Happy 4th Anniversary, Doll Up Mari! 

A lot of times I actually can't believe I have been blogging for this long already. I feel like 2013 is just like last year, and I always feel surprised whenever I am reminded that I have been running this blog for four years already. It's actually my fifth year in blogging, but this blog is four years old now. But heck, this blog also feels like it's 5 years old because I produced content for 7 months in 2013, which feels a lot like 1 year... 

Of course, blogging, like any other hobby, has its fair share of ups and downs and life lessons to learn from. I normally don't talk about things like this as you will always be bombarded with reviews and tutorials, but I felt like talking about things that go behind those reviews and tutorials. Here I go. 

This is what blogging has taught me:

1.) Being grateful for everything I do. 
Throughout my whole life up until university, I have hated school. I hated my high school (which unfortunately was also my primary school and preschool) experience extremely. Most of my high school days were spent crying over the people, the happenings, and stress. When I was in high school, the school was trying to be at par with more prestigious schools, so it was skipping a lot of "steps" and just raising the standards too high too fast that students like me were the ones experiencing the wrath of it. I felt miserable over every single task that had to be done and I questioned the system every single day. I always wondered why we had to do everything that we were made to do. My stress levels had gone to the point that I no longer wanted to live. It was just that bad. I really just did everything to get through the day.

Blogging got me out of that vicious cycle of loathing every single work-related task I needed to do. Finding something that I wanted to do solely for just doing it gave me a new sense of direction in my life. 

It taught me to be thankful for every single task I did. No one really asked me to start, and until now no one is really asking me to do things or to continue. I just do it because I like to do it. Doing something that I loved got me out of being a work zombie and taught me to understand to value what I do. I used to do a lot of tasks just to get it done, because it was needed, or because the deadline was near. Everything was done to get through the day. Blogging has taught me about the satisfaction of learning new things from doing all sorts of little tasks. It taught me to find satisfaction in being able to accomplish things, whether they are required or not. When I started this blog, it was initially just my way to dump all my photos from makeup school and was a fulfillment of a long time longing to have my own online space. I never thought that it'd actually teach me things like this 

And this constant yearning for satisfaction I always remember what veteran bloggers have advised me-- be grateful to have a backlog because it means you have content to write about. It means sponsors trust you that they send so much stuff that you can't talk about them all at the same time. 

2.) Not having a comfort zone.
 I learned to value the value of doing all sorts of tasks because from there it's where you actually will learn and grow as a human being. In blogging, there is a need to balance theory and execution. Your ideas are only ideas until you actually execute them. When I started the blog, I had sub-par photography, video editing, and PR skills. Now, I can say that they're still not of high standards, but they have come a long way from when I started. It takes guts to put yourself out there and know that you're making subpar content. I see plenty of bloggers who laugh at their old blog posts and collaterals and being able to laugh at one's self is a generally admirable trait because it's often the ones too afraid to make mistakes who actually don't make it big. 

I see a lot of people who are very fit to be bloggers, beauty bloggers to be specific. I see a lot of people who are tech-savvy, beautiful, and knowledgeable about beauty products. But the reason why they're not bloggers is that they do not want to go out of their comfort zone. They're fine uploading stuff privately and they are always scared of not being perfect, that's why they never try. I see a lot of people who write "beauty blog soon" on their IG profiles, and I honestly have no idea what is holding them back from getting on with it. Blogging is one of those things where you learn as you go, and until you start "going", you really will never start learning. 

I know it's not easy. I honestly had a lot of friends whom I knew were secretly jeering at my initial tutorials and blog layouts. Many doubted my makeup and beauty reviewing skills. I was (and still am) the laughing stock at clan parties for liking makeup. I'm branded as this shallow and vain airhead just because I like makeup. If only my aunts knew that beauty blogging is 10% beauty and 90% digital strategy...

But yeah, going back, I feel like this applies to a lot of things in real life. I honestly learned the value of trying things even if I know I will do horribly, even if I know people will laugh at me for it initially, or even into the future. Because it is from doing that we actually learn and grow. 

3.) Having a work ethic. 
In the years I've been in this industry, the only "secret" that I've learned is having a work ethic. 

Being a popular or pretty blogger is not necessarily indicative of a good work ethic. There are bloggers who are popular but have very horrible attitudes towards other people or brands. A good number of the very popular bloggers nowadays became famous too soon or became popular purely due to family connections, which is why they often do not have a sense of gratitude and professionalism over what they do. I have seen real top dog bloggers and YouTubers who have behaved delinquently. 

Plenty of times I have heard of very popular people asking online shops for like the whole collection for a meager 1-2 tweets. The brand should already thank the heavens if the blogger is benevolent enough to bestow an Instagram post upon them after they sent probably Php15000 worth of merchandise in one sitting. I also see the breed who would go to events, enjoy themselves with the food and loot bags, but not give the brand any blog post or any googleable mileage (aka blog post or YouTube video) for like half a year, if at all. Or worse, they leave the event with blurry Snapchat posts, patting themselves on the shoulders for a job well done. I call them "pataba" bloggers because they're literally just fattening themselves with the free food served at events. It's also not unheard of some very popular bloggers to block the follow-ups of brands once they get what they want from the brand. There have also been plenty of stories of bloggers who don't even blog about the products they were sent and immediately put the items up for sale. It can get nasty...

In the long run, brands want to work with people who are reliable, sensitive over timelines, and ACTUALLY giving the brand the mileage in return for what it is doing. One's popularity doesn't matter in the end if one is not going to post about the brand at all. 

But I think it also deserves some clarification. Work ethic doesn't equate to being a sponsor's pawn. One can say no to brands one doesn't feel like working with or to events that are not value-adding. Work ethic is pulling through agreements/promises when one actually does agree to work with a brand or attend an event. 

4.) Curbing negativity online
When one is angry, it's so easy to rant on Facebook. It's also tempting to do so! Having your friends have a blind item game for a few hours or days is fun right? PM-ing all the deets about the person you hate really gets the adrenaline pumping. Or getting a post against a person/brand/party viral feels like a victory right? 

I understand these feelings because I'm also just a human being. I also have plenty of acquaintances whom I think deserve to be in hell together. I also have been treated poorly while shopping, and I've also had my fair share of defective/scandalous products. 

But one thing blogging emphasizes is the impact of one's actions online to the whole picture. Yeah, it wouldn't be hard for me to get a post about a bad customer experience to go viral... But what would happen after? It would just snowball into fight after fight after fight. I will be picking a fight with the brand, who in turn will pick a fight with me, and all the other netizens who wish to get involved will also pick fights with me/the brand/among themselves. Who gains in the end? No one. Who gets emotionally drained? All parties involved. Chances are I won't get the resolution I need and the brand might even pursue charges. 

As such, when my customer interactions go awry, I try to get things resolved offline. If online, I try to resolve things privately. I understand that I am in a position of privilege that I know the key people managing a lot of brands so my queries may get preferential treatment, but I really try to resolve things privately. 

Another meaning to this is that when I see something that I don't have anything positive to say about, I just shut up. Being a blogger means putting up with a lot of negative opinions from people who don't even know you, and it's really unfair. People reaaaaally need to make you aware about every single thing that is wrong about you or your content. The anonymity that the internet provides has paved the way for content creators to see the worst in people. Being through such experiences makes one realize that it is not easy to be on the receiving end of online hate, and as such, one should not be part of the problem. I also have my own fiery views over politics, showbiz and country matters, but they never make it here or in my social media accounts because I do not wish to perpetuate a culture of hate. I try to focus on just posting about positive things. I honestly barely ever comment on news sites because it's too polarized that one really is bound to spur ill feelings. 

So yaaay, those are the things I wished to share. Happy anniversary to me!!! And to all of you who have been reading on since the start, happy reading anniversary to you all! 

Top Beauty Blogger, Vlogger, YouTuber from Manila, Philippines