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Build a Successful Creative Blog

Lesson 1 of 26

Your Blog Goals and "The Why?"

April Bowles-Olin

Build a Successful Creative Blog

April Bowles-Olin

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Lesson Info

1. Your Blog Goals and "The Why?"
Learn how developing a goal-based blog can keep you consistently writing and publishing.

Lesson Info

Your Blog Goals and "The Why?"

I have two goals for this workshop because you'll see I'm big on goal setting. My first one is that you walk away feeling completely confident that you can build a successful creative blog. I want you to feel like you've got all the tools, you are ready to put them into action. My second goal for myself is that you are excited when you leave here. That you don't feel like, okay, I can do this for my business and get more sales but that you are really excited about blogging because here's what often happens. You get excited that you might be able to make a little bit more money by blogging for a business and you start out, three months goes away, six months, you're still kinda going at it and then you give up because you haven't built it around your strengths. You haven't build it around something that you're excited about to do on a regular basis. So if everyone's who's watching and if everybody in the studio, if you walk away feeling really confident and really excited, I've done my j...

ob and that's what I'm hoping. So that you know that I know what I'm talking about, I will give you a little bit of a background on my blogging history. I started over seven years ago, closer to eight years ago blogging. And I started it as a personal blog. I was planning my wedding and so I started a wedding planning blog. I wasn't thinking, hey, maybe in ten years I won't wanna be blogging about weddings anymore. I wasn't thinking long term. I was thinking I wanna get my writing out into the world, I want to blog up something that's interesting to me right now so I started this blog and about six months into it, I wrote a post 101 DIY wedding projects. And this was back in the day when there wasn't a ton of competition so this blog post became viral. I got so many readers just from this one post. And my readership went from hundreds to thousands. And then I received an email from somebody who wanted to put an ad on my sidebar, and I thought, I could make money doing this by putting an ad on my sidebar? That's a thing? Because it wasn't normal back then. When you went to blog, there weren't ads on every sidebar that you went to. So I said, okay, I checked out the business. It seemed like a good fit. I had no idea what to charge. No clue. So I said, how about $75 for three months? I said yes and I said okay, the next time somebody asks it's gonna be 100. And then it's gonna go up from there. And so I kept getting requests and I started putting more and more ads on my sidebar and I built my readership into the thousands. And then I got married. And I thought, I don't wanna do this everyday. I don't wanna blog about wedding dresses everyday or bouquets everyday and so that's when I had this moment of pretty much complete devastation because I thought I built this thing that has this readership that's making me money, it wasn't making me a full time income by any means. I was doing other freelance writing on the side but it was something that I had worked on for years. I knew that it wasn't the right thing for me anymore. So I stopped it and that's when Blacksburg Belle came to be. That's when I really got serious about okay, what do I wanna do long term? What is something that's going to excite me? Blacksburg Belle started out as me selling handmade jewelry actually. So it didn't even start with me helping creative entrepreneurs build their businesses. And that's how it came to be. I was able to build that blog from 20 readers to 800 hundred readers in the first month and I'm gonna walk you through how I did that. I'm gonna walk you through how I built my traffic sense and give you all the tools that I possibly know of to help you build your own businesses. And I also want you to know that everything I'm gonna teach you, it's not just some theory that I saw on the internet and thought, that will probably work. No. This is stuff that I have put into practice myself. This is stuff that I have helped hundreds of creative entrepreneurs to do themselves. Help them improve their blogs with this information. So I want you guys to know that. I just didn't pluck this stuff out of thin air. It's stuff that has worked over and over again. So I wanna talk a little bit about what we're gonna cover. In session one, we are gonna go over setting your blogging goals. And this is a big one because if you don't know where you wanna go with your blog, you're never gonna get there. And I can't tell you how many times I've worked with people and I've said, okay, what are your blogging goals? And they've said to me, I don't know. I don't know, I'm just happy with what's going on with my blog. So that's the first step. Then we're gonna get to know your ideal reader. And that's going to make everything else easier. You're gonna see that once you know your ideal reader really well like she's your best friend, that everything else is gonna start to fall in place. And we're gonna talk about making blogging so much more fun because like I said, that's a really important piece of the puzzle. Then I'm gonna go over some blogging best practices. And I want you to keep in mind that there is no one right way to do any of this. This is stuff that I know works, however, you have to decided whether or not it's right for your brand and your business. And it's completely okay if you say, that wouldn't work for me. That's alright. Then I'm gonna help you develop your content plan. And I want you to while thinking, I could fill my content calendar for my blog for an entire year. I feel confident, confident that I could do that. And then we're gonna start talking about distinguishing your blog with style and voice because there is so much noise on the internet. And you have to figure out how to show your reader that your blog is the place that they should be spending time. And then in session two and three, we'll be going over voice and copywriting and beyond. I'm gonna help you write headlines that people actually click on. And how to get them to actually read what you're writing and not just skim over everything. We are gonna delve into photography and visual. And then we're gonna move on to your email newsletter which you will come to see that I find very important and I think is a must have but I'm gonna help you get those people, the right people on your email newsletter. And then something that pretty much everyone asks me about with blogging is monetization. How do I actually make money from this? So we'll delve into that as well. And then building relationships because that's a big part of blogging. It's building relationships with other bloggers. I'm gonna show you how I've done this and why it's made such a big difference to my business. And then last, we'll delve into balancing, blogging, and life because once you have all the tools, if you get home and you say, life is so crazy that I don't have time for this, then it's not gonna make any difference. So we're going to figure out how you can make blogging part of your life. In business, we tend to obsess over the how, as in here's how to do it. Yet we rarely discuss the why, as in here's why we're doing it. But its' often difficult to do something exceptionally well if we don't know the reasons we're doing it in the first place. People at work are thirsting for context, yearning to know that what they do contributes to a larger whole. And a powerful way to provide that context is to spend a little less time telling how and a little more time showing why. And this comes from the book, Drive, by Daniel Pink which is a great book but I tend to agree with him especially in this respect as far as blogging. You have to know why you're blogging. So if you guys will get out your workbooks and turn to page four. You'll start filling them in now. I want you to think about why you blog and I want you to not just consider that you're doing this for your business. Yes, that is probably a very big part of it and we are gonna go through all of that stuff but I want you to think even beyond that. I want you to think about what's the point of this, what you really wanna share with the world, what is your major why. And I'll share mine as you guys are jotting down your notes on why you are blogging. My first big why is to help as many creative entrepreneurs as possible, build successful businesses around the lives they are excited about. So I wanna help creative entrepreneurs build businesses that they love to work on on an everyday basis. And I want them to do it in a way where they don't have this all consuming life that takes over and they have no time for family. No time for themselves. And if I do that, if I succeed with that why, I'm not gonna have to worry about making money. People are gonna give me their money to work with me because I have helped them with my blog. Another one is that I love to write. In fact, I almost feel like I was born to write. It's in my blood. And if I don't do it, then something feels like it's missing and a blog is a great place to share my writing. Another one is that I wanna share my creative passions with others. So I have lots of creative hobbies like knitting and sewing and making jewelry. I do it all. My husband gets a little bit overwhelmed by all of my crafting passions. But I have tons of them and my ideal reader is also creative entrepreneurs. So she likes to see the things that I'm working on. She likes when I post about my knitting or post about my sewing. So these are the main reasons. I have lots of other ones like I like to be able to sit at home in my pajamas and blog behind my computer or in a cute anthropolgie romper that I otherwise might not be able to wear to an office. So I've got lots of other why's but these are my big ones. And I really wanna hear yours so I'd you to go down the line and you guys share with me your why's because that's gonna help me help you over the next three days and allow me to get to know you a little bit better. So when you do so, please say your name and then also say your blog once again so that I can get to know each one of you. So let's start with Sage. My name is Grayson. And my blog is And I blog, first of all, because I get a great feeling by having a creative outlet but the real reason that I blog is because I want to help career women take their success to the next level and find the power and strength that's inside them. Love it. Alright, thank you. Hi, I'm Shasta Garcia and I blog at And I really started my blog as visual record for all of the crafts and things that I make and that's still a very important part to me. I think that when you share what you make, it inspires other people to want to make something and I get a lot of inspirations just going to craft fairs and seeing what the materials people are using and I tend to find a new material and use it a lot and so it's good record of seeing how that stuff progresses and so that's really my big point, is just sharing and then business stuff is bonus. I should be reading your blog. I know I would like it. Okay. Hi, my name is Jennifer. I blog at And I blog about courses and workshops in helping people really design well crafted courses. And my big why is because I used to be an elementary school teacher and so I saw firsthand the power of education and really the impact that learning has on people's lives. And if you can package that up into a well-formed course where it provides really good content that's meaningful, it actually helps people engage and take action, I really think that really helps so I really wanna share that piece of me that I really enjoy doing education and teaching and helping people put that into the world. Awesome. I love how you brought your experience before into this. Yes, yes. Thank you. Hi, I'm Jane. And my blog is at the And I wanna talk about the harder stuff in life. Since I've experienced plenty in my life and I know everybody has. I just wanna open up one of the conversation about the hard stuff so take away some of that angst about it and take away some of the shame. And just have a, we talk about it. No big deal. Alright. Okay. I'm Kimberly Sinkwoods. You can find me at And my blog is somewhat nonexistent at the moment but I'm hoping to grow it and I wanted to be a way for my clients who are mostly new moms, to find resources to help them prepare for portrait sessions and how to help them figure out how to showcase their images as art and show their kids as art in their home. Okay. Alright. You are in the right place as in a blogger. Hi, I'm Rochelle and I blog at And it's a arts and crafts blog and I want to really inspire people to be creative because I know, especially as an adult, a lot of adults don't feel that they're creative or they can't make stuff and I tried to showcase simple things that you can make at home and take a chance on being creative. Just do it. You try to make that a little bit more easy. Yeah. And accessible. Alright. And do we have some? Yeah, we have so many. And they're sharing their stories. Actually we do have men that are joining us, too. I know we have a lot of women here. Just checking in with you, what you're gonna teach is for everyone with any blog, right? Yes. Alright, cool so love in the clouds writes an adoption blog alongside their business selling adoption gifts and cards. And then we have lovelyginger showing up I want women to give themselves permission to be creative especially if they don't think they don't have any talents. Right, so that conversation is going on out there in the internet. You see any others? Yeah, there's one more here from Malinda who says, I wanna share more of my imaginary world with readers in a way that it doesn't shout buy my book. I also wanna share my photography with them. I know a lot of bloggers out there maybe hesitant to do the whole buy my book or to have ads like you mentioned. So I know we're gonna have a touch on a little bit of that soon. Oh yeah. We are gonna dive into lots of creative ways to promote your business without just saying, buy this. Definitely. Okay, we've got another workbook activity which is titled break out of the box. So let's start off by answering what do you wanna share with the world? Now, a lot of these questions are asking the same thing but in different ways to keep you thinking about your why, to keep you thinking about what you really want to do with your blog. What do you wanna be known for? So what do you want people to describe you as? What do you wanna be known for in the world? How do you wanna feel when blogging? This is an important one. I want everybody to know how they wanna feel. And don't just write happy. Do you want to feel inspired? Do you want to feel focused? Do you wanna feel creative? Do you wanna feel motivated? You can write happy, too. I know I wanna write happy but for me when I am blogging, I wanna be in that zone. I wanna be feeling that state of flow. I wanna be focused. How do you want people to describe your blog? What feeling do you want to inspire in them? So when people come to your blog and they're hanging out, how do you want them to feel? What do you want them to feel when they're leaving? What do you really want to get out of blogging? And who do you wanna compete with? And I'm not just talking about the small things. I'm talking about the big guys. Who is the best in your niche? Who would you want to be put in the same sentence with? And these are all helping you determine your why, they're all helping you focus down a little bit more. For instance, if you know how you wanna feel when you're blogging, that's gonna help you determine some of your content because you don't wanna feel bored. Eventually, I figured out how to install a blog, and that changed everything. A blog is the ideal machine for turning flow into stock. One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog post over a decade, and it turns into your life's work. My blog has been my sketchbook, my studio, my gallery, my storefront, and my salon. Absolutely everything good that has happened in my career can be traced back to my blog. My books, my art shows, my speaking gigs, some of my best friendships, they all exist because I have my own little piece of turf on the internet. And this quote comes from Austin Kleon in Show Your Work. And this book, every creative entrepreneur should own and read 200 times. I mean, I have already read it a few times. It's an amazing book. And I agree with everything that he says. I can trace every single business accomplishment that I have back to Blacksburg Belle. Everything. Speaking here, they found me because of my blog. They were able to get to know me a little bit better because of my blog. See if I'm the right set. Being featured in where women create. Speaking at the Etsy success symposium. Selling out my very first group coaching program. All of those things happened because of my blog. What do you want your blog to help you achieve? One of the things that I know I want my blog to help me achieve is speaking in front of live audiences. So I know when I'm creating content, I keep that in mind. That's one of the achievements that I wanna get from this. I also wanna build a community. I want people to feel like they're part of Blacksburg Belle. I want them to feel like when they're leaving a comment, it's being heard and that other people are reading it, not just me. So those are some of the things that I want to get out of blogging. That I want it to help me achieve. What would you love to get out of blogging? What are your ultimate goals? Just getting you thinking in just slightly different directions. So I'd love for you guys to tell me just a little bit about your ultimate goals. What you wanna get out of blogging. Some of those top goals. Sage, will you start? Through my blogging, I would like more ease for my business where I don't feel like I'm racing in a hamster wheel where things are just flowing naturally and I'm attracting the right types of people to me through what I'm writing about. And how do you wanna feel? I wanna feel like I'm providing value. Like people are really getting something from what I have to say. What do you wanna get out of blogging? What are some of the ultimate goals? I know, this is like the stumper. I have all these little goals but I think that this is a thing I'll probably be figuring out in this workshop, right? I was on the other page so I didn't realize we were here. That's completely fine. How do you wanna feel when you're blogging? Well, I mean I feel definitely currently now. I love it. You know, I love having being able to share something I've made. I want when people come to my blog for them to feel like they've walked into a patch of sunshine and they're excited to let it go, make something, learn to do some thing with that material or something that I'm sharing. Okay. So I want you to hang onto that. I want you to be thinking about that patch of sunshine throughout this workshop. Okay? When you're developing your content plan, when we're talking about promotion, all of that stuff, keep that in mind. And just for all of you to know, your goals are going to change. They're not gonna stay the exact same right now as they are three years from now. And that's completely fine, too. Well, my biggest goal is to, for blogging, is to turn it into a business. And with that, I really just want to feel free to be creative in my blog. Write how I wanna write, present the material how I'd like to present it, do videos, just have a lot of fun in creativity in what I'm doing. So I'm picking up freedom. Yes. A lot of that. Put a lot of myself into it. I like what she said. (laughter) I wanna feel connected with people. And I do wanna create a thriving business that people will have so much value out of it that that's just part of it. Okay. Alright. Well, ultimately, I want it to help promote my photography business and helping a stress-free resource for my clients. So some people worry about their portrait session and just trying to make it as easy-going as possible and don't have to prepare too much. This is your life, this is your kids. Kinda take the stress out of it instead of trying to make something perfect. Alright, okay. I like that because I would be one of those people stressing out before. So I like that. My goal is to have a location independent career because with the tiny trailer adventures dot com blog, my husband and I are planning hopefully to travel the United States in our little trailer and it would be nice to have a business that I can blog that made money and we could kinda live our dream. Alright, and I bet there are lots of other people that feel the same way. I know I've heard from people that email me saying, I would like to be able to be anywhere and doing this. So do we have anybody that shared? I have a really cool one for you. Madpanda says, I want to create a blog documenting my film making journey and be as transparent as possible. I'm an African-American woman who wants to direct a kung fu movie. Let's face it, that's weird. But I wanna share my story about how I took this leap of faith. Isn't that cool? That is very cool. That's not weird, that's cool. That is cool. It's not weird at all. We have a lot of people with all different interests in the chatroom which we'll love to see. Everybody has their own thing they wanna blog about. Now, for instance, this is jaylee in the chatroom and they say that I also wanna improve my writing because English is my second language. And I wanna communicate and understand clearly. And then my big apple city says, I wanna travel and style and photograph the world. Combine my passion for photography, fashion, and travel. I'll take a seat there with you. Yeah, these sound like great ideas. Alright. So the important thing is to keep the stuff in mind throughout the rest of these three days, or the rest of these sessions. And the reason why is because when you understand what you're trying to get at, when you understand how you wanna feel and how you want people to feel when they're on your blog, it makes the stuff easier. It's gonna help you brainstorm a lot more ideas and it's gonna help you create the right space online. So we're moving on to your blog in three years which in the workbook is on page seven. And what I want you to do with this is I want you to try to imagine what your blog may look like in three years. And let me tell you, it's not gonna look anything like what you write down on this paper, however, there is a purpose, there is a reason, so start writing down who do you think is reading it? How often are you blogging in three years? Are you blogging once a week? Are you blogging everyday? Who's talking about your blog? Where are you being featured? What magazines are featuring your blog? What other websites are talking about you and linking to your articles? What are you blogging about? Do you make money from your blog? If so, how and how much? Thinking about what you could envision. And this is the dream. This would be the dream if this happens in three years. And I want you to just freestorm, just free brainstorm, just write down anything that comes to mind. You can cross it out later. It's not a big deal. And this is an idea that's kinda modeled after the painted picture, if any of you guys have read the book, Double Double, by Cameron Herold. It's a great book that I recommend. And he talks about imagining your business. The entire business in three years. However, I want you to focus just on your blog for this purpose. Just thinking about who is reading it, all of the details that you can think about if you envision it. What does it look like? What does the design look like? Did you pay $5,000 for a web designer to create the immaculate space for you that looks like nothing else on the internet? What's happening there? And the reason why I have you do this is because you can then take what's on your paper, figure out the stuff that is really the dream, and then reverse engineer it, and make it happen. So there are certain things within my blog and within my business that I can say, okay, in three years, this will be the dream. So what are the steps I need to take to make that happen? One thing for me was being featured on design sponge. I really wanted to be featured on design sponge. It's a blog that a lot of creative entrepreneurs know about. They've got a readership in the hundreds of thousands. So I thought, okay, I wanna be featured on this. How do I go about doing that? So I looked up how I could write a post for design sponge. Looked up who I would need to send it to, who I would need to pitch it to. Made the pitch, they said yes, got that post on there. The first day it was featured, I had over 300 new email newsletter subscribers on day one. So the reason why I'm having you write this down is not because this is what's gonna happen to your blog in three years, but so that you can take some of these individual components and say, what are the steps I need to take to get there? And if you can do that, then you can make some of this stuff a dream. And just to put in perspective, Blacksburg Belle on its own is four years old. And I could've never imagined, in year one, what it was gonna look like now. There is no possible way. However, I took a lot of my ideas and a lot of things that I knew I wanted to happen, and then I broke them down and made them happen because it just doesn't happen out of thin air.

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!