The old saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” If all I did was work, work, work I know for certain my digital creativity would dry up. I keep my passion for web and graphic design alive by balancing work and play. You will NOT find my chained to my computer screen day and night. Oh, I also have no interest in having a data plan on my phone so I can check my email etc. where ever I am. When I step away from my computer I like to step away from the electronic world.
It seems however I am unable to step away from the creative world. Here are a few of the fun non computer creative things I have done in the last year.
Invested in an SLR digital camera, while my photos are far from professional I did qualified for a profile on istockphotos.com
Built some sand sculptures in the gorgeous white sands of Florida.
Learnt how to tie the fantastic monkey fist knot
Enjoyed the creative eye candy of down town Chicago. From the wonderful impressionist painting in the Art Institute of Chicago to the amazing reflections from “The Bean“
Transformed a dungeon basement room to a teenage penthouse complete with painted skyline mural
Made an igloo in the garden after the spectacular snow storm in February
Got creative with food with some doggy cookies …for humans.
Got inspired to buy some watercolor paints after discovering a painting I’d started at age 17 and never finished. Brushing up on some seriously lost skills!
Planted a vegetable garden …that our resident garden critters enjoyed very much.
I am looking forward to many more creative adventures in 2012… digital or not.
Facebook will make it’s new timeline approach to profile pages default on December 22nd. The look and feel of the profile page will change and additional functionality to visit past posts via a timeline, will be introduced. If you don’t want to wait you can easily get the new timeline visiting here , a clicking the “get timeline now” button.
The new profile page features a large cover photo which you will need to set. You can use one of your existing photos or upload something new.
The dimension of the cover photo is 850px by 315 px, if the image you select is smaller that that it will end up being stretched and not sharp.
I created a montage of contemporary graphics for my cover photo, they are the same as the ones I used to create the “Color Punch” igoogle theme.
To get you started I am offering three contemporary graphics you can use on your own Facebook profile. Download by clicking on the image and saving to your computer. They are sized correctly and ready to go.
I get rather disgruntled sometimes when I go to buy a birthday card and I find nothing I like, is it just me?
So I have put my graphic designs skills to use and created my own birthday card which can download for free. I actually have this card on my personal blog ” Creative in Chicago” and was recently picked up by About.com, making it their number one choice in a list of 20 free birthday cards.
The card comes in four color combinations and works well for men, women and teens. Click on the one you like and download the pdf. Print it out on some good quality card stock and you are good to go.
Here is a list of 7 things you, as a small business owner, can do TODAY, to increase the visibility of your web site. The better visibility, the better rankings in the search engines . End result more site visitors.
Start a Blog
Google’s blogger or WordPress.com are both good candidates for the novice blogger. They are easy to setup and require no technical knowledge . Ideally your blog should be integrated into your web site and given the same look/ feel for a seamless branded image (we can definitely help you with this). However having a standalone blog gives you a great platform to test the blogging waters and find your voice. Write regular blog posts relevant to your business expertise or product offering and make sure to create linksto your web site. Here are some articles on blogging which will help you get the most out of your blog.
Comment on blog posts Commenting on blog posts is a great way to increase the visibility of your site. A fitting comment and a relevant link to your site where applicable can lead to considerable traffic. Tread carefully though and do not spam.
Open a Twitter account Twitter is a micro blogging tool, each Tweet, or post can have a maximum of 140 characters. Spend a little time setting up your profile which can include a picture, an all important link to your web site and a short bio. Next find some people to follow using the tools offered on the Twitter web site, then tweet away. The more you interact the more you will get of Twitter.
Create a Facebook Fan Page for your business To get started with Facebook you first need to create a personal account. Then visit this page https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
Select a good name and populate the info section of the profile with your business information. You are now free to start sharing your thoughts, ideas, products, links, video and anything else you think is relevant to your business via the Facebook status window. You will need to build up your fan base so include a Facebook “like button” wherever you can e.g In your email signature, on your blog, on your web site.
Get listed on YELP Yelp is a local directory allowing users to search for all sorts of services, everything from hair dressers to website designers. Once you are a member (free) you can post reviews on any listing. See our listing on Yelp
Pin something on Pinterest If you have visually appealing images on your website particularly if they relate to your products or services e.g You are a landscaper and have a portfolio of completed landscape projects, Pinterest is a great place to share them. Pinterest is one of the newest and fastest growing social media platforms. It is a virtual pin board allowing you to organize and share all the fabulous images you find on the web. Boards and images can be shared and repined .
Check out our profile on Pinterest
As a web designer I know an image can sometimes say a thousand words and stock photography companies like istockphoto play an invaluable tool in my web designers’ tool box.
I recently got approved as an istockphoto photographer and while photography is something I only dabble in, I like to challenge myself to take photos worthy to post online!
You can view my collection so far at www.istockphoto.com which feature photos taken in the North shore area of Chicago this past fall. I am the first to admit I am no Ansel Adams but I find the creative process fun.
Just added an Indigo image profile to Google+, Google’s social platform which rivals Facebook. Off to do a little research on how businesses can make the most this platform. In the mean time I’d love it if you’d come on over and join us.