Beauty in the eye of the blogger
She racks up 7,000 visits a day on average, with an accumulated 8.8 million hits as of mid May this year. Such is the attention Suhyun Kim’s blog (blog.naver.com/haruna85) attracts with its make-up and skincare product reviews.
“I have always loved make-up and thought, ‘I will just try it,’” says Kim, 27, reminiscing about how she got into blogging. “You see, I was a college student on vacation without much to do back home in a small city."
In late 2007, the Jeonju native started posting reviews of cosmetics on her blog. A year after that, she became one of the first batch of 1,083 Power Bloggers, selected by Naver, Korea's biggest search portal, which has renewed her title every year since then.
“I think I got lucky because there weren't that many beauty bloggers back then,” says Kim.
At first, Kim followed the general format of beauty bloggers worldwide; using an image provided by the cosmetic brand’s website and writing her opinions below. Through visitor feedback, however, she soon realized they wanted to see more.
The detail-oriented blogger now takes close-up photographs to show the shades, shimmers, and textures of products such as lipsticks and facial creams. For “how-to” posts, she also includes step-by-step pictures of her make-up procedure.
Kim also includes names of manufacturing companies, who get commissioned by different brands to make products at their plants. Many customers often have their preferred manufacturer, according to Kim.
“I absolutely have to include the date of manufacture. Although most [cosmetics] products are good for up to two years after the date, people tend not to buy something made a year ago,” says Kim.
While she spends her days working at a PR company as a junior manager, she manages to publish a new post almost every day by taking a week’s worth of photos on the weekend and posting them throughout the week.
The petite cosmetics enthusiast says the time and energy invested is worthwhile.
“To be honest, life can get pretty monotonous,” she says. “Work-home, work-home, dinner with friends, and some shopping when there is time. But when I see my life through the photos and writings on my blog, I feel more assured that I am living it to the fullest -- taking up a hobby and spending quality time with friends and family.”
“The fun part is sharing thoughts on what drives people to make a purchase,” says Kim. “For example, [holding up her mug of Americano,] I could have bought it for the taste, but another person could have chosen it because of the coffee shop’s brand.”
Since about a year ago, Kim has been offered products to test and review on her blog. Many companies, both local and global, hand out new products to bloggers in the hope of building hype around it.
With so many free products to choose from, what does Kim buy with her own money?
“I often check out on-line sites of department stores and brands I love. Since most brands accept reservations for upcoming items these days, I take advantage of the services to buy the latest and special-edition items.”
When an item is not for sale in Korea, Kim will seek help from friends overseas.
“I just had to get this one lipstick from Japan and asked my friend there to ship it to me," says Kim. "I also asked my friend in the United States to get two flavored lip balms because the packaging was so adorable and the idea brilliant.”
When asked if she thinks it will take a long time to finish using the things she has bought over the years, the usually voluble Kim pauses for a moment before answering.
“Well, I do not expect to finish them. They are more like my collections.”