BLOGGING

How to Format Your Blog Posts for Easy, On Brand Content

How to Format Your Blog Posts

Writing new blog posts is often one of the last things to get done. You know it’s important to deliver content and maintain a connection with your audience, but this task seems to drop to the bottom of the priority list.

While fresh, multi-weekly posts used to be blogging de rigueur, this is no longer the case. Evergreen posts (content that is always relevant) have become more popular. Not only does this make blogging easier but eliminates the need to produce 3-5 posts each week.

Whether you are writing evergreens or sticking with the regular method of posting, it’s important to come up with a standard blog post format. This keeps your blog cohesive with your brand and makes blogging a snap.

You may have a few different types of post formats to suit the different types of posts you write. For example, you could have one for product reviews, another for ingredient highlights, and another for how-to posts. As you write and research your post, insert info and links into the appropriate area of the template so they are there when you are ready to write that section.

If this sounds like another huge item for your to do list, never fear. I’ll show you how to come up with your own blog post formats and exactly how to use them to ensure your posts are on brand, super engaging, and ultra clickable.

Formatting Blog Posts

How to Create Your Own Blog Post Format

Think of your blog post format as an outline. Yes, similar to those from high school English class. Only streamlined and less stodgy.

blog post format

I like to write my posts in a Word doc (see screenshot above of the outline for this post), so I’ll copy and paste the format into the doc before I get started. Then I simply drop in the links, keywords, and info bites into the appropriate section. Once I’m ready to start writing, everything I need is right there.

Let’s go!

Headline: Let’s start at the top. Whether you prefer to write your blog post headline first, after you’ve got the intro nailed down, or once you’ve finished the entire post, a good headline is key to attracting readers. I select the keywords I’m using for the post, come up with a few headlines, and run them through Coschedule headline analyzer.

Intro: This doesn’t have to be long, even two decent paragraphs will do. People skim when reading online and can’t wait to get to the good stuff. Use your intro to insert keywords and entice your visitors to read on.

Subheadline: Not using these? They are super important as they help readers zero in on the meat of the article. The subhead can be the same as the post title or a variation.

Body: This is where you put the good stuff … the info your visitors are on your blog to read. Make this section super readable by highlighting important terms and phrases, laying the information out in a numbered list, or creating sections with short headlines. Tip: If your head or sub head includes a number (5 Best Ways to Use Facial Oils) be sure you list your info in a numbered format.

Conclusion: A conclusion wraps up the post and doesn’t leave your reader hanging. It should be short and sweet, 2-4 sentences will do. For me, this is the toughest part of an article to write. It can be hard to come up with a few more lines of content that haven’t already been said and don’t sound bland. There are times that I skip a conclusion. Listicles often seem to be fine without. But generally, you should get used to writing an ending for your posts. Hint: This is the perfect place to tout your product or service, offer your reader a freebie, or include a signup link for your list.

Images: Now to gather the images you’ll use in your post. This is as important as the writing itself. Think of the top image as selling your post by drawing attention and creating a connection with your reader. Say you are writing a post on the best red lipstick to wear for summer. What image would you expect to see on an article like this? It needs to have a summery feel (no girls in winter coats, scarves, etc.) and a decent set of red lips.

The top image can double as your subhead image. Switch it up by adding text (Canva makes this a snap), which also make the image Pin-able. When writing a product round-up I also like to include product images.

That’s it! Not so difficult and it will save you time. Simply come up with a format for each of the most common blog posts you write, insert your information, and you are off and running. A good format makes the writing process feel smoother and keeps me on track.

To get you started, I’ve created a blog post format for you to download. Go ahead and get that baby here!

 

Image via Twigy Posts

Best Places to Find (and Ways to Use) Stock Photos for Your Beauty Site

Does the phrase “stock photos” turn you off? Not all that long ago, stock phots were basically those Shutterstock-y, unnatural, fake poses of overly perfect looking people doing ordinary things with a much too happy disposition.

Not only is it hard to keep things real when using those types of photos, but who wants their blog to look like the next person’s? Not me and not you!

Good thing for us, stock photos are not what they used to be. You can get beautiful images that match your brand aesthetic, and that are totally customizable too.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Well, not so much a secret if you scroll back through to some of my older posts, but … I used to try to take my own pics. Not gonna lie, it was cringey then and still is.

See, I once thought that in order to be good at running a website, you had to know how to do it all. And this included creating graphics and making your own images. Thankfully, today we solopreneurs are embracing our best attributes and hiring out the rest.

You wouldn’t fix your own car if you knew nothing about mechanics, right? Well, why wouldn’t that same level of professionalism go for the images you use with your business? There are people who are beyond great at creating gorgeous photos. Let them do what they do best. It not only makes your site, blog, social media, and emails look hella better, but keep things simple so you can do what you do.

My 4 Favorite Stock Photos Sites for Beauty and Lifestyle Brands

As you may have guessed, I like images that fit in with the beauty theme. Of course, they also have to match my site design and brand aesthetic. Most often I like images that speak for themselves, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to add text too.

There are three sites that are my go-tos for choosing images. They can be found here on the pages of OBS, at the top of most of my blog posts, in my emails, and even on my Instagram account. These gals make it super easy and their skills are over-the-top awesome.

1.Social Squares: Created by Shay Cochrane of The SC Stockshop, this vast (and growing all the time) collection of easily searchable images are tailor made for your social media, but can be used anywhere you like. They are simple and versatile. When I hop over to SS, I usually search by color or item, like “gold”, “glasses”, or “green leaves”. And you can’t go wrong at $6 an image.

2. TwigyPosts: These classic, natural images are soft and neutral with a bit of warmth. Also totally modern and a bit romantic. Shop by individual image or super affordable photo bundles.

3. Haute Stock: Clean, crisp images that are perfect for modern biz woman office vibe. This membership site offers a YouTube tutorial library that shows you how to do pretty much anything you can think of with stock images, from creating a pop-up graphic to customizing photos in Canva.

4. Styled Stock Society: Beautiful and bright images that work for beauty, lifestyle, wedding, and female business owner brands. I discovered this brand through the creators of my website theme Bluchic, also a fabulous resource for solopreneurs who love gorgeous stuff. Shop bundles and great sale prices, or grab yourself a membership.

No matter where you get your stock images, be sure to read the company license agreement to ensure you stay within the boundaries of proper use. The four I’ve listed above can be used pretty much however you see fit, other than on items you intend to sell or give your customers, like in a digital download or something. ALSO, all three offer free images monthly and they are always gooood!

Now go get yourself some pretty new pics!

Image :: Styled Stock Society

Is Fresh Copy On Your New Year’s Resolution List?


Is Fresh Copy On Your New Year's Resolution List?

I’ve had my nose so buried in client work lately and getting things tied up for the end of the year, that I almost forgot I have a blog of my own! I didn’t really forget about it but, as you online biz owners can probably relate, my own blog often gets the least of my attention.

It’s still here, I promise, and I am currently booking for next year. If you are a natural beauty brand or retailer and fresh copy for your site is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, let’s get you penciled in and start setting up a plan for your project.

Not sure exactly what your project looks like or if you need help at all? We can set up a Free Discovery Session for your site and see what may need to be brushed up.

Some things that you may need help with in the copy department:

FTC compliance — Did you know FTC advertising regulations apply to your product descriptions, information pages, ebooks, etc? You can learn more about FTC regulations and how to comply here, or feel free to shoot me a message for more info.

Product descriptions — You retailers aren’t using the brand description on your site, are you? And you product creators, do your descriptions share the full experience? If not, it’s time to get some super juicy product descriptions rolling on your site.

Standard Pages — Did you know this is one of the first places your visitors go when they get to your site? Whether you have decent About and Commitment pages that need a brush up, or haven’t gotten around to those yet, I can help. For now, feel free to use my Ingredients to Avoid page. All I ask is that you give me credit with a link back to my site.

Let’s get one thing checked off your to do list for next year and set up a time to talk more about your copy needs. Send me a message to get things started.

 

Image via Haute Stock Photography

Your Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid Page…Free

Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid Downloadable

Hey, it’s hump day. How about some free stuff for your site, blog, or online shop?

The most requested item I get when starting a copywriting project with a new client is a new or refreshed ingredients to avoid page. A comprehensive list of harmful cosmetic ingredients is not only a great source of info for your readers and customers, but totally spells out your commitment to safety.

Yes, I know. These lists can be tedious to come up with. That’s why I am giving you mine. Yep, grab it today and copy/paste that sucker into your site, blog, or online store. Easy and oh so worth it.

Get your free Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid downloadable

Want a customized page? I can get you one of those too. Contact me for deets on creating just-for-you copy.

Now that that sticky little item is checked off your list, go have yourself a great day!

OBS is 10!

Pineapples at Unsplash

Yep, I started this little blog a decade ago. Since then, my business has definitely evolved. And my blog design along with it, thankfully. Just for chuckles, check out the OBS original home page, below.

OriginalHomepageSmall

Ouch, right?!

Way back when it all began I had a preschooler and a kindergartener, and would spend any time they were sleeping researching this whole toxins in beauty products thing. In March of 2006, after spending a good 6 months reading and asking and emailing, I decided to start a blog sharing this knowledge with others. The plan was to eventually open an online store selling my favorites.

But the writing bug soon took over and before I knew it organic beauty professionals were asking me to write for them. I may spend most of my time now writing for other businesses and websites, but I am still just as passionate about the organic beauty/heath + wellness movement.

Not only have I and my blog changed, but the organic beauty scene has changed big time too. Back when I was starting out, researching my brains out and scouring the web for organic brands that were actually walking the talk and not just utilizing good marketing skills, naturals were different. Sure, there were those that have always been both high performance and safe at the same time (Lavera, Primavera, Dr. Hauschka, I’m lookin’ at you), but many were sloopy, sticky, stinky concoctions I did not enjoy using.

I think these days women are looking for products that act, look, feel, and sometimes even smell like conventional products. I know I am. Lucky for us that is happening. Today we have a huge selection of nontoxic products and brands to choose from. Truly safe, high quality, act like you want them to, beauties.

We are fortunate. There is nothing standing in our way of looking and feeling great while making healthy choices. I’m so happy to have been a part of the organic beauty movement over these past 10 years and want to give a huge shout out to my sisters and bros in the organic beauty game too. All of the amazing bloggers, editors, online shop owners, brand creators, and PR peeps who’ve lent their time and products to my journey…a big smooch to you. Couldn’t have done it without you!

If you’d like to talk about my writing services, please get in touch via my contact page. For organic beauty info, hit up the Resources tab. The Shop page will get you started on some beauty products I’ve picked out from one of my fave shops. Or dive into the posts to see what’s going on in my green beauty world.

As always, thanks for reading and come back soon!

Top image by Pineapples at Unsplash.com has absolutely nothing to do with OBS turning 10. I just love pineapples and beaches:)

The Heck With Balance! Are You Doing What You Want to Do?

The Heck With Balance! Are You Doing What You Want to Do?

Have you read Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte yet? Well, she just ran a free audio course that wrapped on Monday, and it was as inspirational as anticipated. So much feel good, juicy dreams, get ‘er done info! It’ll make you feel like canning everything you hate and hitting those big dreams of yours hard.

The one shining memento I came away from the course with was this…Do what feels right to you. The heck with expectations and balance. Feel free to mix things up, take the less beaten path, do what you wanna do.

This way of thinking helps me big time. I tend to do the things that I feel need to get done first. Like the work you don’t love but feel obligated to do. You know what I’m talking about. For real, what would happen if we all did the things we love? The things that feel right?

Obviously, we have to pay the bills and this means some stuff we aren’t absolutely head over heels for. But how many of your daily tasks could have waited a day or two to get done? Or maybe never need get done at all?

Let’s say you have deadlines or meetings one day. These would fall into the “must get done” pile. Then there are the items you feel are necessary for a balanced existence, like returning those phone calls or sorting your sock drawer. Those babies fall into the “don’t really need to get done” pile. No one is going to get stood up or fired if your gym socks are mixed with you dress socks.

Next is that list of what you’d really like to do. One day. Some day. The stuff that lights your fire and makes you feel instantly energized. What if you did some of that every day? Or at least most days? Feels like freedom, right?

So I’m doing a little experiment. I have a day where no assignments are due and no appointments are on the calendar. Of course, there are articles I could be working on and inboxes I could be sorting through and files I could be organizing. But not today.

Today I am dedicating to writing. For me. My blog and other creative projects I’m working on. Stuff I usually do once my “real” work is done. It feels super indulgent and exciting.

What do you think? Does this idea feel liberating to you? Or like a disaster in the making? I’d love to know!

Image :: Lea Dubedout at Unsplash.com

Shop Talk :: When Your Creativity Gives You Lemons…

Shop Talk :: When Your Creativity Gives You Lemons…

So you’ve got yourself a blog. You have been doing a fair job of updating it regularly. You’ve set aside a day/night/wee hour of the morning each week to write up a post. And now you are blank.

If you’ve ever wondered What the heck am I going to put up on the blog this week?, first; you are not alone, second; you have options.

Yes, all of us dry up on creativity at some point. Even those who appear to have creative mojo dripping from their pores. You have two options here. Either get your juices pumping which, yes, takes energy and often time. May I suggest a run, shower, quick nap on the couch?

Or you can fake it. This is the easy way out, but it can also be a thing of beauty.

The following is a list of post ideas for any organic beauty or wellness blog. These are fast and easy to come up with, will help you out in a pinch, and fun for your readers too. You’ll be slinging these babies out like hotcakes and having a great time doing it. I’m calling it…

Blog Post 911

Product post :: Product reviews can get old. Not only for you, but for your readers. Rather than writing up 300+ words on what is so great about your latest addition, try a sentence or two on a handful of similar use products, seasonal items, or those you are simply loving right now. A pretty pic never hurts either and can even do most of the talking for you.

Wishlist post :: You know you have one. Don’t we all? That running list in your iPhone, notebook, head of pretties you are dying to get your hands on? Share them with your readers and encourage them to do the same in the comments. Have a shop? Put up items you’d like to try and match them up with similar “until I get to this” items you carry.

Who Do You Love post :: The super model, actress, writer, painter, product creator, blogger that you admire so much? Tell others about her. Share her with your world. Your followers like to know what you like and your crush may even take note. Nothing like a little reciprocal love.

How To post :: Do your readers ask you certain questions again and again? Friends and acquaintances always wondering what lip gloss or scent you are wearing? Tell them, already! As in “I always get asked…”. A good ol’ how to post is always a hit, too.

How They post :: I have heard so many women comment on the JLo Glow. I always thought Luminizer, duh. Well, let them know! How did Salma get that winged out liner on that Allure cover? How does Gwen get her red lipstick to stay put? Have the answer? Enquiring minds want to know.

Each of these can be whipped out in an hour or less. Promise.

Did this help? If you’d like to read more blog post ideas or have other questions on content for your site or blog, let me know.

Shop Talk :: Image Improvement

Shop Talk :: Image Bonanza

So you’ve written up a sweet little post for your blog. It is chock full o’ helpful info and juicy knowledge. You’ve linked to other useful articles, resources, and products. Now all you need to finish this baby up and make it completely irresistible is … the dreaded image.

You’ve heard images are supposed to be highly focused, tell a bit about your post, and entice readers to click, right? And for good reason. The perfect image is not only good looking, it is the lead in to your article. So, why are you having so much trouble getting the hang of this whole picture thing?

Don’t worry. Any blogger who is not a photographer has had image issues. You have to make sure you are using those with a sharable license so you won’t get into any copyright trouble, but also want them to look great and make sense with your posts.

This can be tricky. There have been times when it’s taken me longer to find the appropriate image than it did to write the post. Many times. For a while there I even resorted to creating my own text “images” to avoid the whole hunt. Nasty example can be viewed here.

Bottom line is, if you are taking the time to write a worthwhile post it must be accompanied by a worthwhile image. Anything less is like wearing a brand new, beautiful outfit with old, doggy shoes from high school.

You have a couple of options here. Either use images from royalty free image sites or take your own. And I promise, you definitely do not need to be a pro photog to take great pics. I finally did some investigating prior to launching my latest blog design and it was well worth the time.

ImageSetUp

Here’s how I take the images I use on my blog. I use two white poster boards for a blank background and to reflect light, and set it up right by a window for natural light. I set up by my back door because all of the windows in my home are paned, and that makes for some funky shots. Natural light always looks so much better than artificial, even on a cloudy day. You can always brighten your image up with a filter. That info coming up next.

GoldStuffOriginal

What camera am I using? My iPhone. I have a big fancy Nikon and like the pictures my phone takes better for the blog. Plus, it is so much easier to use. Once I have a pic I like, I run it through a filter app. Pic Tap Go is super easy and I think only cost me a few bucks. I use Lights On filter because I like my images bright. You can see that my shot was not very bright before I ran it through the filter app. For quick and simple online editing, try PicMonkey.com.

An important note: We are talking about blog photos. Product shots for online shops should be taken by a professional or ask for high res shots from the brand.

I also use images from free image sites from time to time. My faves are Unsplash.com and Morguefile.com for gorgeous photography that really shouldn’t be free. When going this route be sure you credit the photographer and site you grabbed the pic from at the bottom of your post.

That’s it. Not hard or scary at all. Added bonus is, you can use these pics on your Instagram too. No excuse not to have a picture perfect blog.

Seasonal Inspo :: Time for a Makeover

Seasonal Makeover

Change of season can mean it’s time for…

a MAKEOVER!

Don’tcha feel the need for change when transitioning from summer to fall? It may be as simple as a new pair of shoes or switching your nail polish. I’ve also been feeling some bangs and have some cute ones pinned if you feel like taking a look. We shall see about that.

I’m also fixing up a few things around my house, which I always love to do. If you are ever in need of some hot home inspo take a look at one of my fave interiors gals, Amber Lewis. This girl has mad style and a get ‘er done ‘tude.

Am working on another surprise unveiling. I know, hate it when a blogger leads me on like that. Here’s a sneak peek. Promise I’ll let you in on it super soon.

How are you keeping it fresh for fall? Share your ideas so we can copy!

Shop Talk :: Rekindling Your Passion

Blogger Biz Rekindling Your Passion

I’m the first to say that this is my dream job. Maybe not my dream salary (yet) but definitely love setting my own hours, working from home (often in my pjs or workout clothes), and getting to know other kindred spirits. And, not lastly, writing.

I’ve always loved to write and adore that it is the crux of my daily work. Still, sometimes it can be difficult to ignite that fire that got you blogging in the first place. Most of us started out in this biz because we felt passionate about something and wanted to share that interest with others.

So what happens when you just aren’t feeling it?

Here’s my go to fire igniter: READ.

That’s right, read other people’s stuff. Blogs, magazines, books, newspapers. Read what you like, written by people you like. Read stuff in your niche and on subjects completely different from what you write. Read controversial and subversive writings. Read sweet and fluffy pieces. Just get started reading somewhere and you will be surprised how inspired you become. Betcha you’ll be jumping up to jot down hot ideas before you’re even finished.

If you are having trouble getting anything fresh in print, or just can’t seem to get yourself to sit down at the computer, maybe you need to take a day (or even an hour) and read. It’ll getcha going. Promise.

*Image by Christopher at Flickr.com, cc