulations to Kerry – if you haven’t visited her blog before, go and check it out! She has some really interesting posts that stop and make you think, as well as some lovely travel posts and ones that can teach you something (Kerry works in skincare, so I’m always interested in what she has to say on that subject).

I said “winners” because although I didn’t announce it at the start, I had put together another box with some make-up and skincare products for the reader who was most active during Blogmas. If this person had also won the main giveaway I’d have just done another draw, but as it happens, I don’t need to. My most active reader/commenter/giveaway enterer had a clear winner and it was Caz so also go and have a look at her site too if you don’t know her Invisibly Me blog already. Doing Blogmas is a big undertaking, but it’s easier when you have the support of lovely readers who interact with the posts – so this second giveaway is just a thank you really for the time Caz took to do that. It sums up a part of blogging that sometimes gets missed – not just creating your own content, but building the community and supporting others in the space as well. Of course other people did that too, but I had to pick one winner!

So congratulations to Kerry and Caz. If you let me have your addresses, I’ll get your boxes out as soon as I can.

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The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

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The most popular posts in 2018

I love numbers and spreadsheets and things. I try not to get caught up in the whole numbers trap with blogging, but I’m still interested in the stats, and which posts people most want to read.

I decided to do a round-up of the most popular posts in 2018 so that any regular readers can have a look at anything they missed if they want to, but also because I got some new readers during Blogmas, and I thought it might be helpful for them to see what kind of things I write on here when I’m not doing Christmas content.

So I’ve looked at my stats, taken out posts that weren’t written this year and the giveaway links – because who wants to be directed to a giveaway that is closed? However, the December 2018 giveaway is open until 23:59 on 31st December, so if you want to enter that, you can fill out the form on as many Blogmas 2018 pages as you want.

I always find it fascinating – the posts that I enjoy writing the most aren’t always the ones that get the most interaction.

A couple of these nearly didn’t get published. Would people even know what I meant if I started talking about sensory sensitivity? (It turns out that they did). Did I really want everyone to know I’d had an accident at home because I wasn’t paying attention? The post had only been up a couple of minutes when I got messages from concerned friends, so although my first instinct wasn’t to share, writing the post made it easier for me to start talking about it, even though I felt stupid, and maybe some of the tips could help other people if they ever get into that situation.

One theme I can see is that the more personal posts ranked higher. I find those harder to write, but I think that the blogging space has become saturated by people writing generic posts about lots of stuff, so it takes something a bit more individual to stand out. That’s tough for someone who’s more private, and whose day job involves writing educational content. Still, I get the message that there at least needs to be some kind of personal angle or story.

I’ve also noticed that some of the disability-related posts got more interaction. I’ve always been very clear that whilst I write about these topics and how I experience the world as someone who is blind, I don’t want to limit myself to writing a disability blog. That’s nothing against people who do, but honestly it would bore me, and the way I show that blindness is just a small part of what makes a day in the life of Kirsty is to write about other things as well – or to incorporate my experiences into other posts. It’s no good if I churn out blindness-related content till the cows come home and don’t get any joy from it – there has to be a balance.

The other thing I’ve noticed is how my audience has grown and become more diverse. I’m not talking about the numbers here, although they do make me happy. I mean, originally Unseen Beauty was very much focussed on beauty and skincare products. I have still been writing about these things, but I’ve also been enjoying writing the opinion pieces about disability, living and working in the online space, and questioning some of the things that we just accept as part of everyday life. I’ve also loved doing the animal and charity articles and would like to continue this next year. I’d also like to write more about my studies and the things that I’m learning.

So you’ll probably still see the product reviews and beauty box posts, but I want to broaden out the topics here as I have more to talk about and an audience with broader interests than this time last year.

I’ve also realised that people who I know in real life are reading the blog too, and I wasn’t really aware of that before, so hi to you as well!

Enough rambling – these are my top 10 posts for 2018!

10. Blogmas 2018 – my first Braille chocolate Advent calendar

Day 11 was the most popular Blogmas post – probably because Braille Advent calendars aren’t a thing here in the UK, and I imagine it got shared in groups where people are likely to want one!

9. Too many words were happening – sensory sensitivities

This took courage to write, but as I come to terms with things that I find hard, rather than just pretending I don’t, it was good to find a name for them and even better to find that others could relate.

8. April make-up and skincare empties

Not sure what was so special about April – I do an empties post most months to talk about the products I’ve used up and what I thought of them.

7. The value of online friendships

This wasn’t even planned – I saw something on another blog post, responded to it, and then had to get down all my ideas about online friendships before I forgot what I wanted to say. I think people can be really dismissive of the contacts that we make online, and I wanted to put the other, more positive side to that.

6. What I learned from an accident at home

I fell over the bathroom rug and am still having physio now. Always keep your mind on what you’re doing!

5. Don’t be annoying – 15 things I wish people would stop doing on social media

I’ve heard there’s research that says you get more clicks when you use negative words in your headlines. I didn’t do this to get views – maybe people just wanted to see whether they were doing the things that other people find annoying!

4. February favourites

My favourites posts don’t usually do this well, but I did mention that one of them was winning a beauty box, so maybe people wanted to see who was giving away beauty boxes!

3. Blindness myths that need to go away

Sometimes the myths and stereotypes get too much – I decided to deal with as many as I could think of in one post!

2. I’m tired- the disability reality that people don’t talk about

I really struggled with whether to post this one. It’s probably the most open and honest post that I’ve written on the blog, and it seems people can relate to it. I got comments from people in all kinds of situations with different challenges who all new exactly what I was talking about.

1. Making D&D accessible to blind players

This post really took off on Twitter, which is how I believe it came to be in the top slot. It’s not usually something I write about, but I think the Dungeons and Dragons community on social media was just interested to see someone writing about this topic, as not many people do. I was just sharing my experiences and I don’t feel there’s a whole load more I could write on the topic, but I’m really happy if the things that I have learned have helped other people too.

So there you have it! Those were my most popular posts.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s been with me on this Unseen Beauty journey this year. Thanks for all the comments – whether on the blog or privately. Thanks for the likes and shares. Thanks for reading!

Happy New Year and I hope 2019 will be a good one for you!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains some affiliate links, but I only promote things that I’ve tried and tested.


Autumn giveaway winner

I’ve done the draw for the autumn giveaway and you can find out who won here:

Siri is still a bit quiet, but I boosted her as much as I could. I couldn’t rerecord it because then she would have chosen another number, and that wouldn’t have been fair.

To anyone who didn’t win, as long as you said that I could, I will transfer your entries into the next giveaway, which will be happening around Christmas time.

Again I was interested to see what products people were interested in. Some people chose the L’Occitane products or the wipe-out cloth, but the clear favourite was the shampoo bar, and I’ll bear that in mind for the future.

For me, these giveaways aren’t about attracting loads of new followers, who then disappear as soon as the giveaway is over. It’s more about giving something back to my readers, which is why I do the thing with transferring entries.

Some people already have 2 or more entries in the next giveaway, so it’s good to keep entering because that increases your chances. The person who won today had more than one entry.

Have a great week everyone!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.

The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.