Danielle Gray is an award-winning blogger and style expert and the founder and editor of The Style and Beauty Doctor.
We recently asked Danielle for her insight on blogging, influencer marketing and how she built her brand. Here’s what she shared:
Tell us the story behind the Style and Beauty Doctor. What inspired you to start your site?
I received my BBA in Marketing in 2003 and had been working in the financial services sales industry. I was good at my job but yearned for a creative outlet so I took the Image Consulting Certificate program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. After completing the coursework, I started an Image Consulting business in 2006. In 2007 I started my blog as a way to promote my Image Consulting business. A short time after starting the blog, it evolved to be more of a fashion and beauty resource to help women all over to look and feel their best.
What will readers find on your site? How did you figure out what the niche for your site would be?
My site has a ton of easy to digest info and tutorials for makeup, skincare and fashion. I also cover home decor now that I’m remodeling my apartment and doing a ton of DIY projects. My approach is to make beauty and fashion attainable and easy to understand and now that I’m getting older, I have a younger section of my audience who I can help inspire with life advice.
I alter my content depending on the feedback I get from interacting with my readers. If I see that they’re interested in a certain subject or have questions about things like skincare, I’ll include it in my content. This is why I love social media because it allows me to interact with my readership and get a feel of what they want to know and see.
Figuring out my niche was an ongoing process. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, but I’ve found success in sticking to being me even when it may not be the most popular thing. But I have a loyal audience that trusts me so I create content with them in mind.
It’s no secret that the beauty industry can do more when it comes to the unique needs of women of color. My blog has long been a source where women with deeper skin tones can see things like makeup swatches on a deeper skin tone, help figuring out which foundation shades they should try, and getting quality information and tutorials about makeup and skincare specific to their needs.
What tools or methods have been most effective for growing the audience to your site?
I’ve used tons of SEO over the years. It’s been how so much of my audience has found me. I’ve also been consistent with postings, engage with my audience, and post relevant and quality information. I’m always looking for the best way to display content for my audience–recently I’ve started doing more short video demos with my blog posts which has done well for helping my readers (especially those who may have to order product online) get a sense of what a product looks like and how it performs.
I also started a Youtube channel in 2015 and have been posting there regularly. I feel like I’ve shown a lot of my personality through my blog posts and social posts, but YouTube gives my audience another side of me and introduces me to new audiences.
How often do you collaborate with brands for content on your site?
I like to keep most of my content evergreen and I stick to an editorial calendar, but I do enjoy working with brands because it allows me to have the funding to increase quality in all my postings. I would say that out of the about 15-20 posts I publish on my blog each month, maybe one to two are sponsored. At most four.
How do you approach these brand collaborations? What makes you agree to work with a particular brand?
A good portion of my brand collaborations were brands that sought me out, but I also reach out to brands that I would like to work with from time to time.
I like to work with brands that are similarly aligned with my branding and of course brands that I use and love. I prefer to work with well-known brands because I want my audience to have the best experience possible when they patronize my sponsors. I also prefer to work with the same brands for a series of posts. This just works best because there’s continuity, which builds trust for both me as a publisher as well as for the brand.
I also love working with “out of the box” brands– for instance, last year I worked with Dyson on one of their humidifiers. The tie-in was that the humidifier obviously is great for wellness reasons, but a secondary usage was that the extra moisture helps with skin and hair.
What causes you to turn down a collaboration offer? What types of brands would you rather not work with?
If the brand just doesn’t align with my branding and it’s something I don’t think my audience would be interested in, I turn it down. I prefer to work with bigger brands, but I’ll work with a smaller brand if I can ascertain that my audience would generally have a good experience buying the brand’s products or utilizing their services. I prefer not to work with brands that have a history of poor customer service.
What do you see as the benefits to brand collaboration? How have they helped your site and your readers?
The biggest benefit of brand collaboration has been that the funding allows me to pay for things like video production, photography, web hosting, etc. that all allow me to create even more quality content for my readers.
Can you tell us about an especially positive brand collaboration experience? What set it apart?
I worked with a national beauty retailer for an almost year-long campaign. What was especially positive about it was the brand gave me full creative range for creating content. They would give me a topic or brand category but I was allowed to come up with the creative direction of the posts. I loved it because the brand trusted me to take the direction and create content I knew my audience would enjoy.
What online marketing trends or innovations are you following today for how they might help you grow your audience? Why do they interest you?
I’ve been looking at a lot of articles that have come out last year and this year on brand’s channeling their influencer marketing efforts to micro-influencers. Mostly because I’ve always believed that micro-influencers like myself with engaged audiences and cover niche topics are powerful.
Learn why influencer marketing is the gift that keeps on giving. Download our case study.