Monday, March 24, 2008

Banner Stuff...

Those of us who are sellers on Etsy will use our shop banners as the banner on our blogs. A problem with this is when our chosen blog template has a banner size which differs from the size of our shop banners. Adjusting the size of your banner to fit into the dimensions that your blog template allows for is the easiest remedy, and to do this, the first thing you have to know is the dimensions of your template banner space.

Go into your Blogger dashboard, and choose "Layout". Your page elements window will open, and click on the edit link for your banner. The pop up will show your banner, and in small print near the bottom it will tell you that the banner will be shrunk to a certain pixel width (my banner is 660px wide, as an example). The problem with shrinking a graphic is that it sometimes will lose clarity, especially where fonts are concerned. The best way to solve this is to crop your banner to the desired dimensions rather than having Blogger shrink it down automatically.

My original shop banner in Etsy is 760px wide so considerable changes were needed to fit into the 660px width that my blog template calls for!

Open your photo-editing program (ie, Photoshop), and open your banner into it. Now click on File and choose New, and in the window that pops up, type in the dimensions that you need for your blog banner. The new canvas will be exactly the size needed.

In the navigation bar, choose Select, and then All. The outer edges of the new canvas will be selected. You can then transfer this edge selection to your banner with the rectangular marquee tool, to crop it to the exact dimensions needed for your blog banner. Center the selection outline so that all the elements in your banner are included. When it's right where you want it, choose Image from your navigation bar, then "Crop".

Save your new blog banner to your computer and upload it into Blogger as your banner image. Done!

If you don't have a photo-editing program that allows for good cropping, there are online image croppers. A really good one is: here. If there are fonts on your banner, just entering the width and height dimensions that you want your banner to be will result in the whole image being shrunk down or enlarged to those dimensions. The result will be a distortion in your fonts, and in some cases, the image as well. In this case it's best to use the drag mouse feature rather than typing in the dimensions. As you drag your mouse on the image, watch the dimensions change until width and height sizes are where you want them. When it's just right, choose "crop selection" and your image will be cropped to those dimensions without any shrinking or enlarging of the original.

But wait, it still doesn't fit!

When I had cropped my Etsy banner for the particular template I chose for my blog, the image, though exactly 660px wide, was still overlapping the double outline that surrounds the banner. Why? Because the double outlining built into this template is using part of the 660px width. I'm assuming that it's a particular problem with just this template because of the double border, and that other templates won't have this quirk. If you have the same template as mine, and you've had this problem, you may have to crop your banner image to be slightly smaller than the 660px wide that the template calls for. For this Blogger template, the size of your banner should be 648px wide by 87px high to fit perfectly.

Also keep in mind that your particular banner may need some moving around of fonts and images to fit into the smaller blog banner dimensions without losing anything vital when it's cropped! When I cropped my original Etsy banner for my blog, I found that my Mardi logo text seemed too large in the smaller banner and I had to lower the font size accordingly.

Still having problems?

Email your banner to me: mardi{at}mardistudio{dot}com ...I'd be happy to fix it for you!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Webdesign R Us

There are so many Etsy bloggers who not only blog to promote their own creations, but go out of their way to help others in promoting their shops as well. Brandi Ann Designs with indispensable photography pointers, Contrariwise with her "Lessons Learned on Etsy" series, and Wyred on Wire with advice on time management, to name a few.

I've learned so much from reading blogs like these, and in the spirit of giving back I've tried to come up with something that might be helpful to others as well. But what?

Besides creating jewelry I'm also a professional webdesigner, and hold certification in all elements of webdesign. I have over a hundred sites to my credit and perhaps it might be this experience that I can share with others who wish to spruce up their blogs and banners or personalize a pre-existing template with their own touch. I can also point the way to some great (and free) tools which I couldn't build websites without, and all user-friendly.

Granted, I don't have many readers on this blog (as of yet...but I'm hopeful!), but for those who stop by, please leave a comment if you think a series on some basic webdesigning tips and pointers would be helpful. :)

Great Finds

If you're like me, creating jewelry is the easy part. Marketing and promotion, unless you have tons of money for subscription fees and advertising, is the tough part!

I recently added a blogger to my list of favorites: Wyred On Wire. Alicia has written a great series of articles on time management, something we can all use some pointers on...and she's also posted links to two great sites:

A very recently launched site for selling handmade crafts, iCraft, and they're offering a great promotion! Register and open your shop before March 31st for absolutely free listings and no registration or set-up fees for a full year. Best of all, iCraft doesn't charge a commission fee on sales...ever! I found the shop very easy to set up and maintain. You can view my iCraft shop here.

Another great find, The Indiego Connection where you can join an advertising rotation (see "ads via indiego" at the bottom of my right-hand navigation). The only requirement is to add their advertising rotation script to your site, as I've done here on my blog. All free!

Many thanks to Alicia of Wyred On Wire for letting us all in on these great sites!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I was browsing Alchemy on Etsy the other night to familiarize myself with it and came across a request for donated items for an auction to be held in October for a very worthy organization, Project Night Night. I filled out a bid request, offering a pair of earrings, and by next morning I had received an acceptance from Kendra, the organization founder. The earrings will be based on my Trianon earrings, but with the addition of raspberry pink tourmaline and rose quartz briolettes amidst the silver-gray pearls. I immediately started to work on them, and have one earring left to complete before I send them off.

Since I haven't yet made a jewelry sale (one day!! :), it's nice to know that one of my pieces will be off doing good somewhere! Thank you Kendra!

And to all of you, ♣ Happy St. Patrick's Day! ♣

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fun @ 5:00AM

Sometimes it pays to stay up until the wee hours of the morning: I happened to trip on over to the Etsy Treasury page and saw that it was nearly time for treasury snagging to start. I love making treasuries, mostly for the inspirational finds on Etsy that I come across when I do. This one features loveliness from Oklahoma Mama and Brandi Ann Designs and many other fine Etsians. Give it a peek!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back On Track

After several days of grappling with a nasty cold I'm at last feeling myself again! I was feeling so miserable that I haven't picked up pliers, wire and gems for the whole week until today... and just in time for my recovery, I found some gorgeous gemstones in my mail today. Instant inspiration!

I also found an email waiting for me to let me know that I've been featured on the front page of the fashion portal on! I just joined it last week so this came as a total surprise! :)

If you haven't joined it yet, you should give it a try. Wonderful promotion and all for free. :)