iPad Owner Adventures In Blogging

I originally bought my iPad to be a simpler way to blog while traveling. So how has that worked out for me? And what might my experiences mean for you?

What are the features of an iPad?

  • Small slimline profile means it easily goes into a large purse. It can function as a phone, though I don’t use it that way.
  • Loads of apps, many of them free.
  • Accessories can expand usefulness (I have a keyboard cover).
  • Bigger screen than a phone, while remaining compact.
  • Portable
  • Battery has longlasting properties (compared with a laptop)
  • Works well for reading eBooks and PDFs

I ended up buying an iPad Air 2.

ipad controls

-click home button to awake, twice to bring up app screen.

-screen adjusts to landscape or portrait mode.

It has a camera, but so far I found that a bit awkward to use. Better sound when not encased in the Belkin cover, but still good. Clear, beautiful display.

The Adventures: Traveling with an iPad

I found some things I genuinely liked, but the entire experience didn’t quite work out as seamlessly as I’d hoped. Still, I am not ready to say I have fully mastered bringing this portable device into its full potential.

Things I had to get used to:

  • Apps are not full programs, so graphics may need to be done elsewhere. Luckily there are easy online programs like Picmonkey and Canva. Only Canva has an actual IOS app.
  • Passwords. Setting up the device is just like setting up a new computer, so sometimes I have to go looking for passwords. There might be an easier way, but I didn’t know about it.
  • Can’t get used to using it as a phone… at least not yet.

 

I liked the portability and accessibility of the iPad, loved the long battery life, and the Belkin cover lights up and makes typing easy.

That said, the keyboard features are smaller and more awkward than a full laptop keyboard. I found it harder to feel at home on the tablet and that interfered with my inspiration to write- but that is just me. I feel that as I get used to it, it will be as natural and I’ll stop thinking about it so much.

One app that makes a tablet highly functional is Evernote. When I put something into it, it transfers it to all my devices that have the app- including my phone and laptop. That solves issues with the need to have good photos/graphics for a post.

My eyesight isn’t very good, so the smaller screen is not always best for me. I enlarge, but I tend to like a larger screen. Huge imporvement on a phone, however.

Am I happy?  Yes. Happy enough that I want to further explore which apps are best for me and to get greater skill and comfort in using tablets rather than laptops.

What Apps For Me?

I use many that are on my iPhone:

  • Waterlogue for fun
  • Camera +
  • Pronto for graphics (this is a new one for me)
  • Evernote
  • Weather
  • and 22 other apps, including  basics like camera, mail, etc
Other Opinions about Traveling With An iPad

Gizmodo had a post that sings the praises of using an iPad. Joel Johnson also cited the light weight, small size, and the great battery life. This is essentially the same experience as mine.

While written in 2010, I think the plus and minus of the iPads are the same today, six years later.
I do use mine differently since blogging is my main activity on any computer.

Useful Accessories For Tablets

From experience texting, I knew I couldn’t get very far with writing posts, or even social commenting  without  a keyboard. I just can’t. But I found a Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 , after much searching through reviews. I have to say it was a great purchase which I am very happy to use most of the time I am on the

Device Warnings -be sure to keep your OS up to date.

Summed up

I like this device more as I learn to use it. It is very user friendly with apps like imovie along with a decent camera, its size, and its good battery life. The screen makes watching video a great experience and Siri is there to help, too. I think it was worth the money invested.

Need To Make Banners Or Headers For Your Collections, Stores, Or Posts?

If you need to make a professional looking graphic for your headers or banners it is no secret that Picmonkey and Canva are free, easy, and accessible.

However, maybe you didn’t know about that, yet.

It is easy to sign up for free access to most of the features and use the online editor. However I use the premium, for the extra features. Want to access those? Use my handy affiliate link for Picmonkey, and support me while you do yourself a favor and gain some really useful apps for graphics.

Picmonkey

Here is a link for Canva:

Canva for Web

Canva is very clear that their graphics are for personal use only. So nothing made on their site should be sold, although I am sure that you can make personal headers for your store or collections on this site.

Picmonkey has no dire warnings, so I am not sure about the use of your graphics, although they will be perfectly fine for anything personal, as well. Personal use is posting on your social media, blogs, etc. as well as making products for yourself, like cards you want to send.

Commercial would include POD products like those sold on Zazzle, etc.

Right now the only things I am recommending these sites for is the personal usage. Making Facebook headers, headers for your store, or profile pics. Collection and category graphics which can all be branded with your particular style.

 

Improving Your Zazzle Work

I am always hanging out in the forums looking for tips to be more successful on Zazzle. I am especially interested in improving my designs, because a huge part of being successful, to me, is making people happy.

A happy customer is the desired result for the company you are working for, and for yourself as a designer.

Better Images

This particular helpful tip is in the form of a video I came across. While it has some basic info I already knew, it also has some explanation of the new prinitng process that highlights one reason to go with Zazzle as a company…. both as a designer and as a customer.

Watch And Learn

Leave a comment on the video or your experience at Zazzle.

Advice For Zazzle Newbies

I just finished giving my artist daughter some advice about Zazzle, and as it kept building into almost a “mini-course” I thought maybe it would be a good idea to write some of that advice down in one place.

The questions started with… What can I do about my created product “hanging up” when I try to post it for sale?

To this, and other difficulties like it, the answer is save your design and write down the title, description, and tags in a text file to copy-paste. Once saved, the design will show up in your “saved file” and you can usually proceed without a problem. The short answer is that sometimes the javascripts get jammed. It might be your browser, Zazzle’s site, or a slow internet connection. Who knows? Just save whereever the hangup is and then go from there.

This happens to me most often when I am trying to post for sale. That is why I use a text file to keep from losing the description and tags.

My next suggestion is to keep a copy-paste file of color hex file codes for certain designs along with description and tag words so that when making more products from that design these are accessible. Call it “Zazzlecode” or something similar.

SEO

The next bit of advice is how important it is to use some basic SEO, since an artist has to do her own marketing. Use descriptive relevant terms when titling both the design and product, when writing the descriptions, and especially when choosing tag words and phrases.

If you don’t know very much about SEO, there are scads of articles and sites online which explain this to bloggers. Artists can use that same information when working to get Google to find their products, too.

The New Title

Duplicates are a problem in SEO results, so while it used to be okay to have multiple products that use a design titled and described all the same, this is now a problem. Customize the written labels and descriptions for each product.

Views

A products views are important. Even your own view of one of your designed products counts, but if you have created something that no one views over a certain length of time, it gets hidden from the general marketplace.

So include your creations in the collections, share them, and go to their pages if necessary, to increase the possibility of sales.

 

That sums up the latest of gleaned tips for gaining a foothold in Zazzle success. If you have tips add them, please.

Zazzle Success Tips and Pointers

Share Your Best Stuff

Now there are “collections, products that you can curate any way you wish. These are shareable ways to make your store more attractive and help customers find related designs.

  • Share with your friends and followers on Twitter, Facebook, G+, and your own website.
  • Group product designs by theme or occasion
  • Relate by product type (iphone cases, postcards, etc.), event ( birthday, retirement, et al), theme (vintage, cats, fractals), or occasion (Christmas, Mother’s Day, 4th of July).
  • Don’t create huge Collections. I made this mistake at first. Since then I have pared down those very large unrelated ones to help me better serve customers in finding what they want.

Examples of Two of Mine

How to make and add to your collections.

directions for making Zazzle collection
Making a new collection on Zazzle
  1. Each profile has a “Collection” button in the navigation bar. Click on that and there is an intuitive box with the plus sign that you click to make your group, which you name and tag.
  2. Make a banner which is  1140 x 315 pixels. Upload to the banner space in the collection ( in the same manner that Facebook banners are uploaded and changed).
  3. Next: Go to a product that you wish to add. Find the “add to” button.
    add to collection button
    addto button

     

  4. Click on the down arrow and it will open up a list of your collections. Simply check the box next to the one you wish to add the product to.
  5. Go to your collection after you have added 3 to 10 items and share it with all your friends and followers.

Promote Yourself

It is really important to do your own marketing when you have a Zazzle store now.  Learn how to tag your designs and products without spamming (Zazzle has a strict no spam policy).

Share and encourage your friends to do so. If you have products that you think are poorly done (usually in retrospect), hide them.

If you have some that haven’t gotten any views, give them a few yourself (just by going to the page) to keep that product in the Marketplace until the public discovers it.

Remember to attach your associate number to the things you share,  of your own design or others in case it makes a referral sale.

Referrals

Share, but don’t overshare referral links on social media.

Consider using a free blog to show off your designs and those of others. Include pertinent designs in your blogposts.

While it is possible to make income from this form of sharing, I have made very little from it. For me, referral traffic is more important to create some buzz about the product items in my stores.

 

Helpful Sizes to Know For Your Store

It can be a nuisance to try to guess which size graphics to make for the various parts of this POD.

I seem to always have to look up some of the other graphics dimensions, and to save time collected a few here:

  • Collection banner: 1140 x 315 pixels
  • Store banner: 2369 x 400 pixels
  • Category picture: 640 x 640 pixel square

Helpful Design Tools

There is a page of guides. Although somewhat outdated, the ones available do help with designing cards or mugs, etc.

Zazzle is no longer making official product guides, but still have the tried and true older ones:

Make sure the “dpi” or resolution of your graphics are high enough. I think 300-350 dpi is a good range. Lesser is acceptable, but not the 72 that is common for most web pictures.

DPI Is Important
High enough resolution is important for printing. “Dots Per Inch” makes a difference in sharpness of the image.

Official Image Recommendations

Advice from the Forum on making your own:

1. Go to create your chosen product (but don’t add an image)
2. Change to ‘Design’ view and ensure the guides are switched on
3. Click the ‘Zoom’ button and take your screenshot
4. Trim the image down to the red rectangle (the bleed area), I also make the white part transparent
5. Now the image needs to be enlarged to the size you will be using for the product – in the case of the iPad Mini you could base the measurements on measurements of the device itself (given above) – I tend to make my graphics a little larger than necessary to allow for effectively ‘zooming in’ when making the product (or to give a customer the option of doing the ‘zooming’)

Of course, you can always use your Instagram pictures or simply upload a large enough design to give a good print for the product. Not exact, but this can work.