PLANNING FOR A SUCCESSFUL 2016

December 28, 2015
I cannot believe today is the last Monday of 2015. This year has absolutely flown by (I know I say that every year). While I hope you've been able to take some time to step away from your business and recharge, I also hope you've spent some time planning and preparing for next year! I'm going to share with you the things that help me really get focused and organized in order to plan productively! I'd love to hear what y'all do too, so if you have some other suggestions leave them in the comments!


CLEAN HOUSE

I mean this in more ways than one. First, literally clean house. Clear the clutter in your living space and get rid of/donate all the things you don't use. Tackle your office. Make sure you're ready to take on 2016 with a clean, organized and inspirational workspace. I'm not sure why we hang on to things but you'll be surprised how great you feel when you let it all go.

After your home and workspace are tidy, clear your online life. First up, social media. Throughout the course of a year, you pick up lots of new "inspirations". Go through your social media and blog feeds and clear out what isn't serving you best. Don't follow people who bring you down or make you second guess your own abilities. This even includes the brands you admire. If you are constantly playing the comparison game and they make you feel less worthy, get rid of 'em. You've heard it before - comparison is the thief of joy, my friends. Follow people who inspire and life you up. We spend so much time online we should be careful who we let influence our lives. Then, clear the clutter in your Inbox, on your desktop and on your cellphone. Unsubscribe from pointless newsletters and delete unnecessary, unused or unwanted apps, software and photos. 

WHAT WORKED IN 2015?

It's always good to take a look at the things that DID work so you can continue to make those things happen. Celebrate your successes and figure out how to do it again. Rinse and repeat.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK IN 2015?

While it's helpful to pay attention to what DID work this last year, I think it's even more important to take a look at what DID NOT work. Say no to things that aren't bringing you joy. If it's not something you can stop right away because it's supporting you financially, than put a plan in place to help you reach your goal. Also, say no to things that aren't making you money. Remember you are running a business and you should be turning a profit. If you're not, reevaluate.

SET GOALS

I'm a big believer in naming your dreams and ambitions. Be as specific as possible. If there is something you want, put it out there and make it happen. YOU are in control of your life and you can't wait around for something else to make your dreams come true. 

REFINE

Don't be afraid to take a look at your goals to edit or nix them. You shouldn't be afraid to put an idea or project on hold either. Sometimes the timing is just not right. As creatives we want to do all the things, and knowing when is extremely important. You are (hopefully) constantly changing and evolving so your game plan should too. Don't be too hard on yourself and let your goals grow with you. 

What is one thing you'll be doing in 2016 to improve your business?

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SC LETTERS | 06

December 10, 2015

So many doodles go unseen and unused but I loved this one too much not share! :)

SC Letters is a series in which I post a bit of hand lettered work. See previous entries here.
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IMPORTANT 4Q DATES FOR ONLINE SHOPS

November 24, 2015
For shop owners, this time of year is one of the busiest. In order to be the most successful you can be, it's important to plan for the important dates that fill 4Q. Have you thought about which days you will participate in? What deals you will offer? How you will advertise them? Having a plan in action will not only make your job easier, but you more than likely will make more sales.



THANKSGIVING DELIVERY CUT OFF DATES

Do you sell Thanksgiving specific items? You need to figure out when the last possible day your customers can order those items and receive them in time for their Thanksgiving celebrations. Your customers won't be too happy if they receive their orders the day after. Take into consideration any vendor deadlines you may have and always over estimate. Make your cut off a couple of days before you actually think it should be. You never know how things will go once you drop your packages off at the post office. It's better to under promise and over deliver.

BLACK FRIDAY / NOVEMBER 27, 2015

Traditionally, this is one of the largest Christmas shopping days of the year and while it has received some backlash, it mainly is aimed at brick and mortar stores opening as early as Thanksgiving, making their employees leave their families. Because most of us are online based, I don't think this applies to us. I don't see any harm in doing a little Christmas shopping from the comfort of your home while everyone is watching some football.
So, I guess first you must decide if your business will offer any special deals on Black Friday at all. If you are, plan those out now. Have your social media and newsletter graphics ready to go. Make sure your messaging is CLEAR. There are so many ads and sales going on that you want to get right to the point.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY / NOVEMBER 28, 2015

The first Small Business Saturday was on November 27, 2010. This is only the 6th year of it's existence and it has grown so much. Many people who aren't normally small business conscious make an effort to shop small and locally. This is the perfect opportunity for a pop-up shop or even to offer a free shipping/pick-up coupon code to friends, family and those local to you. 

CYBER MONDAY / NOVEMBER 30, 2015

This of course is the biggest sales day for online retailers. If you are wanting to offer any sales or specials, have a plan in place, ready to go. The sooner the better and the more you'll be able to enjoy the holiday weekend. I'm creating all of my graphics, coupon codes and newsletters this week. That way come Thanksgiving weekend, I'm free to enjoy my friends and family but my shop is still running smoothly.

GREEN MONDAY / DECEMBER 14, 2015

Green Monday is an online retail industry term similar to Cyber Monday. The term was coined by eBay to describe its best sales day in December, usually the second Monday of December. I haven't participated on this date in the past but am thinking it might be beneficial as one last push before my holiday cut off dates.

CHRISTMAS DELIVERY CUT OFF DATES

These are even more important than your Thanksgiving cut off dates (in my opinion). Your customers are counting on you for Christmas gifts for their loved ones. You do not want their packages to show up after December 25th. Again, it's important to under promise so you can over deliver. I also set clear holiday cut off dates but I continue shipping up until I shut down for the holiday. The packages may still make it in time, but my customers are aware up front that they might not be in hand on Christmas.

HOLIDAY SHOP CLOSURES

If you are planning to shut down at all for the holidays, make sure you have clearly communicated this everywhere you reach your customers. Make sure they know that if they place an order after a certain date, it won't be shipped until day x. You're entitled to a little time off, so take it. Just make sure you let your customers know what to expect.

NEW YEARS EVE/DAY / DECEMBER 31, 2015 AND JANUARY 1, 2016

These are other great opportunities to take advantage of. People are off work, they are celebrating. In what ways can you offer them something they need? Have a plan for these days, even if it's just a fun graphic for social media wishing them a happy new year.

JANUARY & THE NEW YEAR

Don't forget to plan for January and the new year. January is typically slower for product based businesses because everyone is dealing with their holiday hangover. What products can you launch or push that will speak to people in the new year. Have a game plan in place so if times are slower, you are still making progress.
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I'M GETTING MARRIED: OUR ENGAGEMENT PARTY

I've already shared the story of how J proposed and how I asked my bridesmaids to be part of our special day and today I want to share about our engagement party that happened right after the proposal!

As we were leaving the church J said we were going to dinner at a special place. We agreed we would wait to call everyone (because there were a lot of people to call and we wanted to soak it all in) until after dinner. J was kind of acting like he was lost and I thought he was turning around in this cabin's driveway. There were a bunch of cars so I was embarrassed that he was pulling all the way in! I was thinking these people are going to be wondering who's pulling in their driveway.

Then I started to recognize some cars. I looked at J and he says, there is one more surprise! We walked into the cabin and our families were there waiting for us. It was so special to have my family there to celebrate with us and there are a million reasons I love J but his thoughtfulness has to be in the top five. All of the planning he put into this day to make it special and memorable was just amazing. It was the best day ever!

I'm so thankful my Aunt Christie was able to snap all of these photos! :)


My momma created adorable chalkboard signs that were hung up all over the cabin. I love the doily trim! Everyone, of course, made J and I choose a sign to pose with! We chose "You're everything I never knew I wanted." That statement couldn't be any more true! <3


This photo was SUPER posed (you know how moms can get) and Jeremy and I are cracking up and whispering what the heck are we doing right now? But, I am "gonna be a Capan" and I could not be happier!


The party was so fun and I'm so thankful everyone was there to celebrate with us and I can't thank my momma and family enough for the special details! I mean check out the names on some of the food... Hilarious!


If you're interested in keeping up with our wedding planning journey, view more Capan Wedding posts.


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SC FOR PHOTOFY | SHOP OWNER VOL. 2

November 23, 2015
I recently released another set of overlays for the "Shop Owner" and wanted to share them with y'all! Creating consistent graphics for social media and newsletters is crucial and I wanted to provide a number of overlays that could help you do just that! If you ever have a request for phrases or styles you'd like to see in my Photofy collection, just holler!

Download the app for FREE and look for my collection "Stephanie Creekmur" under the "Popular" section. If you use one of my overlays make sure you use the hashtag #SCforPhotofy so I can see! :)



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I'M GETTING MARRIED: WILL YOU BE MY BRIDESMAID DIY BOX

October 23, 2015
Now that these have all been delivered safely, I wanted to share with you how I asked my bridesmaids to be part of our special day. One of the most important things to Jeremy and I as we plan our wedding is that our family and friends know how much we love and appreciate them so I knew that I wanted to do something a little more special than just popping the question over the phone. I also knew the budget for this project was pretty small and with 10 'maids (yes, 10!) it was going to add up quickly!



I purchased gable boxes from Hobby Lobby and wrote each of their names on the front using a white bistro marker. The boxes I linked aren't the exact boxes I purchased but I honestly wish I had gotten this size. I bought a set of 10 for $4.99 and they were 6.5" wide. They worked out just fine but I would have liked them to be a little larger. (And in case you're wondering, Corky Ree is the nickname I gave my sister when we were little. Her name is Courtney Marie and I guess I couldn't pronounce our names correctly, so Corky Ree it was!)

For the information card I included all the important event details as well as what the girls can expect to wear and their role for the big day. I had seen these Groomsmen boxes by Saffron Avenue and used her info card as a guide. Jeremy also did gifts for his groomsmen (I may or may not get around to sharing a post on those) and they were pretty similar to Angela's boxes.



I used the phone app, Print Studio (formerly known as Prinstagram) to print photos for each girl's box. I chose the "mini squares" and what I love most about Print Studio is that I can add multiple Instagram accounts and my Camera Roll to my dashboard for easy printing. It was nice to have all of my photos in the same place.


I'm happy to report that all 10 ladies said yes and I'm so thankful that I'll have each of them by my side on our wedding day! :)
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SELLING ON ETSY: HOW TO MAKE YOUR ETSY SHOP STAND OUT

October 1, 2015

It's almost been two years since my last Selling on Etsy post and to say a lot has changed would be an under statement. I've got lots of opinions on Etsy and some day I'll share those with you (including why I've basically broken up with them) but for today, let's talk more about how to make Etsy work for you. 

Hands down, each and every week my post Selling on Etsy: How to Set Yourself Apart is the most viewed post on this blog. You can head over and read that post too, if you like, but I'm going to recap it here as well as make some changes and add a few new tips because as I stated above, a lot has changed when it comes to selling on Etsy.


Shop featured in image above is One Swell Studio.

01 | BUILD YOUR BRAND, NOT ETSY'S

One of the hardest things to do as an Etsy seller is establishing a lasting relationship with your customers. This is because Etsy buyers often lump shops into one category. When asked where they got a particular item, instead of sharing the shop or artist's information, they simply say the item was purchased from Etsy. This is why you MUST go the extra mile. You have to leave a lasting impression with your customer so they come back to YOU again and again.

WAYS TO BUILD YOUR BRAND:

 CONSISTENT VISUAL BRANDING  Do you have a professional logo, set color palette and font library? From your Etsy banner to inserts sent with your packages, you should be visually communicating your brand message consistently.

 CREATE A UNIQUE DOMAIN  This one is super easy and for generally around $10, it's very affordable. If you're not quite ready for your own home base on the web, go ahead and lock down your desired URL before someone else snatches it up. Link it to your Etsy shop and now when someone asks you what you do for a living you don't have to include .etsy.com when giving out your shop URL. It will sound more professional and it will be easier for people to remember. Plus, your business cards will look much cleaner!

 GROW YOUR MAILING LIST  I'm not sure what the correct answer is on this because based on my research through the years I've seen different answers, BUT, the emails collected through your shop belong to Etsy, not you. Technically you're not supposed to add those emails to your newsletter list, so make sure you're asking them to sign up for your newsletter anywhere you can. Include the sign up link in any correspondence online or inserts sent with your packages. Ask your social media and blog followers to sign up as well. This will make your job so much easier when the time comes to launch your own online shop. You will need traffic, and lots of it. One of the best ways to do this is to reach out to your mailing list!

 GROW YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE  Social media can be intimidating, but if done right, it can be very successful, free advertising. Choose the top three platforms that you A. enjoy and will consistently post on and B. choose the ones your ideal customers are using. My favorite to use is Instagram. (Did you know I have an Instagram for the Creative Entrepreneur e-book?) Social media is the perfect place to create a lifestyle built around your products. People don't buy what you're selling, they buy why you're selling it. Let them get to know who you are. Show them around your studio. They want to see that sort of stuff and the more open you can be, the more you're able to create trust.

02 | CREATE AN ABOUT PAGE

Because Etsy doesn't give you much room for customization it's important you take advantage of all the areas in your shop to tell your story. One of these areas is the About page. You're able to share your bio, photos of yourself and behind the scenes, introduce team members and talk about the quality that goes into your products. I think Little Low Studio is a great example of an About page well done. If you haven't take the time to develop your About page, get to gettin'!



03 | SHOP ANNOUNCEMENT

Another area to take advantage of is your Shop Announcement. I would consider including a quick explanation here about what it is you're selling. Think SEO. What keywords are your potential customers using to search? Make sure you include those. I would also include any information regarding shipping delays and or shop policies and FAQs.

04 | PACKAGING

I know how special and excited I feel when I order something offline and the company goes that extra step to create beautiful packaging. I also know how disappointed I am when it just comes in the USPS Priority mailers. Bor-ing. Now, that packaging may be fine in some instances, so be sure to consider your brand and what you are selling. On the other hand, special packaging can be tricky because there is a fine line between having great packaging and customer experience and eating your profits. If you are going to have elaborate packaging, make sure you factor that in to the cost of the item.

WAYS TO SPRUCE UP YOUR PACKAGING:

 STICKERS  Stickers are an inexpensive way to add a little flair to your packages. You can put a sticker on the outside of your boxes, on the packaging of the product itself and you can even include stickers as swag for your customers.

 HANDWRITTEN NOTES  In this digital world we are living in, a handwritten note can go a long way. Write a quick note to your customers letting them know how much you appreciate their business. I know a few companies who not only send a note with each order but they also send a follow up card to their customers. Can you imagine how special this must make those customers feel and how much more likely are they going to be to make another purchase? Probably pretty likely because the company has shown interest in them and as made it clear they are valuable.

 FUN INSERTS  This can be anything from a branded desk print to a "share us on Instagram" prompt. Anytime you can include something extra the customer wasn't expecting it's sure to make an impression. Surprise and delight.

Tissue Paper  This will definitely take your packaging to the next level but again, keep in mine the cost of this extra delight. We use tissue paper but only when packaging our return address stamps. We do this because one, we have healthy margins and two, people purchasing these stamps are in an exciting season of life (getting married or moving into a new house) or they're purchasing a stamp as a gift.

05 | PRESS

This can be as simple as a mention in a blog post. I've had two products featured in Southern Living's Holiday Gift Guide (which was super fun and awesome) but what I wish I could repeat was the awesome opportunity that came my way with the Hunted Interior. I sent one of our Hey Y'all prints for a project she was working on and the post went viral. That post helped launch quite a few other features of the print and they Hey Y'all print literally single handedly paid my rent for two years. Who are some influencers, bloggers or Instagrammers, that would be a good fit for your brand? In what ways could you collaborate with them to get your products seen by their audience? Try to get more creative than just offering a giveaway. In my opinion this doesn't result in actual customers as many of the people paying attention to that sort of post and entering the giveaway are only interested in free stuff.

06 | EVOLVE

Look at and edit your shop listings daily. Make little tweaks here and there to constantly improve the quality of your shop and your customer's experience. Are you getting asked the same question about a product? Address that question in your listing. Pay attention to your stats and how people are stumbling upon your shop. Know what is working for you - what is selling, what is not and what doesn't speak to your brand. Get rid of products that aren't your best and sell items that you, yourself truly love. Don't be afraid to abort a project or product that isn't doing as well as you had hoped. (Hey even Blake Lively isn't too proud to do this.) Flexibility is key. This is going to be a learning process, but pay attention to your customers. They will be your best teachers.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SET YOURSELF APART ON ETSY?
I WANNA HEAR ABOUT IT, SO SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS!

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BRANDING: WINNIE JEAN

September 21, 2015

This August we launched our new shop website under the new name (Winnie Jean) and I couldn't be more excited! I've been calling this a brand "refresh" because even though the shop has a new name, the vibe and certain elements are very similar to the visual branding I created for Stephanie Creekmur back in 2013. I believe, wholeheartedly, the changes we've made are for the better and I'm so excited for what's to come both at Winnie Jean and here on the new Stephanie Creekmur blog.

WHY DID YOU CHANGE YOUR SHOP NAME?

We have been selling products under 'Stephanie Creekmur' for almost 4 years now. During that time we have learned and grown a lot. I am now a mentor to many aspiring, creative entrepreneurs and while sharing business knowledge is still a huge passion of mine, our first priority is to create new and fun products that help you celebrate the every day exuberantly. If you're a fellow business owner who looks to 'Stephanie Creekmur' for advice and inspiration, it made more since to make a home for all that jazz - so here we are!

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS WINNIE JEAN?

So happy you asked! ;) Winnie Jean is a combination of names from my family and something I've been holding onto for almost a year. I wanted to make sure that this division of services was right and not just a blip on the radar. Winnie is what everyone calls my grandmother, Winifred. I have always linked my love for stationery and sending cards to her because she is the first person I remember doing such a thing. I hold on to her letters because one day I won't be able to hear her words but I will be able to read them. Jean is my momma's middle name (after my Grandpa Gene!) and she is how I learned to celebrate the small things. Growing up I would always find love notes in my lunchbox, a new shirt on my bed just because and I still get Valentine's Day care packages. These two ladies mean so much to me and have shown me how to have fun and love big. I hope to spread that message with every Winnie Jean order.


On top of refreshing some of our brand elements, I also launched a new shop website! I purchased a cheap ($39!) Shopify theme on Creative Market and then paid for some customizations. I sent them a mockup of how I wanted it all to look and they made it happen! I'm really happy with how it turned out and now shopping on Winnie Jean from a mobile device is even easier.


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I'M GETTING MARRIED: THE PROPOSAL

September 18, 2015
I can't believe it's already been two weeks (tomorrow) since Jeremy and I's engagement. It's been a whirlwind to say the least and before I forget all of the special details, I wanted to type out our proposal! So, if you're here for business tips, I apologize! ;)

First things first. One of the questions I get asked the most is "how did y'all meet?". Jeremy (or J as I like to call him) likes to just say, "we met online.", but I always chime in and say, "No, it was much worse than that.". I don't know  if y'all have heard of the phone app, Tinder or not but that's how we met! Their tagline is "Any swipe can change your life." and in our case it couldn't be more true! I don't think I'd recommend the app for someone looking for love, but, ya never know, it worked for us! I would use Tinder before I went to bed and I liked to count how many matches I could get in a row. I never talked to anyone on there, but for some reason, when J reached out, I responded.

We talked for an entire week before we decided to meet up for the first time. Still to this day I can't believe I actually followed through with our date. I had not been into dating for quite a few years and the idea of trying to get to know someone new did not sound appealing. But, I drove the hour down to his neck of the woods anyway. (Yes, an hour! I wanted to make sure we didn't run into anyone I knew! Ha!) I was so nervous I almost felt sick, but the moment I saw him in the parking lot and he greeted me with a big smile and a hug, I felt at ease. We had the best time and I can honestly say it was the best first day I have ever been on in my life. J and I live about an hour apart and technically should not even have matched up through Tinder. I put my radius limit at 10 miles and his was at 15. We are 40 miles apart. Thank you, Tinder and your mediocre technology! ;)


Date night in Cincinnati, April 2015

THE PROPOSAL

J and I had had plans to go camping in the Smoky Mountains (His parents go for a few months each year and we stay with them in a camper. Thank goodness!) for months and though we have been talking about marriage for quite some time, I honestly was not expecting it so soon. I was anxious for it to happen but I was trying to be content in our season of life.  I had actually told J that there was no way he could surprise me completely. That no matter what, I would know when it was coming. He said he took that as a personal challenge and boy did he complete it!

Our first full day in Tennessee (it was Saturday of Labor Day weekend) we decided we were going to take a drive through Cades Cove (an isolated valley located in the Tennessee section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park) - one of my favorite things to do! There are lots of old churches and cabins and you usually see quite a bit of wildlife. It was pouring down rain when we left and looking back, I should have been wondering why J was SO anxious to drive through Cades Cove in the rain. Lucky for him I didn't think anything of it and off we went!

As we were driving to the Cove, we started talking about our potential wedding. J said, "what if we had our wedding here?". Like I said, we've been talking about our wedding/marriage for quite some time so this was not out of the ordinary. I thought for a minute and the more I thought about it the more it just felt right. I was born in Nashville, Tennessee and my family has been coming to the Gatlinburg area every year for Christmas for years so this was definitely a special place to me. J and his family have been camping in the National Park since he was a child and it's such a special place to him as well. We had talked about a destination wedding in the past but none of the places we talked about felt right. So, with this new thought in mind, I said, "let's stop at all of the churches in Cades Cove." J was thinking "thank ya Jesus" because it went right along with his plan.

The first church we came to was the Primitive Baptist Church (the only church I had previously walked through). It's down a long lane off the main loop through the Cove. We walked in the church and started talking about what it'd be like to have our wedding there. J waited until the church cleared out (luckily it wasn't too busy that day!) and as we were standing in the front of the church he grabbed my hands. He said, "we'd be standing just like this." He then told me how much he loved me and at this point I was still clueless. I said I love him too and gave him a hug. J started pulling away from me and was talking SO fast I could barely keep up. All of a sudden, he was down on one knee. I was completely shocked! I kept saying, "oh my gosh, is this happening?". He asked me to be his wife and of course I said YES! When J was trying to put the ring on my finger (that I hadn't even looked at yet - it's a beauty!) he started to put it on my right hand. In the middle of saying oh my gosh, I can't believe it I yelled, WRONG HAND!

I didn't notice this at the time but afterward J told me a man was starting to come into the church but when he saw J on one knee he started saying "proposal, proposal" with his hands up and he wasn't letting anyone else come into the church. I thought that was super sweet, though in that moment there could have been 100 people in that church and it still would have been just J and I. Once we got outside I was so excited and what had just happened was still sinking in.






But, it didn't stop there! As we were leaving the church J said we were going to dinner at a special place. We agreed we would wait to call everyone (because there were a lot of people to call and we wanted to soak it all in) until after dinner. J was kind of acting like he was lost and I thought he was turning around in this cabin's driveway. There were a bunch of cars so I was embarrassed that he was pulling all the way in! I was thinking these people are going to be wondering who's pulling in their driveway.

Then I started to recognize some cars. I looked at J and he says, there is one more surprise! We walked into the cabin and our families were there waiting for us. It was so special to have my family there to celebrate with us and there are a million reasons I love J but his thoughtfulness has to be in the top five. All of the planning he put into this day to make it special and memorable was just amazing. It was the best day ever!



And for those of you interested, here is my gorgeous ring. He did such a great job picking it out (even though he was so stressed about it!). I couldn't love it more, and even though I'm probably biased, it's the prettiest ring I've ever seen (there is a collar of diamonds around the solitaire that you can't see in this photo). It couldn't have been more perfect if I had picked it out myself! Thanks to Anita at Yelton (in West Chester, Ohio) for helping him through the process! :)

THE WEDDING

Being that it's only two weeks into our engagement, we don't have very much planned. But we do know it will be next May and we will be getting married in the same church we were engaged! I'm so excited about this next phase of life and even more excited for J and I to start our lives together. He truly is a gem and I thank God for him every day. Thank you so much for all of the calls, texts, emails, Facebook/Instagram comments and cards! The love and excitement shown to us so far is so appreciated!

Below are some photos from a wedding held in the same church. I get so excited for our special day just looking at them!

Photos by Dixie Pixel
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HOW TO SAVE INSTAGRAM PHOTOS WITHOUT TAKING A SCREENSHOT

September 3, 2015
I don't know about y'all but I absolutely love when a customer shares a photo of their purchase on Instagram. Not only is it super fun to see how they're using something I've created in their every day life, but it's also great free press. Word of mouth is a gem, y'all! It also helps with creating content for my shop's Instagram feed since I get to then share it with my followers. For the most part, I have always taken a screenshot from my phone or from my desktop computer. This works OK, but if you want the largest resolution photo you can get, (and don't want to crop out the rest of your screen) here is the answer!


I'm going to use this photo posted by my friend Cara of One Swell Studio! She purchased one of my Smalltown Girl T-shirts and because I haven't had many apparel customer shares on social media yet, I was super excited! I know 1. I want to share it on my shop's feed and 2. I want the biggest version of the photo saved to my computer.


1. OPEN INSTAGRAM IN YOUR BROWSER

Open your internet browser and go to the Instagram account by typing in their username after instagram.com. In this case I typed http://www.instagram.com/oneswellstudio.

2. OPEN THE DESIRED PHOTO

Find the photo you're hoping to save and open it up (all you have to do is click the photo).


3. RIGHT CLICK AND SELECT VIEW SOURCE

Once you have the photo open, right click with your mouse and select "View Page Source". This will open up a new window that if you're not familiar with HTML or CSS will look a bit scary. I promise, it won't be in just a sec!


4. SEARCH FOR 'JPG'

Once the page of code is opened, search ("Command F" on a Mac) for 'jpg'. This will highlight the part of the code you're looking for and need to save the image.


5. HIGHLIGHT IMAGE URL

Make sure you highlight the entire URL found with your search. Copy this link and paste into your browser URL. The image you're wanting to save should appear.


6. RIGHT CLICK AND SAVE

Right click the image and save to the desired location on your computer. Simple as that!


Now you're ready to share on Instagram, Pinterest or any other marketing outlets you may use!

I hope y'all found this helpful! If you have any questions just holler at me in the comments! ;)
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HAND LETTERING: HOW TO DRAW LETTERS

September 2, 2015
I am so excited for this new series on hand lettering. It's a topic I get emails (or Instagram comments) about almost daily so I thought it was about time I share a little something here! Today, I'm going to start with the very basics: drawing letters. Hand lettering, after all, is the art of drawing letters. I am not talking about typography (the art of arranging type) or technical calligraphy (though I sometimes refer to one of my styles as fauxligraphy!). A simple way to think of the difference between lettering and calligraphy is, calligraphy is writing, lettering (digitally or by hand) is drawing. It takes practice and experimentation, so don't give up if you're not an expert right away. I still practice every day! 


Getting started is super easy and you probably already have most of these supplies laying around the house.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:


 PENCILS:  I use these Faber-Castell Graphite Pencils I still have from college, but any ol' No. 2 (or mechanical) pencil will do.
 ERASER:  Again, you can use any ol' eraser (even the one on the end of your pencil) but I use Paper Mate Black Pearl Erasers.
 PAPER:  You can use copy paper but I prefer to draw in my sketch book so I can keep my sketches organized. I like to use the Darice Hardbound Sketch Book (9"x12") (this can be picked up at Walmart) because it's spiral bound. I usually have one sketchbook (or two) per year.

That's really all you need, but here are a few things that will make your life easier:

 TRACING PAPER:  I use my Canson Tracing Paper when I am reworking phrase groupings or am changing the format of a letter/word. It makes your life so much easier if you make a mistake. Instead of having to tediously redraw everything you can quickly trace the parts you're still happy with.
 RULER OR STRAIGHT EDGE:  This will help you when wanting to draw letters in a straight line. I also use it to create a rectangle with the same dimensions as my greeting cards. This helps me decide the best way to lay out a phrase when designing for a new card. I use this Pro Art 24-Inch Stainless Steel Ruler I still have from college.
 LIGHT BOX:  This is not something I have purchased yet (to be honest I'm not sure how much I'll use it when I'm just drawing letters) but I'd really love a Gagne Portable Light Box. I'm more interested in it for when I am using watercolors but I know a lot of letterers find these helpful and this is the exact version I'm looking to purchase.

None of these need supplies need to be super fancy. Just about anything will work. You can also invest in lined or gridded paper, though this can add some extra steps should you choose to turn your sketch into a vector (that's a post for another day). If I need to make sure I'm writing on a straight line I prefer to draw my own guides using a ruler. I've got a few more supplies I like to use but I'll save that for another post as well.

Whenever I teach hand lettering I always prompt my students to write out the alphabet first (lowercase and uppercase). This way, they can see what letter forms come natural to them and they don't focus so much on making a letter the same way I do. It helps them recognize their signature lettering style right off the bat. It's much easier to build off what you've already got than to try and start from scratch by mimicking someone else's letters.

It's also important to understand a few basic lettering types: serif, sans serif and script.


You will more than likely develop a favorite lettering type to work with (I prefer lettering scripts) but it's always a good idea to practice them all. Knowing how to draw different types of letters will give your hand lettering projects more depth.

Now, for the good stuff! One of my favorite drawing exercises is to draw a subject over and over. Since we're drawing letters, I want you to draw each letter of the alphabet 40 different ways. Yes, I said 40. That may seem like a lot but when you think about it, it's not that hard! Try and draw 20 lowercase and 20 uppercase of each letter and make sure you're using each of the lettering types we talked about above. That means you only need, roughly, 6 of each lettering style in lowercase and uppercase. You can do it! And you'll be amazed how quickly you actually can complete all 40.


If you do this exercise, share a photo on Instagram and use #letteringwithsteph (tag me too @StephanieCreekmur) so I can see how you're doing!

I've got a few more hand lettering posts in the works: My Favorite Hand Lettering Supplies, How to Create Hand Lettered Phrases and How to Turn Your Sketch Into a Product. Are there any hand lettering topics in particular (that I haven't already listed) you'd like me to talk about? If so, just holler in the comments!
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