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.

Can you earn income with Zazzle?

Zazzle Income For Beginners

Zazzle is set up to share profits, through royalties and referrals with their members.

Whether you can earn income is a mixed bag of answers. Many people do earn well, and it must be stated that they probably work very hard at it.

I have read many statements in the forums and elsewhere that provide insights into their process. Most devote several hours each day to making their stores successful.

It is not easy money, but it can be part of a business.

I have done better when I invested more time into improving my store with keywords, designing products, and paying attention to examples from the top trending products.

I make less now than a couple years ago, which may be due to a number of changes that the site has made. My own intention is to work on my brand, improve my techniques and designs, and make more products.

That is also the advice I give you.

It remains to be seen whether the referrals will produce any income, as of now, it doesn’t. (For me, I can’t speak for everyone). It could be that there is too much competition for the casual presentation of products.

Collections

A recent way of showcasing products is the set of collections. Curated by you, these are a way to promote either your own or fellow Zazzler’s work. To complete your profile you make a certain number of collections which are then shown on the stores you own. You can choose which stores a collection appears within.

They work very much like a Pinterest board, just on a smaller scale.

Tips For The Zazzle Entrepreneur

Zazzle Income How-To

Here are the tips I have gathered and learned through my own experience.

  • It is a numbers game- make lots and lots of designs and products for Zazzle income results.
  • Pay close attention to keywords and learning about SEO for Zazzle as well as for your blog.
  • Use your social media to gain interest in your stores and designs.
  • Investigate the idea of designing around a niche. The fact that you can have multiple (free) stores encourages and facilitates this.
  • The forums are very informative, visit there for the new products, helpful tips, and troubleshooting.
  • Set up a blog for showcasing your work. Write posts about the designs or the products. Or related topics such as baby shower parties, wedding invitation tips, birthday party themes, etc.

 


I am beginning to try to use more posts to showcase great products and designs… a type of “curation post”. I will report on whether this has any effect on referral income for me, and let you know what the practices are that result in income from Zazzle.

I tried to sign up as an affiliate for them, but that didn’t work out. The affiliate process from the site itself is what I must use.

Making Graphics The Simple Way

Since making my own graphics became really important to blogging, I used to spend large blocks of time with photoshop or paint shop pro trying to get something that looked professional.

I didn’t always succeed.

Today there are so many fabulous apps for turning your photos and graphics into something spectacular in almost no time at all.

Picmonkey Graphics

The one I have been using lately is PicMonkey and I upgraded to their premium “Royale” membership, although it is very economical and gives good results to use their site for free, too. Especially good if you want to test it out before investing your money.

I signed up for $33.00 a year, which I think is a great value. They have so many elements, fonts, and papers that it saves loads of time look or trying to make them for your pictures.
PicMonkey Photo editing made of win
I have only made a few so far, but I think the Picmonkey graphics are really an asset to my pages. View one here, my Urban Gardening page. It is grungy, and has a cool font for the text that is one of many in the editing program. The overlay makes it look like those vintage, upscale photo effects that professional photographers sometimes use.

 

All graphics editors have a learning curve, but this program makes it fun and easy, and there are plenty of tutorial on their blog and from users on youtube.

While I’ve used other programs, this one is something I will be spending time mastering so I can quickly create updated feature photos for my blog (one of the things that most needs improvement on my garden blog. Blurry enlarged pictures just won’t do!

That reminds me of another feature I like in the Picmonkey program: the three easy sizing options. I used the smallest file size, resolution option for my web use. Next I plant to try out bigger files saved for printing purposes and see how that works. That means I can make a printable or my own Christmas cards. ( Without having to open a whole new program).

 

That is the latest and greatest from my experimentations… view the video to see how easy this is to use.

 

 

 

 

How To Use Picmonkey

Try it out and come back to tell me how you have been making graphics, or if this is your first effort.

Was it easy for you? did you get the result you were hoping for? How do you use this program… to make a card? for twitter or facebook? On your own blog? Let me know.

Gimp Tips

Since I use my Mac laptop for most of my work, I switched from my old Photoshop program to Gimp. Needing to make a graphic for one of my posts, here, I wanted some free brushes to use for the illustration. But how to insert Photoshop brushes into the Gimp program? It was simple once I learned how.

Here is the link

Basically you find the brushes folder inside of Gimp through ‘Finder’, then drop them in and restart Gimp. I did it, but needed the walkthrough with illustrations.

Found some tips for using the program, too. Inside the Gimp.org site, of all places.

Enrich My Gimp

Have fun learning.

 

The New Zazzle: Custom Store Help

 

zazzle
zazzle

Over the years plenty has changed at Zazzle. The sizes needed for customizing the stores, the store profile banner and the member profile image are just two to know.

To complete the requirements for 100% profile and store completion includes making “media” as well. I had trouble getting the sizes large enough.

The Store Banner

As of now, in the Forum, the advice is to make the store banner the right size. Here is the official advice:

The important thing to remember is that the image should have an aspect ratio of 76:21

That is 3.8” x 1.05” inches.
Official word on this is:
“The main banner to your store should be at least 1140 pixels wide by 315 pixels in height (e.g. 1140 x 315). Your banner should give some ‘texture’ as to what your store is. A pattern or repeating image works well, as does a photo of objects that you don’t have to see in their entirety to know what they are. The reason for this is because your banner scales depending on the device it’s viewed on.”

Member Profile Pic

Make it square and make it 512 x 512 pixels.

Category Pics

Without images, the categories will not show up. Make your store category pics 640 pixels square.

There are also “media pictures” now. For the longest time I just didn’t get what they’re all about , but this is the word from on high on those:

Media Images

“Any photography or images you add to your All Media section should be at least 1080 x 1440 pixels.

The image sizes we give above are the minimum of what you need to upload. If you want the best resolution possible, double the pixel size  suggested above.”

Most designers are taking photos of products they ordered. I used an online Pinterest oriented generator to make an automatic collage that uses collections to make media worthy graphics.

Pinnable Images

update 2015

I promised I would update this page.

Due to big changes in the format that Zazzle uses, much of the old information on customizing your store has changed and is outdated.

Zazzle has optimized for mobile. I think this is smart, since that is the direction the web is taking.

It has also simplified the entire process of installing a header. Like Facebook, you simply upload a large enough photo or graphic for the background. The store profile picture is to the left, and a profile pic is in the center on your profile page.

Each category must have a graphic to appear, a product picture or one of your product image could be used.

The entire process of referrals seems to be shrouded in mystery. I am investigating that for future posts.

 

 

Continue to read past entries…  which might still work

Zazzle completely changed its look and how each of the stores look, as well. I have been having a hard time finding the information needed to customize my store, so I thought I would collate some of the necessary info in a Webhelp post- which is “Web help for baby geeks”.

First, sizes.

  1. The size needed for the Store Icon is 200 X 200 pixels.
  2. The size needed for the Header is 2360 X 400 pixels.
  3. Featured Categories: 648 x 648 pixels, although I downloaded a template gif that measures 500 X 500 pixels..

Zazzle calls the header a “Mantle”.

Troubleshooting

This page from Zazzle lists some of the issues; in case you are struggling with something, it is good to know when it is them and not something you are doing wrong.

New Site Issues List

Did you wonder what happened to your products and how to figure out “groupings”? There was an illustrated post in the forums that clarified  this for many of us:

Forum answer to “Where Are My Products?

 

I’ll update this post as I find new information.