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!

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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:

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Step 5: Upload your newly designed header.

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

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Technology has replaced face to face human interaction

albert

I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love it because there is so much information and ways to access things anywhere in the world at anytime. Today it has surpassed almost everything. Technology dominates our world.

In turn, technology also prevents people from interacting. No one picks up the phone to talk, they send a text message or make a post on someone’s Facebook wall. It allows us to be so impersonal.

Don’t get me wrong, I do go on social media sites on my phone, but I primarily use it for photos, driving directions, and restaurant menus. That convenience in itself is wonderful. Yet, I cannot stand people who consistently bury their nose into their phone all day. Why do people care so much about what is going on in people’s lives they know nothing about? When I see people at restaurants dining together and both of them are sitting in silence checking their phones, it saddens me. Do they not realize they are wasting precious time with someone they actually care about? Your Facebook and Twitter will be there tomorrow, but perhaps the REAL people in your life may not. If you lose that person, then what?

Anyone who has lost someone important in their lives knows it leaves an empty hole inside of you. It is literally the most painful feeling I’ve ever felt. All you have left to reminisce about are the good times. Will you be on your twitter feed when someone you love is gone?

So, stop, please. Put the phone down and sit an enjoy a meal or a conversation with a loved one. The joy we get out of this life is being able to form close relationships with people. As social media sites grow, they put a wedge between our lives and our internet lives. How and why are social media sites addicting? I can see wanting to stay in touch with friends, but the things people share on Facebook… TMI. Really.

Sometimes I feel like I am at war with technology and technology always wins. The battle is fruitless.

In the business world technology is a Godsend, but nothing beats the face to face meeting with a strong hand shake. A personal hand written thank you note shows genuine gratitude because you took a few minutes to sit down and personally write a note.

So, get off your phone, computer, game console, and go actually interact with someone.

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What is it like to go to school full-time online?

Over the years I knew that I wanted to go back to school but, I didn’t know how I would find the time or what I wanted to do exactly. I took a few courses at Community College about 6 years ago both online and at the college. I found that the online classes were much easier for me because I was not constricted to be somewhere at a certain time and place. At that time online classes were just beginning to get popular so most of the communication was done through a website setup like a forum. The one class I had to actually go to the school to take the tests.

I considered taking more online classes but, as any student knows, it costs a lot. Even going to Community College and purchasing books was several hundred dollars for just one class. I couldn’t get aid because I was only going part-time. So, I stopped going and every once and awhile would check out online programs through different schools. After high school I attended a trade school, not a traditional college. I got my Associate’s Degree in 15 months. Even though trade schools are accredited many of the credits do not actually transfer. So, I was hesitant to start an online program because all of the ones I researched were “for-profit” schools. Which basically means the schools are owned usually by a corporation that makes a profit from the school but pays money on the taxes. Whereas non-profit schools are usually owned by the government free from taxes and the IRS allows many tax deductions. I had once heard that for-profit schools were a joke compared to regular colleges. Honestly, that is not the case.

I ended up taking the plunge a few months ago starting at Full Sail University enrolling in their graphic design program, I mentioned this several times already on the blog.I researched other schools and programs as well as read reviews online about each school. Both had the same amount of comments both negative and positive. Full Sail offered the first class, 30 days, without any obligation. If it was just not your thing, you weren’t required to stay enrolled.

The enrollment process was simple. I made a phone call to the school and spoke to an admissions representative for about an hour just discussing the program and requirements. After that several other people from the school such as the financial aid department contacted me and took care of everything.

So, what is it like?

It is A LOT of work! Some reviewers mentioned that they failed certain classes several times. As long as you do the work and put effort into it, I think it is impossible to fail! It requires a lot of discipline and time management. When I get my weekly assignments I begin to plan my week out around the due dates. Some assignments can take hours. Seriously. There have been times I worked on a single assignment for 10+. Breaking it down into a few hours a day really helps.

I have found that some of the classes are less engaging. At Full Sail they have live lectures that all students in that class can participate in. Usually the teacher goes through a PowerPoint type presentation and you can communicate with your classmates via a chat box.  If you cannot make the live session they do record it and make it available for others to watch. Honestly, it was hard for me to pay attention because the video is less engaging.

The teachers have been really great as far as availability. They are reachable on AIM, email, and by phone. A few times the assignment instructions were a little cloudy but the instructor responded to me within 24 hours.

Is it for you?

I think online learning requires a person who is incredibly self-motivated. If you are capable of guiding yourself through the materials that the school provides and sometimes teaching yourself, it may work for you. It can be really overwhelming, especially when you take on this responsibility in addition to your everyday responsibilities.

Do you recommend Full Sail University?

As I mentioned, I obtained a degree from another for-profit school which pales in comparison to Full Sail. While I can understand the hang ups that some people have said, I think it is a great school. The curriculum is unique and streamlined towards your specific major. I think it may be beneficial for new high school graduates to attend an actual college for the experience. Additionally, take some core classes that are transferable. Generally for-profit schools credits do not transfer. For someone like me who has been in the job market several years now and knows what they want to do, it is a great opportunity!

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