The Skinny Confidential Has Blogged About Beauty Secrets Every Day For Seven Straight Years
Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential doesn’t care if you think she’s annoying and high-strung. Plenty of people don’t. In fact, her raunchy sense of humor, positivity and helpful tips and tricks have attracted over 600,000 Instagram followers, 200,000 weekly podcast downloads, 1.1 million YouTube views and 25,000 Facebook group members. She’s also put out a book, e-book and an app. The San Diego-based blogger isn’t just piling up projects and social media statistics for instant fame, though. She’s intent on playing the influencer long game. Beauty Independent spoke to Evarts about managing multiple platforms, best practices for brand partnerships and being a follow-back girl for her fans.
Tell us about your path to becoming a beauty influencer.
I was attending San Diego State. I was bartending and teaching Pure Barre and Pilates, and I was extremely bored, unfulfilled and unsatisfied. I’ve always been a big fan of creating my own destiny. No one is going to do it for you, you’ve got to go out there and do it yourself. Sororities at San Diego State were $800 a semester. I couldn’t afford that, so I thought: How can I make my own sorority online that’s not catty and that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? That’s how The Skinny Confidential came about. I wanted to connect with women from other countries, find out what French women were doing, what supermodels were doing, what celebrities were doing and put it all in one spot so it was like an encyclopedia for women to share their tips and tricks. That’s how it started. Then, after about three years of blogging, I wrote a book. I’ve been blogging every single day for the last seven years. I had the idea [for The Skinny Confidential] in 2010, and it launched in 2011.
What different platforms are you active on?
It started as a blog. I’m a huge believer in niching down on one thing and moving outward slowly. I started with the blog knowing full well that it I was building a foundation for a brand and eventually a product. So I was content marketing from the beginning. A book was in the cards, a product line, eventually, now we have a podcast. All these things were in the back of my head, but instead of leading with those things and trying to do a hundred things at once, I did one thing. I did it with quality and I didn’t look to monetize it. I didn’t make a dime for two-and-a-half years. I grew strategically and slowly. It grew into the book, then into a meal plan. People were asking me for my workouts, so I put together an e-book, too. From there, we did an app. Now, we have a podcast and the YouTube channel. There’s all these different avenues for people to consume content, whether it’s video, audio or visually. It’s become this community, which is exactly what I wanted from the beginning. We have a Facebook group of 25,000 girls, and it’s just the most positive, uplifting space. It has nothing to do with me. It’s all about them, their tips and tricks. It’s like a mini Skinny Confidential, but nothing to do with me. It’s been really cool to watch. That’s where we’re at now. I think eventually I’ll do product, but I think that the sky’s the limit. The beauty of the internet is that you can create your own destiny. People ask where do you think you’re going to be in five years, 10 years, and I think where I’m going to be is what I decide to create. There are so many different ways to utilize the internet to your advantage to build a brand.
Tell us more about The Skinny Confidential Facebook group.
I can’t control it, though I certainly have rules. I don’t talk politics, and I don’t talk religion on The Skinny Confidential. It’s never been that kind of space, and it never will be. There’s a million other spaces people can go [to talk politics and religion], it’s not The Skinny Confidential. The group is very much about beauty, fitness, diet, relationships, wellness. They [the members] share what works for them, they ask each other questions. Everyone is very kind. If you don’t have something nice to say, then this isn’t the spot for you. We’ve had a few bad eggs that we’ve had to kick out, but, other than that, it’s been very positive, which has been amazing. I think it’s been positive because I’ve tried for the last seven years to create a positive space for women that represents unapologetically being yourself, whatever that looks like. You should do you. I’m not for everyone. My voice can be annoying. I can be high-strung. I know I’m not for everyone, and that’s OK. The people that I am for understand what I want to do and what my mission is: to allow women to have this spot on the internet where they can be inspired to be the best version of themselves, as opposed to constantly comparing themselves to other people. And all these women have come together — they do meet-ups, they’ve become friends.
With all these platforms to manage, how big is The Skinny Confidential team?
We have four people in office. One does the day-to-day stuff, [dealing with] the packages and all the things that come with being a blogger. Another is dealing with the emails. I could get 500 to 1,000 emails a day, so it’s really important to have someone on that or I’d never be up and about and creating. Then I have a video editor and a graphic designer. Then my photographer, who’s also filming video now. She’s incredible. Her job is not just creating content, but documenting and doing a lot of blogs. We have a couple other graphic designers, one in New York and one in Orange County to help with Instagram stories and collages. The writing is all me. I don’t have a ghostwriter. Then, my husband and I work on the podcast together. He’s not in the day-to-day at The Skinny Confidential, but he does do the podcast with me.
How long does one blog post take to create?
It really depends on the post, but it definitely takes at least an hour-and-a-half. If it’s something that I’m very passionate about, and it’s an in-depth post, it can take about three hours. I have someone that edits the blog. The photos have to be edited before they go on the blog. If it’s video, that has to be edited and color-corrected, so it’s a lot of in-depth stuff that I’m doing day-to-day. For one post to come together, it’s not like an hour-and-a-half straight of work. It’s like turning in a homework assignment every night. Then, you have to distribute it. I think a lot of creators are creating, but not distributing, and distributing is a whole other ball game. And that’s just the icing on the cake. The backend of it is the emails, the shooting, the editing, running the business, promoting it and showcasing your life from the second you wake up to the second you go to bed while also engaging with the audience. It’s a lot of balls up in the air. I love it — I wouldn’t want to do anything else — but it’s definitely a seven day a week job.
How do you like brands to reach out to you?
Email is probably the best way to get in touch, but there’s definitely a finesse for reaching out to influencers. We get so many emails a day, so it’s important to stand out in a way that is personal but to the point. I always say make sure the subject line is personal because the subject line is the one way to really stand out in the inbox.
What makes a great partnership with a beauty brand?
A great collaboration is when a brand gives the influencer the product to try and allows them to develop their own story and narrative. I think it’s really important, as a product line, to get your story told in different ways and in different voices, which is why influencer marketing is so powerful. No one knows their audience better than the influencer that they’ve [the brand] hired. What drives me nuts is when a brand hires me and then tries to micromanage my voice. I feel that I know how to showcase a product to my audience in a way that’s not salesy. I like to tell them why I like [the product] in my own way. A fact sheet is great when a brand wants to send it, but I need to say it in my own way or it comes off inauthentic. If a beauty brand hires an influencer, they need to let the influencer run with it how their audience would respond best. Also, as a brand, it’s extremely important that you choose the right influencer, so it’s important to do your research about who you’re working with before you commit to that influencer. If someone hires me and I cuss, and they’re mad, I say you don’t know my content because I cuss a lot. That’s something you should know before you hire me. If you want someone who’s very buttoned up and doesn’t say that, I’m probably not the right influencer. I’m very bold. I’m in your face. You need to know the adjectives that describe that influencer before you hire them. The best collaborations are always the ones where I can speak to my audience in the way I see best. The brands that tell me, “We trust your voice, just go for it,” that’s when I get the most inspired and the most creative.
What should brands know about working with influencers?
If you’re going to hire an influencer, you want someone who’s going to tell your story in a unique way to their audience. I don’t think brands understand how engaged some influencers are with their audience. I am talking to my audience over text message on Snapchat all day, every day, from the second I wake up to the second I go to bed. I know exactly what they like, I know exactly what they don’t like, I know what they want more of, and, when I launch product, I will know everything they want because I’ve been talking to them for seven years. Brands have to find an influencer that engages. I think a lot of these brands are just looking at numbers [of followers] on Instagram, and it’s so much more than that. I want to have a community. Right now, I’m doing this thing where I’m following my audience back and liking their photos, and commenting on their photos. And I think that’s different than some of these influencers that want to be looked at like celebrities. For me, it’s very important that my audience feels like they’re my friend.
Tell us more about following your fans back.
I realized, one day, I’m following all these other influencers. Why? I don’t want to give my energy to these other influencers. I want to give my energy to my community that’s been supporting my platform. And no one was doing that. Everyone was following the other influencers or celebrities, and I said no. I want to know what Krista is doing in Virginia, and what her life looks like. Even though she has 200 followers, I want to follow her and engage with her. I have to allocate my energy everyday, and what I want to allocate my energy to is my community. I’m not doing this to go take pictures with other bloggers. From a brand’s perspective, someone may have three million followers, they’re posting your product, but are they engaging in the comments? When I launch a product, I know exactly what kind of influencer I’m going to use, and it’s not going to be someone with three million followers.
I realized, one day, I’m following all these other influencers. Why? I don’t want to give my energy to these other influencers. I want to give my energy to my community that’s been supporting my platform. And no one was doing that.
How do you balance your different types of content: fashion, beauty, wellness, etc.?
I’m extremely methodical about my content. I think out what’s going to make sense. It needs to be a medley. It can’t just be the same thing. I’m very big in the beauty and wellness space, so it’s not just makeup, it’s things like facial massage and jade rolling, strange beauty things that have really made a difference. On the podcast, we like to interview people and hear about what they are doing. I love to bring other women on. I’ll find someone that I love to follow, that I’m very interested in, who has a very unique perspective on beauty and wellness. I’ll showcase her on the podcast and, then, get her beauty tips and tricks to share with the readers. So, it’s not just me, me, me. It’s here’s what I do, here’s what this girl does, here’s what another girl does, here’s what a beauty editor does, here’s what a supermodel does. I compile all these tips and tricks, and put them in one spot, and that’s The Skinny Confidential. It’s an encyclopedia where you can go and see all these women’s secrets.
What are some of the weird beauty and wellness trends you really like and don’t like?
I absolutely love cupping. I love lymphatic drainage, dry brushing. I’m obsessed with facial massage. I talk about that all the time. Jade rolling, anything that gets the lymph system going. It seems basic, but I’m not a huge fan of eye shadow. I think women who read my blog like to lead with their skin, and the way their skin looks. So, I’m huge on skincare and staying out of the sun. I also talk about things like vagina steaming and boob jobs, UTIs and yeast infections. It’s a very open platform.
How do you take on paid partnerships?
As far as collaborations and partnerships, if I like something, and they’re not paying me, I will absolutely post about it if I think it’ll benefit the audience. When it comes to a formal agreement, I’m extremely picky with who I bring on The Skinny Confidential because I’ve established trust with my audience, which I think is so important. I would hate to do anything that deters from that. I probably turn down 90% of the collaborations that come my way. I’m playing a long game here. This isn’t a short term thing where I’m trying to make money right away.