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Build a Successful Creative Blog

Lesson 6 of 26

Developing Your Content Plan (Cont'd)

April Bowles-Olin

Build a Successful Creative Blog

April Bowles-Olin

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Lesson Info

6. Developing Your Content Plan (Cont'd)


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
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
Now Playing
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

Developing Your Content Plan (Cont'd)

Now we're going to move onto an activity, Break Down the Big Ones. So, a mistake that newer bloggers often make is trying to fit too much into one post. They feel like they have to cover every single thing that falls into that one topic into that one post. So, look at your list and pick a topic that can be broken down into subtopics and break it down. So, from that list that you guys were making, pick one of those topics that's a big topic that you can break down into smaller topics. I'm going to give you an example. Okay, let's say your main topic is, "What I'm currently inspired by." Well, that can be broken down into, my favorite books of 2014, the playlist that inspires my art, the artist inspiring my paintings, the Greek vacation that inspired my last five paintings, et cetera. So, you can take that one idea and come in with more detailed, specific ideas. I'm gonna give you another one, another example. How to promote your creative business. So, this is a topic that I would cover ...

on my blog. And I would break that down further into, how to market your business with Facebook, marketing your business with Pinterest, using Instagram to market your business, why you need an e-mail newsletter, how to use your blog to promote your business, the top 10 marketing mistakes you need to stop making, and I could go so much further. I could even break down how to market your business with Facebook into smaller subtopics. So, this gives you a lot more ideas from just one idea that you may have. And this is a way to stretch those topic ideas so that you've got more to put into your calendar. And so that you don't feel like you have to write a 10,000 word blog post. Yes. [Woman] I have a question about Going back to the length of posts, is there something Google does not like if it's like, short posts? Not that I know of. And that Okay, I thought there was something about that. There could be, but I don't know about Like, expanding kind of thing? Okay But not that I know of Okay, thanks. So, can somebody share one of their big topics and how they broke it down into smaller subtopics. Sage, gold star student. A lot of my clients are interviewing for other jobs, or looking to get to that next level, so interviews. That's the big topic. Breaking that down, common interview questions and how to answer them, what to wear when you're interviewing at different kinds of companies, interview mistakes that cost you the job, and making your resume stand out so you get that interview. All right, I like all those topics. That's a great way to break down interviewing into something much more manageable. Not only for you, but for people who are reading to take in the information. What else? After you publish a blog post, ask yourself, "What else?" List all of the other topics related to the one you just wrote. So, an example, developing your blogging voice. Then I could, and this is a topic that I actually wrote, developing your blogging voice, then I could write, using stories in your blog post, injecting personality into your blog post, building your blog around your strengths. You can take that one that you just wrote and then come up with lots of other ideas. Do we have any questions? Yeah, now this is actually relevant to developing your blogging voice. This question comes from Walk Star, and they say, "My clients are mostly professionals who won't join "me on my blog, but they're avid readers of my newsletter. "Now, they don't join the blog, they don't use social media. "How do I convince them to get on blog?" Is that something where, maybe you need to tweak your blogging voice to be more professional? I mean, how do you get people if they're into one of your medium, but they're not following your blog? So, they're into [Man] They love the newsletter. They're into, so they're not sharing the same content on the blog as the newsletter? It seems like it may be is just in a different tone. It says that their professional audience, and so, I think at least of the professionals may look and check their e-mail, but they may not be on Twitter, they may not be checking the blog everyday, so, I think they're just looking for a way to maybe get people to move from one medium to the next. Maybe it is the same content. I gotcha, okay. So, for instance, for me, I have an e-mail newsletter and that is where I get the majority of my traffic. So, when I publish a blog post, I send out that blog post to my e-mail newsletter and then most of my e-mail newsletter will come and read my blog post, or they'll read it via e-mail newsletter. The ones that I don't publish, the ones that I don't send out via e-mail newsletter, they don't get as much traffic, but that's okay. They're the extra blog posts. So, not everything is gonna get the same amount of traffic. I tend to find that when you send it out to your e-mail newsletter, you get more traffic than if it's just a blog post. However, we're gonna talk about promoting blog posts, specifically and increasing traffic and using social media and using connections and relationships that you have and you want your readers to also be sharing your blog posts. You want them to be excited about your blog posts and sharing them. So often, this starts to kind of snowball on itself. I've found that there's a snowball effect. You reach this point where things start coming together. You've been interviewed a couple of times, you've maybe ran a guest post, your traffic is growing, and then all of a sudden, it starts to snowball and your traffic increases dramatically. People are asking you for interviews, you're getting more guest posting opportunities, more people are featuring you on your blog. It tends to just pick up somewhere. And every single person, every creative entrepreneur that I have talked to that's really successful has also said this as well. That there's just this point where it just seems to start as a small tiny snowball and it rolls down the hill, and it's, ends up being gigantic. And so, often it takes awhile to get to that place. But once it does, things just start to grow on themselves, so. That's great, in a good way. Yeah, in a really good way. You become almost too busy sometimes and we're gonna talk about that as well. So, we have a question from Cat Germ who represents a lot of these bloggers who were not a blogger maybe before they showed up today. And Cat Germ wants to know, "How many blog posts should I have ready to share "before I officially start my blog?" Okay, how many should she have written? Yeah. I would just go with one, get it published. Okay Yeah. You don't have to have a specific amount written, ready to go, just write one, publish it and then stick to your schedule. If you're going to post every week, stick to that weekly schedule. Great. Great. Yeah, we have a question here that came from Ballet Uni, and they were asking, "Is it okay to drift outside of your niche?" Now, if you want to share more about yourself, but a lot of your daily life and the things in your personal life, they may not be in line with the content of your blog. I guess they just want to know, when is it okay to post that one off post that's about something completely not related to your other posts. Is that something that's okay, or should people be afraid of that? I think it depends on your brand and business, and the style of business that you have, and the type of business that you have. And the type of blog, so if you are a dentist and you're posting about teeth cleaning and things like that and then you publish a really random post about cuff links, then it might seem odd, but a lot of times, I think that we think too much about it. If it's something that we want to share and we think that our audience would be into it, then I say go for it. Yeah, like if the cuff links were like, little teeth or something like that. Yeah, that would be. That would work. That would be related. That could work, yeah, yeah. Interesting, now, I'm curious, then, from our students here. Have you guys done any blog posts like that? That were kind of out of your wheel house of what you typically wrote about? Has anybody had any experience with that? I mean, I suppose when I, like I went on a vacation in January and I took a lot of pictures and so in a way, like the pictures were a creative outlet, but I don't usually share, just like, travel, you know. So, that was a little bit different. I split it up into two posts, actually and I shared one that was just kind of generally, you know, my trip in pictures, and then, one that, cause I did do some making while I was there. And then I shared the making, what I made in Australia, so. And how did your audience respond to it? I don't know, well I mean, I don't know, cause I think most of my audience is people I know, so. I think they liked it. (laughs) All right, and with that said, I think you should come up to the hot seat. Oh... (claps) Come on up to the hot seat. I kind of warmed it up for you a little bit. And I want to talk about the same thing that we talked about with Jennifer. The post that you think your ideal reader will be really into, and the ones you're excited about. Right Okay So, yeah, so I guess I was excited about posting about Australia, I wanted to share that. Okay, so what did you write down in your, what did you star and highlight in your workbook? Well, I mean, I'm still thinking about this reader, now, ya know, this concept Okay, okay I think it's similar to how I've been posting, you know. I don't think I'm totally switching to become a dentist. But, I, one thing I'd written down, one's something that I've been wanting to just have on my website for a long time is a resource list of like, online and physical places in San Francisco that I shop, for like, the things that I make. Especially when I get into like, a new material, like, where am I getting that. And it's just been on the to-do list, you know, of things to do, so I'd like to create my resource list, but then as you were talking, I was like, "Oh, then I could do blog posts relating to," though, because there'll be sections, right? Like, I have a variety of things I'm interested in, so, it could be, ya know, where, I don't know, calligraphy, like all of my resources for that, so I could do that as a blog post, and just point to, like, "Oh, and don't worry. "They're always, like, here on this list." All right. Okay. That's an idea All right. That's one of the... I want That's was the bigger one, just cause it's been on my to-do list for a long time. I kind of already, like think about, like doing things in small increments and not trying to shove too much in a post, which is why I broke up that one. That's good. That's a good habit to already have. Absolutely. It's also just like, when you have little, limited amount of time, it's easier way to, like, break up, ya know, actually having content for like, the next month if you don't have time to make something. Yeah, yeah. And talk to me about, talk to me about the cat toys and (laughs) The cat toys. Yeah, and what you think your ideal reader, who would be interested in that, what's the kind of content you're thinking? I mean, I'm not sure about. I mean, I think the idea behind, like, what I make for the cat toy, that just happens to be one of the things I make, is that I've ended up making, like, I don't know how many, at least five different varieties. So, that's not the only thing you sell? No, that's not the only thing I sell. Okay, so what else do you sell? Letter press things, but they're always, like kitschy things, so I have this, like, these crafty bachelorette cards that I'm selling. So, that was one thing, is like, I sell, like if you buy a party pack there's like, ideas for what you do for a bachelorette party using those, but I could do a blog post about it. Okay, okay. So, I had written that down as something that should be. Okay And I'm actually creating a new product regarding those, which is the corsage, so that'll be a separate, other product line with that. So. Yeah, but. So, you make a lot of quirky things that Quirky things, yeah. Yeah So, let's say, like, that the way it ties into the blog is that they are handcrafted and I think somebody who wants to read a blog about somebody that makes stuff is probably going to want to buy handmade things, too. So, even if though they're not always, like the same things, that I'm writing about. Yeah. Yeah. So, the only thing that you want to think of that comes to mind with this is that you want to make sure that you are blogging for your target market and your ideal customer as opposed to someone who wouldn't buy from you that is in your niche. The thing is, that for me, I mean, I want to make money selling the things on Etsy, but I am actually more interested in the blogging part and sharing of my You are Yeah. I'm more interested in sharing my creative endeavors because most of them don't turn into something I'm gonna sell. Okay So, that is my main focus Okay for having the blog. Okay, all right, okay. And I think, you know, I mean, if I didn't, you know, I don't really want the things I make on Etsy, I don't want to do that as a full-time job anyway, so that's which is often, like your goal. But that's not my goal. Yeah, yeah. That's totally fine if that's not your goal. All right. So, that's why it's sort of, like, a funny thing, like with the cat toy that's like, well, I think my blog, it's kind of more focused on this, but yeah, it'd be a good way to figure out, how does that link in when I do have something new to share. Okay, so really, you want to attract people who are interested in handmade and making stuff themselves. Yeah. I mean, that's really what you Yeah What you want to do. Yeah Okay, so the resource list would be perfect. Yeah So that would be great. And you're excited about that? Yeah, I mean, it's like, I, yeah, I am excited about it. Okay, all right, and what were some of the other ones that you have? Those were like the bigger ones. I mean, I wrote down some things that have just been on my to-do list. Oh, I guess one thing, I'm actually started doing already, is, you were talking about like, sharing books that inspire you, and since I don't have time to blog more than once a week, I do have time to, like, I am on Instagram and stuff, so I'm doing, sharing a lot of the creative books I have in my own library on Instagram, and then later I'll do some wrap up posts about them, so, it's sort of like a mini-blog on Instagram. All right, and how does your audience react to that? How is it? Well, I just started it like, this week, so, ya know, I think I got likes. All right. I like it, I was excited about it and because it's a good opportunity, just, I'm always like, practicing photography skills and stuff so I can, ya know, practice product photography with the books and ya know, it's a good outlet for that. Okay, awesome, all right, well thanks. Remind everyone of your site. All right. We actually... Shasta Blasta. We posted the link to your site on the chatrooms so people could take a look at it and a lot of positive feedback coming through here. And there was a question here about your photography skills. Like they were saying how the photographs on your site look really great and they were just curious to know and I know that we may be getting into this later, about tips for people taking photos for their blogs. Anything that you've learned from your site? Well, I definitely, like last year, I got a new camera and I had more of a, just a point and shoot before, it was still a high-end point and shoot. But this, I actually got one of the Canon M, which is like a DSLR, but it's mirror-less and that, like, this is like a secret tool for people who don't have any, I have some photography skills, but if you don't have any photography skills, I would get this camera because it just makes light and everything great and if you just take in daylight, if you don't know how to take any pictures, don't take under lights, don't deal with lights, just do it in daylight, not direct sunlight, but daylight. That's great, and April, I know that we're going to be diving all into that in an upcoming segment. Oh yeah. Oh yeah, we have like a whole set up and everything, right? Yes And you get hands-on with it Yeah So, what was the name of that camera again for everybody? It's an EOS M, Canon EOS M. And it's just, I, just as like, cause on its auto mode it has fully manual settings, but on its auto mode it just does really well, too, so like, I kind of do both, but you know, you can cheat it. If you don't have any skills, you might as well start with a tool that can, like Yeah. Yeah, make it whatever you do, right? Yeah, of course. Or just, like, take really bad photos, like intentionally bad, would that work? (class laughs) Then you might end up on, like, remember Regretsy? Yes Yes You don't want to be on there. Maybe you do want to be on there. It's still good publicity. I don't know. That actually might be a fun blog post, like all the bad photos that didn't make the blog. Yeah. Hey, you just thought, the juices are flowing here. I know, and the chatroom is just really enjoying this conversation. They're chiming in with comments about your blog and trying to help you out as well, so, yeah it's a collaborative environment here. And now, we were talking before about doing those tutorial posts and kinda showing what's going on and this comment came from Tina saying, couldn't your blog be about showing people how to make the product and you could just be selling, sort of the instructions, and kind of doing the real hands on? There's one thing that I've, I am gonna do a D-I-Y for because it's one of those things, that like, it was fun to make, but it's so labor intensive that I'd rather just give out the, like, resource of how to do it, so yeah. Elle says that your blog could or should focus on how quirky creatives can share their creativity. That might help you find your perfect reader. Yes, love it when the chatroom jump in and help us when we're doing these live hot seats in person. It becomes a virtual hot seat all around the world for people here. Welcome to the global community here at CreativeLive. Yes, it's excellent. I love how they're loving your blog. Yeah, good power of internet, thanks. Thank you so much All right (class claps) A little sip of water. Okay, so, the purpose of this is, is to get as many ideas as you possibly can so that when you sit down at your computer, you're not thinking to yourself, "What am I going to write about?" or wasting 20 minutes staring at a blank screen. I can't tell you how many times I've done that and it's just a waste of time. Especially if you have a limited amount of time to blog each week. So if you've got an hour each week, you don't want to waste a lot of that time just trying to come up with content ideas. So, keep a running list of this stuff as you come up with ideas, as you come up with more topics. So, what I'm going to have you guys do during the break is to schedule your next two months of blog posts. And why I want you to do this, is because it's there in your calendar. Once you put something in your calendar, it makes it so much more real. That this going to happen. This is the blog post, this is when it's scheduled for, and it gets done. When you don't put stuff in your calendar it often falls by the wayside, and so that's something that I want you to build a habit of doing is putting these blog posts in your calendar so that they're there, set, ready to go. Do we have any questions about developing your content plan? Any questions from you guys Any questions from you guys? now that you've been given the task to write these out? Are you going to be able to do it? Are you going to be able to fill out? I already have mine done. You already have yours in? What? I already do it. And the value of having this workbook, which is a free download with RSVP, is that this is your place that you can do that, right? So, you don't need another second, sort of place for the content plan do you? Well, I put mine, I put my content into my Google calendar just so that it's there, but that gives you a ton of ideas a lot of ideas if you're coming up blank. Because we always come across those times where we're just coming up blank. You said that you add your content to a Google calendar, which I do as well, but I think the problem that I have is, I think I need to schedule in when I do specific things for my post, like, I need to schedule when I write them, when I edit, when I put it on WordPress, when I publish cause I tend to, my blog posts go out on Wednesdays and I tend to write on Mondays and Monday seems like it's far enough in advance for me, but it's not. It's really last minute for myself, so I'm kinda scrambling to get all of that process done before Tuesday night and so, I do have ideas in blog topics in my calendar, but it's a matter of giving myself enough time, I guess, or at least, also calendaring in when I'm going to actually write and edit. That's where I kind of mess up. When, how I can, ensure that I get those blog posts written and published and done. That's an amazing point. That's a really good point, yes. You should definitely have in your calendar when you're going to write the draft, when you're going to actually go through and edit it, and we're going to talk about editing and why you have got to edit these posts and why it's so important and how to do it. We're going to go through all of that. But, yes, absolutely, you definitely want to not just put the topic in your calendar. Thank you so much for bringing that up, Jennifer. That makes so much sense because then you get to that day, it's publish day and now I've gotta do everything for the blog post today. And for some people, that's okay. They can work like that. However, for me, I like to give myself at least a day, so that if I write a post, I have a night to sleep on it. I'm able to look at it with fresh eyes. I like to give myself a little bit more time than a day, but if absolutely, that's all I have, I like to give myself a day so that I can look at it with fresh eyes, and you will see that this makes a difference when you're editing your posts, too. When you're not doing it right there in the moment. It will give you a lot more ideas and you'll read sentences differently. It'll look different to you when you look at it a couple of days later. Yeah. Do you have your image in mind, or does it just kind of depend on the blog post? It does depend on the blog post. I often, I've got a bunch of photos that I already have that I pull from often, however, sometimes I will think I'm gonna need something new for this blog post and I'll set it up. Usually I take the photo the day of, because that's something that I can do. But, tricky situations every once in awhile when it's really rainy and dark, and I can't get to it, then I have to pull from something in my archives. But for me, I have a bunch already kind of stored and categorized. It could be categorized a little bit better, but, so that I can pull from them. And we're going to talk about making a list of pictures that you think you might need for your blog so that you can pull those, too. That's cool. I don't know how many others relate to my style. I give myself more than a day. I actually have my blog posts written and ready to go almost through the out of this year because I found that when I first started blogging I was very inconsistent with it, but I knew the topics. But I couldn't do that, like, one at time, one at a week. So I said, here's my plan. I'm gonna do it, give myself, you know, a certain amount per month with room for more. But, I know that these are gonna go out. These are gonna be my consistent ones. How do you approach that, do you? You're awesome. Yeah, that's impressive. You are awesome. Well because, what I like to do, is have nicely developed art and graphic design as part of it, so that needs to go off to the designer, and I have to wait for it back. And I have these, you know, I want it to have a certain look and feel, and I know it takes more development time, and I always run out of time. Yeah. So, Yeah More time is better, I think. What's your blog? Oh. It's my first name dot com. That's my blog, yeah, yeah. Cause my whole thing was, I just want to be consistent. And if I'm not honoring the consistency of it, then why am I doing it? Ya know? And I was like, I am going to be consistent. And it makes a big difference to your audience, too. It builds trust when you publish every Wednesday, or every Tuesday, it builds trust with your community. And on top of that, it actually has allowed me more time to get in the conversation. Especially if I'm making people aware of the post, then my mind's not all in frantic mode of writing, you know, getting the blog up and all that. I can actually just tune into people. And I've had time to step back from it and now I'm actually building a dialog. Isn't that kind of the point, too of blogging? Yeah, yeah absolutely. Yeah, for a lot of people, they want to build that community. That's something for me that's really important is to build a community on Blacksburg Belle. Cool. 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!