Thursday, January 31, 2013

Publishing Your Blog on Amazon Kindle

Do you read blogs or magazines on your Kindle or e-reader? Do you know people who do? Did you know that you can get your blog published as a monthly subscription on Amazon Kindle? I'll briefly explain why and how you should publish your blog for Kindle to promote your blog and gain new readers.

Why You should Publish on Kindle
It's unbelievable how big the eBook world is right now. Even more incredible is how many people there are that read newspapers, magazines, and blogs on their e-readers, and pay for monthly subscriptions online, just as they would for paper copies of the same publications. There are thousands of blogs available to read through your e-reader. If you have a blog, you are choosing to promote your art or express your thoughts to the digital world. On the internet, new places to promote your blog continuously appear and grow very rapidly. Amazon Kindle is just one of the many spaces that has recently emerged as a popular way to read blogs. 

How it Works
Signing up to become a Kindle blog publisher is quick and easy. After creating an account, It's easy to follow the steps to create  your kindle-blog. You'll need your URL, a screen shot of the blog, the blog header, and a description of the blog. Note: Amazon sets the price of your monthly subscription and you receive about 30% of the total subscription price.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Living Room Makeover

I'm so excited to share pictures of my living room makeover. I painted my couch mint green (one of my favorite colors!!) sewed some new pillows, made new wall art, and incorporated some of previous craft projects. Unfortunately...I managed to delete my "before" pictures. The only one I have to share with you is a photo of my cat asleep on my couch, just so you can see how wild (awful) the cover for this sofa really was. 

Really crazy, huh? Anyway, there were just too many colors in that pattern, it was so overwhelming. I gave my living room a pastel-themed makeover, (pastels are super in right now, aren't they?) mainly coral and mint, gold and silver. See the pics below.

I am in love with the minty-ness of my couch. Plus, it's now much more durable thanks to the paint. In case you're wondering, I mixed regular interior semi-gloss paint with textile medium, which turns regular paint into "fabric paint." It's going to be super easy to keep clean, dirt just wipes right off. I also think that with a solid colored couch, it will be much easier to change trends/designs now. FYI, this is an IKEA Klippan Sofa. 

See how I did the chair restyle here. Want to make your own tribal baskets? See the tutorial here. Confetti art? Tutorial here. Also, keep an eye out for a tutorial on how to make your own geometric art soon!
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mini Hand-cut Hearts Garland DIY

Okay everyone, I'm excited to share a fun and quick valentines craft with you! But...I'm even more excited to share it with you because I've written it in a totally new format. So please, please tell me what you think! I really like how fun flipping through this tutorial is, so tell me if you agree. Also, please let me know if you have any problems with it! 

Thanks for reading! -Taylor
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Tips for New Bloggers

Take a Look Around
What made you decide to start your blog? Who inspires you? Write these things down. Work them into the 'about' page of your blog. Defining these things-what you want your blog to feel like, what you do and don't like about similar blogs- will help you as you grow personally and publicly as a blog writing.

Ask for Help
We all have weak spots (and strengths of course!) that we could use some help with. Evaluate your blog or writing and try to determine what yours are. Or, ask someone else to give you some feedback. Either way, once you know what those are, it's time to ask for help. Maybe you are clueless about HTML, or maybe you are unfamiliar with social media or photography. Regardless, find someone who can lend a hand and teach you the basics. This could be a friend or family member or another blogger or online buddy. Allow them to help you make your blog better and then start practicing the skills they've taught you!

Don't go Crazy
Blogging can be super overwhelming once you've written and published that first post and the question of "now what?" sinks in...Now you've got to promote to an internet community that doesn't know who you are in spaces where you've probably never been a regular poster. Start with just one. Just pick one place to start spreading the news that you've got a great blog. That could be Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest or Facebook or one of many others. Master just one and then when you are comfortable with that, slowly build up multiple outlets of promotion. 

Find the Right Tools
At this point, you're going to need some tools. Every great venture needs tools of some kind. Here are a few I use that are super simple and great for new bloggers like myself.

IFTTT-this website is a great one to use to have your twitter or facebook (or many other apps and websites!) update for you automatically when you post on your blog. 

Pic Monkey-need help with photo editing? This is an awesome site!

Twitter-Let's just face it: like Twitter or not, the people you want to reach use it, so sign up and become a Twit.

Facebook Pages-This is how you can create a Facebook page exclusively for your blog and post on it AS your blog, NOT your personal facebook profile. I use it to allow links to my blog posts to show up in the Facebook newsfeeds of people who like my page.

Realize it Takes Time
Understand that it takes a very long time to build a blog with readers and weekly features and something special. Don't rush through your posts, try to write quality posts, not quantity posts. Translation: Fewer, but totally awesome posts, rather than a ton of posts with only pictures, or excuses about why you haven't been around to blog. The art of blogging in the online craft world is crazy difficult sometimes- but it's also a lot of fun so slow down and enjoy it. Don't worry about blog stats or the number of published comments you have or don't have. Just focus on the enthusiasm you have as a new blogger. 

Note: Next month I will be hosting interviews with some fantastic and experienced bloggers about their bests tips and advice for new bloggers. Stay tuned!
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Pintastic Roundup: Geeky Crafts

How great are these painted filing cabinets from SpriteStitch?
I love these coasters from Modge Podge Rocks!
These DIY Galaxy shoes are so cool! They're made by Time for Tea.

And I stumbled upon a DIY Katie made a while ago-it's still making its rounds on Pinterest! 

Thanks for reading this week's Pintastic roundup! When sharing images form Pinterest, always remember to provide a link back to the original post-not to the pin- so that the artist who created the project gets credit for it and gets featured!
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Adventures in Nail Art Part II: Accent Nails

 Here's a fun and quick way to jazz up your wardrobe: accessorize your nails! This is so much fun to do to match your nails to your outfit or to experiment with nail art in small (one nail!) doses. Enjoy the step-by-step tutorial.

 Here are the colors I used, in case you are wondering: steel gray, metallic gold, and gold glitter of course (my favorite color!).
This is the second part of a series of tutorials in simple nail art. To learn how to make polka dots, see this post! 
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pinterest Tips for Bloggers

Rearrange Your Boards on Your Profile
When someone clicks on your Pinterest profile, they will be taken to your page that displays all your boards. Now, granted, we all have personal boards on Pinterest...but this is not what your bloggers and other pinners are interested in! So, you need to rearrange your boards on your profile so that when someone goes looking for the type of things you pin (and blog about) they are right at the top of your profile and easy to find. On your profile page, right next to the "Edit Profile" button, there is a small icon that says "Rearrange Boards" if you roll your mouse over it. You should be putting the boards that are most related to your blog at the top and the least related at the bottom.

Post Your Tutorials!!!
This is huge. You should be pinning your own blog posts every time you blog something. Especially if you frequently post craft tutorials as these are very big on Pinterest. At the top of any Pinterest page, there is a little button that says "Add." Use this to post a link and a photo of your post.

Categorize Your Boards to Match Your Blog
When you go looking for a dinner recipe on Pinterest, you expect to find it in the category "Food and Drink" right? Well, when people go looking for projects or posts similar to your blog, they pick the most obvious category to look in. If you post craft pins, you need to categorize the boards you pin them on as "Crafts and DIY" boards. This seems obvious, but sometimes it can be an easy thing to miss. Your boards are in the wrong category? Just edit them and correct it. 

Want to learn more about Pinterest? Here are two other articles I have written, Why I Love Pinterest, and Why Pinterest is Bad for Bloggers. Both of these articles are constructive criticisms and praises for the use of Pinterest to promote your blog. 

Here's a quick run-down if you've never used Pinterest before:
Pinterest is basically a website full of photos which link back to websites. You can collect these photos into groups (called "Boards") by "pinning them. It's essentially an online bulletin board (you remember, the one you had in eighth grade that was so cool? Yeah, that one). You can also directly post or log in through facebook. You can choose to "follow" people, so that the Pins they collect show up on your news feed when you log in to Pinterest. You can also create "group" boards where multiple people can pin things to the board you share, and you can also create "Secret" boards which only you can see (great for planning birthday surprises!). 

Thanks for reading! -Taylor
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Confetti Art DIY

Canvas of some sort (I actually used a recycled foam board)
Adhesive metallic paper or vinyl (I used both!)
Adhesive glitter paper or vinyl

Notes: I used my Cricut Expression to cut perfectly uniform dots. If you don't have a die-cutting machine, you could certainly use a circle punch. Also, if your paper or is not adhesive, you could attach each circle with permanent, double-sided tape. 

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Hand Painted Tribal Baskets DIY

I was super excited to do this project from the moment I was inspired by these at the Marion House Book. These are part of my upcoming living room makeover so I dashed over to my local thrift store to pick up some old baskets that would be perfect for a restyle. 

Acrylic Paints
Woven Baskets

 1. Choose baskets with fairly solid weaving. If you have too many holes or empty spaces, your paint will leak and/or get very messy.
 2. Choose a color scheme. I l-o-v-e pale mint green, so I paired it with black and white. If you are doing a collection of baskets, they work best when you stick with the same color scheme throughout different patterns. 
3. Choose your patterns. I liked the simplicity of these Native American designs (easy to freehand paint!). I used the "Little Goose" and the "Big Foot" designs.
 4. The key to making these baskets is to paint in layers. Add your background paint first, then build up layers of details. Start simple and paint on the accents last. 

 Want to see more pictures? Here are some photos of how I painted my baskets step-by-step. 

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

This Memorable Life is now on Amazon Kindle!

Do you read by Kindle? I'm happy to announce that This Memorable Life is now available for a monthly subscription on Amazon Kindle! This means that you can read my blog on your e-reader. Blog posts will be delivered wirelessly and automatically to your e-reader each time I post something new! Interested? You can get a 14-day trial completely for free! Click here to get your monthly subscription now!


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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday morning project: Heart Print Jeans

This week I stumbled upon a dangerously cute DIY. Heart-Print-Jeans. I was instantly in love and I had to make my own (see pic above!). Anyway, I found the tutorial at My Little Secrets. The tutorial is easy to follow and completely inspiring, I would love to make other prints as well!

 Today I'm heading off to Miami for a shopping trip with some friends, I hope you've got something fun planned for today! Enjoy your weekend! -Taylor

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Painted Polka Dots Chair Restyle

This chair is part of my living room makeover. It's an IKEA Poang chair that has been claimed for cat naps by my kitten Sisko. It started out black and I simply painted white polka dots onto it with acrylic paint and a pencil eraser. Note to all who craft with cats: This is a really fascinating project to cats and was interrupted by a flying kitten who landed in the white paint and attempted to leave white paw prints all of my be careful :)

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you, and will feature pictures of the whole living room soon! My inspiration for this project was to create an "ombre of polka dots" and I think I succeeded!
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Easy Washi Tape Card DIY

Hey there, Katie here. I'm guest posting today, which makes me happy. I love doing guest posts for other blogs. :) Today I made a card, hope you like it.

Every now and then I like to participate in a fun crafty challenge. On the Club Creating Keepsakes website there are a lot of layout challenges and card challenges in the message boards. 

One of this weeks card challenges was to make a card using either a rainbow or the colors of a rainbow. Since I got a bunch of washi tape on clearance recently I really wanted to use it, so I decided to make a washi tape rainbow. ;) Here's how:
1. Use either a premade card or cut a 8"x6" piece of cardstock and fold it in half so that it is 4"x6" for the base.
2. Cut out 6 1.5"x1.5" squares from paper. Cover each one in a different color of washi tape.
3. Arrange them on to your card, you can mix them up if you want but I tried to stick with ROYGBIV, glue them down.
4. Cut out a small "ribbon" from cardstock, ink the edges and write your sentiment onto it. Glue it down on to one of your washi tape covered squares.

I didn't have much in the way of orange or yellow washi, so I made my own by coloring masking tape with sharpie markers. That's an easy peasey way to make your own washi in custom colors and patterns!
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Liquid Leaf Painted Glassware DIY

I've been wanting to do this project for awhile now, I've been super-inspired by painting geometric patterns on things. I'm not much of a freehand artist, and I can't draw a stick person to save my life. But patterns...patterns I can do. And who doesn't want to feel successful at their project design? So, I like sticking to patterns. Enjoy the tutorial below

Using washi tape, mark off a design on the glass. I chose to paint triangles onto one glass, and geometric shapes on another to make it look like pieces of glass. It's important to make sure you stick the tape down really well so that the paint doesn't seep through and mess up your designs. The Liquid Leaf paint is kind of thin, so you will probably have to paint more than one coat.

I would recommend that these dry overnight before peeling off the washi tape. I really like how modern-feeling these turned out. And of course, painting anything gold makes me happy. 

It's important to note that you should handwash these-I imagine that the dishwasher would strip the paint right off. Also, if you find that the lines of your designs aren't perfectly clean (the paint seeped through), once the paint is completely dry you can take a craft knife and scrape the excess paint right off. 

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Monday, January 14, 2013

How to Balance Blogging + a Busy Life

Now I know that we all relate to being busy, especially here in America where out culture fosters an environment of rushing through life and never having "enough time." I can certainly relate to this: I'm a full-time graduate student who writes ALL day, I'm also a teaching assistant (I teach Introduction to Philosophy), AND I tutor student athletes. Then there's exercise, going to the beach (1 mile from my house!), play time with my cat, etc. And somewhere in there, I choose to fit in blogging. Choose is the key word; if you want to find time for your blog consistently, you must choose to make it fit in. Sometimes this is easier said than done...but I've got a few tips to share with you that can help you make blogging a happy and stress-free experience. 

Write it into your Schedule!
If you want to make time for blogging, you need to do so in the same manner you make time for work tasks or homework or things around the house. Write it down, put it into the to-do list on your smart phone. Look at your schedule and decide when you can make the time. Maybe it's time to do some rearranging or maybe you can multi-task other things so that you can free up some valuable blogging time.
Make a List of all the Things You Do for Your Blog 
It's really important to understand exactly what you do (and how much!) for your blog. You make not realize things you are doing are blog related. These could be research on the internet things or crafting supply shopping things, etc. In this list, be sure to include the marketing aspect of your blog. This includes Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc. All of these things ADD UP, and if you want to successfully manage your time blogging, you need to be aware of all the work you put into your fabulous blog!

Prioritize What YOU Want to Write About
This is especially important. Don't decide to write a post or series of posts simply because it's what you think people want to read or because someone asked you for it but you don't think it's a good idea. If you don't want to write it, it will take a large chunk out of what could be enjoyable blogging. This being said, make it a priority to write your favorite posts FIRST. You'll get through those the fastest because you know exactly what you want to do. In my own blogging, I write my articles, like this one first, and then later write craft tutorials, and lastly the roundups, like my weekly Pintastic feature. 

Don't Become a Slave to Your Blog
Here are a few things to keep in mind: don't let blogging take over your life. If you have a job outside of blogging, do not let your blog consume your responsibility for daily tasks (same goes for you college students). This is simply a warning to keep your blog from becoming something that causes stress. So keep it positive and keep it in perspective.

Let Your Blog Have a Place in Your Life
If you have a long daily commute via public transportation, why not use that time to brainstorm or write posts? If you wait to pick your kids up from school every afternoon in your car, why not download a blogging app on your smartphone and work on the go? Allow yourself to find a place for blogging in your life if it is something you really enjoy and really want to pursue. 
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Product Review: Punk Project's "I Heart Art" online class

I have been asked to review Punk Project's online craft course, "I Heart Art." I think it's an awesome class, read my review below!

If you've never taken an online class before, or even if you have, here's how this one works: on your own time and your own way. I l-o-v-e the flexibility of the course because you can access the projects in any order; all the projects are available for you form the minute you access the course. So, you can work at your own pace; as quickly or slowly as you want to! 
The course also has a mobile site-you can work on your projects and browse the class from your smartphone! I think this is a great feature-especially because you can use the supply lists while you're out shopping for your own supplies for the projects. 

Did I mention Katie's included some of her signature, hand-drawn freebies? The bonus downloads in this class are amazing. So cute and so original. I'm going to be making some bonus projects with them-mini valentines, scrapbook pages, etc.

Types of Projects and My Favorites
In the course, there is a huge variety of projects. Some are sewing-intensive, some are paper crafting, others are jewelry-making and so on. You'll be exposed to a lot of different things and you may even try something new. My favorite projects are the Glitter Heart Earrings and the DIY Heart-Shaped Chocolate Box (make your own!!!).

This is a fun and organized class. The website is easy to use and beautifully designed. The projects that Katie created for the course are to-die-for, overly cute. I also really like that there are no actual valentines in the class-instead, the class is filled with bigger and better projects. The price is great for the value of what is included in the course-only $1 per project! I think "I Heart Art" is Katie's cutest mini-class yet!

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cool Tool: IFTTT

Have you ever heard of IFTTT (like 'gift' without the G)? I stumbled upon this geeky site somehow...I'm not sure what path I took to get there but I gotta say: it rocks. It allows you to create "recipes" between apps and websites to perform tasks automatically for you. For example, every time I publish a new blog post, IFTTT automatically posts a tweet for me with a link and the title of my post to my Twitter profile. How cool is that?
There are a ton of apps that you can use to make recipes. I really think that this is a great tool for bloggers who are short on time or loathe social networking :)

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Why Pinterest is Bad for Bloggers

Last week, I wrote an article about why Pinterest is so great. This week's article defines why Pinterest can, at times, be not so good for bloggers and handmade sellers.

My Mind is Going (And so is your as it flies away)
It is so incredibly easy to just pin things, and pin things...and pin things. All Day. Before you know it, you have used up all that precious time you set aside out of a busy day to craft...pinning things. I have this running joke with my mom and my sister that when one of gets on Pinterest, our motto becomes "Pin ALL the things!!" And this is totally true, if you're not careful, your crafting can just turn into pinning, where you don't actually make anything at all. You might as well be watching videos on YouTube (well, not actually, because at least you're looking at crafty things). 

All those pins of cute tutorials and DIYs that you're pinning? Millions of people are doing the same thing...with your photos, your tutorials, and you posts. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, if you're primary goal as a blogger is have as many people see and read and appreciate your work as possible, then it's great. If you're a seller of handmade good or patterns...this may not be best for your business. Instead of selling items, your images are being distributed to millions of DIYers who are seeing your handiwork and thinking, "Hey I could make that!"

Your Pins get Spread but Your Views Don't Go Up
Here's another problem: your pins and images are getting spread around and posted in people's "I want to do this someday" boards but you aren't getting the feedback. The reason: The link on the photo doesn't come back to your blog. It's been distorted in some internet-black hole kind of thing that caused the link to be broken or sent viewers to another website.
 Make Sure You're Getting Something out of Your Pins. 
That's the moral of this story. Do your best to pin your tutorials and projects with links to that particular project, not just to your blog homepage. Treat other's pins the same way. If you share them on your blog, link back to their original post, not just to Pinterest. That's how links get sucked into the internet black hole. 

To read my previous article on why Pinterest is so awesome, click here. Want to know what Pinterest is and how it works? Read below. 
Here's a quick run-down if you've never used Pinterest before:
Pinterest is basically a website full of photos which link back to websites. You can collect these photos into groups (called "Boards") by "pinning them. It's essentially an online bulletin board (you remember, the one you had in eighth grade that was so cool? Yeah, that one). You can also directly post or log in through facebook. You can choose to "follow" people, so that the Pins they collect show up on your news feed when you log in to Pinterest. You can also create "group" boards where multiple people can pin things to the board you share, and you can also create "Secret" boards which only you can see (great for planning birthday surprises!). 
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Pintastic This Week

The theme of this week is...bright and happy colors! I've seen so many beautiful colors on Pinterest this week, so I thought, why not make that the theme this week? Some of these DIYs are from a while ago, but the great thing about Pinterest is that projects form the past resurface pretty often! Enjoy.

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