Dream. Find. Do.

This afternoon, I’m literally too excited. I shall be watching the blog from behind a proverbial cushion to see what the reaction is. Today I’m unveiling a new venture.

I have always been passionate about sharing knowledge amongst bloggers. Techie tips, new finds, fun stuff. Sharing skill sets and information is key when the majority of blogs are run single handedly. It can be a lonely old world out there and incredibly frustrating when you’re trying to not only run a blog but also to equip yourself with the skills to take it to the next level. I was lucky enough to already be in possession of some of those skills when I started Florence Finds and Ian helped me put the finishing touches to the design and functionality I wanted for the site. Since then, I’ve made little tweaks, added new bits and pieces and massively extended my grasp of photoshop. And I think the blog looks better for it!

I couldn’t have done a lot of this without Michelle‘s help. I’ve said before she is one of the few people in the blogging community who knows what it truly is to collaborate – who gives information freely and expects nothing in return, without a hint of suspicion as to your motives. So many people offer help then hold back, whether through fear of their ideas being plagiarised or being judged, I don’t know, but Michelle has become a trusted friend whose creativity and style I admire and opinion I respect as a blogger and business woman.

Although Florence Finds is a solo venture, my preference has always been for team work and I suppose it was only natural that I would become part of a team again. It hasn’t been easy to trust a new partnership but I’m a firm believer that two heads are better than one, especially when it comes to this particular venture. And so it’s with great pleasure that we announce the launch of our new project, Dream. Find. Do. A Blogging Masterclass.

Those of you who are fellow bloggers, or perhaps small business owners, may have enjoyed our series so far on blogging tips – we called it Blogging Laid Bare, and don’t worry there’s plenty more where that came from. However, there’s only so much you can learn online before you come up against obstacles and need somebody who has done it before. In one brainstorming session discussing various ideas, Michelle and I both said how great it would be to start sharing all the tips and tricks we have learned the hard way, self taught whilst developing our own blogs. And so the idea for Dream. Find. Do. was formed.

We wanted to create a supportive environment for bloggers and people who use blogs for business to learn real key practical skills to grow and develop a blog. We want to teach this to people face to face in interactive workshops that are fun and friendly but leave you armed with a whole raft of new skills to take away for your own blog. It’s an incredible networking opportunity too and we hope attendees will leave with a contact book full of new friends and potential collaborators. You might be an experienced blogger, just thinking about getting started or wanting to add a blog to your business. Everybody is welcome.

In 2 short weeks we’ll be revealing more about Dream. Find. Do. If you’re interested already then head on over to our holding site and add your name to the email sign up list. Those of you who sign up will be amongst the first to receive updates and will gain exclusive access to the site ahead of the official launch.

We’d love you to spread the word, tweet about us mentioning @DreamFindDo and #DfD, ‘Like’ the Dream Find Do Facebook page, or blog about the workshop.

We’re excited! Are you?!


Blogging Laid Bare #3: Blog Design

Those of you who are regulars here will already know that I have tooted a certain trumpet before, that of the lovely Michelle over at Pocketful of Dreams. I have long admired Michelle’s style and skills when it comes to creativity design and business professionalism. She is hands down one of the most talented people I came across when I was a part of the wedding industry. However, the qualities I admire even more than those I have already mentioned are what has lead me to collaborate with her today. For me, aside from the day to day priority of bringing twice daily quality content to my readers, blogging is about learning new skills in design, the technicalities behind blogging and the business side of it. Building relationships, networking, supporting other bloggers and collaborating should be a big part of it, but whilst others pay lip service to the idea, there is a fair bit of competition behind-the-blogging-scenes (not all of it healthy,) and Michelle is one of the few people to fully embrace the idea of working together, honestly and openly.

Image courtesy of Pocketful of Dreams, from ‘Blogging Laid Bare: New Blogging tips series in conjunction with Florence Finds

Helping other bloggers with things I struggled with is something I wanted to do for while before starting the Blogging Laid Bare Series and during one of many discussions with Michelle it became apparent that she felt the same. It was obvious that this was something we could do together. So today, Michelle is continuing the series with a post about blog design, something I love and feel quite passionately about, so I was delighted to contribute and see that she has referenced a couple of the Florence Finds design elements as examples too.

If you want to catch up on the series, I’ve already covered:

…and you can read Michelles introduction to the series here.

Image courtesy of Pocketful of Dreams, (using illustrations by Antoinette Fleur, a young French fashion illustrator.)

In the mean time, head on over to Pocketful of Dreams and catch the latest installment:


Look out for more in the series!


Blogging Laid Bare #2: Getting started.

This afternoon, I thought I would continue the Blogging Laid Bare series with some serious basics, how to get started. Many of you might be reading this and thinking, well, I already blog so I’m already started, but there may be some of you wanting to either start a blog or to take an existing blog from a basic blogging platform to something like WordPress. Plus every series needs a beginning right?

Ok so here goes.

1. Buy your Domain
First things first, you need a name. I can’t help you there, but once you’re decided on one (or intact if you have a name like www.florencefinds.blogspot.com which is hosted by Blogger for example and want to become self hosted) you have to buy the domain. Purchase your domain for 2 years as it’s cheaper but it also looks better to search engines. It shows you have staying power. Think about buying your domain with a number of different endings. The ideal would be .co.uk and .com, .net and .eu This is all about protecting your brand. If someone else has the domain you use but with a different ending it leaves you open to it coming up in search engines and redirecting to a site of their choice. Who you purchase your domain from is up to you but I think it’s easier to purchase it through your host if you can, which leads me to my next step.

2. Find a hoster
Imagine the internet like a blank wall. When you find a host you are finding someone who will pin your website or blog up on that wall for everyone to see, on the internet. The amount of wall space you get is often determined by how much you pay, and how much storage that buys you.

There are many hosters out there and the best way to find one is ask around your friends or twitter contacts for recommendations. Compare prices and how many page views you will get for your money (some packages give you a limit and when you exceed that the site goes down.) Look for an unlimited package if you expect high traffic.

3. Choose a platform
For me, it’s all about WordPress. I had used it before when I started Florence Finds but nowhere near to the level I have learnt to do so. It’s powerful and super flexible so you can tweak thousands of pre-designed themes or start from scratch on your own design. It also has loads of widgets that you can drop into your theme (for example the three columns ‘Blogroll’, ‘Your Favourites’ and ‘What people are saying’ at the bottom of the Florence Finds page are all widgets,) and there is infinite variety on what you can choose to include.

The other major hosted is Typepad, which I have no experience of but Annabel over at Love My Dress uses and although she acknowledges it’s glitches, she’s a big advocate of their individual service. (You can read more from Annabels ‘Being self-employed‘ series and particularly her blog redesign here, or shoot her a tweet, I’m sure she’d be happy to answer any queries.)

4. Design your blog (or choose a ‘theme’)
Once you’ve got your domain name and a hosted, you can start to think about how your blog is going to look. The easiest thing to do here is to choose a ‘theme’, basically a pre-designed blog template. Theme’s are often free, or for better, more customisable ones with more options you can choose to pay for one. Exen the most basic often have options, for changing the font colour for example. The most expensive option is to commission a designer to custom design a blog to your specifications. That might take the form of starting with vague inspiration and ideas, or taking a design you have sketched out or planned on the computer to be translated into a custom theme.

Florence Finds was designed by me in Pages (Apple’s equivalent software to Microsoft Word and Publisher combined.) It’s a very simple design and after a bit of reading I started to translate it into reality by tweaking a WordPress theme, Thematic – a widely used theme for starting from the very basics. Eventually reading would no longer suffice and I had to call in an expert – I asked Ian from Swash and Fold to help me and he started again with Twenty Eleven to produce what you see today. If you need help like I did, Ian‘s your man.

5. Get started!
Kind of an obvious one, but you can go on forever tweaking your theme, making it look perfect and obsessing over what people think when you launch. chances are you may not have an instant readership if you’re new, so people will take you as they find you and whilst a poor blog design discourages people from coming back, really it’s the content that is King.

I hope you’ve found todays instalment useful and if you have any questions, feel free to throw them out there in the comments box below. Also, as I said last time if there’s something you would like to see covered in the series, just let me know 🙂


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