So! It’s been about a million years (or 8 months) since I wrote anything here. I’m happy to report it’s because my workload has been steady and my plate has been full! I do get frustrated at times that I don’t have enough mental energy to devote more time to writing helpful and thought-provoking blog posts, but when I realize it’s because my client work is filling my schedule, that makes me happy. Lots of new work coming in must mean I’m doing SOMETHING right!!??
While I have landed several new clients this year, a bulk of the work I’ve done in the past few months has been updates and changes for existing and past customers. So even if nothing is being added to my portfolio, I am usually hard at work helping my clients add new features to their websites, expand their online presence, and boost their business. Probably the biggest project of this year that wasn’t a completely new website was adding a full-featured e-commerce section to a site I designed two years ago for B.E.A.R. of PA. I also worked with a few new clients to make small changes to their current websites- new photos and graphics, social media integration, WordPress troubleshooting and support, and helping to put some finishing touches on WordPress themes before launching the new site.
Another large part of my business this year has been my blog design service. I am thrilled at how well Dress My Blog has been doing- I love designing blogs and being able to change gears from the more corporate/business-y projects is refreshing sometimes. I’ve designed and launched five new blogs since returning to work after maternity leave less than a year ago (two of them for the same client!) Here’s are some recently finished blogs:
Business is good, work is great, and I am still loving what I do. I’m working with two new clients right now on their websites- one is a brand new site and another is a redesign- and I’m also almost ready to launch another new blog design. Keep it coming! :)
Happy New Year! As much as I do NOT like winter sometimes, I do enjoy January and the change of years. It’s like a clean slate, looking ahead to twelve whole months where I haven’t yet gotten behind on things! A chance to renew, reset, and refresh.
With that reset typically comes a list of goals and for the upcoming year. I have a list of personal goals I’d like to meet by the time 2014 comes to a close, but I’ve also made some plans for my professional life here at Inksplash.
1. Expand. I’m not planning to hire any employees just yet, but I am looking to partner with a few great people locally so I can offer additional services to my clients. There are areas in which I am NOT an expert and I’m completely fine admitting that! I’d love to be able to connect my clients with people who can provide them with features, services, and consultation on things they might need. And in turn, I hope to be able to make new client relationships of my own through my partners. I’ve already started the wheels in motion on this a little bit and I am so excited!
2. Organize. It doesn’t take long for files and documents to become a jumbled mess. My paper filing cabinet is in need of a good purge of old client files and notes I no longer need. So my paper shredder had better be prepared! I’m also in need of a new laptop before my current one finally gives up (preferably WAY before!) and once I replace it, I’ll need to go through my computer files and get things in order- some digital spring-cleaning!
3. Automate. The busier I am, the more I notice how much time I spend (waste) on paperwork. I’ve been using Freshbooks (affiliate link) for several years now and I absolutely love it. Before that I was using spreadsheets to manage my invoices and payments due and it was… well, it was a nightmare, frankly. Using an online accounting tool has made things so much easier for me, and I know there are features I’m not taking advantage of now that could make things even more pleasant to manage (because who likes paperwork? ugh)
4. Learn. Nearly every website I design makes me learn something new, even if it’s something small. Sometimes it’s a surprise, but a lot of projects I take on knowing that I’ll need to learn a new skill or technique, and I love that (even if it does make me a little anxious at first!). But outside of projects, there are a few areas where I’d love to strengthen my skills and become more confident, and I’m hoping to find the time to read and research a little bit.
Mostly though, I just want to continue enjoying my job and building useful, functional websites for my clients. I’m getting ready to start two new projects which is a great way to kick off the year. Here’s to a prosperous and busy 2014 for everyone!
I announced the opening of Dress My Blog last month, and now I’m sharing more exciting news: I’m giving away a free WordPress blog theme to one lucky reader! Details are on the official giveaway post- head on over to find out more and get yourself entered.
And if you don’t win but still need blog design services? Just let me know!
(This giveaway is sponsored by Dress My Blog. For full details and giveaway rules, visit www.dressmyblog.net.)
I want to take quick moment to plug my new site, Dress My Blog!
I’ve had this side project going for a few years, but it was pretty disorganized and not very official. So I took some time to redesign and rethink my plan for it, and I’m very excited about the possibilities. Personal blog design is what got me started with this whole web design thing to begin with, way back in the late 90s (I KNOW. MY AGE, IT SHOWS.) so it’s only fitting that I continue to make that part of my business. I’m still working as Inksplash Designs, but Dress My Blog is just a way for me to focus on bloggers as opposed to small businesses, ecommerce, and other more corporate projects.
So if you’re in the market for a personal blog, or even a blog for your business, let me know! I’d love to create something amazing for you :)
It feels SO GREAT to have my first completed project up and running after returning from maternity leave! This one was extra fun for me because it was a personal site for a close friend. Melissa has been a blogger for years and was ready to completely redesign her blog with a new look and a new site name. I was flattered that she chose ME to do the work, and it was the perfect project on which to stretch out my tired design muscles.
The design is light and feminine and clean and leaves plenty of room for focus on her beautiful photographs of her three boys and husband. I loved designing a site for her and I hope she enjoys it! You can follow Melissa’s blog at sparksofsplendor.com
It seems like a silly question these days, so many years into the Age Of The Internet. Why do I need a website? It surprises me how many times I go to the internet in search of more information about a business and I come up empty. How are these business surviving without having a presence online? How do their customers even know they exist?
Maybe your business is doing just fine without a website. That’s fantastic! But it could always be doing BETTER. Here are three reasons why you should consider a website for your business.
Okay so it sounds weird, but there is some truth to this! I personally am a busy lady. I have three young children, a job, a house… I don’t always have time to get to a store. I would much prefer to sit at my computer in my pajamas and do my shopping. Yet I have had several experiences where I’ve WANTED to buy something online from a particular business and it wasn’t offered. So I either never purchased it or I went elsewhere. That’s lost business for that company and woo-boy, if they only knew what their lack of a website was doing for their bottom line.
You don’t have to be selling products directly online to benefit from a business website. Simply having important information online about your company is helpful! Often I’ll be looking for more information about a business- store hours, a menu for a restaurant, etc- and they don’t have a website so I have to call instead and did I mention the three young children who don’t like to let me make phone calls in peace? If ONLY those businesses had a website, my stress level would be much lower and I’d be a happy customer.
My first thought when I realize a company doesn’t have a website? Well! They must not be very up to date on how to run a business these days! How old fashioned of them! It might not be fair to think that way, and a business can likely survive okay without existing on the internet. But a business can’t THRIVE without one anymore. Having a business presence online helps you to appear professional and serious about your work or product. If I’m searching for a company online and not having any luck, then I see a similar company during my search who has what I need? I’m very likely to go there instead. More lost business, all because of being absent on the web.
Being online doesn’t have to mean spending thousands of dollars and hundreds man-hours on a website. With some good planning and a great project manager (hey! That’s me!), you can be up and running with something professional within a few weeks- AND within your budget. If you’re convinced you need a website and are ready to get started, contact me and I’ll share my ideas!
This is just a quick post to announce that I am officially open for business! The kids are back in school for the year and I’m excited about getting started on some new projects. (So hey, if you have one? Let me know!) It may take me a couple of weeks to get back into the swing of things, and definitely a few days to catch up on email and follow up with some folks, but I am BACK!
On a personal note, I had a great maternity leave/summer break with my kids. Zachary was born April 4, healthy and happy and he’s growing and doing so great- he’s almost 5 months old already! And the girls had a great time playing with friends and visiting playgrounds this summer, and we even braved the long drive to North Carolina for a family beach vacation. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend this time with them, even if it was exhausting some days :)
Thank you so much for your patience with me while I disappeared for so long! I honestly thought I’d be able to keep in touch more than I did, but I underestimated the demands of three kids. I’ll be going through email this week and if you’re waiting to hear from me, stay tuned!
I’m breaking my long blog-silence today to share some exciting personal news- we are expecting our third (and final!) baby this spring! We are thrilled to be adding another child to our family. We already have Maggie (age 5) and Audrey (age 2) and we are very much looking forward to finding out if this baby is a boy or another girl. Three kids is so hard to imagine in my head right now, but imagining two (or even one!) seemed impossible at one point. Three kids! Hello minivan!
Working as a freelancer has some amazing benefits, but one of the downsides is when you have pregnancy sickness and YOU’RE the only one running the place? It can be a rough ride. I am so thankful to have understanding clients who have hung in there with me these past two months while I muddled through the miserable early weeks of this pregnancy. I’m finally feeling better and I’ve been working furiously these days to catch up and look ahead at the next 5 or 6 months.
One of the first questions I’ve been getting when I’ve shared our baby news is “Are you still going to work??” and the answer is yes, absolutely. I may be a bit slower to come back to my usual workload and not take on any larger projects for a while (three kids at home all summer once school is out might be a bit much!) but after the typical couple of months off after the baby arrives, I’ll be available to my current and past clients for support and maintenance as needed. I’m not going anywhere! Inksplash Designs is my first baby, after all :) (and let’s face it, everyone needs a break from diapers and Elmo now and then!)
My tentative plan, barring any unexpected developments in this pregnancy, is to work as I have been until mid-March or so. I will likely stop taking on new larger projects in the next month or so (so if you’ve been waiting, contact me today and we’ll get moving!), and for my current clients, if you have updates or something you’ve been thinking about changing on your site, let me know in the next few months so we’ll have plenty of time to get things finished.
In the meantime, I’ll be busy coding and designing and growing a new baby and wrestling these two!
This winter/early spring has been insanely busy for me, and last week I finally saw three of my projects go live! I am thrilled with how these projects turned out. Each one presented some new challenges for me which made them kind of fun to work on. Interestingly, they are all powered by WordPress, but none of them actually include a blog. WordPress as a CMS!
This site includes a header slideshow, details about the academy’s programs, and downloadable registration forms. But the most important part of the site is the secure online registration feature. Users can sign their children up for multiple classes at a time and check out using their credit card, all without leaving the website. And again, it’s all built in WordPress so the client has easy access to manage the content on their site.
The client needed an easy way to update their website about completed projects, so I built a custom site in WordPress that includes five separate galleries that feature photos from their latest projects. The site design is simple, but it highlights the project photos nicely.
BEAR of PA needed a complete overhaul of their current website, specifically a way to feature their vast product line of customizable playsets, trampolines, and sporting equipment. I created a fun and clean design and then built a WordPress theme around that. The client has full management over all of their site content, which will allow them to keep customers up-to-date on product changes, promotions, and clearance specials.
Now I need a nap! :)
One of the things I like most when I build a website is empowering my clients to manage their websites themselves. It just feels great to be able to provide them with the tools they need to use their website, rather than just build it for them and that’s the end of it.
And it’s always easier than they think it will be! Usually when I ask a client if they want to have the ability to update their website, they panic and say OH NO! mostly out of fear. They’re afraid of breaking the site or not understanding how it works because they don’t know HTML code. But with a simple content management system (or CMS, as we call it in the web geek world) it really becomes just as easy as composing an email or updating a Word document.
I’ve recently started using WordPress as a way of managing ‘regular’ websites. For several years, I’ve used WordPress for blogging, which was its original purpose. But it is a very powerful tool once you understand how everything is built, and just about any website can be converted to a WordPress site without an issue. In fact, at the end of 2011, I redesigned and rebuilt my own website and it runs largely on WordPress (the only exception is my portfolio, and that’s just because it was already built and running outside of WordPress, so I left it as-is)
A great perk of using WordPress for content management is that the tool itself is amazingly simple to use. This helps with the nervous client who is afraid of touching his or her website- they just open it up and type, no need for understanding HTML or CSS or any other big fancy language :)
However, even with WordPress and all of its benefits and plugins and capabilities, there are times when a custom-built content management system is a better option. Some clients prefer something built just for them, which is completely fine. And some web projects- online stores with a complicated product catalog, for example- may have some specific requirements that just don’t quite fit into WordPress, or don’t fit into it well. So I have plenty of websites where I’ve built a simple CMS that is tailored to the client’s needs. It is just as easy to use as WordPress, but it functions a little differently for that particular project.
Many times, the tool itself is a matter of personal preference. But the ultimate goal, in my mind, is to give my clients the confidence and tools to manage their website in a way that helps their businesses grow.