October 31, 2014

Freebie Fridays #28 - Autumn Leaf Clipart



In our country we turned back the clock an hour last weekend, and slowly the dark days before Christmas are creeping up on us.

I don't mind, there is a certain kind of serenity in the dark, grey days around November. Fortunately not all days in this Autumnal period are grey, they can be sunny at times. Last Monday I enjoyed a beautiful early walk in a sunny and Autumnal forest. The ground was already covered in leaves, ranging from yellow to brown tones.

That gave me the idea for today's Freebie. I made a set of 12 Autumn leaf clipart images. The set contains 4 leaf shapes, each in 3 Autumnal colors.

I made this set from a set of Photoshop brushes. I recently discovered a site where you can download all kinds of beautiful Photoshop brushes for free. It's called Brusheezy. After download you have to load the brushes into your Photoshop program and then the creative fun can start!


Have a great weekend!


October 29, 2014

How To Skip Adding A Title In The Blogger Image Gadget



While I love a lot of the features the Blogger platform has to offer (after all it's free and gives the user a lot of freedom to personalize the looks of a blog), I sometimes bump into issues that can be pretty frustrating. Sometimes there's just no logic in the things that Blogger offers its users.

One of those things is the Image gadget. When you want to add it to your blog, you are forced to type a title above the image. Without giving it a title the gadget just won't work and refuses to save your image in your sidebar.

What makes no sense to me is that the Text gadget and the HTML gadget don't have this problem. You can either give these gadgets a title or just leave it blank and Blogger will save it to your sidebar without a problem. So why not give users this opportunity with the image gadget? I really don't know. All I know is that it can be pretty annoying, because sometimes you just want to upload a beautiful image and let the image speak for itself instead of adding a title text to it.

Fortunately for most of these Blogger issues someone has found a solution, and the solution to this problem is rather easy. All you have to do is type in this code in the title field:

<!-->

Yep, that's all, just 5 little signs and you're done. On Blogger it should look like this:




Don't forget to save and your image will appear on your blog without a title!

October 27, 2014

Media Kits For Bloggers & Small Business Owners



Quite some time ago I happened to stumble upon a marketing tool for bloggers and business owners that I was unfamiliar with. That in itself is not so shocking since marketing is something that does not come natural to me. I've been following people's blogs and vlogs about this subject to learn from them and to try out their tips and tricks in my own business.

But the tool I happened to come across on someone else's website was called a 'Media Kit' or 'Press Kit' and while I'm still figuring out myself if I'm going to design one for this blog, it was a tool that I could design for other people and therefore another item to add to the services I render to clients.

So what exactly is a Media Kit, and do all bloggers need one? 
I don't think all bloggers need one. If you are just blogging for fun to chronicle your life's stories in a personal blog like I do on my personal blog The Daphne Files, then a Media Kit is not something you need. It becomes a different situation though when you have a personal on which you sell advertising space in your sidebar to other bloggers and small business owners.

These kind of sidebar advertisements are often sold and bought through Passionfruit Ads. I'm using it right now to advertise on other blogs with my design work (I will write a post on my experiences in a couple of weeks). If you sell advertisement space in your sidebar it's important for potential clients and sponsors to know what your blog statistics are. How many monthly page views does your blog attract, how many unique visitors do you have per month, how many people have already subscribed to your blog, how many followers do you have on your social pages, etc.?

With a Media Kit you can answer all these questions your potential clients/sponsors might have. So it's basically a summary of the key data of your blog or business in a nice design. The media kit design is created in a way that you can upload it to your website, that it is ready for printing and for sending through email to potential clients and sponsors. If you go for a custom made design you can even adjust the design of the media kit to the look of your blog/website.

If you happen to be a business owner that sells products or services a Media Kit can help to give potential customers an overview of what your business stands for. You can share your price list in a media kit, or refer to a portfolio page, coverage in the press about your business, your contact info etc.

In most cases a lot of the info that will be given in a media kit can be found throughout the website or blog, but this info is often scattered over multiple posts and pages, so having a media kit to present to clients and sponsors takes your blog or business to the next level of professional.

If you know your way around a program like Photoshop you will probably be able to design a media kit yourself, but if not, then from now on you can buy media kits in my Etsy shop. I decided to develop 2 media kit options: a premade media kit sheet and a custom made media kit.

The premade media kit is a one page sheet in .PNG file with a certain design and room to add your info. It's an instant download item, so after purchase you will be able to download it through Etsy. Then you can start adding text to the sheet with an image editing program such as Photoshop or Photoscape (free program). Instructions to help you on your way with this are included.

If you are looking for a media kit to match your blog or business perfectly you can order a custom made design. We'll work on the design together and you can add any info and images you think are relevant for your clients/sponsors. You can even make a multiple page media kit with this option if you have a lot of information to share.

So if you are thinking about taking your blog or business to the next level, a media kit might just be that next step to take!



October 24, 2014

Freebie Fridays #27 - Old Fashioned Kitchen Labels



With Autumn comes the time for making jams, jellies and other preservatives. Well, if you are into cooking of course.

I used to be a health food blogger before I made the switch to designing, and Autumn is my favorite season in many ways. Certainly when it comes to the produce that is available.

So I thought it would be nice to come up with a Freebie Friday episode for people who love to be in the kitchen, surrounded by gorgeous produce, pots and pans and lovely and comfy smells coming from the stove.

To help you out a bit with organizing your preserved foods or other stuff in pots and jars I'm sharing 6 old fashioned style kitchen labels with you. The labels are 1000x800 pixels in size, in 6 different colors and in 2 different file types: .PNG file for online use and .JPEG file (300dpi) for printing.




Of course you can use the labels for many more purposes than for labeling pots and jars, but the design just makes me think of warm, comfy smelling old fashioned kitchens.

Have a great weekend!



October 23, 2014

My Struggle With Working Time And Private Time



After a couple of months of really being in business as a (very) small business owner with my own little designing business, one thing is clear: it's quite a struggle sometimes to manage my time.

While having my own business gives me a lot of freedom when time is concerned, it's also a big pitfall for me personally.

I guess the biggest hurdle to take is my own sense of responsibility. Feeling responsible for my clients needs and feeling responsible for my family's needs. Those two things constantly seem to battle for attention in my mind.

For some reason I seem to think that when a new order or project for the designing business comes in I have to dive right in and work 24/7 to make the client happy. It's just my twisted brain that thinks like that, because so far none of my clients has pushed me time wise. They were all very understanding when I explained that I would work on their project the next day because I had to take my kids somewhere. I seem to be the biggest problem in this story.

My husband noticed this struggle too. He told me that most people would understand that I'm not available 24/7 and that they may have to wait a day before I respond to their email. He's right... I don't expect other people to be available for my wants and needs 24/7, so why expect it from myself? 

I started with this business because I love designing, but also because I wanted to be able to work from home. That would give me the benefit of managing my own time. When my kids would need me I could spend my time on their needs and then organize my working hours around it. But it seems I've got some work to do in the time management department myself ;-) 

It's a learning process I guess. I'm sure a lot of people who work from home for themselves struggle with this issue. And I will probably get better at managing my time along the line. I guess I made a start this week when this thought popped up in my mind:

PROVIDING GOOD QUALITY WORK HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WORKING 24/7.

Maybe I should write that down on a post-it note and stick it on the fridge as a reminder. Not such a bad idea...

If you happen to read this post and you are working from home yourself for your own business, please let me know how you handle time management. I would love to know!

October 20, 2014

Tutorial - How To Add A Direct Download Link To Blogger Posts


When I started out with this blog I wasn't so sure about what kind of information I was going to share with my readers, but one thing was clear, I wanted to come up with weekly freebies for my readers. Unlike my personal blog Soul Chocolate where I share my life's stories, this design blog was set up as a service for my clients and other people interested in digital design.

Of course sharing free downloadable stuff is a nice idea, but when I wrote my first freebie post I got to the point where I actually had to upload the files for the freebies to my blog post in order for my readers to be able to download them. Oops... didn't think of that before.

Anyway, as you can see in my weekly freebies posts I've managed to find out how this works, and today I want to share this information with you in a tutorial. So here we go!

STEP 1 - PUT YOUR FILES IN A ZIP-FILE

In this tutorial I will upload some clipart files to a Blogger blog post in such a way that the readers of that blog post can easily download these clipart files by clicking on the download link in the post. But of course we will start at the beginning: gathering the files we want to share and putting them into a zip-file. You can see the zip-file as a shopping bag with a zip on top so that nothing will fall out. You put your files in the bag, zip it and then hand it over to the downloader. He or she can unzip the bag and take out the files again on his/her own computer.

Let's make a zip-file for the 3 clipart images I want to share in my blog posts. Here are the 3 clipart files I am going to share:




I'm going to create a new folder to store them in. Right click on screen with your mouse and choose the options to create a new folder:




There is the new folder. Now give it a name:




After naming the folder, drag the files you want to share into the folder:




Turn the folder into a zip-file by right clicking your mouse button on it and then selecting the 'copy to' option and the 'zip folder' option:




Your zip-file is created now:





STEP 2 - CREATE A GOOGLE SITE

Before people can download anything from your blog post you have to upload the files somewhere online. And the place where you have to do that is Google Sites. To store your zip-file on a Google Site you have to create one first:

Go to your web browser and type in this link: https://sites.google.com

The red button on the left probably says 'Create' or 'Make' (my computer shows it in Dutch), but you need to select that red button to create a site. In the example you can see that I've already made 3 sites, so I'm now going to add a fourth by clicking the red button.




Fill in the form that appears. You have to add a title (I will call mine dutchladysite4) and then fill in the safety code at the bottom. When that's done, click the red button on top of the screen and your site will be made.





STEP 3 - UPLOADING YOUR ZIP-FILE TO THE GOOGLE SITE

Now that you've created your site you will see the screen below. Click on the little sun shaped button in the upper right corner of the screen to open up some options.




Now click on the button that says something like 'Manage Site'.




On the left side of the screen that appears, select the button for attaching things. Mine unfortunately is in Dutch, but I guess in English it will say something like 'Attachment', 'Attach', 'Enclose' or 'Upload'.




In the next screen that opens you will see a button 'Upload' in the top left of the screen. Click that button.




Now you can browse your computer and find the zip-file you just made. Select that file and click the 'Open' or 'Upload' button on the bottom of the screen.




As you can see, the zip-file has now been uploaded to the google site. Time for the final step.


STEP 4 - ADDING THE DOWNLOAD LINK TO YOUR BLOG POST

On the right of the uploaded zip-file you can see two links you can click on, in English they will probably be called 'Show' and 'Download'. Now place your mouse over the download link and click on it with your right mouse button. In the menu that appears you have to select 'copy image link location' (or a similar text, you want to copy the link to your image location).






Now that you have copied the link to the zip-file you have stored on your google site it's time to put that link in your blog post.

I already made a demonstration post and wrote the sentence that will turn into the download link:




Now select the piece of text that you want to turn into the link, click on the link button in the menu bar and paste the copied link into the screen that pops up. Save it and you're done!




When you publish your post and your readers will click on the download link they will get to see a little screen with which they will be able to download the zip-file containing the clipart images.




A LITTLE NOTE

When the size of your zip-file is too large for uploading to the google site it will tell you. You can decide to place your files into more than one zip-file and upload these files to the google site. Of course this will require more than one link in your blog post, because one link will only direct your readers to one zip-file.

I hope this was helpful and you can now share whatever file you like with your readers!

October 17, 2014

New Premade Blogger Template Available

 

I had a little time left this week to finally design a new premade Blogger template for the Etsy shop. This time I really wanted to create a minimalistic but sophisticated and elegant theme. And in the end I came up with the idea for this Silver & Gold template.

SOME INFO ON THE TEMPLATE

* minimalistic, yet elegant and sophisticated look in gold and silver tones
* size of the blog: 1120px
* size of posting area: 700px
* size of sidebar: 260px
* menu bar is on top of the page and scrolls down with the reader
* 7 matching social icons included
* matching share button that gives readers the option to share the post on over 255 social sites
* related post widget will appear automatically under each post
* instagram slide show widget in the sidebar
* template is responsive

When you buy this template to install it yourself you will get full instructions on installing the template, the social icons, your sidebar image, the instagram widget and the instructions also includes a little coding tutorial in case you don't like the size and the position of your header and tagline.

Of course when you buy this theme with full installation I will do all this work for you and all you have to do is think about writing your next blog post!

Template with installation available for $25.00 here.
Template with installation instructions available for $20.00 here.



Freebie Fridays #26 - Curled Photo Frames With Drop Down Shadows



Hi my dear readers! Are you all ready for another weekend to come? I am, that's for sure! 
Don't know if it will be a quiet weekend though, my sister is about to have a baby and my little niece can be born every day now. So who knows, maybe this weekend I'm going to be an aunt again.

Of course it's these moments in life that we all want to capture on photo. And if you are one of those creatives that likes to make albums or beautiful photo cards with these precious moments captured in time, this week's freebie might just be the one for you!

This week I'm sharing 3 photo frames in .PNG file to decorate digital photos with. These frames were originally made by a designer from Pixelscrapper but were in Photoshop file. Since not everyone has the means to buy a pricey program like Adobe Photoshop I converted these files to .PNG files. Now everyone can enjoy these gorgeous frames.

After downloading the frames you might think: now what? How do I get my digital photo in one of these frames? Don't worry, with a free photo editing program like Photoscape (download it here for free) you can easily add your pictures to the frames.

A while back I wrote a tutorial on adding images to other images with Photoscape. It basically comes down to placing one image on top of another. Check out how to do this here:


If you need to resize the image first before you put it on the frame, check this tutorial:


And if you need to clip your image into a square for the square shaped frame, check this:



I hope all you digital photography lovers and scrapbookers will use these frames for your creative photography projects! Have a great weekend!






October 15, 2014

My client went Missing In Action



I knew it had to happen eventually: bad client experience....

I'm following some designer blogs and what they all have in common is that there is at least one post written on bad experiences with clients. I guess no one who works with clients is immune to it. And last week it appeared that I wasn't either.

While the rest of my experiences with my clients so far have been really good, they were nice people, we had nice collaborations etc. this one was rather disappointing. And the thing I was warned for by what the other designers wrote on their blogs started to happen to me as well: I began questioning myself and my way of handling client orders.

So what happened? Not really a shocking thing really. I was asked to design a custom blog template for a rather young client. She told me her plans, but the first obstacle we hit was that her English was really poor. And I mean really poor. I understood about half of what she wrote to me. So in the end she sketched me the layout of the blog (which of course had to be in another language as well). With the sketch I was able to come up with a draft for her. She liked it very much, wanted some alterations, which I did, and when we reached the end of the designing part things suddenly changed.

She knew the price of a custom made template, after all she specifically asked me for it. She also knew that I would need her login codes for google when I had to install the template. But when it finally came down to payment and installation she went MIA. 

I was left with a bunch of questions: didn't she like my design after all but just didn't dare to say so? Did she hope I would sell her the template for a much lower price than we agreed upon? Didn't she feel comfortable giving me access to her account? Or was the language barrier just too much to handle? I really couldn't tell. I sent her several emails without getting a response and then decided to consider the project cancelled and took her draft blog down.

Hopefully I don't bump into these kind of clients too often. Of course it's a bit disappointing that I put in all those hours of work for nothing, but the biggest disappointment for me personally is that I just can't trust everyone. I'd like to think that if I approach someone with an open mind and trusting attitude, that that will come back to me. In most cases it does, but every now and then it doesn't. It's life I guess. And I learn from it.

It made me question my way of working. I feel most comfortable when I do at least some work for a client before they make a payment. To gain their trust and let them know that I'm serious about completing this project together with them. I'm afraid that if I have more of these disappointing experiences that I will have to change my way of working. Demand a payment first before I do anything. But I don't like that. It's so not me.

So for now I keep things the way they are and hope that the disappointing clients will just be a very small part of business and that they will be outnumbered by the lovely clients I have met so far. I should focus on them, because they make designing fun!

Daphne

October 11, 2014

Solution for color palettes: Design Seeds


Photo credits in this post: Design Seeds

Ever since I started my little design business I was on the hunt for a site I could send my clients to for color inspiration.

When you create a blog template from scratch for someone it's important to have at least a little idea of what kind of color tones the client likes. Of course they can tell you they love green and yellow, but the diversity amongst yellow and green tones is enormous, so you might come up with a fresh apple green design for them while they actually preferred a more moss green looking color.

While a site like Colorpicker (www.colorpicker.com) is already helping me out here and there with finding colors for clients it isn't ideal. It seemed to be pretty difficult for people to come up with 3 to 5 colors that actually make a good match.




While walking through the DIY-shop I saw the solution to this little obstacle: color palettes. They have them on display there for people looking for paint. It was just what I was looking for, only I needed an online version of these color palettes.

And just the other day I finally found an awesome site that has just what I need: Design Seeds (http://design-seeds.com/index.php/search). It's color heaven over there, no kidding!

The lady behind Design Seeds is Jessica, and she puts all kinds of beautiful color palettes together. Accompanied by a gorgeous image that gives the look and feel of the palette, six colors are gathered to complete the palette. She is also so generous to mention all color codes which is very helpful for a designer.




And you know what the cool thing is about Design Seeds? Jessica put a search tool on the site so you can actually browse palettes based on a specific color or theme you like. I cannot thank this woman enough for her great site!

Even if you're not looking for a new color palette for your blog, Design Seeds gives so many ideas for an interior color make over or any other project you can think of where color is involved.

I've added this brilliant site to the Creative Links in the menu bar, so it will be easy to find on my website. I hope it will be a very helpful tool for all creatives visiting my blog!

Daphne

October 10, 2014

Freebie Fridays #25 - Messy Paint Stroke Clipart



Hi! I'm back with another episode of Freebie Fridays, this time giving away a set of 8 digital paint stroke clipart images, messy style!

The images are all in .PNG and have no backgrounds. They are rather large, 1488x1847 pixels in size each.

Use them for your digital scrapbook projects, make cards with them, spice up your digital photos or upload them to a blog or website. And if you know your way around image editing programs you can even use them as a background for a logo, banner or icon you maybe want to create for your blog.




See you next week and have a creative weekend!

Daphne

October 9, 2014

Blogger Basics - Managing The Sidebar



Today I'm sharing part 2 of the Blogger Basics tutorial series with you: how to manage your sidebar!

For new bloggers, managing their Blogger sidebar may be quite a challenge. I remember myself a couple of years back, trying to get the parts of my sidebar in the order I wanted them to be.... Not a pretty memory, that's for sure ;-)

So I thought it would be a nice idea to take a closer look at a Blogger sidebar and show new bloggers how to add a new gadget, remove a gadget, change content of a gadget and change the position of a gadget. Here we go!


BLOGGER SIDEBAR POSITION OPTIONS

On most blogs the sidebar is placed on the right side of the screen, but it's also possible to place your sidebar on the left, or, in case you have a one column blog, the sidebar gadgets might be on the bottom of the page, below your blog posts. 

Blogger also offers the option to have 2 sidebars. One on the left and one on the right, or both sidebars next to each other on the left or the right.

The position of the sidebar doesn't make a difference for managing it though. In this tutorial I will use a blog with one sidebar that is positioned on the right (since this is what most blogs have).


SIDEBAR BASICS

To manage your sidebar you first have to go to your Blogger Dashboard, where you select the option 'Layout' on the left side of the screen:








The layout of your blog will now be displayed in blocks. Look for your sidebar. Since mine is on the right it's easy to spot, it's like a column consisting of blocks (gadgets):




These blocks, or gadgets as they are called, all have different names, and you can pick up one of these blocks and drag it to another position in the sidebar if you like. Just hover over the block, click on it with the left mouse button and start dragging it along the sidebar column. When you reach the place you want to put it, let go of your left mouse button and the gadget will place itself there. If you want to save its new position, then click on the 'Save arrangement' button in the upper menu bar (my button is orange):




If you click on the 'Edit' button of one of the gadget blocks, a little screen will pop up. Here you can change the title of the gadget and its content. Click the orange 'Save' button to save those changes.
If you would like to remove the complete gadget from your sidebar, just click the 'Remove' button in the pop up screen and your gadget will no longer appear in the sidebar.





ADDING A NEW GADGET TO THE SIDEBAR

There are plenty of gadgets to choose from when you want to upload a new one to your sidebar. Gadgets that are often used are:

* Text Gadget - with this gadget you can add plain text to your sidebar
* Image Gadget - with this gadget you can upload an image to the sidebar
* HTML-Gadget - with this gadget you can upload a piece of coding to the sidebar, this gadget comes in handy when you want to upload Social Icons or maybe a Slide Show link to your Instagram account.

This is how you add a gadget: just click the 'Add a Gadget' button on top of the sidebar:




A screen pops up showing all the gadgets you can add. On the left side of this screen you will see 3 options to choose from: Basics - More Gadgets - Add Your Own.
The most important gadgets can be found in Basics, but just look around a bit and see what you need. As a beginning blogger you probably won't have to use the 'Add Your Own' option.

When you have found the gadget you want to add, you click on the + sign on the right side:




In the new screen that pops up you can add the title for your gadget (this title will be the title that shows up in your sidebar, so please keep it short). You have to add the content, so in my case, I have to add some text because I chose the text gadget. And when you're done don't forget to click the 'Save' button.
 



Yes! And there it is: your newly added gadget.




But it automatically appears on the first position of the sidebar, so when you want it on another position you have a little dragging to do. Hover over the new gadget, click your left mouse button and start dragging it to the place you want it to be (I want my text gadget with title 'Hello' on the second position). Let go of the mouse button and the gadget will place itself on the new position.

Don't forget to click the 'Save arrangement' button on top of the screen and you're done!




This was hopefully some useful info for beginning bloggers. I won't go into all the details of each gadget type in this post, but at least you know now how to add a gadget, remove a gadget and change the title or content of a gadget in your sidebar. Happy blogging!

Daphne


October 3, 2014

Freebie Fridays #24 - Looking Forward To Halloween



October has begun again, and that means that the Halloween merchandise is everywhere you look. Even in our country, that isn't that familiar with this particular tradition, the shops are selling more and more Halloween stuff each year.

Although we've got plenty of Halloween candy and decorations at our disposal, there are still not that many kids going through the neighbourhood on October 31st to collect candy. It's just not that rooted in our traditions, and most people will probably raise an eyebrow when a bunch of kids show up on their door step for candy.

My kids (who are now teens) thought it was very unfair that we Dutch didn't have a Halloween celebration. So after a lot of nagging and complaining from their side I organized a small Halloween party a couple of years ago. They invited some friends over for dinner, which consisted of bloody soup (tomato) and cut off fingers (thin sausages with ketchup). After dinner we watched a few scary movies and of course we had decorated the living room with plastic spiders and rubber bats. After bowls full of very unhealthy Halloween candy, the visitors went home again and my kids could look back on their first real Halloween. No matter how much they liked the party, they still think it's very unfair that they can't go strolling through the streets in the hunt for bags full of candy though ;-)

Anyway, since the date of Halloween is coming closer and I know that a lot of the people that read this blog are from the US, I'm sharing a small set of Halloween Clipart as this week's freebie.

The set contains: 2 different pumpkins in orange and black, an orange bat and a black bat, the text Halloween in orange and black, a spider web in black and orange and a digital scrapbook paper with a spider web pattern. Make your own cards with it, decorate your Halloween pictures with it, or upload the clipart to a website to give it a Seasonal touch!




Hope to see you again next week and have a great weekend!




© The Dutch Lady Designs. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.