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Build a Successful Creative Blog

Lesson 25 of 26

Balancing Blogging & Life

April Bowles-Olin

Build a Successful Creative Blog

April Bowles-Olin

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Lesson Info

25. Balancing Blogging & Life


  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

Balancing Blogging & Life

So we are going to wrap things up with balancing blogging and life. I have hopefully given you all the tools that you need to feel really confident in taking this information, applying it to your blog, and building a successful blog. So we also need to talk about making this a priority and figuring out how you can balance blogging with everything else you have going on in your busy life because I know you've got businesses, you've got families and friends, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. We've heard multiple times that this all sounds really good but it also sounds time-consuming and overwhelming. So first, before we dig in, I would love to hear from some of you about how it is for you trying to find time for blogging and how - what your experience has been trying to balance blogging with your business and balance blogging with everything else you've got going on. So whoever wants to share what it's like - yeah? So I have a full-time job, so blogging is just my extra thing, m...

y extra job I gave to myself, so it doesn't get done unless I put it on the calendar. I mean, I have a routine now but, you know, I have a goal of where I'm posting every week and it's - I mean, I have to make decisions like am I going to go do this fun thing right this minute or am I going to have a blog post this week? So it does take a little bit of sacrifice. Yeah. That's so true. Yeah. You have to decide that you're going to do it and make it a priority. Yeah? I'm like stressed so I have a full-time job while I'm doing this on the side and, in addition to what she just said, I'm also, I tend to go into work early, just into the area where I work, and work at a coffee shop on my blogging and my business prior to actually going into work. So I do that an hour before I actually step foot into the office and then sometimes again I either go to the library during my lunch break or going to the coffee shop that I also work as well as I try to do some in the evening, but I do a lot of cooking as well as fitness and running and things like that. At least if I get that one hour straight in the morning, and then at lunch time as well, that's really good. And then again, I try to do some in the evening as well. So you're an example of somebody who is working full-time but making this work. Finding the time. Right? Exactly. Right? You're able to find the time. Exactly. And it's also tough. You have to learn when to say no. Like, no to going out all the time, hanging out, I also have to say no in the evening, that I need to actually put this stuff down and put it to the side because sometimes my mind is just continuing to race and come up with ideas and thoughts and things like that and then I find it hard to sleep because my mind's, you know, constantly going. So it's also saying no, when to kind of put this to the side and just take care of yourself when you're doing this. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Definitely, when you need a break. Yeah. What about you guys? Do you struggle with finding the time for blogging or you've got it? No, I'm very lucky because I don't have a day job. I'm an artist during the day and I have time to blog. It's just making the commitment to do it because even when you have time, you know, it's still, oh, I should be doing this, or I should be doing laundry, or I should be doing, you know. So you still have to commit to getting to work on the blog. Yeah. And sometimes having all that time is sometimes detrimental. I know that sometimes when I only have a short amount of time for something, I can get so much more done than when I feel like I've got the whole day, too. So sometimes that's also - and thinking about all these other things on my to-do list. Yeah. Anybody else want to share about how they find time for blogging or what it's like? Sage, what about you? Yeah, my coaching business is my job and I work from home and I think, like, a lot of solo entrepreneurs who work from home, our schedule gets kind of loosy-goosey and there's no real boundaries between your home life and your work life. So I've had to set work hours for myself and I've had to say I'm taking my weekends off because that's what I would do if I had a corporate job, I'd have my weekends off, I'd have days off, I wouldn't be working in the evenings. So it's setting up those boundaries for myself and setting up those boundaries for my clients so I'm not having a client call at 11 o'clock at night. They have to work within my schedule too. And that's been a good way for me to not get stressed out and overwhelmed. Yes, I can relate to that because when I first started Blacksburg Belle, you guys, I worked every single day for about six months. I didn't take off a weekend day, nothing, and finally my husband said to me, "Um, I kind of would like my wife back now, like, you've had some time to really be working on this around the clock, but we also have to have time for us, you need time for you so you're not so stressed out, like, you know." So I know about setting those boundaries. Sometimes you have to do that for yourself as well. Like you were saying, taking a break. Mhm? We have people in the chatroom saying how they manage all of this and DarcyG says that, "I have a high stress, high-performance job so I have to work on my blog at odd times, but April's scheduling times in the earlier segment was very helpful. And also, Tanya from Southern Oregon says that, "I do a lot of volunteer stuff, plus the past few years I've had a lot of medical issues with my aging parents, so late at night is the only time when someone isn't asking something of me," so that's the only time they can focus on their blog. So people are trying to find time whenever it works for their schedule, but it's important to make that time. Yes. Absolutely. And that comes to this point. You have to prioritize blogging. It has to be a commitment like everything else in your business. You have to say I'm going to be blogging every Wednesday, or whatever it is, and later in this segment we're going to set a black and white goal for you guys so that you're deciding what you're going to be doing on a regular basis. But it has to be a commitment. You can't say, "Oh, I'm going to try to do it when I can." Because then it'll just fall by the wayside. Here's a publishing platform you can use to interact with just about anyone, just about anytime, for free. You wanted a level playing field, one where you have just as good a shot as anyone else? Here it is. Do the work. And this is a forward for Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. It was written by Seth Godin. If you guys haven't read the book Do the Work, that's another one that needs to go on your reading list. It's a really good one. A lot of nods here in how it's really good. Yeah. So this is the truth. You've got this platform that you can connect, that you can share whatever it is you want to share, that you can build whatever kind of blog you want to build. You've got it. So it's just about saying I'm going to do it. And, I've said this a bunch, but I think it's a good point to drive home, is that your blog reflects on your brand and business. So if you just leave it sitting there for months at a time, it's not going to look good when people come to your site. And if you really want it, you'll find the time. I think "I don't have the time" is a crap excuse. Because if you really want to find the time, you will. Like Jennifer, who goes in early, who takes her lunch break to work on her stuff. When I was building Blacksburg Belle in the beginning, I was working a full-time job and when - well, I was building my wedding planning blog at the time, actually, and I was working my full-time job. I would set my alarm at 4:30 or five every morning and get up and work on it and then go to work, do my job, come home, because I knew in the evening, that my energy was going to be really drained and it just wasn't going to be there to do the work. So, and I'm not a morning person by any means whatsoever. And now that I get to set my own hours, I wake up at like nine o'clock in the morning. Because I can do that now. But I knew I had to do that. So if you really want it, you will find the time. You know, when I was in college and I was dating my boyfriend, who is now my husband, I was working full-time, I was student teaching, and I was going to school, and I still found the time to go and visit him every weekend because I was going to college in Virginia and he was in Alabama. So even though I was working about 40 hours a week bartending, also student teaching, and going to school, and I kept my grades up, got good grades, got into grad school at NYU, so, I found that time to go and see my boyfriend because I really wanted to. So when we really want something, we find the time. We all have excuses. We all have them. Some of your excuses are probably very legitimate. Kids, sick parents, personal illness, money troubles, whatever it is. Something that I try to remember is that for every excuse that you have, there are people out there that have your same excuse or worse and they're doing the work. Try to remind myself of this all the time. Because we all have something that we could say, well, what about this, I have this excuse. Often I'll hear from moms, "But I have young kids." And I'll say, yeah, but there are lots of moms who have young kids that are doing this work. Do you really want it? You know, we all have those. Many of you who are watching probably don't know that I have a really rare auto-immune disease. I've talked about this on Blacksburg Belle before, but it can make me feel, most days, like I have the flu. When I wake up, most days, I feel like I have a really bad case of the flu. And I could use that as an excuse, but I remind myself, there are people out there with so much worse that are doing the work. So what are your excuses? What are your crap excuses? I'm not talking about the legitimate ones, like, I have a young kid at home and it's really hard to find the time. We all have those silly excuses, like, I don't have the right camera, or, my laptop is slow, or whatever it is. What are your silly excuses you make for not doing the work? And even some of your legitimate ones. What are the ones that you come up with? Like, there's a pile of laundry. What are they? Write them down. Get them out on paper. And this is so when you are coming up with those excuses, you're reminding yourself, this is one of my crap excuses. I'm not allowed to make this excuse. I'm not allowed to tell myself that I can't do the work because I have dishes in the sink. I'm not telling myself that I can't do the work because I don't have the best video camera. I can't possibly film videos and put them up on my blog. And I tell myself all the time, just because you have health issues does not mean that you get to make excuses. Because what kind of life would that be? What kind of life would that be if I just said, well, you know, I have some health issues, I'm just not going to - I'm not going to try. Or do you really want your kids to be the excuse why you're not doing what you love? So what are some of your excuses? What are some of the silly excuses or even legitimate ones? What are they that you make up, that you say, "Oh, I can't do this." Whether it's your creative business, your blog, social media, "Oh, I can't do social media, I'm too old to learn this." What are they? Yeah. Frequently, it's that I just don't have any ideas. I don't know what to write about today. Okay. So you just have to start writing and - Okay, so you sometimes will say, "I won't have any ideas, so." Yeah. I have no idea what I'm going to blog about today. So did we help with that? Did I help you with that? Yes, definitely. So that you've got this content planned? Yeah, mhm. So you're not going to make that excuse anymore. No. Hopefully. No, and I have a - I learned a tip somewhere else. Yeah, sure. You put on my blog that I blog every Monday and Friday, so I told people that and now I have to do it because, you know, otherwise I'll look like a jerk. Okay. So I blog Monday and Friday. So do you have that on your blog? Yes, I do. Okay. And that makes you more trustworthy, too. Because you're showing up on a regular basis. Yeah, and I wouldn't - yeah. When you work from home and you're your own boss, it's easier to let the boss down because you're not going to get in trouble, but when you put it out there to your readers that you're going to blog on Monday and Friday, then, at least for me, I'm not going to let them down and not do what I already told them I'm going to do. All right. What else? What are some of the excuses that you guys make? Come on, get them out there. People don't want to hear what I have to say. Oh, that's a big one. Yeah. Who cares? Who cares what I have to say. Yeah. I think all of us, especially in the beginning, when we're first starting our blogs, we have this inner critic that says to us, "Who are you? Why do you matter?" Right? But you are the only you out there. So if you're not sharing what it is that makes you unique, then we don't get any of it. So I try to remind myself of that when that inner critic is coming up and saying, "Well, who are you to do this?" Or, "Who are you to say that?" I try to shut that down as quickly as possible. But I think every single person can relate and say that they've had that thought. That comes into play every once in a while. That other parts of the business are more important, I'll get to it. Other parts of the business are more important, I'll get to it. Yeah. Yeah. That's a big excuse that a lot of people make, too. I think that your blog can be one of the most important pieces of your business and can make such a difference if you're doing it regularly, that your business would not be nearly the same without it. So we come up with these excuses for ourselves, even though we know that it could be helpful for our business, even though, you know, sometimes people make those excuses for social media, "Well, that's not as important either," just to make up an excuse of why they don't have to do it. Yeah? I have one video on my blog and I've been telling myself that I really want to get back into videos and I have tons of excuses when it comes to this. I have poor lighting in my house, I don't have the right camera to do so, I want a beautiful, pretty location where I can record and film. And I have all of these excuses as to why I don't do video. And just therefore, I don't do it at all. So I have one video on my blog, although, despite the fact that that's my goal. To introduce more videos to my readers. Yeah. Yeah. That's a biggie for me. So lots of us make the excuses about equipment or lighting, or whatever, "It's not going to be good enough, it's not going to be perfect." Yeah, perfection is a big thing for me. Exactly, yeah, I stop myself from doing a lot just because of that. And I think everybody could agree that has seen you and watched you during this workshop, that you would be great on video and that it would really connect with people who would want to work with you. That's good to hear. Yeah, I just need to do it, as you say. Exactly. You guys agree, right? You think it would help? Yeah. Yeah. What excuses? Oh, well, going back to the videos, I have lots of environmental excuses about videos, too. I live in a really noisy neighborhood, there's lots of construction, they're mowing the lawn, and actually, we live in a flight path, so there are planes flying over our apartment all day long. And it's really annoying and I couldn't think and it was, like, how am I supposed to, like, record videos or anything? But I started a series last year called Tiny Tip Thursday, which are just super short, one to two minute videos, and people love them because they were short and easy to digest, but they didn't know that I was recording them in between the planes going over the apartment, so I only had a minute to record a video and that was it. Yeah, yeah. As somebody that I've talked about over and over again, Mayi from, her videos, you guys, if she knew how many times she stopped and started to put stuff together, because people call her or somebody's ringing the bell, or there's a lot of noise that goes on outside of where she lives, I know, I've been there and stayed with her and we've recorded videos together, but she could definitely make that excuse but her business is built on these amazing videos that she puts out there, and that's how she connects with people. But she could make up the same excuses, yeah. She'll start and stop and put it together and it looks great the way she puts it together. Yeah. Want to share an excuse? I feel like sometimes I use my blog as the excuse for everything else. (laughs) Oooo, that's a bad one, too! Because your blog isn't your business, right, so yeah. Yeah, that can work in the opposite direction where you're using your blog not to do the other stuff. Or it's more fun. But that's a good thing, that it's fun. Well, I just mean, like, yeah. (chuckles) But you're having fun with it, right? Yeah. Yeah. Well that's good. You've got that part down. A lot of people will say to me, "But I can't figure out how to make this fun for myself." Oh, yeah. Yeah, like, if I had the time, I would happily blog more than once a week, but. At a certain point there is time limitations, too, yeah. Do we have anybody sharing? Absolutely. Chatroom has lots of excuses out there. Some of them are a little crappy. (audience laughs) So a lot of them are - they have to do with, this one's not being organized enough. Marissa says, "I'm not organized enough. I'm always not in the right mindset to get organized." A lot of people here are perfectionists and they don't - they're too focused on being perfect. They're looking for excuses, and, you know, we've got one here from a girl named Michael, who says, "I've gotten caught up in perfectionism. My first impression has to be amazing and now, I feel empowered after this course to get out there and improve as I go, but I always had that first impression excuse. I was just so concerned about that first impression and that kind of held things up." So anybody - yeah? Well, I think I mentioned this a couple days ago at least, but the kind of the nice thing about when you start a blog, is that you don't have any readership. Yes! (audience laughs and agrees) So that you can, like, and sure, that first blog post is still going to be there when you have more readership, but the people like you and they're - it's interesting, when I started blogging, I looked at other blogs that I liked and looked really far back and you could see their formatting isn't going with their current one, because it was all right, and you could see the progress and that's another thing that's neat, is to look at successful bloggers and see, like, how they started, because it's there, their whole history is there. Oh, yeah. Yeah. If you go back to the very beginning of Blacksburg Belle, it's going to look quite different than what it looks like now. There has been a progression for sure, yeah. And that's the best point. You usually start with zero readers. So you have time to figure things out and adjust. And your first readers are going to be, probably, that like you and are not going to be as judgmental - or not as hard on yourself as you are, so. Absolutely. Absolutely. And start before you're ready. Start today. Start immediately. Put up your first blog post, even if it isn't perfect. Improve as you go. We've talked about if you try to improve each time you post, you're going to get better and better, you're going to get more and more readers, and you're going to be glad that you started when you did. So, let's talk a little bit about goal setting. University psychologist Jonathan Haidt. He came up with this idea that, I don't know if you've read the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, but it's in this book, which is also an amazing book as well, I think I have told you guys, like, 20 million books to read, so he talks about goal setting and how when you're trying to keep a goal, you've got two sides. You've got a rider on top of an elephant. Like a rider that's riding an elephant. And the rider is the rational side. He holds the reigns. He does the long-term thinking. But he also over-analyzes and overthinks things. So your rider, and this is like two parts of your brain kind of interacting and combating each other, the rider is really great because the rider is saying, "Publish the blog post. Do the blog post because it's going to make a difference long term." However, your rider is also the problem when you're thinking, "I can't publish this, it's not perfect." Overthinking every detail, getting caught up in that stuff. Then you've got the elephant. The elephant is the emotional side. And it's actually in charge. If you think about a rider on top of an elephant, if the elephant decides it wants to go over there, that's where you're going. It chooses quick rewards. So that's the side of you that would say, "Oh, well, I kind of want to watch this episode of Grey's Anatomy instead of blog." But the elephant also has a really good part. It is the part of you where you've got the intuition, where, if you're walking on a street and something seems off, and the hairs raise on the back of your neck, that's your elephant. Or if you're making a business decision and your stomach kind of pulls at you a little bit, you know it's not the right thing, or you're really into it, that's your elephant. So that there are these two parts and you've got to get them in sync if you want to make any big changes. So if you are watching this, you're new to blogging, and you want to make this a habit or you have other blogging goals you want to be working on. So you want to start adding guest-posting or interviewing or taking photos. You've got to get your rider working with your elephant. So the rider can usually win short-term but not long-term. Unless the elephant is on board. So, thinking about a diet. You're eating a salad. You do this for - you're eating salads for every meal for a few days and your rider's in charge and you think you're doing really good and then you're at the office party and there are cupcakes and your elephant wins because the cupcakes look so good that you just have to have one. So what you have to do is, you have to get that emotional connection. You have to give your elephant a reason why you're doing this. So you want to connect emotionally. This is on your workbook, page 72. You're going to think back to your goals. Why you want to blog. What's the emotional payoff? And you want to remember this when you're thinking about giving in to the short reward. Or thinking about giving up. So what I mean by this. When I was back in New York and I was writing every morning and I was doing my wedding planning blog, was also doing some freelance writing, and I was setting my alarm for 4:30 or five a.m. every morning. There were many mornings where I thought I want to hit the snooze button, I do not want to get out of bed. My elephant was saying, "Stay in bed and cuddle. It's warm under this comforter and it's a chilly New York morning." And what I would have to do is I would have to connect emotionally to how I would feel when I was able to leave my day job and I was able to do what I loved full-time. So when I could connect with that feeling, like, this is what it would feel like, I'd be so happy, I'd be so content, I'd be in that state of flow on a regular basis, I'd be feeling lots of joy, I wouldn't be feeling how I was feeling, which was anxious and stressed out all the time. Frustrated, overwhelmed. That's what was happening because of my day job. And I knew that if I could connect emotionally to how I would feel when I reached my goals, I would be able to get myself out of bed at 4:30. So those goals that you set at the very beginning in session one, I want you to think emotionally about what it will be like when you reach those goals. When you thought about, "This would be my blog. My dream blog in three years." What would that feel like? What are those emotions? Because that's what you want to hang on to. That's what you want to keep in mind whenever you're feeling, like, "Eh, I'm not going to blog this week." Connect emotionally. Get your elephant on board with your rider. Yeah? Like prompts, like, that's what I have to do is to remember what that is. Because in the morning, it's like, I'll forget. Why am I doing this? So I have to look at something sitting on the wall, whatever. Yeah. You could definitely do that. I just got into the habit of, instead of making this excuse, I would think about, this is going to feel really good when I am doing this full-time. And I would try and get in that headspace and then I could kind of flop myself out of bed and get to work, get myself my cup of tea, I would think about how nice it'll be to be at my desk writing, because I really enjoyed it. Really enjoyed the writing. It was getting myself out of bed. Usually it's that first step of whatever it is. Getting yourself to your computer and once you do it, or getting yourself to your journal. So what will it feel like? I want to hear from you guys, of what it'll feel like when you reach those goals. What's that emotional connection that you're going to hang onto? Who wants to share? Yeah. I think my biggest one is just feeling free. I feel like I rush in the mornings, I eat or drink my smoothie to go in my car, I want to wake up and I want to feel free to make breakfast, go running in the morning, and then start my day. And I want to feel free to do the things that I like to do. I want to feel fulfilled and creative. I want to be able to write how I want to write, produce what I want to produce, call the shots when I want to call the shots, and really just be independent and control of my life. So if you're having a tough day and thinking, "I don't want to do the work," would it help you to connect to that, this freedom, this feeling of freedom that you'll have when you've reached this goal? I think so, for sure. I think that's going to very much motivate me to get out of bed, especially in the evenings, that's when I kind of feel the most tired and I have the most excuses coming on, I feel like if I really connect to that freedom and that fulfillment that I'm looking for, then that's really going to help me, like you said, just take that first step to get started. And that's oftentimes what I just need to do is just sit down and put pen to paper or start typing on my computer. So I think that will definitely help me and I might need something - you know, you have to figure out what works for you. I might need something as a cue. As a matter of fact, I actually made a small vision board for my phone and so I have images on my phone of really what I want to do. I had this, like, dream of being this surfer for some reason and so I have these girls on my phone who are surfers. And that's, like, what I look at every time I turn my phone on in order to remind myself, this is what I'm working for. Mmm. I love that. That's a visual when you're looking at your phone on a regular basis, that's one of those things that would remind you about this on the - yeah, I love that idea. Yeah, and I've also downloaded apps where I have timers. And there'll be a reminder that pops up and says, "Are you doing what you should be doing to move yourself towards your business?" And I'm like, oh, no! (laughs with audience) The timer's whipping me into shape! And so it pops up, like, no, I'm not, so I need to go back and do this. And so that's been helpful as well. I love that! Are you doing what it takes? That's what it says. I love that. So if you need that extra push, if you need that, that's something you could do, is download an app, put it on your phone, have that timer going off to give you that reminder on a regular basis. Exactly. Anyone else want to share how they would connect to it emotionally? What those feelings would be like? To reach that goal? I would feel freedom also. I want to be location-independent so that would be amazing. Yeah. And so if you're struggling with doing the work, kind of connecting that in your mind and thinking about what it would be like to be location-independent, do you think that that would help you get down to work? Oh yeah. I have prompts too, like, in my office, I think it says, "Every day, I will do one thing to move me closer to my dream." I love that. All right. Anybody sharing online? Yeah, we have some examples here. Mihaela says, "I would love to be able, in three years, to support myself financially so I can leave my day job." I think a lot of people out there have those day jobs but they do want to focus on something more creative and to have that as a goal is a great first step. Yeah, absolutely. So whenever you're feeling that tug where you're thinking, oh, I'd rather sit here and watch TV instead of do the work, think about that emotional payoff. Think about what it'll feel like. And then you can get the elephant on board and get yourself moving. Don't aim for perfection. At the end of each day, ask yourself, did I do one thing to get closer to my goal? Did I do one thing? No matter how small. It's okay if it was just updating your Twitter account. If yes, you're doing good. You are really doing good. It may not feel like you've done enough but you are doing really well if you are doing something every day. Keep a record to review your progress. Yeah? It's actually a really great thing to have just one accountability buddy just for that one question. Just keep it super simple. Baby step. Yup, absolutely, yeah. I have a notebook where I have the main goals I'm working towards at any given time, usually I have three, because I've found if it's more than three, it's too overwhelming and I can work with three. So less than three, I'm not pushing myself enough. But I've got those three main goals that I'm working towards and I will look at them at the end of each day and I will write down what I've done to get closer to the goal. And if I haven't done anything, I write, I haven't done anything to get closer to whatever goal it is. So that keeps me in the mindset of thinking about it throughout the day as well. And it helps to look over and review that progress and see everything that you've done to get closer to it. Do any of you do anything like that now? Where you record what you're working towards, what you're doing to get closer to your goals? Sage, you do? Yeah, I keep a progress journal of everything that I've done during the day that brings me closer and I like to choose my biggest win of the day. So for each day, I circle the biggest thing that moved me closer to my goals. Oh, okay. So you're writing it all down. And then you circle the biggest thing. Yeah. And does that - do you think that that helps keep you inspired, keeps you motivated? Yeah, when I'm having, like, really bad days, and the couch is calling me and I don't want to do anything, I flip through my progress journal and I just see all of the stuff that I've already done and it does inspire me to keep going because I don't want to have a blank page. Yeah. Yeah. I think one thing that helps me, and it kind of goes to what Kimberly says, because I had that as my crap excuse, no one will like this, or who cares, I actually keep a journal of feedback that I've received from people so testimonials that don't go on my pages but they're specifically for me to really motivate myself to say, hey, what I'm doing does make a difference, and here is an example of people who said, "Yes, Jennifer, I've been in one of her trainings, and she's absolutely great." And I really just go back to that as a reminder to push forward and to continue to do what I'm doing just to move myself towards those goals. Yeah. I have a file on my computer that I just put that kind of stuff in, too. Anytime I will do a screen grab for Facebook or Twitter or whatever, or copy and paste for email, and I'll put it in a file, and when I'm having a bad day, that's when I look through that file. So that's something you might want to do as well. Is to have that file so it shows you, yes, it does matter, people do care, to look back over that when you are having one of those really rough days. My best advice is to do your creative work first. Because we have limited willpower. Kind of our willpower tanks, they go down throughout the day, they decrease with every decision we make, even if it's an easy decision. Even deciding what you're going to have for breakfast decreases your willpower a little bit. All of those decisions. So it's easier to make excuses, like later in the day, like we've already talked about, right, so do that creative work first if you can. I know some people, it's absolutely not something that they can do. They have to get up early in the mornings, get the kids to school, or go to work, or whatever they have to do, it's not possible. But if it is possible, don't start your morning with email. Don't start your morning with social media. Do the creative work. Turn all of that other stuff off and write a blog post. Or make some art. Or do whatever your creative work is. And if it's a blogging day, then go ahead and do your writing, get that out of the way. Then in the afternoon when you're feeling sluggish, you don't have as much energy, that's when you answer the email. That's when you get on social media and update Twitter or update Facebook, pin a few things. We have some comments in the chatroom from people who claim that they're night owls. Now, The Witticist says, "I'm a night owl and I prefer to do that work at night." That's perfectly fine. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. If that's what works best for you, then for sure. Do the work at night. If that is what works for you. A lot of people, they make excuses in the evenings, and so therefore, if they do that creative work first, it's done and you feel really good and accomplished but there are some people who will do much better work at night if you're a night owl. For sure, absolutely. And if you guys have any questions for me, just throw them into the chatroom, or if you guys have any questions, just raise your hand. Yeah, we have some more comments about the way that people do work. And Morbid Cafe says that, "My willpower resets around 10pm, so I start doing things that I've been putting off all day at 10pm, to get in my late night work," which they kind of separate from their daytime tasks. So there's a good variety, everybody does have their own comments, their own way of looking at it. You know, The Witticist also says, "Yes and no. More likely to tackle some of these things first thing, but also, my creativity peaks in the afternoon." So I think some people may hit peaks and valleys throughout the day with their creativity. Yeah. I wish my willpower reserves went up at 10pm. That would be really nice. What about you guys? How do you work? Morning people, night people, who do we have here? Morning. Morning? And do you do your creative work first? Yes, if I can get it all done before lunch, that's a good day. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like if I've done some writing before lunch that I already feel like I've accomplished something. I feel really good about that day. What about you guys? Well, I am a night person, but as I've gotten older, like, on the weekends I definitely get more done in the morning. Like, I wake up and I'm like, I'm ready to make this thing and everything. But, you know, with the day job, it's like, I'm somehow able to, like, though, no, that, like, in the evening on these days that I'm doing the blogging, somehow I have the willpower to do it on those days, but as the week goes on, I try to do that in the beginning of the week, because as the week goes on, I don't think I would have that willpower to do it as much in the evenings. And I read something recently, they just did a scientific study where we really can't make, like, so you have, like, a decision limit a day. Yeah. Yeah. It really does get to the point where that's it, kaput. Yeah. I struggle with this. Sometimes it'll be mornings. Sometimes later. I'm more free with my time, how I structure it, so I'm just all over the place. The best work time I ever had was when my sister's visiting and I knew - so I got everything done the first thing in the morning, because I knew she'd ask me questions, I just couldn't take it if, she's, "Oh, Jamie, you said you were going to do," you know, having, it really made a difference. So I wish I could say morning. And did you get more work done then? I did. It was focused. But then if I have trouble sleeping at night, you know, then it's stuck. Yeah. Yeah. Sleep can definitely affect that, yeah. I do a thing called Digital Mornings and Analog Afternoons, where I do all my computer work in the morning, and then after lunch I do crafting, or if I have chores that I need to do, that's what I do. And is that easier to get things done? Much easier. Yeah. Yeah. You definitely have to figure out what works for you and what's going to be the best for the way that you work and the way that your mind works and when you can actually think clearly and when you can't. I know for me that sometimes if it gets to about 9pm, I'm not thinking as clearly. I need to get my work done earlier for sure. And like you said, it's just our willpower goes down as the day goes down. Yeah, and I think in general we have a lot of people talking about their environments, whether they have families, husbands, wives, that kind of interfere with that. Sometimes that'll affect their sleep cycle. Amanda Soux says that, "I do the admin stuff during the day because I can work it around homeschooling, a fussy baby, things like that. Then I kick butt with the creative stuff, like crocheting, writing, etc, at night." And yeah, we had some other people here talking about their husbands and wives being early risers when they're night owls, so you have to sort of work around your environment, you know, we don't want to make you be angry with your spouse, or, you don't want to, you know, the children are going to come first in the morning but it's important to find a balance. And that's what we're talking about here. Absolutely. Absolutely. You have to do what works for your family too. Yes. Yes. Just like Chris was saying. So in your workbook on page 73, you'll see, set your black and white goal. This is your no excuses, it's going to happen goal. Example: I'll publish a blog post every Tuesday. Or, I'll take one photo every day for the next year. So it depends on what you really want to work on to improve your blog. Your black and white goal. This is the one where no matter what, it's happening. That you don't get to make any excuses, no matter how legitimate or crappy they are. Doing this ensures that you get this one thing done. Instead of saying, like I've been saying, "Oh, maybe I'll get to it if I can." If you set one black and white goal, you know at least that that's what's happening. So I want to hear some of your black and white goals. That it's absolutely happening, no matter what. What's absolutely happening? I'll publish a blog post every Saturday. Every Saturday. A newsletter, I mean. Is that - a newsletter, yeah. Okay. What else? What else do we got? What's your black and white goal? Blog Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and easing every Tuesday. That's a lot! I'm already doing it. All right. And you figured out a way to make it happen. Yeah, I'm a quick writer, yeah. All right. What else? My black and white goal is to publish a blog post every Wednesday. I mean, that's been my goal but I just need to focus on that because I have missed a couple Wednesdays and I kind of get down on myself if I do do that so I feel like if I really hone in on, this is my black and white goal and it must get done, even if I stay up late at night to get it done, then I will. Okay. Do you have a black and white goal? Well, I have had that same goal and since I've been doing it, I would like to - I would like to still have that goal but actually have that blog post that I'm posting that week written the week before so I'm, like, a little bit ahead of the game so if something happens, like, get the flu or whatever, then, hopefully it doesn't - then I can...yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Just have a little backup game going. (laughs) Yeah. It's nice to have a couple blog posts in reserve. It's really a good idea so that if you get sick or something comes up or that week is just horrible for whatever reason, you have something that you can pull from. This also makes blogging more fun. Because you have something that you can pull from when that does happen, so you don't have to get down on yourself, so you can give yourself a break if you really need it. Yeah. And I've often had, like, I always have, like, these backup ideas but you still have to produce the stuff like you have to take photos of the thing, or whatever, so, but yeah, and then also, I think it will help for the editing, too, is that instead of having, like, a day in between for review, I have a week before. Yeah Yeah. That's a big difference. To look at it with fresh eyes. Yeah? Black and white goal? Well, I - yes, Monday and Friday at, and then on Wednesdays at All right. So you're blogging three times a week. But on two different sites. Right. Right, and how have you found keeping up with two separate sites? They're completely different so it's pretty easy. Do you also do social media for both of them? Yes, I do. And you found it to be manageable? Yeah, like I said, it's pretty much my job, so. (laughs) Yeah. But some people who even full time, they have two sites, find it completely overwhelming and trying to keep up with social media for both of them, so it's nice to hear from somebody that it's manageable to do two separates ones when you - Sometimes my blog posts aren't really long, and sometimes I rely on a lot of pictures, and, like, just a few words, but I just want to have a post. Like I said, like I told everyone, I'm going to do it on Monday and Friday. I want it to be there. Yeah. Absolutely. Black and white goal? I just - I want to write every week. Write every week? Yeah, I don't write that much so I think, just doing it is going to help a lot. Do you have to tell yourself a specific day or do you think keeping it open would actually be helpful? I think if I gave myself a couple days, like, let's say, either Monday or Tuesday, because it just depends. Sometimes they're different. Yeah. But yeah.

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!