April Bowles-Olin‘s best advice: get started.
April is an author, teacher, marketer and life coach who’s helping thousands of people become more productive and make money doing what they love. Marketing and happiness are two of the subjects of April’s classes on CreativeLive, a network of free classes online taught by some of the world’s most talented teachers.
April invites you to sign up for her classes or other classes on CreativeLive using the code: ABOUTCL. This offer gives you 25% off any class through the end of January.
Read our interview with April to learn the importance of forming habits to increase productivity, why she works in creative bursts and her tips for sending awesome newsletters.
What’s the #1 hurdle you see to people doing what they truly love?
Taking that first step and getting started. Seth Godin says it better than I ever could in his book, Poke the Box, “The challenge, it turns out, isn’t in perfecting your ability to know when to start and when to stand by. The challenge is getting into the habit of starting.”
Think about that time you tried to start exercising regularly. The hardest part was motivating yourself to put on your workout clothes and leave your house, right? Once you get to the gym, you hop on the treadmill or start lifting weights. It’s getting to the gym that’s the struggle. It’s the same thing in turning your passion into a profitable business. It’s opening your Etsy shop or actually writing your first blog post that’s the hardest part.
You have a great series of classes on Creative Live. What do you love about teaching courses online?
Thank you! CreativeLive makes teaching easy and I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to work with them multiple times. Teaching online allows me to help people all over the world instead in one limited location. I love interacting with people face-to-face, but there’s nothing like knowing that you’re impacting the lives of thousands of people with one online course.
Describe how you coach creative entrepreneurs. What are some challenges and how do you overcome them?
I’ve worked with creative entrepreneurs through individual consulting calls, usually via Skype, or through group consulting sessions in which I’m working with a group of 10 to 75 women, or through online courses. I’ve also worked with women in a retreat environment. The women who are attracted to my teaching and consulting style usually struggle with one or more these issues: productivity, marketing their businesses and making their businesses profitable.
I try to start where they are and help them build habits into their daily routines that will help them with whatever they’re struggling with. For example, if I’m working with someone who’s struggling with social media, I’d try to help her make that part of her business easier by forming habits. First, I’d teach her any of the basic skills she’d need to be successful with social media, and then we’d set up her daily social media schedule so she’d know exactly what she needs to do each day. This makes things much easier for her, because she’s no longer guessing what she should do, and it becomes a part of her day just like eating breakfast or taking a shower.
You’re a talented writer and author on subjects like marketing, productivity, happiness and blogging. What’s your creative process like when writing?
Thanks again! Because I’ve studied the power of habits, I have a ritual where I light a candle, get a cup of tea and sit at my keyboard with all other windows shut on my computer. That tells my body, “It’s time to write.” Those simple steps help me to transition from answering emails, checking social media or whatever I was doing into writing.
My actual writing process usually goes like this: write a bad rough draft, step away, edit the bad rough draft into something semi-good, step away, edit the semi-good piece of writing into something better, step away, and if I’m lucky, edit it into something great that connects with my audience.
How do you stay motivated?
I’m one of the lucky ones who loves my work. It’s not hard to stay motivated when you enjoy what you do each day. However, I definitely have bad days and on those days, I tend to work on stuff that doesn’t matter as much like answering emails or updating social media. I’ve found that I tend to work in creative bursts. I’ll spend 12 to 14 hours a day writing or painting for three weeks and then I’ll stop for two weeks. Or, I’ll work every waking hour on my next CreativeLive course for two months straight and then need to take a month off before I can do anything else creative.
I used to fight this, wanting to have a more balanced life, but I’ve realized that this is how I work best. We all have to figure out how we do our best creative work and then go with it.
What are 3 tips for marketing professionals looking to start their own newsletters?
1. Give people a reason to sign up. Unless you’re a well-known name or brand, you’ve got to give something away to subscribers to get them on your list. Make sure the thing you’re giving away is something that will attract the type of person who will buy from you in the future. It’s not about building the biggest list. It’s about building the right list.
2. Email regularly. I recommend emailing once a week. You want to build a habit among your subscribers of opening your emails, and you can’t do that if you’re only emailing three times a year. This will also help you to commit to emailing your list. If you tell yourself that you’ll do it when you feel like it or every once in a while, you probably won’t do it.
3. Include one call-to-action in each email. The call-to-action is the thing you want them to do. That thing could be reading your latest blog post, buying your most recent product or following you on Instagram. It could be anything that you want or need them to do, but it should only be one thing. Don’t ask them to read your latest blog post, buy your most recent product and follow you on Instagram. If you do, they’ll probably end up not doing any of them due to overwhelm or if they do something, it could easily be the thing you cared the least about.
Describe your experience so far using about.me.
I discovered about.me recently and have had a lot of fun finding new people to follow online. I love to search different interests such as ‘marketing’ and ‘photography’ to see what pops up. I can get lost for hours finding others to connect with.
Anna Lizaur is a Marketing Manager with about.me. She graduated from the University of Virginia. Anna is fluent in Spanish and can count to 100 in Chinese.
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