About The Dutch Lady Designs

The Dutch Lady Designs is a small graphic design company based in The Netherlands. It specializes in colorful and feminine designs for clipart, digital backgrounds, printables & Adobe Photoshop templates. Please feel welcome to browse the website!

February 27, 2015

Freebie Fridays #44 - Tulips from Holland!

With March creeping up on us, Spring is definitely in the air here in the Netherlands. And what better way to celebrate this than with a fresh bouquet of Dutch tulips right? So this week I'm sharing 6 tulip clipart images in .PNG file with you all.

Use them on crafty projects like Easter cards, Spring cards or on a lovely note to a loved one. Uploading one of these gorgeous flowers to your website or blog is a possibility too of course, just be creative! And I hope that Spring is in the air for you as well!

February 23, 2015

How to change the color of .PNG images

Lately I've gotten the same question over and over again from clients that want to buy a set of my clipart in my Etsy shop The Dutch Lady Designs. They see a set of clipart that they like very much, but the colors that are available in the set are just not the exact colors they need for their project. They want to know how they can re-color that clipart. So in order to save myself a lot of work and typing the same text over and over again in a message to these clients I want to touch on the subject over here on the blog. That way I can direct clients with these questions to this post and hopefully be of service to other people that would like to know how to re-color any of their .PNG images. So let's start!

Images, such as clipart, are available in various file types. If you look on Etsy you will see that most designers sell their clipart in .PNG, .JPEG, .AI or .EPS files. Before you decide on buying a set of clipart you need to know what you can do with the file type the designer offers. So let's take a closer look at them:

.PNG  files - these files can be used for web use but also for printing, although the best printing results you will most likely get through a .JPEG file. Most .PNG files have a transparent background, which is great when you want your clipart to be placed over another image. But make sure you check this with the designer, because an image can be in .PNG file and still have a solid white background. The other great thing about .PNG files is that these files are recognized by any image editing program, so you don't need to have a pricey program like Adobe Illustrator at your disposal to work with it. A .PNG file is a one layered image, and this is important to know for re-coloring, which I will get into later on.

.JPEG files - these files are great for printing purposes, but make sure that the resolution of the file is at least 300 dpi for this. Again, you can ask the designer of the image if that is the case. The background of a .JPEG file is never transparent, so keep that in mind. These files also get recognized by any image editing program and just like .PNG files they only have one layer.

.AI files - these files are made with Adobe Illustrator and the great thing about these files is that the designer can build up the image in multiple layers. Let's say the designer makes a flower image with petals. Then every petal can be created in a separate layer. This is awesome when you need to re-color this image, but more on that later. The downside of this type of file is that it is only recognized by the Adobe Illustrator program itself, so you need to have this program to make changes to or work with the image.

.EPS files - these files are made with Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop and they can be build up in multiple layers as well. EPS files are great for re-scaling images since they keep the quality of the image when enlarging them, although an .AI file will often do the same. But again, this file type will only be recognized by Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, and if you don't have these programs at your disposal you can't do anything with these files.

Depending on what type of file your image is, you have certain options to re-color the image. The best options for re-coloring an image are with layered .AI and .EPS files. Every layer can be re-colored with a color of your choice as you can see in the image below:

On the right side of the screen you see how the images are build up out of several layers and any of these layers can be recolored in the exact HEX color code you want.

But if you haven't designed the image yourself, you are stuck to the layers that the designer originally created in the image. So if you are looking for .AI or .EPS clipart files to buy with the purpose of recoloring them, you might want to ask the designer how the layers are build up. A designer might decide on making a flower image and only use one layer for the complete flower. That will not give you the opportunity to give every petal a different color for example.

With .PNG and .JPEG images, there is of course the option to re-color them, but since they only consist of one layer you have to re-color the entire image and you don't have the option to re-color only a part of the image. Re-coloring of .PNG and .JPEG images is more a re-scaling of color then anything else. 

Let's take a look at a clipart image from a set of Dahlia clipart that I made. I opened the image I want to work on in Photoscape (a free image editing program you can download here). You can see the image has a purple/pinkish color:

When I want to add another color to it, I can only do so by shifting it into another color direction. You do this by clicking on the 'light & color' option in the menubar below. A little screen will pop up now and there you can start shifting various buttons. The most important for color change is the button for 'color tone'. Shift this one in any direction and see the color appearance of the image change on screen:

Just play around with all these shifting buttons until the image looks like you want it to look and save it under a different name. Now you've got yourself a different color version of the image!

For the best recoloring option it's clear that you need to have good, multiple layered .AI or .EPS files and the Adobe Illustrator program. But if you're looking for a cheaper option, you best buy your clipart in .PNG file with transparent background and then recolor the images with a free program like Photoscape. And with an image editing program you can always convert your .PNG images to high resolution .JPEG images if you need them for printing.

February 20, 2015

Freebie Fridays #43 - Grab Buttons for Bloggers

This week I've been writing about my experiences with and tips for sidebar advertising and I've shared a great Grab Button Tool for bloggers. For this episode of Freebie Fridays I thought it would be nice to share some basic grab buttons that bloggers can use to make their own Gray My Button with.

Not everyone has the know-how to fabricate a button image with an image editing program and this set of 15 free buttons gives you the opportunity to have a nice design for your button without all the trouble. The only thing you have to do is add text to it in an image editing program. I've written a tutorial on this which can be viewed here: 

The button images are all in .PNG file, perfect for web use. And I've made them all in 200x200 pixels. That way they will fit most sidebars.

So download the set of buttons, choose your favorite, add your blog title to it and follow the instructions of last Wednesday's tutorial to build your own grab-my-button gadget for your sidebar and you're good to go!

February 18, 2015

The Grab-My-Button Tool you've been waiting for!

In my last post on Monday I talked about my experiences with sidebar advertising and the option to do a blog ad swap with other bloggers. This basically means that you put up your blog ad in their sidebar and the other blogger puts their ad in your blog's sidebar.

To make it easier for people to get a nice advertising button from you plus the correct coding that is needed to install your advertisement button in their sidebar you can upload a great gadget to the sidebar of your own blog. And that gadget is called the 'Grab-My-Button' gadget.

While there are multiple forms of coding to be found on Google to install such a grab-my-button widget in your sidebar I recently came across one that is just awesome.

The coding for this beautiful widget has been made by Mary Mosley from GitHub and you can find her brilliant grab-my-button tool over here: The Grab Button Builder.

So how does this work? Well, relatively easy. The only thing you have to do is make yourself a button image and follow the instructions on the button builder tool. I've made my own grab button for my personal blog and this is how it looked when I filled out the Grab Button Builder form:

Here you first have to fill in the image URL. Images are only clickable on a website when they are stored somewhere online. You can't just upload an image from your computer into a gadget and then expect it to be interactive. So you will have to upload your button image first to an online place. You can do this at an online storage place like Flickr or Photobucket. These storage sites will automatically give your image an online link which you will have to paste into the Image URL box.

Then you fill in the URL to your own blog, your blog name, the width and height of the image and you check off the box that will open a new window when people click on your button. Then click 'submit'.

Upon submitting your data your button image plus the coding underneath will show up in box 2. This is how it will look in your sidebar. The coding underneath your button image is the HTML code that your readers can copy and paste into their own sidebar to make your button visible and clickable on there.

In this box you will find the coding you need to copy and paste into an HTML-gadget on your own blog. This will make your button plus the coding underneath visible in your sidebar.

Once you've installed the Grab-My-Button gadget in your sidebar it will look like this:

I decided to make my button 200x200 pixels in size. That has a reason. Most blogs have a sidebar of at least 200 pixels wide or wider, so you want to make a button that will fit most sidebars. If you create a button that is 300 pixels wide, chances are that bloggers with a narrower sidebar won't grab your button because it will make their sidebar look messy and ugly.

So be creative and make a cute button for your blog and use the Grab Button Builder to do the rest for you!

February 16, 2015

Experiences & tips on sidebar advertising - Part II

Remember the first post I wrote on my personal experience with sidebar advertising back in November 2014? Well, in that post I promised to write a second post on this subject once I had dived into some more sidebar advertising adventures. And over the last three months I did just that and I would love to share my experiences with you all once again, so here we go!

After advertising on three UK based blogs through the advertising site Passionfruit Ads back in the Fall of 2014 I had to come to the conclusion that despite me paying for these ad spaces, it did nothing for my blog and Etsy shop traffic. Blog readers just don't seem to be willing to click on those sidebar ads for some reason. Which I thought was odd, since I personally like to browse through these ads in someone's sidebar to look for other inspiring blogs to read.

Anyway, I decided to give it another try and advertise in the sidebars of USA based blogs with my personal blog The Daphne Files. I thought people might be more willing to click my ad if they knew it was just a blog they could read for free instead of a link to my design shop, where they would have to pay for stuff.
I developed matching ads for my personal blog and Etsy shop (see above) and bougth advertising space on 4 USA based blogs for my personal blog and one advertising space on a USA based blog for my Etsy Shop.

Maybe I shouldn't have put my head shot in the ad image, who knows ;-) But unfortunately my conclusions from this second round of advertisements have once again be utterly disappointing. I would have liked to come up with some positive feedback here, since I worked with two bloggers that really took their advertisement space seriously and they deserve some big credit for this.

I want to give credits and a huge thank you to Summer Konicki from Coffee With Summer who reached out to me immediately after buying the ad space. Giving me the opportunity to discuss plans how to promote my blog through her social media shout outs. Same goes for Mandy Chiappini from A Sorta Fairytale. She was so welcoming from the start and I could really tell she made an effort to promote my Etsy shop. That these ladies understood their part of the deal showed itself in the amount of clicks and visits to my blog and Etsy shop. They were definitely ten times better than from the blogs that didn't go the extra mile for their sidebar advertisers.

But, despite their lovely efforts, the amount of click throughs was still too small to gain some more traffic and blog readers. And these were the two wonderful bloggers I worked with. I also had two very bad experiences amongst these 5 advertising adventures.

One blogger reached out to me right away too, even discussing the possibilities of doing a guest post on her blog (which was included in the price of the sponsorship). Then she had a baby and I never heard from her again. Of course with a new baby around you've got other things on your mind than your blog (trust me, I've had babies myself), but it might have been nice of her to mention this or offer me advertising space at a later time when things were back to normal in her household and on her blog. So I basically paid for absolutely nothing.

The other blogger made it even worse. She neglected my ad purchase on Passionfruit for three whole weeks! I reached out to her via email, via Facebook and via a contact form on her own blog, asking her to please approve my sponsorship request which I had paid for. Silence.... for three weeks. Then I had had enough and cancelled the ad. And low and behold, what do you know, the next day I get an email from her that she had been busy and was so, so sorry for not getting back to me earlier. Right... do I really have to take her and her blog sponsorship seriously after this?

I'm currently sponsoring a small artistic blogger that only asked $5 for a sidebar ad. I don't get much traffic from it, but at least the price is nice and I like the blogger and her blog very much.

After advertising on 8 different blogs I think I am able to draw one main conclusion: it just doesn't do that much for your blog or website traffic.

Will I give up on it completely? No, I guess not, because I did meet some other nice bloggers through it and I think I even got one or two new readers from it for my personal blog. But what I do know is that you really need to pay attention to some things before you decide to buy advertisement space in someone's sidebar. So here are some tips to get your started:

1. Check out a blog's stats
Does the blogger give statistics for the blog? How many page views per month, unique amount of visitors per month, etc. This will give you an indication of how many people will see your ad.

2. Check out the amount of comments
You can often see how busy a blog is by looking at the amount of comments a posts gets. If an blogger asks $30 to $50 for an advertising space but they have maybe 1 or 2 comments on every post, chances are, this blog might not be worth that amount of money.

3. Check out the blogger's writing behaviour
Really important is how many times per week a blogger writes a post. Your ad can be up for 30 days, but if the blogger only writes one new post during that period, your ad will not get much attention.

4. Check out the blogger's plans and life
This might sound weird and a little stalker-like, but if I had done my homework at this point I would have noticed that one of my bloggers was about to have a baby - AKA 'no time left to blog' in the upcoming months. Same goes for bloggers that write about moving house, going on a long vacation etc. Just ask yourself if the blogger will be around for the next 30 days that your ad will run.

5. Choose a blog that matches your own blog
This is really important. Try at least to find a blog that writes about the same subjects as you do, because the readers of that blog will more likely be interested in your stories as well. I'm a total fashion nit wit for example, I don't really care about it so you won't find posts on fashion, beauty and makeup on my blog. Advertising on a great fashion blog would therefore not be such a great idea...

6. Check the quantity of ads in the sidebar
While it may be a good sign that a blog has about 20 ads from sponsors in the sidebar you might want to think twice about advertising on such a blog. Because who's going to notice your tiny ad amongst that many advertisements?

7. Check the position of the sidebar ads
Where does the blogger place the sponsor ads in the sidebar? Is it really high up, so they are easily visible, or do you have to scroll down along the blogger's own funky gadgets for miles on end before you reach the sponsor area? You want your ad to be visible, because when readers have to scroll down really far to see it, they won't notice it at all.

8. Check the ad's extras
Some bloggers offer advertising space with social media shout outs and/or a guest post included. If you really want your mission to succeed it's probably better to pay a bit more and have these extra opportunities, because they generate more traffic than the sidebar ad in itself.

9. Start with free advertising
Yes, you read it correct. There are bloggers on Passionfruit offering free advertising space in the form of a blog ad swap. This means that they put up your ad and you put up theirs in your sidebar. A nice way to try out sidebar advertising!

10. Make your ad look appealing
Let's face it, if your ad doesn't fit the blog's sidebar and is compressed or stretched into an ugly image, not many people will click on it. Bloggers will let you know what size your ad should be. Take some time and effort to create a nice ad in that size with an image editing program.

Hopefully these tips will get you on your way with sidebar advertising if you are considering it to grow your blog's traffic. While my experiences so far have been a bit disappointing I really would love to hear from people that had great experiences with this form of advertising. So if you did, please share your story in the comments!

February 13, 2015

Freebie Fridays #42 - Digital Love Word Text

Hi dear readers! One day left until Valentine's Day! And whether you celebrate it or not, the word 'Love' is a word that is used often for all kinds of occasions. That's why I'm sharing the word 'Love' in a digital form today with you all!

In an elegant and swirly style, these 15 images in .PNG file with a transparent background can be used for digital scrapbooking, photo editing and card making. All 15 images are 1000x800 pixels in size and part of them is in solid colors and the other part in a watercolor tone style.

I wish you all a happy and loving Valentine's Day tomorrow, and don't forget the discount weekend in both my Etsy shops! When you use coupon code VALENTINE on February 14 & 15 you will receive the following discounts: 

* a 25% discount on all Premade Blogger Designs in my custom design shop Dutch Lady Digi Design
   (please note that the discount in this shop only applies to Premade Blogger Designs and not to other items)

* a 50% discount on any purchase in my instant download item shop The Dutch Lady Designs
   - on all instant download items likes clipart, digital scrapbook papers and social media icons etc.

Till next week!

February 11, 2015

Valentine's Day & Weekend Discount

Upcoming Saturday it's of course Valentine's Day and I thought it would be a good idea to share a little love with my blog readers in the form of a discount in both my design shops.

The discounts will run on February 14 & February 15 and I've reserved enough time for the coupon code to work in every time zone on those days.

Just use coupon code VALENTINE at the checkout of both stores on those days and you will instantly receive:

* a 25% discount on all Premade Blogger Designs in my custom design shop Dutch Lady Digi Design
   (please note that the discount in this shop only applies to Premade Blogger Designs and not to other items)

* a 50% discount on any purchase in my instant download item shop The Dutch Lady Designs
   - on all instant download items likes clipart, digital scrapbook papers and social media icons etc.

So be sure to mark those dates on your calendar if you need anything! Hope to see you around in the shops during Valentine's Weekend!

February 9, 2015

Creatives in the Spotlight - Brandi Flowers

Today I'm kicking off a new blog series that I'm very excited about to share with you all: Creatives in the spotlight!

I had been playing with the idea to feature other people and their business stories on this blog for quite some time now. I'm always amazed by how many talented people sell their stuff on Etsy and once I came into contact with several of them because they hired me to do design work for them I just knew I had to share their stories.

The stories of other people are always an inspiration to me and I get a lot of my creative ideas from them. I hope this new blog series will be a source of inspiration for all my readers. Maybe it's just that little kick in the butt you need to finally open that Etsy shop yourself. Or maybe you will find an amazing creative product through this series. Or you will be inspired by some of the business tips that my featured guests will share with us. Anyway, it's time to put the spotlight on our first guest in this series: Brandi Flowers from Branded Blessings!

Please tell us a little about yourself Brandi!
My name is Brandi Flowers and I am from Northeast Arkansas. I am actually a licensed Radiologic Technologist (fancy for X-ray tech) and graduated from Arkansas State University in 2006.

You first contacted me to develop a branding package for your new business Branded Blessings. Under that name you make beautiful hand stamped jewelry. But what got you into making this kind of jewelry and building a business out of it?
My husband was diagnosed with Leukemia on April 7, 2014. That is when our whole life changed. Throughout the process of treatment, I found myself constantly looking for things to wear to show support for him. That is where the idea to do hand stamped jewelry came from. I could make something personalized, and more importantly personal, just for that. It wasn't until I was faced with the reality of how life would be different as we returned home from a 4 month stay at Mayo Clinic for his stem cell transplant. He has to be seen once a week by his oncologist that is an hour and a half away and has monthly visits to Minnesota for checkup sand tests. Our life changed, so I had to find a way to adapt. So Branded Blessings was born. It gives me a chance to be able to actively be there for him every step of the way!

What kind of materials do you use for your jewelry and can you tell us something about the production process?
Most of the stamping blanks I use are made of Aluminum (a light weight and tarnish resistant material), copper, brass, and NuGold. I have also used stainless steel on occasion. I hand stamp each letter, symbol, or character individually using a 2 lb. hammer.

What can people expect when they buy one of your products? And do you ship outside the US?
They can expect something they will cherish. I have designs on Etsy that you can purchase but also really enjoy custom orders. When someone comes to me with an idea and I can bring that idea to life in a piece of jewelry that they love, it's a great feeling!  Currently I am shipping inside US only but plan to expand to other areas soon!

Starting a small business is fun, but also a lot of hard work, especially the marketing part of it. I personally learn from my own experiences and mistakes. Is there something you have learned in the process so far that you would like to share with other people starting up a small business?
One thing I have learned is to be patient. Most of the time things don't happen overnight. It takes time to build your reputation and to get your brand out there. Become very familiar with and use the power of social media!


I have to say that it often amazes me how a really bad situation can flourish into something positive as well. I hope Brandi's husband will make a full recovery and her business will be a success! Thanks so much Brandi for being the first guest in this new blog series!

If you have been inspired by Brandi's story and you would like to find out more about her beautiful hand stamped jewelry, you can find her over here:

And if you are a creative yourself and would like to be in the spotlight here, you can always contact me throught the contact form in the contact page!

February 6, 2015

Freebie Fridays #41 - Etsy Banners

After posting a list of the 10 things I learned during my first year selling on Etsy this week I'm coming up with a freebie today to help out starting Etsy sellers.

When you open an Etsy shop you can upload a banner with your shop name to make it more professional. These banners have a 760x100 pixel dimension, and because not everyone knows how to make them in the exact size I did it for you!

Today I'm sharing 10 different Etsy Banners like the one in the image above. The banners are all in .PNG file and in the exact size that Etsy requires. All you have to do is add your own shop name to them and upload your favorite one to your Etsy shop.

To help you out with adding text to the banner, please view this tutorial on my website:  http://www.thedutchladydesigns.com/2014/07/add-text-to-images-with-photoscape.html

I wish you lots of success with your Etsy shop!

February 2, 2015

10 Things I Learned From My First Year Selling On Etsy

This week will mark the first anniversary of my instant download shop The Dutch Lady Designs on Etsy. Back in February 2014 I opened up this shop with the first pieces of clipart for scrapbook purposes. I remember being ecstatic when I made my first sale. Which turned out to be a sale to my parents, because they wanted to support me ;-)

A year further down the road I have a second shop on Etsy for more custom work and blog design, called Dutch Lady Digi Design, made over 700 sales in total and learned quite a bit along the way. And I want to share with you what I personally learned from that first year, because who knows, it might help out a starting Etsy seller. So here we go!

Etsy itself provides a great search machine. When people type in certain keywords your items might become visible to them if you gave those items similar keywords. But with only a couple of items on display you somehow are not as visible as the big shop. I definitely began to notice a difference when I began to add more and more items to my shop.

It sucks for newbies, I know. But the more sales you make, the better visible you will be. This probably has to do with the fact that you will have to re-list the item to Etsy again after a sale and it will be begin in top position again. The longer it takes for an item to get sold, the further away from the top position it gets. And when someone types in a keyword, they get the newest items first and have to go through page after page to find you item that has been sliding its way down the list.

This might sound cheeky and not completely fair, but it definitely helps. My parents bought the first items in both my shops and left good reviews. Not completely objective, but very helpful. Because customers are more likely to buy from a shop that has made some sales and has gotten some nice reviews. So this might get you off to a good start. Make sure though you live up to the expectations you create with this!

While I still get the most traffic from inside Etsy itself, it sure does help to promote your shop on other platforms. I have links to my shop on this blog, on my personal blog and whenever I put a new item in the shop I promote this on platforms like Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Weheartit etc. 

Don't you hate it when you approach someone with a question about a product or a service and they never reply? Well, your customers do too. Make sure you answer all messages and emails you get through Etsy within at least a few days. And if you are away for more than a few days, make sure you let your customers know in your shop banner and set up an auto reply for the Etsy messages you get.

Be as specific as you can with information on a product you are selling. Even if you think you have covered everything, you will still get a ton of questions from potential customers. So the more you narrow this down, the easier it will be for you. I easily spend a couple of hours a week on answering questions, not knowing whether they will end up in an actual order or not. If I gave less information on my items than I do know, I would probably need a full day replying to questions. Don't pester yourself this way.

In Etsy, everyone has the possibility to 'like' a shop's items or the shop itself. I try to send everyone that likes my items or shop a little message with a discount code for a first purchase. I made a standard message, so I only have to paste this in the message box and send if off the liker. This has helped me tremendously. People really seem to like the personal touch it leaves with them. It shows them that there is actually someone at the other end paying attention to the shop and what's going on. I made quite a few sales through this, and probably not so much because I offered a discount, but because I took the effort to reach out to them. So even if you cannot give a discount you may send a message that you appreciate the fact that someone liked your stuff and that you are available to answer any questions they might have.

If you promise the client that the product will be made in a certain amount of time, or sent in a certain amount of time, then please do so! They did their part of the deal, which is paying, you have to make sure you do your part of the deal as promised. And when for some reason you are not able to meet the expectations and conditions, then communicate about this with the client. They have a right to know why their order is delayed.

Sooner or later every Etsy seller will encounter a situation where they have a client that isn't satisfied with what they delivered or that a client is not on the same level and there is miscommunication on an order. It happened to me a few times, although I have to say that the majority of people is really great to work with. I decided for myself that I wanted to solve these situations with dignity and not end up in a fight. I had a client a while back that bought a Branding Package out of the blue without contacting me first on her plans (which is clearly asked in the item's information). What she had in mind was not what I had to offer. She wanted me to work on a logo that another designer created, and that's not what I do. Had she told me her plans first, I could have made that clear to her. Now she had spent $75 on a service I couldn't and wouldn't provide. If I would have been strict with her I could have said I was keeping the money since she didn't contact me first while that was stated clearly. But what's the point in creating so much friction and stress over money? So I suggested her I would refund her the money but with a deduction of the Etsy costs I had to make (listing fee of $0.20 and the 3.5% commission fee). She agreed and we solved the issue. Like Dr. Phil likes to say: "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?". Well, I choose happy!

While it is good to check out your competition to see what kind of products they sell and for what prices, it may leave you feeling uncertain about your shop and products. Sometimes it just seems like other shop owners just do better. They sell more, have gorgeous products and you begin to question if your shop will ever take off. What I've learned is that for every seller, there will be customers. There are so many designers on Etsy selling Blogger templates for example, and for everyone of them there will be clients. Because the style of one designer is not the style of the other. We are all unique and so are our customers. So please don't stop believing in yourself and your product!

I hope that the 10 things I learned from my first year selling on Etsy will help out some other sellers that are just starting out. And as an extra to help out fellow sellers I want to do a blog series called 'Creatives in the Spotlight'. Blog posts where Etsy seller can tell their stories in the form of an interview. So if you are reading this and you would like to take part in this series, please contact me through the contact form! I would love to hear from you!