Make Your Own Bloggy Button or Graphics with Picnik.com

picnik-logoHave I mentioned how much I adore all things Picnik? Not only is it a fantastic resource for quick and easy online photo editing, (check out my frugal Christmas card photo) but bloggers will also appreciate the many options for DIY graphics.

Need a quick button? Logo? Even a header? Picnik to the rescue. No graphic design experience is necessary to enjoy the user-friendly features.

A bloggy button by a designer can cost upwards of $25!  But check out this quick one I whipped up myself on Picnik for an upcoming carnival.

I started with an image I purchased for one credit on iStockphoto, but any image will do.

easter-cross Here is the “before”.

I uploaded this image to my Picnik account, cropped it and added a border. Then I added my text, and chose the fonts, colors, and exact locations.

Here are the results, after about ten minutes of playing with the options:

frugal-easter-eggstravaganza

Not bad for a total amateur, huh? :D There are so many possibilities with Picnik, I could spend hours simply exploring.

Picnik has a limited free version that is perfect for basic editing and storage. There are some even cooler features with the paid premium for $24.95 a year (about $2.08 per month).

Keep in mind that if you are blogger who monetizes, you can write this off as a business expense on your taxes. I have enjoyed the paid version for several months and feel it is well worth the cost!

Have you tried Picnik?

By the way, my annual Frugal Easter Eggstravaganza will be kicking off on March 22nd!

For more frugal ways, visit Life As Mom. This post is linked to DIY Day.

Disclosure: I am not affiliated with Picnik in any way. I just truly love their product! :)

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New Perspective and a New Look!

Perhaps you’ve noticed a few changes around here. I decided I needed a fresh new look to go with my new perspective.

KFM_buttonI am so pleased with the beautiful new design. Not a drastic change, but just the subtle refinement I have been wanting. If you typically read my blog via email or a reader, I hope you will click through to see the changes. :)

I highly recommend the wonderful designer behind my new look- Joy @ Five J’s Design. She is a fellow blogger (and a Texan, I might add).

For those of you curious about blogging, my site is powered by WordPress. I moved over to WordPress from Blogger back in May, and I am so glad I finally made the switch!  The user-friendly theme I use is Thesis, and my hosting company is now Uncorrupted. All of which I highly recommend.

Thank you for supporting my blog! Your visits and comments mean so much to me. I am thankful for the opportunity to share a piece of my heart each day here in the blogosphere.

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Blogging Bits & Tips: Part 2

BLOG

My mother asked me the other day… is it too late to start and grow a successful blog?

I thought for a moment, and answered, “no”.  While it may seem like blogging has reached a frenzied peak with the growing number of conferences and events, I still firmly believe that anyone can succeed with a blog.  With the right tools, a few friends, and a lot of trial and error, the possibilities are endless.

Last week with my first installment of Blogging Bits & Tips, I received a great response and many questions from readers. I had a hard time deciding what topics to cover next!

If you are new to reading blogs, you may feel like a bit like Alice when she entered the rabbit hole. You stumble upon one interesting blog, which leads to another and another… and pretty soon you have no idea where you even began!

While you could bookmark all of your favorites, and check back to see if new content has been added, there is a better way. Every blog should offer its visitors a way to subscribe for updates via RSS or email. But that word “subscribe” is misleading. There is nothing to pay for!

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a very useful time saving tool which benefits both bloggers and readers.  Also known as a “feed”, there are different options for receiving RSS updates.  I prefer Google Reader myself, but you could also use Bloglines, MyAOL or My Yahoo.

The other option would be email subscriptions. If you subscribe to my blog, for example, you would receive one email each morning with the previous day’s content. No posts, no email. And a no-spam guarantee!

If you are a new blogger, you will also want to set up your feed by creating a free account with Feedburner. This is a must!

Although I love the convenience of Google Reader for keeping up with my favorite blogs, there is no way to leave or read comments on posts through a reader. You can easily click through to a post of interest to leave comments, which is always welcomed by a blogger. :)

Comments lead me to my next tip. The two most common questions I receive are about gaining traffic (a readership), and monetizing a blog. But unless you have that traffic to begin with, there is no point in placing any ads on your site.

So focus on growing your blog and learning the ropes before you worry about income. I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into my blog before I saw my first check.  And actually, I did not start my blog for the purpose of making money at all.  It simply morphed into something much bigger than I ever could have imagined.

So here are a few basic tips for bringing to your blog what you want most: READERS

  • Commenting. Leaving meaningful, genuine comments on other blogs in your niche is a great way to bring readers to your blog. I will never forget one of my first visitors, Andrea. She visited my blog after I left a comment on hers. And we are bloggy buds to this day. Comments create conversations and relationships. They are the bread and butter of blogging.
  • Twitter. While it may seem overwhelming and confusing at first, Twitter is a must for bloggers. I actually joined Twitter after reading this post. Over a year later, it is now part of my daily life and has lead me to new opportunities and meaningful relationships.
  • Facebook. With the advent of Facebook fan pages, bloggers can tap into the already popular social networking site with great results. Read how to set up a winning fan page here. Not only that, if you already have a solid base of real-life friends on Facebook, you can easily encourage them to visit your blog. I have converted many a friend into a blog reader via Facebook, which is a major accomplishment in some cases! :)
  • Entrecard. Entrecard is basically a free way to advertise your blog on other blogs. I wrote more about my experience with Entrecard here.
  • Google. A great deal of traffic to blogs comes from plain old Google (and many time Swag Bucks) searches. Because blogs are updated so frequently, they come up high in search results. If the title of your blog post is “Google friendly”, you will likely get more hits.
  • Great Content. I really can’t stress this enough. Great content will keep readers coming back. Write well, write often. Use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. It really does matter.

Notice none of my tips cost any money! You can grow a blog, the frugal way. If you are just learning to tread water here in the blogosphere, Andrea has a great series on beginning to blog.

So now that we have covered traffic, my next installment of Blogging Bits & Tips will be about what you are all dying to know – can I really make money on a blog?

*Did you catch that traffic building technique? A series keeps readers coming back for more. ;)

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Blogging Bits & Tips

BLOGI was recently inspired to help an old friend start a blog.  She is a brand new Mom who wants to share tidbits of her life with the blogosphere, and yes, she would like to earn a little extra income as well.

While I am by no means a blogging expert, I have definitely learned a lot about the subject over the last 18 months. It has become a passion, a hobby, and indeed a source of income.

As I began to offer directives to my friend, I realized just how complex and overwhelming blogging can seem to a newbie. She finally said to me after the umpteenth link I sent her to go read, “wow, this is so much to take in!”

I laughed at my eagerness (blogging excites me, you see) and said, “yeah, I should probably write a book!” I was half joking, of course, but really, there is so much to learn about this crazy world of social media that it would require a whole series of text books to teach!

Well, since I am not writing a book on the subject any time in the near future, I decided to do what I love most: blog it. But in baby steps.

Each week until I run out of stuff to say, I will be sharing some blogging “bits & tips” with y’all. One for bloggers, and one for blog readers.

Feel free to leave your questions about blogging here in comments, and while I can’t promise an answer to every one, I will do my very best.

Here are my first tips:

Most of my readers are actually not bloggers, so this one is for you :) — There is nothing a blogger loves more than getting comments. The reader interactions are what it’s all about! But we also love to see your smiling face. If you would like a little photo to appear next to your comments, there is a simple way to make that happen, no blogging required.

Register with gravatar.com, it’s free! Tied to your email address, you can upload an image that becomes your “avatar”. It will follow you from site to site. So go ahead, grab your favorite shot of you, your dog, or your adorable baby and leave me a comment! (This tip also applies to bloggers who use blogspot but would like their image to appear on a WordPress blog, like mine)

For my fellow bloggers — Just like anything in life, it is important to set goals for your blog. Determine before you even select that perfect URL what you hope your blog to become. Is it a personal blog for friends and family? Do you want to help others? Are you wanting to earn some money online?

Owning a piece of real estate in the blogosphere is a very special thing. It may one day lead you to your closest friends, or inspire you to try something new. Put them in writing, and re-evaluate your goals after some time has passed.

alyssa6

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