Monthly Archives: March 2013

Link Love: 3.21.13

link love


Source: Jon Burgerman and Kirsten Becken


• We’ve all tried out hobbies (and careers) that didn’t work out but that’s part of the journey. I love Joy’s post about hers.

• Brands on Twitter should take this advice to heart.

• I’ve been seeing the Kate Spade x Keds collaboration everywhere and this gif makes me want them even more.

• File organization is so important! If you’re curious about implementing a system, here’s some great advice.

• Learn how to make easter egg terrariums.

• Type Fight features a face-off between two designers creating their vision of the same letter. It’s really interesting to see how different the outcomes are!

• The history of emoticons!

• The Atlantic has compiled photos of Iraq 10 years after the war began.

• Amanda Genther asks the question what are you really selling? And it might not be what you think!

• Free Desk Here is an initiative where agencies worldwide offer up a free desk in their studio to a designer in need of a spot. What a cool idea!

• Looking for a good laugh? Check out this photo timeline for cell phones which oddly runs from 1980 to 2026.

• Information graphics have never looked to pretty!

• If you’re a fan of using TeuxDeux to keep your life organized, it’s just been revamped with even more features.

• A look back at the original McDonald’s menus with a lot of history squeezed in along the way.

Blog Log #6: Tools Of The Trade

Blog Log

Blog Log Tools Of The Trade


Source


Today’s post is about sharing the tools and resources I use when it comes to blogging (and I’d love to hear yours in the comments as well!)

When you’re taking the leap into blogging, it can feel daunting, especially when you’re surrounded by polished pros that seemingly have everything figured out. I’m here to tell you to never use that as an excuse to hold off on your dreams. Most bloggers I know started out with inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras (or no cameras at all) and a free blogging platform. The point is that you shouldn’t let any self-perceived shortcomings get in your way because when it comes to blogging, I can honestly say that it takes upwards of a few hundred posts before you really find your voice and hit your stride. In my case, I would say I found my flow after about the 500th post and that seems to be really common. If I’d waited until everything was perfect, I probably would have held off until I was finished with college and had more free time to develop my design and writing style. Instead, I got moving and figured it out as I went.


Blog Design

When it comes to the design of my blog, I’ve had a custom theme since 2007 when I launched on WordPress. When I was first starting out (and had a much smaller budget), I hired Star St. Germain to customize a free WordPress theme for me and I used that for three years. In 2010, I hired her again to do a complete redesign and then, she developed the current design from scratch in time for my five year anniversary in 2012. It’s been a constant progression. I’ve always designed my own sites and hired a developer because I like a lot of subtle bells and whistles.

Blog Log Tools Of The Trade


My blog in 2007 (above) and 2013


If you’re just getting started and not quite ready for WordPress, Blogger works great as well. Katrina of Pugly Pixel has an awesome set of CSS tutorials geared towards Blogger and they teach you how to customize your theme.

And, while hiring a designer to develop a custom identity and blog layout is ideal, a great resource for free WordPress themes is Smashing Magazine (they always pull together the best collections). Or, you can stop by the WordPress site for over 1,700 options.

As we all know, the subtle, customized details including font choices are what really make your blog stand out. Designer Breanna Rose has compiled the best free options out there in a three part series.

Blog Platform

I highly recommend WordPress because not only do they do constant security updates, the selection of plugins is the best around. You can download the software for free here and install it own your own domain. As a business owner, it’s always been important to me to have complete control over my content and assets and WordPress allows me that.

Hosting

After some completely disastrous results with a previous host, I migrated my server to Dreamhost in 2010. Yes, there have occasionally been some spotty moments but overall, I’m very pleased with the service I’ve gotten. Any time I’ve had an issue, I’ve filed a claim ticket and had a response in less than 15 minutes. They’re also super WordPress friendly and have a great wiki full of helpful hosting information.

Camera

A lot of bloggers seem to think they need a fancy photo setup but I’m here to tell you that you definitely can get by on a budget. For nearly all the photos you see on my blog, I use a Nikon D40 which I purchased used on Amazon three years ago for around $300.00 (a newer model with more megpixels is the Nikon D3000). The lens I use for all my shots is a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX and was another $200.00. I use this camera and lens combo nearly daily and yes, there are much nicer setups out there but it gets the job done. I’m not a professional photographer but I still want nice, crisp shots and a DSLR that fits comfortably in my purse. This is it.

Adobe CS6 Suite

I wouldn’t be able to do my job without the Adobe Creative Suite. For years, it was unattainable to a lot of folks based on the sheer cost (even if you’re a student, it’s still a sizable chunk of change) but in the last year, that’s shifted with their introduction of the Adobe Creative Cloud which allows you access to the latest software as a subscription. Now you can essentially rent the software on a month-to-month basis and even better, you get to upgrade as they come out with new versions. Never again will you be stuck without all the newest features! Current Creative Suite users, click here for a reduced rate.

Photoshop Actions

I use actions on a of my photos to create a consistent look. Having original, consistent photography is going to be one of the fastest routes to getting your blog to stand out. I personally love Totally Rad Actions but I always customize the settings and add them to my own mix. It’s about finding a looks that appeals to you and it takes some practice. If you scroll through my blog, you’ll notice that I like my photos to be bright and airy with cool undertones and a hint of saturation. If you’d like to ready more about actions, I did a more in-depth post discussing them last year. If you’re just getting into actions, this is my favorite free option.

Notebooks

Why do the best ideas always come to us on the run, when we’re away from our computers?! It’s probably because that’s when life really happens. To live an interesting life, you’ve got to leave your house! While I’m a total technology fiend and never far from my iPhone / iPad / MacBook / iMac, I always keep a notebook in my purse. Writing things out jogs my mind in a completely different way and sometimes, ideas for my blog just flow better.


There you go! Sure, blogging might take a little bit of an investment to take to the next level but most of us started out on a shoestring and worked our way up very slowly over a number of years.

Now, it’s your turn: What tools and resources do you turn to for making your blog run smoothly?

View more of the Blog Log series here.

Hitting The Road: The Blogcademy World Tour!

The Blogcademy World Tour

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since last August when we announced our first Blogcademy date in New York. I’d never done a workshop before (though it was a huge dream of mine!) so I was cautiously optimistic. But, thanks to the overwhelming enthusiasm and support out there, we realized that announcing one or two dates at a time just wasn’t enough.

Moving forward, we want to be upfront and let you know exactly where we’ll be for the rest of 2013 so that if you’re interested in joining us, you can start making plans right here and now! It’s a bit like when bands go on tour — they give you the rundown of dates before they even hit the road.

With that mentality in mind, today we’re announcing The Blogcademy Word Tour! From now until November, we’ll be trekking across three continents in the quest to teach you everything we know about blogging and hope to see you on the road!

The Blogcademy World Tour


Blogcademy London Graduate Julia!


Tour Schedule

Portland
March 30th & 31st
The Cleaners at Ace Hotel

Los Angeles
April 6th & 7th
McCaddenSpace Photo Studio

New York City
June 22nd & 23rd
Rent Patina

Minneapolis
June 29th & 30th
Venue TBA

London
September 7th & 8th
Curtain Road Studios

Brisbane
November 2nd & 3rd
Bleeding Heart Gallery

Melbourne
November 6th & 7th
Lightdrop Studios

Auckland
November 9th & 10th
Generator

You can book your spot on any of these dates right away and for the first three days, we are offering an earlybrid special on all new dates. Additionally, one scholarship spot will be offered for each city. All you need to do is post your entry to our Facebook page at least one month before the date of your chosen event.


The Blogcademy World Tour

Q&A Livestream

At The Blogcademy, we get dozens of blogging questions each week but realize not everyone is able to make it to one of our classes. While it’s important to keep our two-day workshop an in-person event, we’ve been chatting since the beginning, trying to figure out an affordable solution for those of you who still want to participate. Once we all reunite in Portland, we’ll be doing an hour-long LIVE Q&A session and answering as many of your blogging and business questions as possible. The session will be broadcast live but if you can’t watch it then, don’t worry, your ticket gives you access to the recording forever! Tickets are just $7 and you can buy them here.

The Blogcademy Live Q&A
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
1pm PST / 4pm EST

When it comes to your questions, you can either ask your them during the livestream, or you can tweet or email us them beforehand. We will try to answer as many of them as possible in the hour we have together but it will be first come, first served.


Goodie Bag Giveaway

We’ll also be giving away a coveted Blogcademy tote bag stuffed full of goodies to one lucky livestream viewer! Some of the treats inside include Crown and Glory ears, goodies from the IF Ladies, Head Full of Feathers shoe clips, Moorea Seal jewelry and a copy of the official Blogcademy workshop magazine. Everyone who purchases a ticket is automatically entered!


Whew, that was long!
I’m looking forward to seeing you on the road! Let’s take your blog to the next level in 2013!

In The Mood #5: True Blue

In The Mood

Sky. Cobalt. Azure. Cyan. Sapphire.

So many beautiful shades! In my book though, the more electric the blue, the better. And though blue eyeshadow is considered gaudy in most circles, I do own MAC Electric Eel. Just look at all those gorgeous made up eyes on the board!

In The Mood

In The Mood

In The Mood

Onto the shoes — they’re by All Caps and though they don’t come out of my closet nearly often enough, I adore the mix of perforations, zippers and wood.

In The Mood


View more of the In The Mood series here.

The Blogcademy and MagCloud: Poster Crazy!

The Blogcademy MagCloud Posters

When you need to promote an event or get your designs printed on nice quality paper, we all know how quickly that can add up. And, screen printing posters is also very expensive, especially when you’re a smaller business. I’ve been looking for an alternative, cost effective way to print posters and I finally have a solution to share with you!

A few months ago, Luke Copping needed a poster for his speaking event and hired me to design a layout he could print through MagCloud. At The Blogcademy, we’ve been using MagCloud since the very beginning to print our workbooks but I didn’t realize they also did double-sided 18 x 24 posters! Luke was impressed with the quality so when it came time to test out some new Blogcademy designs, I knew just where to go.

The Blogcademy MagCloud Posters

For those of you who aren’t familiar with MagCloud, it’s an on-demand printing service run by HP and you can print as little or as much as you like. They ship around the world, too. Sometimes you don’t have the quantities needed to go through a traditional printer or you just need to proof a project to see how it’s looking. Having the option to order a single piece is so nice!

Late one night, Gala sent me a manifesto and along with that, I put together layouts of our two upcoming Blogcademy dates in Portland and Los Angeles. I expected the quality to be just okay for $2.00 a piece but was pleasantly surprised when the posters showed up. First off, each comes in its own protective plastic sleeve. Next, the paper is much heavier than poster paper — it’s more like a few steps down from card stock. And the finish is the equivalent of a satin. It’s got a very soft shine (which helps with durability) but it’s not a cheesy high gloss by any means.

The Blogcademy MagCloud Posters


If you don’t have an event to produce posters for, why not try the following:

• Make prints of your original photography. Create a collage on your wall or give out as gifts and promos.

• Posters of old school family photos would be really charming!

• Do a series of patterns you’ve created. Make your own mishmash of wallpaper!

• Print your artwork as posters to sell at conventions, shows or events.


Hopefully you’re inspired to get out and make some of your own posters. I had a blast doing this and hope to have some original designs for sale later in the year. If you make any of your own, stop by and leave me a link! And for reference, these are flats of the designs I sent to print:

The Blogcademy MagCloud Posters


* All posters printed on-demand through MagCloud. Templates can be found here.

* Tassels are courtesy of The paper Jar via The Cloud Parade, an official Blogcademy sponsor.

* Finally, I want to note that this post was in no way sponsored by MagCloud. I just really like the service and hope it is of use to you as well.