Hey there Sea Changers. Today I am going to let you into the inner sanctums of the Make that Sea Change household and the inspiration for this post. You see, I was sitting here tinkering with my little site when I heard my beautiful wife Nicole muttering under her breath. The reason? She was trying to buy makeup online. Her problem was that she could not find any sites that “just give me easy to find information without the clutter”. Hmmm, I thought – time for a post on how to sell cosmetics online.
Now, I don’t wear cosmetics, but obviously millions around the world do. So in terms of affiliate marketing I am fairly confident that this could be an attractive niche for those of you looking to make that sea change selling them. I know Nic has some pretty strong opinions on how they should be sold so I will incorporate some of that information here for sure.
So as usual, grab a notebook, a drink, some lipstick (haha) and let’s dive right in…
How do we get started?
Let’s start with a clarification on what it is that I am talking about when I mention cosmetics. For the purposes if this site I will include all those ‘beauty’ substances such as make-up, skin care, hair care, nail care, oral care, perfumery, and deodorant products – but we will discuss niches later… Cosmetics are a $250 billion industry based heavily on emotion.
My first piece of advice when it comes to selling cosmetics online comes from some of Nic’s exasperation that “all the sites are the same- I just see product after product listed and don’t know what I want or what is best”. The second is that the industry tends to be monopolized by the big companies (Loreal, Clinique, Estée Lauder, Mac etc.) so in order to stand out you will really need to hatch a clever niche.
So with that in mind, before we go any further, I would start to think about the following
- How is your idea different from what’s on the market – I.e. how can you stand out from the crowd?
- Have you identified an audience for your products? How will you reach them?
- Is that audience underrepresented by current brands?
- Have you identified any emerging trends or is there a new product you can leverage off?
- Is your differentiation external to your product? As in are you instead trying to create a new experience around a common product? How will your branding help achieve this goal?
The big advantage I see here lies in the fact that whilst there are a lot of sites that sell makeup, Nic tells me there are not a lot that outline how to BUY makeup – I.e. what to look for, what is best, how to determine the best for you etc.
Is there a market?
Normally at this point we would be checking to make sure that there is a market to explore for the product. In this case however, I am fairly confident that this is the case, but let’s have a look at what our potential purchasers are looking for anyway. Now we don’t need to go too deep into things here as we will be revisiting and refining things as we start to narrow down to our niche. However, in order to check out the market at this initial stage, there are two things you can look at:
1. Number of monthly searches
To start with, let’s see how many people undertake cosmetic related searches online per month. To do this, you will need to find yourself a good keyword tool (I use Jaaxy) and enter in the keywords that best describe your market. In this case, let’s look at cosmetics:
We can see here that there are roughly 30,000 searches for ‘cosmetics’ per month. In my opinion, that is a good amount to prove that there is a market. If I break that down further to ‘cosmetics online’, there is still a healthy amount of searches being undertaken.
There is a lot to cut through with the sites of the big brands, but in my opinion, if you can hit the right target audience there is plenty of room to make good sales within this niche.
2. Growth trends
Another important aspect of online sales and niche selection is to ensure that your site can be evergreen and that there is growth. To gain an insight into this let’s check out how the searches for cosmetics are trending online.
So we can see here that over the past 15 years, cosmetic searches have remained steady. However, once I compare to searches for ‘make up’ the consistency and growth is considerably higher. And then just to test the market a bit more, I added skin care. As you can see there is a much lower demand for sites based on these searches. Regardless, there are no real drops in search numbers making this also a great niche to explore and market.
Do your research
Now, whilst we are fairly confident that there is a market for the online sales of cosmetics, we have also discussed the fact that there are some big players against which we will need to complete. In an effort to get around this, we will need to do some fairly solid research. As an example, I will run through these based on the comments Nic has been making over this past day or two…
Who do you have in mind to target?
Female 30 to 40 years of age
What sites does she visit?
The main manufacturer sites
Which social media sites does she use?
Instagram – aalllways on the ‘Gram
Who does she listen to?
Brooke Castillo, Podcasts
This is a very broad overview and generally you would undertake a much deeper dive into your research. These details however are critical to the art of selling cosmetics online from here on out as it will affect every aspect of the website, its branding, how we write, what problems we solve, what social media platforms we use and how we differentiate ourselves from the competition.
What is our niche?
Once we have a basic understanding of who we are targeting, we can then start to try and narrow our niche. In the world of cosmetics and beauty products, this is important as we attempt to narrow into an area that allows us to not only hit our target audience, but to also stand out from the crowd.
Note: I have to add here that the order that I have written these requirements in is not always the order in which all of this is decided. For example, If I was building this site, I would be targeting a niche around helping females decide which product is right for them amongst the absolute plethora of options that are out there. Alternatively, you might have a passion for natural makeups (6800 monthly searches by the way) so you are going to choose that and adapt it to a broader audience instead with the benefits of these products. Anyway, let’s continue with our niche discussion.
The sky really is the limit, but when choosing you niche, consider the following:
- Is it evergreen– this means that it can never go out-of-date or style.
- Are you able to solve a problem– Most people undertake searches on the internet to solve a problem – see next section.
- Is there any competition? – Another way see if there is a market is to see if you have any competition. If not, then maybe it is because no-one is buying.
- Is it a subject that you have an interest, or knowledge in– I am guessing that you are in this post as you know about, or have an interest in cosmetics. If you don’t have either of these, maybe consider another market as to be honest, you might struggle to continuously write solid content if you don’t know much about them – or worse, have no interest in them.
What problem are we solving?
Another aspect of niche selection, and a critical influence in attracting people to your site is to determine just what problem/s you are trying to solve for your readers. This may be one problem that spans your site or differ for each post that you write. For example, if you have chosen professional makeup for your niche, then some commonly searched problems are:
As you can see, each of these searches are actual problems that people are looking to solve within this niche and some great ideas for posts about professional makeup.
In my research, I also found some other niche/problems that were evident:
- Older readers looking for assistance specific to mature skin.
- Sites listing exclusive or hard to get stock (I know of a beer site that does that – it has exploded onto the market)
- Cosmetics centred around animal welfare and/or chemical-free formulations – there are even Vegan makeups now
- Teen market with bright colours and flavours
- Costume and professional makeup
- Workout/waterproof makeup
Oh, and men WILL purchase beauty products online – in fact they like it as it lets them purchase anonymously – so if you can highlight what benefits they will get from the products and how it will help them, then you are on a winner!
And that was just in a 10-minute search by someone who knows little to nothing about this subject. But you get the picture – each of those points above is not only a niche unto itself, but introduces you to problems that you can be solving as well.
And to revisit my wife’s highlighted suggestion once again – build a site that tells me how to buy the best types for my skin so I don’t have to “trawl through 50 sponges and 60 lipsticks every time”.
What do we need to do?
Ok, so now that we have our niche and know some of the problems that we can investigate, we need to choose and setup the media that we intend to use to sell our oils. This can include:
Build a Website
Websites allow you to solve problems via blog posts, videos and/or how to demonstrations that people can view in order to solve the problems that they have. The process here is simple, once you have built your website, you write a post for example on the benefits of a particular chemical free eyelash mascara to assist your readers with sensitive skin, then provide links so that they can purchase the products you have discussed or recommended.
Promote on Social Media
Social media is a powerful platform that can allow you to get your message out there into the big wide online world. It has the power to reach thousands and allows you to target specific segments if you choose the correct platform. In many cases, social media is used to drive traffic to your website rather than work in isolation. However, special media platforms such as YouTube can be used without the need for a website. It all depends I guess on where your target audience likes to hang out.
Tip: One of the problems that you may face in trying to sell cosmetics online is that people may want to know what they smell and feel like before they purchase. Visual and interactive sites such as YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram have proven quite effective within this niche.
Join like-minded groups
Regardless of the niche, there is usually some sort of social media group, online forum or membership page that you can join to gain you exposure to potential visitors and sales. Female interaction groups of every type are popular on FaceBook and can not only allow you to interact with customers but also gain more information and education in terms of content ideas for your posts.
How do we sell them?
Ok, so we have an idea that we want to sell cosmetics, that there is a market and that we need some media within which to promote them. So now we need to consider what products we are going to promote. Let’s have a look at some of the best avenues for online cosmetic sales:
Multi-level marketing programs
Multi-level marketing (MLM) programs are the
mainstay of the ‘party plan’ world of products such as Tupperware and Amway etc. and are also popular within the big cosmetic companies. If you use them in their basic capacity, MLM programs mirror affiliate marketing programs in that you make a commission on every sale that you refer to them.
It is however the secondary aspect of these programs – and where the multi-level influences come from – that can really boost your revenue earning capabilities. The process works as follows:
- You attract a visitor to your site and convert them to the sales page
- They are offered an incentive to sign up as a member of the program (there are different names for this but they all mean the same thing).
- That new member is then placed ‘underneath’ you in a hierarchical arrangement
- You then gain extra commissions for everything they sell as well.
And yes, the less-than-glamorous name for this method of commission based selling is a pyramid scheme. The advantage of the online world however is that if you do it correctly by providing solutions to the problems of visitors to your site, you don’t have to hassle (and alienate) all of your friends that family.
In the cosmetics world, there are a few good sites in the MLM space including:
One final consideration to be aware of here however is that most MLM arrangements require a minimum spend per month in order to qualify for commissions for other sales that you, or your down line refer. This can make things a little tight if your site is new and not making any money as yet.
Affiliate programs are setup directly by companies or marketplace platforms (Amazon, Ebay etc.) that allow you to join and then refer traffic to them via customised affiliate links.
To find affiliate programs in the essential oils space, simply type “affiliate: essential oils” into your search engine:
From here you can search through and find programs that:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have quality products – your brand can be severely damaged and social media will not be your friend if you promote poor quality or fake product.
- Have solid payment and customer service arrangements.
- Pay decent commissions.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
In most cases, you will need to apply for the program before you are allowed to promote their products – don’t take this step lightly or you will be rejected. Affiliate programs will generally want to know:
- Your website name.
- Traffic levels.
- Why you want to join – (so I can make money by selling your make up is unfortunately not generally a good enough answer).
- How you plan to promote their products.
In the cosmetics space you may find that some programs place extra stipulations on your membership such as:
- You cannot promote any other type of specialized products that their brand is known for.
- You must gain approval for any banners etc. that you use.
- You may not make any negative comments about the product at all and reviews must state how wonderful they are – I.e. all pros and no cons
- You must promote on a certain social media platform at least daily with a hashtag or tag back to them.
These programs can be very good for newer sites rather than the MLM examples above as there are no sales triggers. Also, some marketplace programs such as Amazon and EBay can give you access to the bigger brands listed above without the need to join their membership programs – worth a look for sure. Some examples are as below:
Tip – Why not have both? Many cosmetic sites will run under the MLM setups of the major vendors but also include affiliate links to other products such as sponges, brushes and any other supporting paraphernalia.
If affiliate marketing or MLM programs are not your cup of tea, maybe you could try white labeling. This is a process where you actually purchase ‘brandless’ cosmetics from a vendor, add your own label and then on-sell them via your website or platforms such as Amazon etc.
This process requires a much higher setup costs as you will need to purchase your products, create and affix your labels and manage orders and shipment. Some however will affix the labels that you send them and then manage the packaging and shipment for you. This will cost you less to set up but obviously you will make less on the sale once they take their processing fee.
To find these, a simple search for “white label cosmetics” found the following:
From here you will need to follow the same process as with affiliate programs in determining whether they:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have quality products.
- Have solid delivery and customer service arrangements.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
Tip: This method can be very effective in driving online traffic and sales via the implementation of more traditional methods such as kiosks and market stalls etc. As people see, smell and feel your products, they can purchase from you there and then be directed to your website for future sales.
Social media influences
As we discussed at the very beginning of this post, most makeup brands work on emotion and promote the feeling of luxury, pampering and treating one’s self. If this is a path you plan to take, then regardless if the method chosen above, if you plan to sell makeup or other cosmetics online then you will need make sure that you are able to convey these behaviours and feelings within your website and promotions. This is not as hard to do as it sounds but is something that you must be conscious of at all times.
Some methods you can undertake to achieve this is:
- Video – YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet behind Google and attracts more viewers in prime time than all of the major network stations in the U.S. combined. It is also a fantastic way for you to demonstrate and explain everything you need to about your products, their uses and their feel. It can also assist with brand building and is great for website SEO.
- Social media – we touched on this earlier but make sure that these feelings are portrayed in every post that you do. Depending on your niche, work hard to personalize posts with comments such as “me sitting at the beach and my xxx foundation has not cracked at all”.
- Website pictures – make sure they all portray the image and feeling that you are trying to promote.
- Influencers – Social media is full of people who make money simply by being seen in, on, around or wearing particular products. If you have the funds, a good influencer can set your business on fire – especially if you are white labeling.
And there it is – How to sell cosmetics online. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, need some advice or have any experiences to share.
Do you want further assistance with any of the above or need help to build your own cosmetics based website?
Are you looking for a comprehensive training platform that can give you step by step training, 24/7 support, tools to develop and host your very own cosmetics selling website, ongoing assistance with SEO and social media and access to some of the best affiliate marketing minds on the planet, then click on the following link to read more about Wealthy Affiliate.
Alternatively, if you wish to see what all the fuss is about, click on the link below to watch me build a website from scratch in just 7 days.
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