Friday, April 26, 2013

Hand Painted Glassware

I've been painting glassware this week.

Custom Hand Painted Glassware can have names painted on them, for bridal or dinner parties.

Check out my Portfolio Page for more designs that I have painted.

I can match your "theme"!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Keyword Tools

Keyword research is a big part of online marketing and search engine optimization. For some types of websites, niche sites in particular, effective keyword research can be one of the biggest factors in the success of the site. In order to be effective and efficient with keyword research you will need to have access to the right tools. Depending on your needs you may be able to get what you need from a free tool, or you may need to look at the features of some of the many premium tools that are available.

The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is basic, but very helpful. It’s a free tool that is intended to help advertisers who are using AdWords to identify keywords and search phrases to bid on, and to get an idea about how much competition they will have from other advertisers on those keywords. If you just want to get an idea about how many people are searching for a specific word or phrase, or if you want to compare two similar keywords (like “web design” and “website design”) to see which one is getting more searches, this is a great tool. It lacks more advanced features of the premium tools that will be mentioned in this article, but for basic research it can be very useful. Google AdWords

The Majestic SEO Keyword Checker is another helpful free keyword tool. You can enter a few different search phrases and it provides some helpful data, including search volume, the number of times the keyword is used in anchor text, the number of times the keyword is used in page titles, based on domains and URLs. This data can be helpful when comparing a few different words or phrases. Majesticseo

When it comes to SEO, SEOmoz is one of the leading authorities. They have a blog where they publish a lot of great SEO-related content, and their premium tools are among the best you’ll find anywhere. As far as keyword research is concerned, SEOmoz has a keyword difficulty tool that will help you to know how easy or difficult it will be to achieve top rankings for a particular keyword or search phrase. It gives a keyword difficulty score based on the data that it finds. You can then track your rankings for the keywords that you are targeting, and you’ll get a report each week that shows any increases or decreases in the rankings.
SEOmoz offers a full suite of SEO tools in addition to the keyword tools. The cost to uses the tools is $99 per month, but they offer a free 30-day trial that allows you full access to try out all of the tools. If you’re on the fence, give the free trial a shot. You can use the keyword difficulty tool and all of the other tools while you decide if you want to continue with a paid membership. Seomoz
Like SEOmoz, Raven offers an extensive suite of SEO tools that includes the ability to research keywords. The keyword research tool uses data from WordTracker to help you identify the best words and phrases to target. Raven also has a wealth of other tools for researching, managing, and tracking your SEO campaigns. Raven costs $99 per month, but you can get a 30-day free trial with no credit card required. Raven
SEMrush is a popular tool that allows you to see your competitor’s organic rankings so you know what keywords are sending traffic to their site. You can also use SEMrush to help you identify the best long-tail keywords to target with your site. Pricing starts at $69.95 per month with a 7-day money back guarantee. Semrush
With Long Tail Pro you can create targeted campaigns, research competitors, identify opportunities, test niche viability, and focus on profitable niches. It’s an intriguing option for keyword research because the basic version of Long Tail Pro is available for a one-time fee of $97. You can get some additional features with the platinum membership that includes a fee of $17 per month. A 10-day free trial is also available. I recently purchased Long Tail Pro and with the limited use I’ve had so far I’ve found it to be a really good tool, especially if you’re looking for something that doesn’t involve a monthly fee. Long Tail Pro
Market Samurai is a leading keyword tool that has been around for several years. Like Long Tail Pro, Market Sumarai can be purchased for a one-time cost (currently $149). It includes tools to help you find the right keywords, research your competition, and more.  Market Samurai
Finding the right keywords to target is important, but once you’ve optimized your site for those keywords you’ll need to be able to track your search rankings. Authority Labs allows you to do just that with ease. You insert your keywords and it will check the rankings every day with Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. You’ll be able to see the rankings at any time, plus you can view the ranking history for each keyword. Pricing starts at $49 per month, but you can get a free 30-day trial with no credit card required.  Authority Labs
WhooshTraffic includes a keyword research tool that provides data on search volume, PPC competition, cost per click, and more. You can also analyze your competitors for a particular word or phrase to see why they are getting the top rankings. It also includes a daily rank checker that shows your ranking for the keyword. WhooshTraffic starts at $49 per month, with a 30-day free trial available. Whoosh Traffic
WebMeUp includes a keyword discovery tool to help you find words and phrases to target. It also includes other tools like a competitor’s keyword research tool, word combination tool, keyword efficiency analysis. search ranking checker, link analysis, and much more. Pricing starts at $99.95 per month, with a two-week free trial.  Webmeup
SpyFu helps with your keyword research by allowing you to “spy” on your competitors to see what words and phrases are sending traffic to them, for both AdWords and organic search. Pricing starts at $79 per month with a 30-day money back guarantee. Spyfu
WordTracker is a popular option for keyword research. It will provide you with loads of keyword suggestions to help you find the right long tail keywords. It also provides a competition algorithm to help analyze the level of competition. WordTracker also tracks your rankings for your targeted keywords. WordTracker is free for 7 days, then $69 per month. Wordtracker
KeywordSpy is another tool that is intended to help in your research by providing info on your competitors. You can see the keywords that are sending traffic to your competitors and use that data to put together your own list of keywords to target. Pricing starts at $89 per month. KeywordSpy

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Visual Merchandising

Unless you’re reading this from 1995, you’re probably aware that most websites have a large visual element. Amazon,, eBay, Apple Store… open any of their homepages and you’ll instantly be bombarded with tasteful product shots designed to lure you in. Clearly, photography is a big part of online product marketing – and why shouldn’t it be?
For decades, creative photography has been used to sell us everything from watches to waffle irons. So how do you make your small-business website stand out against a horde of well-funded competitors? While no-one can guarantee instant success, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you’re at least headed in the right direction. Here are 5 of them:
Quality Photos
It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many websites still hawk out goods beneath photos that seem to have been copied and pasted from an old Geocities website. No matter whether you’re a small business operating out the back of your bedroom, or a high-street juggernaut eyeing up new avenues for expansion, the golden rule of product selling is to make the product look desirable. And the first part of that is to use a sharp, clear image that screams quality. That means, high-res, professional images shot by a bona-fide photographer. For a good example check, a business model founded on making products look sleek and desirable.

The Human Factor
A good rule is, if you’re selling something to go on someone’s body – show it on someone’s body. Most clothing retailers wouldn’t dream of putting their products up sans model and neither should you. Seeing a gorgeous girl or handsome stud sporting your merchandise is not only far more visually arresting, it sends unconscious signals to the customer’s brain about how the product may look on them. Also, it’s practical: stores like Forever 21 include the sizes of their models along with the photo, allowing potential customers to judge how the clothes will fit them.
But it’s not just clothes and accessories that can benefit from the human factor. Check out the Kindle front page. Of their five product photos, 3 show the Kindle interacting with someone – even if you can only see a hand. Aside from letting you judge the size and weight of the product, it gives the buyer an emotional connection. Instead of an antiseptic image, you’re giving them something to relate to that may entice them in.

What fills up the space behind your product image is perhaps the single most important aspect of the photograph. This is where you need to be certain of your business: are you minimalist, utilitarian – allowing the product to speak for itself – or are you marketing a lifestyle choice? Both have their advantages, and both require you to make a decision about your backing image; even if that decision is whether to have it plain white or light grey. The trick is to use your chosen mise en scene to enhance the product without totally obscuring it – or in the case of minimalist backgrounds, making it look boring.

Do your bank-balance a favor by getting a designer onboard. A great photo should be complemented by a great layout, one that represents a harmony between product, photo and website. It’s easy to think of bad examples, so instead let’s take a look at a few that got it right. Louis Vuitton, Made, Tommy Hilfiger and Storyville all excel at getting that balance just right. Shapes, colors and texture all flow together to create one enticing experience that leaves you wanting to browse the site forever, even if you’re already up to your ears in boat shoes and coffee grinders. Sometimes, finding that right designer can be the move that takes your business from ‘stable’ to supernova.

In our frenetic digital society, we’ve come to expect all engagement, all the time. If you stumble across a blog with no comments function, or a brand without a Twitter, you’re out of there like a shot. Same with retail sites – if you can find a way to break down the barriers between your customer and their purchase, go for it. Many clothing websites now include a separate window allowing you to examine your purchase at all angles, in great detail, simply by moving the mouse across it. A more obvious approach is to add in a video element. It may take time and cost money, but probably less than you think and the results can be immeasurable.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2013 Spring Colors - How will you use them?

Lets talk about some "neutral" colors that you may not have thought of as neutral, and great spring colors that will bring out the best in everything from fashion, to home, to graphics.

Dusk Blue comes from the early morning, early evening palette and is a background and foreground for everything in nature and works wonderfully as a modified neutral color.

Grayed Jade with strong gray undertones works as a strong neutral color. Jade stones have often been a symbol used to attract love, while also, jade can lend a hand in making important business decisions.

Linen, a very light diaphanous color, almost translucent and of course most will agree if they were to pick a neutral out of this selection, this would be it.

Emerald has a sense of clarity attached to it, which is a grounding color, moving more into a standard Spring color with their rich, cool, green tones.

African Violet, just as the name implies is a floral color, but with an attachment to the exotic.

Nectarine is the answer to where orange has been in the last few years. But with a much more skin flattering tone.

Poppy Red is an excellent "Pop" of color. It has a sense of youthfulness, and fun.

Lemon Zest has a zesty component  and makes us think of sunshine and good cheer and is a wonderful balancing color to use with many of the other spring colors or shades.

Tender Shoots is another green that exudes "spring". It adds to our green color palette that is a real attention getter.

Monaco Blue is the anchor to the spring color palette.  It is a wonder calming color and is associated with open spaces, and imagination and inspiration.

I hope this inspires you to add some spring into your thoughts today!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Fashion Colors

Just did a mock up using Pantone 13-0756, Lemon Zest!

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