Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I Just Love InLinkZ.com and Our Doll Hops



I'm sure by now you've seen many websites and blogs featuring blog hops.

If you have then you know that InLinkz.com helps you to set-up a matrix (i.e. collections) for blog hops, contests, giveaways, and challenges where users can add their thumbnail to the matrix and a link. The thumbnail can be any picture or banner and the link can be back to the main page of a blog or website, or even to an individual item for sale page.

Each item can have a name and description and you can set the time-frame for how long the blog hop, contest, giveaway, etc. will last.  Once you've set-up the parameters for your matrix (i.e. collection) then you just add the html code to your website or blog.

You can either be a free member of InLinkz.com or an upgraded member for a small annual fee.  IN the free version you can set-up one thumbnail collection.  If you are an upgraded user them you can have multiple collections with thumbnails.

Well, the great thing about InLinkz.com is that the matrix is very versatile. Instead of using it to set-up a blog hop, contest, or giveaway you could set it up to display collections of products such as the matrix we set-up on our DOLLS Blog by Linda Walsh Originals for Santa & Mrs. Claus Dolls. We call these Doll Hops and will be running them throughout the year.


We set this up as we thought it would be fun to have a "Santa & Mrs. Claus Doll Hop" for our dolls and to add other Santa's and Mrs. Clause dolls that some of our friends might be having for sale during this period. So, we invited our friends that sell handmade Santa's & Mrs. Clause dolls, have a family friendly website, and are a Linda's friend and/or follower of any of our blogs to add their doll's picture to our matrix.

We know we are going to LOVE our Doll Hops and can thank InLinkz.com for that.  The matrix is a wonderful selling tool for crafters selling on the web.  It's also a great way to link many websites and blogs together with the objective of driving more business to everyone participating in the hop.  Think of it as a more advanced link exchange.

If you'd like to see and/or participate in our "Doll Hops" please visit our DOLLS Blog and look for the "Doll Hops" module in the sidebar of our blog. Then just click on the Doll Hop that interests you and click on the "Add Your Link" button to add your dolls picture and product page link.

Another great thing for crafters on the web is that InLinkz.com is now offering commissions on referrals. If you are registered with them as an upgraded user then you get a 33% of the registration fee commission every time a new user comes from your referral links.  How great is that!

I know that I'm loving InLinkz.com's matrix and our Doll Hops and hope you do too. See you at the Doll Hops.


Posted by Linda Walsh Originals- "Doll Patterns for Grown-up Girls!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I've Been Playing, Again! This Time With A Personalized Card Website


If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog and have been following me and all my blogs (yes, I do have a few! LOL LOL) you are well aware that I love to play and experiment. Especially when it comes to interactive websites.

Well, on November 2nd I received an email from Krystal at Cardstore.com (http://www.cardstore.com) asking me if I'd like to review their website and products.  It seems she had seen my blog post about the fall decorations I had created and thought I might appreciate trying a card website where you basically get to build beautiful and personalized greeting cards.

So, given my love of playing I thought I'd try it out.  Plus, she not only offered me a credit towards my first purchase, but - and here's the best part -  she offered all my blog readers a 20% off your first purchase discount.  

So, I get to play and you get a 20% off discount.  How great is that?  To get your 20% off discount all you have to do is enter CSHOLIDAY20 as a promotion code when you are checking out.  The promotion code box is at the bottom of one of the checkout screens.  You enter the code and follow the prompts to apply it. Once you apply it you'll see that it has updated your order summary box in the upper left hand corner.

Well, the other day, I decided to play and try out their website.  I have to tell you that this took me awhile, not because the website was hard to maneuver.  To the contrary it was very easy to maneuver.  It took awhile because they have hundreds - no, make that thousands, of cards for every occasion, every holiday, and just about anything else you might want to send a card for.

You can choose from some of their designs and just add one of your photo's, or choose one of their designs and add your own words, or choose one of their designs and add both a photo and your words.  The words you add can be short or multiple paragraphs depending on the format you choose.  There are six different formats for personalizing your card depending upon where you want your photo and words to appear.

Plus, for everyone who has a hectic schedule and very little time (like me) you can have your return address printed on your envelopes for no extra charge.  That's a great time saver and deal all by itself.  However, the best time saver is you can create an address book in your account and then they will print the addresses on your envelopes for you.  They'll even add stamps for you or better yet - they'll mail your cards for you (once you've paid for the stamps in the checkout process).  For everyone with busy schedules that's a terrific option.

I decided to create some holiday cards in a couple of different versions and to create some holiday gift tags.  I didn't have time to create an address book so I could have them printed on my envelopes, but I'm going to do that during the year so next Christmas I'll be in terrific shape.

What's also great about this website is they also offer a volume discount for ordering multiple cards.  So, you can personalize just one card or create multiple cards.  Plus, you can save your designs in your account and return to them to edit or order them on your own schedule.

I created, personalized, and saved some business thank you cards and birthday cards in my account that I may order sometime in the future.  After you have saved your cards you can then go back and edit them and/or add them to you cart when you're ready to order.  I did notice that from time to time when I went back to add my saved cards to my order that they didn't always show the picture I had chosen in the preview process.  This only happened with the saved cards and not ones that are created and added to the checkout process initially or when you go back to edit a card from your cart.  I'm not sure if this was due to the browser I was using (Google Chrome) or just a snag in their saved card process.  In any event it was no big deal to go back and add the picture again or just go back to my cart and chose the edit link before checking out.

For those of you that are designers you can submit designs to them for their consideration.  Plus if you want to become an affiliate of Cardstore.com they also offer an affiliate program with Commission Junction.

I found Cardstore.com to be very easy to use and was pleased with the large variety of their design selections.  They have photo cards for every occasion and event, invitations, thank you cards, birthday cards, everyday cards, encouragement cards, humorous cards, friendship cards, get well cards, sympathy cards, anniversary cards, congratulations cards, moving announcements, wedding cards, graduation cards, flat cards, folded cards, business cards, and even stationary.  With all that to choose from I hope you can understand why it took me awhile to peruse thru their website.

So, I decided to order some Christmas cards and did so the other day.    I'll let you know how they turn out.

I hope you enjoy your 20% discount.

If you'd like to check out their holiday cards please go to http://www.cardstore.com/holiday-cards.html. If you'd like to check out their photo cards please go to http://www.cardstore.com/.


Posted by Linda Walsh Originals- "Doll Patterns for Grown-up Girls!"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Letter For My Toplist Members


I generally don't like mass mailings, but there's been a LOT of changes to my "Top Blogs By Crafters" toplist during the last few months that I thought my members should be aware. So, I sent them the following letter:

Letter to all my Top Blogs By Crafters Toplist Members:

I hope you all know that I try to do everything I can to bring more exposure to our Top Blogs By Crafters Toplist and our member's blogs.

In the last few months I have done a couple of things to help bring more attention to our toplist and they are as follows:

1)   Set-up a Top Blogs By Crafters Toplist page on Facebook - at http://www.facebook.com/TopBlogsByCrafters .

2)   Set-up a Top Blogs By Crafters Blog at http://topblogsbycrafters.blogspot.com/ .

3)   Created a Top Blogs By Crafters Blog Hop at http://topblogsbycrafters.blogspot.com/p/top-blogs-by-crafters-blog-hop.html .

4)    Created A SHARE button on the main page of the toplist so everyone who visits can share our toplist URL with their friends.

5)   Created a table of our more popular blog categories on the main page of the toplist to enable our visitors to easily see the blogs they are interested in.

6)   Leveled the playing field for all members by adding each blogs banner or screenshot to their listing.

I hope you like all the changes and hope you all have a chance to visit our Top Blogs By Crafters page on Facebook, visit our new Top Blogs By Crafters Blog blog, and join our Top Blog By Crafters Toplist blog hop.

Have a wonderful day.

Regards,
Linda


Monday, August 30, 2010

How Fast Does Your Website Or Blog Load?


I've been viewing articles and statistics lately concerning the speed at which my website(s) or blog(s) load and how important that may or may not be. I had seen a reference to a website that allows you to test the loading speed of your website or blog and thought I'd test all of mine.

The website I used was Numion.com and I selected their STOPWATCH tab. When you click on the STOPWATCH tab it brings up a window that allows you to enter your website or blog URL.

I decided to test my websites and blogs on two different days (each time clearing my cache first) to see if there would be a difference. The results are displayed in seconds. Here's my results:

Linda Walsh Originals - 5.428 then 5.384 seconds
Gray Is Beautiful Products Gallery - 4.759 then 4.157 seconds
Linda's Doll Bookstore - 1.511 then 1.363 seconds
Everything E-Directory - 8.754 then 5.851 seconds
Everything E For Crafts E-Directory Blog - 12.65 then 8.989 seconds
Linda's Blog - 12.69 then 11.196 seconds
Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions, The Victorian Era and Me Blog - 11.868 then 12.186 seconds
Gray Is Beautiful Blog - 10.945 then 11.430 seconds
The Dollie Storage Room Blog - 8.466 then 5.477 seconds
The Best FREE Craft Articles - 8.275 then 5.701 seconds
The Book Review Corner - 12.125 then 11.432 seconds
Top Blogs By Crafters Toplist - 6.211 then 4.339 seconds
About Linda Walsh Originals - 2.129 then 2.179
Tips For Crafters On The Web - 10.382 then 9.903 seconds

So, the question was whether or not my results were good.  Depending on which point of view you believe the answer is yes and no.  For some points of view if your website or blog doesn't load in 4 seconds or less you're in trouble.  Other points of view might have it at 7 seconds or under.  Their opinion is based on the fact that most of the Fortune 500 companies load on the average of 7 seconds or more. Others say 5 - 10 seconds is good while others say never more than 15 seconds.

So, you might think based on the above that most of my results were okay while others should be reviewed. Well, you'd be right and wrong. You see, there are so many factors that influence loading times that to know which is right or which is wrong is mind boggling.

For example all of the following influence website or blog loading times:

1. A users particular Internet connection speed (i.e. using dial-up, DSL, Fios, etc.)and load of their particular network.
2. The type of browser being used to access the Internet.
3. A users computer age, size, configuration, and settings.
4. The number of programs the user has open, number of tabs the user has open, the number of windows the user has open, whether or not their computer needs to be defragmented, etc.
5. Whether or not the website or blog being accessed is in the users browser cache (i.e. pages already in the browsers cache load faster).
6. Amount of traffic to the site being accessed and the server's access speed.
7. Anti-virus, anti-spam, etc. programs the user has protecting and running on their computer.
8. Design and size of the website or blog.
9. Amount of coding, widgets, images, etc. on the website or blog.

My results above were based on the fact that I have a medium range upload/download Fios connection, have a computer that is close to 7 years old, had multiple tabs open, had cleared my browsers cache, and had anti-virus and anti-spam software running.  

As a website designer and blogger of the 9 things above I only have control over #7 and #8. The first 7, which play a big part in page loading speed for my customers and my blog readers, are totally out of my control.

If you only have control over 2 of the 9 items on the above list do you need to pay attention to how fast your website or blog is loading?  Basically, yes.

Do you need to go crazy and remove everything you've added to make your website or blog enticing to your customers or readers? The answer is no.

Sometimes the reason why your customers and readers keep returning to your website or blog is they find it of use. So, first and foremost you need to look at the purpose of your website or blog and based on this determination decide whether you need to modify your website or blog at all. 

If you decide to modify your website or blog there are some things you can do to help your website or blog load faster. First and foremost you should know that four things can greatly reduce loading time: large images, music, video's, and widgets.

So, reduce the size of your images or graphics if you can and try to make sure your images and graphics and include their height and weight tags in the coding.  The latter, from what I understand, helps speed up the browser.   I do reduce the image and graphic size for all my websites and blogs, but have to admit that not all of the coding includes their height and width tags.

Reduce the size of the embedded video you may have or eliminate the embedded video in favor of a link to the video page.  I try to keep the video's in my blog posts to no wider than 350.  On the sidebars of my blogs I try to keep this at no more than 250 in width.

Resist the urge to include music on your website or blog.  I don't have music on any of my websites or blogs as I've found that when I've accessed websites or blogs the music tends to freeze my computer.

What else can you do? Well, take a look at the widgets you're using. For the social networking websites widgets that just display a communities badge load a lot faster than those that include member's pictures and streams. A widget including a stream is going to load much slower than any other type.

However, just because you have a widget or some other coding that loads slowly that doesn't mean it's always bad and should be removed.  For example, I know that the Linked Within coding I have on my "The Best Free Crafts Articles" blog slows down the load time.  However, I believe for that particular blog that the coding not only enhances my blog but makes it easier for my readers to find posts that may be of interest to them.

I, for one, just LOVE widgets and I'll be the first to admit I probably have too many of them on my blogs.  If you love widgets (like I do)  then try to include them toward the lower half of the sidebar or end of the website or blog so users scrolling down aren't  immediately affected.  I need to review all my blogs for this. If the widget is beneficial to my blog then it will stay. 

For blogs you can make sure that your posts aren't too long. I, for one, have to admit I'm really guilty here. I tend to have blog run-on.

Blog posts with multiple numbers of images and links are going to load a lot slower than just a few so limit the number of images and links to those you really need.  As mentioned above I reduce the size of my images before I post them.

Before I ever took a look at all this I knew that certain things could bog down my website and blog load time. But, for the most part, some of those were out of my control and some may have only been a temporary problem.

For example, your Twitter or Facebook module or link might be hung-up. Your Google ad sense module can sometimes be problematical and slow loading. Image and links for Amazon Associates, Etsy, etc. modules can be slow loading at times. If you have Blogger.com blogs then you know that Picassa tends to load slowly. And, subscription links or overseas websites links can sometimes hang you up. I've even seen embedded statistical coding like Google Analytics hang up a website or blogs loading. You just never know.

So, the upshot of all this is you should pay attention to your website or blog load time - but, don't go crazy. There are just too many factors to this statistic that are out of your control. If you have a good design and there is logic to what you are including then don't lose any sleep over this statistic.


Posted by Linda Walsh Originals- "Doll Patterns for Grown-up Girls!"

Clipart Courtesy of Pierce Free Clipart Collection

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I've Been Playing Again! This Time With A Collage Photo Tool Website


Things have been so crazy this summer my emails have been piling up and I haven't gotten around to blogging about so many of the things I want to blog about.  The stack of emails is so large I get heartburn just looking at it! LOL LOL

However, every once in a while I get an email suggesting that I take a look at this or that.  I generally don't accept most of them as my blogging opinion isn't for sale, but every once in awhile I get one that piques my curiosity and lets me play a little.

Well, one of those emails that I got back in June suggested that I review an online collage service.  Here's the gist of the email:

Hello Linda,

At www.photovisi.com we have developed a free online service that lets you create collages from your photos easily. I'm trying to spread the word about our service, and think readers of Tips for Crafters on the Web would be interested in what it can do.

We've put extra effort into giving users a quality selection of collage designs and options for customization. It's very easy to use too: select one of the many collage templates, add your photos and then customize by dragging items around. After the collage is finished it's available for download.

I'd be really happy if you decide to write a short post about Photovisi.

Thanks,
Maurice
http://www.photovisi.com

According to their website: Photovisi is a free and easy to use online tool to create photo collages. Select one of the many collage templates, add your photos and then customize by dragging items around. After the collage is finished, it's available for download and print! Want to try it out?

So, I thought why not?

There were three different collage sections with 12 collage templates each to choose from.   So, I picked one.  Then I added my photos.  I could add photo's from my computer, photo's from my webcam, add my own background or change my particular templates background to another from their selection, or add more shapes from this templates selection to my collage.  So, I chose 4 doll pictures from my computer and added them as the collage that I had chosen to fit 4 pictures.

All of the doll pictures I take are cropped and bordered.  I quickly learned that square pictures are the best size for the Photovisi.com collages so I had to crop them.  You just select the picture by double clicking it and then hit the crop button.  A cropping tool comes up that you can then apply to your picture.  You can also add a background photo if you want to or change the background color.

It seems the crop tool works best on the larger pictures so upload the largest size picture and then crop it to a square picture. When I tried uploading smaller size pictures from my computer that were already cropped and square the crop tool didn't work. It froze and then I had to start over.

You can also enlarge the size of your photo, move it around, or rotate it any way you want. The same is true for any of the shapes you add. You can move them around, re-size them, and rotate them until you get the collage you want.

After you've added your images and have the collage you want then you save the collage.  In save you are given several resolution options for your download and can decide if you want to publish it to the Photovisi.com gallery, add a title, and add keywords. 

I selected the largest resolution as I always like to re-size my images down to several different sizes that I can use on my websites and blogs. I did not check the add to the gallery as I didn't want to add my collages to the public gallery. I added a title, but didn't add the keywords. I figured that the keywords were only good for the search engines and if you weren't part of the public gallery then you wouldn't need the keywords anyways.

After I saved my collage I was prompted to "click here to download your collage!"  So, of course, I did and saved it. One thing I did note was that the collages you create are only saved on Photovisi.com for 2 days so if you want to save your collage you have to download it and save it to your computer.

I was then prompted to share my collage via email so I sent it to myself.  Then I was asked if I wanted to "Click here to get your collage printed on mugs, posters and more!" or "Click here to download your collage" and I chose the latter to download. I was also prompted if I liked Photovisi.com to share it on any of the social networking websites. The email feature and share button are great for sharing your collage with family and friends.

Basically, I found the whole process quick and easy to do and I had no problems along the way. The only issue I ran into was when I signed up the activation email was sent to my spam account, which is par for the course these days for computer generated emails.

I had selected a 1920x1440 resolution so the collage I downloaded was large. If I wanted to use it on my websites or blogs I would need to re-size it, which would be no problem.

My collage was saved in My Gallery on Photovisi.com so I could view it there (at least for two days from the date of creation) and create some more. I could also view all the collages in the Photovisi.com public gallery to see what everyone else was creating.

I figured that in My Gallery that not only would all my collages be shown, but there would be a button to create another. That wasn't the case. I soon learned that to create another collage I would need to go back to the home page and click the "click here to start" button to start the process over.

The first collage I created is shown in the picture at the top of this post. It was extremely quick and easy to do, including the cropping.

So, I decided to try another. This time I added some of my pattern pictures, a background image I liked, and different shapes. I was able to easily add the shapes and then re-size them for the size I wanted and to easily move them around the collage. Plus, I was able to easily rotate them to get them to be exactly where and how I wanted them. It was all quick and easy to do.

Here's the results:


Since I was just playing around with my collage I wasn't concerned as to whether or not this would be the best way to display my patterns. Obviously, in a collage it would be better to have larger pictures so as to enhance your product display. However, for these purposes this suited me just fine.

So, I decided to play again. This time with some of my Halloween designs. At first the images that I uploaded were not large enough to be cropped and when I tried to do so the crop tool froze. However, when I uploaded larger images the crop tool worked fine. Here's the results:


I also checked my email to see how the collage that I emailed to myself came out. It was great. Large and clear enough to be easily viewed in my email.

All in all I think this would be a great way for anyone to create collages and share their photo's. It would be a lot of fun for Mom's, Dad's, and the kids to create and share their photo's together. And, then email or share them with family and friends.

As far as for small business use, if you're looking for a quick way to add a splash of color to your product images, add different backgrounds or shapes to your product images, create some cute advertising buttons, or create a quick newsletter or blog post collage picture this is a quick and easy website to utilize for those purposes. Collage would also be a great way to easily add multiple product images to your website or blog within one picture.

All in all I liked the website. It would be nice, however, if they were to move the Google ads from the middle of the page - like to the top or bottom. I understand why they're doing it, but it's a little annoying seeing it there in the middle of every screen.

Thanks, for the suggestion, Maurice. I had fun playing around. Now I'd better get back to work - or maybe not. Maybe another collage would be fun.......


Friday, July 16, 2010

Who Are All The Social Networking Websites?


Back in 2010 I wrote this post about all the social networking, news sharing, cataloging, social shopping, and bookmarking websites out there. Since then much has changed and social networking and social media has literally exploded online. It's everywhere.So, I decided to update my post. Please CLICK HERE to see my updated list.

Who Are All The Social Bookmarking Websites?


Back in 2010 I wrote this post about all the social networking, news sharing, cataloging, social shopping, and bookmarking websites out there. Since then much has changed and social networking and social media has literally exploded online. It's everywhere.So, I decided to update my post. Please CLICK HERE to see my updated list.

Who Are All The Social Cataloging Websites?


Back in 2010 I wrote this post about all the social networking, news sharing, cataloging, social shopping, and bookmarking websites out there. Since then much has changed and social networking and social media has literally exploded online. It's everywhere.So, I decided to update my post. Please CLICK HERE to see my updated list.

Who Are All The Social Shopping Websites?


Back in 2010 I wrote this post about all the social networking, news sharing, cataloging, social shopping, and bookmarking websites out there. Since then much has changed and social networking and social media has literally exploded online. It's everywhere.So, I decided to update my post. Please CLICK HERE to see my updated list.

Who Are All The Social News Sharing Websites?


Back in 2010 I wrote this post about all the social networking, news sharing, cataloging, social shopping, and bookmarking websites out there. Since then much has changed and social networking and social media has literally exploded online. It's everywhere.So, I decided to update my post. Please CLICK HERE to see my updated list.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just Exactly Who Are All These Social Networking, Social News Sharing, Social Cataloging, Social Shopping, and Social Bookmarking Services Websites?


Back in 2010 I wrote this post about all the social networking, news sharing, cataloging, social shopping, and bookmarking websites out there. Since then much has changed and social networking and social media has literally exploded online. It's everywhere.So, I decided to update my post. Please CLICK HERE to see my updated list.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Photo Hosting Websites For Crafters - There's So Much To Offer Nowadays!


If you're a reader of my Linda's Blog  then you know I love to experiment and try something new.  So, back in 2006 I thought I'd try out some of the features of a few of the photo hosting websites that were out there then.  There weren't a lot back then and there weren't a lot of features to choose from. 

Well, a LOT has changed since then as far as photo hosting websites and help with digital images is concerned.  So much so that the possibilities are almost endless as to what you can do with your pictures.  There's just so much to offer nowadays!

There's all sorts of software programs to help you with enhancing and manipulating your images.  Personally, I use Microsoft Picture It and Adobe PhotoShopDeluxe for my pictures.  I've been using them for close to ten years now and I'm very happy with them.  But, there's a LOT of exciting software out there and websites to help with enhancing your pictures.  However, photo enhancing software and websites is for another post.

Nowadays if you want to share your pictures with your family and friends, or the rest of the world, there are loads of photo hosting websites to help you do that.  Some are free and some charge if you need a larger account with more storage space.

One of the most widely known and utilized photo sharing websites is Flickr.com.  It's a part of the Yahoo.com network, has been around for a long time and has a huge body of members and groups you can join.  I've had a LindaWalshOriginals photostream at Flickr.com for quite some time and still find it to be the best personal online photo management and sharing application website.

However, Flickr is for personal use only and not to be used for commercial purposes.   So, if you're a small business artist or crafter and want to use it for selling your products or linking to your products you're out of luck.  If they find you selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream, they will terminate your account.

I've used it to set-up photo albums for all my doll creations, create slideshows, and share my photo's with the Flickr community.  There is a HUGE community on Flickr of individuals who love to share their pictures, groups to join for whatever interests you, and so much more.   Other members can become your contacts and be notified when you add new pictures and you can tag another member who is shown in one of your pictures.

You can create galleries and favorites of your pictures and other members pictures that they've made public.  You can create a profile for yourself and organize your pictures into sets, collections, and albums.   Plus, you can create calendars, posters, canvas products, books, cards, and collage products from your pictures.  There's a LOT you can do on Flickr.com which is why it is so popular and widely used.


If you're a small business owner with a website some of the photo hosting websites allow you to not only store your photos, but provide a separate and unique URL for your picture location so that you can utilize this for your websites and/or blogs.

The BEST as far as I'm concerned for these purposes is Photobucket.  I've been using them for linking some of the pictures on my websites and blogs for years now.  I have a pro account and keep my albums there private and strictly for separate URL, website and blog purposes. They have been extremely reliable and I've never had an issue with any of my pictures or albums.

According to Photobucket:  Photobucket is the premier site on the Internet for uploading, sharing, linking and finding photos, videos and graphics. Your free Photobucket account can store thousands of photos and hours of video.

They provide the HTML code for you to copy/paste in a variety of ways: for email and instant messaging purposes, direct links, websites and blog purposes, bulletin boards and forums, and flash coding for blogs.   You can use the URL in many different ways including a newsletter, email, link from your website, link from your blog, etc.

However, they aren't just a photo sharing website.  They offer a full feature photo editor so you can fix the red eye, auto fix your pictures, re-size them, crop them, rotate and flip them, adjust the brightness and contrast.

You can create a collage of your pictures, add special effects, decorations, animation, beauty, distortion, and layers.  Or, you can design a scrapbook to share online or print in a book.

You can organize your pictures and videos into groups or albums that you can design and personalize.  Share you pictures and videos via email, instant messaging, or mobile phone.  Friends and family members don;t have to have a photobucket membership in order to see your pictures and video's.  All they need is the unique URL location. 

Plus, you can create slideshows, and create photo gifts like greeting cards, shirts, mugs, calendars, stickers, posters, jigsaw puzzles, luggage tags, hoodies, and more. 

Between the unique URL's, HTML coding, photo sharing, and photo editing capabilities Photobucket has a LOT to offer.  If you were looking for one stop shopping to satisfy all your picture needs Photobucket would be the place to go.


Picasa Web Albums not only provides photo hosting, but also provides the means to enhance and correct your photo's as well.  I have been using Picasa for many years now as all of my Blogger.com blogs utilize Picasa web albums.  My blog accounts are private, but my LWO album isn't so if you'd like to view it please CLICK HERE.

Even though Blogger.com utilizes Picasa I still prefer Photobucket when it comes to my blogs picture reliability.  Picasa tends to be problematical at times and I have found myself with red x's throughout my blogs from time to time until Picasa resolves whatever issue it is they're having.  I've never had that problem with Photobucket.

But, Picasa has SO MUCH to offer in features as far as photo sharing and photo enhancing software are concerned that if you were looking for one stop shopping to satisfy all your picture needs Picasa would also be a good choice.

One thing that does set them apart is that they offer free photo organizing and editing software that you can download to your PC.   You can create photo albums and slideshows.  You can organize your photo's by person with tags and organize all the pictures on your PC with their software.You can use Picasa to create and print collages, video slideshows, publish your photo's online, create online photo albums, and turn your photos into movies with YouTube integration. Picasa also has photo editing capabilities so you can fix the red-eye, lighting, color, and auto tune your images.

Also, Picasa  now includes a new feature to make uploading and sharing photos faster and easier.  For small business artists and crafters you can also control how your images are used copyright wise with a Creative Commons licensing feature.

They keep adding new features and improving their software and web albums.  Now you can even integrate Google maps with your photo's so you can remember exactly where you were when you took them.  Your pictures are displayed as locations on a Google map.  Now how great is that! 


I also love Slide.com  and love my Linda Walsh Originals slideshow account because the "dollies" love to create slideshows of themselves and Slide.com provides the means to do that.  You can create slideshows with special effects, fun pictures, post video's, create guestbooks for websites and blogs that anyone can sign, or create groups.

I've created 55 different slideshows over the years and always have a lot of fun doing so. If you’d like to see some of my slideshows please CLICK HERE. As with everything I do, I have a LOT of them and have links to all of them on the sidebars of several of my blogs.

If you don't know what an e-catalog is it is basically a portfolio of your products, but in this instance is a .PDF file that can be downloaded, saved, and printed by Adode Acrobat Reader.  I utilized Microsoft Picture It, Adobe PhotoShopDeluxe, and Microsoft Publisher software to create my e-catalog. 


However, you can accomplish the same thing as an e-catalog by utilizing and creating a photo album portfolio like the Linda Walsh Originals E-Patterns photo album I created at GoDaddy.com.

What I really like about the GoDaddy.com photo album is that I can have different backgrounds for each album and create slideshows for each album. If you like to read more of the pros and cons of my GoDaddy.com photo album I posted about it on my Linda's Blog in a post entitled I've Been Playing Again! This Time With An Online Photo Album .

You can always direct your customers to your website to see your products but some customers don't want to click through lots and lots of pages. So, if you want to give your customers a quick glimpse of some of your products you can do so by joining a photo hosting website and utilizing the best features of that particular website.


There are also wonderful photo hosting type websites that allow you to not only create unique products utilizing your pictures but sell your products, too.  One of these websites is Zazzle.com , which is a world leader in producing quality custom products from individuals, professional artists, and major brands, including Disney and Hallmark.

I LOVE Zazzle.com and created my Gray Is Beautiful products gallery there several years ago and keep adding new products all the time.  It's fast and easy to upload your pictures, edit them or add enhancements, and then publish them for sale. 

I've also used Snapfish.com, Shutterfly.com, and ArtsCow.com  for printing some of my photo's and storing some of my photo's.  All three offer photo printing, photo sharing via email and social networking websites, custom picture products like invitations, magnets, prints, coffee mugs, collages, etc.

With Snapfish.com you can also create a group for a particular event and share that online with everyone.

With Shutterfly.com you can also create a personalized web site to share, connect and collaborate with your family and friends.

ArtsCow.com has a wonderful feature that allows you to create designer scrapbooks online for yourself and which you can sell from their website - providing you an opportunity to earn from your creativity.

I haven't really spend enough time exploring these websites to see all their capabilites, but would like to when I have some time.

If you want to know about some of the various picture and picture hosting websites there are my Everything E-Directory contains a separate Pictures and Picture Hosting category page with listings of some of my favorite websites for these purposes. If you'd like to see what's on my list please CLICK HERE.

We have many, many more picture and picture hosting websites listed on our Everything E-Directory Pictures and Picture Hosting page. Here's a few of the websites from our list:


There are just so many things you can do with pictures nowadays.  It's so easy and there's so much to offer on all the different websites that you really can't come up with an excuse anymore for not sharing your pictures.

Try it - you'll like it. Now I sound like a breakfast commercial.


Posted by Linda Walsh Originals- "Doll Patterns for Grown-up Girls!"

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Results Of My BIG, BOLD & PROGRESSIVE STEP!

Back in November 2006 I wrote a post for my Linda's Blog and Tips For Crafters On The Web blog entitled: I've Taken A BIG, BOLD & PROGRESSIVE Step!

My post concerned my decision to eliminate my monthly newsletters in favor of my blogs. It was A BIG, BOLD & PROGRESSIVE Step at the time that I got positive and negative reactions from.

In 2006 blogs weren't anywhere near as mainstream and popular as they are now. Today many artists and crafters on the web are using blogs to sell their products. They've become "selling blogs" and are created instead of the more traditional websites - which is fine by me.

I was a big proponent of blogs back then and I'm still a big proponent of blogs - which is why I have so many!  It was also why I was dubbed "The Blogging Queen" crown and all!

In any event, back then on several of the forums I belonged to many members openly stated they would "NEVER BUY ANYTHING SOLD ON A BLOG!" My reaction was; "Why not?" I didn't see any difference between the person selling on their blog and selling the same merchandise in a traditional website. In fact, blogs can be set-up to look like the more traditional websites. So much so nowadays that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I wonder if those same individuals would make the same statement today?

My logic in using the blogs versus newsletters was simply based on exposure. Given all the ways that blog feeds were being generated at the time I figured I would gain so much more exposure from my blogs then I ever would from a newsletters. Since then the use of RSS feeds, feed services, feed reader websites, etc. has exploded. So much so that the exposure possibilities are truly endless.

In fact, nowadays I wouldn't be able to tell you exactly how many people are accessing my blogs RSS feeds as so many can do so without my ever knowing they are.

For example, I use Google Reader for tracking all the blogs I am interested in - which is over 500 now. Every time someone posts something new on the blogs I am subscribed to I get notified via a line item on my Google Reader widget which I keep on my desktop. I can peruse the list, read a brief summary of the blog post from the reader and then click over to read the actual blog post, if I want to. None of the blog owners have any idea that I've subscribed to their blogs this way.

Nowadays I can even link my blog RSS feeds to my Facebook profile and Facebook pages whereby my blog posts are automatically posted to my Walls and/or Notes and whereby my friends can then subscribe or read my feeds from my respective Facebook page.  And, I wouldn't have a clue that they had.

I've had a combined total of 1,028,186 visitors to my blogs since I've been tracking them. That's just visitors to my blog and doesn't count subscribers to my blogs that I'm aware of or readers using RSS feed services that I'm not aware of.  If I were to try and estimate the latter I'd have to guess that number would double if not triple the number of visitors to my blogs.

Also, when I look at the statistics for my websites as to referrals my blogs far exceed any other websites I have listed or advertised with. My blogs send more visitors to my websites than any other website.

Plus, most of my blogs enjoy a Google PageRank of 3 - which is very good. Some even have a Google PageRank of 4. Some websites never attain that.

So, in my opinion, was My BIG, BOLD & PROGRESSIVE STEP successful? Just based on numbers of visitors to my blog since my first blog was created in October 2005 I'd have to say "DEFINITELY!"

If you'd like to read my original 2006 post please CLICK HERE.



Posted by Linda Walsh Originals- "Doll Patterns for Grown-up Girls!"

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Fresh Coat of Paint and Leveling The Playing Field!


Sometimes you just have to add a fresh coat of paint in order to reinvigorate a website and bring a breath of fresh air to it. Well, that's what I did to my Top Blogs By Crafters toplist during the last few days.

I changed the format, added some tables, and moved some things around to make it easier to access the toplist.

Most importantly, however, I leveled the playing field for all the members. For awhile now some of the members have had banners and some haven't and those with the banners, in my opinion, got noticed more often. So, I decided to change things. Since adding banners is not the easiest thing to understand and can be problematical at times I decided the easiest thing to do was add a banner for those members who didn't have one myself.

For those members who have banners and know how to add their own - great! For those members who either don't have banners or don't know how to add a banner from their blog they no longer have to worry. I'll add it for them. If you don't have a banner on your blog and just have a title and/or description then a banner will be created from a screenshot of the blogs heading.

I think the toplist is a whole lot cheerier now. The fresh coat of paint, more room to move around,  and the addition of members banners makes it much easier to scroll down the list and visit the blogs that interest you.  I hope you would agree.


Paint Graphic Courtesy of Clker.com

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Blogger.com New Auto Pagination Feature???????


It seems that Blogger.com decided on 2/18/10 to roll out a new "auto pagination feature" for all blogs on Blogger.com. This may or may not affect your blog as it depends on how many posts you previously included per page, how much HTML you used in your posts and the main body of your blog, and how many images you used in your posts and the main body of your blog.

The concern of Blogger.com seems to be the loading time of blogs - especially search result pages, label pages, and archive pages that were taking too long to load.

So, according to Blogger.com: Starting today, we’re rolling out a change that affects how we paginate webpages on Blogger. We will dynamically adjust how much content to send to the browser depending on (a) the amount of HTML on the page being requested (in kilobytes) and (b) the number of images on the page. Users can continue to use “older posts” and “newer posts” navigation elements to see additional posts.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, if your previously had say 50 posts per page for your blog and you used a lot of HTML and images then your blog will succumb to the "auto pagination feature" formula and may now only display say - 10 posts, maybe more - maybe even less. For anyone with a large blog this usually means the posts column will be unduly shortened - throwing the looks of the blog vis-a-vis the main body and the sidebars totally out of kilter.

If you never included a lot of posts per page on your blog and haven't used a lot of html or images then you won't notice any change. If, however, you did have a lot of posts per page, html, and images then you will need to adjust the looks of your blog to suit the new "auto pagination feature."

I have had several of my blogs affected by this new change and have spent the past week trying to fix the looks of the main pages of these blogs. Needless to say - I'm not exactly a happy camper about this as this wasn't what I intended spending this week doing.

It's always fun and games in cyberspace - especially when you have no control over changes just thrust upon you. I can understand Blogger's page loading concern and have been a huge fan of Blogger.com for quite some time. Despite all this I still consider Blogger.com to be the "Cadillac" of blog service providers because of all the unbelievable features and capabilities their blogs have, but arbitrary decisions like this certainly move them down a few pegs. Nice going Blogger.com?


Posted by Linda Walsh Originals- "Doll Patterns for Grown-up Girls!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Linda's How-Do-I Series: How To Create An HTML Text Box

I've been thinking about linkable buttons for fans and supporters to be able to display their support for a particular website and/or blog for awhile and thinking that I might like to create some for my "The Best Free Craft Articles" blog. These are basically clickable buttons that have a link to your website and/or blog built into the HTML coding.

In order for your readers, supporters, and fans to easily show their support and add one of your buttons you need to give them the ability to easily copy/paste the HTML code to their website or blog. This is especially true of your readers who are not HTML code savvy and who want to add your button to their website or blog.

To do this you can always use the old standby of 3 ***'s that allow you to display HTML coding in a blog post. The 3 ***'s have to be removed before they are copied/pasted into a website or blog for the HTML code to work.

But, there is also another way that is easier for your readers to just copy/paste the code with having to remove the 3 ***'s. It's done by utilizing an HTML <***textarea><***/textarea> (minus the 3 ***'s that are shown her to display the HTML code) command.

So, I decided to create a Fan button and a Contributor button for my The Best Free Craft Articles Blog and they are shown below:

BECOME A FAN

Show your support for the Best Free Crafts Articles Blog by placing our button on your website or blog. Just copy/paste the HTML code from the text box below to your website or blog.





I'M A CONTRIBUTOR

Tell everyone you're a contributor to the Best Free Crafts Articles Blog by placing our button on your website or blog. Just copy/paste the HTML code from the text box below to your website or blog.





All your readers have to do is copy/paste the HTML code from the text box to their website and/or blog and it will display a clickable button back to your The Best Free Craft Articles blog. Now, how easy is that?

If you want to create an HTML text box for your own website of blog like the "I'M A CONTRIBUTOR" button shown above the HTML coding you would use is as follows (minus the 3 ***'s that are shown to display the HTML coding in this post):

<***br><***center><***b>I'M A CONTRIBUTOR<***/b><***/center>
Tell everyone you're a contributor to the Best Free Crafts Articles Blog by placing our button on your website or blog. Just copy/paste the HTML code from the text box below to your website or blog.
<***br><***br>
<***center><***a href="http://freecraftarticles.blogspot.com/"><***img src="http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c47/LWOriginals/FREECraftArticlesButtonContributor1.jpg" /><***/a>
<***br><***br>
<***textarea cols="15" rows="10" wrap="ON"><***a href="http://freecraftarticles.blogspot.com/"><***img src="http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c47/LWOriginals/FREECraftArticlesButtonContributor1.jpg" /><***/a><***/textarea><***/center>

Your would remove all of the 3 ***'s in the coding above then change the "I'M A CONTRIBUTOR" to be what you want. Change the message to be what you want. And, change the URL in both paragraphs to be the URL of your website and/or blog and change the URL of the image to be the URL for your button.

The 1st paragraph above sets up the clickable button link. The second paragraph is for the HTML coding you want displayed within your text box. The "Cols" is for the width of the box - the larger the wider and the rows is for the height of the box - the higher the longer. Wrap tells the coding to be continuous.

The use of the text boxes for easily allowing copying and pasting of code are endless. For me - I'm happy with my new buttons. I may just have to create some more.



Saturday, January 16, 2010

Linda's How-Do-I Series: Changing My Blog From 3-Columns To 4-Columns



The other day I spent the morning learning how to create a 4-column blog out of my 3-column "The Book Review Corner" blog and I'm happy to report that I had "success."  I love how it turned out and think it suits this particular blog just fine.

However, I don't have any plans to change any of my other blogs as I think that either the 2-column format or the 3-column format suits each of them just fine.  The 4-column format works for The Book Review Corner blog, but because there are so many columns the main post isn't as wide and each of the columns will only hold an image that is 150 pixels wide.  But, as mentioned, this format works for this particular blog.

I had to change the HTML coding in my template to accomplish this.    Since I had already converted this blog to a 3-column blog previously it wasn't quite as difficult to convert to 4-columns as I had envisioned.  First, I had to add another section to my Outer Wrapper section;  This section originally looked like this:

/* Outer-Wrapper
----------------------------------------------- */
#outer-wrapper {
        width: 995px;
        margin: 0 auto;
        padding: 1px 0px;
        text-align: left;
        font: $bodyfont;
        border: 3px solid #6495ED;
        background:url(http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c47/LWOriginals/backgroundblue4ss.gif);
      }

#main-wrapper {
        width: 513px;
        margin: 0 1px 0 1px;
        background:url(http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c47/LWOriginals/backgroundblue4ss.gif);
      }

#left-sidebar-wrapper, #right-sidebar-wrapper {
        width: 220px;
        background:url(http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c47/LWOriginals/backgroundblue4ss.gif) repeat left bottom;
        padding: 5px;
        text-align: center;
    }

#main-wrapper, #left-sidebar-wrapper, #right-sidebar-wrapper {
      border: 2px solid #6495ED;
      word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
      overflow: hidden;     /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */
    }

#left-sidebar-wrapper, #main-wrapper {
      float: left;
    }

#right-sidebar-wrapper {
      float: right;
    }

.crosscol {
    text-align: center;
    margin: 1px;
    }


I had to change it to look like this:

/* Outer-Wrapper
----------------------------------------------- */
#outer-wrapper {
      width: 995px;
      margin: 0 auto;
      padding: 1px 0px;
      text-align: left;
      font: $bodyfont;
      border: 3px solid #6495ED;
      background:url(http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c47/LWOriginals/backgroundblue4ss.gif);
      }

#main-wrapper {
        width: 434px;
        margin: 0 1px 0 1px;
        background:url(http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c47/LWOriginals/backgroundblue4ss.gif);
      }

#left-sidebar-wrapper, #right-sidebar-wrapper1, #right-sidebar-wrapper2 {
        width: 183px;
        background:url(http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c47/LWOriginals/backgroundblue4ss.gif) repeat left bottom;
        padding: 0px;
        text-align: center;
    }

#main-wrapper, #left-sidebar-wrapper, #right-sidebar-wrapper1, #right-sidebar-wrapper2 {
      border: 1px solid #6495ED;
      word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
      overflow: hidden;     /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */
    }

#left-sidebar-wrapper, #main-wrapper, #right-sidebar-wrapper1 {
      float: left;
    }

#right-sidebar-wrapper2 {
      float: right;
    }

Basically, I eliminated the crosscol coding and added a new section entitled #right-sidebar-wrapper2.  However since I was going to have two new right hand columns I decided to change the name of the original right hand column from #right-sidebar-wrapper to #right-sidebar-wrapper1 .  As a result all the references to #right-sidebar-wrapper had to be changed to #right-sidebar-wrapper1 as well.

And, since there was a new column being added I had to add my new column name of #right-sidebar-wrapper2 to each of the respective sections above.   I also had to indicate that the original #right-sidebar-wrapper float would be changed to "left" and that the new #right-sidebar-wrapper2 would have a "right" float.

Then I had to tell the HTML coding in the bottom half of my blog that there was a new column being added and Crosscol being removed.  So I went to the section referencing my Crosscol and removed the following coding (minus the 3 ***'s that are being shown in order to display the coding in this post):

<***!-- start crosscol-wrapper -->
<***div id="crosscol-wrapper">

  <**b:section class="crosscol" id="crosscol" showaddelement="no">
<***/b:section><***/div>

<***!-- end crosscol-wrapper -->

Then, since I was changing the name of my original right hand column and adding a second right hand column I went to my original right hand column section that looked like the following coding (minus the 3 ***'s that are being shown in order to display the coding in this post):

<***!-- start right-sidebar-wrapper -->
<***div class='sidebar' id='right-sidebar-wrapper'>
<***b:section class='sidebar2' id='sidebar2' preferred='yes'>
<***/b:section>
<***/div>
<***!-- end right-sidebar-wrapper -->

And changed it to this (minus the 3 ***'s that are being shown in order to display the coding in this post):

<***!-- start right-sidebar-wrapper1 -->
<***div class='sidebar' id='right-sidebar-wrapper1'>
<***b:section class='sidebar' id='sidebar' preferred='yes'>
<***/b:section>
<***/div>
<***!-- end right-sidebar-wrapper1 -->

In changing the HTML coding above I also had to change the "div class" and "id" from sidebar2 to sidebar to give it a unique identifier from my new right-sidebar-wrapper2 that would be using that "div class" and "id" of sidebar2.

And, then I added my second right hand column right after this and it was as follows (minus the 3 ***'s that are being shown in order to display the coding in this post):

<***!-- start right-sidebar-wrapper2 -->
<***div class='sidebar' id='right-sidebar-wrapper2'>
<***b:section class='sidebar2' id='sidebar2' preferred='yes'>
<***/b:section>
<***/div>
<***!-- end right-sidebar-wrapper2 -->

Then I went into my layout and moved the page elements around until I was happy with where they all were. Since the columns weren't as wide as they had been I had to re-size and re-enter some of the images to get them to fit inside the new column width. I also had to change some of the drop-down menu's as they were also wider than my new columns would allow.

There are some websites out there that provide the coding for a 4-column blog, and if you're starting from scratch you can use them, but I already had a ton of modules that I had added and a lot of customization that I had already added to The Book Review Corner blog that I didn't want to have to re-enter so I took the approach above.What worked for me and my blog above might not work for you and your blog as your blogs HTML and CSS coding might be slightly different.

It took a little while, but I was happy with the way it all turned out. I'd love for you to check out the redesign of The Book Review Corner blog and let me know what you think.