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Build a Successful Creative Blog

Lesson 2 of 26

Know Your Ideal Reader

April Bowles-Olin

Build a Successful Creative Blog

April Bowles-Olin

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Lesson Info

2. Know Your Ideal Reader


  Class Trailer
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2 Know Your Ideal Reader Duration:52:03
3 Put Fun Back into Blogging Duration:35:03
4 Best Practices for Success Duration:26:50
5 Developing Your Content Plan Duration:46:24
7 Your Unique Style and Voice Duration:31:49
8 Design Tips Duration:21:38
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1 Writing in Your Voice Duration:34:10
2 Exploring Different Voices Duration:28:23
3 Copywriting 101 Duration:19:45
6 Visuals For Your Blog Duration:30:04
7 Photos For Your Blog Duration:55:35
9 Promoting with Social Media Duration:39:29

Lesson Info

Know Your Ideal Reader

Now that you have your goals kind of in mind, and again this is something that you can keep thinking about throughout the workshop, and coming back to. And tonight if you don't feel like you've got it down cold, you can relook at these questions, keep answering them. So your ideal reader. This is super important. Numbers are not everything. I do not have the biggest numbers out there. I don't. However, I know my ideal reader like she's my best friend. I know the kind of content to create for her. I know what she's gonna like. And when I know that, I get the right people reading my blog. You are gonna be so much better off if you have a loyal readers who look forward to every post you put up. That sit on the edge of their seats, they check your blog everyday just in case you've put something else up. That are paying attention, that are leaving comments, that are sharing your stuff with other people, then if you 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 people who are eh. Who are like, "yeah, that blog's alr...

ight." That are half-paying attention, that aren't sharing your blog, that aren't talking about it with other people. They're just, eh. They're just, "it's good, I'll read it when I have time." You want the loyal people. You wanna attract the people who are so excited about every single part. And when you know who you're blogging for, it makes it everything else easier. Writing headlines, planning your content, designing your site, promoting your blog, all of it becomes easier, and you will see how, because when you have this person in your mind, you will see how much easier it is to write a headline that she's gonna click on, or you're gonna know that you should be on Twitter because that's where she is, or you gonna know that you should get a guest post on Design Sponge because that's the blog that she's reading. You can also use the one person technique that leads to deeper engagement. And this is something that I use all the time. And it's something that I teach to my consulting clients, and it's something that I teach in group coaching and online courses. When you are writing a blog post, or when you sit down to write an email newsletter, and you have one person in your mind, it makes it so much better. You think you're leaving out all of these other people. You think that by writing to one specific person, like I have Sage in my mind, and I'm writing to Sage, that people who don't do the kind of work that she does, that they're not gonna be into the post that I write. However, you will find the exact opposite happens. When you write to one person, and you have the person in your mind, you will get people who email you and say, "oh my gosh, you wrote this for me. "I feel like you're talking to me. "I feel like you are my best friend, "and we're at a coffee shop, "and you're explaining this to me." And they will love it so much more. If you don't currently do this, just try it out, see what happens. I guarantee your gonna love it. And you attract the right people for your business. And the happy part about this, Is it makes price so much less significant. When you have the right people on your blog, then when you offer your product, and you price it at the price that it's really worth, which lots of creative entrepreneurs don't do, they price their products really low because they think that that's the only way they're gonna sell them, but if you have the right people in your blog, price just kinda falls away. Just kind of not a big deal. I'll give you some examples from my own life. When I moved from New York to Virginia, my face just broke out, and I was getting married in just a few months. And I'd never had this problem. I was that lucky teenager with no zits and so happy about it, and then I am in my 20's with a broken out face, not knowing what to do. That I'm gonna have these pictures forever, and all these people are coming to my wedding, and I was in panic mode. So I wanted some type of skincare line that was gonna clear up my face, and also that didn't have a ton of toxins in it. That's what I was looking for. So if I had that product line in front of me, price wouldn't have really mattered. I mean, I wouldn't have spent a million dollars because I didn't have a million dollars, and because I would have thought that that was a little ridiculous, but if it's within reason, price starts to fall away when you have the right person reading your blog. When you have the right person shopping in your store. Another example of this is I recently bought this really beautiful camera bag, that is a collaboration between A Beautiful Mess, which lots of creative entrepreneurs know about that site. It's a very popular one. And it's a collaboration between A Beautiful Mess and Kelly Moore. And I read A Beautiful Mess every single day. I am their ideal customer. They're ideal reader. I love their style, I love their photos, I love the DIY projects that they share. They are a perfect fit for me. So when they said they have this new bag coming out, and I'm traveling to San Francisco so I gotta look cute, so I think, okay, I gotta have this bag. They put up pictures of it, they put up a video of it, but I didn't see the price anywhere yet. I fell in love with this bag. Moment one I said I had to have it, I click over, and it's $230 dollars or somewhere around there. And I haven't spent that much on a handbag since I was, 21, 10 years ago. I didn't blink, though. I didn't blink at the price. I haven't spent more than $50 bucks on a purse in a very long time. I used to be obsessed with Coach and things like that, but now things have changed and I'm not. But for that bag because I am their ideal customer, I would pay the $200 and whatever dollars without thinking twice about it. And I did, I got that bag. It's back there. With all my stuff in it. (audience laughs) (laughs) So when you get the right people, they're not gonna say, "this bag is $200 and something dollars, are you crazy? "I'm not paying that." And lots of people hear this from people who are reading their blogs or looking at their services. "Are you kidding me, it's $500 dollars to work with you? "I'm not paying that." Those people are not your ideal customers. I have a question for you, Yeah. if you're open to that. Sure. Kristen wants to know, "how do you balance "adding personal information about yourself, "with the business aspect of it? "For example, I have a wedding planning blog, "but I'm a mom and I wanna share tips "with other moms as well, "but I realize that this is two different audiences, "so how do you suggest handling that?" Okay, so one of the things you wanna think about is would your ideal reader be interested in that material? So that's the first thing. So when you get to know your ideal reader, which you will really well, you will understand that. We are also gonna talk about upcoming, personal information and including that in your blog, and what to include because people wanna know who they're buying from. And if you're including stuff about yourself, they're going to wanna work with you because it's you. So yes, personal information is a good thing, and I will definitely cover that, and how to do that in a really great way that works for you and your business. Awesome, thank you. Alright, so ideal readers and customers. They don't complain about price. They don't criticize your style. They don't say, "what is wrong with this post? "Or you use this word, I hate that word." They don't say things like that. They don't make excuses about why they don't have enough time to read your blog. They don't grumble when an email from you pops into their inbox, they click on it. They love your stuff. They sit on the edge of their seats waiting for you to publish another post. They tell their friends about you. They share your posts on social media. They can't wait to share your posts on social media. And they get a little thrill every time you send out an email. I know there are people like that for me, that I get excited every time I see an email from them in my inbox. I'm not thinking, oh my gosh, this person is gonna sell to me again. I thinking, click, open, read, and if they're selling something, I'm probably gonna buy it. So does this make you nervous about kind of targeting who you're blogging for, and who you are selling to? This is a little pushback that I get on a regular basis when I'm working with people, especially one on one, when I tell them they have to get a little bit more concise on who they're blogging for, or who they are selling to. You feel like you might be leaving people out, but I tell ya, that when you focus, you actually gain more readers and customers, not less. You really do. And this sounds, this sounds like it doesn't work like that. Like if you get more targeted, that you're not gonna have as many customers. That you're not gonna have as big of an audience, but in fact, the people who are loyal to you, and who love your stuff so much, they tell all the other people who are just like them, who will also love your stuff, and you grow this readership. You grow this customer base that is so excited about what you have going on. I'll give you a very real example from my business. I launched a course called Road Map. And this course is about productivity. And the first time I launched it, I thought, you know what, I don't have to just sell this to creative entrepreneurs, I can sell this to pretty much anybody who needs help with productivity. And I can grow my customer base a little bit more. And I knew that this was the wrong thing to do when I did it. I knew that this was not what I tell people to do, but I did it anyways because I thought, I'm just gonna try this out and see how it works. I launched Road Map, I write up the copy so that it's pretty much for any women. I then talk about men because my readership is mostly women, so I did stick to that. And it flopped. It did not do well. I did not have the sales that I normally have with a course. I thought, what did I do wrong? I still didn't see that this is exactly what I did wrong at first. I really had to go back through the sales copy, through the blog posts I wrote, and look at what's different than what I've done before. Why did this one not do so well? Because the people in the course loved it. They were raving about it. They were sending me emails on a regular basis. They told me this changed their life. So I thought, (sighs) okay the course is good, so what is going here? And I realized it was because I was trying to market it to too many people. So then, I kept the course the exact same, redid all the copy for the sales page, redid the blog post that I was gonna use to promote it, and the email newsletters that I was gonna send out. Guess What? It did really well. I had a lot of sales. It grew gigantically. And the only reason why is because I was being very clear on who it was for. And so people when they know if something is for them or not, they're more likely to buy. A confused customer never ever buys. They never ever hand over their money. If you think about your own experience. If you are looking at a product or thinking about buying something, and you don't know exactly what you're getting, you don't buy it. If you have questions in your head, you usually don't buy it. This can also give you more variety and ideas for blog posts. And that's a big one. For me, it opened up so many doors on the different topics I could cover for my blog. Because I know that my ideal reader is a creative entrepreneur, I know she's gonna be interested when I post pictures of the knitting project that I'm working on. I know that she's gonna be interested when I do something in my art journal that I think is really cool. And I put pictures of that online because I know she's a creative, and she does creative stuff. That she knits or sews or makes pottery, or wishes that she had the time to do this stuff. So I know that she likes it. So I get so many more ideas when I know exactly who I am trying to target. So, a real quick question about that, what if someone has been a blogger for a while, and they wanna rewrite or repurpose their content? Amanda Creek Creative says, "if we have written "to who we thought we were supposed to write to "for our industry, rather than just "one specific ideal client in the past, "then what do we do with our old content? "Should we keep the content on our blog "or start over fresh?" Okay, so for me personally, I just kept everything that had already been there, and added new stuff. So for Road Map, when I launched it, that was six months previous to when I launched it again. So that stuff was buried in my content. So I didn't go back and delete any of it. And plus a lot of those posts were still helpful. I found helpful. So I think starting to move into the direction that you wanna move into. You don't necessarily have to delete everything you've already done. Yes. That's a good question, are people interested, your ideal customer, is she interested in seeing your progression? From you business? Yes. Yes, absolutely. That way. Yeah, and when I tell stories of this is when I failed, or this is when things weren't so pretty, and this is how I changed it. Those posts are always very popular, yeah. People like to see the human stuff. They like to see that life isn't so pretty. And when they see the stuff that is great all the time, it gives them the wrong idea, and then when you show the other stuff, it's like they become your friend. So, yeah. So who is your ideal reader? This is on page 8. Who do you imagine reading your blog? What makes this person a good fit? Who will your blog help the most? Who would find your blog funny, entertaining, exciting? And just jot down anything that comes to mind. Maybe you have a specific person in mind, or maybe they are just characteristics that are coming up for you. Anything that just pops into your head. Again, this can be narrowed down, you can scratch out, you can get rid of stuff. Yeah. We had a question come up about this from Kat S. in the chatroom. Now is your ideal reader always going to be a single individual or could it be sort of a group? I know some people like to get really specific, and sort of create a fictitious name, and where this person lives and all that, do people need to do that, or is it okay to have a general idea? Okay, that is a great question. You need a specific person. And you can have more than one. Most businesses have more that one ideal reader. I do. Somebody who purchases my book Marketing For Creatives, that's a different type of customer than somebody who pays me $500 dollars for individual consulting. They're two different types of customers. So they're two different types of readers. And I know this when I'm creating content. Especially if I'm promoting something that I think would fit a specific type of person. So when I'm promoting Marketing for Creatives, which is priced at $29 dollars, I know that people who are just frustrated with their marketing, people who are in the beginning stages of marketing their businesses, that this is gonna be the right type of product for them. And those are the type of blog posts that I write, so that I'm attracting those type of people. But most businesses have more than one ideal reader and ideal customer. I've heard this referred to as the avatar, or the avatars. Yes. so that's where you are heading with this right? Yeah. Okay, cool. And when you're thinking about who would find your blog funny, entertaining, exciting, who's really going to love your stuff? And not just love it, who's gonna be obsessed with it? Who is going to want to, who would be so excited to meet you in person if you saw them on the street? Who's that type of person that would say, "oh my gosh, you're so and so from such and such blog. "I read it all the time, I love you so much." Who is that person? If you lined up 10 of your ideal readers, what would they all have in common? Consider interests, consider values, consider goals, characteristics, likes, dislikes. And I'm talking about the majority. So there are gonna be some people who don't have the exact same likes, dislikes, values, but the majority of them. If you lined up 10 of them, what are they gonna value? I know for me and my business that if I lined up 10 of my ideal readers, that they would value handmade products. And that they understand that handmade products cost more than what you get at Target. I know this about my ideal customer and my ideal reader. I know that my ideal reader is trying to improve her business. I know that she loves what she does, and she wants to make money from it. She really, really hopes that she can figure out how to make money from it. And then I have an ideal reader who works from home already, and does this full time. And I also have an ideal reader that wants to leave her day job, and is no longer excited about her day job. So those are two different types of people that I write to. This is interesting because Dee actually is having a little bit of a challenge. "When finding the ideal reader, "I realize I end up mirroring myself. "What do you do when you can't "see past your own personality?" Okay, that is a good question. Your ideal reader can actually be very similar to you. That is okay. And that happens quite often. That happens quite often. However, you also want to think about other people who aren't you, and one of the ways to do that is to talk to real people who would be reading your blog. And I will get to that as well. Yeah. So I guess, I have, like what I sell, like on XES, my craft things, are a little bit different than maybe what I make all the time. Like since my blog is kind of focused on gift wrapping and gift giving, that part is similar that the things I make could be given as a gift, but what I make is cat toys, and I do not have a blog about cats, and like crazy catness, you know? It's more about the craft. So, but to target the people who'd wanna buy cat toys, which are quirky, it's kind of like two different things too, so I don't know, would the people that I'm writing to for the blog, would they be those same people, but, cause I kind think that I would like to have, like grow an audience with my blog so that when I do have something new, then those people will know about. You know I have people to tell, like, hey, I made this new funny thing. Right, right. Okay, so are you saying you have two different businesses? Gift wrapping and cat toys. Gift wrapping is not a business. It's just that I do, everytime, I've wrapped presents for friends they don't wanna open them, and so I just started out, it's a record keeping of that, but then that, yeah, I have a lot of things. (laughs) Okay. But the thing that unites them all is that they're handmade and it's about like time and that you've spent time making something to give to somebody. Okay, so that's what you wanna think about. Especially when you're developing your content plan. Is that, is this person gonna be interested in the type of person that values handmade. That's the type of person that you're trying to attract. And I think just like generally, I'm quirky and so the things that I make are quirky. Not only handmade, (audience member laughs) you're getting even more specific into the quirkiness. That those are the type of people that you're attracting. But not everybody is probably gonna love the things I make, so. (laughs) That's a good thing, that is a very good thing. You want that. You do not want to be, you don't wanna come to a blog, and every single person love it because then it's for no one. Really, because they don't really love it. It's just, eh, it's just vanilla. So you are mint chocolate chip, and that's a good thing. You wanna be mint chocolate chip, that's awesome. Okay, so, you've got, you sell your cat toys, but you post a lot about your gift wrapping. What do you blog post the most of? They're most about like handmade things, but the gift wrapping I'd say maybe there's, I only post once a week, so it's not like I can, in a month you can only share so much, so right now I'm sharing like probably maybe, a gift wrapping post like once every 4 to 6 weeks right now cause it just depends, Christmas there's way more. (laughs) And then I'm trying to share a creative book every month too. Like something I've actually crafted from. And then, yeah, any other craft, I've been learning calligraphy for the last nine months, so I'll sometimes share like progress on that, so it's always about handmade things, but they're, I would say each week can vary as to what exactly it is other than being handmade and taking time with it. Okay, so often do you post about the cat toys? Hardly ever, only when I like make something new. (laughs) Okay, so we wanna get more of that on your blog. Even if that means posting an extra post twice a month. We wanna get more of the stuff that you're selling on to your blog. Okay, and I know that's not all but then the other things I sell aren't cat, yeah. (laughs) Okay, we're gonna get to lots of creative ways to promote stuff, and so I want you to keep this in mind, and keep asking me questions about this, as you get hung up on stuff throughout because lots of people have similar situations, I'm sure, that are watching, that are on the chat, that blog about things that aren't connected exactly to their business. And there are lots of ways that you can do that, and still get the right person to your blog. But one of things is making sure that your posting enough about the stuff that you sell. You're exactly right about that, Kris with a K says, "this is the thing with creatives, right? "We all have these things, "and they all seem so separate and far apart, "but trying to put all of those things together "into one cohesive voice it's tough." "So we are in the trenches Yeah, it is. (laughs) "together with you on that." Absolutely, and I've struggled with this before because thinking for a very long time, I thought my audience isn't going to love my knitting project, or my recipe because not everybody, I'm vegan, and I have an allergy to gluten. So not everybody is gonna love that stuff, right? However, I've found that I've attracted even more of the right people to my blog by including those other things, and including those other interests. Even if it's, the human part that people see. So you can think about this in, what is my ideal customer? Is she going to be interested in these other categories? And you might be surprised that often times they are because every single person sitting here has varied interests, right? So do all of your readers. So I would love for you guys to share a little bit about if you lined up 10 of your ideal readers, what they would have in common? So maybe share, you guys could share, two or three things that your ideal reader might have in common. Let's start on this end this time. Well the ideal reader of Red Scorpio would probably be a little bit funky, earthy, appreciate unique handmade goods, and they probably wear a lot of black. Okay, (audience laughs) that's good, that's good stuff to know. Alright, so, some of the values is family's a big value, art, relationship to the community, decorating their house and their personal space, liking Lucks handmade personal items. Okay, that's all good stuff to know. So my person is, they're either old or young, and they know that time is of the essence, and they're probably successful in their life, but they felt something is missing, so that's where the time is of essence. They love literature and words, colors, beauty, freedom, those are some of the qualities that are important. Awesome, so you are pretty clear on who your person is. Well, I'm getting that way. Yeah, yeah, that's pretty clear. If you were imagining that person, you're gonna be able to come up with stuff that they're really gonna like. I think the biggest thing that my ideal readers are, are change makers. They're really trying to make a difference. Whether that be in their community or just a broader difference. When we were doing this activity, I really did picture two people who I've been in contact with through email on my blog, and they really are, they're nature lovers, they have this pull towards nature and being outdoors, and really into sustainable living, and protecting the environment. So they really have this passion to share, and they value learning and education. They're lifelong learners, they appreciate both ends, the teaching as well as the learning. So you're probably not gonna have somebody who says, "I haven't read a book in 10 years. (laughs) That's true, that's a good point. Reading your blog. Okay. I like what she just said about the lifelong learning because I think that's why I make the things and learn new things, so I think a person reading my blog would also be wanting to have that life long endeavor of making stuff. And probably have similar humor to me and urban, cause I live in an urban place. Okay, alright, good, My ideal reader is type A personality, all the way. She definitely values order, organization, college grad, lives in the suburbs, and she always, always reads Real Simple Magazine. Alright, so you've got a pretty clear vision of who your ideal reader is, that's great. Alright, so why should she care? Why should your ideal reader care about your blog? What problem does it solve for her? What does it give to her? So if you're thinking to yourself, okay, I'm an artist so I don't really solve a problem for my ideal reader, you do. You do, you give, a lot of times artists will post behind the scenes type of things on their blog, and only you could give that to your reader because you're her favorite artist. So you're the only person that could give that to her. So a lot of people in the handmade community ask me about this. So people who are watching online, if you make things like jewelry, you're the only person who can give that person that creative inspiration. So other examples are a way to escape life for a little bit. I know there are some blogs that I read just because it gets me out of my world and into a new world for a little while. Tips and advice on XY and Z. That's something that I give to my ideal reader. I give them tips and advice on improving their creative businesses. I give them tips and advice on improving their blog. I give them tips and advice on marketing. I also try to give my readers creative inspiration by posting the other stuff that I post, like recipes and DIY projects, and even sometimes what I'm wearing that day, fashion and style tips. And how does she talk about your blog? What specific words does she use when recommending it to a friend? You want to start to understand how your ideal reader talks, her language, the words that she would say specifically. This helps immensely because if you use her language to her, she's gonna feel like you get her. You understand her. This is my person because you know exactly what I need. You're using my language. And really why should she care about your blog as opposed to the other blog like yours? Competitor's blogs. Why should she pick you over the others? Alright, we're gonna move on to the imaginary interview. Now the imaginary interview is an exercise that I do to help people kind of get away from just writing out an avatar description. Like, here name is Suzie Smith, and she has this type of hair, this is a way to make this a lot more fun, and I think it's a lot more helpful. So what you're gonna do is you are going to pretend like you are your ideal reader. And you're being asked these questions. And you're gonna answer them as her. You're are going to do your best guess, okay? So just whatever comes to mind, don't think about his too hard. If you're thinking about it too hard, you are doing it the wrong way. A lot of times we intuitively know the right people to work with. We know the right people for our product. Until we get that little analytical part of our brain going, saying, nah, she would never work there. Saying, you know, just second guessing what you're doing. So intuitively we're gonna answer the first five questions in the workbook and there's 50 of them, but do the first five questions now, or as many questions as you can get to now. The first one is where do you work? How long have you worked there? How do you spend the majority of your work day? What do you like most about your job? What do you like least? What do you like least about yourself? What do you like most about yourself? And again, you can have more than one idea reader. That's okay. One of the ways that I would answer, what do you like least about yourself for my ideal reader is that she feels scrambled, and she feels like she should be getting a lot more done than she actually does. However, I have another type of ideal reader, Sage is one of my ideal readers, right? Organize, productive, on it, so it's okay to have more than one. So just answer these questions, the first thing that comes into your mind. And once you have all 50 questions answered, you are going to have a very specific person to write to. You're gonna have a very specific person to think about when you're writing headlines. When you're writing, when you're developing your content plan. When you're writing email newsletters. When you're updating your Twitter account or Facebook page. You can picture her in your mind, and write something that you know she's gonna like. Now you also want to talk to real people. So it's very easy for us to try to just do the imaginary interview, and try to think about what this person might be like, but you can get so much out of talking to real people. I know that that's a scary step, that a lot of people don't like to take that step, but if you do, you're gonna be going beyond most of your competitors. You're gonna be more successful than most of your competitors. I'll tell you how I did this as an example. When I was first starting Blacksburg Belle, I put up that I was going to offer free 20 minute consulting sessions with a catch, and the catch was I get to ask you questions for the first 10 minutes, and then the second 10 minutes you get to ask me anything about your business, and I will do my very absolute best to help you. So I did this a couple of different days, booked 10 sessions each day, talked to real people, and what I did was specifically write down their language, when I was asking them questions. Now let me tell you how this might work for somebody for a little bit different of a business. So let's say your a photographer, and you wanna get to know your ideal reader a little bit better. Let's say you are a wedding photographer. The best person to talk to would be a bride. Some one who is a newlywed who just went through the process. So maybe you have friends who are brides, or you ask friends if they know anyone who recently got married that you could chat with on Skype for ten minutes, you promise you won't bite. Or take them out for a free coffee, you'll buy them coffee if you can talk to them for a little while, and you just ask them questions about their experience. So if I was a wedding photographer, I would ask, what did you like most about your wedding photography? Was there anything you didn't like? Was there anything, thinking back on it, you wish would have been different? Did your photographer do anything that was extra special? How did you find out about your photographer? Did you read her blog? If so, were there any posts that really caught your eye, that you were like, yes, I have to hire this person. Those are the types of questions I would ask if I was a wedding photographer. And in fact, I worked with somebody who has done this, and she figured out a lot of things that she could do a little bit differently to make things even better. One the things that she did was she brought the bride coffee the morning of the wedding. Just to say, hey, here's some coffee, I know things are hectic right now, and that bride told all of her friends about how her wedding photographer bought her coffee. And there was another one where a wedding photographer that I worked with, she went to the homes of the newlyweds afterwards and looked through the pictures with them, and then walked through their house and said, "this picture would look really great here. "And this picture would look really awesome here." And so she helped them style those photos, which a lot of people don't know, which pictures do we get, which pictures do we get framed? And then she used that testimonial on her blog. And then she talked about that on her blog. This is what I do for people, and then shared their stories of how that actually happened, and then she got booked up because everybody wanted to hire her because that was a service that they wanted. Or the right people knew that, that was the kind of service that they wanted. Another thing you can do is you can stalk some of your ideal readers online to get to know them even better. And I know this sounds a little creepy, but it's not the creepy kind of stalking, it's you Google their name, and then you see what you come up with. So somebody leaves a comment on your blog, you Google that person's name, and they have a blog, or they have a Facebook page, or they have a Twitter account, or they have a Pinterest account, and they have all of these stylized pictures. You can see exactly what their style is just by looking at their Pinterest board. You can come up with so much information just by googling people who leave comments on your blog. And lots of times they will leave the link to their blog so you can go and read their blog. This is a step that a lot of people don't take. They just, you got a question? Yeah. Yeah. I've done that before, and I felt weird about it, but I have (laughs) gone to someone's Google Plus page and looked at all the people that they're following, and I just got a totally different perspective about them because they're again, they're environmentalists or outdoorsy, and then I saw this whole section of crafts and DIY, and they just really enjoyed that kind of handmade like products, and doing yourself, whether that be gardening or even just craft things as well. So it was really brought me into a different perspective about that person. So it was really helpful. (laughs) Yeah, it can be really helpful. So even though it feels a little bit weird to do, to Google people, they've put this information online. It's public information, you're not doing anything wrong by looking at what they've got going on. And you can find out so much. I suggest this is what I do, I have a little notepad by my computer, and every time I find something new about my ideal reader, I just jot it down. And now I have tons of information on people who read my blog and their interests, and I can see what the majority of it is. I can see that the majority of people also post recipes on their blog. Or they also share what they're doing craft-wise on Instagram. Whatever it is, I've got this notepad filled with goodness, that if I'm also kind of stumped for blog posts, or I'm kind of stumped in a sales page, I'm writing a sales page, and I don't feel so great about the language that I'm using, or it just doesn't feel right, I can look over all of this stuff that I've jotted down, and it starts to flow a little bit easier. I love that, notepads filled with goodness. That is what this is to you, your notepad filled with goodness. (audience laughs) Yeah, it's gonna be filled with a lot by the time we're done with this course. Everybody here is already filling it out so far. (laughs) Now April, we had a couple of questions come up, and I wanna share two of these that are sort of related. Now the first one comes from Summer Berkelee, and she says, "I have two separate blogs, "one is E-commerce selling a product for profit "with a message, and the other is for food. "How do I focus on both of them?" And this ties into another question from Geneveve, that says, "how do I create a blog "that will cater to my many business ideas. "My roadblock is creating a business name or blog "for my many ventures." So people are kind of having trouble narrowing it down to one or focusing on multiple. Okay, alright, so this is a big one. This is huge, and so many people struggle with this. Nobody is alone in that problem area. Okay, so first I would say, if you're trying to come up with a blog name, and you've got a lot of interests, do not name it something specific. Like, I Knit, I Knit Socks, when you want to be posting about jewelry and knitting and writing and recipes and all kinds of things. Make it something that's general that you could change up when you feel like it. And we will talk about being able to change directions, and allowing yourself to move in directions. The name of my site is Blacksburg Belle. What does that really mean? Whatever I make it mean. So it's something very general that is just my style, something that I feel connected to in the language, and then I can make that whatever I want. So if you're trying to come up with a blog name, try to make it as general as possible. So that you can include as many interests or take it in whatever direction because when I started my wedding blog, that was called Stylish Events. So really I couldn't take that into what I'm doing now. I had to completely let go of that, and drop it off the internet and start over. So if you can start general, that's one tip for that, and then deciding on a business idea, the one thing I would say about this is you don't have to sell everything that you love. Lots of people are like, I love this, this, this and this. Decide what you wanna sell, and the other stuff can be hobbies. You can still share it, but it doesn't mean you have to sell it all. For instance, for me, I also love photography, but I don't sell my photography. I don't do portraits, I don't do things like that. I incorporate it into my business. I think I have a very distinctive photography style, and that's what I've been told by a lot of people who read my blog. And I use that and stuff like this. You'll see photos throughout it. These are my photos on the cover. I use it in my courses, I use it on keynote slides. I use it whenever I can, but I don't sell it. But it's still a part of my business. My business would not be the same without the photography piece. It's still a part of it. And that's really important and it's actually pretty cool. We had some people in the chatroom that actually, what they were trying to do is figure out what domain name, and what to call their blog, so it's good that you showed up here, before you started buying a bunch of domain names. I have domain hording syndrome. Yeah, it's happened I don't know if to all of us. Anyone else has that? They've made it so easy to buy domains, that you just have these ideas, like I'm gonna go do it, but yeah, we did have people in the chatroom who are wondering, is this something where I should just be going, and creating a WordPress page before buying a whole domain. I think it's important to do that research, and to come up with that general name before you start putting in all the work to build out a WordPress page, to set up your domain hosting, I think it's important to give it a little bit of thought first. Yeah, so thanks for clarifying and extra tips on that. Yeah, of course, and I completely understand that that can be a major issue and that can hold you up. I say pick the thing that you are the most excited about, the most passionate about, start there. There's time for the other stuff. And you can figure out really creative ways to incorporate it, like I used to sell jewelry but I don't anymore, but when I create jewelry, I post those projects on my blog, so I'm still sharing them with my readers. So it doesn't mean you have to take away pieces of yourself, and in fact, I'm gonna tell you not to do that shortly. I'm going to tell you to include all of those pieces because it makes you unique. It makes your blog unique. It makes you different from other stuff out there. So in line with stalking people online. (audience laughs) (laughs) Stalking Sage Grayson. So Sage is somebody who reads my blog on a regular basis. I know her because she leaves lots of really thoughtful comments. I've gotten to know who she is. I feel like when I meet her in person, which is, the first time we're meeting is today, is that I already know about her. However, I wanted to see what I could find out about her in less than a minute by looking at her blog, by looking at her social media accounts. What could I find out in just a minute. These are the things that I found out. That she calls herself a life editor. That she's usually on Twitter and Facebook every day. When I checked, she was updating on a regular basis. That means those are places that I could reach her daily. If I'm tweeting, if I'm posting on Facebook, I can get myself in front of her on a regular basis. Her birthday is in February. She's vegan, I can't connect with that because so am I. So if I wanted to write her an email, that's something I could bring up. If I wanted to start a conversation on social media, that's something I could bring up. She subscribes to 32 magazines. This is another way that I could reach her. By getting featured in magazines. I know this because I just spent one minute. Imagine what I could figure out if I was spending five minutes? Now I know that some people are gonna say to me, but my blog is new, and I don't get a lot of comments. So then what do I do if I don't have people to look up on Google? Or my business is new and I only have a couple customers. I really don't have people to look up. This is what you do. You go to your competitors blogs, the ones that have the same target market as you, and you look at those people who are leaving comments. So you check those comments, you see what they're saying, and then you Google those people, you see where they're hanging out, you see, oh this person is on Pinterest ever day, I should be on Pinterest. Oh, this person is on Instagram, all of these people are on Instagram, I should be on Instagram. You figure out so much, so this is kind of like a cheat way to get to know your ideal reader, and you can do it pretty well. Especially if you spend a good enough amount of time. This was in less than two minutes, I spent getting this information. So you can do this very easily with a lot of people, and just use that notebook, jot down lots of notes, and make sure that you keep that somewhere. And also, I like to highlight the things that are coming up a lot. So that I can easily see what are the things that are happening for 80% of people. What am I finding about 80% that's happening for my customers. And then I can use that stuff in my blog, but I can also use it on my sales page. And that's really great, Flint was really concerned about being a total creep, so because they're actually starting up a senior photography business in a place where it doesn't really exist. They're reader are high school girls, and they're out of touch with high school girls. They don't have any in their life, so here's a non-creepy way for you to stalk your ideal customer, and get to know them better. Exactly, especially if you don't want to ask a high school girl if you can take her to coffee (audience laughs) so that you can ask her questions, then this is the way that you can do that, and that makes it much easier. This is just such a simple, easy way to get to know your ideal reader, yeah. This is counter to everything about blogging, but what if you decided not to have comments? Cause I know the idea, you wanna build community, but what about the fact that there's just so much going on, people, connected, and all sorts of other social media. What do you think about that? So I think it depends on your particular brand. If you're trying to create a community on your blog, then comments is probably something you want. If that's not an important piece to your brand or business, then you don't necessarily need comments. I know that there are some sites that have shut off comments for whatever reason it is. For instance, A Beautiful Mess, they don't have comments just on the weekends. And the reason why is because they don't have somebody checking those comments. They don't have somebody working on the weekend doing it, and they made an announcement, we're gonna shut off comments for the weekends, we love hearing from you guys, but this just doesn't work for us. Then there are other sites that become so large that having comments is overwhelming. And you just can't get to everything. And you just can't read every single one. Or you think it's a better thing to have people talking about it on social media. The problem with that, the biggest problem with saying I'm not gonna have comments, I'm gonna have this discussion on Facebook, or I'm gonna have this discussion on Twitter, is that you don't own that site. And your account gets shutdown for any reason at anytime, and you have no control over that. So that's one of the reasons why it's not a great idea to say I'm gonna have this conversation on a different platform. However, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to have comments on your blog. If you don't feel like the community piece is a big part, it's not necessary. We had a question come in about your competitors. Now Kathleen wants to know, "how do you find "your competitor's blogs, where do you find them?" and Chorter's Snail says "is there a good way "to research who your competition is?" Okay, so depending on whatever your niche is, I would just start googling your keywords, and see what blogs you come up with. And those are gonna be your top competitors, probably. You click on those, and oftentimes, they will be talking about other people in the niche. So you can find other blogs, and they link to other blogs within the niche. So assume you will come up with way more than you could possibly even find. (laughs) Great. Exciting That you could even deal with. (Assistants laugh) Well that's not a bad problem to have. Yeah, yeah. Great. Yeah, so I would just Google those keywords and start there. And look for the people that kind of have a similar style to you because you are gonna have competitors that really aren't competitors because there are two different types of people that would be reading your blog and reading the other blog. So look for people that also have very similar style.

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!