Anthony Shivakumar
03 Dec 2016

Case Study 'Blacksburgbelle' - I am struggling to start a creative online business? Where should I start?

In this case study, we are going to study .  I came to know of her blog through Creativelive has some amazing video tutorials on various subjects. The teachers are very knowledgeable. So after scanning through the site and seeing what tutorials might interest me, "building a successful creative blog with April bowles-olin" caught my attention. Immediately I went to see her blog site and the content in there was genuine, honest and had a lot of value. Till today, I still swagger-jack many ideas from her blog. Why? It makes sales, it has made her well know, there is enough proof and credibility, that if a formula works, there is no harm in copying it. But what makes her blog work? Why is it successful? Let us break down her blog into the 5 fundamental elements. 


One thing about the blog that caught my attention is the ability to navigate through her blog post. This was a sure attention grabber. Most blogs have archives yearly and monthly, but who cares to go back and read it. I  don't even  know what to look for. Archives to me are just space fillers. Does not really help the readers navigate through the blog. April has done just the opposite. If you are new to her blog, she has a tab "New? Start Here" !! Wow!!! This will help anybody navigate through her site with ease. Antninja just swaggered-jacked this from here. 

Who is her target audience? I would think her focus group is mostly females wanting to quit their day job of doom and work on their creative passion by blogging. That is my guess though anyone wanting to start a blog could follow her. As soon as you click the "Start Here" page, she has organised her blogs according to certain heading that will help any reader navigate through her site with ease. She has organised it in a way that is all "Attention grabbing" . As I mentioned in one of my case studies, the best way to grab your reader's attention is to write headlines that define their particular pain point.  "Looking to build a business around the life you want to live?" C'mon, this will make me want to click or read more just by the nature of the headline. Her start here page has 10 attention grabbing headlines either in a click-bait headline or in the form of navigation. "Getting started" do not know where to start, click here, I will hold your hand and make it easy for you to navigate through the plethora of information on my site. This to me is gold. Use this when you setup your blog if you want your users to navigate with ease without making them getting frustrated. 

Lessons learnt:

  1. Navigation: Help your users navigate through your blog with ease. It is a single most important attention grabbing thing you could do. Give them a map of how you would like them to navigate through your blog.
  2. Click- baits: You still need to have click-bait headlines. The best way to do so is to define the pain points of your reader's in the headline. 
Problem Definition:

In the problem definition of our analysis, let us dive into one of her blogs. "10 reasons your marketing efforts aren't working"  . She has a heading image with the same heading text. Is it attention grabbing? To me, it is quite not, but I am still inclined to read her blog post. Maybe because the picture is a bit too big. But what follows is what I am interested in.

Her problem definitions are just way too perfect. She is targeting acute pain points of her readers. Every successful blogger does one thing very well, "DEFINE THE PAIN POINT OF YOUR READERS IN SUCH A WAY THAT THEY FEEL THEY FOUND THE RIGHT SOLUTION". April's blog success basks in this human weakness. We somehow show a form of attraction and trust to whoever understands our pain points. Look at the way her blog starts. Just by her questions, you can literally paint a picture of her audience. She knows her reader's and she is addressing their pain points with ruthless efficiency. 

Female in their 20's 30's or 40's who are very social, want to gain traction with their blog using social media, struggling to do so, wasting ample amount of time fixing their social media issues, as a result, they are screwing up their dates with their man or brunch with friends or any social gatherings. I don't even know April but by the way, she has written her blog, you can literally paint the picture of her reader's. 

Lessons learnt:

  1. Paint the picture of your ideal reader: The best way to describe your reader's pain points is to put yourself in their shoes. What do they feel, what do they talk about, what are they eating, what kind of job they have, what kind of social gathering would they go to, what food they eat, what would they do when they are frustrated, what would the do when someone helps them. This way you can paint their pain points better than they would have thought of themselves.  

Attainable Solution:

She addresses the above problem by giving her reader's a solution using numbers to make them follow her easily. She has 10 solutions. That is an amazing attainable solution. 

Your blog should have a pain point and address those paint points. Most successful blogs will follow a similar template, April's blog is no different. Just tapping into how we human work. We have a pain, you have a great solution, Wow!! you are awesome. This is what you want your readers to think of you.

Lessons learnt:

  1. Use Number: Human created math to make our understanding of the physical world easier. Use math/ numbers to make your readers understand the solutions better. It guides them sequentially. The more general and random your solution is, your readers won't feel satisfied. Make the feel satisfied. 
Proof and Credibility:

April has her own online courses on She is clearly recognised in the industry. On her site, she has a list of companies where she has been featured. That is a lot of proof and credibility. But,how did she get there? If you are someone who is just starting out and do not have much of proof or credibility to show, one way of building your trust is to write your blogs consistently. Share other blogs on your blog, built your connections, build your network. I am not sure how she got invited to teach at, but that is something to ask. How can I teach my expertise.   

Lessons learnt:

  1. Consistency: Write blog posts consistently. This will help you to build your content. As a result, it will build trust and credibility in the long run
  2. Where are you featured: If you are featured anywhere, put those logos on your website. Subconsciously we respond when we see familiar logos. 
  3. Teach on others platform if you are an expert in your field: If you can teach and you are an expert on a particular subject, find a platform where you can publish your content. 
Call to Action:

At the end of it, your blog needs to make conversions. You want to take your readers on an epic journey and eventually meet them at the climax which is when they buy your product. On the heading of her blog she has "Get My Book" tab and on her right side-bar a sign-up button. Perhaps she could have something at the end of her blog post. May be this particular blog may not have a difinite call to action, but I beleive i have seen some of her post where she does give her readers some call to action at the end of the blog post.



Every successful blog has a great attention-grabbing element to their blog, a problem definition, a solution, credibility and call to action. April's blog has all the elements that every successful blog has. If there is one point of improvement, it would be in the call to action at the end of her blog. Overall, there are a lot of gold nuggets you can get from her blog which you can incorporate into yours. 



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