In the 90's, blogging emerged as a place for the author to share their thoughts, interests, and hobbies. Very recently however, it has completely transformed into a major business opportunity. Blogs are no longer just a place to preserve the personal life of the blogger. They are changing the game of publishing, and are becoming seen as an integral part of a business, where their expertise and knowledge in their industry can be shown.
I picked up the basics of HTML and image design when I was 12. Until college, I had been teaching myself anything I needed to know how through tutorials and YouTube videos. Over a year ago I just so happened to start this blog. At that point in time, I had no real plans for it. I had no idea what it would become, or what it was truly capable of. A year later, I've learned that this it happens to be one of the most valuable tools I've created. Not only is it a blog, but it also works as a portfolio, a resume, a networking tool, and an incredibly valuable advertisement for my virtual design shop: Dreams by Design.
This is the first layout design I had ever created for this blog. It took me a few days to design all the pieces I needed, and a few more days to code them all into the places they needed to go.
At first, I wasn't writing about anything in particular. But slowly, I started sharing examples of my minimalistic typography designs and was receiving positive feedback from other design blogs. I would share my feedback on other blogs, and I found they would later leave feedback on my blog. I was searching for other work that inspired me, and people would tell me that the work I was doing was inspiring them. And suddenly, I saw that I was networking. I realized that blogging is a community, and if you are willing to put yourself out there, people will eventually notice.
Soon after, I decided to post a couple of basic designs up in my Etsy shop. For those not familiar with Etsy, it's an online marketplace for buying and selling handmade goods, vintage items, and crafting supplies. I didn't post anything with the intention of becoming an Etsy sensation overnight. But when I made my first sale and had my first seller check of $13.33, I remember thinking that someone, somewhere had one of my designs displayed. And it inspired me to go further with my shop.
Once my shop had been completely rebranded, I took some time to research other shops in a similar market to see what kind of products they were offering, and at what price points. Additionally, I had developed a survey in order to learn more about consumer buying habits, an appropriate price point for my product, and to try and gain a consumer's perspective on my shop.
All the contacts I had made since I had started blogging have been beneficial since I've started paid advertisements for Dreams by Design. My biggest form of advertisement is through this blog, where I share my work, as well as design and marketing tips. I also advertise through Facebook pages, Pinterest, and Instagram posts. Right now, I'm only sharing through my personal social media accounts, though in the future I expect to have a profiles exclusively for Dreams by Design.
Currently, my product line is small. I have about 20 different designs for sale in my shop at any time. They are printed on an 8.5 x 11 piece of premium matte paper, and shipped out in a rigid photo mailer within 4 business days. The price point on this is $10, with a $3 shipping charge which covers the cost of shipping materials.
I took an interest in redesigning my blog at the beginning of the semester. After a year, I decided it was time for a fresh look. With graduation approaching, I knew having this blog and my shop as an extra source of income wouldn't hurt either. When I did a mock up for the redesign, I wanted to go for one bright color and balance it off with a grey. I picked green as my color, and made it a little more interesting by lowering the opacity, giving it a watercolor effect.
This time, I was a little more ambitious when designing and installing my new layout. I think I had started it and had it completely installed in a window of 24 hours. Granted, that required me staying up until 3 a.m. one morning; but I was really invested in the project, so it was well worth the sleepless night.