It would be more interesting to say "no two days are the same" at The Beauty Shortlist, but most days, the main theme a lot of us share applies, which is "How do you squeeze sixteen hours worth of work into the limited hours of one day?"
Blogging is a lot more time-consuming than people imagine. The minutes tick by while you fiddle with resizing photos or a back-end glitch and I really respect the bloggers who post daily - that's a big commitment. I travel a lot and work full time as a freelance journalist too, so I've had to become brutal about time management which goes against my personality. Given the chance I could quite easily spend the day Googling recipes for spicy Moroccan-style hummus and five-seed flatbread, watching Eric Lanlard baking his incredible cakes and looking for a run-down house to renovate on a Greek Island, so I had to come up with some strict working-from-home rules. Because I work from home people keep appearing for cups of tea or calling for a catch-up chat when I have deadlines dangling from both ears.
Taming The Email Dragon is the biggest challenge probably for a lot of us; I learned a few tips from Simon Tyler, author of The Simple Way. Emails devour my time like hyenas, so now, instead of floating along in a sea of emails and reacting to each one that floats in, I try to: a) only check email 2-3 times a day; b) unsubscribe from almost all of the updates/newsletters I thought were a good idea/interesting/essential but which I can live without - they're concentration diluters and time drainers; and c) I make an effort to deal with each email immediately - respond, file, delete, etc. Despite being a beauty journalist, I get a surprising number of press releases about things like new electrical appliances or Scottish dancing festivals.
I never had a real game plan for The Beauty Shortlist. I just wanted to offer a beauty edit for consumers with honest reviews. And I love giving newer brands a look in - it's hard to cut through and make your way onto the radar. Filtering out the great from the good, bad and also-rans in the beauty world. The blog has grown organically but not without a very hard slog and two highlights have been meeting Kate Shapland and Jo Malone, both of whom are exceptional at what they do.
It makes my heart sing when people take a chance on a product or brand The Beauty Shortlist recommended and they Tweet me to say thanks for the recommendation, they've fallen in love with it. Trust and credibility are key.
You have to take your hat off to beauty entrepreneurs these days; new beauty brands seem to be launching like fireworks and it's a very crowded space out there. If you think too much about what lies ahead - how to make your brand stand out, how to nail media coverage, what's the best strategy re. social media channels, what do you spend your budget on, and when, how are you going to last the journey financially (especially if you have no backing and are a one woman or man band?) - it can feel quite daunting. Having said that, passion is a high octane fuel and creativity, originality and integrity are good co-drivers for the road ahead.
For this year's Beauty Shortlist Awards, we tested 142 brands and 408 products across a long list of categories. The Awards are always completely exhausting but I love every minute. You get a real eagle-eye view of the current beauty market, where brands go right, where they go wrong.
This year's winners included top aromatherapist Michelle Roques-O'Neil's new calming, energising bath and body brand Therapie, www.roquesoneil.com, one of my all time desert island brands. I also like Abahna London a lot, www.abahna.co.uk, they're launching their fifth signature blend this month and I've heard their White Grapefruit & May Chang Bath Foam was spotted in a bathroom at Buckingham Palace.
Ila Spa's skincare, ila-spa.com, is also out of this world. I'm an Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo addict but my signature scent is Pomelo, the first fragrance launched by Jo Malone's new brand Jo Loves, www.joloves.com, a couple of years ago. Jo has somehow bottled the bliss of a summer holiday in the Med and it's the most commented on fragrance I've ever worn - it's extraordinary how many women (and men!) love it.
As far as recommending skincare brands, I think Weleda, Dr Hauschka, Elemis, Balance Me and Neal's Yard Remedies are all doing things right - the last three are model examples of "Best of British Beauty". And one of the most exciting newcomers in a long time is 001 Skincare, www.doublezeroone.com, which is definitely one to watch. It's a beauty-full world and I feel really lucky to be part of it.
Fiona Klonarides is a freelance beauty, health and travel journalist; she founded her award-winning blog The Beauty Shortlist in 2009. Follow Fiona on Twitter @BeautyShortlist and Facebook. The Beauty Shortlist featured in the Top 10 Beauty Blogs (No. 2, UK) - Cision/Social Media Ranking, February 2013 and Fionas as Top 25 Personalities, Natural Beauty Yearbook 2013.