Posts tagged tricks

Getting Off the Ground: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Blog Launch

Anybody can hop online and claim their own blogging URL within moments. This can lead many to think that launching a wildly successful blog is as easy as a few swipes of the keyboard. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly the case. Thousands of new blogs join the Information Highway every single day, and only a few of these will ever get read by more than a handful of people.  

Luckily, there are things you can do as an informed blogger during those all-important first two weeks to greatly improve your chances for the long term. And while the blogosphere is a notoriously fickle landscape with no guarantees, following these tips closely does increase your shot at success.

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First Impressions: They Matter

You have a matter of seconds to connect with your readers, make an impression, and convince them to stick around for a while. One of the best ways to make an impact on readers is to let them know who you are with a well-written, thoughtful About Page and welcome message. Depending on the type of blog you have, this might include images, an author biography, or other ways to connect with the public on a personal and professional level.

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Populate Before Going Live

Readers are unlikely to come back to a blog that’s barren the first time they visit, regardless of how many promises the site holds of things to come. You get one (very quick) shot at impressing a visitor, critic, potential buyer, or fellow blogger. Never launch with less than five fully developed posts. The most common mistake in this case is thinking you can hit the publish button first and then fill out the important stuff later. Your blog should be a fully fleshed out picture of you and what you stand for. New users should clearly recognize this image, the moment they come on your website.

You may not know, but Ian is the author of Ninjacam.

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Networking!

The blogosphere is basically made up of hundreds of communities and niches populated by people in the know. What you want is a seat at the popular kids’ table. You can’t get there by blindly stumbling around the Internet. And the old advice of trying to ingratiate yourself through blind email solicitations has pretty much been labeled as bad science.

Instead, look for other, high quality, well-written blogs within your niche and spark conversations and thoughtful, well-written comments whenever possible. Avoid clunky mentions of your own blog, as that’s when you come across as spam. Instead, simply leave your URL in the allotted field and let your ideas and words speak for themselves. With care, this can lead to contributions on both your and others’ blogs.

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Outbound Links are Your Friend

As the new kid on the block, your primary target audience is going to be other bloggers. You need to get noticed by search engines and social media in order to stay afloat during this crucial time. Older bloggers in your niche have the readership numbers to put your name in front of people. One of the best ways to get your blog noticed by them is to include lots of outbound links in your posts. By hyperlinking to relevant bloggers whenever possible, you’re alerting others in your niche community that you’ve noticed them, and increasing the chances that they will, in turn, link back to you.

 

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Now is the Time for Giveaways

And finally, your launch week is definitely the time to give people a reason to visit your blog that goes above and beyond your typical awesome content. Whether it’s free samples of products, services, designs, plugins, stories, books, or even a report or PDF. The fact of the matter is, people love giveaways. Freebies create buzz, and buzz keeps people coming back for more.

Now you are ready to take on the internet and reach new audiences and heights through your blog. Although you’ll likely stumble a bit in the beginning, everyone’s been there and these tips will help you smooth out your first steps as much as possible.

Tell us what other tips you know that would help new and aspiring bloggers.  

The Basic Principles for Great Character Design

Wondering what we’re working on? Well, we’ve convinced the talented team behind Design TNT to offer us an exclusive, discounted version of their upcoming Super Premium product called Characterzilla: Super Premium Character Bundle. Character design is always a lot of fun and its uses are extremely diverse, almost every area of design can benefit from it, so we’ve decided to publish this Basic Guide to Character Design.

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-Sample from Characterzilla (Coming Soon to InkyDeals.com)

How to Use the Super Premium Character Bundle

Characters can really represent the “human” element in illustrations. They can add an entirely new way to present your infographics like in the example below –either complementing the background or acting like a virtual guide to the information presented. They are extremely versatile as they fit in in almost any design or illustration. Thus the possibilites are infinite, only up to your imagination.

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So maybe you’re wondering how the guys from Design TNT created their amazing character bundle. Read on to find out how character design actually works with some basic information and great guidelines that are essential in the creation of any successful character.

What Is Character Design?

Characters are something we learn to love since we are children, through animations and cartoons. Characters are wild, unpredictable and unrealistic, we grow attached to cartoon characters and most of the time that bond never truly disappears from our hearts. That’s why even as adults we can spot a character that reminds us of ourselves, how we wanted to be or how we are now, and fall in love with it.

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Thus creating a good character implies that you must design that character in such a way that people will love and relate to it on a very intimate level. It’s all about the personality that you empower your character with, and that unique personality can derive from the way it looks, talks, walks, thinks, etc. Character design creates lovable or memorable characters, whether they are good or bad, cute or weird, happy or sad.

Simply put, Wikipedia’s definition of Commercial Character Design is ”is the process of creating a character and utilizing it to enhance or publicize a commercial entity through design”.  Designers use characters in commercial settings specifically because of the way people relate to them. By using a well designed character as your brand mascot you are more likely to get people to have an emotional relationship with your products or business. Characters are friendly and appeal to almost all age groups. They attract attention with their wacky behavior and can instantly make your designs interesting.

Basic Principles of Character Design

Taking into account that a character must be designed and not magically summoned into existence, there are a few basic principles or guidelines which one can use as the base for creating a successful character.

1.)    Function

One of the most common theories in design is that form must follow function, and this applies to all areas including character design. A character with a logical, clearly understandable form is more easily perceived and understood by the human brain. Simple shapes like circles or ovals often work best as the wireframe for a character because of their versatility and visual straightforwardness.

Simplicity in the character’s overall shapes is also great if you need to draw your character from various angles. When rotating or viewing your character from another angle, all the planes within the character’s design will change their appearance in proportion to the angle which makes it harder to maintain consistent proportions and scale for each characteristic. Thus starting off from a more basic, generic shape requires less effort in accurately representing the character in different positions.

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2.)    Style / Aesthetic

What can make or break a character is the style or general aesthetic used in its creation. Adding to what we’ve established before about simple shapes as a starting point for character design, the style of a character comes from the way in which the shapes that compose it blend together in a visually stimulating manner. Contrast of shape, form or proportion is a great way to balance shapes and make your character interesting. For example, Wile E. Coyote has a large, long snout, narrow shoulders, thin legs and big feet and hands. Not to mention the large, expressive eyes. Just as how in humans they say the eyes are the window into the soul, characters’ eyes can be essential in defining their personality.

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Because characters are – like I said before – wacky and zany, you have the freedom to play around with proportions and features as much as you want, sometimes the most interesting character designs emerge from extreme visual contrasts. Exaggerating features also adds expressiveness to your character. Tiny eyes, huge ears, just go wild and see what results.

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3.)    Personality

The personality of a character is composed of many aspects but a large part of comes from the character’s physical traits and features since those are the first things you notice when coming into contact with it. Depending on what you want your character to be like you can choose to exaggerate certain features. For example rounded, plump shapes always seem to imply cuteness because of the way they are generally associated with babies in our visual consciousness. Big eyes set very closely together towards the center of the face also enhance this effect. Sharp, hard angles seem harsher, combined with narrow heads or faces.

Whatever character you want to design, always think of its personality in relation to its features. Another defining thing that some designers may forget when creating a character are verbs. Have your character do something, move, dance, have a certain facial expression or a certain posture to add to its personality. In the example above, you can tell that the young apache is a very confident little man from his stance. Below are examples of round shapes and harsher angles to show how they impact the overall aesthetic of the characters in question.

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The Devil’s in the Details

Even if you do intend on animating or drawing your character from a lot of different angles, never forego the details entirely. Like in all aspects of design, the details are what makes characters interesting. A certain type of eyes, shirt buttons, clothing seams, anything can help define your character and make it visually stimulating as well as uniquely designed.

Examples

Now let’s take a look at the characters from the Characterzilla Super Premium Bundle and see how the theory can be applied in character design.

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Take one of the doctors for example. The first thing that you might notice about him is that he has a really oversized nose. This big nose adds character and personality to his facial features which without it would be rather generic in appearance. His body is curvy and rounded to seem friendly and flowing. Tiny hands and feet in contrast with these rounded shapes of the body balance it out and add humour. The arm that loops around itself makes him interesting and fun, like I said before characters are zany and wacky, don’t be afraid to add elements like that to your character.

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Now let’s have a look at one of the classy business women. I’ve tried to keep a consistent look throughout the character packs in such a way that they look similar but are also unique from one another. The big nose, tiny hands and feet, as well as the looping arms are features that I’ve kept but modified slightly to fit the character. Being a female character, I’ve gone for straighter lines and angles at the waist in order to highlight the feminine hourglass shape of the body.

In both cases, I gave the characters “life” by drawing them in action, in a dynamic position – always remember to use “verbs” in your characters and not draw them just standing still.

About the author: Ioana Șopov is an illustrator and graphic designer with over 4 years of experience in her field. She has worked with brands like Vodafone and collaborated with numerous ad agencies like Ogilvy and Cohn&Jansen JWT. Check out her work on Behance and keep in touch on Twitter.