Design Tip – How to add social media icons to your blog

design tip social media iconsSocial media is important in many aspects of our daily lives. Whether it is utilized purely as a casual way to keep in touch with friends or on a professional level, it is now our primary source of communication. If you want to be easily accessible, prominently display your contact information on your blog. A great way of doing this is adding some customized social media icons.Use something a little more eye catching rather then the typical links or default icon sets.

Here are the steps to get custom icons onto your blog:

1.) First things first, either create your own icons or download a set. You can find some free sets here or some that are a little more fancy for a few dollars here. If you want to try creating your own I’d recommend using Photoshop or Picmonkey. Rather then reinvent the wheel I found this amazing tutorial here on the step by step process of creating icons and then mapping them.

2.) Once you have your icons ready make sure you save them to a hosting site like Photobucket or Flickr. I’m using WordPress and often use my library to host my images. This is absolutely crucial! Otherwise you’ll end up losing all that work you just created.

3.) As I mentioned previously, I use WordPress. So this next step is based on the way the WordPress blogging platform is set up. After you have your HTML code from the image map site, log into your WordPress Dashboard and click on Appearances then Widgets. Create a text widget and paste the code in there. At this point you should be able to place the widget where ever you’d like the icons to appear on your blog. Keep in mind if you are using a free theme you are limited to the locations you can put widgets. For example, I use the free Adelle theme and all of my widgets are placed on the right side column.

If you aren’t using WordPress and would like help on how to add custom icons to your site, please contact me. I’ll be happy to help!

sincerelysignature

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Design Tip Tuesday – Where to get free fonts, graphics, & other design assets

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It’s been forever and ever since I posted some design tips on the blog. I’ve learned so many little tips throughout the past year while taking classes that I really want to share and believe any blogger could benefit from!

If you don’t have the software or experience to design pretty graphics, fonts,themes, etc. look no further! Check out the Creative Market website. Creative Market is a website that offers thousands of design assets created by talented designers all over the world. Since most of the Designers are independent, they do charge a small fee to download their designs. Although, each week Creative Market offers a variety of amazing freebie downloads.

I’ve downloaded some freebies and paid for a few fonts and themes. Every Designer that I have dealt with was great and some even offered more of their designs for free after I purchased a set.

Take a look at some of the designs featured on the site:

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Bonjour! Typeface with Extras by Nicky Laatz

 

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 Watercolour Tribe&Flower DIY+Bonus by Graphic Box

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Marema Typeface by AF Studio – Free this week!

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Design Tip Creating a Blog Header

blog_headerGive your readers a good first impression when they stumble on your blog by creating an eye catching header!  A well designed blog header is essential because it is the first thing that people see when they visit your site.  Through a header, you can convey the look, feel, and vibe of your blog.

The two most important things to remember when designing a header is to make sure it is the correct size for your blog and that it is transparent. If you are using a template from WordPress or Blogger each theme should indicate somewhere in the information the header size. For example my header size is 1040 x 250. Whatever your size is, make sure that you design the graphic to be that exact size! Otherwise your header will be too small or large for your page.

Now in this next step you can use whatever design software/website you are comfortable with. In this example I chose to use, PicMonkey, a free photo editing website.

Step 1: Change the canvas size to match the exact size of your footer.

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Step Two: Change the canvas color to transparent.

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Step Three: Design!

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Step 4: Save your new header as a .png image to preserve transparency.

If I had a grey background on my blog this is how the header would turn out:

ex header

Step 5: Upload your newly designed header.

This is such a super easy way to pretty up your blog!

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Great Free Font Combinations

design_tips_fontsFont aka typography in graphic design, is just as important as the use of colors and images when creating a visually appealing design. From a professional design perspective, the most critical requirement when choosing a font is legibility. Choose the right font size, apply correct spacing, and make smart color choices. Also, the general rule is to limit the amount of fonts you are using on a project to 3 or 4. If it is a small project, such as a business card, I’d keep that number down to 2. However, if it is for a website or large project it is customary to use up to 4 different types.

Dafont.com is an amazing website that offers free font downloads! There are hundreds available and the site conveniently puts together similar font types and lists them under categories such as Handwritten, Holidays, Retro, etc.

Below are some of my favorite combinations from free fonts available online:

fontsJenna Sue Regular
Adele
Janda Cheerful
Lane Narrow
Futura
Jack Story
English Essay
Windsor
Sail
Wonderlust
Couture
Cafe & Brewery

Do you have any combo recommendations? Please share! Happy designing!

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Creating & Editing Images for Blogs & Social Media

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Are you looking for some quick free solutions to creating pretty graphics for you blog and other social media accounts? I have a few different sites I’d like to share with you as an alternative to Photoshop or other expensive complex graphic and photo editing software.

First up is Canva. This is by far one of my favorite sites to use to add text and graphics to images! Canva is incredibly user friendly and offers a variety of design sizes for you to choose from. From Facebook cover designs to Instagram photos, Canva guides you step by step through the design process. It allows you to upload your own photographs and even provides several filters to change their looks. There are free stock graphics available as well as ones you can purchase. There are plenty of images and text layouts to choose from without having to pay for anything!

A great site to use for resizing images is this one found on the Internet Marketing Ninjas site. This tool allows you to upload an image from your computer or use a URL. Once uploaded, you can either manually enter the dimensions you’d like to resize the image to or choose from different sizes outfitted to the requirements of a social media sites such as Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

Do you have a great quote you’d like to share on Instagram? Visit Recite and enter your quote into the text editor and then choose one of their layout templates. The site gives you the option to share your creation with social media sites or download it. Here is a quick example:

recite-awt6ztDo you need to edit photos? Use Picasa  or  Gimp as a free alternative to Photoshop.

These are just a few of the many amazing free tools out there to help you create stunning images. Have you ever tried any of these sites? I’d love to hear your feedback or recommendations for similar tools!

Have fun designing!
sincerelysignature