Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Random Rant: My Crazy Busy and Sad last couple of months, My Adventures with Blog Designers, and New look...New giveaway!


So, for quite some time I haven't been very present on the blog. I've done things here and there, but I haven't been how I use to be, and for that I'm sorry.

A lot of things have been going down in my life. I'm 26 years old and just finished my third (semi-fourth cause I was part time my first year) year at University  Basically after the second year....things just get down right busy. 

I was also kind of sick, which just made all the school work and everything else kind shitty. But hey, I got a lot of reading done when I was in the hospital or at home sick. Sadly, I'm still trying to catch up on the reviews. 

And then there was the big thing...my dad passed away. He wasn't old either. So...that was super tough. And I tried to be tough. It happened during the third last week of school and I had four major projects due the next week and then exams shortly after. And...I decided to only ask for an extension on 1 essay, and 1/5 exams. I look back at it now and realize that was kind of stupid because I could have burnt myself out, but I wanted to get it over with. I take spring and summer classes every year and I wanted a break in between. So...ya. I've been busy.

But, now that I have some time on my hands I've been finally getting back to stuff.
I joined instagram! Click on the instagram icon here: 
Or on the upper right hand side of the blog to be brought to my account. 

Here are some pics:
















 I've had some posts (not many), but mainly I've been working on making the blog look better. 

I've always felt that my blog never looked the way I wanted it to. I like having all my stuff on my sidebars, but it junks-it-up and I finally decided to cut some of the fat. Now if only I could find a good code for a good blog roll/image scroll. I'll get to that soon and my sidebars will be even more organized. 

Anyhow I always said I would never pay to have someone create graphics for my blog, because I don't make money doing this so shelling out some money for it wouldn't be economically smart for this student. And, well, I kind of like the idea of making the entire blog MINE and even down to the images. 

But, I have to admit...I kind of started looking. 

I found some really sweet freebies. 
NoseGraze, a blog run by a young woman named Ashley, has some pretty sweet stuff.
I got freebies including social icons (with their psd file--I'll explain the importance of that later), as well as brush stroke images (they kind of look like clouds) that I used for the background for text. She runs a site called CreativeWHIM.com where you can download these freebies. 

Note: She also has this awesome Wordpress plugin called The Ultimate Blogger Plugin. Its awesome! It formats all your review posts for you. You simply fill out certain sections, click some drop down options and it generates a code for you to put in your post that. It can also create a blog roll, image slider, all kinds of sweet stuff. I realize now that a lot of the blog I follow use it. Sadly, it's only for Wordpress.

When it came to actual graphics (header and stuff) I thought I had given in, I was sticking to my guns. I was keeping the girl that I created in all the images. I'm sure you've all guess that she's kind of...me (ish). I have brown hair and green eyes, and I love the colours purple and orange. I also use to have short hair, but now I'm growing it out. 

I was being very specific. I wanted the graphic to reflect me and this blog. I didn't want some fancy graphic, or those graphics that have really tall skinny girls with long legs (that are never smiling and always look "posh" as I call it), or the blogs that just have the title in a nice graphic, cause that's just not me. Don't think I'm saying I dislike those graphics because I don't. I think they're all beautifully made, but they just don't fit my personality. I wanted as close to my geeky reality as I could get. And I wanted simple. Again, I hate clutter. 

So I messaged around. 

If you are interested in a design for your blog I recommend checking out this site (Customer Blog Designers). It has a list of many Blog Designers out there and I basically checked out the portfolio of every single one lol. 
Also check out some of your favourite blogs. If you scroll to the bottom of their page they usually have it listed who designed their blog. I checked out everyone that I followed lol.

But, after messaging people I learnt a lot about graphics. Basically a lot of designers manipulate existing images, they don't create them. And their extent of manipulation is colour and position change. And that kind of got me upset. Don't get me wrong that is a HELL OF ALOT better than what I can do on a daily basis. I couldn't change people position for the life of me. Well maybe I could, but it would take me days to get it right.

Anyhow, they gave me a lot of links to images that they can manipulate, but I would have to pay for the images on top of their package fees. And then there's the package fees. Like I said I searched around and was super picky, and the only designers that I liked had starting packages of $300 plus.  

Umm...that's 3 textbooks. 


Plus then the graphic image (if I was sticking to my guns about keeping the girl), AND they could contact the creator and get changes done (like replacing one object with another that isn't originally in the image) for about $20-$30 extra.



And then the designers that maybe could do something I like? Well their packages that had everything I was looking for (button, header, navigation bar, sidebar titles) were generally $150-$250. And most didn't include headers for special posts. And I like my special post headers. So....



So, after hours of surfing sites and emailing people I was basically on the verge of giving up...



But, then I got to thinking. 

All they do is manipulate images?
Ok well that's not ALL they do. To the people out there that design blogs and to the ones that create graphics...


I mean, I've seen some class A sites out there. Props to you.

Anyhow I started thinking...well I've made my previous graphics, and they weren't great because I hand drew everything first and I'm not the greatest artist, but that doesn't mean I can't manipulate them.

Basically...lightbulb!

So, I did some more surfing. But this time for illustrations. I guess you can always just search google images, but then you are technically using someone else's works illegally, and I couldn't find anything I liked that I could manipulate. So I looked back at the links some blog designers sent me. 

They were mainly from two sites, and I do recommend them both: iStockPhoto.com, and ShutterStock.com.

And then I finally found her (well who I wanted her to be) in the works of one artist. 
HeyHeyDesigns (click for her profile and list of graphics on iStock), and her wordpress blog HeyHeyDesigns.com. She had a lot of graphics and photography, and she had everything I needed!

If I could have used this one. I would have. But that would be a waste of money.

For those that may look into this, note that graphics are NOT CHEAP. You could pay $60 for one graphic. BUT, I came under what others quoted me, AND I finished all in one night (which is weeks before I would have received anything from ANY blog designer). 

Now, I will tell you that there are still somethings I couldn't do. HTML code and I are not friends, so sidebar title graphics...I have no idea how to put those in. I could make one, but put one in...I wouldn't even know where to start. Hell I don't even know how to centre the words for my menu bar right now. These are all things blog designers know how to do, or at least I hope they do. And one month (Ha!) when I have some serious time to waste, I'll google all that up so I will know how to. Or at least find a site that has a code I can paste with my image (that's basically my life with regards to making this blog look pretty and be efficient). 

Anyhow, I checked out HeyHeyDesigns' Modern people collection and I friggin hit jackpot. I found about 6 images that I could use on my blog. But, I wasn't dishin' out the dough until I knew that I could do it. So I dished out a little dough and bought one image. 


(Sorry but I'm giving you one with the watermarks and nothing hi-res, because she really does deserve the commission from her sales)

The order included a hi-res image of this. It was so big it could probably cover my wall. 
I'll tell you something that I already found I didn't like. The image comes with a white background. For those out there that do image manipulation, and for those that don't, a lot of graphics that get made (like my old ones) have no background until they are saved as a jpeg or whatever image extension, at that time the graphic program manually add the colour you have listed as "background colour".


In this case white is my background colour, and black is the colour that I've using to write, drawn, fill, etc. 

Anyhow, not having a background basically allows you to add things to the image without it having a big white box around it. You could have her sitting on a table, a floor, on top of a bed, etc. So basically that meant if I wanted to have her on something or even something behind her I would have to cut away at the white background and crop as close as I can to her actual form. 
It's stupidly time consuming. Well it is for me cause I sometimes have no clue what I am doing. Maybe I'm doing this whole thing wrong for all I know. 
Anyhow...

Basically.

I was originally going to have an overflowing bookshelf in the back ground. But I was like hells no. That will take a lot of time. 

So I started changing things. Nothing big (cause I don't know how, otherwise the glasses would have been a goner. I do have glasses but I prefer contacts). Just colours.

So the image above became: 
Not bad. But, I had messed up the hair. It was a little too dark for my liking. 
But, at this point I realized I could do it! And It would be cheaper! And I would have it way sooner than getting someone else to do it! And I would have pride in the fact that I manipulated it and I am still the designer of my blog!


I guess I'm writing this to let everyone know that getting a Blog Designer might not always be the first step. Sometimes you should have a little faith in yourself! I'm not going to come out and say that everyone can do it, because some people just can't. I've seen my brother draw and "make things pretty", and lets just say if he tried my blog would have a duck for a header. But hey, there's no harm in trying it first!

Anyhow, after a little more tweaking (sometimes even just starting over), and with the help of some "freebies" from design sites I created my header:


I am very proud of this header! 
AND when I actually put it in effect this simple graphic and title actually makes my entire blog look less cluttered! It helps that I also removed the background image to the blog. I'm still going to work on my sidebar titles, and my menu bar, but they don't bother me now as much as they did before. 
Its pretty crazy what one graphic change can do for the entire blog. 

But I didn't stop there. I punched out a whole bunch on new graphics all in one day. 



Profile pic and button

(For graphics that I'm currently working on)

As well as the Random Rant banner above, the profile signature below, and...

A giveaway graphic (and yes I finally decided to chop away at the books and white background to be able to move her around).

Which brings me to my next part:

New Look....New Giveaway!

In honour of me finally pulling up my big girl panties and getting the kind of look I've always wanted, as well as getting back to BlogLife i'm hosting a giveaway.

The Giveaway is for a $20 (CND) from Th Book Depository. 


Click on the image to be brought to their site.

The Giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository delivers for free to your country. 

Just fill out the rafflecopter below!

 photo Signature11_zpsd46d1ce8.jpg

42 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the new look is very clean and fun! I so admire your efforts to get out there and take care of business with the budget you were allowed and in turn be able to learn so much. KUDOS! I wish you every joy and success and that pleasant tingling feeling of satisfaction in a joy well done :)
    dz59001[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love this post! I think what you're doing is absolutely great. This is actually how a lot of designers start out. They see design work, love it, want to make their own blogs, so they do whatever they can themselves. Then the more you edit, tweak, and manipulate, the better and more confident you get. So keep at it! :)

    I love this DIY approach, and I actually do it a lot when coding. As an example, I use WordPress, the land of the plugins! But instead of downloading/buying tons of plugins, I try to do everything I can myself. That way, everything feels cleaner and more tailored to my blog and my needs.

    Thanks for sharing, and thanks for mentioning my websites! :) I'm glad you're enjoying the free graphics. You've done a great job with them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ashley! I really appreciate it and I really do love the graphics you have as freebies, and if I had Wordpress I'd be all over your plugins! Thanks for leaving a comment too!

      Delete
  4. I am a huge fan and keen follower of your brilliant book blog :) I LOVE the book reviews and interesting blog posts.

    Thanks so much for the AMAZING giveaway & i shall continue to follow with interest. x

    (Email: lfountain1(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk )

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ah, I had to comment saying I love your post. I know what you mean, everything in the design world is so expensive and/or difficult to do it yourself. But it felt so good to see that someone went through exactly what i went through, I worked on my blog myself because school is not cheap and the only way I could have the look I wanted was to try at it myself. And it's not perfect, you don't know how many times I screwed up and now I don't know how to fi it back, but still, I am satisfied with the simplicity of it. Thanks for sharing your story! (:

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha! Ya I agree! I always saved the template code incase I messed it up. And I messed it up a lot lol! Well congrats on your blog and I wish you the best of luck with it!

      Delete
  6. Love it!! I've been doing the same for my site but I do love graphics. Not enough to get a degree or anything but I've been playing for years. My husband actually bought photoshop for my birthday and I've been in love ever since!

    Great job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! I like it but its not what holds my interest the most. And congrats on photoshop I would love to have it, but it a little too expensive for my budget right now.

      Delete
  7. I love your new look! I do want to change mine a bit, add some things, like my new puppies, make the puppy that is on there already be looking over my shoulder with a little halo, because she's not longer with me. But just can't afford to hire someone again. Plus, not sure I could figure out how to do it myself. I salute you for your awesomeness! My email is buffywnabe at gmail dot com I think. Or maybe ilovebooks1972 at hotmail dot com. I forget which one I use on Rafflecopter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awe! I'm sorry to hear about your puppy! And I did feel the same way about not being sure I could do it myself, and it took a while but I figured it out. I've been blogging for about 2 1/2 years and only just figured a lot of stuff out lol.

      Delete
  8. Im so sorry to hear about your father. That is SO rough. The blog design looks fabulous

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Erin. Its a tough one, but I'm pulling through. And thank you for the compliment!

      Delete
  9. The blog design is beautiful! I love the graphics, especially the one on the header (the glasses are super cute!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, I forgot to add my email address. I'm VeronikaDream in Raffle and my email: verusbognar (at) gmail (dot) com

      Delete
  10. Love the new design. Those graphics are so cute. Wasn't it fun figuring out how to do everything by yourself? I also like to do everything on my blog by myself, it's worth my time and work, and it makes me feel proud :)
    veronicam46 at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if I would call it fun, at first it was definitely frustrating lol But I am proud of my blog and proud that I did it myself.

      Delete
  11. I am so sorry to hear you have been sick and also about the passing of your dad, my thoughts are with you and your family xx

    I do love your new design & to be honest I was looking into doing something like this myself but when I went on to Vector images on Shutterstock I was really shocked at the cost so my blog is going to remain as it is, you did an awesome job!

    Thank-you for the giveaway! my email address is obsessionwithbooks(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sharen, and I agree the prices are definitely crazy, but I figured if I was going to give in and maybe pay someone to do it, than i could give in and pay to do it myself and still have it be cheaper.

      Delete
  12. I'm so sorry you've had such a tough time personally and family wise. I hope you're better now and that you're family is recovering too.

    I love your new design! It's fun and has color everywhere!

    Thank you :)

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey, I love the graphics! Love the glasses!! Also - those icon letter key stickers for your laptop are so cool! It would take me too long to get used to them, haha.

    I'm sorry to hear about your dad, it's horrible when they're young and are taken too soon. I lost my uncle 2 Christmas's ago, and it's tough. I can only imagine how you're still doing with it, so my thoughts & prayers are with you.

    As for the Instagram account, I ALSO just made one a few months ago and it's pretty fun! I actually follow more accounts than I add photos, so I'm following pretty much every YA publisher out there, haha. And now you! Also, it looks like you may be going to school for writing/literature? I got my BA in English Lit, so right on!!!

    My email is saldelmaz@gmail.com, thanks for doing the giveaway :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am going for my english degree, basically my degree in literature. I love it! And thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love the font!! It's like it's on a splash of paint!

    Love it all :)

    Thank you :)

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  16. LOVE LOVE! I love that style of illustration that you used. :) colour scheme is stupendous! :D thanks for the giveaway! fatma(dot)h(at)live(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love the new look! I currently don't know what book to pick up next, I just finished Ignite Me yesterday (which if you haven't read that trilogy you should) but I just thought the books where so amazing. I don't know what books could compare. Thank you for this giveaway! danisureissweet@aim.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love your new design! and thanks for the giveaway
    my e-mail: celeste_257@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Totally love the design and graphics. I have made graphics for a lot of years but I'm not so good at doing things like that from scratch ... I have, I'm just not so good at it. LOL
    Also, I'm really sorry for your loss. I lost my dad when I was 26 ... he was 76. Anyway, I know that had to have been hard on you.
    And as for what I'm currently reading, I just started on Cassie's Hope by Adriana Kraft earlier today. It was a Kindle freebie.

    Pam
    vanillaorchids69(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm so sorry to hear about your father :(
    Your new design is really wonderful,and thanks for the awesome giveaway :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I really like the colour scheme especially because orange and purple are my faves.
    edradanalyssa@yahoo(.)com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Love the new site! It's clean and fresh...great for spring!

    books4me67 at ymail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I loved your new design! Thanks for hosting this contest for us!
    I registered as luciavm at gmail.
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also wanted to tell you I'm really happy you're back after these hard times!!! And I really appreciate it! Lussita

      Delete
  24. I adore the new graphics! They are all very cute! I love your blog, and honestly I can't say that there is anything that I would change. I am seriously impressed with the work that you have done on the graphic. I can't imagine the time and patience that it took to make them as awesome as they are!
    Right now I am reading Days of Blood and Starlight (WOW!) and my Kindle read is The Dark World, which is alright so far. If I was recommending anything, the first to pop into my head is A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey! I ADORED it!
    Thanks so much for the fantastic giveaway! And congrats on your awesome new designs!

    Rafflecopter email: jaimel.lester at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. The layout is great, I like it.

    It sad about what happened to your dad, I know what it feels like.

    Live your life and be happy.

    daenielle _ gonzales @ yahoo . com

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love the new look- it's super cute and the colors are awesome!!
    Thanks for the amazing INT giveaway!
    blackcapballistics AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  27. It is super cute! (Easy way to get rid of the backgrounds, is to buy them as vector, and use adobe illustrator to alter them, free trial for 30 days) Try canstock photos, they carry most of the same images for way cheaper. Or Deposit Photos, or dollar photo club.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...