ANNOUNCEMENT:
Because of changes in my schedule, I am no longer updating this blog or taking on new clients. Previous clients are welcome to get in touch with me and I will consult my schedule to see if I have time to help you.
Thanks!
Pepper

Portfolio Update!

I just added three of my latest blog designs to my portfolio, if you'd like to check them out.  I still have a few waiting to be added... I've been so busy designing the blogs that I sometimes forget to add them to my portfolio when I finish!  Trying to get caught up soon.

Here are the blogs I added:




Awesome Gradient-Inspired Page Navigation Tabs

I was recently hired to give this blog a little TLC - not a full-on custom design, just some by-the-hour design work to spruce things up a bit.  I just wanted to share the awesome-sauce detail I added to the page tabs:



Pretty cool gradient effect, huh?  The blogger restores old furniture and one of the things she does is antique/distress it.  This look reminds me of those rough edges of the wood that are visible on the edges of that style of furniture.  I love it!

Photographers Galore!

I've had a busy couple of weeks making blogs, two of which are for photographers.  These are such fun blogs to make because the photographers are so artistic and give great design input.  Here is a peek at the two I just designed, I will add them to the portfolio soon!


It's a blog-shop!

I just finished my latest and greatest blog design.... it's a blog that's really a shop!  You can read more about it and see more screen shots in my portfolio here.


An Amazing Transformation!

Henry contacted me and asked me to makeover his blog, which happens to be a blog about how he is making over his life!  A lot of the blogs I design are kind of on the cutesy side, so this was a fun challenge to create something that was going to be clean and masculine.  In the end, I was able to make this wonderful transformation:



Another Blog Hot Off The Presses!

I am completely in love with my latest blog design, Out of the Blue, which I designed for a photographer who is known for her beautiful beach photography.  We designed this blog to match her company website and I think we did a great job maintaining consistent branding between the sites.

Here's a peek at what we created.....

Blog Rescue!

One of the top sellers in my etsy shop is my blogger tech support services.... and, honestly, this is my favorite service to provide!  I love the challenge of diagnosing a troubled blog and fixing it up like new.  Often bloggers come to me in a semi-crisis state because they have done something to muck up their blog template and need some help.  One person I helped had done something that make all of her widgets disappear and another person recently came to me because her blog took over a minute to load in the browser and we knew something had to be done.  Believe it or not... I was able to fix both of those problems in half an hour, costing the blogger only a cool $10.... pretty cheap, huh?  So, if your blog has gone wonky.... who you gonna call?  Me!  Trust me, it will be the best $10 you ever spent.

A Super Cute Blog Post Title!

I've been taking some classes on advanced css techniques and look at the cool trick I learned to make containers that look like they are stitched all around the edges.


I think this would make the cutest post titles for a crafty blog, don't you??

Another Beautiful Custom Design

I just wanted to take a minute to share another custom blog design that I recently finished for Jenn at a Forest Full of Songbirds.  This template was inspired by those lovely yellow bird and branch graphics that Jenn found and fell in love with.  She came to me to have a blog designed around them I think we did a great job.  What do you think?

Instant Downloads!

FYI: you can now download my black and white template directly from etsy for instant blog design satisfaction!

Right now, this is the only template I am offering as an instant download, but I'm going to try to offer all templates this way eventually.

Another Blog Under My Belt!

Yesterday I installed a beautiful new template on an awesome fashion blog, My Fair Leidy.  This was a fun site to work on because Leidy came to me with a sketch of exactly what she wanted the blog to look like, so it was a fun exercise of my coding skills to create a blog that matched her sketch perfectly.

What do you think?  Take a look at the cute links at the bottom of the posts "for more peek here" and "# of comments"... that actually took some pretty fancy coding to achieve that look and I think it turned out great!


Finding the Perfect Blog Planner

Blog Planners: do you use one?  I don't, but I recently decided that I need to start because this blog could use some organization.  So, I hit Pinterest to see what is out there and to try to find a planner that will work for me.  Here are some of my faves:

First up is Becky's planner on Infarrantly Creative:


I pinned this one a very long time ago, and I think it was the first time I had ever seen a blog planner.  Becky is an awesome blogger and I think she really nailed it with this planner.  I especially love the section called "Blogger to Encourage."  Why?  Because I often forget how important networking is, and I love the idea of putting a weekly reminder in there to reach out to a new person each week.

Next, I love Courtney's planner on Between U & Me and for sale in her etsy shop (although the shop appears to be down right now...)


Two things I really love about this planner that I think I could use are the pages to keep track of link parties and contacts.  Again, I'm bad about networking, so having that kind of stuff right there in my planner would be great for me.  I also love the post-planning page in there for two reasons: first, it has a little "follow up" box to remind you to go back to the post.  And second, it has a little SEO-friendly reminder to include internal links in your posts.  What I would really love to see in addition to those, are a little checklist to remind me to promote each post on social media.... like on the next planner.....

Here is Jolanthe's excellent planner from Homeschool Creations.


This planner is awesome.  I love the social media check boxes on each post and it also has a lot of other great pages... like a twitter hashtag tracker?  Genius!  And she even has a place to keep track of all your usernames and passwords... again, genius!  What's more, she's got a spot to track income and expenses and even mileage so you'll be ready when the tax-man comes calling.

Finally, I love this planner from the Digital Candy Shop on Etsy:


This planner is great because it tracks your blog AND your etsy shop at the same time, which is something that I probably need.  There are places to track your advertising, coupon codes, etc. for your etsy shop, plus the pages to track your blog as well.

So... after all this, which planner am I going to choose?  ... well, I think I'll make my own!  In addition to all the "obvious" stuff, here are the special features that I want in my planner:

MUST HAVE FEATURES IN MY BLOG PLANNER:
1.  Post entry sections that remind me to follow up on the post and to remind me to promote it on social media.
2.  Somewhere to track my weekly stats and maybe some other SEO stuff like keywords and traffic sources.
3.  Lots of reminders to network including a weekly reminder to reach out to at least one blogger and a contacts page where I can keep track of the bloggers I am building relationships with.
4.  A place to track stuff for my etsy shop at the same time that I track my bloggy stuff.
5.  Helpful pages in the back to keep track of stuff like link parties, passwords, etc.

FINALLY....
I want it all to be electronic rather than a pen & paper planner.

New: Live Blog Template Previews

I have a great collection of premade blog templates for sale in my etsy shop that is just about to get greater!  How so?  I'm adding LIVE previews of each of the templates so you can click around and see how they work.  I decided that the screenshots I'm posting on the listings just weren't enough to convey the beauty of the templates, so this was the next logical step.  I haven't set up the previews for all of the templates yet, but here are the links to the ones that are ready to go:

Chelsea: a lovely yellow and gray blog template.

Make Lemonade: a cheery bright teal and yellow blog template.

Pretty in Pink: a very girly, very pretty, and very pink blog template.

Black and White: a clean and simple black and white blog template for the minimalist.

I hope you have fun exploring this collection!

Creating a Beautiful Date Header in Blogger

I'm working on a custom blog design for a great new customer and I ran into a bit of a problem: we wanted some kind of divider between posts, but for some reason, every divider I tried just didn't look right.  I was kind of frustrated, then I had this idea to decorate the date header on the blog so it acts like a post divider.  As you can see, I centered the date header and put flourishes on either side:


What do you think?  I think it works really well.  Even if this design isn't something the client ends up going with, it's definitely something I'm going to put in my toolbox.

Super Simple Black and White Blog Template

Here is my latest addition to my premade blogger template collection in my etsy shop.  I'd say a lot of my premade templates are a little on the cutesy side, but this one is more serious - I made it for those of you who are looking for a truly minimalist blog template that will really show off your words or art.


Check out where I stashed the page navigation tabs?  I didn't want them to interfere with the simple lines of this blog, so I shrunk 'em down and stuck 'em up top!  You're welcome!

This template is super flexible: you can change this up from a two column to a three column design and adjust the widths to suit your fancy.  Because the header is text and not a graphic, you can change your blog title or tagline as much as you want.  I'm looking out for you!

New Custom Blog Design Services: Blog Design a la Carte

I'm excited to announce a new section on my shop: a la carte blog design services!  This section is for you folks who don't want a whole blog overhaul, but want to add something special to your blog.  Right now I have listings for a pinterest hover button, an email contact form, and a blog button with grab box code.  Pretty neat huh?  What other special blog design elements do you think I should offer in this section?


Of course, you can always skip a la carte and take advantage of my pay-by-the-hour design services and have me do multiple upgrades at once!

Contact Form Fun

Did you know that Blogger has a new contact form widget?  Well, check out what I did with it:


Instead of letting this widget live on the sidebar or footer of my blog, I made my own static page contact form!  Want me to add one to your blog?  I'd be happy to do it as part of my pay-by-the-hour design service!  It will take about 30 mins...

Busy as a Bee!

I was working with Jenny from Charming Little Bee on a custom blog design last week and we had so much fun working together that we decided to go crazy and make all sorts of matching graphics for her facebook, twitter, and etsy accounts... plus a business card!  Everything turned out super-cute, IMHO.  Jenny came to me with her adorable bee logo already designed, and we just ran with the rest!  I'll do a more formal presentation of everything we did, but here's a sneak peek:

the blog:

the goodies:

A custom blog design for you to check out!

I'm starting a new diet and I've been begging my new nutritionista friend Cassandra to share some of her recipes with me, so she decided to set up a blog to share them.  She was using one of the standard blogger templates and it made me sad to look at, so I knew I just had to make her a custom template!  She said she wanted something feminine, but not too girly, and that she likes neutral colors, so this is what I came up with:

Pretty in Pink!

I've added another great premade template to the shop!  I'm calling it "Pretty in Pink" because that's exactly what it is!  I can imagine this template being used on some really great girly website, maybe a beauty blog or a fashion blog... or just a personal blog for anyone who loves pink!  (And if you don't like pink.... I can switch things up for you for a small additional fee).


Of course, the coolest part about this template is the nifty bracket shaping on the top and bottom of the blog, but it's also got some other nifty features.  Mainly, it comes with TEN matching social media icons and I'll make up a cool Welcome graphic featuring your smiling face to greet visitors to your blog.  Neat!

A new template is taking shape...

I'm working on a new template to add to the shop.  One of the most important things to me is to make sure my templates are functional as well as beautiful.  That's why I always start by creating a frame of what I want the template to look like and make sure it all works properly, then I go back and add colors and the other design elements.

Here is the frame of what I'm working on now:


The main feature here is that great tabbed page navigation up top (which was surprisingly harder to create than you might imagine).  Now I just need to think of a way to pretty this baby up!  Any ideas?

My newest template!

I just listed a new premade blog template in my etsy shop!  It's called "On the Side" and it's one of my funkiest designs yet!

Check it out:

See how the blog title is all compact and on the side?  I think that's a neat design element that you don't see a lot.... and it's great because it leaves you a lot of prime real estate right up at the top of the blog for any gadget you want.  This would be an awesome template for an etsy shop blog because you can put your products front and center on your blog.  In fact, I designed the size of the space so that a one-column, three row, gallery size etsy mini widget will fit in there perfectly.  See:


If you don't have an etsy shop, I also love the idea of putting a slideshow of featured posts there (if you don't know how to do that, I can help!).  It's also great ad space if you are looking to monetize your blog in a serious way.

Ten Ways to Beat Writer's Block for Bloggers

I'm in the business of blog design and it breaks my heart when people have super awesome looking blogs, but never update them.  (Let me be the first to admit, I am guilty of this myself!  I have several blogs and I frequently let them languish for months with no updates).  Let's put an end to this madness!  Here is a list of ten things to write about when you can't think of a thing to say:


1.  Interview a fellow blogger:  If you are a blog writer, chances are you are a blog reader too!  So pick a blogger and send them a friendly email asking if you can interview them.  You can just do a standard, "get to know you" interview, interview them about a specific subject that are an "expert" in.  I think the second approach makes for a more interesting interview as it is likely to produce content that will be more useful to your readers.

2.  Create a list:  Pick a topic, any topic, and make a list about it!  (Much as I am doing right now).

3.  Create a weekly feature series:  If you regularly suffer from writer's block, a great idea is to create a weekly feature so you know that at least one day a week you will know exactly what you are writing about.  For example, I did this with my knitting blog: every Monday I have a post called "Maybe Monday" where I write about a pattern I am thinking about knitting.  You could feature a pin, a quote, a font, a spice, a book, a vacation spot... the possibilities are endless.

4.  Feature a handmade business:  Why not give your favorite etsy artists some love by featuring their products on your blog?  Just pick out a shop and start a conversation with the owner, ask them where they get their inspiration, how they learned their craft, what their favorite materials are, etc.  Ask if you can feature pictures of their products on your blog.  Very few shop owners are going to turn down free advertising!  Maybe they will even offer to give a discount code to your readers?

5.  Take your readers window shopping: What would you buy if you have $500 to blow right now?  Believe it or not, your readers are probably interested in the answer to that question!  So go ahead and take them shopping.  Show them everything you would buy and explain why you picked it.  For a variation on this theme, pick an imaginary vacation destination and write about where you would stay, what you would do, etc.  Let you imagination run wild.

6.  Ask a question: Who says you have to have all the answers?  Take a minute to write about a problem you are having, then ask your readers for advice.  This is a great idea because it will take up two posts: one to ask the question, and then a follow-up post to talk about all the advice you got and how you eventually resolved your problem.

7.  Write a letter: Pick someone you would like to talk to, and write them an open letter.  It can be to a specific person, like a politician, or to a group of people, like a nice encouraging letter to all mothers, for example.  You can even write it to yourself!  Make it serious or make it funny.

8.  Do some fundraising:  As a blogger, you are in a unique position to influence people.  Put that influence to good use by trying to raise some funds for a cause that you care about!  Take a minute to tell your readers why you care about a certain issue, and then tell them how they can get involved!

9.  Host a linky party: Invite fellow bloggers to link up their posts to yours using a tool such as inlinkz.  Be sure to visit everyone who links up to your party to comment on their post and thank them for linking up!

10.  Go off topic:  So what if you have a food blog??... go ahead and feature a craft project!  If you honestly can't think of anything to write about that is within your "niche", then go ahead and go off topic.  Mixing things up like this is sometimes all you need to get the creative juices flowing again.  Just be sure not to go off topic too often - you don't want to confuse your readers (or your sponsors!).

A work in progress....

I'm back! I've been on vacation, but now I'm back to the blog design biz full-force!  Just for fun, here is a sneak peek of the next pre-made template that I am working on in my design lab:


Pretty neat huh?  It's kind of a funky layout idea with the blog title all the way to the left, but I like it.  It will be the perfect template for an etsy shop too because you can fit an etsy mini gadget in that space I have blocked out with the dashed lines in the pic above.  I just need to make a few tweaks to it, then it will be ready to go in the shop. Really, one of the biggest things that has been holding me back is figuring out what to name it!

A new template!

Just added another premade blogger template to the etsy shop today.  You'll love it!  Check it out!


Pretty cute, huh?  I named it "Chelsea" because my cousin Chelsea recently got married and her colors were yellow and grey, just like this blog template.  Fascinating story, no?

When Life Gives You Lemons.....

I just posted my newest pre-made blog template in my etsy shop.  It's called "Make Lemonade" and it's super cheery!  You'll love it!  It's also jam-packed with awesome features, so be sure to check it out and share with anyone you know who may be in the market for a new look for their blog.


Also, for an additional fee, I will be happy to change up the background, fonts, or colors for you.  Take this template and make it your own!

I'm In Business!

This website is still a bit of a work in progress, but I am so excited to get started with my blog design business that I decided not to wait to get going!  I have set up a shop on etsy with a single listing: a custom blog design package.  This package will include an awesome blog design with all the bells and whistles that you can dream up, plus installation.

I've poked around etsy to get a feel for custom blog design prices and it looks like $100 is the going rate, so I am charging HALF of that - $50 - for my first few customers because I want a chance to build up my portfolio.  Rest assured, I will be raising my prices once I get a few designs under my belt, so I'd act now if I were you!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin