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Build a Successful Creative Blog

Lesson 9 of 26

Hangout with Mayi Carles of HeartMade

April Bowles-Olin

Build a Successful Creative Blog

April Bowles-Olin

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Lesson Info

9. Hangout with Mayi Carles of HeartMade

Lesson Info

Hangout with Mayi Carles of HeartMade

I am going to introduce you guys to one of my most favorite people in the entire world. Not only do I have a business with her but the reason I am bringing her on is because she has the most unique voice and style out of anyone I know online, and if you've been to her blog you know this. Her name is Mayi Carles and her blog is She works with creative entrepreneurs to help them build successful businesses. She's also a very talented artist. I'm really excited, I think she's going to tell you guys a lot about how she's been able to do this for herself and it's gonna help you be able to develop your own style. Mayi! Oh my god! We're both, you know you were complimenting my style I think we think alike. (laughing) We've both got our braids! Yeah, yours is prettier than mine, but it doesn't matter. I've gotten used to that, being your partner. (laughing) So I was telling everyone that you have such a unique style and voice and that you have built this blog that people c...

ome to and you have fans that are just so loyal and love your stuff so much. How have you been able to really develop your voice online? Well one of the biggest compliments that anyone can give me these days is, you are just like your videos. When we went to conferences together and people, even more so than you're so talented or I love your illustrations, it's you're just like I pictured you. And knowing that that for me, it's so important, I make sure that every single time that I'm producing content that I'm reminded that this is a priority for me. I have a little exercise that I do, it's like, does it pass the friend test or does it pass the family test. My family subscribed to my blog and my granny reads my blog, my friends read my blog, and I always ask myself would my granny call me and ask me have you been abducted by aliens? Have you been abducted by telemarketers? And if my blog doesn't sound like me I have all these people watching that are gonna call me out on it. So I think that little exercise has helped me stay honest and stay rooted in who Mayi truly is. Because sometimes we're tempted, right? To sound more like our idols, and to follow the checklist of very successful people. But granny can always tell when you're faking it. So having that sort of crowd that keeps you honest, I think it's super important. Yes, absolutely, I love that tip. I love that one. But you've been able to translate your voice in your writing even. It's just so clear, I don't know how you do it so very well. It's more unique than anything I've ever seen. And really the people who read your blog love it so much. So what about writing, and how are you able to put your voice into your text even? I'm reminded of what gurus say, right? Like find your voice, and this entire concept of finding your voice seems very like the Little Mermaid. Do you remember the Disney Little Mermaid movie and how Ariel loses her voice to go and meet the prince and Ursula takes away her voice and then she has to like find it. What's this thing about finding our voice? Like has this monster of under the sea stolen it from us? No one has stolen our voice, I don't know why we keep finding this voice, like if it's gonna be hidden underneath things. But of course, I mean, of course, we're trying to seek it because we forget who we are. Because we are conditioned by years and years of high school and peer pressure and trying to be like, sit in the cool section of the high school cafeteria and all of these things have schooled us to be like everyone else. But now that we're blogging we kind of have to go back to this five year old who loves to dance in tutus and loves to play in the playground. So instead of telling people go and find your voice and instead of bragging about how I found, so like me, I kind of always compliment the Mayi when she was five years old. It's the kid Mayi that I have to thank for that. And that I'm always like, thank you five year old Mayi for coming and reminding me of what's important for me, what I like, you know you mentioned the party props earlier. I was one of those kids that saved her Halloween costumes, that saved her dance performance costumes, so I can wear them all year round. Now that I'm my own boss, why should I commit to a dress code if I can wear my pajamas or I can wear party props, or I can wear, you know all these things. So I go back to the things that I liked when I was five. How can I bring more of that into my writing, into my videos, into everything. And to even the photos that we took together with the superhero capes. We did that when we were little who says we can't do it now? Yeah, absolutely, absolutely, I love it all. I'd love for you to share with us a little bit about what your most popular posts have been and why you think they were your most popular. Well, my most popular posts are the ones when hubby interrupts my videos, my dad calls me for brainstorming sessions, when there's a firetruck passing by, because all these messups, the parts that are not scripted, are not polished, it's the parts that people love. Like the behind the scenes, one of my most popular videos is one where I'm in my pajamas without any makeup and I'm like, okay today I didn't have anything to talk about so I'm gonna show you exactly how I get ready for videos. And I walk people through like, even my workout routine and how I work out while I'm reading my bullet points and then I take them to my bathroom and I'm wearing my robe, and they just love how it, what needs to happen emerged the finished picture. So two things there. Be really real and showing people how it really happens and how it's like so not glamorous. I think so many people hype it up, like Mayi I bet she has all these minions working for her and she has a styler, a stylist, and a hair, and when they see that this is like a one woman show, that I have to, and so not glamorous at all and so down to earth, they can relate to that. People can relate to real stuff. And they can relate to hubby opening the door in the middle of you know, like an awesome line, and how I nailed it and then he's like, "What's for dinner?" and your like ugh! You want to kill him! That's so genuine, you can't buy authenticity. But if you just show a little glimpse of the screw ups, I think people are gonna love you. We have been talking about that. That's one of the things we've been talking about today, that people like the messy stuff. People like to see that it's not perfect. And they like to see the messups. And then also, I think, something that made that video so popular was that they saw behind the scenes, and everyone wants to know what's going on behind the scenes. How you actually get to the final product. They love it. Yeah. And they're expecting like, Hollywood lights and they're expecting, but when you defy that expectation with something that's so raw and kind of like, really? She's not that cool. But then she's like, that's why we like her. Because she's like us. So I would rather be that than be like untouchable and unrelatable, and people can't engage with that. We already have, you know, Pinterest for that. Everything looks pretty. Blogging is not about being Pinterest. Blogging is about, you know, being real and keeping it honest. Well in the same line of that, I know that sometimes you have struggled with what are people gonna think about me when you post certain things. Can you talk about kind of getting past that? What are people gonna think if I post this? Well, you're like my crying shoulder. You know exactly how you suffer when people just don't get it. For me it happened a little backwards. Most people are afraid to hit publish and then they're like what, for me it was like I was so pumped to hit publish. I'm like, this is so cool and different and I wanna show people and I was so excited. But when I was confronted with the resistance and the vicous opposition, like people throwing tomatoes thing and so many, so much gossip going on about did I go crazy what is Mayi thinking, like we lost her already. That was really hard for me because I wasn't expecting it. But I think when you are innocent or when you are not paying attention to it it's better in the end. When you're like, people pleasing shut up. I'm not even gonna think about my high school friends. When you really try hard to silence the noise and just do it anyways, it's much easier to deal with it later. Because it was so much easier for me to just call you, cry it out, eat a ton of carrot cupcakes and then be ready to film again. Yeah. That's better than not doing the work. Do the work and then deal with the vicious opposition later. You are gonna find people that are gonna love you. Let me tell you something else, so many people are gonna applaud you for it. You're gonna have all these fans that you didn't have before rooting for you and being like we're gonna stab them in the back and everyone that's talking crap about you! You kind of build this tribe of people who protect you that I didn't have before. And there's nothing that gives you more confidence than having a partner that applauds you dancing with an inflatable T-Rex or having people commenting over and over again about how that thing that you said changed everything. And I mean, I'm not gonna stop videos if there's one people, if there's one person who I made a difference. And they quit their job because of something that they heard or they finally were able to you know, hit the publish button because of that thing that I was able to say. So when you don't show up, you're actually hurting yourself, but like everyone. Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that Mayi was talking about is that she had a really hard time when she started first publishing videos because people around her, like friends from high school were making fun of them and saying really mean things about them. But the people online, her audience, they were loving them. And so she pushed through and kept going with her voice even though there were people telling her, I don't like this. Yeah. Yeah. And it was hard. I mean, it sounds very romantic now, like I beat them. It's easier now, because it's like, okay, this is another thing, it's hard at the beginning when no one thinks you're cool. And you're doing it all by yourself and no one's commenting and you're kind of like, It's very vulnerable, it's putting yourself out there, in like the most scary type of way. But then US News publishes a post about you and then you were featured in magazines that your parents buy and in Barnes & Noble. And these things happen when you're yourself. It's karma, it's the universe, stars align, and when you're yourself, it's like, US News and all these celebrities start talking about you to shut the people who were jealous of you. Because at the end, haters are just another way of saying like they really are so jealous of you. So I say when you're scared, push past that. Because then all these people who are like, really cool, like the big shots in the industry, are gonna start talking about you and then you're gonna shut every one of those mouths. Now when I go to weddings or when I go to birthday parties, I don't have anyone laughing at me anymore. Of course at the beginning, everyone was laughing. But who's laughing now? (laughing) So I say to everyone, you are gonna be the last one standing and the last one laughing. I love it, I love it so much. Do you guys, does anybody have questions for Mayi? Well we're amazed by your energy, first of all. You like, you tele-transported all the way to us here. So thank you, you beamed and you beamed. And congratulations. Thank you. Mayi's awesome, you guys. Isn't she awesome? Oh yes. She's great. And I love that ring, that ring is awesome too. Yeah, we have just a lot of great great comments really, not questions. Manilla Girl says I agree, push past your fears. Julia says I love her confidence, actually there is one question coming in. About starting blogging, like how did she start? I mean I know she's been talking about that but if you want to go into that history a little bit. Oh my god, this is kind of embarrassing but I started because of a screwup, again. I lost everything. I just got done, like I canceled the wedding, I quit my day job. Like I lost everything. For me it was a very transition moment in my life of how I really didn't want all of that and how I really had to be Mayi. So the blog was this deliberate decision to be more me. To be more vulnerable. And to really do what I am meant to be doing. So it was that transition point between trying to please people and trying to give it a shot. Of what it would be like to really not pay attention to people and give Mayi a try. So it was a very scary time. Because obviously no one was cheering me on. I mean if you tell your parents who have paid through your entire education, if you tell them I'm gonna quit my day job and I'm not gonna send my resume to anyone and then I'm gonna start this blog and I'm gonna put paypal buttons on pages and people are gonna hire me, they're like, "You're gonna do what?" (laughing) No one understood this concept. Me neither! I was figuring it out as I went, but since I had nothing, I kind of had nothing to lose. I was starting, really from scratch, so. Alright, we have another question here Mayi, this is Chris one of the hosts, glad to have you here this has been a great interview. Now this question comes in from the chat rooms and we talked a lot about coming up with a good name for your blog, when you should use your personal name when you should have something that touches on a different subject. So this question comes from Mahogany Media and they want to know what is behind the name of your blog? Can you tell us a little bit about the story when you were setting that up? I've been hearing the workshops and I know this tension between naming it your own and naming it something else. And I kind of have both. If you type you get to my page and if you type, you get to the same. So for people listening, if you can't decide, buy your name and buy alterations of your name and buy the messed up versions of how you type your name, it's only twelve dollars a year to have the domain name so, type up Mayi with a Y, and with a J and with, so that's one thing. And then I'll get to the name of heart made. Well because I was going through this period of my life when everything failed except my heart, I'm like this the only thing that I can listen to. Before I was paying attention to like all of my friends are getting married, I should be getting married. Or I was paying attention to my friends about making a lot of money, I was like, I should be making money! And when I got kind of blindsided by the lure of perfectionism and that very high end life and the glamor and the prestige of all that I screwed up. I ended up with a romantic partner that I didn't love, I ended up with a career that wasn't for me, and then I was lost. But throughout that whole time, I remember like, crying at night and feeling, I'm like this is not what it should feel like. I watched Pinky and the Brain when I was little and I had these dreams of world domination. I'm like, this is not how I pictured it. This is not going according to plan. And the hard part, I know it sounds so corny, but the hard part was the the fact that I was still kind of crying and sad, there was someone in here kind of like reaching out to me, like you're alive still wake up! So I give my heart a big role in my business making and that's why I'm reminded with my blog that everything that I do heart-wise it's in the right direction. That is so powerful. This is Jonri, one of the hosts here I know you can't see Chris or I but I mean there's just a general feeling in the studio from you saying that. And we have some offers of people that want to marry and or adopt you. (laughing) She's taken! She's taken, mentioned the hubby, sorry guys. And of course-- When I see the blog, all these things started to happen. I came across the man of my, so when you're doing things right everything else shows up. It's incredible. And that is the truth, and you're living it. Thank you. Thank you so much Mayi for being here with us. Thanks so much Mayi. Yeah it was a pleasure. Let's give her a big round of applause in the audience here. Yay Mayi! (audience applause) Alright. She's off the line now but we now have some BFF offers. Oh I think that was really helpful for everybody out there watching to get that perspective. And obviously we all love her energy, she is a lot of fun to talk to. Yeah, yeah, she is really high energy, she's amazing. And the cool thing too is, check out her blog and see if it matches up to who she is. Yeah. And maybe you can kind of put the pieces together. Don't you think that that's an effective exercise? Absolutely, if you go to her blog and you read it you are going to see this is Mayi and you're going to know exactly who she is just by reading that blog, yeah. Absoutely and watching her videos, they're hilarious and they're so good. So If you're not truly you, what's the point? Right? Be authentic, vulnerable, and real, and you'll attract your ideal readers. We can tell when you're being phony. It's just so obvious, we can tell when you're being completely fake or you're trying to put on a happy face, or you're trying to show things that are perfect that really aren't. We just pick up on it intuitively. So be you. If I can trust the maker, I can buy it now and worry about it later. And this comes from the brand Gap. And it's so true, think about the businesses that you buy from on a regular basis. You just trust that you're getting a good product. You can buy it and worry about it later. So we've got some homework for tonight, and everybody absolutely better do it. So what I want you to do first, this is in your workbook so you don't have to write down notes crazily. Is to get an outside perspective of how others view you and your strengths. So this is really helpful and we're gonna dig into voice in the next session. That you know what your strengths are and that you hear from an outside perspective. Because almost always, the things that we're really good at we don't realize it because it comes really easy to us so we just think it's normal. We just think it's normal for people to have that kind of strength. SO what I want you to do, is I want you to ask three to five people who know you really well. I'm talking like best friends, boyfriends, husbands, girlfriends, whoever. Best friends. Ask them, what do I do better than most other people? What are my strengths? If you were telling someone about me who had never met me, and you could only tell that person one story that sums up who I am, what story would you tell? How would you describe my style? And what do you think makes it unique? Those are the questions. And the one that's often the most revealing is the story one. When you ask people what story they would tell if they could only tell one story about you. To someone who doesn't know you. And what you're gonna see is you're gonna see themes running through these answers. So you're gonna pick three to five people and ask them about this this evening. Those are the rest of the questions which are all in the workbook. The second homework assignment is to get a notebook and to split it into sections. And the sections are your favorite words, the things you find funny, stories from your life, stuff you hate, stuff you love, details you want to remember, we'll go into that one later. Blog topic ideas, so that you have a place to put them. And attention grabbing headlines, so every time you come across a headline, you're gonna jot it down. This is gonna be your notebook to go to on a regular basis. To see your favorite words, to see if you're actually using them in your language, the things that you find funny, often you can use that in your blog posts. The stories from your life, and just knowing the stuff I love, the stuff I hate, referring to that in your blog makes you human. So keeping track of that stuff on a regular basis. I keep my notebook with me pretty much always so that I can take notes at any time I want to. So if I find something hilarious that I see I will just jot it down just so I have it for later. And you review it before you start writing and then that's going to really help you with your voice. You're supposed to struggle. In the beginning, I remember being extremely envious of bloggers who seemed to have it all. Who had the beautiful words, who had the carefully chosen words, the beautiful photos, the carefully chosen words, the stuff that just exuded personality and was just amazing when I would go to their blogs it just looked so professional. I remember being so envious of that. But it's the process that matters the most. It really is, and in the beginning you start with zero readers, it's okay. You'll get there if you do the work day after day. And this is a little bit morbid, but I'm gonna share it with you. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way to know, I know, to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. And this is from Steve Jobs. So when you're thinking about, I'm doing this exercise, I'm asking people these questions about me that are very revealing, and I'm a little bit embarrassed. This is your life, this is your one life, this is your one chance, do it tonight so that in the next session when we're talking about voice, you've got all of this great material to work with. So right now we're gonna pull up a few of the blogs of the studio audience members that we have right here. Are you guys ready for this? I see some nervous looks. That was the hot seat we talked about earlier. All the seats are hot now. (laughing) And what we're gonna do is, I just want you guys to say what you think when you first see these blogs. So what are the descriptive words that you think of when you see one of these blogs, okay? So that you know what people think about when they first land on your site. So this is gonna give you the information to know that. So we're gonna start with Jane. Alright. So we've got the Quote Lab. And I won't make you all come up here, one individually, I'll let you sit in your seats for right now. So what are the first words that come to mind when you see her blog? What just pops in your head? Mystery. Mystery. Vintage. Vintage, yup. Rustic. Rustic. Vintage definitely pops into my head. Minimal. Minimal, yeah. So are those the types of descriptive words you're looking for when somebody comes to your site? Yes, perfect. Alright! because I wouldn't, yeah I can't see it, I mean I've looked at it so many times I can't see that. Right yeah, of course. Alright awesome. So let's move onto another one. You can just pop one up there. How about Sage? Oh this is Kimberly's. Okay so, what do you think when you first see Kimberly's site? Sleek. Okay. Timeless. Crystal clear. Descriptive. Alright. Warm. So what do you think about that, Kimberly? Well, I'm kind of in the process of wanting to change it all, so. I don't really see that. I see frustration and I want to see change. But it's good, it's good that people are, warmth is a good one. That's kind of what I wanna embrace. Adorable. Alright, so do you want like, sleek? Is that one of the words that you would want? Yes yes. Yeah, sorry. So you're in the process of doing a makeover of your site? I am yeah. Okay, so I think it's really helpful to have an outside perspective of how people view your site. So if you're watching this and you're thinking how can I replicate this myself? Just ask some friends, what are the first things that you think of when you land on my site? So have them over so they don't have 10 minutes to look around and you know decide what they're gonna, you want their first impression. So get with them, in person, and ask them what are the first words that pop into your mind. And if they're not the words that you want to use to describe your blog, then things need to change.

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!