9.18.2014

Boost Your Blog // Three Important Blog Tips you Might not Know

I'll be the first to admit that Blogging is a personal journey.  Your blog is an extension of you, your likes, & your personality so it's going to reflect you in the design, the posts, the layout, etc.  I do this Boost Your Blog series to help your blog reflect the best of you because ultimately it's on the web for others to read & if you'd like to gain readers, somethings are consistent through all blogs with a readership.  In this post I want to bring it back to the basics - I'm not going to talk about HTML, design tips, or the pros & cons of platforms - I'm going to bring it back down to 3 extremely basic things that will improve the over all look if your blog and bring up to par with other blogs that you may love.

There are three things consistent in all popular blogs:  image size, font readability, and use of tags or categories.  Here's how they relate:

Image size
The biggest way you can make an impact on your blog is with photos.  And besides taking well lit, well composed photos your photos should take up the full width of your blog post.  It's more pleasing to the reader and visually inspiring.  To figure out the width of your post area is really simple if you're using Chrome as your web browser:
Scroll down on your blog, find a chunk of text, and right click.  Select Inspect Element.  Once the crazy box (thats a technical term) shows up at the bottom, hover over the lines of code until the text you just right clicked is highlighted in a box.  The first number, in the sequence 000 x 000 is the width you should make your photos.  For example, 666px is the width I should make my photos.  (You can also google to find out how to find the correct widths in your specific template or platform.)
Now, you can resize your photos in your editing program of choice and select original size when you upload your photo to Blogger.  Or you can go into the HTML side of your draft post and change the width section to that number (like the image above).  Then delete the height section so it doesn't give you a skewed image, your image will automatically fill out to be the correct height.  Do this step after you've uploaded your image.

Giving your image the same real estate that your post body takes up gives the reader a more pleasurable experience.  I also tend to only take landscape or square photos as I find long, portrait photos to take up too much space & not balance nicely with my bodies of text.

disclaimer: I don't follow my own rules here! My images on my blog are 640 px.  So sue me ;)

Font readability 
This one is also important for the comfort of your reader.  Have you ever tried to sit for a while and read cursive handwriting?  It can all run together, can't it?  Limit the frilly, handwritten fonts in your design.  Use them only for a blog header or accents.

Additionally, consider how the body of your post looks.  It is easier to read a sans serif font at a lower size than a serif font.  Currently (at the time of this post because I change up my design quite frequently) I'm using a serif font in my post body.  If the size were scaled down less than 12px it would be harder to read.  If it were a handwritten font it would be even harder to read at this size.  Sans serif fonts are the easiest to read at lower font sizes.

I chose to go with this serif font, however, because I love the way the font looks when it is italicized or bold.  It gives a different texture to the page...so that is another thing to think about when picking your font.

Use of Tags
This next tip is about organization.  A lot of the times in your blog you'll want to categorize your post as one that might go into a series of posts.  This is where the tags or labels option comes in.  When I first started blogging I believed that the labels section of my post was there for me to list every single word that could describe my post so it would show up in search engines.  That is not the case.  The labels section is there for you to create categories for your blog.

Try to limit the number of categories you have so that you can find the posts all related to one category later.  I have nearly a million because I started this too late!  Create a list separately of the types of posts you do and file your posts under only a few of those labels.  If you have too many you may forget which labels you've put things under and posts may get left out (I'm guilty of that with too many labels!)  It creates a better experience for you when you are trying to link to a series of posts and allows readers to search under a certain tag to find what they are looking for.

These three tips are some of the basic things that will get you off to a good start in blogging.  Creating an organized space visually will keep a reader interested in your blog for longer!

What are your three tips for blogging that get over looked?  Anything you instantly notice when reading a blog for the first time?

xoxo, Moe

9.16.2014

Why Pocket Scrapbooking Might Be For You

Pocket scrapbooking - or as you may know it as Project Life - has become pretty popular, don't you think?  I finally jumped on the train just as it was leaving the station and now I'm hooked.  I started by buying those cute little cards to add a hint of design and inspiration to my planner (hooray, this month I'm moving into my first, official Filofax!) but soon I realized that I wanted to do more with them.  So I decided to try out Pocket Scrapbooking.
I bought a bunch of different inserts from Michael's when they had a 40% off sale on paper supplies and jumped in, in the middle of August.  So far to get my feet wet I'm doing a mini-album of our relationship so far.  I crammed 1.5 years into a small, SNAP 6x8 album.  And let me tell you - I was afraid to start too big because I didn't want the pressure to fill every single space and I was afraid to start too small because I might out grow the album in a few, short pages.  For me, the 6x8 was the perfect size to jump into.  Now I think I might continue with the 6x8 size.

Scrapbooking was something I always wanted to do but never wanted to devote the time to.  I felt I wasn't creative enough to fill a whole 12x12 page.  I even tried digital scrapbooking for a while and that didn't do anything for me either.  But pocket scrapbooking seems to be perfect for me.  If you've want to scrapbook but aren't sure what to do, pocket scrapbooking might be for you - here's why:

It is a perfect blend of the ease of traditional photo albums and the creativity of scrapbooking - It really is this simple: Print photos, choose cards, slip in pockets, repeat.  You don't have to get fancy if you don't want to.  I've always loved the traditional feeling of photo albums with the plastic sleeves.  But I've also loved the twist that designing a page gives.  Pocket scrapbooking gives you the ease of both!  Cards are already designed to fit in with different themes, you can find them for free (check out my free September cards here), or even make your own.  Then all you have to do is add your photos straight from your at home printer (or you can have them printed by a 3rd party, of course) and you can have a page done in no time.  I believe the idea is to do a week at a time so in about 2-5 hours, depending on your dedication, you could have your spread done and move on.  I feel like there is less pressure to create something perfect because the idea is to capture your memories in the easiest way possible.

It appeals to the craft collector in you - I have always collected scrapbook paper just because it was pretty.  This year I wanted to use my scrapbook paper so I started off with it in my planner but now I've realized that adding the things I collect is a part of this scrapbook too.  You can add receipts, fortunes, leaves, or really anything to these pages by slipping them in the pockets.  You've got a small piece of a treasured scrapbook paper?  Throw it in there.  It adds to the design.  It gives you an excuse to collect the things you like to collect and a reason to keep them.  I've seen others do mini albums in addition to their larger albums just for certain memories - like a summer album where you put sand in a little pocket and tape it off just so you can keep that memory.  Collect all the things!

It's the easiest way to keep your memories - There is little to no stress involved...as nothing is truly permanent and nothing has to be perfect.  If you don't want to glue things down, don't.  Rearrange to your hearts content!  Don't have perfect handwriting? Even better, scribble on in there.  This is about keeping memories not perfection.  You'll be surprised how impressive your spread looks if you just go with the flow and slip in and out what you choose.  

Overall, I was surprised how much I found I liked doing pocket scrapbooking!  You can be as creative as you want to be and there's no right or wrong answer.  My favorite part has to be all the little cards you can collect and use.  They all are so pretty and they all fit great into different spreads.  Mixing and matching is fun and it takes the stress out of pulling elements together.

Do you like pocket scrapbooking?  What is your favorite part?  What sold it for you?

xoxo, Moe

9.15.2014

Make it Monday // DIY Clip on Charms + Planner Charm

If you've ever been to the craft store, walked down the few jewelry aisles, stared at all the crazy beads and charms, & wanted to take home all of them - this project is for you.  Usually when you're planning a jewelry making type of project you want to make sure you have all the same color metal findings - like all sliver chain, jump rings, and closures.  However this project for me was a teeny tine de-stash type of deal where I only bought the charms and mixing metals was what I was going for. 
Additionally, this tutorial can be used to make charms for a charm bracelet so if you're making a charm bracelet, the mixed metal gives the bracelet a more collected feel.  These charms all will have a lobster clasp to make them removable that way you can change them between bracelets, necklaces, and your planner charm

Supplies:  Assorted chains, lobster clasps, head pins, & jump rings in assorted metal colors, assorted charms, beads, needle nose pliers, wire cutters, a toggle clasp if making a bracelet

Since this project was a bit of a de-stash like I mentioned I started off with some charms/beads that I had lying around.  Eventually, to make my planner charm, I did go out to the craft store to pick up some charms that related to things I liked.  So the first step is to start there.  While I might not agree with this store's business strategy, it is the biggest craft store near me - I found the components for my planner charm at Hobby Lobby.  But of course you can go to any local craft place that has a good jewelry department or order charms online.  So first you'll want to select your charms.  I suggest selecting charms based on your interests but you can also just grab up anything that you find pretty.  If you are a hoarder of craft supplies you might already have some charms you've never used but picked up because they were on sale or pretty or whatever reason.
Some charms may have jump rings already on them but if they don't you'll want to add them.  If your charm has a jump ring you can open it and add the lobster clasp and be done.  However, this is the time to get creative with your charms:

Create a beaded cluster
To create a more interesting charm you can create a bead cluster with smaller beads.  You'll need a few jump rings in varying sizes, your needle nose pliers, and a lobster clasp.
Open a small jump ring and drop a few beaded charms.  Open up a bigger jump ring drop the smaller jump ring, another bead and your lobster clasp.  These types of charms add a lot of fill to whatever you're adding it to.

Create a drop charm
To create varying lengths for charms to add a bit of character you can create a drop charm with a bit of chain, 2 small jump rings, and your charm.
Cut a small length of chain, open a jump ring and drop an end of the chain and the charm, close the jump ring.  Open a second jump ring and drop the other end of the chain and the lobster clasp.

To create your Planner Charm
Cut a length of chain that is 2.5 inches.  Open a small jump ring and drop on the chain & lobster clasp.  This is now the base to add your charms on to.  To guage where to add your charms, clip in this chain to your planner (If you're adding to a six ring binder, like an A5 Filofax this length fits perfect for clipping on the middle ring of the bottom set of rings.  However you might need to customize the length for a 3 ring planner or a spiral bound planner).
At the very last link of the chain, add a bead cluster.  This gives the charm some weight and visually adds some finality to the charm.  Now using all the charms you made start clipping.  The drop charms come in handy as you start adding bulk with the thickness of the other charms.  The skinny chain helps to take away the bulk.
Now, of course you can create the charms to clip onto a charm bracelet - which might be more practical for a lot of you!  But if you're a crazy planner person, this DIY might come in handy too!

xoxo, Moe