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I’ve always loved doing creative, ‘artsy-craftsy’ things – it’s a great stress reliever, as well as a fun way to spend time between ‘work’ projects (I’m not really sure I know where that line is!)

I bought the domain for Spider Lady Customs several years ago, but I haven’t done anything with it up to now. In the next few days I’ll be posting the link to the website- it will show some of the things I’ve made over the past few years- some photography, sewing, quilting, doll-making- plus probably some other things as I work on them.

Author: Beth R - Categories: design

I learned to sew when I was 15, when my mom loaned me her Kenmore. It was in a cabinet with a lift-up top and the machine was mounted on a shelf that lowered into the cabinet as the top was folded closed.

I had a lot of fun making clothes – I’m pretty sure the first thing I ever made was an angel costume for a church production; I also used an old pattern to make a skirt and wrap blouse. I’m sure it didn’t look nearly as good as I thought it did, but I had a good time, and I learned a lot making it.

Since then, I’ve made lots of things- smocked outfits for my kids when they were little; dresses and suits for myself; baby dolls, teddy bears and other craft items.

I finally even learned to quilt; I’ve made several since 2012 when I first learned, and again, it’s such an enjoyable hobby. Each one has been special to me and I’ve got quite a list still to make.

My latest project has been a doll that we’ll be raffling off at Cancer Freeze on Saturday, Feb 4.  I had the idea for a biker doll several years ago, but it never came together until we decided to be a part of this year’s Cancer Freeze. I found a doll pattern on nunodoll.com that has worked out perfectly! He puts clear instructions with lots of pictures on every pattern and while I was a little nervous about it, I believe she turned out beautifully.

I’ll be making more dolls from this website- I hope you’ll visit it as well.

Author: Beth R - Categories: country life,design

Three “B”s

18/07/16

BUSINESS CARDS

Every woman NEEDS business cards- I don’t care who you are or what you do. We as women naturally network with other women. You might not think that’s what you’re doing, but think about this. When you’re talking to one of your friends in the grocery store and she says her friend is looking for a good babysitter, lawn service or hair dresser, what do you do? You say, oh my friend  Jane knows someone who can help you. You give her Jane’s number, or better yet, you message Jane for information and give it to your friend. THAT is networking. Plain and simple. And we women are great at it.  Because God made us want to help others.

There are probably several places where you live who can help you with business cards and other business literature (fliers, letterhead, posters, etc).  Since there are no print shops where I live  I normally use VistaPrint for my business cards and some other printing.

One thing about business cards- there are LOTS of bad ones out there. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Way too much information – stick with the basics- business name, your name (those should be the biggest words on the card), phone, email and website – maybe a tag line
  • Text that’s too small, hard to read
  • Confusing images, colors or font choices- if you’re a children’s birthday party planner, obviously you’d consider fun pastels or bold primary colors and a font that suggests fun. But a divorce lawyer needs to stick with neutral or muted colors and a font that suggests professionalism, knowledge and discretion.
  • Non-standard sizes- 3.5 x 2 inches is the industry standard- that size fits in card holders in your wallet or organizer, or a desktop holder.

Let your business card be unique if at all possible- choose something that will make your card stand out. You may have to start out with standard cards for now, but try to pick something that will help your card be a keeper.

How many of you remember when tag numbers had a meaning? Each county in Alabama was assigned a number- I always knew when I saw a 9 tag anywhere that I was seeing home folks. Local politicians used to have all the tag numbers listed on the back of their cards- they knew folks would keep them.

Here are some unique card ideas that might help spark some ideas. (Business Card Fails)

One last thing about cards; if you’re at a networking event, instead of trying to push your cards on others, try ‘pulling’ some cards. Talk to the other guests- find out what they do and how they help people. Ask for 2 or 3 cards. If you need to make notes to help you remember what the person does, jot those down on the back of one card. Save the other two for someone who will need their services- and jot your name down on the back. That way when you connect two people and one says ‘how did you hear about me?’ your name is mentioned. It makes my day when someone talks to me about their book, and they say so-and-so told me to talk to you. That word of mouth advertising cannot be beat.

 

YOUR BLOG

If you have a ministry of any kind, or a business, or a hobby, a blog will benefit you and those you work with. If you’re not familiar with blogs, think of them as an online journal or diary. If you can type in Word, Wordperfect,  or Wordpad you’re ready to work in a blog.

Facebook is a great way to get your name and information out there- I use it; but I also use a blog. My blog is where I really talk about what matters to me; when I write something I share it on my Facebook page, both business and personal.  Many folks  still are not on Facebook and I really believe it will one day go the same way MySpace did. Something else will come along that will be bigger and better and newer. If you’ve got a blog, you can save all your important posts from Facebook there, and then when and if you move to something else, you’ve got all that work ready to share with new people. You have several blogging platforms to choose from, and here are several sites that will host your blog for free, with the understanding that there will be ads on your blog. If that isn’t how you want to do things, you can always purchase a hosting package and have your blog there- then you control everything that goes on your blog, including ads that you can earn money from.

If you’re interested in setting one up, I’d suggest WordPress.com – WordPress is an excellent blogging platform, they will host yours for free and online help is available. You’ll have several nice choices for how your blog looks, and if you get ready to move to your own hosting later on, it’s a fairly quick process.

 

YOUR BRAND

When I say this, I don’t necessarily mean your name… I’m talking about your “presence’….

Let me give you an example. My husband and I love to take trips on our motorcycles. We’ve ridden them as far away as Pigeon Forge and we love it. While we’re riding, obviously we have to stop for gas more often than when we travel by car.

And when we stop for gas, generally we need to get a soft drink, some water or Gatorade. Now I want you to imagine your favorite soft drink or water brand. You immediately know what that bottle looks like, and you know what case it’s going to be in. If it’s in a Coke case, you look for that deep red with a white ‘swoosh’ through it. Pepsi machines have the bright blue and red in a circle, with white accents.  No matter where you go, you can pick those machines out immediately. That is their identity or presence – their brand.

Now imagine trying to find your favorite drink, if every store you go in has the machines marked differently.  It makes it hard for you, right?

Now,  put that same idea on YOU.  You may have a signature color you like to wear. You may have a certain designer you like to wear. You may have something else that is YOU. For my client, Ms Dimple, I immediately think of roses when I think of her. She uses flowers, especially roses, in a lot of her messages. Her novel has a bouquet of roses on the front. She uses roses.

So, while you’re coming up with ideas for your business card, your blog, your website, your business literature, fliers and posters- you need to use that thing that signifies you. And you need to have consistency across the board. Don’t use one font in bright green on your card, and then another font in purple on your blog. You want to train people to recognize your signature, your identity when they see it. Everything needs to look like it belongs together. It doesn’t have to be identical, but it needs to match.

When you see golden arches, do you recognize McDonald’s? Of course you do – whether it’s a big sign over the store, printed on a bag or cup, or on someone’s t-shirt.

I know God has bigger plans for you than He does for McDonald’s. Use  the ideas He gives you to create your presence, your signature, your identity. And start putting it out there for folks to recognize.

I recently decided to move my website to a new hosting company – the customer service at my old host had gotten pretty bad. I wasn’t getting emails regarding renewals on sites, I wasn’t able to contact the customer service department, sometimes for weeks on end, and when I did, I wouldn’t always hear back from them.
So last week I moved my site over to another hosting company that I’ve used with other sites – Globat. I’ve been very happy with their service and will probably move all my sites over to them throughout the next year, as they come due.
I’ve also changed my domain name from rogerswebnet.net to aroundtheloopdesigns.com – I’d had this new domain for several months, but at this point I’ll only be using it; the rogerswebnet.net domain will go dormant.
My site is currently down, because of some problems with the DNS servers, but I hope the site will be back up by first of next week at the latest. When it does come back online, I’ll also be moving my blog over to aroundtheloopdesigns.com/wp, so this will probably be my last post on this blog. I’m moving all the posts, comments and other information while I’m waiting.
Make sure you change your bookmarks and check out the new blog – the look will change slightly on both the site and the blog – there will be many more similarities between the two. Hope you like the new look!

The Alabama Department of Tourism is sponsoring The Year of Small Towns and Downtowns in 2010. Each town that participates receives a free historic marker; Rutledge will be participating and we’ll center the Homecoming Weekend around the Primitive Baptist Church in Rutledge. It’s one of the oldest churches in Crenshaw County, and since Rutledge was once the county seat, the church is even more central to the county.
We’ve already set dates, and we also decided to have a homecoming weekend in 2009 as well – you might say it will be our practice run.
We’ve come up with several ideas on how to celebrate our town and it’s roots – we’ll be making videos of town members telling how it was to grow up in and around Rutledge; an art show is also being planned; we’ll have activities for the kids on Saturday; and Sunday we’ll wind up the weekend with a community church service in the morning, dinner on the grounds and an afternoon singing with local groups.
I’ve also come up with an idea to have a poster and postcard design competition among the residents of Rutledge. The winning posters will be used to publicize the weekend, and the winning postcards will be reproduced and sold during the weekend. Each winning designer will get a copy of all the winning designs. It will encourage the local folks to get involved, and any money raised will go towards maintaining the church building.
Check back for more details on how the plans are developing…

Author: Beth R - Categories: design,family and friends,my home town

Fluid Design

20/11/08

For as long as I’ve been designing websites, I’ve almost always designed using a fluid design- one that is set up so that it ‘fits’ the screen of the viewer, as often as possible. Obviously you can’t fit everyone’s screen, because some people use a small portion of their monitor to view the internet, saving another portion for their other open apps.
However, I feel this is the best way to go for most sites. If I use tables in the design, I set them so that they only use a percentage of the screen size. I did have a client who had purchased a template online, and we made some adjustments to it to customize for their site – he actually pulled out a ruler and showed me that the lines on each side of the design were not the same width, even though I had them set at the same pixel width. He also wanted the site to be perfect on his monitor, which was a fairly large one…
The problem with making a site ‘perfect’ on your monitor? You’re forgetting that your customer is who you should be building your site for. My goal for website customers is to make a site that visitors can easily navigate, will enjoy viewing, looks good on their monitor, and is easily readable to them. That usually means, among other things, that I don’t set exact font sizes in the design, but rather set it at ‘large’ or ‘medium’ according to how the font looks.
I do this for one simple reason – if I am on a site with tiny print, I will hold my CTRL button and use the scroll wheel on my mouse to enlarge it – if that doesn’t work, I usually don’t hang around very long. Life is too short to strain my eyes trying to read something in microscopic print.
Any site needs to look good, but it’s most important that viewers can use it easily – and if they can’t, what is that saying to them? “If you’re not cool enough to use this site, then we don’t want your business” is what it says to me. And I don’t want to be responsible for a site that’s saying that.

Author: Beth R - Categories: design,marketing,time and money

Seasonal ideas

08/11/08

If you have a website, do you update it for seasonal changes? Obviously, you don’t want to do a total remake several times a year, but it is always a good idea to acknowledge the holidays and seasons of the year.
My favorite search engine is Google; if you’ve never seen the way they honor different holidays, visit this page – it’s their ‘museum’ of logos.
I know you can’t do something on the same scale, but you can support your favorite holidays. As an example, during the Christmas holidays, I make a slight change to my logo, then link it from my main page, to a retelling of the Christmas story from the book of Luke. Starting this next year, I plan to do something similar for the Easter season – after all, the main purpose of Christmas’ gift is fulfilled in Easter.
Think about it, and see what ideas you and your designer can come up with to celebrate the holidays and seasons that are important to you.

Author: Beth R - Categories: design,marketing

I love my ‘new’camera- I bought a Canon Rebel XT from someone who was upgrading, and I’ve really enjoyed it. There were several things I’ve had to learn, to get the best photos out of it, but as I tell my friend Toni – “Google is our friend”…
I’ve found several good pages that show how to figure out which settings to use in different pictures: shade, night shots, football games, inside, etc… I hate having such a nice camera and not be able to get good pictures other than the automatic settings. Here’s one page I found that has several good charts to help you learn how to be the ‘ultimate exposure computer’. I’ve been taking pictures for a lot longer than I care to admit, but I’d never bothered to learn how the f-stop, shutter speed and ISO all work together. On my original 35mm camera, after I set the film speed, I knew how to adjust for different shots, but putting the film speed into the mix with this totally manually set camera seemed to throw a kink in my thinking. Anyway, I’ve printed out the charts, laminated them and have them in my bag’s pocket, so I can check them for better starting places.
I’m confident that my pictures will improve, and I’ll have to do a lot less post-camera work on them.

Author: Beth R - Categories: design,getting things done,photography

One of my clients has finished work on her second book and we’ve sent it to the publisher. It’s called “Prayers- Breaking Witchcraft Curses” and you can read more about it here. This is an awesome book, especially if you are under attack from the devil, or know someone who is.

Dimple’s first book, “Prayers to Cast out Demons, Heal the Sick and Raise the Dead“, (if you don’t believe God has given us the power to do these things, see John 14:12) is still available through Amazon on this page. We’ve got a testimonial page set up here. I think you’ll truly be blessed by either of these books.

Author: Beth R - Categories: design,faith and values

Go Tigers!!!!

27/08/08

Well, it’s almost here. School started a couple weeks ago, and our first football game is this Friday night. Our biggest rivals, cross-county Brantley Bulldogs will host the game this week. Luverne has not been able to win in the last 5 years, but I’m hoping and praying we can take a winning team to the doghouse this Friday night, and show them the HAND!!!
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One another note, I’m working towards getting my new website up and ready to go. I’ve decided, after much thought, to change the basic setup of my business. When I started out 6 years ago, I was geared towards building websites for smaller businesses and churches. At first, I didn’t think I even wanted to get involved in the graphics side of the business, but that side has grown more and more, moving into logo and banner ads.
My interest in photography as also grown, and I’m developing a portrait line.
I’ve also branched out into print design, creating print ads, wedding invitations, book layout, business cards, letterhead and flyer design. I’m also encouraging my younger daughter, Little Red, to join me in designing custom handmade notecards and art pieces. I’m waiting anxiously to see if she’ll agree.
I may have more news later today.

Author: Beth R - Categories: country life,design,my home town,photography