It’s been a while since I’ve shared some favorite fonts around here, but when I saw this bundle I had to share immediately! This gorgeous bundle of 20 fonts comes packed with beautiful typefaces worthy of any design work. 20 fonts for $20, can’t get much better than that! All the fonts in this bundle are fully PUA encoded meaning all the extra glyphs are available via Character Map and Fontbook (free programs on your PC/Mac). Below are a few of my favorites from the bundle. What an incredible bargain for only $20. This bundle will be available for a limited time only until April30th. Grab the Spring Fonts Bundle today and save a huge $280.
As you may already know, one of the most flexible, powerful, and smart ways to publish content online is by using WordPress software. And you may also already know that an even smarter way to use WordPress is with a framework… Frameworks are basically feature-packed parent themes. They are used as foundation blocks for custom made child themes that are powered by all the functionalities and features of the core theme/framework.
What good is a theme framework?
When you are on a time crunch but refuse to compromise with your theme’s code quality, that’s when you need a framework. So when you’re developing WordPress themes with a framework, almost half of your work is already done, and you have neatly arranged tools to help with the rest of front-end design.
Here’s what Studiopress has to say about frameworks: A theme framework (ours is called Genesis) is a robust WordPress theme that acts as a platform on which your WordPress website can be created. The Genesis Framework integrates all of the SEO, security, and performance features needed to help you have the best site possible. You can build your site on the Genesis Framework using the included sample child theme (it’s easy, flexible, and powerful enough for that), or you can purchase one of our many beautiful turnkey child theme designs to help you accomplish exactly what you want. It also “future-proofs” your site customizations, so there’s no hassle when it comes time to upgrade your software with one click. A child theme is the pure design element that rests on top of the framework — the cherry red paint job on that car. Or blue. Or black. Pink. Green. You get the idea. StudioPress has a great analogy based on automobiles to explain how frameworks work:
Why you’ll like the Genesis Framework:
Genesis by StudioPress is by far one of the most popular theme frameworks for WordPress. It’s perfect for WordPress developers of all levels of expertise. The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you’re a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.
Genesis isn’t like other commercial themes; filled to the brim with features and options you aren’t likely to choose. It has clean code and necessary features which make it lightweight and quick-loading. This gives you an automatic advantage in SEO through better performance.
There is a $59.95 one-time purchase fee that includes the framework, unlimited updates, support and access to detailed tutorials. They also have a Pro Plus All-Theme Package which includes instant and unlimited access to every theme currently available in the StudioPress theme shop (plus support and updates). Get every theme they make, now and in the future, for ONLY $499.95 That’s a savings of almost $1200!
HTML5 is the latest markup standard across the web: Website’s built on HTML5 are responsive, cross-browser compatible, easily extendable (3rd party tools and services integrate better with a markup that’s universally accepted), and effectively future proof.
- You don’t have to buy themes from StudioPress when it’s super easy to create a WordPress child theme yourself. But you have the option available; there are hundreds of gorgeous ready-made child themes available for Genesis framework. You are limited only by your scope of knowledge in CSS, but the customization possibilities with child themes are still immense. And if you are a site-owner who cannot find the right child theme, you can hire developers from StudioPress to create one for your specifications.
- The framework lets you widgetize almost every part of your theme. It also comes with some very interesting widgets built in like User Profiles, Featured Posts, Featured Page, social media icons, etc, all easily available within frameworks or through plugins.
- Genesis lets you break the default layout confines and gives you half a dozen built in post/page layouts to implement on different pages as you see fit. This inventory of layouts can be extended through David Decker’ Genesis Layout Extras plugin.
The free plugins built especially with Genesis in mind really make it even easier to work with. They are all listed here. There is Genesis Simple Hooks for the meticulous developer, Genesis Sidebars, Sliders, Tabs, Menus and more for super-easy addition of interactive elements. Genesis Connect for WooCommerce makes all your Genesis themes WooCommerce compatible in few clicks. Few frameworks can boast of such a huge show of support in the form of dedicated plugins created by awesome developers.
Genesis itself follows WordPress standards all the way through. This makes it impeccably secure. The framework is also audited by core WordPress developer Mark Jaquith, who calls it “top of the class” in following all security practices recommended for WordPress themes, right down to consistent updates (we’ll get to that in a moment).
The Big 3 Search Engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) are in cohorts with Schema.org. And Genesis’ code works in tune with Schema.org markup. This helps search engines recognize and categorize your content easily: giving you relevance and visibility where it’s due (organic search results).
Community and Resources
There are over, 200,000 live websites powered by Genesis. Those are not the numbers you gain from being useless. Genesis has a huge community of developers, designers, and users who rely upon the framework to create and provide the best in class WordPress websites. They are also generally helpful and can be found helping out others in need on various social media platforms and community forums.
While StudioPress covers a great deal of the framework’s possibilities in their documentation and guides, other users haven’t been far off in creating some amazingly helpful tutorials too.
Configuring Genesis Framework Theme Settings:
These control the general configuration of your theme. Here’s how to set them up for maximum advantage:
This is straightforward. Information screen gives you the details about your current Genesis version and lets you enable automatic updates. Since you’ll be working with Child Themes anyway (your appearance changes won’t be lost) , it’s good practice to check the auto-update box.
When you check the boxes and enter your custom feed URLs, your traffic will be directed to the URLs you specify here instead of WordPress-default feeds. These options are only available if you’re using a custom feed via Feedburner or Feedblitz.
This is where you set the default layout for all pages on your site. This option is also available in WordPress Customizer. Keep in mind that child themes can contain as many of these options as you like, and more with custom coding. You can also add more layouts with Genesis Layout Extras plugin (as mentioned previously). Child themes with a widgetized home-page layout will work autonomously, regardless of this setting.
Breadcrumbs let your users keep track of where they are in your site’s navigation and how they got there in the first place. Example: Home >> Products >> Women >> Jackets >> Navy Blue Military Jacket
You can tinker with this setting through Genesis Theme Options or WordPress Customizer. The answer to “Where to enable breadcrumbs” depends entirely on how many pages your site has, content organization and hierarchy, and navigation.
Comments and Trackbacks
This is where you define the global settings for comments and trackbacks. Note that if you disable comments/trackbacks here, you can’t enable them on specific posts/pages.
Here’s a quick overview:
- Display: This has two options, Entry Content and Excerpt. The next setting is only applicable if you choose Entry Content. The Excerpt will be shown at WordPress default 55-words length.
- Limit Content to: Note that this specifies characters (including spaces) and not words. Again, this setting only applies if you choose to display entry content.
- Featured Image: Allows you to display a set featured image or the first image of every post. You can set the dimensions and alignment. Tip: Featured Images shouldn’t be shown if you are displaying entire content.
- Entry Pagination: This has two options, Numeric and Previous/Next. You can set archives and listing navigation to one of the two settings. Example, Google search results show up with Numeric pagination.
Blog Page Template
These are configuration settings for any page using “Blog” template. You can display a specific category or all of them. You can exclude categories (by ID only). And you can define the number of posts to show on each page.
Header and Footer Scripts
It’s just as easy to work with as it was to set up. More than a few of these settings are also added to WordPress Customizer, but Genesis has an ace up its sleeve: SEO settings, unique only to Genesis Framework and all subsequent child themes, but that’s a different topic altogether.
Remember to have fun with the framework, and if you get stuck, laugh it off. Everyone is ready to help you on Genesis and WordPress.
Author Bio: Tracey Jones is well known as a professional WordPress developer and writer by hobby who works for HireWPGeeks Ltd., a leading custom WordPress theme development company across the globe. When she is not busy with coding she loves to write useful blogs and articles about WordPress and new web design technologies.
*affiliate links used
A few weeks ago I was looking through my blog archives and noticed that I hadn’t shared photos of my office in over a year! I realized it was because my workspace was no longer inspiring and decided to do something about it! A home office upgrade, starting with a unique home office gallery wall, woo!
I didn’t want to do anything major, but I knew I needed to reorganize and maybe add a few new things. And that’s where Fab.com came to the rescue! I picked 5 new items (focusing on bright and modern styles) and everything else I already had. Fab.com is the ultimate source for vibrant, fresh and functional items from tech, art, home goods, accessories, and beyond. It was seriously hard to keep myself from buying everything on the site, but it’s crazy how just a few new items can really transform a space. Check out the rest of my office make-over and be sure to scroll all the way down for a $1,000 Fab.com giveaway!
c/o Fab.com: Palm Leaf and Sun Poster “Whoa” by Wacka | Bright Coral Storage Box Set of 2 by Present Time | Elephant Bookend Set by Design Ideas | HiRise iPhone/iPad Power Dock by Twelve South | No.5 Backpack Microstripe Denim by Proper Assembly
Books: 100 Habits of Successful Graphic Designers | Worn Stories | The Graphic Design Exercise Book | Graphic Design The New Basics | Big Magic | Blog, Inc. | The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up | The Meetup Guide
Looking to upgrade your every day? Fab.com is giving you a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree! To qualify for entry, fill out the entry form over on Fab.com. The contest runs through March 15th, 2016. Winners will be chosen at random and announced on March 16, 2016. Fab will reach out directly to the winner via email to send $1,000 site credit.
I’m sure you’ve heard about how important having an email list is. Maybe you have one, maybe you’re waiting to come up with a plan before starting one, or maybe you have one set up, but are not sure how to get people to subscribe. There are tons of resources out there about growing your list, but today, in addition to giving you some tips, I also want to share my personal story. Specifically, how I increased my email subscribers by 600% in 1 month by changing just one thing. I implemented content upgrades.
So, you may be asking: what the heck is a content upgrade? It’s a pretty simple concept; content upgrades are free, bonus downloads relating specifically to your blog post. A content upgrade is different from a generic lead magnet, in that it’s directly related to a blog post (the content your readers are engaged in at that exact moment), which is why they are so effective. Here is an example:
You can use content upgrades to grow your email list by requiring visitors to enter their email in order to access the bonus content. It feels a little silly that it took me so long to figure out, but good news for you, I’m sharing the step by step so you don’t have to go through all the trial and error. I’m going to break down my four year journey in adding content upgrades to my blog, then explain how to approach yours in some simple steps.
My Personal Story of Content Upgrade Discovery
Let’s start from the beginning shall we?
- 2012: I started an email list with no rhyme or reason other than the fact that I was supposed to have one. It sat there slowly gaining anywhere from 0-20 subscribers a month.
- March 2014: I implemented a general lead magnet, but I’ll admit, I did not do it strategically. It was a collaborative ebook that I wrote an article in. I promoted the freebie to my blog and added a little blurb in my sidebar. I was happy to have a spike in subscribers that month and then I just forgot about it.
- March 2015: It wasn’t until over a year later, that I realized this very passive way of gaining subscribers was not enough. I actually started offering content upgrades to blog posts in 2012, but did not require people to sign up for my email list prior to downloading them. What was I thinking?! Looking back at it now, these worksheets have over 12,000 downloads. It almost makes me want to cry thinking of all those subscribers that I missed out on. Not all 12,000 downloads would have converted to email subscribers, but a lot of them would have!
- July 2015: I came up with a plan. I decided to create a private resource library to house all of these content upgrades. I went back and made all of these resources available only to those with access to the library (aka my email subscribers). I also continued to publish new posts with content upgrades.
Now that you know my story spanning over an extensive period of time, I’m going to show you how to implement this yourself. What took me years to slowly figure out, can be implemented in a few days by following the simple suggestions below.
How to Get More Subscribers By Using Content Upgrades
Create valuable content on your blog
This should be a blog post that is helpful to your audience. Figure out the types of problems that your readers are having in your field. What do you know that can benefit other people? Turn your readers problems into solutions. Amazing content is what will attract people to your site and keep them coming back.
Write evergreen content
Evergreen content is quality, useful content that will retain its value for a long period of time. Much like the timeless trees, your posts should be relevant for an extensive period of time. You are putting a lot of effort into this content, you don’t want it to become obsolete too quickly.
Create the upgrade
Create a resource that would make the content better. When you offer your visitors something that’s a perfect fit for what they came to your site for, they’re MUCH more likely to opt-in. Need some content upgrade ideas?
Add the resource to your site
Personally, I create a VIP library, where subscribers can access upgrades past and present, all in the same place. All they need is the password, which I send out in all of my emails. You can also deliver these upgrades individually through platforms like ConvertKit or Leadpages. I just switched to ConvertKit and am loving it!
Revisit your archives
Go back to high-traffic pages from your archives and add content upgrades to those evergreen posts that are still getting traffic.
Create shareable images
Pinterest is a top traffic source for many blogs so make sure to create a bold, vertical image that will stand out and give a clear picture of what the post is about. You can also highlight the content upgrade in the image to give people even more of a reason to click through!
Promote your posts
It’s not enough to just publish the post, you have to get some eyes on it. You really need to sell your content upgrade.
This strategy of content upgrades works much better than having a generic opt-in. You can see my stats below for proof of that. Aa generic lead management alone generated an increase, but my exponential growth cycle was prompted by the addition of strategic well-promoted posts that all had strategic content upgrades for readers to download.
An exponential increase in subscribers as noted above is something to consider when evaluating blogging strategies. To revisit our content upgrade strategy we: create valuable content, ensure we have evergreen content, create upgrades, add the resource to your site, revisit archives, create shareable images, and finally promote our new content enriched posts! I’m hoping that you too can find value in producing content upgrades for your blog. I know I have.
And what would a post about content upgrades be, without a content upgrade? Stuck on what your content upgrade items should be? I created a helpful list of 10 content upgrade ideas to help add value to your blog posts!
If you’re anywhere that isn’t Louisiana, you’re probably sitting on your couch surrounded by a million blankets in the most comfy sweater reading this (or at least, that is what I wish for you!). Looks like we’ll be spending the winter with just a few cold days here and there. But that doesn’t mean we can’t crank the AC and try to create a little fun at home! I wanted to gather as many scarves as possible for this shoot and just layer, layer, layer! The only rules were a cohesive color scheme and some breathing room for the models. The movement photos are my favorite. What’s your favorite kind of scarf?
This is a fun post that I like to do at the beginning of each year before I start sharing some new favorite fonts. I have already featured a few of them here over the past year as some of my personal favorites. Did you have a favorite font in 2015? Without further ado, here are the most popular font releases in 2015 according to MyFonts.
As usual they waited until the very last moment to put the finishing touches to this list, giving the faces released during the last months of the year a fair chance to make the cut. Unlike most other Best-of-the-Year lists, this one is based on sales. Not simply the total sales volume across the year, as that would give the oldest font families an unfair advantage. They’ve looked at average sales over the year and during the successful introduction period; we made sure popular genres are fairly represented and they included no more than one font family from each foundry.
Hey y’all. I’m back from my little blog break. I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and that you did something super fun to ring in the new year!!
I just want to say a big thank you for reading my emails and showing such amazing support. It was a pretty major year for me both personally and professionally, full of incredible opportunities and growth.
LOOKING BACK AT 2015
Here are some highlights in no particular order:
- After a full year of planning Kristy, Justin, and I produced the inaugural VenturePOP, the first ever creative entrepreneur conference in New Orleans.
- Launched a new ebook called Blogging With Intention
- Introduced the VIP Resource Library for email subscribers
- Got a puppy named Scrappy
- Continued to grow my product line.
- Worked with some amazing clients like New Orleans Film Society, Kelsey Berry Event Company, Race and Religious, Ellen Dolgen, Touro Infirmary Foundation, The Green Project and many more!
- Got married
- My design work was published on 100 Layer Cake, Hostess With the Mostess and 100 Layer Cakelet.
- Saw No Doubt play at Jazz Fest
- Regina interviewed me as a part of her Go Independent series and I wrote an article for her Blog In Print Magazine
- Celebrated 6 years of blogging and published over 60 blog posts with the help of my amazing contributors. Here are some of your faves:
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2016
I love helping people to grow their businesses whether it’s by sharing my knowledge through blog posts and e-books or creating brand identities allowing businesses to fulfill their greatest potential.
I want to help YOU and YOUR business! In 2016 I’ll be writing more about freelancing and design because it’s what I love to do and it’s what you’ve said you really want from me. If you have any design or biz struggles that you’d like me to go into on the blog or in a course, just let me know!
This year, I also decided I want to give my email subscribers some extra inspiration, so I’ll be including a new design each month that you can print yourself and display in your home or office (wherever you need a little encouragement). January’s already went out (see image above) but you can still purchase the design. It also comes on a mug so you can get your morning started right with this encouraging message.
Can you believe we are halfway through December! With all the holiday prep and business planning for 2016 this time of year can start to feel a little overwhelming right? Sometimes a simple desktop organization and wallpaper update can help me feel more focused and on track so I decided to design these two inspirational desktop wallpaper freebies for your computer and iPhone wallpapers.
This design uses one of my new favorite fonts, Fratello Nick. It’s a hand-lettered text with 1160 glyphs to play with. There are 15 fonts in the family. Both the Regular and Pro come in a variety of weights: Regular, Bold, Italic and Bold Italic. Also included are fun accessories like Initial Caps, 94 ornaments, 82 frames, two sets of Initial Caps (one allows you to insert special ornaments in the side insets!), a 3-letter Monogram font and three different Split Monogram fonts! (Each one has two different options when you type using upper or lower case… plain, flowers, bunnies, birds and butterflies!)
It can be simple and sweet or bring a touch of flair and whimsy to your project with any of its fun alternate letters. There are nine different uppercase alphabet sets! Check out Fratello Nick and, while you’re at it, browse the 49 other trending typefaces on the Hot New Fonts list. Annnnd the sweet Debi is offering you guys a special 50% off discount with code “cieradesign” when you purchase directly from her site through December 25.
As the holiday season rolls around each year, we often take a moment to be thankful for our families, our friends, and the best parts of our lives. What if you took that attitude and applied it to your business year round?
When people feel valued, they are more likely to work with you again or purchase more products. When you’re busy, sending a thank you note can feel like one more item on the never-ending to-do list, but the benefits from creating a culture of gratitude are endless. People will talk about you to their friends and business contacts, and they will be more pleasant to work with because they know you appreciate them. Gratitude will help your business grow.
If you haven’t taken the time for that extra touch this year, the holiday season is the perfect time of year to pause and take a moment to say thank you to people who have helped you in your business this year, purchased from you, or helped spread the word about what you do. It can be something as simple as a short, nice email, or a gesture like a gift or taking someone to coffee or dinner.
There will no doubt be a few people who come to mind first, like clients or employees, but here are some additional ways you can spread gratitude in unexpected places:
Clients or customers you’ve worked with this year.
If you do project work, make a list of your clients this year, then send them a handwritten card wishing them a great holiday and telling them how much you’ve appreciated working with them this year. If they were a big, ongoing client, a small gift would be a lovely gesture. Snail mail can be such an unexpected treat and truly appreciated. If you sell products and can’t possibly send a personalized card to all your purchasers, consider sending an email to them all saying how much you value their patronage.
Collaborators and advocates.
Did you work with another business owner on a project? Did you do a co-promotion with another blogger? Drop those people a note to say how much you loved working together. This could be a great time to set a date to talk about future collaborations! Or, you may have someone who is always referring clients to you or singing your praises in Facebook groups. Send a thank you for their kind words and let them know how much business it has brought you!
Social media followers.
Is there a person who is always retweeting you, or writing meaningful comments on your Instagram posts? Send that person a quick tweet or message saying how much you appreciate their support! They will love knowing that you see and appreciate them and will feel even more engaged in the community you build.
A product or service that you love.
Is there a podcast that you can’t wait to listen to each time a new episode arrives? A blogger that constantly publishes amazing, free content? Let him or her know! Leave an awesome review on iTunes for that podcast, or send a short, sincere email to that blogger. Knowing how much their products have helped you might be just the inspiration they need to keep it going.
Friends and family.
Undoubtedly, there is someone outside of your business supporting you and making it possible for you to do what you do. Maybe your mom watches the kids a few hours every afternoon so you can get things done, or your spouse takes on a few extra hours of work to make some extra income before your business turns a profit. Maybe you have a friend who is a big cheerleader of what you’re trying to accomplish when it feels like everyone else is doubting you. Let that person know how much their support has positively affected what you do in your work!
Once you see how awesome it is to make that extra effort towards people in your business life, you’ll want to continue it year round. Gratitude invites loyalty, and it makes the daily routine of business just a bit brighter for everyone.
Download this free worksheet as a way to keep track of all those people who help you out this year! When people feel valued, they are more likely to work with you again or purchase more products.
There are so many great blogs out there full of amazing design resources, tutorials for hand-lettering and freelance business advice, but sometimes don’t you just want an old-fashioned book? I still love flipping through and bookmarking pages for inspiration. I’ve included some of my favorite graphic design related books here, all of these graphic design books would also make amazing gifts for the creative types in your life!
The Best Graphic Design Books:
- Type Rules: The Designer’s Guide to Professional Typography
- Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
- The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces
- Work for Money, Design for Love: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Starting and Running a Successful Design Business
- Creative Lettering and Beyond: Inspiring Tips, Techniques, and Ideas for Hand Lettering
- How to be a Graphic Designer, without Losing Your Soul: Straight-talking Advice on How to Establish Your Design Career
- Freelance Design in Practice: Explaining exactly what it takes to create a full-time freelance business
- Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business
- Little Black Font Book: the go-to resource for designers and typographers looking for the perfect font
- In Progress: See Inside Jessica Hische’s Sketchbook and Process
- Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities
- Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors & Students