TOOLS + RESOURCES

Shop Talk :: The One Thing Your Customers Really Want

Shop Talk :: The One Thing Your Customers Need

Shop Talk is a series on helping organic beauty professionals get their products into the hands of people who will love them, and share their message with the world.

You neeeed vibe word flow.

Know why? It’s how you sell your stuff.

If you were a blogger or shop owner around 6- 10 years ago, you probably remember online marketing in a very different way. Back then it was all about the pretty ads. Flashing, sparkling, bright ads. Plastered everywhere.

Sure, people are still paying big bucks for ads on highly visible sites. But do you know what gets customer attention these days? It is not that big flashy ad. It is words. Solid, honest, super transparent information.

We’ve upped our online game along the way. And thank goodness! Now we go to someone’s site, read up on what we want to know, and decide if we’d like to request more info or make a purchase. The way it should be.

Hey, if you walk into a shop and start looking at, say…juicers. You are thinking the cheap one looks good price-wise. But will it burn up the third time you use it? Is the more expensive model the best way to go? What do you do? Look at the huge banner telling you to purchase the expensive model and do that, just because the banner said so?

Heck no!

You ask the person working in the store. That is why they are there, right? To give you more information that will aid in your buying decision. And how much does the giant, brightly colored banner with the eye-catching font do for you? Not a whole lot.

Same deal with your web content. Your words tell your customers what they want to know and answer their questions. This is what helps them decide what to buy. Not the crazy ad.

No clue where to begin? I’ve created a little crib sheet for you, including three important things to keep in mind when sharing your products with your customers.

3 Important Things to Share With Your Customers

1. Who is this product for? Most often, when people shop beauty they are shopping for a solution. Fix their acne. Tone down their redness. Diminish their wrinkles. Tell them exactly who the product is designed for and what problem it solves.

2. Look, smell, feel. Since we are talking online stores here, customers can’t get their hands on your sweet products. Let them know what the product feels like to the touch. How does it smell? Is it a creamy, dreamy violet-hued red lipstick or a striking matte tangerine lipstick? Be as descriptive as possible.

3. Give up the ingredients. We know this is important. Consumers are savvy these days and look for full ingredient listings. So don’t beat around the bush, copy and paste those suckers onto each and every description page.

If, on the other hand, you do not have a love of writing, think your writing stinks, or simply do not have the time (you are running an online biz, after all), I can help with that. Organic beauty/wellness writing is my thang and I’d be more than happy to help you out.

Find out what my services will do for you, and fill out the Content Stylist form with the specs on your writing wants and needs. Or if you are less wordy, don’t know what you really want or need, or would like to talk about retaining my writing services on an as needed basis, please give me a shout through my good ol’ contact form. Questions welcome.

Would love to hear from you organic beauty + wellness professionals…what are your biggest hurdles in running an online biz? Setting up time for blogging, social media, or emails? Getting to know your customers? Finding new and exciting products? I’d love to know, so please share in the comments.

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.

What You’re Doing This Weekend

These are Working for Your Weekend

Have some free time this weekend? Feel like doing some reading/learning? Boy, do I have stuff you are going to love!

Do you love to read as much as I do? If I could figure out how to make a living off of reading or taking online courses…life made.

Since I have not yet figured that out, I do so in my spare time. And I’ve got a hunch you do too. So I want to let you in on some super good stuff you can check out over the weekend.

Big Magic :: Ok, if you did not get your sweaty little hands on a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book yet, Do. So. Pronto. Big Magic is a quick, enlightening read that’ll have you kicking if onlys and what ifs to the curb, and calling up your inspo like the creative beast you are. Gilbert (in her talking-to-your-bestie-over-coffee manner) not only gives you permission to take time to do the things you love, but absolutely insists on it as a means to a meaningful existence. You are soooo ready for this.

James Patterson Teaches Writing :: You know. The #1 New York Times Best Selling, award winning, American author of books for children, teens, and adults? Yeah, that guy. James has a fiction writing course on Masterclass.com, called James Patterson Teaches Writing, that’s gonna knock the socks off your writer’s block. He offers up 22 lessons on everything from creating characters and plot line, to firing up your passion for writing and marketing your work. I bought this baby yesterday and cannot wait to get started. Want to do it with me? It’s only $90 and just the videos of this cute, funny, relatable author are worth the price alone. Another reason I know it will be good? A personal recommendation by my copywriting hero, Ash Ambirge.

Anything Ash :: Speaking of… if you are a copywriter of anything and think you need help with your business, writing, whatever (and even if you believe you have the whole thing handled), look at Ash’s offerings. I’ve taken two of her courses, (both unbelievably helpful and I will share more details on soon) and purchased her products. Get on over there now and gift yourself some help with writing, marketing, graphics, or just some handy sentences to help you out with daily life stuff.

There you go. Now have a bitchin’ weekend!

Image :: Marie-Sophie Tékian at Unsplash.com

Ingredient Listings Decoded (A Handy Cheat Sheet)

Ingredient Listings Decoded (A Handy Cheat Sheet)

A couple weeks ago in Shop Talk we covered why complete ingredient listings are the most important words on any decent organic beauty shop’s site. Finding out exactly what is in a product is the only way to truly know if it is safe before you buy.

You know how you’ll go to an online shop who is doing a great job of making themselves and the products they carry look green? No this, no that, all natural … Then you go to the page of an interesting looking product. Sounds good, looks good, let’s take a peek at what’s in this pretty little beauty.

And there it is. Or shall we say, there it isn’t. No ingredient listing to be found. Or maybe it has one of those key ingredient listings. You know, where they list all of the natural-ish ingredients in the product but don’t give up a full ingredient listing.

Guess why they may be doing this? It usually is not in the name of being more concise. Both of these scenarios are red flags. Even the one that lists those wholesome sounding key ingredients.

You’ve been around the block enough times now to know that just because a product contains a few natural ingredients, doesn’t mean it is free from toxic ingredients. And the good old none-of-this-or-that-disclosure you see on sites? Forget those and get straight to the nitty gritty, the ever important ingredient listing.

Ok, so you shop places that list everything in every product they carry. Yay! Dazed and confused once you are faced with deciphering this mess of words? Even some natural ingredients sound not so natural?

I’m going to arm you with a powerful tool. An ingredient decoding cheat sheet. This will help you to differentiate healthy ingredients from nasty ones on the fly.

Ingredient List Decoder

1 :: Check the first 5 ingredients. These ingredients make up the majority of the product. Like food, cosmetic product ingredients are listed in order of concentration, from greatest to least. So if a product is comprised mostly of water, it will be the first ingredient on the list, and so on. Synthetic emollients and harsh foaming agents hang out here. Use my Ingredients to Avoid list for help.

2 :: Check the last 5 ingredients. These may be used in lesser amounts but the end of an ingredient listing is where you will usually find fragrance and preservatives.

3 :: If you’ve made it this far, fairly safe to say you have a safe product. Now scan those ingredients in the middle of the listing, if there are any, to see if anything comes up dirty.

4 :: Not sure on an ingredient name? Many brands follow the European INCI ingredient listings, using Latin names for ingredients. Check the INCI listing here.

5 :: Wondering whether or not the ingredients are organic? Organic ingredients are often marked with an asterisk. “100% Organic” means a product contains only organically produced ingredients, “Certified Organic” means the product is made of at least 95% organically produced ingredients, “Made with Organic Ingredients” means the product contains at least 70% organically produced ingredients.

So there’s some help in decoding those pesky ingredient listings. Have more questions? Ask away!

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.

Shop Talk :: The Most Important Words On Your Site

Shop Talk :: The Most Important Words On Your Site

What are the most important words on any organic beauty store’s site? Any guesses?

More important than product descriptions. More than expert notations. Possibly even more than product reviews.

Ingredient listings.

Like, complete product ingredient listings. The full meal deal.

Know why? Because it is the only true way to tell what is in a product and if it is safe.

Have you ever been to an online shop and found lots of great looking products, all advertised as clean? But alas, no ingredient listings. You search their About page, their ingredient commitment. Still, the fact that you can’t find out what exactly is in this product you’d really like to push the Buy Now button on is bugging you.

You Google the product to see if you can find the ingredients on another site. C’mon, you know you’ve done it. You spend several more minutes on this product than you feel it warrants. You start to get frustrated because you just want to know what’s. in. the. dang. product.

Right there. That’s a customer’s red flag to click the heck out of your site, away from your shop for good.

People selling safe, nontoxic cosmetics aren’t afraid to tell you what’s in them. Even more, they actually want you to know what they are made of. So they tell you. In the form of complete ingredient listings on every single product page.

For organic beauty shoppers in the know (and make no mistake, the majority are savvy these days) this no listing thing is a deal breaker. An almost sure way to tell if someone is being a little less than honest about the safety of the products they sell.

So do your customers and yourself one huge, big, fat favor. List ingredients on your site. It’s a copy and paste thing that is super important to your business and the faith your potential customers put in you. Have your intern set aside a day to get this done or peel your teenage son out from behind his Xbox for the weekend and pay him to do it. You won’t be sorry.

Image :: timothy muza at Unsplash

Shop Talk :: 6 Blogging Tips to Lightning Fast Content

6 Blogging Tips to Lightning Fast Content

Hello, Organic Beauty Pros!

Last week we talked about your lonely little site blog and tips for perking it up with some fresh content. I mentioned shorter posts and hiring a professional to do the writing for you. But there are other ways to make regular blog posting happen too.

If you are someone who has ideas and would like to share them with your followers, but just can’t seem to fit it into your busy schedule, today’s post is for you. I’ll share tips on ways to gather your ideas, get them organized, set up a schedule, and post those babies lightning fast.

1 :: Ideas most often happen on the fly. Free your memory space (in your actual head) up for important stuff, like remembering to record your daughter’s dance class or schedule a coffee date with your bestie, and get those post ideas down somewhere else. I use the Notes app on my phone while I’m out to record ideas and any related links that I may like to write about later. Evernote is another great place to store your thoughts, emails, articles, and post plans.

2 :: An editorial calendar is a super effective way to keep up with regular posting. Did you just groan at the thought of coming up with one of these? Seriously, you will be glad you did. Even if you only plan to posts once a week (which is absolutely fine and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), an ed calendar will help you plan ahead and stick to your schedule. Put it on your calendar, “Post to Blog” every Wednesday.

3 :: Most blogging platforms have a schedule feature. This means you can write your post anytime that works for you and schedule it to go out first thing Monday morning. Hot stuff!

4 :: If you seem to get stuck in a time suck every time you sit down to write a post, give yourself a limit. Remember, blogs are a more personal space than a site or store. Speak in your own voice and focus on one subject at a time. Tracking your time helps big time her too. I use the Time Tracker feature on Freshbooks to log my writing time. There are other apps that do this too. Or heck, set an old fashioned timer for an hour.

5 :: Guest posts and interviews are interesting ways to share different types of content with your readers. They also free up some of your time because someone else is doing the writing. Obviously, these need to be set up in advance. Come up with a list of brand creators or industry experts you’d like to feature, and ask them if they’d be up for an interview or would like to write a guest post for your blog.

6 :: One of my favorite ways of writing themed content is with blog series. You’ll notice here on OBS I have several. This not only makes it easier for me to organize my post ideas, but helps my readers to find articles they like on a certain subject. For shop owners, things like Product of the Month, What I’m Wearing, or Customer Favorites are sweet ways of sharing opinions while featuring products.

Once you get in the blog flow, ideas, writing, and scheduling will all become easier and faster. Next week we will cover inspo generation for those who want to blog but don’t know what to write about. See you back here then!

Shop Talk :: Suffering From Blog Neglect?

Shop Talk :: Suffering from Blog Neglect?

How many of you organic beauty shop owners have a blog? How many post regularly? Seldom? Haven’t removed the “Coming Soon” placeholder?

Yep, I see it all the time. A beautifully laid out organic beauty shop, filled to the brim with the best products, images that make you drool, and great editor tips. Then I click the “Blog” link, and … *crickets chirping*.

Know why your blog is a tumbleweed magnet? Because you are a shop owner not a blogger.

They are two very independent beings. One runs a shop full of organic beauty products. The other writes about those products. Two different job descriptions. This is why you don’t post to your blog.

Writing is what I get paid to do and I love it. If you told me I had to sell beauty products on the side, I’d probably blow it off for a few days in a state of frozen bewilderment, before putting out a half ditched effort. The bottom line: I’d sell very few products.

And that’s not because I don’t know how to market them or don’t know how to install a shopping cart on my site. Which, admittedly, I do not. But that stuff can be learned. The real reason I wouldn’t sell any product is because … selling beauty products is not my thing. Not my jam. Not what I do.

And blogging is not what you lovely, successful shop owners do. Nor should you be. It takes away from your true purpose. Time spent on doing something you hate rather than doing what you love is counterproductive. Why do I assume you don’t love blogging? Because you chose to be a shop owner, not a blogger, plus the aforementioned cricket chirper you have there on your site.

What’s that? So maybe you don’t hate to write? If you do yearn for a personal spot to share your personal stuff and hoped it would happen in blog form, that’s great! Maybe it’s more of a time factor for you. If this is the case, here’s something to remember — blog posts do not have to be long. Forget what you’ve heard about what Google loves and those blogging rules you’ve seen on Pinterest. Those apply to people who blog for a living. You sell products for a living. Few customers are going to find you through your blog. Your blog is there as a side component to your real business. A place your customers can go to further connect with you.

This is where short posts come in.

Put up a couple of tiny paragraphs on your latest offerings and why you love them. Talk about what you are stocking up on for the season. Tell of how you used a product in a new and different way. And the ultimate shorty post, a poll or simple question asking your readers what they want or if they have questions. Simpler and quicker still? Tweet, Facebook, or Instagram that stuff out in super short and sweet format.

Blogs are a great way to lend a more personal feel to your business and customers love that. So before you delete that baby or, even worse, continue to let it linger in its state of loneliness, consider getting it some rehab. There are folks, like me, who do this blogging thing for a living. Order up some fresh and sparkly content for your neglected blog or give the short post a whirl.

There you go, quick and easy tips for getting your blog some love. Now get to doing what you do best and sell us some organic beauty products!

Shop Talk :: Why Organic Beauty Shoppers Love Samples (and Shop Owners Should Too)

Why Organic Beauty Shoppers Love Samples (and Shop Owners Should Too)

Shop Talk is a new series I’m starting here on OBS. It’s geared toward the organic beauty professional – shop owners, larger web sites, brand creators… But anyone is welcome to join in the conversation.

We’ll be covering things like what consumers love/hate in organic beauty, ways to connect with your audience, how to make your shop or site the best it can be, content ideas, and more. Whether you are an organic beauty pro or not, I’d love to have your input on this. Feel free to contribute to the comments or contact me with ideas or questions.

So, here we go with the first official Shop Talk post. Today we are covering samples, why shoppers love them, and why shop owners should love them too.

Why Shoppers Love Organic Beauty Samples (and Shop Owners Should Too)

This may seem obvious at first glance…because everyone wants to try stuff for free or almost free, duh. But there truly is more to the whole organic beauty sample game than just getting to try something out for free.

Remember when, in your pre-organics days, you’d walk through the department store beauty section and score some high end samples? You’d take those suckers home, feeling like you’d just won the mini lottery, and commence to using them like a fiend. Or was that just me? C’mon, you know you did it too.

You’d feel like it had miraculously turned your skin into someone else’s and you simply had. to. have. more. So you’d hop your sweet little buns back out to the mall for a bigger score. This time, on you.

In short, you bought the dang products, didn’t you?

Me too. Even if they didn’t work for the long term. You bought them because you got to try them out. You bonded with them. A connection was made.

Sure not all products are a match made in heaven. Plenty of them get pitched and never again see the light of day. But some blossom into a full on love connection.

Samples are even more important with organic beauty products than conventional. And that is because not everyone is sold on the fact that clean beauty products can behave themselves the same way the department store brands do. We know they do, but some people are still skeptical. Another reason, lack of experience. Most people simply have not tried as many organic beauty products as they have conventional.

Let’s think about this organic beauty samples thing in terms of food. Say, almond milk. When almond milk started to become popular you may have wanted to try it, but maybe not enough to buy an entire carton. What if you didn’t like it? What if it sat in your fridge and no one drank it? What if it was downright gross? And did you really want to be someone who drank almond milk, anyway?

Then one day as you strolled through your favorite Target, there was a sample of almond milk. You tried it. You weren’t that into it. You didn’t buy it.

The next week there is yet another sample of almond milk. Been down that road before, you are thinking. But this time it’s different. This time they are offering vanilla almond milk. Hmmm. You try it. You love it. You buy it every week because you just can’t get enough. You put it on your cereal, in your coffee, use it to make smoothies. How did you ever live without your precious almond milk? The rest is history.

Would you ever have considered buying the vanilla almond milk without a sample? Probably not. Target got the sample of vanilla almond milk in your hand and you weren’t so scared of it because they’d already introduced you to the regular almond milk the week before.

Green beauty shoppers are at you store, so they are already interested in green beauty. You just have to help them find the stuff that is right for them.

Samples are a super helpful way of getting organic beauty products into the hands of buyers. They may not love each and every sample, but it is introducing them to different products and brands. They are interested in investigating further. A connection has been made.

Whether you offer standard samples with each purchase, give options, or make sample sizes available for purchase, this is a valuable way of helping consumers find products they like and getting your items on their radar.

Time to up your samples game.

Ingredient Focus :: Estrogen Disruptors

Endocrine Disruptors

I’ve been spending some writing time on toxic ingredients over at Feelgood Style this past week. In particular, hormone disruptors.

Unless you’ve been living in some extremely remote location, you’ve heard of parabens. These preservatives are widely used in cosmetics. And they are synthetic. And they are toxic. No matter how slyly a company may try to portray them as coming from nature. Nope. Parabens used in cosmetics are synthetic. You can read more about what I have to say on that here.

Then there are metalloestrogens. This class of chemicals are metals and they mimic estrogen in the body. They also take longer (like, a lot longer!) for our bodies to expel than parabens. This means they have longer to do their dirty work. For the full deets on metalloestrogens, read what I wrote on FGS.

So what’s the big deal with estrogen? Don’t our bodies make this hormone anyway? Yep. Women need estrogen to stay balanced and healthy.

But too much of this good thing can cause serious health issues. When estrogen levels become too high, inflammation occurs and disease can follow. Some toxic ingredients block hormone receptors, which can also lead to disease.

The moral to this story: Avoid parabens, plastics and estrogen-mimicking metals.