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The Blog

The place we write.

We’re not just bloggers – we’re also moms, dads, wives, husbands, business owners, employees… well, you get the point. Super-hero time management skills are needed in our line of business. You need to always be “on” and be productive, which can often be overwhelming. It’s enough for your brain to explode with all the things that need to get done.

But before the explosion, there are a few productivity tips we use to keep our blog and life on track. You don’t need to do them all – try on one or two on for size and see if they work for you. If you’re feeling more productive, then try a couple more out until you feel like you’ve got this productivity thing on schedule: Read more…

Being searchable is the name of the game in the world of blogging. It’s an important piece of the puzzle – trying to be friendly to Google and other search engines, while tailoring your content for your audience. It’s not easy to pull off this balancing act… but you can do it.

If you’re new to the world of SEO and searchability, there are a few things you can do to make your posts attractive to Google. Follow these handy tips and watch your rankings go up:

Add a few text links to your posts. Adding external (links to another site other than your own) and internal (links that go to other posts on your blog) links is an easy way to add searchability to your posts. By linking to other sites, you’ve added another relevant dimension to your content, while linking to your own articles you’ve written ensure that readers will stay longer on your site.

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What kind of a blogger are you? That’s not a trick question – it’s one you need to ask yourself as a blogger. The industry you specialize in may be expansive… so how are you going to stand out? You need to find your blogging niche in order to establish yourself as an expert.

You may have said to yourself: “GAH! There are so many bloggers already writing about (Insert specialty here). How am I going to compete?” That’s where the niche blogging market comes in. Sure, you may have covered a broad range of subjects in the past, but by becoming a niche blogger, you’re ensuring that the right people are seeing and paying attention to your posts.

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Better relationships start on your blog
Relationships are important in every aspect of our lives. So you won’t be surprised if we told you that they’re also important for your blog. Relationships bring visitors to your website, and everyone wants more traffic. There are many ways to build relationships with your readers and make them stronger. But like we’ve told you time and again, relationships, like blogs, take time to build. You need to cultivate them continuously. Here are a few ways to build relationships and bring more people to your blog:
  • Who is your ideal reader? This is the person you should think about when you’re writing blog posts. Do you know who you’re trying to reach? Are they married, single, have kids, old, young? What do they spend their time and money on? Do they work in the same industry as you or are they just looking for information? These are the things that make up who you’re trying to reach.
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5 tips to help you achieve blogging zen with deadlines and duties
You may love what you do for a living, but sometimes that doesn’t always equate when it’s time to update your blog. Sure, you’re organized – you’ve set up an editorial calendar and you’re ready to go.  But sometimes, deadlines and duties can weigh on your mind, causing lots of worry and sleepless nights.

But what can you do?

Forget the worry and dive into the deep end! That’s right – embrace those blogging deadlines and duties. They’re not going anywhere, so there’s no reason to put that extra stress on yourself. And the worst thing you can do is say: “Oh well, I’ll get to that post/update tomorrow.” Don’t fool yourself – you know that tomorrow is never coming. It’s time to get to those deadlines before it’s pushed to the bottom of your “To-Do” list.

Procrastination can be a blogger’s worst enemy. Remember that it takes more energy to put it off, so do yourself a favor and get it done today. “But how?” you may ask. Here are five tips to make peace with those deadlines and duties, and feel at one with the universe.

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your quick fix guide to code debugging
I wouldn’t call myself a professional debugger (not yet anyway!) but after a year of schooling and intense code learning I’ve come up with some helpful debugging advice. These tips come from last minute procrastination of assignments gone wrong, code that doesn’t want to behave, and rushing to catch up in class when I’ve come up to an error. Debugging is easy if you want it to be and I think of it as a fun scavenger hunt, where some others might think it’s as a reason to throw around a computer mouse and pull their hair out. Don’t fret! I’ve put together some basic tips to help you keep your cool – and you hair!

Check Your Variables Names

Seems pretty simple right? But this mistake has happened to myself far too many times to count. Variables are used to connect other files to each other, whether it be HTML or in between programming functions. If your variables are one letter off, nothing will work because they are the glue that holds everything together. An easy way to avoid this confusion is to write them down on a piece of paper and have it in front of you! That way you don’t have to backtrack or guess off the top of your head.

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Getting ready for your giveaway
As we talked about before, contests are a fantastic way to generate a bigger fan base and drive traffic to your blog. But if you’ve never run one before, it’s a little more complicated than just giving away a prize to a winner. If you’re organized, your contest can be a huge success, as well as a strategic marketing tool that won’t cost you a cent.

Prize to give away: In your industry of choice, you’ve probably made a few contacts with suppliers and manufacturers. And these guys are always looking for a cost-effective way to get the word out about their business/product. Ask them if they would be interested in supplying a prize in return for mentions on your blog and social media accounts. That way, you get a free grand prize and the company gets low-cost advertising – everyone wins! Make sure that the value of the prize offered is enticing enough to get people to enter.

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inspiring examples of flat and design and skeumorphism
The world of web design has seen it’s fair share of competing trends, but one of the biggest and latest rivalries is flat design vs. skeumorphism. What are these you ask? Flat design utilizes clean crisp edges to promote a modern flat appearance for the user. Skeumorphism or ‘realism’ design, utilizes textures, imagery and animations to create an interactive interface.

If you’d like to learn more about these design trends check out this funny interactive website Flat vs Realism. Since Apple switched over to flat design in 2013 the web has been in an uproar about which one is better and which one should pack it’s belongings and leave. In my opinion I think both styles can be very attractive, so why choose? Here are a few of my favourite examples of each!
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6 creative ways to overcome writers block
Writer’s block bums us all out. We’ve all been there and it sucks. But there are ways of making it suck less. Because you’re a creative type (just like us), we’ve decided to put together a list of ways that have helped us overcome writer’s block – and they are pretty creative. And you’ll notice that none of them include banging your head on the desk or running around in a panic, yelling “GAH! I’m all out of ideas! The world is ending!”

Go to the gym. Or if you don’t belong to a gym, go for a walk with the dog, run up and down the stairs or go for a jog. Anything to get your heart and endorphins pumping. Those endorphins make you happier, stimulate the brain and will get the ideas flowing. As well, you’ll get away from your blog, computer and workspace. It’ll help if you walk away from your post to get new perspective and will take your mind off the block.
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7 mistakes your blog is making on pinterest
Since making its way onto the social media scene in 2010, Pinterest keeps building a loyal following. In fact, it already boasts 70 million users from around the world – and that number just keeps on growing. Is your business or brand using Pinterest to promote your products and services? That’s great – but are you doing it right? Let’s go over a few common mistakes you may be making on Pinterest.

You don’t include your other social media profiles: If you’re active on other social media sites, you should be letting people know where else they can find you. You can add your other social media handles to your profile description.
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6 reasons your business should send out newsletters
Newsletters should be a part of your marketing strategy, as they are an important part of retaining customers, keeping them engaged with your business or website, and providing relevant content about what you do and offer. Here are our top 6 reasons on why you should be sending out newsletters.

Keep in Touch: Newsletters are a wonderful way to communicate with your customers. Building familiarity with them helps clients and customers get to know you and what you do. It will remind them that you’re publishing great content on your site. You can effectively get your message across to a client and establish brand loyalty.
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a web designers guide to a healthier workspace
You’ve probably heard the buzz lately on how sitting is becoming the new smoking and a sedentary life can be the number one cause of illness. This can be a frightening thought when your career involves sitting for prolonged periods of time. Proper ergonomics and a few slight adjustments to your workspace will help to improve your posture, circulation and overall liveliness.

Improve Your Posture

Many people don’t know that proper posture can directly impact your mood and overall health, unfortunately this is the main downfall of a sedentary job. Don’t worry! There are so many alternatives to help with this conundrum. One of the things that I use is a Yoga Wrap, this contraption works by activating the muscles in your back that weaken through slouching. You can also invest in a standing desk, these are great because they also help strengthen the muscles in your back and keep you moving.

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5 outspoken reasons to comment on other people's blogs
Wondering how to get more interaction or comments on your blog posts or social media updates? The answer may surprise you – you need to leave comments in order to get comments. We make it sound pretty simple, but it takes some time and effort, as well as consistency, on your part. You need to carve time out of your day to comment on other people’s blog/social media accounts – just one more thing to add to the growing to-do list. Gah!

As a business owner, you need to be serious about growing your reach and audience, finding customers to visit your website to buy your product and services. Having an active blog that engages readers and invites comments helps your Google ranking and engages readers – these are both awesome things that help your business get noticed. Adding comments are much more than adding a “like” to a Facebook status – you’re telling that person that you took the time to read what they had say and you took the time to voice your comment.
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Is it just me, or do most graphic designers tend have a personal preference between working in either print or web? I’ve always been a print girl myself. Pantone books, materials, finishing options and holding that end result in my hands is simply heaven to me! Brochures, business cards, magazine ads, posters, direct mail, user manuals, catalogues – you name it, I’ve done it. In recent years, my career has been focused more specifically on packaging design, a whole other beast in the print industry.

When you think about it, there is a lot more to packaging than meets the eye. Sure, it’s a great way to market and brand a product (the main focus for designers), but it can also provide:

  • physical protection to product contents
  • extended shelf life and product freshness
  • communication of information such as: directions of use, disposal and safe handling among other things
  • security by means of tamper resistance

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6 picture perfect tips on how to use pinterest on your blog
Depending on what kind of business you run, you may have set up shop on Pinterest. Granted, it’s not for every business or blog – it’s for those that are photo-centric. If that describes your product, service or brand, then perhaps you should give Pinterest a shot and see what it can do for your blog. Setting up boards and pinning pictures are a fantastic way to drive new visitors to your site.

Just like any social media site, there are best practices you should keep in mind when using Pinterest. Here are our 6 top tips when you’re pinning:

Quality Images.

This may be an obvious one, but we felt that it needed to be mentioned. Your images need to be of good quality and need to be large enough so people can see them once they are pinned to your board. Photos that are interesting and well-lit are the most likely to be re-pinned and shared.
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top 5 essential linkedin tips for blogging professionals
No matter what kind of business you’re in, you need to have a presence on LinkedIn. It should be part of your social media strategy – whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other number of social media platforms. LinkedIn is a professional social media network and your peers will have a profile on it… and that means that you should as well.

Why do we think you should be on LinkedIn? We have about 240 million good reasons – those being the active members and corporate brands that use this social media platform. It’s worth your while to extend your reach, make connections and form relations with others in your field of expertise in this valuable arena. And to get you started off on the right foot, here are five LinkedIn tips to get you connected:

Build a strong LinkedIn Profile.

If your profile isn’t strong, it’s going to get overlooked. Start with the headline and make sure it contains SEO keywords you want to be found for. It should be searchable, just don’t go overboard.
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why small business blogging isn't all about you
Don’t get us wrong – it’s important to get personal with your business blog. You’ve got to make that personal, human connection with your audience. You’ve been there and done that, and you want to share that information with your readers. Kudos to you… but after a while, it’s easy to lose sight that your blog is really about your readers, not about you. You’re writing about how YOU can help THEM. There’s still a lot you can do to make your posts all about your readers – just follow these handy tips and get back on the right track to making it all about them again.

Wording matters.

Let’s just say you write a blog all about gluten-free food, and you have a problem when your kids go to their friends’ houses after school – they feel left out when the sweet treats are pulled out and they can’t partake. Instead of writing: “My kids are often left out of snack time at their friend’s houses,” write an article titled “Top 10 Kid Friendly Snacks For Kids On The Go.” That’s an article that that’s more about the reader and less about you.
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crowdsourcing
Being a designer and freelance business owner, I have been reading a lot lately on crowdsourcing within the design industry. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, crowdsourcing refers to the method of providing a creative brief to a pool of designers. From here, the person posting the contest or brief gets a ton of submissions from designers all over the world. The “winner” is the only one who gets paid and the “prize” is often significantly less than the market rate for designs. It’s important to note the difference between posting a brief and asking for portfolios versus posting and asking for submissions. Free submissions are considered spec work, which is highly frowned upon in the design industry. The following is under the assumption that designers are submitting work for free, or for a very low charge.

Crowd Sourcing

People have many different opinions on the matter and it’s interesting to hear opposing arguments. Here are some of the reasons businesses are turning to crowdsourcing for their design needs:

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top 5 social media mistakes you need to kick to the curb
We’re all human – we all make mistakes. The best of us make boo boos on social media. That’s how we learn. But the point it to grow from them… and we admit that we’ve made the following social media mistakes. That’s why we want to share them with you. Because you might not even be aware that they are mistakes! Let’s remedy that right now and go over the top 5 social media mistakes you need to kick to the curb:

#1. Stop deleting negative comments.

Okay, we all hate negative comments. It’s alright to admit that you take them a bit personally. There are people out there that make mean comments about spelling and grammar, or just don’t share the same opinion as you do. It’s going to happen. Suck it up, buttercup. Pull up your big girl panties and leave that comment on your blog or social media profile. Readers took the time to leave it, and chances are they are waiting to see how you are going to react. You can respond accordingly – whether it’s to respond with a professional debate or just with a “thank you for commenting.” Or, you may not want to say anything at all – it’s up to you. But leave it up! Read more…

become a kick-ass blogger in just 60 minutes
We all can take 60 minutes to become a kick-ass blogger. Imagine what you can become in that time? Why, you can take over the blogoshere (insert evil laugh here)! Of course, you would use your power for good instead of evil, which is why we are going to help you achieve your goals for blog domination.

Most of it comes down to time management. Sixty minutes needs to come from somewhere, as we all have the same 24 hours in the day to work with. It all boils down to what you do with yours. You should have your goals written down and have a process in place for achieving for those goals. Here are some tips that will help you get to those goals, if you set aside those 60 minutes to become a kick-ass blogger.

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