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Build a Successful Creative Blog

Lesson 5 of 26

Developing Your Content Plan

April Bowles-Olin

Build a Successful Creative Blog

April Bowles-Olin

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Lesson Info

5. Developing Your Content Plan

Lesson Info

Developing Your Content Plan

So, we have setup a basic foundation, by setting blogging goals, by getting to know your ideal reader, and by trying to figure out how this is gonna be the most enjoyable for you. Now, it's time to develop your content plan. And this is the topics that you're gonna post. First is how often are you going to blog, and I want you to think about how often am I going to blog for the foreseeable future? So this could change six months, a year from now, but how often do you see yourself blogging? Is it once a week? Is it every day? Is it Monday and Wednesday? Is it a couple of times a month? How often? And when you think about how often you're gonna blog, always choose quality over quantity. The better blog post is gonna win out every time over three sort of okay, could be better blog posts. So if you only have time to write one really amazing blog post a week, just do that one blog post, instead of trying to write two blog posts, and you really don't have the time for it, so they're not as g...

ood as what you could do, if you did it in one post. And then stick to it. Decide what you're gonna do, and stick to it. Because lots of times we say to ourselves, I'm gonna try to post once a week, and if we say I'm gonna try to post once a week, then it often doesn't happen. If we say, I'm going to post once a week, just a little shift in mindset, but it makes a big difference. Don't let months go by without posting. This is a big deal, because your blog reflects on your brand. When somebody comes to your blog, they are making assumptions about your brand, about your business, because of your blog. And if it's been sitting there for months, people are going to think, what else isn't working so well in this person's business? There have been plenty of times when I've thought about purchasing something, and then I've gone to that person's blog, and it's been just a mess, and I didn't purchase. I'm sure that's happened to many of you before as well, where you've thought about it, then you've checked into it further, and you decided not to. So don't let months go by without posting. If you're going to have a blog for your business, understand that it reflects on your business. This is so true. I mean, I will actually be in that sort of position to buy something, and I'll go and I'll look, and it's, you know, the last blog post was like two years ago. And although the rest of the site has great content and there's things like that, I'm just like, take it down, then. If you're not gonna do it. Yeah. Yeah. It makes you question. Or at least, take the dates away, so that you can't see when the last time it is. [Female Moderator] That's an advanced tip. At least do that, if you're not gonna be posting. So you want obsessed readers. When you're thinking about your content plan, you want your ideal reader to feel like your blog is the only blog that she can get exactly what she needs, or exactly what she wants, and I'll give you an example from my life. I read a lot of blogs on copy, and writing better copy, and it's because I'm a blogger, but also because I teach this stuff, and I know that there's always room for improvement, so I am a lifelong learner, and always trying to improve. And I have lots of sites that I check out on a regular basis. Two of them are The Middle Finger Project, and Copyblogger. I like both of them, but I am obsessed, I am a loyal, dedicated reader of The Middle Finger Project. Her blog speaks to me. Ashley, who writes the blog, she's hilarious. She is so funny and entertaining, and I learn the same types of things, however, her blog is the blog for me, when it comes to writing copy. When she puts out a course, I will give her money. Even if I know a lot of the information, because I wanna improve, and because I love her, and I love her blogs. She is the one place that I can go to get exactly what I need, even though I check in with Copyblogger on a pretty regular basis. I'll go to their blog maybe once a week, maybe a little bit less, but it's not an obsession. It's not something where every time I get an email, I click and immediately open. That's what you want to build. You want your readers to feel like they can only get it from your blog, whatever it is. So you wanna give it away, and what I mean by this is, you don't wanna hold onto your best stuff, afraid that you're not gonna come up with more. A lot of times I'll hear, "I've got these really great ideas, "but I'm not going to post them just yet, "because they're some of my really best ideas, "and then what happens "if I don't come up with any better ideas? "So I'm gonna hold onto it." Give it away, and your blog traffic will increase. Your engagement will swell, and your blog will thrive. The more you give, the better it's gonna get. So do you have any best ideas that you've been holding onto, that you need to give away? This is workbook page 21. Do you have any of those best ideas that you've been holding onto, that you haven't used yet, because you're afraid that you're not gonna come up with more? I've also often found that when I give away my best ideas, that's when I get even more creativity. I do actually have a question, it's a little bit hard to understand exactly what the situation is, but CC1 writes a blog for doctors and business consultants, and they are often going to this person's blog or doing business with them to get information, which they charge for. Where's the line there? For instance, if it's consulting information, which I'm assuming they're giving the doctors and business consultants consulting information, how do you sort of make the distinction between what you put on the blog and what you charge for? Sure. Okay, well, with consulting most of the time, your blog posts, you wanna give away enough, so that people understand that you're an expert. So that they want to hire you. So you want to give them really good ideas, your best ideas, so that they know you know what you're talking about, and so that they will hire you to work with you. So for instance, if I am writing blog posts about blogging, and I am promoting an upcoming course on blogging, I can't cover everything I'm going to put in that course, not even close to that. I might be able to cover about five percent of it on my actual blog in blog posts, while I'm promoting that course. So the information that you get when you read my blog about blogging is gonna help you improve your blog, is gonna help you see results right away, so that you wanna buy my course and get even more. Oh, I see, so maybe it's like making whatever that juicy great stuff that you have to share actionable, and then they know, oh wow, they know what they're talking about. I bet they know more. Exactly. Yeah, yeah. So definitely give those ideas away. Keep a running list of topics, so you never run out. I also have a notebook for blog topics, and I just write them down as they come to me. And that way, when I sit down at my computer, I don't stare at my computer screen for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, trying to decide what to blog about. So just to get the juices flowing, some blog topic ideas: What you're inspired by. A book review. Artists you admire. A day in the life of you, through photos. A compilation of posts. And a compilation of posts, what I mean by that, is let's say, for me, I've written ten different posts on improving your blog. Then, that post title would be compiled of all of those, so it might be "Ten Posts To Improve Your Blog", and I would list each of those posts I had already written together. Those posts are really great, because they keep people on your site longer, and you give them a bigger overview of something that you've broken down into lots of other segments. Lots of people, they will do recipe after recipe after recipe, and then what could be really popular is if they put 25 of those recipes together, "25 Breakfast Recipes in Less Than 30 Minutes". And then that's the post that's gonna go viral, that everyone's gonna share, and then those people are gonna stay on their blog, looking at those other recipes. Some other ideas, a playlist of music you listen to while creating. So let's say, you put up a painting that you are selling. You could do a playlist of the music you listened to while you were painting it. A happy customer story. Those are always very popular, and they sell your products for you. Pictures of customers wearing your jewelry, if you make jewelry. The biggest lessons you've learned while in business. And then there are lots of other ideas in the "Done For You" resources pack. There's tons of other blog topic ideas in that pack. So, your turn. I want you to do a topic brainstorm, this is on page 22. List every blog post topic you can think of, everything that comes to mind right now, a free-for-all. We're also gonna continue this during the break, and you're gonna continue to add to this during the segment. But just write down as many ideas that you can think of that your ideal reader would love. What about ideas that are just really exciting to you? A blog post, that if you were sitting at your computer the next day, you would wanna write immediately. Think about the things that make you feel flow, that we have talked about. Think about the medium that you wanna use. All of those things that get you really excited. Think about what makes you intensely curious, like we talked about. All of those things, and don't censor yourself. This is like, I'm writing every single thing that comes down into my head, without saying this is a bad idea, I'm not gonna use it. Because you can say that later. You can cross it out, you can get rid of ideas. It's better to have more ideas than less. So you wanna just write down anything that comes to mind. They call that stream of consciousness, just stream of consciousness writing. It's like automatic, you just let it out. Yeah, keep that pen flowing. Keep the pen moving. Don't even pull it up from your paper, keep that pen going. I asked our chatters in the chat room if they wanted to share their brain dump, so we'll wait and see if we have some interesting tangents and ideas. Yeah. Anything that's coming to mind. Julia actually says, "Ten Things I Like About My Neighbors". (laughs) Or "Ten Things I Don't Like About My Neighbors", right? You could take the opposite of the idea. I like that. Now, here's an interesting comment from Stephanie in the chat room. She says, "I think the danger with lists "is that they're quite effective at the start, "but if they're overused, they turn your readers off, "because they come off as not requiring as much work "as a well-written essay style of post." Now, what do you think about that? Having too many list posts on your blog? List posts are incredibly popular, they work. They just do. I mean, those are the ones that usually end up being shared all over the place. They have been some of my most popular posts. Of course, you want more than list posts, especially if you're compiling lists of some things that are already on your blog. So when I said a compilation post, I meant, you've already written 25 recipe posts, and you're putting them all together. So they're already on your blog, you've already written those, so it's not as if you're just doing list posts. Right, now maybe a good hybrid model there is to have a list of, say, five things, but for each thing, you're writing a solid paragraph there, so it almost comes off like an essay. Yeah, and then, actually, Ally says, "If it actually links to a full essay, "that's another way to go about it." And I've also seen those posts that are like "101 Things To Do For That", and I'm like, that's intense! It's a lot. They put a lot of thought into that! 101? Wow! Yeah. I recently posted, well, maybe in February or so, "100 Ways to Bring More Creativity Into Your Life". That post was extremely popular, and I came up with ideas, I linked to other people's stuff on their blogs, I linked to some of my own posts. That was a very, very, very popular post of mine. [Female Moderator] I'm gonna share some more stream of consciousness, if that works for you. Sure. Amanda Sue says, "A peek into my latest crocheted item, "a photographic project, "a list of resources for learning new creative techniques, "why I switched from VA to coaching, "how to find VAs for your creative business." It's gonna just keep going on. Lots of great ideas. On the stream. Lots of them! Yeah. And I want you to keep continuing to add to this list throughout this entire segment. So as I'm giving you more ideas, we're gonna keep going through more ideas, I want you to keep adding to your list. You wanna schedule your content around your art, or around your business, or around your products, or your services. So if you have anything going on right now, that should be on your list. If you are working on any new product line or service, you should have topics on your list from that. Your business comes first. So, most of us are using our blogs to promote our businesses. So that means, the content on our blogs should be scheduled around what we have going on within our businesses. Announce new product lines, sales, exciting updates, and shows you'll be selling at, and what you're currently working on. Those are all ideas, and they can be reused over and over and over again. Give people an inside look. People buy from businesses they know, like and trust. Your readers, your blog should give your readers a way to get to know, like and trust you. Because then they will buy from you. People buy from me, because they've seen the videos, they've read my posts, they've gotten to know me a little bit. That's why they sign up for consulting with me. That's why they shell out 500 dollars to do two individual consulting sessions with me. Because they already know me through my posts, and every single person that purchases my consulting always says that. "I purchased because "I've been reading your blog for six months." "I purchased because I watched these videos." "I purchased because I feel a connection to you." As opposed to other people that they could get business consulting with, because there are plenty of options. The reason why they choose me is because of my blog, and I give them a way to get to know, like and trust me through my blog, and through those posts. It's with every business. Think about, you want to see the people that you like succeed, right? When I'm thinking about Christmas presents, I often think about my favorite makers, the people that sell on Etsy, or sell on their own website, I try to buy from them first, because I wanna see them succeed, I like them, I've gotten to know them, I read their blogs, and so that's who I wanna purchase from. So an inside look might be what you're inspired by, your opinions. The books on your bedside table. I can't tell you how popular it is when I share what I'm reading, or what I've read that month. Those posts are so popular, I don't know why my readers love them so much, but they do. And it's a very easy post to write. The magazines you subscribe to. Your favorite websites and blogs, that shows people something about you, the websites and blogs that you really like. I've shared that before, that's also been incredibly popular. Your inspiration boards, so not just Pinterest, but lots of artists make their own inspiration boards. Take pictures of that, show it. The people in your niche you admire. Who you follow on social media. I know on the blog Creature Comforts, she has these posts that she puts up, I think it's something like "Four People To Follow On Instagram", and it's a regular post that she does now, and I look forward to it every single week. And I follow a lot of the people that she suggests, because I really like her style. Photos of your planner. Lots of artists have really creative planners. Your fashion and style. Document your life and work. Keep a notebook of what you do, likes, dislikes, what you accomplish. I have found this to be incredibly helpful for myself, is every day, I write what I've done. My accomplishments, what I've worked on, just little notes, jot down in a notebook. And not only is it nice for me to flip back through and see the progress that I'm making, especially if I'm working on a big project, but also, it gives me lots of ideas on things I could share on my blog, or share on social media. Scrapbook, sketch, include stories. Take lots of photos of your creative process. So if you make things, you should be taking photos of that along the way, and share that kind of stuff. I actually have some questions about photos. Both CRG Handmade and Denise want to know what to do about how you can prevent people from copying your posts or the photos on your posts. They have a greeting card company, they used to take craft posts about what they found on Pinterest and other blogs, and they'd take photos. How do you deal with that? Often, you can't do much about it. If people are going to take your stuff, they're gonna take your stuff. Of course, you can take action, and you can send them a cease and desist letter, and tell them to take down whatever it is of yours that's up there, and I've had to do that before, plenty of times. I don't think that that should stop you in sharing your work. I know that that's a big one for artists, and that they worry about their stuff getting taken. You can put a watermark on it, to make it a little less likely, but there's not a lot you can do. Well, the good news, though, is that you want people to share it, not take it, but share it, right? Yeah. I mean, that seems like a positive thing, and there's a follow up question here from Denise, who's talking about when people borrow your photos, but don't give credit. So I think ideally, you may want to let people use your photos, but they want to reference back to your blog. Yes, and some blogs will say, you can use one photo from my DIY project, as long as you link back to my blog. Sometimes, they'll tell you. So if you are okay with people having a photo of yours on their site, you might wanna give them instructions on exactly how to do that. A Beautiful Mess does that. And that's great, because sometimes, people don't actually know that they're in violation, or that they're doing the wrong thing, because things are shared so freely. But you set the terms and conditions, and you let people know where you stand, it gives them a roadmap, right? Yeah, exactly, exactly. And don't forget to share this stuff on social media. So if you're taking pictures of your work each day, that's the perfect thing to use, to share on Facebook or Twitter, or Instagram. That's the kind of stuff that people want to see, and will get excited about. So all of these lists of ideas you've had, you can share snippets of them on social media. And we're moving on to your favorite stories, which is on page 25. I want you to make a list of your favorite stories. These are stories about you, they're your go-to stories. The ones that you tell at parties, when you're out to dinner with friends, when you meet someone new, what are the stories that you tell? And which stories seem to captivate the people that you tell? You're at a dinner party, or you're at dinner with a bunch of friends, and you tell them this funny story, and they're all laughing and leaning in, and want more details, what are those stories? And what are the stories you tell people over and over and over about yourself? You should see Jennifer, she's just writing like crazy, I got this story, I got this story! (laughs) I was trying to get it down before it escapes my mind! Stream of consciousness, keep it going! I love it, I love it! And you don't necessarily have to share all of these, these are just getting some ideas, because we're gonna talk about later why stories are so important, and why you should be sharing them on your blog on a regular basis. So these are just some ideas of stories that you might possibly include. And they're your go-tos. They tell you about who you are, in yourself. One of the stories that I told was about that big red balloon, where the day that I decided I wanted it, I told my husband, "I need this big red balloon, "you need to go get it for me, and can you, "because I'm doing my hair, "and I don't want my curls to fall." And he's like, "Oh, okay, fine." So, he goes to the party shop, and they're like, "Yeah, we've got a ginormous red balloon, here you go." Gives it to him, it doesn't fit in our Jetta. So he has to ride home with the balloon hanging out the window, driving home, luckily it was only a few blocks away, but he gives me grief to the day about it. But that's a story that people love, that I share it on my blog that they loved. What are those types of stories that just give you a little insight into who you are, and what you're doing? Your likes, your dislikes. Another thing that I talk about often is "Gilmore Girls", because that's my favorite show of all time, I love "Gilmore Girls"! And I've even used it in sales copy. And I cannot tell you how many emails I've gotten from people saying, "'Gilmore Girls' is my favorite show of all time, too, "oh my gosh!" Connecting that way. Even if they don't like "Gilmore Girls", it's just an insight into who I am. So what are those stories about you? Another way to get topics is to pick their brains, aka their blogs. Look to other bloggers within your niche to find the hot topics to blog about, and add your opinion to the conversation. So if you see a blogger who's in your niche and they're blogging about something, you might have a spin-off or a different take on it, or something new to add to the conversation, or it just might give you an idea of something you could do. Also, look at bloggers outside of your niche for ideas that will be new to your audience. Often, you can get really good ideas from looking at blogs that have nothing to do with what you blog about, and it will be something really new for your audience. And check out those bloggers' comments for even more ideas. So your competitors' blogs, those comments, your comments, and blogs outside of your niche, those comments. The comments are often, they're a goldmine for blog topic ideas. I get so many ideas. If I post something about finding your unique blogging voice, and then I get comments about that, that ask questions that I didn't cover in that post, then I think, oh, that'd be a great idea for another post. And then I could link to this post, and then I've covered even more about this. "If all your favorite makers got together and collaborated, "what would they make with you leading the crew? "Go make that stuff." this is a quote from Austin Kleon, in "Steal Like An Artist", another wonderful book. Think about it this way: If all your favorite bloggers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew? What would that blog post be? And then some goldmines for topics: Emails. The questions potential customers send you, especially if you're getting the same question over and over again, you should definitely turn that into a blog post. The comments that you get on your blog. Social media accounts, so people who ask you questions on Twitter or Facebook. And forums that your ideal reader hangs out in, so if you say to me, "I'm a new blogger, "I don't get emails yet, I don't get blog comments, "nobody's talking to me on social media", go to the forums where your ideal reader hangs out. Look at the questions that they're asking there. This is what I did in the very beginning with Blacksburg Belle. I would go to the Etsy forums, and I would look at what are the makers asking about? What do they want more of? What do they not have any clue about what's going on? How could I help them? Those were the blog posts that I wrote. So in your workbook, what's your ideal reader always asking about? What does she want really bad? What can't she get enough of? What is the stuff that she just can't get enough of, that she's constantly asking about? My ideal reader is constantly asking about their email newsletter, they're constantly asking about prices, how should I price my work, that's a big one. And I was getting this question so often, I'm having trouble pricing my work, I don't feel like I can price it at the price that I need to charge to make a decent profit, so I wrote a blog post just for that, and it was incredibly popular. I got so many emails from that, saying thank you so much for this post, it really helped me in this and this and this way. So what's the stuff that she can't get enough of? Do some of you wanna share about what your ideal reader can't get enough of, what she wants really bad? They always wanna know, how can they get a higher paying job, how can they ask for a raise confidently? Ooh, that's a good one, and have you written posts on both of those? [Female Audience Member] Yes, I have. Alright, gold star! Anybody else, anybody online? [Female Moderator] We're asking right now. Okay. We had something come up when you were talking about personal stories, and this question comes from Eleston Button in the chat room, and they say, "How personal do you get? "How do you draw the line "between connecting personal stories "and keeping a private life? "Is there every anything that, you know, "maybe you should keep privately?" I think you have to make that, you have to draw that line for yourself. No one can tell you how much to share on your blog, or how much to keep private. You have to decide what you're comfortable with. One thing that I will say is that often, if you're in the middle of something rough, often that's not the best time to post about it. It's afterwards. So let's say you're in the middle of a really bad divorce, and you blog about that, you may regret it a few months later. But a few months later, when you've gotten out of it, and you blog about how that's changed you, or what you have learned from it, or how it's inspired your work or something like that, that's often the stuff that works really well. I think you could use your stalking technique too, to look at the blogs that you follow, and look at what they're sharing, and decide for yourself, like, okay, I see, maybe I like knowing these tidbits of information, but would I feel comfortable doing that? And that's how you can help draw your line, too. Mm-hmm, yeah, definitely, definitely. You just have to figure out what's the most comfortable for you, what you feel good about sharing. Fill up your creative tank. So if you wanna constantly produce really great blog posts, you need to be consuming really good stuff. Read books, blogs, magazines, listen to podcasts, watch videos and movies. Go to local museums, travel, hang out with friends and other creatives. You will get tons of ideas, if you are also consuming content doing things, living life, having fun. "Make no mistake: This is not your diary. "You are not letting it all hang out. "You are picking and choosing every single word." That's a quote by Dani Shapiro, and I think that goes really nicely to the question that came in. Is that you do need to pick and choose what you're sharing, and, in your writing, picking and choosing each word carefully. And we're gonna talk about that more in the copywriting segment. So, I want you to review the growing list you've got right now. I want you to first circle the topics you're the most excited about. So which ones are you, like, okay, when I get back to my computer, when this is over, these are the ones I wanna write immediately. Circle those, and then highlight the topics that correlate with your goals and will appeal to your ideal readers. And if you don't have a highlighter, you can star them instead. Naryan is sharing that their best inspirations, which perhaps are their topics as well, shutting down the computer, traveling, being with real people. That sounds like an interesting blog, doesn't it? Yeah, yeah, definitely. You know, earlier, we were talking about people creating Pinterest boards, to come up with blog post ideas. This comes from Not Delilah in the chat room, and they're also saying that there are a lot of good things about Google Plus groups, creating groups around different topics and kinda collaborating with your readers to figure out what you should post about. Yeah. I don't use Google Plus very often, that's not one of my go-tos, but yeah, for sure. Any social media platform where you can get that connection. [Female Moderator] I still haven't figured that platform out. It's a tricky one, for sure. I've actually narrowed down to the fact that Google, because it is the search engine, it's really important that you put your images on your Google Plus profile, because they will come up better in the search results, but other than that, I just have no idea. Yeah, it comes in handy when you're doing some video hangouts, because I know a lot of people here in the chat room have been saying, I have a lot to say, but maybe I'm not comfortable writing. That could be a great outlet for people who wanna share via video. Yeah, like Google Hangouts. Yeah. Somehow, I don't connect that with Google Plus. But it's the same thing, isn't it? It's like part of the... Yeah, it's kind of all put together. Yeah, I've done a bunch of the Google Hangouts. Yeah. Always ask why should your ideal reader care. What makes this interesting, valuable, exciting, appealing? And I'll hear from people, especially artists, like, well, are they really gonna care to see my studio? Yes! Yes, if they love your art, and you're sharing pictures of your studio, they are going to love that. Or, are they really going to care about seeing my sketchbook? Yes, they would probably love to see your sketchbook. So this doesn't have to go so deep, as in I'm providing something so amazing. Just thinking about, will this be interesting to them? Will it be exciting, would it appeal to them? So we're circling the topics we're the most excited about, we're highlighting the topics that correlate with your goals and will appeal to your ideal readers. Alright, time for a hot seat. Okay, I'm gonna bring somebody up, so that you can share with us. I've got the stool. Does anybody wanna volunteer to come up, so that they can share the topics that you're the most excited about, and the ones you think your ideal reader will love? Those are the ones you're gonna share with us. Jennifer, you're looking at me. You're coming up here, come on! I might look away! Come on. Come on, come on. (applause) Yeah! Is this fine? Yeah. You can sit down. Alright, so which ones are you the most excited about? Let's see. I think I'm most, the one that's most exciting for me right now is kind of the compilation post that you talked about, because I have talked a lot about courses and workshops, and I feel like I have a lot of readers who are new to my blog, but may not necessarily know all of the information that I have in previous posts. So I think I really wanna do a compilation of where to start, how to get started, how to organize your ideas, how to put your content out there, and I think that's gonna be helpful as a one-spot resource for everybody to check out, and look at those blog posts. So that's one, and I tend to also write, I know I talk a lot about courses and workshops and training, but I also like to involve personal stories. I took a trip to Argentina recently, so I really wrote about that, and it had nothing to do with courses, but just had to do with fear and facing fear, and just going for it anyways, and I get a lot of feedback and a lot of comments for that. So I would like to, you know, kinda get into really what's, why I'm stuck, am I overwhelmed, the process that I'm going through, and really taking a step back from course creation, and just really what's going through my mind, as I'm trying to create and build a business. Okay, alright, those are all good. And for the compilation posts, like you were saying, a lot of that content, that really good content, it gets buried. And so, putting together one of those compilation posts can put together some of your best content, and can be such a great resource. And to get readers who are new to your blog looking at that past content that they otherwise wouldn't see. And another one that I'm super excited about, I've been thinking about this for a long time, is kinda the debate where people give you advice that you need to hustle. Hustle, hustle, hustle, to kinda get your business growing, and up and moving. And that kinda really irks me, because I'm just like, what's hustle? I don't know. I know what hustle is, like if you tell me how I need to hustle, like, you know, do I need to do A, do I need to do B, so I think I'll really want to write a post about what I've done, and the how-to behind that, versus this is just what you need to do, you need to hustle, you just need to work harder. I'm like, what does that look like? People really want to take action, and they wanna know and see, and be able to see themselves in that, and doing that. So I'm actually pretty excited about that one. I like that, I like it. Whenever you do something that kind of goes against what everybody else is saying, those are incredibly popular. And people will read them, just because they're interested in how you are taking a different viewpoint. I like that one. And the last one would be how to, we talked about video, and I'd like to do a bit more video tutorials, and I get a lot of questions about how I make my worksheets and what that looks like. Myself, I don't feel like I'm very creative, I actually had a couple blogs previously, and I did my own header, and it was just awful, it looked like a first grader did it, so I'm at the process where I'm really trying to develop and get better with my design and my looks and things like that, so I'd really like to create videos on how I create the worksheets, how I go about creating the images, and the fonts that I choose, and things like that. Because I think it's helpful, especially with some people who might not think that they are creative, and just like, this is a process that you can learn, and that you can really work on and develop it for the future. Okay, did you star that one, too, as in your ideal reader would also really like that one? Yes, exactly. Okay, they would, definitely. They would wanna see how to do that, so that they can do that for their own courses. Yeah. And I do appreciate those videos that kinda do go through the thought process of, this is why I'm placing things here, this is why I chose this color or this font, versus another one. So I think that's a really good helpful tutorial, when you really kinda get into the thought process of what people are doing. Absolutely. Alright, so are there any other ones that you starred that you think your ideal customer or your ideal reader would really like? Are those the main ones? Those would probably be the main ones, and again, I do get a lot of questions through email, just about how to organize your content and your courses, and how much information is too much. I feel like when people create courses, they just tend to just throw everything into the course, and every piece of information, and I really wanna get people away from overwhelming people, and really kind of going through, taking things out. You don't need to put everything in your course. And just really narrow in and focus on what's gonna help them move forward, and what's gonna help them really tackle their issues, solve their problems, and get them closer to the goals that they're trying to accomplish when they've taken your course. I love that one, I wanna read that one. Okay, I'll have to send you the link. Alright, alright! Those are all great. I think that that, that shows how you can be excited about it, and also, the stuff that your ideal reader is gonna be really excited about too, and combining those two. And you still have lots of other ideas you can pull from. Right. But these are the ones that you kinda want to start with, because you know that they are going to be ones that you are gonna have fun with, and also, your ideal reader is going to love. Exactly. And I think I've been doing that, I do keep a Google Doc of all of the ideas that I come across, and I think my problem is just translating it into how can I present that material? Because, you know, I can talk about how to organize content and it can be very dry and very boring, but on the other hand, how can I interweave myself into that blog post, and really attach a story to how much content is too much content. So that's kind of where my struggle is, and what I need to focus on. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing with us, and coming up here, and being the first hot seat! Yay! Actually, we have a question that came in for Jennifer from our chat room, so before you get off that hot seat, It's gonna be even hotter. Yeah, it's getting hotter, you've got a question. I'm on fire right now. So this question comes from Globber, in the chat room. She says, you mention that you've been blogging for a year, right? So she wants to know, how has your site traffic grown over the year? What have you done in the beginning to get those regular visitors, and help it grow? In the beginning, and still now, I just spend a lot of time on other people's blogs, and I leave a lot of comments. And I found that when I leave comments, people will click, I guess your name is in the comment, and it's attached to your website, they'll click on your name and then bounce over to your website. So that's how I got started, with just commenting on other people's blogs, and making sure that I'm there. And one of the biggest things that I've learned, because I have been blogging for a year now, is that you really have to put yourself out there, and it took me, I wanna say a good six, seven months to actually put myself out there. And what I mean by that is really connecting with people. So sending emails, and pushing Send, reaching out and connecting that way. Letting them know that hey, I just did your technique, and I used it, and it was helpful, and they get to know you, you send a response back, so I really get to know people via email that way. Social media, reaching out, talking and engaging. So really putting yourself out into that space, that's really helped. And that's something I've done only the last few months, and I've seen a tremendous difference, because they get to know you, and then they wanna share your stuff as well. And here's another little bit of feedback for you, Globber says, "As someone who is putting together "an online course, I would really like to know "about your expertise with online courses." They've reviewed your site, and they didn't see that on your site, so they thought, hey, what a good idea. And then maybe you can answer this while we have Jennifer up here, Pixel Frau wants to know how you can add more personality to tutorial posts. More personality to tutorial posts. Well, we are going to, there's a big section that we're gonna cover on injecting personality into any kind of post. However, with tutorial posts, meaning like, are we talking about DIY posts, or are we talking about... How to, I think, like this is how you do this, I'm teaching you how to do something. Okay, so regardless of whether it's how to make this or how to do this specific technique, the words that you choose and the language that you use is going to make your tutorial different. Your style, your voice, and we're definitely gonna dive really deep into that stuff. That's gonna really help. [Female Moderator] Awesome, awesome, is your seat still warm, Jennifer? It's good, it's cooling off. And before Jennifer gets up, to go along with that question, Jennifer actually sent me an email saying, "I used your post, "and this was 'Developing Your Unique Blogging Voice', "I used the tips in it, and it became my most popular post, "and it was featured on BlogHer, thank you so much." And so, I wrote back, and I said, "Can I use this, "as part of my post, and in my email newsletter? And I'm gonna link to your site." And she said "Yes, of course, that's fine!" So that's another way that she has put herself out there, that's just one example of what she's saying, "I put myself out there", is emailing me, saying "Hey, I used this, and it worked," and hopefully it throws some traffic to her site. Yes, for sure. [Female Moderator] And that's referred to as a back-link, or something like that, right? Yeah. [Female Moderator] Yeah, okay, cool. Not to get too techie, but I was like... That's a very good question. You know, April, I'm just kinda curious to know your take, now. You mentioned, Jennifer, that you were commenting on other blogs. And I know, just in my experience, of seeing comments and commenting on blogs myself, I find that it's kinda difficult, you wanna post something that's relevant, but you want people to know that you have a site that has material like that. How do you sort of bridge that gap, where you don't want to just comment on people's blogs, saying hey, go to my blog, but you also want them to know that you may be an expert in that material, and that's a good resource for them to turn to. So what are some tips to leave positive comments like that? Absolutely. Well, when you're gonna leave a comment on somebody's blog, you don't wanna just say hey, great post, or hey, this is my site, because that's not helpful, and nobody's gonna go to it. If you leave a thoughtful comment that adds to the conversation, people are going to, if they're interested, click on the link and go to your site, and check out what you've got going on. So just leave thoughtful comments, add to the conversation, right? Agree, ditto. Yeah. Jennifer does this all the time on Blacksburg Belle, she adds to the conversation, she leaves really thoughtful comments, she's a great example. Star, gold star! (laughs) Yeah, gold star for sure. Alright, thank you so much! (applause) Alright, great job!

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!