There are so many fascinating people in the fragrance and beauty community. From the creative minds that bring products to us to the critics who tell us what to buy, you can learn so much by asking a few questions. In this series I send a list of questions to individuals I look up to and share their answers with you.
This week we have my friend and talented blogger Andrea Haskins from Candle Scoop. Anyone that keeps up with the website will appreciate the sheer number of posts that Andrea and her colleagues put out every week, as well as their notably organized reviews system. Andrea writes about everything from scented wax to beauty products, and covers a wide range of brands. From the Wordless Wednesday series to the Eyeing Etsy column, Andrea’s website is a top destination for waxy, smelly thoughts.
Below are her thoughts about preparing “emergency” posts, the best hand cream, and making her own products.
1. How did you get started in blogging, and what made it attractive to you?
I am a long term member of Candlefind.com, and actually help the owner with the business. We were looking at ways to expand our reach, and adding a blog seemed like a natural extension of the main site. I loved the opportunity to reach more candle consumers and the ability to have a dialogue with them on a more personal level. We launched the blog in 2013.
2. What has been the best thing that’s come out of your blogging experience, and why?
The best thing has been the personal relationships that have been formed. It’s hard to get to “know” someone online, but I’ve run across some fabulous people who all share a common bond – the love of scent! Although I don’t get to interact as often as I would like, I cherish each one of those new found relationships.
3. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything? What is it, and why?
Yes, most definitely. It took me a while to feel comfortable sharing some of my thoughts and opinions. I hesitated on some aspects for fear of offending or hurting feelings. While I certainly don’t set out to do that on any occasion, I think now I am more comfortable with simply giving my opinion. We all have varied opinions, and that’s what makes the world – especially the blogging world – so great! Removing that mental block has let the creative juices flow, and I think that’s helped with the overall tone and ‘life’ of the blog.
I also would have invested time in a good calendar system upfront. I’ve come to find an editorial calendar is one of my best friends!
4. Think back to any particular event in your blogging experience that stands out, negatively or positively. What was it, and what did you take from it?
The negative experiences seem to linger for some reason; I do remember writing a review for a particular candle company and the owner of the company came to the defence of the candle. For a while, I hesitated posting any further negative reviews. I felt bad and didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
After a few months, though, I decided that I started blogging for a reason – to share my opinion and to try to help other candle lovers make decisions about where to spend their money. And that requires me to share my opinion, good or bad. I’m no longer apologetic for bad reviews. It is what it is. And after all, it’s only my opinion!
5. What is your blogging process? Does it start with a product, an idea, or something else?
I have a master schedule of general topics that I keep in Evernote. I spread those various topics out over specific days of the week. I’m usually fairly busy during the week, so I tend to sit down on the weekend and start plugging in the specifics for the upcoming week. For example, I try to post a candle related news item every Thursday. During my weekend of planning, I will think about something I either read in the news or something that might be trending elsewhere. I may not have time to write up the full post on the weekend, but it gives me a framework from which to work during the week.
Sometimes I will get an email requesting a review of a particular product, and I always try to oblige when I can.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?
My main word of advice is to have a well thought out plan before launching. Decide on how often you will post, what tone/character you want your blog to have, and how you will handle comments (positive and negative). The more you can think about those things upfront, the easier it will make your blogging ride. There will still be issues and problems – no one can prevent that! But it helps to be prepared.
I would also suggest drafting up a bank of “emergency” posts – at least 5 to 10. These are posts that will suffice in the case you become ill or just aren’t in the mood to post. Set a limit on how low your bank of posts can get. Let’s say you have 10 emergency posts and you set your low limit at 5. When you’ve used up 5 of your 10 posts, start writing some other ones to build back up to 10. That way, you will always have something you can provide to your readers and you will never be stressed about having something ready to post.
7. There are other writers who work on Candle Scoop – how do you manage the website as a group?
I am the main author and content provider for Candle Scoop. At this stage in the life of the blog, I count on the content I will provide each week with the process I mentioned above. If I happen to get additional content from another writer, I consider it icing on the cake.
8. Any product you’re currently obsessed with? What makes it stand out?
I am obsessed with hand creams in general. My hands are used and abused day in and day out, so I am always looking for a hand cream that can ease the pain. My absolute favorite is the Cattiva Diva hand cream from Principessa. My hands feel like I have put on a silk glove when I use it! Plus, it’s pink and girly. Perfect for me!
9. A product you hated in recent memory? What made it so horrible, and does it have any redeeming qualities?
There aren’t many products that I just outright hate. I was most disappointed in a luxury line candle that had a terrible tunnel. And very little scent! Not only was the performance sub-par, it also cost a pretty penny which added insult to injury. I can’t think of any redeeming qualities on that one!
10. Do you think that after years of cultivating your opinions you would put them to use in making your own wax or body products? If not, why?
Actually, I am working on this very thing right now! I am learning about bath/body products and I hope to start making them in the near future. Wax products are not out of the question, but if I do that, it would be after a bath/body line.
11. What does the future hold for Candle Scoop?
Great things, I hope! We have been getting more and more product review requests. I’ve added another reviewer to the blog – Ann Frati. She has been a big help. I am also looking forward to Candle Scoop being a great resource for candle (and bath/body) lovers. I want it to be the go-to place to find a missing scent description or comparisons of different products.
12. Any up and coming wax bloggers to watch for?
Why, you, of course! I love Nosegasm.com and the life you bring to your reviews.
13. What would be your ‘ideal wax’? What qualities do you look for in the product and service?
I am ideally looking for authentic scents, the more complex the better. I appreciate single note products, but I love creative blends and very complex scents. A scent doesn’t have to knock me over, but I do want to enjoy the fragrance without having to stand directly over the product. As for candles, I want a clean burn and low maintenance.
Customer service is also very important to me. I don’t expect to be catered to, but I do expect to get what I’ve paid for in reasonable time and in good shape. Not really too much to ask!
14. Do you ever look at your collection and think ‘that’s enough’? Do you think that you will ever?
Oh yes. Every single day. But then I get online and see something else I *have* to have, and the feeling goes away. 😉 In all seriousness, though, I can’t see myself ever getting to that point. I am always wanting to compare and contrast – this brand with that one, this scent with that one. It never ends! I am truly wax obsessed.
I would like to thank Andrea for taking time to share her ideas with me. You can find her at her blog.