James McQuarrie is a UK based Product Leader who helps teams discover, design, build and deliver digital products and services that delight their users.
I want to take you back to the the end of 2021.
I’ve learnt a lot in that time.
I’ve optimised my shampoo making process.
I’ve figured out how to use Shopify to sell shampoo online.
I’ve worked out which Post Office to use to post my customer’s orders, and what day & time is best for avoiding long queues - week day lunch times in any Bath Post Office are to be avoided…
I’ve proven there’s interest in a handmade, organic, vegan-friendly solid shampoo bar aimed at men. I’ve got repeat customers. Not thousands, but folks have tried my shampoo and have come back for more.
What I’ve not figured out is how to get more people to visit my shampoo’s Shopify store and order my product.
Getting noticed in a crowded, and ever expanding, world of products is tough. Really tough.
To get more people buying Tidy solid shampoo bars, I needed more people to discover them and visit the website.
So I sat down and hatched a plan.
Broadly speaking there are two ways to get folks to visit your online store:
- Buy their attention with adverts, influencers, etc
- Grow visitor numbers organically using SEO and well written and produced content.
Tidy is bootstrapped. I had money coming in from sales, but not enough to invest in advertising and ingredients to continue making more shampoo. I bought ingredients, which left zero marketing budget.
So I turned to SEO and content.
I’m no SEO expert, nor am I a copywriter, or “digital creative” skilled at making compelling, attention grabbing content for social media.
But I know enough from past experience of writing blogs (like this one you’re reading now), and have absorbed a enough of a rudimentary understanding of SEO through over 15 years of working in tech to be confident I could try blogging as a way to slowly increase Tidy’s site traffic.
Slowly being the key word there, because my limited understanding included the knowledge that blogging to organically grow a website is a long game.
And that was OK with me, because Tidy is a long game. I believe in marginal gains adding up over time. Small wins compounding and building make a big difference. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say…
So, in a coffee shop by the river Avon in Bath one afternoon I sat down and wrote a plan for how I would write my way to more traffic for Tidy.
This is that plan.
The “write my way to traffic” plan
I started by breaking down the keywords and phrases that I wanted Tidy to be known for:
- Men’s shampoo bar UK
- best shampoo bars UK 2022
- best shampoo bar UK
- best men’s shampoo bar UK
- best shampoo bar for hard water UK
- best shampoo and conditioner bars UK
- best shampoo bars for coloured hair
- cheap shampoo bars UK
- sulphate free shampoo bar UK
I’ve started a number of blogs over the years. In fact, I was blogging before we called it blogging…
One lesson I’ve learnt the hard way more than once, is that I often start a blog with good intentions, enthusiastically writing as the mood strikes and then failing to write anything for weeks or months, even years at a time (again, see this blog as evidence…). I knew I needed to do everything I could to set myself up to be able to see things through this time for Tidy. If I didn’t then there would be no point in starting the process…
To make it as easy as possible for me to write the content I needed consistently I did two things:
- first I committed to what I thought would be a realistic writing schedule: one blog post per week for all of 2022
- then I spend a good amount of time writing 52 post titles right there and then.
I knew writing one blog post per week wouldn’t set the world on fire in terms of SEO and growing Tidy’s visitor numbers, but it would be better than not blogging. Having a full time job and a young family to spend time with meant one post per week felt achievable.
To make hitting that weekly goal as easy as I could for my future self I knew I’d need to remove as many barriers as possible from the act of writing. I find it really hard to write. Especially from a cold start. So I figured if I could have a pre-made list of blog titles, one for each week, that would take a lot of the work out of starting my weekly writing.
To make coming up with 52 different post ideas easier I picked 4 “themes” for my content and worked through listing 12-13 ideas within each theme.
This is what I came up with:
Theme 1: Build credibility
- The science behind shampoo - How it keeps you clean
- How soaps (and solid shampoos) are made
- Tidy’s process for making solid shampoo
- Introducing our ingredients:
- Sodium hydroxide solution
- Sweet Almond oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Shea butter
- Jojoba oil
- Sodium lactate
- Essential mint oil
- Essential tea tree oil.
Theme 2: Our Mission - reduce the number of bottles thrown out in the UK each year
- Our recipe, free for anyone to make
- Others who are championing the cause
- You don’t have to buy our shampoo to help the cause
- Balancing the trifecta - quality, sustainability, profitability
- Introducing the customer investment pack
- Shipping via Royal Mail - slower, but lower impact
- Using as little energy as possible to make our shampoo
- Making it the hard way to reduce waste (individual bars rather than blocks)
- Small batches equals reduced waste
- The life-cycle of a shampoo bottle
- Reduce, reuse, then recycle - how to put that bottle you do have to better use
- Free shipping for 3 or more bars.
Theme 3: Reduce your impact on the environment
- How to lower the impact of washing your hair
- How to lower your impact on the environment in your bathroom
- How to lower your impact on the environment in your home
- How to lower your impact on the environment in your garden
- How to lower your impact on the environment in your kitchen
- How to lower your impact on the environment while working
- How to lower your impact on the environment while traveling
- How to lower your impact on the environment while commuting
- How to lower your impact on the environment while shopping
- How to lower your impact on the environment while camping
- How to lower your impact on the environment while on holiday
- How to lower your impact on the environment while using technology.
Theme 4: Building the business
- Marginal gains. 1% better every day
- The enemy is waste
- 3 reasons for building the business
- Prove that you can build a best in class product that’s eco-friendly from cradle to grave
- Prove that there is a market for that product
- Prove that sustainability isn’t just about being green, it’s good business too
- Sustainability is good business
- Core principles:
- Make great products
- Make them as low impact as possible
- Make them profitable
- The first 100 club.
That was the plan.
One blog post per week, from a list of predefined ideas, built around 4 different themes. All of which should include one or more of the keywords and phrases I wanted to target for SEO purposes.