September 25, 2015

Freebie Fridays #60 - Ethnic Arrow Clipart

free ethnic arrow clipart

Hey there! I can't believe it is already Friday again! The weeks seem to fly by since the kids have started school again at the beginning of September. And it does help that I have a ton of ideas for products for my Etsy shops. There are almost not enough hours in a day to work on everything ;-)

September 23, 2015

How to add a free newsletter pop up or bar to your blog

how to add a newsletter pop up screen to your website

If you have visited this website over the last days you may have noticed that after about five seconds a little screen pops up looking like this (note - the pop up might change over time, so at the time you are viewing this post it might not look exactly like the image below):

September 21, 2015

The new Etsy shop: Dutch Lady Printables

As promised last week I am going to share some more info on the new Etsy shop that I just opened. I worked pretty hard last week to get the items ready for display in the shop and I can announce now that it is all up and running!

The shop is called Dutch Lady Printables and is all about printable graphic design. Right now there are 34 wedding related card designs displayed in the shop, but I hope to add more in the near future and maybe even card designs for birthday invitations and other invitation cards.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MY PRINTABLE & CUSTOMIZED CARD DESIGNS
The designs that are on display are basic designs. When you purchase a design you have a ton of options to tweak the design to your satisfaction:

• you can add the text of your choice - you don't have to use the sample text
• you can add the text colors of your choice - you don't have to use the text colors as shown
• you can choose the card size - you don't have to use the size of the sample card
• you can choose the background color of the card - you don't have to use the sample background color
• in case you choose a photography card design you will of course be able to add your own beautiful photograph to the design


Since I am a graphic designer and not a printer I do not print out the cards. I only sell the customized designs. After purchase I will make a proof card according to the information you will give me on text, color and size. From there we will tweak the proof to your full satisfaction after which I will send over the files of the card design. You will get the files in high resolution (300 dpi) .JPEG file and in .PDF file.

With the digital files you go to your local or online print shop to print out your cards. Please keep in mind that the quality of the printer and paper used is important for the outcome of the printed card!


GET A 20% DISCOUNT ON YOUR PURCHASE
As a way to celebrate this new shop with my blog readers I am giving a 20% discount on any purchase you make in the printables design shop. Just use coupon code TWENTY at the checkout and a 20% discount will instantly be deducted from your total purchase amount. The coupon code does not have an expiration date, so if you bump into this blog post a year from now you will still be able to use the code.

Hope to see you around in the new shop!




September 18, 2015

Freebie Fridays #59 - Floral Clipart


I've been working hard on my new Etsy shop this week and I will make sure to tell you all about it next week! But first, let me share this set of 10 floral clipart images with you.

The images are of course in .PNG file with a transparent background which makes them ideal for decorating your digital images or for making printable card designs. And don't forget that clipart makes great decoration for blog and websites as well. Use clipart in your blog header or in a button that you want to have in your sidebar. Lots of ways to get creative!

Have a nice weekend and till soon!



September 14, 2015

Setting business goals for 2016


While we still have about three and a half months ahead of us before 2015 turns into 2016 I felt the time was right to think about my business goals for next year. I know a lot of people use the month of January to start new projects or work on personal goals, but for me the beginning of Autumn has always had that vibe of change that I seem to need to get excited about new thoughts and ideas.

With the Summer vacation behind me and the weather getting colder again I'm spending more time indoors by myself. My husband and kids are at work and in school during the week and that allows all these creative ideas to pop up in my mind. And why not make the best of that by setting out and structuring some goals for my business for the upcoming year?

So what are my goals for next year? And what will I have to do to come as close as possible to meeting my goals? I thought this would be a nice subject for today's blog post, so let's dive into some goal setting!

I MAKE A HABIT OF WRITING DOWN MY GOALS
By writing stuff down it feels like ideas and plans solidify a little more than when I only keep them in my head. It's a bit like making a vision board (if you don't know what that is, check it out in this post). I have a little notebook that I use to write down personal and business goals, but writing them down in a digital way, like in a blog post for example is a great way too.

GOALS I MADE FOR 2015
This year was for professionalizing and growing my business. I submitted my little business to the Dutch chamber of commerce back in April, which made things very real all of a sudden and I set a goal for the income I would like to earn this year. I put down a number of 7.500 Euros as my turnover goal and knew that the biggest part of that amount would have to come from my blog design shop Dutch Lady Digi Design

My shop and business were of course a little smaller at January 1st of this year so I had to come up with a plan how to grow towards that turnover goal of 7.500 Euros. I decided I needed to make more premade blogger designs to fill up the shop and to offer my clients a wider range to choose from and I also knew I would have to raise my prices. I did both of these things in the course of this year which resulted so far in a turnover of 5.200 Euros. With three and a half more months to go it is likely that I will be meeting my turnover goal of 7.500 Euros this year.

I am both proud and thankful. If you would have told me five years ago that one day I would have my own business I would not have believed you. I am very happy that the income goal I set for myself at the beginning of this year will probably be met in December, but the feeling of gratitude and passion that I get from working in my own little business gives even more satisfaction. It is as if I start to see and believe that it is possible to make dreams come true and to do something in life that makes my heart sing. Something that benefits me and my family as well as the clients I help out.

SO WHICH GOALS DO I SET FOR 2016?
For the upcoming year I do not want to set a fixed income goal like I did this year. Instead I am setting the following goal:

- I will make enough money to support a fully organic and ecological way of living for me and my family -

Graphic design is definitely a passion of mine, but my other big passion is healthy living. With the income I earned so far we have been able to buy more organic foods and ecological household products. This does not only benefit my own health and that of my family, but also the environment. I would love to take that a step further by making enough money to buy all my groceries from the organic/ecological supermarket. So that is going to be my goal for next year. In December of 2016 I hope to have a monthly income that supports that way of living.

I started out with my own organic little veggie garden this year which gave me quite a few zucchinis, tomatoes and cucumbers this Summer. I hope to take that to the next level as well in 2016.

Another goal for next year is:

- I want to keep the creativity flowing -

The creative part of my job is what makes it so much fun. 

HOW DO I PLAN TO MEET MY GOALS?
Having goals is one thing, having a strategic plan to reach them another. So I gave my goals some thoughts over the last few days and came up with the following strategics to try to meet them:

  • I need to widen my product range to reach more possible clients
  • Widening my product range will also give me the opportunity to get creative
  • Opening a third Etsy shop for this new product range
  • To be of even better service and for my personal development I have to educate myself more in the field of web design and graphic design with the use of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I will have to invest time to watch and read tutorials on these subjects or find online courses.
  • Keep writing useful posts for this blog ;-)

Yes, you have read it correctly. I have plans to open a new Etsy shop. Since Autumn is such a very creative time of year for me I decided to put my energy in developing a new graphic design product line and I think this line of products will be best presented in a new shop. It's a work in progress for now but you can expect a blog post when the new shop and products are launched sometime this Fall.

If you have visited one of my shops over the last week you might have noticed that I put in some new products there as well. I made some new clipart sets for The Dutch Lady Designs and I made a section of Customized Business Cards for Bloggers and Business Babes in the other shop. So I have already started putting my plans into action.

examples of the customizable business cards for bloggers & business babes

WHY DON'T I MAKE A SIX FIGURE INCOME?
The title of this paragraph should of course say 'Why don't I make a six figure income YET? ;-)
I almost here you thinking: 'how the hell does she make a living from a 7.500 Euros income'? Well, my husband has always been the one that brought in a steady monthly income. I took care of our kids and had some small part time jobs on the side every now and then. But my main focus was on raising the kids. Now that they are teenagers and I have some more time to myself I can invest that time in my business and slowly grow it. The fact that we were able to live on mostly one income over the years makes my income from the design business a nice extra. With one income we lived on a very tight budget and with my newly gained income our budget expanded. So much that we were slowly able to start buying more organic (one of our personal family goals).

When starting a business it is almost impossible to start earning a six figure income from day one. And I don't know if I will ever reach that figure. But you know what? It's not even a goal of mine. My goal is to live and work happily. To have a good balance between business and private life. My goal is to be able to live more sustainable, but I'm pretty sure my husband and I can do that without a six figure income from both our jobs. 

Have you already thought about business / personal goals for next year? Or maybe blogging goals? Blogging can turn into a serious passionate business too! Let me know your ideas in the comments below, I would love to read about them!

September 11, 2015

Freebie Fridays #58 - Transparent Makeup Circles


I made these slightly transparent, watercolor style circles in Photoshop and when I placed them next to each other on the image above it made me think of a little box of blush or eye shadow. Hence their name: makeup circles.

You may use them as digital makeup for your blog or website, to spice up your digital images or to make beautiful card designs with them. And if you can get a hold of some white or grey social media icons, you can put those on top of the circles and make your own social media icon set for your blog! Lots of ways to use these cuties.

These 10 images are all in .PNG file with transparent background. Their size is 2500 x 2500 pixels. I hope you have lots of creative fun with them and have a great weekend as well!


September 9, 2015

Why I love Bloglovin & how to link your blog to it


Ever since I've started blogging myself I've been a huge fan of Bloglovin. Most bloggers probably know what I'm talking about but if you're new to blogging, this site might need some introduction. Bloglovin is a site that brings bloggers and blog readers together, making life a lot easier for all of them.

In the beginning of my blogging days I thought people would automatically subscribe to my blog with their email address since this is what I did with the blogs I liked to read. But I soon found out that receiving updates in your mailbox from the blogs you love gets really overwhelming when you start following more and more blogs. My inbox got bombarded with updates and it soon drove me crazy. Then I found out about bloglovin and my overcrowded inbox problems were solved in an instant.

A blogger can register his or her blog at bloglovin and a blog reader can subscribe to that blog within Bloglovin. As a reader you can subscribe to as many blogs as you like and you will get all new updates from the blogs you follow in a daily feed that you can view on the Bloglovin website. You can do this by visiting the Bloglovin site on your computer, but Bloglovin also has a beautiful app created for mobile devices. This gives me the opportunity to read all my favorite blogs on my Ipad whenever I feel like it without clogging up my email inbox.


It's clear that I love this site. And while a lot of bloggers know of its existence, beginning bloggers often don't and they miss out on a great opportunity to gain more readers. So to give your blog the opportunity to grow I definitely recommend giving your readers the option to subscribe to your blog via Bloglovin. But how does this work? How do you connect your blog to Bloglovin and then create a link that readers can use to subscribe? Well, that's the subject of today's tutorial. So let's go!


STEP 1 - CREATE A BLOGLOVIN ACCOUNT

Whether you are a blogger that wants your blog to be connected to Bloglovin, or you are a serial blog reader that loves to get all your favorite posts in one daily feed, the journey starts with a free subscription to Bloglovin.


STEP 2 - ADD YOUR BLOG TO YOUR ACCOUNT

  • when you are in your bloglovin account click on your little circle shape image in the top menu bar (this might be empty when you haven't added your photo yet)
  • then select the option 'Profile'


  • then select the option 'Edit your Profile'
  • if you scroll a little down the page you will see the option 'Add Blog' - select this
  • if you don't see a bar yet where you can type in your blog address, search for the blue 'Claim Blog' button and select that
  • a bar should now open where you can type in your blog URL and claim your blog - I have done this in the image below. I added my blog URL www.thedutchladydesigns.com and then pushed the 'Claim Blog' button next to it. The Blog URL and info appears underneath it. 



STEP 3 - LINK BLOGLOVIN TO ONE OF YOUR BLOG POSTS

  • Once you see the screen in the image above, click on the blog name and it will take you to the HTML code for claiming your blog:


  • Now go over to your blog and open a new blog post


  • Click on the HTML button on the top left side, this will open the HTML screen
  • Now copy the HTML code you got from Bloglovin and paste it into the HTML screen:


  • Once that is done click on the 'Compose' button in the left upper corner and the Bloglovin claim link will appear in your post
  • Publish the post now - it needs to be published in order for Bloglovin to recognize the link you have just created
  • Once you have published the post, go back to Bloglovin and click the blue button under the coding that says 'Claim Blog'
  • Your blog should now appear in the blog analytics page of your Bloglovin account and it should look like this: 


In your analytic page you will be able to see how many people sign up for your blog.

You have now linked your blog to your Bloglovin account, but to make it easy for your readers to find you on Bloglovin you want a good subscription link in your sidebar. That is the next step.

STEP 4 - MAKE A BLOGLOVIN SUBSCRIPTION LINK FOR YOUR READERS

  • Now hover over your little circle shaped profile image again on Bloglovin
  • Select the option 'Widgets'


  • Choose one of the 'Follow Widgets' and click the 'Get this Widget' text underneath
  • An HTML code appears


  • Now copy this code
  • Go to your Blogger Dashboard and select option 'Layout'
  • Then add a new gadget to your sidebar (choose the HTML gadget option)
  • Paste the code into the gadget screen and save
  • Your bloglovin widget should now be visible in your sidebar and when readers click on it it will direct them to the Bloglovin page where they can start following you

TROUBLESHOOTING
If you are not familiar with adding new gadgets to your Blogger blog you can learn how to do this in the tutorial over here: http://www.thedutchladydesigns.com/2014/10/how-does-the-blogger-sidebar-work.html

If you need to know how to add the code to a gadget on another platform than Blogger, then please follow the instructions that Bloglovin gives for that over here: https://help.bloglovin.com/knowledgebase/topics/36515-guides

And if you are experiencing trouble claiming your blog URL because Bloglovin says it cannot find this particular blog (this happened to me more than once while trying to do this for a client), you can always turn to the Bloglovin helpdesk over here. In most cases the Bloglovin team will help you out connecting your blog to your account.

September 7, 2015

Blogger's Post Writing & Styling Options


Writing this blog posts has been on my mind for quite a while and maybe it should really have been the first post ever in the series of Blogger tutorials. After all, writing posts is what blogging is all about.

I kind of assumed that every blogger knew how to write a blog post, but from working with clients I have learned that I should never assume anything ;-) It got clear to me that while most people are able to open up the 'new post' button themselves to start a new post, a lot of them hardly know what options you have inside the Blogger post writing screen. And by not knowing they miss out on options that can take their posts to the next level. So this post is completely dedicated to writing a blog post in the Blogger 'new post' screen and all the options you have over there.

When you click on the orange 'new post' button on the left top of the screen when you are in your Blogger Dashboard a new screen opens up that looks like this: 


That is the screen in which you will have to write your post, add images and links to it and then publish it when you are satisfied with what you have written.

But this screen has so many options that make life and blog post writing a lot easier and more fun if you know where to find them. So let's look at this screen again, but now with a little explanation on the options:


MIDDLE MENU BAR

1. Title Bar - here you will have to add your blog post title
2. Publish Button - only press this button when your blog post is ready for posting
3. Save Button - this saves your blog post, but doesn't publish it, so it will store the post as a draft
4. Preview Button - this allows you to view how the posts looks so far without actually publishing it
5. Close Button - closes the post writing screen

BOTTOM MENU BAR

6. Compose Button - this shows the normal screen in which you can write your blog post
7. HTML Button - this shows the HTML code behind your blog post, only alter things in here if you know a little about HTML coding, otherwise stick to the compose button
8. Arrow Buttons - click this to remove the last action
9. Font Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it another font style - personally I suggest sticking to one font style since this will give a cleaner and more professional look to your posts
10. Font Size Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it another font size - don't use too many sizes in one post, it will only make a post look messy.
11. Heading Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give that a heading/subheading function - please be aware that the text will take on the layout that is set in the coding for this particular heading. For instance: my sidebar titles on this website have a light grey background. Sidebar titles are so called H2 headings. So if I add that heading function to blog post text it will display that text with a grey background. Personally I like to highlight text in a blog post by typing it in uppercase or making it bold. Again, if you use too many different heading styles in one post it starts to look messy for your readers.
12. Bold Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and make it bold
13. Italic Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and make it italic
14. Underline Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and underline it
15. Strikethrough Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it a strike through
16. Text Color Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it another color
17. Background Color Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it another background color
18. Link Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and put a link behind it
19. Image Button - this allows you to add an image to your blog post
20. Video Button - this allows you to add a video link to your blog post, like a link to a Youtube video
21. Jump-Link Button - this is the button that allows you to create a so called 'jump-link' into your post when your post is very long
22. Text Outline Button - this allows you to select a piece of text or the complete blog post text and outline it the way you want: left, right, centered or justified
23. Numbered List Button - use this when you want to create a numbered list in your post
24. Bulled List Button - use this when you want to create a bullet list in your post
25. Quote Button - use this when you want to select a piece of text to put it centered and away from the other text to separate an important quote
26. Remove Formatting Button - if you don't know anything about coding just forget about this button
27. Check Spelling Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and check the spelling
 
POST SETTINGS

28. Labels - label function, add 'keywords' to describe your post
29. Schedule - gives you the option to publish your post at a set date and time
30. Links - gives you the option to change your post's permalink
31. Location - gives you the option to add the location you are writing from
32. Search Description - gives you the option to add a short but strong description of the post content. Do this in the form of a sentence!
33. Options - I suggest only using this option when you want to turn off the comment option for the blog post, otherwise don't bother with it
34. Custom Robots Tags Button - I suggest not messing with this button unless you know quite a bit about Search Engine Optimization and how Robot Tags work


While I have mentioned all the buttons above with a short description of what they do, I want to dive deeper into the use of some of them:

MORE INFO ON THE IMAGE BUTTON
When you add an image to Blogger you can upload it from your computer or from an image storage space online like Photobucket for example. Once your image is uploaded in the blog post you will have some options as where exactly to put it and which size to use.
When you click on your uploaded image with the right mouse button the options are shown to you. You can put the image on the left, the right or the center. And you can change the size to small, medium, large, extra large and the original size. Play around with the size options to see which one looks best. Next to the position and size option there is also an option to add a caption text to your image.



MORE INFO ON THE JUMP-LINK BUTTON
The jump-link buttons is also know as the 'read more' button. When you put a jump-link in your blog post text it will break off the text at that exact position and it will put a 'read more...' at that spot. This comes in handy when you write large blog posts that take up a lot of space on your home page. By cutting them off with the jump-link button you shorten the part that is visible on the home page and your readers can just click on the 'read more...' text to go to the full post. When you add a jump-link in your post it will look like this in the post:



MORE INFO ON THE LABELS BUTTON
Labels are basically keywords that describe the content of a post. In most Blogger templates the labels will be visible in the blog post footer (like with this blog). When readers click on these labels in the footer they will be directed to a page that displays all the posts with that same label. So it is basically an option to make it easier for your readers to find something on your blog. And by making it easier for them they are more likely to spend more time on your blog and read more stories! And that is what you want!


You can really do some nice stuff with labels. Find out more about using your labels in a category/label gadget in your sidebar over here, or read about how you can turn your labels into category pages in your menubar over here.

Personally, I think your blog posts need labels. It's one of those things you don't want to miss out on. But be careful not to overdo it. Use between 1 to 5 labels per post and no more than 30 to 40 different labels throughout your entire blog, otherwise the amount of labels will only confuse your readers.

MORE INFO ON THE LINKS OPTION
When you write a post, Blogger automatically uses your blog title as the permalink to your post. That link becomes visible to the Google search engines so you don't want it to be too long and off target. Let's say you write a post about 10 great places you have visited but you also talk a little about some personal stuff in the post. You might use a title like 'Personal ramblings & Interesting places to visit'. To amp up the permalink to this post and be more usable for the Google search machines you should alter this link for better search results. And this is what you do in the links option. I will only discuss the Custom Permalink option here since that is what I use most.


When opening the Links option you the Custom Permalink box and then type in the permalink you want to give to your post. In case of the title example above you could use a permalink like this: 10-great-places-to-visit-in-the-USA. Always put stripe characters between the words otherwise Blogger won't accept the title. And using a number to start your title with will rank you higher in search results. Same goes for titles that start with 'How to', 'Tips for' etc. Make the permalink short and descriptive.

LESS IS MORE
As with a lot of things in life less is more when it comes to styling a blog post. Your readers are not going to be a bunch of happy campers when you use ten different font styles and sizes and all the colors of the rainbow in one blog post. It might satisfy your creative spark, but it will put them off and they might not come back. So keep things clean and simple and perk it up with beautiful images in between the blog post text.

INVESTMENT PAYS OFF
While it might cost some of your precious time it is so worth it to invest some time into getting to know how a Blogger blog works. Once you get to know all the features it will give you so many options to style your blog and blog posts the way you like it. And it is so worth the time when down the line you are able to tackle all these little style issues yourself instead of having to hire someone to do it for you or just be okay with a crappy blog only because you don't know any better! Knowledge is power!

September 4, 2015

Freebie Fridays #57 - Feather Clipart


It's been way too long since this site has had some TLC from me and you guys have received some Freebies. Life and Summer vacation got in the way and before I knew it, it's already September!

Well, since I don't have any other things planned today I am going to dedicate it to writing some much needed blog posts and of course sharing a new freebie. Today that freebie is a set of 6 grungy/paint style feather clipart images. All six images are .PNG files and have transparent backgrounds. The size of the images is 1036x3600 pixels and 1043x3600 pixels.

Use the feathers to spice up your blogs and website, to decorate your digital photos with or to make beautiful cards and other printables with.

If you need some guidance with what to do with clipart, check out the image editing tutorials on this website. All tutorials use an image editing program that you can download for free online and they show you how to get the most out of your photos and other digital images like clipart. Have fun and have a great weekend!

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