Tag Archives: beginning blog

Beating Writer’s Block: Changing Your Environment

I’ve been doing a few videos recently regarding how to kick writer’s block and get your creativity in gear to make this a year of productivity for you. The way I’m suggesting you beat writer’s block today is changing your environment. Hear me out on this one, I’m not advocating for picking up and moving across the country (though, let’s face it, that would probably do something to your muse).

Let’s be honest, an issue that is ALWAYS floating around writing groups is how to defeat writer’s block. As long as there are writers, there will always be reasons for writers to struggle with actually doing the work. That’s one thing that many writers forget when talking about issues which keep them from writing. There are a lot of different things that may hold writers of all kinds (from fiction to memoir to non-fiction and copy writing, to anything in between!)

That’s what prompted me to begin a short video series (six videos, and they’re all less than 5 minutes each) about how you can beat writers block every time it comes knocking. There’s no reason why you need to suffer just because your muse is playing hard to get. Check out the video below, and make sure that you subscribe on Youtube or check them out, here!

Think you’ll need help staying motivated? I’ve created a few wallpapers to help keep you on track. You can download them here http://bit.ly/writing-wallpapers

beating-writer's-blockWant to be sure you catch all of the details? Make sure you’re on my list!

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Have you missed the last few posts? Catch them all: Tip 1, Tip 2, Tip 3, Tip 5, Tip 6.

Beating Writer’s Block: On Changing It Up!

An issue that is ALWAYS floating around writing groups is how to defeat writer’s block. As long as there are writers, there will always be reasons for writers to struggle with actually doing the work. That’s one thing that many writers forget when talking about issues which keep them from writing. There are a lot of different things that may hold writers of all kinds (from fiction to memoir to non-fiction and copy writing, to anything in between!)

That’s what prompted me to begin a short video series (six videos, and they’re all less than 5 minutes each) about how you can beat writers block every time it comes knocking. There’s no reason why you need to suffer just because your muse is playing hard to get. Check out the video below, and make sure that you subscribe on Youtube or check them out, here!

Think you’ll need help staying motivated? I’ve created a few wallpapers to help keep you on track. You can download them here http://bit.ly/writing-wallpapers

beating-writer's-blockWant to be sure you catch all of the details? Make sure you’re on my list!

privacy We value your privacy and would never spam.

Want more tips? Check out the other video posts: Tip 1, Tip 3, Tip 4, Tip 5Tip 6.

Beating Writer’s Block – A Video Series for Writing Badasses On the Go!

An issue that is ALWAYS floating around writing groups is how to defeat writer’s block. As long as there are writers, there will always be reasons for writers to struggle with actually doing the work. That’s one thing that many writers forget when talking about issues which keep them from writing. There are a lot of different things that may hold writers of all kinds (from fiction to memoir to non-fiction and copy writing, to anything in between!)

That’s what prompted me to begin a short video series (six videos, and they’re all less than 5 minutes each) about how you can beat writers block every time it comes knocking. There’s no reason why you need to suffer just because your muse is playing hard to get. Check out the video below, and make sure that you subscribe on Youtube or check them out, here!

Think you’ll need help staying motivated? I’ve created a few wallpapers to help keep you on track. You can download them here http://bit.ly/writing-wallpapers

beating-writer's-blockWant to be sure you catch all of the details? Make sure you’re on my list!

privacy We value your privacy and would never spam.

Want to see the ones which are already out? Tip 2, Tip 3, Tip 4, Tip 5, Tip 6.

Being a Creative with a Chronic Illness

creative-chronic-illnessWorking in a creative industry is difficult, period. Being a creative with a chronic illness presents an entirely new set of challenges. When you work as a creative, especially if you are an entrepreneur who works for yourself, you have probably found that you need to work twice as hard as those you know who have a “normal” job to earn the same accolades. It’s somehow not as impressive to start a business as it is to get a job, and that is especially true when your job involves the arts.

You may have found that it doesn’t matter how much money you are bringing in, or how many clients you have. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve just published another book or are speaking at a conference next month. Someone you know is still going to call your creative business or career a “hobby” and ask you when you’re going to get a “real job”.

Surely that business you run on Etsy can’t be real, because you don’t have physical retail space! Surely that freelance or consulting work you’re doing isn’t “real work” because you’ve always loved to draw! You make it look effortless even though it’s not, or you have always loved to paint so surely it isn’t work! – We’ve all heard it.

Now add another layer to that disbelief. Imagine that on top of having people doubt you because on top of not having a “real job” that isn’t something you enjoy, you have a debilitating chronic illness. (Add another layer if you’re someone who has an invisible illness.)

Welcome to the life of thousands of creative people on the planet today, myself included. In this post series I plan to ask others like me how they stay focused, motivated, and productive during the good days and the bad – in spite of the odds and the discouragement that comes from friends and family. (Despite however well-meaning they might be.) – It’s always a challenge when people “don’t get” what you do for a living, but what about when they think you’re “too lazy to get a real job”?

I look forward to diving into this topic in the coming weeks. If you’d like to contribute, comment here with an email address where I can reach you, or email me directly fox [at] bloggingonward.com

You can check out the interviews in this series here:
Natasha Duncan-Drake
Fox Emm
Sarah Alexander

Amazing Graphic Resources You Need to Try

amazing-graphic-resources-you-need-to-tryAs you know, I’m a wordsmith by trade. I’m not the most image-oriented person, even though I recognize that my blog will need pictures to succeed. In fact, I’ve written posts about other graphic resources in the past, though they focused mainly on the stock photo side of things. My article about free stock photo sites was one of the first ones I republished after my site kicked the bucket originally, and I think that speaks volumes about just how important graphics, photos, and images are when presenting content on the web.

Not to mention my post series on how to survive without photoshop or expensive editing software. (We aren’t all in the market for Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Light Box, or InDesign.) I think it’s important that bloggers, freelancers, writers, and others to have reasonable alternatives, even if they’re operating on a shoestring budget.

Today I wanted to talk about a different type of image that is equally important to the success of blogs, websites, and all other forms of digestible content. That’s right, even your presentations and ebooks aren’t safe!

I’m talking about logos and diagrams!

The Big Picture of Little Pictures

So you might be wondering why you’d ever need logos, diagrams, or icons. Typically when you think of things like sales funnels or pie charts, you think of presentations in the board room. While that might be the furthest thing from your situation, (Especially for the mompreneurs and solopreneurs out there), don’t rush to conclusions. Icons, diagrams, and charts are essential when you begin creating content upgrades like eBooks. (Not to mention when you’re creating course content or hosting a webinar!)

Here are my three favorite graphic resources that are sure to spice up any presentation, ebook, webinar, or course content you need to put together. Best of all, they’re inexpensive, so even those of us who aren’t rolling in the dough will be able to get the tools we need to succeed!

Note: I’m not getting paid/this isn’t a sponsored post of any kind. I just really love what these folks are doing and want to spread the love with my fellow writers, bloggers, and other folks who might need some graphical awesome.

infoDiagram

For those of you who make your eBooks and presentations using Microsoft Powerpoint or Google Slides, prepare to fall in love! infoDiagram makes fully customizeable graphics and diagrams which are delivered in Powerpoint. When you open the file, you can tweak everything from any overlaying text to the colors used in the graphic, so that way everything you use will be on brand or consistent with your project’s color scheme. (Awesome!) This is especially cool for the watercolor diagrams and images. – Their designs range from modern to playful scribbly and watercolor, so poke around the next time you have to put together a presentation.

The best part is that they offer a free sample so you can check out what they have to offer before purchasing any given package. – If you happen to sign up for a subscription, let them know I sent you!

LogoDust by Fairpixels

Logodust is pretty great for finding logos and other design gems. The premise of this site is that they want the logos their clients don’t use to go to good homes. They don’t like the thought of them going to waste, and would instead prefer to benefit others who might not have the budget to get a logo for their startup. (Great sentiment, right?) — While I didn’t go this route for my blog or business logo, I definitely use this site for inspiration for my own faux-graphic design work and for any project logos I might need. They’re also helpful for course content and creating presentation icons and graphics. They deliver their images in illustrator format, so keep that in mind before you click “download”!

Their logos are very modern and involve symbols most of the time, so if you’re very into typography this won’t be the site for you. However, it’s still a great resource if you love design and simplicity, and I love the fact that they’ll send logos to me once a week to remind me they exist and to help keep the inspiration flowing. (Plus, their actual logo design company does work on a “pay what you will” basis, so if you love their work and want something custom, odds are you’ll be able to get something prepared!)

Iconcrafts

This place is great for customized icons for web design, ebooks, courses, presentations – you name it, they can hook you up. What’s great about this site is that, like infoDiagram, their images are easily customized. With this site you can create custom graphics for pretty much any genre or theme, all with a few clicks of your mouse. Once you’re done, you can download the icons in multiple formats, but I love the trusty PNG for easy transfer into my photo editor of choice. – You won’t find any icons that are too detailed here, but if variety is the spice of life – this site is anything but bland.

What are your favorite places to find icons and graphic resources?

3 Free iPhone Photo Editing Apps

top-3-free-iphone-photo-editing-appsSo we’ve talked about ways to edit photos with your computer, and with your android device in the how to survive without Photoshop as a blogger series, but now it’s time to talk about free iPhone photo editing apps. Although recently Apple has seen a drop in iPhone sales with the release of their newest model, there are still an estimated 800 million idevice users worldwide. (At least as recently as 2014, anyway.)

If you’re looking for ways to spice up your iPhone photos, look no further! I’ve collected my top 3, absolute favorite free photo editing apps for iOS.

  1. Snapseed – If you read my Android device article, then you have heard of Snapseed. Surprise, surprise, its iOS counterpart is taking the gold, too. It’s really easy to use and offers options for adjusting everything from warmth/temperature of your photos and brightness, to “healing” small, unwanted elements so they disappear from your photos. It also offers filters, textures, and blurs to modify the feel of any image. Essentially, if you want a wonderful one stop shop for editing images with your iPhone, choose Snapseed.
  2. VSCO – This app works as a photo editor OR a camera, which is unique for this post series. The main appeal is that they’ve managed to load some of the same elements they utilize in their Adobe Lightroom presets into their filters. (Because the same company who creates this app also works with Adobe. Do you like where this is going, too?) The strong point of this app is (somewhat obviously) their filters, and even with just the basic set the app is a powerhouse. You can download additional sets, some of which are free and others require a small fee.

    Whether you’re using the ones the app comes with or downloading additional ones, the great thing about their filters is they aren’t as intense/strong as many out there, so photos still look very natural after being enhanced.

  3. Lens Distortions – One of the things I enjoy most when photo editing is being able to play with lens flares and textures. The thing that puts “lens distortion” is the way it draws its elements from actual photos of lights, haze, and more. If you love the base set, additional elements can be purchased to continue varying your images long after your initial download.

What are your favorite free iPhone photo editing apps? I’d love to know what other tools you’ve found that I’m not using. (Who knows? I might need to modify my top 3!)

Review of CoSchedule: How CoSchedule Revolutionized My Blog

coschedule-revolutionized-my-blogIt sounds a little dramatic, saying that CoSchedule revolutionized my blog. You might be wondering how that’s possible, given that we’re going on the second year of Blogging Onward and I am literally just now beginning to use CoSchedule. — That’s how great it has been. While I’ve been working on writing new content for my memoir writing ebook which builds on my memoir writing  post series, doing extensive copywriting projects for clients, and researching projects for Wicked Horror I haven’t had time to make my usual rounds of scheduling social media posts. If you’re a blogger or writer of any kind, you understand that not being able to announce your work to the world is essentially committing your content to the pits of Hades, never to be seen or heard from again.

…That was before CoSchedule.

I’m an avid blogger, writer, editor, and general busy human. Running your own business isn’t easy, especially when you’re the one pulling all of the strings. In the past I was able to schedule social media posts for a week or more at a time by utilizing Buffer. Even though the process literally involves copying and pasting information into a window, I was at the point where I was considering hiring virtual assistants to help pick up some of the scheduling slack. (Yes, it was that bad. Although you may not realize it, copywriting is a time consuming process. More so than simply writing a blog post alone might be. You have to become a chameleon and write based on what the client wants, what their industry is, and who their customers are.)

I considered Edgar, because the thought of scheduling a post once and then having a program rotate through different categories of posts to share was incredibly appealing, but $49 a month was much less reasonable. My blog is a passion project. I’d love to be able to sell ads on the side or make big bucks through referrals/affiliate links. Unfortunately, that’s just not in the cards. Until it is, or until I am rolling in copywriting work, I don’t see myself paying that kind of money for a social media scheduler.

In comes CoSchedule. It’s not just a social media scheduling tool, but it is that as well. It’s a whole new interface with the CoSchedule Title Analyzer that I discussed in my post about free writing resources for bloggers and writers built in. It gives me the option to schedule my posts on my blog and all of my social media channels. (All except Instagram, anyway. I do my Instagram scheduling through Later.) It can pull information from Evernote and Google Docs, which means that I now have a convenient way to write posts when I’m on the go/across devices without having to fiddle with the (sometimes wonky on mobile) WordPress website. (I still have to access the site to schedule, but it’s much less annoying to be able to draw content from another source when I need to.)

To give you an idea of how intuitive the software is, I took a few screenshots (Click to view full size):

coschedule-visual-lessons
The video tutorial library.
co-schedule-screenshot
A visual calendar where you can see your posts and social media posts.
coschedule-interface
The post creation interface
CoSchedule: The Editorial Calendar For WordPress
In Summation: My new favorite blogging tool, ever.

The beauty of CoSchedule is in how easy it is to use. I didn’t get a screencast of using it, but thankfully the folks at CoSchedule made a video outlining the assortment of features, including scheduling posts on all the networks I use. (Of course, being a sole blogger I can’t utilize many of the team features and task management tabs, but the social scheduling and visual calendar features are enough that I’ll continue using it.)

Note: By sharing a review of CoSchedule, I am eligible to receive 50% off a year of CoSchedule. With that said, I wouldn’t be writing a review saying how awesome it was if I didn’t actually love it, and I wasn’t actually interested in getting the paid version of it to use. So this is kind of the blogging equivalent of “sorry not sorry”. I’m not actually getting money for this, I just get a discount to use the product I reviewed, which I wouldn’t care about unless I liked it in the first place. Make sense?

3 Free Android Photo Apps

top-3-android-photo-appsSo you’re a blogger or aspiring social media juggernaut, but you don’t have Photoshop or an advanced digital camera to take photos with. You know about great stock photo sites, but you want your website and social media accounts to look polished, professional, and cohesive – even when you’re the one taking photographs.

Great! I have compiled a list of the top 3 FREE Android Photo Apps for you to try out to improve your brand, blog, or business. I’ve dropped my list from a top 10 to a top 3 because you don’t want all of the space on your device to be taken up by apps when you really only need one or two to get the job done.

  1. Snapseed – Snapseed, a photo editing app by Google, gets pretty much everything I might need to do done in one deft swoop. Everything from cropping to filters and spot repair, to adding realistic lens blurs and glow effects can be accomplished in this app. This is my go-to app when I need to do some quick editing on the fly.
  2. Phonto – If you need to add text to an image before it’s good to go, such as for watermarking or branding purposes, then Phonto is your best bet. This app could not be easier to use. You simply load the image you want to use, type in your text, and select the font. You can put multiple text boxes on any image, so if you want to put a quote and then add your website url, this app will get the job done in no time flat.
  3. Collage Photo Maker Pic Grid – If you need to combine multiple images, Layout from Instagram seems like an obvious choice. However, if you want to make your images more interesting and incorporate more photos than Layout allows, then you need Collage Photo Maker Pic Grid. It allows you to do all sorts of crazy layouts which incorporate interesting, dynamic shapes rather than the same old boring rectangle-based ones. You can also add text and filters using this app, so if you need to get something posted in a hurry, you can bypass the first two if you need to.

What are your favorite photography apps for Android? Leave the details in the comments and you may be featured in a future post in this series!

Additional Posts in this Series

Introduction :: 3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop :: 3 Free Android Photo Apps

3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop

free-alternatives-to-photoshopI’m guessing you’re tuning in this week because you’re a blogger or other creative and you’re looking for ways that you can avoid investing in Photoshop, at least right now while you’re not sure how committed you are to blogging or while the income you’re getting from your blog is too small to justify the expense. Believe me, I have been there. The good news is that some of the tools I’ll be sharing in this post series are so great that I still use them, even now that my writing and blogging make a sustainable income.

Today’s focus is on my favorite three free alternatives to Photoshop that you can use on your computer. Two of the three require internet access, but other than that you can create images and tweak your own photos without any cost. Do they have paid features and offer paid services? Of course! However, they have enough features which are completely free to use for as long as you would like to make them perfectly valid parts of your web development arsenal.

1. Canva – Canva.com is by far my FAVORITE free photo editing option. I’ve made everything from blog graphics to printable worksheets using this tool. Another bonus is that after you’ve finished, all of your images are saved in the cloud. (You can change your privacy settings, don’t worry.) To make this tool exceptionally useful, they offer a wide variety of specialty dimensions whether you’re creating letterhead for your blog/business, or a Facebook post. Most of the images you see shared here, as well as on my social media accounts, will have been created in Canva. They also have a design school for those of us who are missing something in either the design savvy department, or in the technology department. (No pressure!) You’re probably wondering – if things are free, how do they make money? Not everything is free in Canva. Some of the templates for graphics are paid, as are some of the images you can choose from. However, if you want something specific and you want to create it cheaply, Canva can’t be beat. Plus, with their Canva for Work options (a subscription based service), you can expand and grow as your site evolves – if you need to.

2. PicMonkey – PicMonkey is my second favorite free photo editing tool. This photo editor is available online, so if you aren’t going to have an internet connection when working on your graphics you’ll need to keep scrolling. One thing that I love about PicMonkey is that it has a tie in with Google Drive, so if you use drive to store your images in the cloud then the transition from editor to file manager and back again is pretty seamless. Honestly my favorite features of PicMonkey are the photo filters (called “effects”) and the cosmetic tools. Whenever I’m tweaking actual photos of humans, this is my go-to editor. (They do have stickers/illustrations to throw onto existing photos and designs, similar to Canva, though.)

3. GIMP – Unlike the other options that I listed, GIMP (which stands for the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a downloadable program that you actually put on your computer. That means that if you happen to be working from your laptop somewhere that doesn’t have wifi, or if your cable goes out, you’ll still be able to get images ready for your blog. GIMP has most, if not all, of the features that Photoshop offers but they have released this open source program for free public download. The program has been around for ages (just check the CNET listing!), so many people will have heard of it already, but I do want to stress that this is a great alternative if buying Photoshop isn’t in the cards right now, but you don’t think that the online offerings are substantial enough for your needs.

Updated: As of 3/24/16, Google made its photo editing suite under the name Google Nik available for free! If you’ve been looking for a cheap alternative to Photoshop and Light Room, this might be the solution for you! It’s another computer program, so be sure to give it a peek from a desktop or laptop to download it and give it a whirl.

What’s your photo editing secret weapon? If you know of a computer program or website which would be a huge help to bloggers who can’t afford Photoshop right now, sound off in the comments or hit me up on Social Media. I’d love to hear what I’m missing!

Additional Posts in this Series

Introduction :: 3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop :: 3 Free Android Photo Apps

How to Survive Without Photoshop as a Blogger – Seriously

survive-without-photoshopSo you’ve decided you want to blog, but you’re stuck on what to do for all the cool images that you’re SURE you’ll need. You’ve looked at posts like mine which share great places to get stock photos, or you have a great camera to take your own images, but what now?

Now, you learn about the joys of wishing you had Photoshop. No, really. Between Adobe Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Premiere Elements, and Adobe Lightroom, there are very few photography issues which can’t be resolved. (This assumes, of course, that you’ve dedicated sufficient time and energy to learning the software.)

For those of us who either don’t have the time and energy to commit to learning how to use these sophisticated programs or don’t want to invest that kind of money into something that isn’t turning a profit, or that they haven’t tried before – have no fear! There are many low cost and (my favorite price) free alternatives to things like Adobe Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro, and surviving without Photoshop is 100% possible.

I’ll be writing posts about my favorite Photoshop alternatives in the coming weeks, as well as tutorials about how you can best utilize these tools and apps which make photo editing easy. (No one wants to let their pics hit the net before they’re ready.)  I promise that not having Photoshop doesn’t mean that you can’t blog, or that you won’t be able to create some fantastic images like the ones you’ve seen on other blogs and sites like Pinterest.

I know there are a myriad of iOS programs as well. If I cover your device and miss your favorite photo editing tool, let me know! I’d love to let my readers know about it.

Additional Posts in this Series:

Introduction :: 3 Free Alternatives to Photoshop :: 3 Free Android Photo Apps