Looking back: 2011

Posted on Thursday, at bought • 733 views

The past year has been fairly good, in that I've made a few template tweaks, made inroads to rephotographing my existing collection, and - since last June - have gotten a regular slate of posts scheduled in advance. This has let me stay organized, and has given me the structure to get regular good-quality photos and swatches. I've rarely been the First Kid on the Block with posts of the newest stuff, but since that wasn't my original goal, I'm okay with that. My purpose for starting my blog was twofold: catalogue my collection; and list similarities / dupes that I might find. It's changed slightly (as things do) but my overall purpose is still just to catalogue and review the things that I myself buy and use. I don't know that I have the energy to become a Product Reviewing Machine, receiving and soliciting PR samples of this and that and the other thing. I've got enough to do, just properly photographing and cataloging all the stuff that I do buy.
Looking back: 2011

I kicked off last year by posting my favorite eyeshadows, and I've been thinking of doing something similar this year...but for nail polishes. I've managed to showcase so many this past year, I almost haven't had time to figure out my favorite colors. (I don't know that I've worn any color twice this past year.) I had fun with the Eyeshadow Swatch Project! It started off as a cool collaboration between half a dozen bloggers, but it also spurred me to start photographing my existing colors. It also gave me the perfect excuse to stop and really think about what my favorite colors were, and why. I've all but stopped doing giveaways. Those were kind of an experiment that didn't really pan out. They got me very few new visitors who stuck around at all, and since I purchase just about all of my giveaway prizes with my own money rather than doing sponsored sweepstakes, I prefer to reward my more frequent visitors rather than the folks who just drop in for a chance to win the cool prize. (And after my birthday sweepstakes last year had precisely two entrants, and the person who won was accused of winning the prize because they were a friend of mine...yeah. I can do without that kind of silliness.) I'll probably do another giveaway or two in the upcoming month - especially for my 3-year blogiversary - but they'll be the "flash" giveaways that open and close in less than 36 hours. I used Rafflecopter for a flash giveaway during the Beauty Blog Advent Calendar, and that giveaway seemed to go well (Mai!! Your package will be going out this week!!!) and Rafflecopter streamlined things considerably.

I've been on Twitter since February 15, 2009 - which is a month and a week after I launched Sparklecrack Central - and I've broken 8K tweets. Some weeks I'm definitely more conversational than others; but I've made several friends via Twitter. Every method of communication has its pluses and minuses. One of Twitter's plus-factors, for me, is that it lets you have multiple synchronous conversations at once...if you can follow them all! Another plus is that these conversations usually involve 2, 3, maybe 4 or 5 people tops. You truly have quick little conversations, not longer talks. Not so great for intense thought-provoking discussions, but great for sharing in-jokes, making quick observations (and doing some crowdsourcing), and other little bits. Though...really, it would be helpful if Twitter could keep focussing on the users, rather than on how to display and best monetize content. "Sponsored trends" my left earlobe! (I use HootSuite as my Twitter client, by the way: it has a free and a paid service level, and while they primarily pitch to businesses or to folks who want to track their tweets and monitor stats, their app does a superb job at letting you monitor multiple accounts, and see whatever streams you want to see, in whatever order you want to see them. And perhaps best of all, with all the Twitter UI changes this year...HootSuite had one major upgrade, and it didn't really change the UI much at all, just added some functionality. How nice is that!!)

I did start my own snapshot reviews of various indie vendors - not because no one else was doing them (because LOTS of folks were) but because I wanted to give my own take on things. Some folks gave more prominence to this or that aspect; others focussed on something that was not relevant to my interests but didn't mention something I would have liked to know; and then of course there's the fact that different people will try different vendors for different reasons. I think I'll do follow-up reviews of vendors, one year after I did their initial reviews. Some I no longer buy from, some I haven't seen anything new, others have picked up a bit more steam and are giving us some really cool things. But it will be interesting to revisit some of the vendors, see how their offerings and / or my perceptions of them have changed over time.

There was drama in the indie MMU world - and, hey, newsflash, water is wet - but I managed to stay out of most of it, or keep well to the fringes. There were some choice bits of silliness that were less easy to ignore, but when one realizes that trolls just want attention, and shit-stirring is the fastest way to get attention, one realizes that the absolute cruelest thing to do...is to ignore these outbursts. And as a happy side effect, one's own blood pressure isn't raised in the slightest.

All in all, I think I had a pretty good year. I got a good schedule going, I re-set my photo production bar a bit higher (though having a new camera helped immensely), I got to meet two really cool beauty bloggers and do a metric fuckload of shopping, I made some great online friends. I'm looking forward to 2012!!!

(Accompanying graphic sourced from sxc.hu, design by Billy Alexander.)

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