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Build a Successful Creative Blog

Lesson 19 of 26

Acquiring Email Subscribers and Opt Ins

April Bowles-Olin

Build a Successful Creative Blog

April Bowles-Olin

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Lesson Info

19. Acquiring Email Subscribers and Opt Ins


  Class Trailer
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2 Know Your Ideal Reader Duration:52:03
3 Put Fun Back into Blogging Duration:35:03
4 Best Practices for Success Duration:26:50
5 Developing Your Content Plan Duration:46:24
7 Your Unique Style and Voice Duration:31:49
8 Design Tips Duration:21:38
  Class Trailer
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1 Writing in Your Voice Duration:34:10
2 Exploring Different Voices Duration:28:23
3 Copywriting 101 Duration:19:45
6 Visuals For Your Blog Duration:30:04
7 Photos For Your Blog Duration:55:35
9 Promoting with Social Media Duration:39:29

Lesson Info

Acquiring Email Subscribers and Opt Ins

So we're going to dive into the importance of your email newsletter. This is the very first step to monetizing your blog. I say it is a must. It's one of those rules that I say you absolutely cannot beak. You're not allowed. I'm not giving you any leeway here. First, from you, I want to hear if you have an email newsletter. If so, how do you currently use it and we're just gonna roll down this line. Yes. I have an email newsletter and I send a weekly ezine and I use it to promote my blog posts, any special offers that I have going on and what's going on with me. And how is it helpful to your business? (laughs) I wouldn't have a business with out it. All of my clients and in fact all of the sales that I've made have been through my email newsletter. People who subscribed get it every week. They learn to know, like and trust me and then they open up their wallets. Exactly. Exactly what I was looking for. (laughs) Gold star. Do you have an email newsletter? I do, but I just started it l...

ike this week. (laughs) So I'm gonna give you lots of tips on how to get lots of subscribers for that email newsletter, so that's perfect. I sent out my first one. Yes. That's a big goal. I love it. I do have an email newsletter that goes out every week. I include personal information about myself, what I'm doing and I also link to my blog posts, so that people can leave the email and go straight to that blog post. And I also use it to deliver my freebie opt in. I have a couple of workbooks that people can download and I kinda start that process of, you know, here's the workbook, if you have any questions feel free to ask me and then they also want to know what kind of courses and what kind of business that they're running, so they ask them questions within that email newsletter as well. Okay. And so do you some engagement from that? I do. I really do. I only have one question and it says, What are you struggling with with courses or what's your biggest problem with courses and then generally people will email me back and that really kind of is the impetus for me to begin a conversation with them. So, what's your business? Where are you from? What's your biggest goal? And it's really good because I really love interacting with people through email. Yeah, that's perfect. You have something very similar to what I have set up where I ask people for their biggest business struggle and it starts that conversation. Okay. It's been on my to-do list for about six months. So, next week. Awesome. So this is the first thing I want you to do after this workshop, number one thing. I'm signed up for MailChimp but I don't have a newsletter. I just feel like, right now, I don't have content to put in there. I just have cute baby pictures and that's all I have. So I want to offer some content first and get something, entice people to join for that content first. Let me tell you one thing. This is the biggest mistake bloggers make is that they don't have an opt-in form up there capturing leads, even if they don't have content. So I want you to go ahead and get that opt in up there, so you're capturing leads for people that are coming to your site even if you're not sending anything out yet, and you will be. We'll discuss what you can send out and what will be really helpful for your readers. But if you are watching at home and you're thinking, I don't know what to send out yet, get that opt-in form up there immediately, as soon as possible, so you can capture people who come to your blog and who say, I want to know more. I want to know more about your business. First of all, I love your dress. Thank you. I just added an opt-in form to my blog, but I haven't yet published a newsletter because I don't know what to say. Okay. Awesome. So we will talk about that. You will have lots of ideas of what to say. Often we make it way too complicated and we think we need to come up with lots of additional content for our email newsletters and we don't. We'll definitely dive into that. What about, anybody at home, talking about their email newsletter, if they have one, if they don't have one. Yeah, we have some people that are kind of the same boat. Kathy R. Says, "I signed up for MailChimp. I even sent a test email and I love it. Again, my scaredy cat little girl thinks nobody's going to read it." (laughs) So some people are starting to get there. They're setting it up but a lot of love in the chatroom for MailChimp. People seem to like it. Nella Durato says, "I use MailChimp for my newsletter which goes out one to two times a month." And it looks like Amanda Sue also says, "I adore MailChimp." So lots of MailChimp fans. Yeah. Lot's of people pick MailChimp because it's free until you get to a certain subscriber rate, and by that time it's paying for itself anyways. I don't use MailChimp. I'll tell you what I use in just a little bit, but that is a favorite of a lot of people. Why an email newsletter? First of all, you control it. You have full control over what you're sending out, unlike social media. We already talked about how Facebook changes things up on us and then what happens when we can't get in front of all of our audience when we want to, so if we're using one social media platform as the main way to talk to our audience, we're are kind of screwed. We are at the mercy of these other people and hoping that they're not going to change things on us. I once had my Twitter account shut down and I emailed them because you couldn't talk to a person. I had no idea why. I had about 3,000 twitter followers at this time and I was talking to them on a daily basis, so I was tweeting regularly. They were expecting to hear from me. And so I emailed them because that was the only way to get in touch with them and they got back to me maybe a week and a half or two weeks later and they said, oops, your email address got put into a bunch that are spammers that we were just deleting their accounts and suspending their accounts and it was a mistake and we'll get it back up as soon as possible. And that happened maybe another week or week and half later, so if that was the only place that I connected with my ideal reader on a regular basis or if I told her about my blog post or my sales or my new products, that was the main place, I would've been screwed, because I had a launch going on during that time, so I was actually promoting something new and it would've been really bad if that had been the main place that I talked to my audience. So also when you're thinking about social media platforms, which we didn't dive into as much yesterday is that you want to be on more than one and have your audience following you on more than one, in case that does happen. Sometimes I've had friends who've gotten their account shut down. They have no idea why and they can't get them back up. And they just say, sorry, 'cause this is in the contract when you sign up with them. They can shut it down for any reason. So, you control it. If necessary, you can download your subscribers and move to another platform. So if you don't like the one you're on or they're giving you a hassle or for whatever reason, you want to change, you can download your list of subscribers and move somewhere else. It's the best form of communication no matter what you sell. No matter what you tell me you want to make money off of, email is going to be the best way to get in front of your ideal reader. Why? Almost everyone reads their emails or at least checks their emails on a regular basis. Most people check them multiple times a day. So if you want to make sure that you're getting in front of your ideal reader, if you want to make sure that you're getting your blog post read or getting whatever updates you have out to them, it's not going to be just as helpful to publish it on your blog, because we get busy. We forget to check in, even with our favorite people. One of my favorite people, her name is Marie Forleo. I love her weekly videos, but if I didn't also receive an email from her, I would kind of forget sometimes. I know I would. I've become this habit of receiving emails from her on Tuesdays and I look forward to it, but every once in a while when I get super busy I'm gonna forget to check in. And if that's the time when she is offering a course that I want to take then I'm not gonna see it, unless I get it in my email. So if you want to make sure you're getting your content in front of your people on a regular basis it needs to be through email. Nothing else is as good, not even your blog. And like I've said the absolute worst mistake bloggers make is not having an email newsletter. I used to do an interview series with really successful creative entrepreneurs, and I would ask them, what's your biggest regret or what's the biggest mistake that you made that you wish you would've done differently? And a lot of them used to say to me, I wish I would've gotten an opt-in form up sooner. I wish I would've been capturing leads sooner. I didn't realize the value in this until six months into my business and I realized that I missed out on all of these people who I could've been getting in front of on a regular basis. So there are plenty of software options. I use AWeber. I've used them for years. I highly recommend them. They're very secure. They're very stable. I have not had any issues, to date. Some people find that they like MailChimp more. There's also Mad Mimi. There's Constant Contact. There's Infusionsoft. There's Ontraport and these are just some of the most used, so there are other options besides these. There are a ton. I say research it, figure out what's going to be best for your brand, your business, what you're looking for. I hear that Mad Mimi people like that one, because they can make their stuff a little more cutesy. They can add little bit more to it visually. You use Mad Mimi? It's so easy to use and, yeah, it is a little bit more cutesy , but that's me. Yeah, Mayi from Heartmade, she uses Mad Mimi and she really loves it. So I do suggest that you try to pick the one you think you're gonna stick with because you don't want to have to download all of your subscribers and add them to another platform if you can avoid it. It's not the worse thing in the world, but if you can start where you think you're gonna want to end at, that's best. So how do you get subscribers? I hear, okay I've got my opt-in form up, how do I actually get people to put in their name an email address? How do I actually get people interested? First, you've got to bring the right people to your website, the right people to your blog, and then it's all about the opt in. So you'll see some questions about your opt in on page 58 of the workbook. Is yours visually attractive? So when your ideal reader comes to your blog, is she going to say, that caught my attention? I really like the way that that looks. It makes me want to put my name and email in. At first I had just this plain black and white box that said, name, email, get free updates, and the best thing I did for my business was get that professionally designed. That was the first thing that I ever paid for for professional design. It cost me $75 and I got this really nice opt in, and my leads went up dramatically. It makes a huge difference, the way that your opt in looks. Some platforms are a little bit easier for you to do this yourself and now there are lots of tutorials, even for Aweber. The opt in that I have on my blog now, I designed myself, because I wanted to switch out the picture. And I just wanted to do it. One day I said, I got to change this picture, picture's too old and switched it up, and was able to do that myself. So if you go to and you see the opt in in the upper right, you're gonna see that that's something I designed myself. I think it looks pretty nice. (audience laughs) Is it clear what your readers get by handing over their email addresses? Do they know what they're gonna get for it? And we're going to talk about how to make this even more enticing. But is it clear when they're signing up? Is it worth handing over their email addresses for? We all feel overwhelmed by the amount of email that we already get, so it's got to be something good. It's got to be that they feel like they have to put in their name and email and get whatever it is that you have to offer. So what do you guys think now, answering these questions about your opt ins? Do you think yours are visually attractive? Do you think it's clear what people get? What do you think, Sage? Yeah I think so, but I'd be interested to hear what other people think when they actually look at my page. It's that outside perspective like we were doing yesterday. Yes, that is a great point. I often, whenever I change anything on my website actually, the first person I email is Mayi. And I say, how does this look to you? And she gives me honest feedback. I know she's not going to lie to me and tell me, this looks great, just so she doesn't hurt my feelings. I know she's going to say, this font is a little, doesn't fit you that well. And she's got that design perspective. She's really great about that. So having a buddy that you can contact and say, hey I've made some updates to my website, can you check it out for me? Can you look at it? And that's one of the things we're gonna talk about in the relationship building section is how to build those relationships with those people that you feel like they already get it. Mayi understands. She knows what I'm talking about when I say, can you go look at my opt in? I don't have to explain it to her. She gets it. Also, how do you get subscribers? Use the information we covered in the Promoting Your Blog section. So the guest posts, the interviews, the features, social media, all of that is going to get more people opting in for email newsletter. Send them to an opt-in landing page like we talked about setting up, or to just a page with your opt in and you let them know what they're going to get when they put their name and their email address in there. Usually when you write a guest post you get a little blurb about you. It's just a few sentences, but in there it should says something like, if you want free updates or if you want more of this type of information, click here, so that they get to your opt-in form, so you're sending them there and capturing those leads. And you want to do that for all of your guest posts, for all of your interviews and even talk about it on social media. So if you are watching or thinking I connect with most people on Facebook, start telling them now on Facebook to get on your email list and let them know why. Those are the type of posts you might want to boost on Facebook so that everybody sees them. Start talking about it on Twitter. Wherever you are on social media, tell people, get on my opt-in form, get in my email newsletter list and this is why. We have some questions in the chatroom about and it sounds like you want people to have an opt-in form at all times, no matter what their content is. Is that correct? Yes. Because we have some questions here about people who are doing more visual blogs. So Sue says, "Would you recommend using an opt in even if your blog is just full of pictures of what you sell?" And L.M. Glem seconded that question and was curious, if you are more of a visual person when do you not need an email, because maybe you're not gonna send an email that's just pictures rather than text. So first, I think it's a problem if your blog is only pictures of what you sell. That's a problem, because people can just go to your shop and see what you sell, so they're not going to be paying close attention to your blog anyways, so you need to branch out. You need to go back to the content planning section and go through that and think about other ways that you can do that. Plus, when we talk about monetizing your blog, I'm gonna give you lots of ideas on how to creatively promote your products without just say, sell this. So you're gonna get a ton of that in the next segment. But that's a problem, if you're only posting pictures of products that you have. If you are visually based though, if you are a photographer, absolutely you should still have an opt in, or if you mainly share photos on your blog, you should have an opt in. Send those photos or send a little summary of what those photos are and link for people to go and check them out. So you definitely still want to be capturing email leads. Great. Thank you. So here's a tip: Don't call it an email newsletter. I know I've already said email newsletter like a hundred times since I started this because it's the easiest term, the term that people get, but don't call it that, because people are sick of signing up for email newsletters. That's not attractive. That's not appealing and I'm going to show you some examples of some really good ones and why I think they're appealing and why they work so well, so you get ideas on what you can do besides calling it an email newsletter. Is an email newsletter replacing like the get my blog updates? Yes. Yes. So that's a great point. There is a big difference. So people can sign up to get your blog posts. They can sign up to get them via email but then they only get your blog posts, so you can't contact them any other time. Anything you want to get in front of them you have to make a blog post. And so that's not helpful when you have something specific that you're trying to sell. You've got a product or service that's coming out, I'm going to email my list a lot more than one time, just to announce the launch of it. I'm going to email them the day before and say hey, there's only 24 hours left. I'm going to email them a few hours before I close the shopping cart and let them know again, just so they don't miss out, because also people, they're not hanging on your every word. Right? We want them to be, but they're not paying attention to everything. My subscribers, they don't open every email. And I often have people who say to me, Oh my gosh I missed this, even though I sent out five emails about it. I missed this. I was on vacation or I was working really hard and I wasn't checking my email. So you want a way to connect more than once and you don't want to have to just rely on the fact that you have to put it in a blog post. Plus, sometimes you'll say things a little bit differently in an email. You might write it a little bit more like you're sending it out to a friend. I'll give you guys some examples. This one comes from Uncommongoods and it says, "Can you keep a secret? Secret Sales are only announced to our email subscribers." If you like Uncommongoods, you're gonna sign up for their list, because you're gonna want to know when they're going to have those secret sales and the word that they used that's so powerful is secret and they used it twice. Have we talked about that language? So if you're only going to share sales with people on your email list, that's a great incentive for people to sign up and get your emails. Here's an example from the Middle Finger Project. "The only way to get noticed is to do something worth noticing. If you want to start an unconventional business or project while making great money, or you're tired of being told to differentiate yourself and make an emotional connection but have no idea how, or you roll your eyes at words like, epic, juicy and manifesto, you're one of us. Email address you love best. Join free. We'll send you weekly ideas on doing business and life in original ways, and promise to never ask you to sign up for anything called a newsletter." That speaks to her ideal reader so very well. It is absolutely perfect. And the thing that she's doing so well here is she's making you feel like a part of her tribe if you join. You're one of us. You're with me and that's something you want to do for people. You want them to feel like they're a part of your brand, a part of your business and if they feel that way, they're going to be much more likely to buy from you and to share your stuff. I share her stuff all the time. How many times have I done it during this workshop? Because I love her so much. Right? I saw on Twitter yesterday people saying, Ashley, April's talking about you in her Creative Live workshop. She's loving you. And she was like, oh my gosh, blushing, and so excited about that, so also that makes connections right there, but you can see why. You can see why I feel like I'm a part of her tribe. She gets me. This is the kind of copy that appeals to me that I'm going to sign up for, and she doesn't ask for a name here, which you'll also notice. Lots of people do want to use a name because they want to say, Hi first name, whoever it is, but she doesn't. Here is another example and this one is from Social Trigger. Derek says, "Do you know what makes people tick online? If not, now's the time to learn how to use psychology to turn random traffic into loyal subscribers, persuade people to buy your products, encourage people to share your content and website. Just enter your email below and click get updates." One thing that Derek does really well is he makes it very clear exactly what to do, just enter your email below and click get updates. He's giving you very specific language even though you pretty much know that's what you do. He makes it really clear and he is a genius when it comes to psychology and business. So if you want to do these things, if you want to persuade people to buy your products and turn random people into loyal subscribers and encourage people to share your content and website, you're gonna want to sign up for this. This is an example of just a landing page and this is the one I have with my joint venture partner, Mayi. That's us in our Tutus swinging with a video and this is all you see on the page. So this is an example of just sending somebody to a page to capture their name and email address. What we're hoping people do is they watch that video and then with the opt in it says, start here, your mission if you choose to accept it, awaits in the secret headquarters. So we use the word secret. You can't get to our headquarters otherwise. You can't see the website. There's no way to go to the website without opting in. And we did this very purposefully. We wanted the right people going to our website. We wanted the right people on our list. And if they watch that video and they love us then they're the right people. If they watch that video and say, these girls are crazy, they're not the right people for us. This is an example from Old Navy. They just simply say, "Sign up and save. Subscribe to Old Navy emails and get a welcome offer plus an exclusive treat on your birthday. Enter email. Confirm email. Join." This is an example of a very simple one for a products based business. You know you're gonna get a welcome offer and a birthday treat, so if you really like Old Navy and you see this on their site, you're probably going to sign up so that you get those discounts. Here's an example from Melissa Cassera. "Does your business feel like a guilty pleasure? Enter your name and email to score a gorgeous 40 page ebook chock full of challenges to make your business completely irresistible, for your audience, for the media and for you." Here she's telling you that you're going to get a 40 page ebook and it's gonna help you make your business irresistible. So somebody like me, when I saw this I put my name and email in immediately, because I wanted that ebook and I'm enjoying her emails that I get afterwards too. That's important as well. Once they get your free thing, you want them to still enjoy the emails that you're sending to them. Here's an example from a products-based business that sales clothes and jewelry and shoes. They say, "Subscribe to our email. Do you want to be the first to hear about our regular updates and promos? Sign up to receive the latest from the Spool gals." Very simple. This is part of their website. You have to hover over this and this drops down and you put in your email address. Very simple. You're going to get our updates and promos, so if you love us you're gonna want to get that information. Often times when they have new products they sell out really fast, so if you love their stuff you're going to want to know whenever they have new clothes so that you can be the first to get it before it sells out in your size. Here is an example from Gabrielle Bernstein's website. She says, "Become the happiest person you know. Sign up for Gabby's new guided meditations and vlog. It's free." Then she has where you can enter your name and email. Yes, please. One of the things that she does really well here is she makes happiest, she emphasizes that word. You want to be one of the happiest people you know. Of course. I'm gonna sign up for that. The other thing she does really well. She says, "it's free." The word free always grabs peoples' attention. Here's an example from Erin Giles, her website. "Turn your business into a movement and attract more fans, fun and fulfillment. Start now." Her emails are all about adding philanthropy into your business. An example from free people: "Sign up for our emails. New friends get free shipping on your first order." So for a products-based business that doesn't want to offer a discount, but is willing to offer free shipping, that's a great thing. I think this is too far down on their website, but I think it's a great opt-in form and they've got the hot pink button that catches your attention. Here's an example from Rue La La: "Inspiration everyday. Personal style for life. Desired brands. Members-only prices. All it takes is a little info to shop." So in order to shop with them you have to put in your email address. That's a great way to capture emails because people want those brands at members-only prices. An example from Amy Porterfield, who I mentioned yesterday, about how she is so amazing with Facebook marketing. I'll say it again because lots of people want to know how to do better on Facebook, check her out. Her opt in: "Sign up and learn how to build your email list with social media. Sign up to receive my free four-part video training to learn how to turn your fans and followers into quality leads, create valuable give-away offers you audience can't resist, cash on easy-to-implement Facebook ads that will grow your email lists. Enter your name and email and click, give it to me." Again, she's telling people exactly what to do at the end just like Derek: "Enter your name and email and click, give it to me." She also has emphasized, sign up and you know exactly what you're getting. You're getting four videos from her, so if you want this stuff, you're gonna hand over your name and email. And if you're on her list, you're going to love the other stuff that she gives you too. If you love these videos you're gonna want to stay on her list and get the rest of the stuff. Let's talk about some opt-in offer ideas for you, because we want you to pick the very best one for your ideal reader. For a products-based business it's often free shipping or a discount on their first purchase. That makes people want to sign up because if they're going to buy from you they're going to put in that information so that they get the free shipping or they get the discount. Or some sort of loyalty program. Give your loyal subscribers special discounts or first access to limited products. Let's say that you're an artist and you do limited edition prints. You could offer it first to your email list. Or if you're gonna have subscriber specials and discounts. Subscriber-only sales, we saw an example of that. That works really well. An ebook, so if you are a service-based business, an ebook is a great option. Don't call it an ebook because that language tends to sound cheap, inexpensive. We have these ideas of an ebook, that it's not as good as a real book. You'll hear me talk about marketing for creatives, I'll call it a guide or a book. I never call it an ebook even though it's a digital download. I never ever say ebook. The language that you pick is really important. It makes a big difference for your products, for your services, for your opt in. Along the lines of that ebook conversation, we had a question here from Shroomy who says that, "I always download ebooks, but I rarely read them." Should we be concerned about people just signing up and then not actually reading that? I guess the goal is to get them to sign up, but is there a way to incentivize them to actually read that content? Yeah, you definitely want them reading your ebook because you want them falling in love with it. Often you have to make it really enticing. They have to want it. I will download some ebooks and not read them and then I will download others and gobble them up right away. It depends like the ... The example that I shared about Melissa's, her ebook, I wanted to know how to make my business irresistible, so I looked at right away. I skimmed it. I didn't read the whole thing right away, but I skimmed it, I looked at some important points and I started to take notes immediately. And then I recognized her name the next time I got her email. So you need to be writing and ebook that people actually want. That it's something that they're going to download right away and start using, start reading, if it's a workbook, start filling out, whatever it is, definitely. Also, your ideal reader is the person who's going to be the one who is going to read it right away. Maybe you're not the perfect match if you're downloading it and not reading it ever. I know that we're super busy but if you really like the material then you'll read it. A checklist. An example of this would be 20 shots every couple should get on their wedding day. So this is perfect for a wedding photographer. If somebody's looking for photography and they download your checklist of your 20 shots that they need on their wedding day and they're getting emails from you and you're in their area, you're going to be on their list of people to check out. Flash sales. So if you're only going to to do really short sales, you're gonna have an hour long sale or your gonna have a 24 hour long sale, however it's gonna be, and you're only gonna offer it to your subscribers. Free video training or webinar. You've seen an example of that with Amy. Free trial of your product or service. So if you want to give them a week to try out whatever it is that you offer then you could do that. That could be a way for them to opt in. Then if they like it they can purchase to have it long term. Desktop paper or screensaver. This is great for a web designer or surface designer, graphic designer. If you design something and people are really interested in your designs, they love your patterns or whatever it is and they download that free wallpaper and they have it up on their computers on a regular basis and they're looking at it every day, they're going to remember you. A live workshop or event. So especially if you want people who live locally on your list. So if you're watching this and you are a cupcake bakery, for instance, then you may have some sort of free tasting, but you only get an invitation if you sign up for the email list. You get to come and taste all the flavors of cupcakes and you're gonna get a ton of new customers and you're getting in a lot of people who live locally on your email list. Free birthday treat. That works for Old Navy. That works really well for product-based businesses. Access to a quiz or quiz results. An example, see how much you should expect to spend on your wedding day photography. So back to the wedding photographer. People are always wondering how much am I going to be spending on this? So what if I could take a quiz that would tell me, okay, I want someone there in the morning when I'm getting ready or I don't want someone there in the morning when I'm getting ready. I want these kinds of shots. I want you there for that time period. So this is the range I could expect to spend on my wedding day photography. I would've taken one of those quizzes. I would've signed up and quizzes are so popular right now. Everybody is doing quizzes to see what celebrity they are, what type of cocktail they are, whatever. If you have a quiz, you're gonna get more opt-ins, or if you have, if you give them the quiz and then they get the result through opting in. Either way. Access to an member-only forum or discussion board or Facebook group. So you could set up a private Facebook group. This would work well for somebody like Jennifer. If you gave them access to a Facebook group that you updated and gave exclusive tips to people in that private Facebook group and they got access to it by signing up for your email list. A workbook. An example of that is this course. So you have to RSVP to get the workbook. Everybody wants the workbook. If you don't have it, get the workbook. A list of resources. A sample-sized product. Often you'll have the person pay for shipping. So if you're a product-based business or if you have a book and you'll send it to them for free but they pay for shipping. I've done this before. I've opted in for a book before and I've paid the shipping on it and gotten that. A contest. So let's say you pick one winner every month from your list of subscribers for one of your products. It needs to be a quality product. It needs to be something that people actually want for this to work really well. For instance, if A Beautiful Mess with that collaborative bag that I said I had to have that was 200 something dollars and I immediately wanted it. If they were doing a give away and they said, opt into the email list and we're going to choose somebody from our subscribers, immediately that would've happened, to see if I could win that bag. If you have products that are really quality products, that people want, you could do this once a month and you would grow your subscriber list like crazy. People would share that too and you could also make it part of the fun, share on Facebook to be entered twice or share on Twitter. The main point is your opt-in offer should appeal to your ideal reader. You want it to be something that she wants really bad, that she's so excited about that she doesn't think twice about putting in her name and email list. What's your perfect opt in? This is on page 58. List as many ideas as you can think of that work for your opt-in offer. So as many as you can think of first and then narrow it down to the top three ideas that you think will appeal to your ideal reader. We've got a number of questions coming in from people who have set up different offers and they want to get some feedback. This question comes from Ballet Uni and they say, "What do you think about using several of these opt-in ideas?" They currently have a cheat sheet that people can download, but I would also like to try the free video training. Should I have a landing page for each of my separate opt-in offers? That's a great one. Yes, you can have different opt-in offers and have a landing page. I have landing pages setup for video training that you get for free if you subscribe to my email list. I put those people on a different segment and we'll talk about that why in a little bit and I'll go over segments with you and why they might be important. But yes. You definitely can have multiple offers and you should experiment and see which ones work the best. If you have two ideas that you just can't choose from try one and then try the other one, and see which one you're getting more leads on and then you can tell what your ideal reader wants most. And you can also have different offers on different pages like I do, or you could put a different offer on your about page or a different offer on your press page or whatever pages that you have on your blog. We have another question here. I know we have a lot of people out there who do sell physical products or things that are tangible rather than just digital, so this question comes from Joni James and they say, "I want to do a twice a year actual snail mail offer, a package, a physical good." So they actually say they want "to send something fun and pretty with my info on the back, a physical piece of mail. How do I get people to give their actual mailing address? Is there any tips to get people to do that? Some people may be hesitant to share their mailing address. Yeah, absolutely. That's one of the ones that I'd experiment with and try and see, but your ideal reader may love getting those packages and tell their friends about it and that might grow and people would be really wanting to give you their mailing address, if they were getting something worthy of it. And if you share pictures of it that can work. If it's something that they really want to get, snail mail, I know that I would put in my mailing address if it was something that I saw and I was like, that's cute, I want that for free. You're going to get less opt ins. I would have that as one option and have something else as well because you are going to get less opt ins but the people who do opt in for your email list through that they're going to be your perfect person, because they really want what you have, so that could also work really well because you know you're getting the right people. So have you guys made lists? You've narrowed it down. You've got some options. 'Cause we've got a hot seat! Can we have the flip board? Who wants to come up here? I want you to share with me your three ideas that you think would be the most popular and we're going to help you decide which one your ideal reader would probably like the most, just so you know where to start. Come on, Jane! (applause) All right! (Jane laughs) Remind us of your site and remind us of your ideal reader a little bit. My site is and my ideal reader is probably somebody my age, in my stage of, let's say, life, which it doesn't have to be years. So somebody who's successful with what they've done in their life but kind of something's missing, like that creative part of their life, but they've always probably felt like a misfit, but there wasn't a place for it. So, my quotes are all about that. Okay. What are your options? What have you come up with? The one that I've always thought about and I actually signed up because somebody did it, was a postcard. Postcard. Yeah. So what would be on this postcard? They'd get to pick one of the quotes. I'd like to kind of know a bit more about them, so I could do a little bit of personalizing with it. Which quote might work for them best. Let's see. And then I like the free shipping idea. And what are you going to be shipping to them, that they would get free shipping on? Let's say they later if they wanted to buy a piece of my work on paper, whichever form it's going to be, canvas, whatever. Okay, so some sort of art? Yeah, art. I liked the screensaver. That could work. Yes. And if you're gonna do a screensaver, you want to have your URL on it, so they're seeing that on a regular basis, everyday when they look at their computer they're reminded of your business. Each of these I think could work well. This one would be the most difficult, because you would have to get their mailing address, and then they would be picking a quote and it would also be the most difficult for you. It would be the most labor intensive for you. This one would be super easy because people are signing up, they get their automatic download. You have it set up so you're not sending something to somebody. And then the free shipping is great because you're giving them an incentive to buy your art and you're giving them free shipping for it. So all of these could work well. This one's going to be the most difficult for you, however, it might be something that your ideal reader really loves. I'd like to have that kind of contact with my ideal customer. So you're willing to put in that work? I am. What do you guys think? Which one would be the most appealing to you out of these? The postcard. The postcard? Well, we've seen the postcard. (all laugh) Everybody's saying the postcard. It's worth giving your address. Okay. I think I'd go with free shipping. It's one of those things. People hate paying for shipping. I think that free aspect of it is always a good thing to do. I know that a lot of people in the chatrooms are chiming in about that, but they do appreciate having that physical postcard or some piece of art. I think that goes a long way. And it goes with my brand because it's handmade through digital means, but yeah. Also what you could do with a postcard is you could include a code that people can put in for free shipping. Nice. Good idea. We did get the postcards from Jane this morning. They were very very very beautiful, but as I was sitting here, myself, I was thinking about either a screensaver, actually I don't use screensavers, but a wallpaper for the background of my computer, because I really like quotes. They inspire me for my day to day. When I'm in a funk, I like to look at them to kind of build myself up and I did receive a wallpaper from an artist before and it was a portrait of a dog in cartoon format and I remember just looking at that every single day and it made me happy, I thought about it and I thought about her too. I would go to her website to see what new things that she was doing. I do like the postcard. Sometimes I tend to kind of put those with the rest of my papers and you know sometimes it's out of sight out of mind, but the wallpaper's smack dab in your face and I'm going to think about Jane and The Quote Lab. Yeah, I think the chatroom agrees with you on that one. Amanda Sue says, "I don't use screensavers anymore, but the desktop background idea would definitely get me to sign up." Yeah. The background. I thing you should do both, actually. I think you should have both offers. You could set this one up right away. This one would be the easier one for you to set up. Then you could do this one next. So you could start capturing leads right away with the wallpaper, get people looking at your quotes on a daily basis. Another thing that I just thought about, so that it's more personal. When April talked about the quizzes, maybe you could incorporate some sort of quiz, so that not everyone's getting the same quote. So that the quote is very specific to the answers that they supplied to your quiz. And that way it's a little bit more personable because this one quote matches me and the selections that I made from that quiz. I think that would be really neat. I'd do it. I'd sign up. (laughs) That is an awesome idea. I love that idea! I love it! So, quiz to figure out what quote. And there are lots of sites that you can use to put together quizzes online. Just google it and you'll come up with tons of options. All right. Thank you for coming up here. Thank you. (applause) And I'd like to do one more. I'd like to have one more person come up and share with us. Who's it gonna be? Who wants to? Kimberly! (applause) We know that you're a photographer, but tell us your site again. It is How do you spell it? K-S-I-E-N-K photography. What are your options? The checklist stuck with me. Like why do you need a book of portrait session within the first two weeks? Or, something like, how many times do I need to photograph my child a year? That kind of thing. Let's see. Another one, kind of like playing on the idea like, obviously, these are moms who love their children, think your child is the cutest, my subscribers, I'm trying to figure out the right way to do this. So like get your child featured on the blog, I don't know, some way of kind of, play up the fact that moms love their children and think they're adorable. Get featured. So how would you do this? I don't know. I don't know. There's just a lot of, that's why I came up here, because I have a lot of ideas that I don't know exactly how to formulate. Okay. Tell us another one and we'll think about that one. Having a discount off your first portrait session. We have ideas coming in from the chatroom. Debbie Nolan says, "You should do a cutest baby contest." People love the baby idea. Baby wallpapers as well. I don't know if I want to make a baby wallpaper. Not all babies. (Kimberly laughs) Maybe just one baby idea. Cutest baby contest and people could enter their babies and the get a free portrait session. That could really increase subscriber rates. That could get you a ton in that month that you're doing that offer. Also, a lot of times you're going to be switching this up. You're not always gonna have this same opt in. For Kimberly she may do the cutest baby contest and do that for a month and really increase that subscriber rate and then put up a checklist and then maybe do a discount another time of year. So these things change. You don't always have the same one. Do you have any other ones that you're thinking? One of them was a free timeline cover photo with your next session. So like a designed cover photo that they can put in their Facebook Timeline. That came up in the chatroom as well. I think a lot of people are looking for Facebook covers right now. That's good that someone else is thinking of it. I think that this one would be easy for you to get up right away. So would the discount. The getting featured, the cutest baby contest. This would be the one that you would have to put the most work into and the you would have to say, I'm willing to do a free portrait session for the one that I pick, whatever that is and feature that on your blog. However, I think that that one might grow your subscriber rate the most in the shortest amount of time. What do you guys thing? I love the how many times a year should my child be photographed. Then you could get into like a package and getting okay, can I send you a reminder every quarter or whatever it is, but turn that into more of a campaign. Yeah that's a great idea. We have another idea from (mumbles) Eats saying, "Kimberly would be a prime one for partnering with somebody. Maybe a discount to a baby store in the area if somebody signs up to get more clothing for their baby, something to use in the photo shoot." Yes. You can do give aways that aren't your own stuff as well, and that has worked really well with people that I've worked with, with creatives that I've worked with. One person that I worked with they gave away all of this scrapbooking stuff, but it wasn't all hers. It was a huge package of a bunch of different peoples' scrapbooking stuff and that one was really successful for her. She grew her subscriber rate really fast. We're liking this and being able to set that up for a campaign how many times a year. We're all liking the cutest baby contest. All of these would work really well. I think experimenting and changing it up and deciding which one you want to start with first. If you want to grow your subscriber rate really fast doing something like the contest and then switching it our for a discount or checklist or even the Timeline Facebook. Another perspective on the baby contest, and this is interesting, to get somebody else's opinion, Scott from Boston says, "The cutest baby contest seems risky, because one customer will end up loving you and the others will feel like you called their baby ugly for not using them." So that is a little risky. You could set it up so that your readers choose. (everyone talks at once) We narrow it down to like three babies and they pick, so that you're not the one doing the choosing. Your readers can definitely do that for you. Thank you for coming up here and sharing your ideas. These are awesome ideas. (applause)

Class Description

There are over 200 million blogs on the Internet, so how do you cut through the noise and stand out in the crowd? A quality blog boasts great content, a powerful voice, and relevant, useful information. The problem is, putting all of those pieces together, understanding how to find the right audience, and marketing your blog is no easy juggling act.

Join the founder of Blacksburg Belle and author of Marketing for Creatives April Bowles-Olin for a comprehensive course dedicated to teaching you how to write, create, and market a successful blog. Drawing on the same methods she’s used to help successful entrepreneurs around the world grow their online presence, April will teach you how to find your own voice and get more comfortable writing like yourself. You’ll learn how to develop a strong editorial strategy, attract the right readers and write engaging headlines that will drive traffic to your site. April will also explore some of the key problems that hold bloggers back -- from writer’s block to boredom to insecurity about what you’re writing -- and explain how to overcome them. Best of all, April will teach you how to save time and have fun while contributing to the success of your blog.

After just three short days with April, you’ll possess the perfect foundation for better copywriting and creating a powerful, traffic generating blog.



This course is absolutely amazing. April is so enthusiastic and inspiring. It is clear she has spent a lot of time preparing for this course with a wealth of useful information in the videos and the workbook and the resource pack. Having just launched my new photography website, I have been looking for ideas and help with the blog- a new area for me. This has made me feel excited about my business. It's helped me plan my blog posts for the coming months and highlighted the importance of a good blog for keeping a website fresh. I found myself excited for each new video and sad when it was all finished! I've purchase a few courses through Creative Live but this is my favourite so far and April has a lot to do with that.

Kristina Zambrano

Where to start? ... Um I took my blog to the groomer ha! you guys must be thinking how on earth you take a blog to the groomer pretty easy actually you just go and click where it says "Build a Successful Creative Blog with April Bowles and you are taking it to the groomer. Now leaving my pet-related talking if you are creative and have no idea where to start in blogging this is your place to start she (April) will teach you everything about the blog world with a touch of joy, fun and creativity. She will take you from Zero, Nada, Nothing to Something or better say to a brand new groomed blog. And if you need more to convince you to get this workshop you just read April Bowles "26 post you gotta read - blog tour" and if that doesn't make you get it, then you are totally not ready to Blog. Thank you so much April for everything you shared with us.


This course gave me both the impetus to begin the blog whose domain I was sitting on for nearly a year and the skills to do it well. April was - and still is - supportive and helpful to all of the people who participated in the course. It became a community of people, supporting and helping each other to follow through with the amazing instructions that she gave us during the course itself. The resources she gave us are still useful, and the connections I made on her site and the sites she pointed us to have made my blog successful in only a few months. AWESOME course!