Hellojaa 1 Year Anniversary

Well, I have made it! The 1 year mark. The very first milestone. And I couldn't have done it without every single one of you! :)

I've been thinking of what sort of things to write to celebrate today. An essay. A few short paragraphs. A story. But then I decided, nah, let's make this fun! Let's make a list! A list of things I have learned in my first year! I will list 5 things in each category. Why 5? Because I love number 5. It's the number that reads “ha” in Thai, so when you see Thai people write 555 at the end of their sentence, it means “hahaha“, which means something they're talking about is funny! It's my happy number. :D

Before we begin, I'd like to tell you that 1 year old is still very young and I don't consider myself a blogging expert in any way. There is still so much to learn and the knowledge will only come with time. For now, I'd like you to think of this as our friendly little chat rather than anything else. Hopefully you will pick up a useful tip or two from this post and use them to improve your blog upon. :) Now, first and foremost…

What I've learned about blogging

  1. It is a lot of hard work! Holy Bananas! If I had known it would be this much work, I probably wouldn't have started!! Seriously! I will admit, when I first started blogging, it was very casual. I blogged about what I pleased and when I pleased without any peer pressure from the outside. But then there was that one point where everything changed, where you noticed that people were actually watching (reading) you, that was the time when I started taking things more seriously, and that's when hard work started. From planning about what to write, to taking product photos, swatch photos, and portraits, to editing them. Then comes a whole series of writing, presentation, and translation. I can easily spend 5 hours on just one post alone.
  2. Passion. It is the only thing that keeps me going. I work full-time on top of blogging and I've been running on 5 hours of sleep a night for the past year but never once have I thought of quitting! Without a strong passion to do something that you love, I don't think you will get very far. It is true when they say “Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — well, only if I could afford doing it full time! How AWESOME would it be to beauty blog full time! I'd be the happiest girl. :)
  3. Connection is key. Same with everything else in life, without connection, it is hard to get anywhere these days. Doesn't matter what you do, it's more about who you know. Especially in blogging, if you want your blog to be successful, you have to reach out. I was so shy about my blog in the beginning, I only told a few of my friends about it and mostly just kept it to myself. And my blog was quiet for a really long time, until I reached a turning point where I wanted to take Hellojaa to the next step. I have put so much effort into it and I had better let everyone know about it! (LOL!) The first and easiest connection you can make is by not just reading other blogs, but leaving comments, too. Make yourself known. In a sea of beauty blogs, you have to do something to get noticed. Things won't just happen anymore, unless you try. I'm in the process of allotting time every week to discover and visit new blogs and get involved more in the beauty community.
  4. It's OK to be discouraged! Oh, we have all been there, haven't we?! There *will* be times when you compare yourself to other blogs. It's inevitable. It's only natural. I do get discouraged from time to time but I won't let it bother me too much. Do not compare yourself to other blogs to be discouraged, but to be inspired. Learn from them. And you just have to keep on moving, improving, and staying hopeful and positive, that one day, good things will happen to you, too. Find your uniqueness, what makes you special, and make it shine!
  5. Traffic and followers are everything. It's a cold hard fact. There is no way to sugar coat this, but in this day and age, the success of your blog seems to be judged only by high traffic and follower counts. It is actually pretty sad to realize that this is what we've all come down to. It doesn't matter that you have the best content, the best photos, the best webdesign, the best makeup skills, without followers, opportunities are quite limited. And this is when I told myself to not take it personal. It's all business, it's not about you. I have learned to pay attention to the numbers, but I won't let it dictate me and my blog.

Pheww… seriously, I did not plan to get so deep into this! Good thing I limit myself to 5 or I can go on and on forever! Ha ha! Let's talk about something else more airy and delightful! :D

Product photo tips!

  1. Clean up! Remove dust! Trust me, this can make or break your photos! There is a reason why we love shiny new things. :) The easiest and cheapest way I have found is using adhesive tape! It removes dust with precision. :D Alternatively, you can also use a dust removal spray! Cleaning cloths work great, too, but make sure they are lint-free.
  2. Try different angle. You will be surprised that a simple product can look much more interesting when captured from unusual angles. Move it around, lift it up, look at it from a different way you normally would and you will see that it doesn't have to be from the “head-on” or “look-down” angles only. Be different!
  3. Use non-distracting background. Unless you're trying to create a “messy artsy” theme, try to keep the background as simple as possible. The main focus should be the product you are presenting and nothing else. I find a simple one-colored background work the best but do not stick to it, change things up once in a while to keep things interesting!
  4. Crop and resize. I love cropping! It is the most amazing tool in the world of photo editing! Ha ha! Seriously! Crop so that your product stands out from the background, and resize so that it fits within your blog layout. I learned that photos that “fill” the width of the content area create much more impact than the ones that are smaller. Be careful when you resize your images, though, because some pixels will be lost. Try to select the best resizing option that will preserve the highest quality of your images.
  5. Invest. It's a fact. Good photos come from a good camera and lens. I started off with a cell phone camera, too, but I learned to invest early. If you are serious about your blog, then it only makes sense to start from the best possible. I know from the get-go that writing is not my strong suit, and my makeup skills are still far from perfect, so I have to focus on something else to make my blog different than the others. And I focus on photos. :) I'm glad it has become something that people think of when they think of Hellojaa. At least I've done something right!

Webdesign tips!

  1. Make your site mobile-friendly. More than 50% of my readers access my site from a mobile device, so I have a “mobile” version of my blog to accommodate them. Keep this in mind the next time you are selecting your new layout! :)
  2. Select a reliable blogging platform. Hellojaa is currently run on self-hosted WordPress and I think it is the best blogging platform ever invented. There are so many free widgets and plugins that you can basically just drag and drop to where ever you please on your site. I've been using WordPress since it was still called “b2” — anyone remember? :)
  3. Web host. It is very important to choose a trusty and reliable web host especially when your site starts getting high traffic. You'll be using a lot of resources and there could be some downtime. I am not 100% happy with my current host because I've seen a lot of downtime on my site but the thought of switching scares me. So, do look for the best host you can find before settling.
  4. Ads. It is perfectly OK to monetize your blog. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You have to pay for your resources somehow, right? A cost of maintaining a website with high traffic is really expensive! I am already paying 5x more than when I first started (and my blog is not even popular!), so please forgive me if my ads are in your way! ^_^ I try to place them “strategically”, though, so that the content is still the main focus of the blog.
  5. Install web analytics. Do this as soon as your blog goes live. You need to be able to track the progress of your effort. And somewhere along the way, you will eventually be asked for your site's statistics. I recommend Google Analytics because it is free and provides a lot of useful insights. It is still not the most accurate since from what I know, it doesn't work if users have javascript disabled on their browser. I'm not happy about it but since it is currently considered the industry standard, I will continue using it until something else comes along. Alternatively, you can install a third party plugin as well, but make sure it doesn't slow your site down.


  1. 735,135 total pageviews
  2. 398,614 visits (287,964 unique) from 183 countries!
  3. 1,315 followers and subscribers
  4. 276 posts and 2,610 comments
  5. Featured on Temptalia‘s Link Love and famous celebrity artist Carol Show's tumblr!

Future direction

  1. Discover and comment on new blogs. Branch out more!
  2. Improve portrait lighting. The hardest thing that I still can't get it right!
  3. Write better. And more concisely!
  4. Tap into more Asian brands.
  5. Better time management. I need to set priorities!

Thank you and Giveaway

Most important of all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you every single one of you for your friendship/readership throughout the year. I would not have made it this far without you. I am glad that everyone I met through Hellojaa has been so supportive and understanding; some of them I have even become good friends with along the way. I appreciate and look forward to reading and replying to every comment after I publish a post. I am just so grateful for everything and I sincerely hope that you will continue to support Hellojaa. I promise to improve and make my blog even better in the second year to come.

As a token of appreciation, I will be hosting a giveaway to celebrate my very first milestone. I cannot tell you about the prize until Monday after my current giveaway ends. I'm sorry about that. It's totally a miscalculation on my part! :)

Thank you once again for reading this far. Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts with me in the comments! ♥

Join the Conversation


  1. Congratulations on completing 1 year of blogging. I absolutely love reading your blog Jaa, honestly the write-up, pictures and products you mention on your blog are incredible. xx

  2. says: Smita

    Jaa, many many congratulations for this milestone…you know I have just started off a few months back and its girls like you who inspire new bloggers like me….great stuff!!!

  3. says: Carolyn

    A huge congratulations to you, dear Jaa, on your first anniversary! As I’ve told you so many times, your blog is one of my absolute favorites. Also, I know I keep on saying this, but you really don’t give yourself enough credit for your writing — you say it’s not your strong suit, but I think you write well!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post and share advice and tips with your readers. As a newer blogger, this is extremely helpful and helps put things into perspective. You have accomplished so much in one year — I hope you’re super proud of yourself and HelloJaa.com!

    I value our friendship so much! Thank you for being my first blogger friend, you are the best! *hugs*

    1. says: Jaa

      I am super happy that we’ve become good blog friends, Carolyn! You are such a sweet and caring person!! :) I love helping you out and giving you advice, though sometimes I’m still as clueless as you are about certain aspects of blogging. So let’s learn and grow together!!! HUGS!!!

  4. says: Nicole

    Congratulations on one year of blogging! Love your blog and photos. It is a LOT of work; thanks for giving your readers a little enjoyment in our days.

    1. says: Jaa

      Thank you so much, Nicole, for your continued support! ♥♥ How do you like your macro lens? Are they fun to use? I wish you could share some of your pictures with us! :)

  5. says: Sunny

    Hey Jaa, I can’t believe how far you’ve come in a year! This is amazing achievement, and I’m sure with your amazing photography skills, you’ll go far! <3

  6. says: Divya

    You deserve every bit of success you have had and much more in the coming years! All the best and lot and lots of love Jaa! :D <3

    1. says: Jaa

      Yayyy thanks, Divya!!! You’ve accomplished so much yourself considering your blog is only a few months old!! How do you do it?!!! What’s your secret?! :D

  7. says: Sylirael

    Congratulations, Jaa!! It’s hard to believe you’ve only been blogging about for a year – your site is so stylish and professional! You’re my ‘gold standard’ for both photography and web design – can I be your padawan? ;-) The fact that you’re a gorgeous and lovely person doesn’t hurt either, of course ;-)
    Thanks for all the wonderful tips and insights you’ve shared here in this post, thanks for being awesome, and here’s to many more years of successful and fulfilling blogging! <3 <3 <3

    1. says: Jaa

      My fellow scientist Syllllllllllllllllll!!!! Come come be my padawan!!! ;D Thank you for always being so sweet and supportive! I value our friendship so much even though we’ve just met not long ago!! Let me know if you ever need anything else sent your way!! ;D

      And thank you for considering my photography and web design your “gold standard”!!! That’s such a HUGE compliment! I also like it very much when we talk scientific terms!! Ha ha!

  8. says: Erin

    Congratulations on all you success. I enjoy reading your blog and your photos are wonderful! I wish I was a successful as you are. I’m in full agreement with you on your self hosted wordpress rec. I also use Web Synthesis for my hosting. It’s expensive for a little blog like mine but my site has never been down and it runs smoothly. You should look into them or WP Oven. Though WP Oven is really expensive.

    1. says: Jaa

      Thank you so much, Erin, for both the compliment and suggestion on the web host! I’ll look into both of them. The reason I like my current host is that my plan has unlimited space, which is very important for me (as you know, I tend to post a lot of unnecessary photos!).

      I wish you the best of success with clevergirlreviews.com! :)

  9. says: Helena

    Congratulations! I loved the post, great advice and thank you for sharing your experience. Hope to be successful as you on my first anniversary:)

  10. says: Teresa

    Happy one year! I’m sad I only just discovered you (thanks for visiting me!) but you obviously have a lot more to come :D This was a great post too with fab tips!

    1. says: Jaa

      Thank you, Teresa! I ADORE your blog! So clean and full of information. Not to mention beautiful photos, too!!! I’ll be visiting regularly for sure! :)

  11. says: Shari

    You deserve all these and MORE, Jaa!! You have one of the best photos and even if you’re shy to admit – clear, concise writing that’s very detailed but not boring. Happy 1 year and lots lots more to go!

  12. says: Laarni

    I found your link through Temptalia and you’ve become my instant fave since then! thanks for the tips! been blogging since 1999 and i owned more than 10 blogs already. Now it’s down to 5. my new blog, which I just opened last February is my new baby: xoxolaarni. All the mistakes/flaws i’ve made in the past, I corrected them all (hopefully) to this new blog. I can’t remember the ‘B2’ but first time I used WP when the widgets were not yet around.

    Happy 1st anniversary, Jaa! More years to come! xx

    1. says: Jaa

      More than 10 blogs?!! WOAH! You are a superwoman, Laarni! I currently have 3 websites but 2 of them are inactive at the moment. Obviously hellojaa is taking all the time that I have. T_T

      Oh I remember the first time I heard about “widgets” — WHAT WIDGETS??!! Ha ha. Back then we had to raw code everything yeah? No drag-n-drop!!

  13. many congratulations. I seriously have enjoyed all your posts since i started following your blog.. and seriously ..blogging is not a piece of cake. I wouldnt have started either had i known it needed such an effort. I wish i improve too.. i am trying :)
    Thanks for all your suggestions. One thing i needed to know was .. How do you get your google adsense account activated. Mine still shows that its been reviewed. I am sure something is wrong . And I dont know any other thing to get adds on my blog. Please suggest something that is simpler to understand and quick .

    1. says: Jaa

      Thank you, Purva! It’s been a while since I signed up for Adsense and I don’t remember the process anymore. I’ll look into this and get back to you! :)

  14. says: Grace

    Congratulations Jaa. You have achieved so much in one year! I love reading your blog. All the points are well said above. Thankyou for being so supportive and amazing. Looking forward to read more of your posts x

    1. says: Jaa

      Thank you so much for your readership, Grace! It means so much to me! :) I wish your blog the best success as well! <3

  15. says: JK

    Congrats Jaa!! I am so happy I stumbled upon your blog. It is one of my favorites. I love the clean aesthetic, your photography is amazing and your reviews well written, clear and fair. I look forward to reading you for many years to come!

    1. says: Jaa

      Hi JK!! THANK YOU so much for being the sweetest!!! :D I hope you know that your comment just made my day!!! <3 <3 <3

  16. Congrats, boo boo!! I am so proud of you! Your blog is truly a reflection of your passion and the time and care you put into it is clear as day. You can tell you spend roughly 5 hours per post. I loved your tips and your thoughts, and the plans for the next year of Hello Jaa amazingness. Not only is your work precise, professional, and beyond thorough, most importantly, you’re one of the kindest gems I’ve met in the blogging community and someone who deserves every good thing that comes her way. I wish you nothing but the very best, and I am so happy to call you my friend! <3
    Big hugs and party hats, 555! *<|:)

    1. says: Jaa

      Hey Kristen, can I just give you the biggest, tightest bear hug right now? (((((((((((((((((((((Kristen))))))))))))))))))))))

      You’ve been so sweet to me from the very beginning of my blog when I still didn’t know what I was doing. I really and truly appreciate that you have always been there to support me. I can also honestly say that you are one of the sweetest bloggers I’ve ever met. You are always happy and smiling and that’s why your blog is one of my favorites! It puts me in a happy mood every time reading your blog! I sincerely hope that one day I will get to meet you in person!! :)


      1. Gosh, thank you so much! I’ve had this comment saved in my email inbox because it makes me smile! Thank you for that, and for all of the amazingly kind things you said, Jaa! The first time I visited your blog, it was like I stumbled upon a GOLDMINE. You are stupendously talented both with your writing and your artsy photography. You can tell what a wonderful person you are just from reading your posts! Thank YOU! Bear hugs to you, my friend!

  17. says: Dee

    Congrats! Congrats! Congrats! You’ve done to Jaa :) love all the tips and what you’ve learnt. May you have many more years of happy blogging ahead ! :) xoxo from Istanbul!

    1. says: Jaa

      Thank you so much, Deeeeeee! I want to go to Istanbul!!! What a beautiful, beautiful place. Thanks for sharing lots of breathtaking photos on your instagram!

  18. says: pegg

    Congratulations on your anniversary! That’s quite a feat – considering this isn’t your primary job. I can see how much time and effort goes into maintaining a blog (I used to have one for my paper crafting) ! Thanks for sharing your knowledge – I’ve definitely been enabled by you! :)

    1. says: Jaa

      Hi Pegg! Thank you so much!!! <3 I can only imagine how much more work it has to be to maintain a paper crafting blog!! May I ask why you stopped blogging? I would have loved to visit your site! :)

      Thank you so much once again! :D

  19. says: Ellen

    Congrats! Your blog is one of my favorites and one of the few I check almost every day, don’t ever stop!!

    1. says: Jaa

      Thank you so much, Ellen! I still remember your first comment — “In a sea of beauty blogs, yours stood out because of your spectacular photography! Great lighting and close-ups and true-to-life swatches. Yours has become one of my top 3 beauty blogs to check out daily, next to Temptalia and NouveauCheap.” — and I hope you know that it means the world to me to have your continued support. :D


  20. says: GlossBerry

    As a relatively new follower I must say your blog captured my attention right away. had I not searched for something silly from Physicians Formula I wouldn’t have found you!
    I must say, you’re one of my absolute favorites – it is clear your heart is 100% into this, your photos are beyond amazing, you are so dedicated and the blog design is crazy good! also, the posts are on point with honest and thorough reviews.
    All I can say is I hope you keep up the good work. I am a blogger myself for 6 months now, very far from your level of dedication, and I can relate to a lot of what you have written.
    You are an inspiration to me and to many others, for sure.
    One last thing – your writing is excellent, intelligent and fluent – don’t be so harsh on yourself :)
    Kisses and Hugs!

    1. says: Jaa

      Wow, I’m just… speechless to read your comment, thank you so so so much!! ❤

      I hope you know how much it means to me to hear that Hellojaa is an inspiration to you. This blog is not just a beauty blog to me anymore, it’s where my heart is, where my passion is, it has become a place where I feel happy to immerse myself and get lost in. I love that I can express myself through makeup and photography and to think that people actually enjoy it is beyond my wildest dreams. Through this blog I have met so many wonderful and like-minded people such as yourself, and to be able to interact with them through my posts is one of the best things I look forward to doing every day. :)

      Thank you so much once again. I wish you and the Glossberry blog the best success! HUGS!!!! ❤

  21. says: Hoku

    Yay! You made it!!! Happy 1 year anniversary from your #1 fan (ever)!!!

    I can’t comment on the giveaway and I don’t know why…sad now :(

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