Saturday, 31 March 2012

Eden's Fairy Portrait

Who remembers my tutorial on How to make a pink sparkly glitter frame


Well, I finally completed my whimsical fairy picture that was to go inside for my friend's daughter, it has taken me a good couple of months to finish around various other projects and working a full time job, but here it is:



Before I started, I trawled books and the web for ideas. This is where Pinterest came in very handy for me as I could pin any inspirational works of art, objects or photography to create my mood board. You can take a peek at what inspired me here: 

http://pinterest.com/neopog/fairies/  


Feeling creative with a mind full of ideas, I started off by scanning a photograph of Eden and tracing over her face using the vector pen in Adobe Illustrator. 


From looking at my mood board, I knew I wanted to put some whimsical toadstools in there with lots of flowers, butterflies and a hint of a fairy tree house. Once I'd laid all the different objects out onto separate layers in Illustrator I could add on further detail such as shading, and colour. 


Once I was happy with the final piece, I searched for some pixie and sparkle brushes to add finishing touches.

Here's the happy young fairy on receiving her new personalised portrait:

Eden recognised herself straight away in the 
picture and was instantly fascinated. 

I think she was very pleased with her new work 
of art for her bedroom wall.


Sunday, 25 March 2012

Bathroom Finished


I've finally finished the bathroom this weekend. Until I moved to Wrexham, I always lived by the beach and sometimes I kind of miss it, so I thought I'd bring the beach to my bathroom as it always makes me feel relaxed.


I opted for colours that made me think of the seaside, a 'warm terracotta' for the walls and 'bluebell' for the pipes, wooden bath panel and the skirting boards. I was a bit worried that it may clash with the aqua green bath suite, but I think it works quite well. It looks a lot brighter in there now and with a change of the horrid green floor that was in there to a nice pale wooden lino has really added the finishing 'beachy' themed touch, especially now I've filled it with my seaside shell themed accessories.




Friday, 23 March 2012

Content Writing

I was trying to think of what to write for today's Blog post and decided that after posting last weeks Blog on email marketing with Dotmailer, it might be worth posting one today about content writing for product pages. 


The internet is all about content and when writing for a website, you really have to take into consideration quite a few things. 


Before writing content for the product pages it’s important the copy is going to help the page rank well within Google. It's all about writing text that will work for the human and for the search engine spiders that crawl through your website pages to identify relevant keywords for your search terms.


Keyword Research

Before you start writing make sure you have selected the correct keywords relevant to the content. To do this you can use the Google Keyword Tool




For example, I'm putting a new product page on for someone who sells Helicopter Experiences. I visit the Google Keyword Tool and type every possible phrase that I can think of that a person looking for helicopter lessons would search. I tick the 'exact match' box under Match Types and pay attention to the 'local monthly searches'. Here's an example of results I may find:


  • helicopter flying experience = 28
  • helicopter flying lessons = 1600
  • helicopter lessons = 590
  • helicopter flying = 110


From the results of this, I would decide to name the product page based on the most searched phrase, in this case 'helicopter lessons'. In regards to writing the product description, the three most searched and relevant target key phrases would be central to my way of thinking when content writing.


Writing Content


When writing website content, your main focus should always be on the needs of the reader and not the search engines. You should never need to do anything which is detrimental to the reader for the benefit of the search engines, such as 'keyword stuffing'. All written content should be unique and say directly what it is about because clever and cryptic writing just doesn't work online. Another thing to bear in mind is that people tend to scan a website rather than read them, so it is always good to write in a manner that is scanable.


Scanable Content


Basically, writing scanable content is done by:


  • Writing short paragraphs of one or two sentences
  • Highlighting key phrases in bold
  • Using indentations, quote marks and italics for quotes and examples
  • Keeping sentences short and to the point
  • Good use of subtitles
  • Good use of bullet points


The best copy isn't just well written but it compels the customer to take action. So overall, if you produce unique and well written copy that will stand the test of time and works both for the human and the search engine spiders it can only result in a raised online profile.


I'll leave this post now with some links to a few interesting Blogs I found that are heavily focused on SEO:


http://www.seomoz.org/blog

http://searchengineland.com/ 

http://blog.keywordeye.co.uk/

http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/type/googleseo/


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Good Weekend

Nothing new to report as I've been very busy the past week trying to get my bathroom sorted ready for guests. It was the one week bathroom challenge, which I failed ha ha. I've no idea how they do it on DIY SOS and all those kind of TV shows? Oh, I know, they have about 50 people helping them!


I've had a great weekend, with some of my best mates who I don't see very often, who came up to visit me in Wales. There was my Bolton lass George, me ol' farmer girl, Vicky from Newent and my Chinese brummy Shirley from Birmingham so I've had a full house all weekend and drank way too much last night. 


Here we all are on our night out last night, all looking slightly possessed in the eyes (you'll notice I am looking the most possessed, this is due to the camera stealing my soul haha!).



And on that note, I'll leave you with a funny link I found via Mashable.com, whilst recovering from my hangover today. It's called: 

awkwardstockphotos.com

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Bathroom Inspiration

Well, the walls have been stripped and the new lining paper put up all ready for painting. I've been pinning away on Pinterest for some bathroom inspiration. 


I absolutely love the idea of this bathroom below, it would definitely be my dream bathroom: 




Unfortunately, living in a rented house, we have the wonderful retro bath suite to work with. I found this old catalogue image online from retrorenovation.com and felt inspired:







I love these bathroom scales above! We'll see how it all works out, when complete.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Email Marketing With Dotmailer

Over the past few months in my day job, I have been given the added task of Email Marketing, something that was a completely new challenge to me. Although I possess skills in Graphics Design, I found it a little daunting as the idea of building an email from scratch was alien to me, plus the fact I work for a very small company where I knew I'd have to take the initiative to teach myself.


Luckily for me, my work uses an Email Platform called Dotmailer, which I must admit was alot easier to use than I thought it would be! There was no coding involved just a nice and simple drag and drop format. 


Just to demonstrate, I found this promotional video on YouTube that pretty much sums it up:





Prices vary from £295 for a Standard Package to £995 for the Enterprise Package, so I suppose to big businesses that is quite a reasonable price. One handy thing is they do run a Freemium account which allows you to send out a marketed email or newsletter to 500 email addresses for free, ideal for small business start ups!

Well now I've spent a bit of time writing about what Dotmailer actually is, I'll get to the part where I get to show off the couple of emails I've designed. Here's a screen shot of my first email I designed fro some leap year special offers:


And here's an updated list of links to my other Email design's for www.treatme.net:

What do you think?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Bathroom Decorating

I've been planning on sorting out our bathroom since we moved in a couple of years back, as it is pretty hideous!


The bathroom suite may not be to everyone's taste but I love it as it is your proper old school circa 1970's aqua green style with big chunky silver taps! 


The thing I don't like is how the landlord has put a dark green lino down on the floor, with half stripped walls that have been painted over in a mint green gloss paint, with a white wooden bath panel and a mint green ceiling. (Did someone sneeze in there or what? It's like one big bogie!)


Anyway, my plan is to finish the half hearted job of stripping the walls and getting it sorted to my taste once and for all! James and I have already hit the DIY shops earlier on today and bought some Bluebell gloss paint for the wooden bath panel and skirting boards and a shade of warm terracotta for the walls. It's probably going to be the ultimate colour clash with the 1970's aqua green bath suite but I reckon it will work! (I will admit I do have weird taste though haha).

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Twitter: Social Networking

A few weeks back, I decided to take part in some social media networking to not only help promote this Blog, but also my freelance project, Neopog Designs.


Now, I've been on Twitter for a couple of years now, but it's only recently that I've started using it more regularly. It's a great starting point for gaining more followers to promote your work to.


I started off joining in on a thing called "Follow Friday" which is a bit like a little game where Twitter users tweet a list of anyone they would like to recommend for others to follow by simply adding #followfriday or #ff so the tweet could look something like this:


Happy #FollowFriday @Neopog #ff


The hashtag is important as this allows twitter to recognise a searched subject. So if you went to the search box on there and typed #followfriday you will see a full list of suggestions.


Leading on from that, I discovered there where similar trends such as #followbus and #followladder but the most beneficial one to me was one called  #speednetworking which I came across from being a follower of thisladyloves.com


In case you're not familiar with thisladyloves.com, their aim is to help businesses grow, by promoting, referring and bringing together businesses and ladies around the UK. They run business networking events across the North West area as well as speed networking on Twitter which takes place every Saturday from 6pm until 7pm. The #Speed Networking is not just about getting more followers but about using the time to do business.


How do you take part?

  • Follow @thisladyloves on Twitter 
  • Tune in ready to start at 6pm every Saturday
  • Feel free to tweet before 6pm that you are taking part in #speednetworking with @thisladyloves at 6pm
  • Tweet to @thisladyloves with your business info or promotion between 6pm – 7pm
  • They will retweet a selection but only if the full sentence #speednetworking with @thisladyloves is included in the tweet, and you must be following them
  • Each business taking part must retweet a minimum of 10 tweets that have the sentence #speednetworking with @thisladyloves included
  • Don’t forget to follow any business you retweet  and any business who retweets your tweet
  • You will soon start linking with other businesses


What did I get out of it?


Well, first of all I tweeted:
Think I'll do a bit of @thisladyloves #speednetworking now and hopefully get some more Blog #followers


Followed by:
#Blogger #Freelance #GraphicsDesign #Digital #Artist #Illustrator #Wrexham #speednetworking @thisladyloves goo.gl/WB56J


Then I done my 10 retweets with one of them being this from the children's charity Claire House:
#speednetworking @thisladyloves we are looking for support in designing event posters in lieu of name on marketing material.


I thought great, this is perfect for helping me build on my portfolio! So I tweeted back this:
@ClaireHouse I may be able to help with some poster designs.


We exchanged emails and set up a face to face meeting to discuss the requirements and here is my first event poster designed for them.




Please feel free to comment below with how you have benefited from Social Networking?

Thursday, 1 March 2012

The River Dee from Chester

I had a day off work today, so took a nice walk in the sunshine through Chester, treated myself to some new CD's and took in the lovely view of the water flowing through the River Dee.
(This blog post is so obvious that I couldn't think of anything to blog about today! Haha)