The Cosmo Blog Awards shortlist came out this week, so we asked Lucy, who’s been a member of the Cosmo Beauty Team for a few years now to talk to us about what they were looking for in a finalist. These are just her views and not those of Cosmo, of course!
For the past three years I’ve had some sort of input on the Cosmo Blog Awards, this year and last I’ve helped create the final shortlist for all the beauty categories. I’m by no means an expert when it comes to what you should and shouldn’t do in terms of blogging, how your blog should look or what your content should read like. I’ve had meetings with Cosmo’s Social Media Assistant (she’s in charge of the awards this year) and we’ve both been thinking along the same sort of lines about what we like and the things we look out for.
In terms of how the blogs are shortlisted, every single blog that enters or has been nominated by readers is looked at. I think it’s important to stress that just because your readership isn’t as big as somebody else’s, you won’t be overlooked. I’ve looked at blogs that maybe have less than 50 ‘followers’, but they’re much better than some that have 1000+ – those numbers aren’t the be all and end all of blogging.
Personally, the things I look for are big, clear pictures. I know the various hashtags always says this but it’s true. The bigger the better in my opinion, and it’s also important that they’re clean. Images that look busy aren’t attractive, try shooting with a white background or on a surface that’s relatively tidy. I don’t necessarily want to see your entire dressing table and all the products on there and not know which is supposed to be the main focus. Make it as easy as possible for the reader.
The second thing, again it’s always mentioned on the hashtags, but a clean, tidy layout. White backgrounds are good, I personally hate when people have a loud background with a clashing font colour, or even a black background and white writing. It isn’t attractive and reminds me of those crappy freewebs-type websites that I made when I was about 12. A minimalistic approach is good, as are softer colours. They make things easier to read and people are more likely to hang around your blog if it’s pleasing to the eye. I know it’s not good to judge a book by its cover (or a blog by it’s layout) but it’s always going to happen, so bare that in mind. There’s lots of people out there who’ll happily revamp your corner of the internet for a few quid, or even just make a header for you to make things a bit more personal to you. I’ve paid various people for headers in my time, and I paid somebody to pretty up my whole blog a few weeks ago. If you want to be taken seriously, it’s worth the investment.
The most important thing though is content. Obviously. If your writing doesn’t make sense and thing are misspelt, it’s going to reflect badly. That sounds kind of harsh, but a good blog has the whole package. I spent hours reading through blogs that were nominated and the good ones always shone through. I get so irate when commas are used wrongly, or there are random apostrophes all over the place. It takes approximately two minutes to run a spell check over your post, or paste it into a word document and make changes that way. I know spelling and grammar isn’t everybody’s forte and I’m not claiming to be an expert – sometimes I get things wrong too – but a basic knowledge is going to help you in all walks of life. Plus I think the effort is appreciated.
Another thing that I noticed a lot of is press release repetition. Bloggers get sent samples and to go with those samples usually comes a press release, but if all you’re going to do is rehash what’s been written by the PR company, what’s the point? I read press releases day in, day out, so I’m gonna know when something sounds familiar – the average reader probably won’t, but it still kind of feels like the audience is being misled somehow. Obviously all the product information is right but those words aren’t your own – take inspiration from them, learn about the product from them but don’t just type them word for word! I’m not sure what else to cover, I think that’s the top three things that I looked out for, but if anybody has any questions then feel free to shoot me an email!