How to Design a Blog

Want to design the perfect blog? The design of your blog is important because it draws viewers in. Here are a couple of my favorite blog design tips:

  1. Think of a theme for your layout. Do you want it to have a artsy and colorful look to match your brand (good to use for Etsy owners or artists)? Do you want it to look more simple and minimalist (great if you want more focus on the content)? Think of a few words to describe the look you are going for and even make a mood board or inspiration board. Choose a few layouts you really like from other blogs and make a note about what you like about each of them.
  2. Make sure you use a font and font size that is easy to read in your blog entries. Good fonts to use are Tahoma and Verdana. On graphics, you can use more unique fonts. Stick to a few basic fonts to use throughout your blog layout.
  3. Choose a couple main colors for your layout. I like checking out Design Seeds for color palettes which will give you ideas of color combinations to use. Do not use bright colors against white that are hard to read.
  4. What rules will you have for your blog? Will you blog 3x a week? Do you have different collaborators? Consider these rules when creating a layout because you want the design to work with your blog. If you have different writers, you might have a plugin that shows who the author is for each entry.
  5. Have personalized graphics in your blog posts with the title of your post that fit the style of your blog. These are perfect for sharing on social media. Canva is a good tool to use to create blog or social media graphics that are the right size.
  6. A sidebar is important to have in your blog and you should consider its features when designing a layout. How will you draw viewers in? Have an avatar or image yourself to personalize your blog. I also like to include a “read more” link or clickable image that takes viewers to my about page. Include social media icons if you use social media pages. Also, include other links on your blog such as a link to your website or Etsy shop, but try not to overfill your sidebar with widgets. I like to have a newsletter or subscribe opt in also so readers can stay connected.
  7. Have share or Pinterest button or click to tweets
  8. Check how your layout looks on different browsers. I like using Browserling. Also, check on your phone or tablet to make sure your blog is responsive.
  9. Fill in a style guide to keep track of your info. Write down the basic fonts, colors and rules you’ll use.

Download my eBook, Your Thread of Thought. You will learn how to find a platform to blog, what to blog about, how to create a layout, how to promote your blog and more! You will also get s free workbook with worksheets to help you blog.

Birthday Balloons

My new collection in Move the Needke is all about birthday balloons. I was inspired by an image I saw of watercolor like balloons and decided to make my own pattern of balloons in various color.

This birthday card is perfect to wish someone a happy birthday.

You can also get custom invitations on this pattern.

How do you celebrate your birthday?

How to Sell Supplies on Etsy Studio

Have you heard of Etsy Studio? Etsy Studio is Etsy’s marketplace for craft supplies. If you sell supplies on Etsy, Etsy will automatically list your supply items on Etsy Studio.

Finding a Niche

There a ton of options for items to sell. If you already own an Etsy shop, think of what supplies you use or what products you think you could add to your shop. Here are a couple ideas:

  • Fabric
  • Paper supplies
  • Beauty and soapmaking supplies
  • Packaging materials
  • Beads
  • Cooking supplies
  • String, cord and wire
  • Yarn and fiber
  • Paints and dyes
  • Stickers
  • Washi tape
  • Craft show displays
  • Patterns and how tos
  • Custom business supplies like business cards

Sourcing Products

If you have an idea on where to source supplies, you just need to find the right products to sell. You can’t just buy products from a store and sell them on Etsy. You will need to look at stores that specifically sell products wholesale (bulk products at a discount price) or offer drop shipping when you purchase an item (they can ship an item to customer under your business name). You can also use vintage items you find. Some good places to start looking are eBay and SaleHoo.

Taking Photos

Many wholesale and drop shipping already offer photos of their items for you to use in your shop. This is a good way to start off. I recommend taking your own photos if you can to develop a consistent style in your images. You can also add your own interesting backdrops and details.

Promote Your Shop

There are many ways to promote your shop on Etsy. Make sure to have all your tags filled in and use good SEO. Post on the Etsy teams and forums to promote your items and get views on your listing. Make a tutorial out your supplies and post it on your blog. Customers love to see your product in action!

I have tried selling a couple supplies in the past. I would love to offer more supplies on my Etsy shop.

Do you sell supplies?

How to Work Remotely Anywhere You Want

Want to work wherever you want? I love working remotely because it allows you to travel or work from home. You don’t need to be tied down to one place to work and can work in locations other than an office.

What Work Do You Want to Do?

Some work you can do remotely or anywhere in the world is:

  • Work at home and remote jobs
  • Being a virtual assistant
  • Blogging or working as a writer
  • Selling digital products like eBooks or courses
  • Selling prints where you can get the prints directly to a customer
  • Selling any product on a site like Etsy or eBay using drop shipping (the company ships the item for you
  • Using affiliate programs or being a remote brand ambassador

Here are some tips for traveling while working:

  • Use AirBnb for vacation rentals. AirBnb is often affordable and you can stay in people’s homes. You can choose to get a room or a whole place to yourself. If you use my link, you can get $35 off your first night.
  • Prefer a hotel? Use HotelTonight to find the best deals and rates for hotel stays.
  • Bring a laptop (or tablet or smartphone). Use whatever technology helps you work best. A laptop is a great way to use a computer and keyboard without a desktop. I used a laptop all the time in college and I love the MacBook the best. A smartphone or tablet is great if you need a camera or just to check your email or phone. Keep an external battery and portable charger if you are going to be needing extended use for technology.
  • Keep a good calendar or planner to schedule events and get work done A to do list is helpful. Often times, you just need one or two hours to work and you spend the rest of the day traveling or exploring
  • Do you need to make art? There are still ways to create. Find an Airbnb with a studio. A sketchbook is a great portable way to create art. I also recommend keeping all your art supplies in a small art bin or bag.

How do you like to work remotely while you travel? Let me know in the comments.

Create Your Own Customized Products

If you love creating and customizing your own products, check out my new website for Move the Needle. 

  1. Find a decorative pattern you like.
  2. Choose an item to customize the pattern on.
  3. Select any other details or variations and checkout.

I am selling everything from notebooks to laptop cases. My Etsy shop is also restocked with a bunch of new items that I am hoping it will increase my sales.

Let me know your favorite pattern in the comments.

How to Come Up with Blog Post Ideas

Do you know what to blog about? You will need to come up with blog post ideas every time you create a new blog post. You may have a lot of ideas already. Other times, you might feel stuck. Here are some tips for staying inspired.

Write Outside of Your Blog

If you usually blog on the computer, why not try writing somewhere else? It helps to keep a list or notebook with ideas of what you want to blog about. I like to write draft posts of blog posts on a notebook and then edit them on the computer later. You can even draw or doodle when you write in a notebook to get ideas or what you want visual photos to look like. Another idea is to use an application like Bean to write without distraction.

Take Photos

Instead of writing a blog post first, take some photos. This can also help if your blog isn’t usually visual and you just want to get ideas. Try taking photos of your daily activities or things that inspire you for a day or a week. Go through the photos later and choose the best ones to inspire blog post ideas or add to your blog posts to make them more interesting.

Look at Other Blogs

Joining a blog community or looking st other blogs can help you stay inspired. Many other blogs encourage other bloggers to join them in blogging about the same topic or using a certain tag. Comment on a blog with a similar topic and let them know their blog post inspired a topic on your blog.

Search for Keywords

SEO can help you come up with popular blog topic ideas that will get you noticed in search engines. Try using Google Keyword Planner to find different keyword phrases that may be a good title for your blog post or a starting point when you write.

Look in Books

If you don’t care as much about writing this week’s trending topics, try looking in books or magazines. Pick an article in a magazine or a topic in a book to inspire a blog post. I like to look through old issues of magazines and see if I can find topics that would be interesting on my blog.

Look at an Old Blog Post

If you have old blog entries, find a couple popular posts you really like. See if you can rewrite them with a new spin, add on to them or write an additional blog post on the same topic.

Want specific ideas on what to write about? Download my free blog post idea printable here.

Here are some specific ideas on what to blog about if you are stuck:

  • Do a day in the life or post some personal photos that let people know more about you.
  • Post your favorite ways to promote your business. Write about your favorite tools, websites or applications to use.
  • Make a list of your top 10 favorite ________.
  • Do a survey or let viewers ask you questions.
  • Post what you ate that day or what you are planning to make for dinner.
  • Post what inspires you or what it on your wishlist.
  • Make a tutorial that gives step by step instructions how to make something or accomplish a task.
  • Write about your favorite blogs or give a shoutout to other bloggers.
  • Try to change up your media. Add a video if you usually don’t make videos or add a photos if you usually do mostly text entries.

How do you come up with blog post ideas?

Vellabox Review + Giveaway

Vellabox

Vellabox is an artisan candle subscription box. They sent me a subscription box to review. We are also hosting a giveaway (scroll to the bottom to see how you can win a free monthly box).

Vellabox Reviews

I love the cute little yellow box Vellabox came in. Candles are delivered monthly from the finest American candle makers.

Vellabox Candle

The theme for this box was Fourth of July for the July theme. I love the patriotic theme and you can still use all the items even though it was a little after Fourth of July when I received the box. The candle was wrapped in this cute blue star bag.

Vellabox Candle

The candle that came in this box was from the company Pontie Wax from Brooklyn, NY. You can see their instagram @pontiewax

Pontie Wax Candle

The fragrance for the candle was fig mixed with oil from olive. It isn’t made with vegetable soy wax and natural oils that are highly fragrant. I loved the natural scent of this candle. They also had information about a bergamot and amber scented candle that was listed on their notecard and I think came in other boxes (you get a random candle). I think it is great you get a full size candle and they make sure the company makes quality candles that are hand poured in small batches. I only wish the box was filled with more candles!

I love lighting candles to relax and set the the mood so I thought this subscription box was a great idea. I used to collect candles, but haven’t bought candles lately so this box made me want to start collecting candles again and get different scents.

They also included a SPF15 Original Lip Balm from All Good from Morro Bay, CA. The lip balm is all natural and cruelty free inspired by wilderness. It is reef friendly and gluten free. The lip balm made my lips really soft and it is great to carry around or stick in your purse. Follow their social media @allgoodbrand.

Vellabox and My Thread of Thought are doing a giveaway of a 3 month Lucerna subscription! The Lucerna subscription contains a 4oz hand-poured artisan candle monthly plus one surprise gift.

All you have to do is subscribe to My Thread of Thought on Feedly  (you can also search for “mythreadofthought.com” directly on Feedly), share this post and leave a comment with your email address.

The giveaway ends August 15. The winner will be chosen randomly from all the entries. I will leave a post and email the luck winner. Good luck!

10 Things I Can Do For You as a Virtual Assistant + Free Toolkit for Creative Business Owners

Are you a creative business owner? I just relaunched my personal site. Instead of focusing on my art and personal projects, the new site is all about resources for business owners and creatives.

The main thing I sell on the website is services as a virtual assistant. You can buy any of my packages or work with me hourly. Services are great for creative business owners who need extra help on their social, Etsy or blog. I have worked as a virtual assistant for several years on Upwork so I am excited to launch on my own website also. Here are ten examples of things II can do with you as a virtual assistant.

  1. Create your Etsy shop. If you don’t have an Etsy shop, I can get you up and running. I can create your profile, write policies, write an about page and get your first listings up.
  2. Promote your Etsy shop. If you already have an Etsy shop, I can promote your products. For example, I can do paid advertising or promote your listings in the Etsy forums to get more views.
  3. Promote your KickStarter campaign. Do you not have the funds you need for your business? I can start or promote your KickStarter campaign. I helped launch a successful KickStarter campaign through social media promotion that raised over $35,000 to create coastal paintings in to functional dinnerware for Kim Rody Art.
  4. Improve your listings. SEO is a method that will use the write keywords to get your product noticed. I can edit your tags, description and title to use SEO to get your listings noticed. I can also write you descriptions or help you choose photos to use with your listings. I edited descriptions and helped with SEO for Cecelia Aurand Jewelry, a new shop on Etsy that sells jewelry.
  5. Fine tune your social media. If you haven’t touched your social media in a while, I can improve your social media page by updating your cover photo, writing your bio and creating photo albums.
  6. Grow your following on social media. When I grow your following, I will grow it organically. This means I won’t use robots to get you fake followers. Though you may not get a higher number of followers in a short time, the followers you get will be genuine and interested in your business. For example, I promoted Gardens of the Sun, on Pinterest and helped grow their audience organically.
  7. Interact with your audience. If you already have an audience, I can interact with them and create new posts on social media. I can also update your mailing list and send e-mail updates.
  8. Write blog posts. Do you have a blog? I can write high quality, SEO posts for you and include images.
  9. Bulk list items. Do you need something a little different? I have bulk listed over 1000 items in Cuff Links R Us, a shop that sells cufflinks on Etsy and eBay. I can bulk list your items or transfer your listings from one site to another.
  10. Work as your personal assistant. I can schedule appointments, send e-mails, contact companies or anything else you need for your business. If there is another project you need me to work on, I am flexible.

If you are looking for a freebie, check out my free toolkit for creative business owners. You will get access to the toolkit just be subscribing to my newsletter. Whether you have a handmade business, blog or freelance business, this library has goodies for you to start or grow your business. This toolkit has over 10 printable documents and spreadsheets.

Let me know what features you would like to see on my personal website.

 

How to Write an About Page for Your Etsy

Have you written an about page on your Etsy shop? An about page is important because it lets your viewer get a more in depth look at your shop. To edit your about page, go to Your Shop > Shop Settings > About Your Shop on the Etsy website.

Members

Your shop viewers will like to see who is behind the shop. The members section allows you to include a short bio of yourself. You can add info about yourself, what your other job is, your hobbies or where you live. You can also add a photo. Add a headshot or a photo of you working in your studio. You can also add other members or people who work on your shop.

About Page

What’s Your Story? 

Every shop has a unique story behind it. Your about page lets you share this story to your viewers. Start with a story headline that describes what your shop is all about.

The story section allows you to elaborate further on your shop. You can write about how you came up with the idea of your shop and how it get started. Maybe you have an interesting story or reason behind why you started your shop. Maybe you wanted to raise money to donate to a charity so you decided to open a shop selling a specific item to start earning money. Maybe you lost your job and thought opening an Etsy would be a unique way to earn money. Let your viewer know what your shop is all about. You can also include info on how your shop has grown throughout the years or places you have been featured on. Maybe you were featured in a magazine. This is a good place to write about it.

The story page also allows you to add five photos. Use high quality photos that are displayed 760 x 428 pixels. Since you already include photos of your items on your shop page, include other photos here. Studio photos work well such as photos of you working in the studio or in the process of making your craft. You can also add photos from craft shows, places you’ve been featured on, displays or your items or group photo shots of items.

Links

Finally, there is a section for shop links where you can include links to your shop blog and social media sites. This will help viewers find you on other websites.

Etsy might allow you to work with an outside manufacturer. If you do work with a manufacturer to create items for your shop, you can apply to work with a manufacturer in this section. Etsy will review your application.

Grab my free printable for creating an about page here!

Be sure to share it on social media.

What tips do you have for creating an about page for your Etsy?

How to Use Upwork to Find Jobs

How to Use Upwork to Find Jobs

Do you want to make money online freelancing? Upwork allows you to sell your skills, such as blog writing or social media marketing, so you can work independently as a freelancer. 

I started freelancing a few years ago as a virtual assistant and I prefer using Upwork over other freelance platforms. It is a combination of two older freelancing platforms, Elance and oDesk, and has all the features you need to start freelancing.

Build Your Profile

Upwork is an easy platform to get started on. First, create a profile. Choose a few key skills to focus on. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What skills are you good at? What are you already experienced at?
  • Have you done any past projects or virtual assistant work?
  • Is there a specific type of client you want to attract?

I sell myself as a virtual assistant for creative business owners. I specialize in Etsy and social media management. Try to get specific about what you are good at. It is helpful to be a general virtual assistant, but it is even better if you choose a few skills. If you do social media marketing, what platform do you want to focus on the most? If you are an eBook writer, is there a niche topic you want to focus on?

Apply for Jobs

It is easy to get started applying for jobs. Search for keywords that match your skills and save the searches you want to go back to. When you find a job you like, you can apply right away or save it for later. Use up all your job connects each month so you can apply for as many jobs as you can. Also, accept or respond to any invitational you get.

When you write a cover letter, tailor it to each job. Even if you have a basic cover letter you send out, make sure to follow the instructions and give them Allen the info they need. Some people will require you to answer a couple extra questions.

I have found that looking for jobs that really match your skills and fit you are better to do than to apply to every job you see. However, if you are a new freelancer, doing a couple easy jobs are a good way to build your portfolio

Follow Up and Get Hired

You may be asked for an interview or you might get hired right away. If so, you can chat with your client and get started working right away. You may want to specify I found you would rather work hourly or at a fixed price. Also, ask any questions you have and give the best way to communicate with you

Once you are finished with a project a project, you can add ot to your portfolio and get feedback

Promote Yourself

Use up all your job connects each month so you can apply for as many jobs as you can. Also, accept or respond to any invitational you get.

You can also promote your Upwork portfolio on other sites. I like to use Twitter to promote my services. You can also create your own virtual assistant website. If you would like a tutorial for this, let me know.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever used Upwork.