How To Use Social Media Templates To Create Eye-Catching Graphics

 
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Coming up with graphic after graphic for your social media feeds, blog and website can be exhausting and take away from all the creative work you'd rather be doing. That's where templates for social media graphics are your best friend! Head over to Creative Market and pick up some of my social media templates and then follow the steps below for creating easy, customized graphics that practically do the work for you!

Have your templates? Ok, open one up and let's get you going with a full set of amazing graphics for your content on social media! 

1. To add your image, double click on the icon of the layer titled Your Image Goes Here to open the smart object.

 
 

2. File > Place Embedded...

 
 

3. When the window pops up, find the image you want to use, click open and size your image to fit the frame, making sure to center the image within the frame in whatever way you want it to appear in the final image.

 
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4. Close the photoshop tab that’s opened the smart object and select save when it prompts you. 

 
 

 5. When you go back to your template tab inside photoshop, you’ll see your image now positioned.

 
 

 6. Next, you can add your own text in the text layers. You can move the text around on the template if the placement of the text in the template doesn’t work with your placed image.

 
 

 7. Finally, add some color by changing the background color and/or the color of the shapes. You can also customize the template further by moving the shape around where it works best for what you'd like the final image to look like. If you don't have the little icon on the right (above the arrow in the image below), select Windows > Properties and it should pop up for you.

 
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8. Save your image as a PSD first (so you can make changes to the file if you should ever need or want to - this saves so much headache if you want to use the same image/template later but with different text, or you find a typo in your work, etc.) and then save the file as a JPEG or PNG so you can use that file online.

There you go! You should now have an image perfect for you to use in your social media, on your blog or website! 

 
 

Six Places to Find Affordable Creative Courses Online

 
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Online courses can seem like a dime a dozen with courses out there for almost every topic imaginable. All courses are not created equal though! Prices can range from several thousand dollars to just $20, or even free, and the cost of the course doesn't always say much about the quality of the course. So I'm giving you a list of my favorite places to find affordable courses online to grow your knowledge of software programs, painting, photography and more without draining your bank account!

A Beautiful Mess

The details: Ranging from $15 to $125, you can learn about writing and pitching a book proposal, photography, sewing, photoshop and more! Their photography classes are high up on my list of classes I want to take (after I finish the courses I've already bought) because I've loved their style and story telling for so long. 

Highlight: A few of the photography and photoshop classes are bundled up to make them even more affordable if you're wanting to learn how to take your photos up a notch with digital programs!

Made Vibrant

The details: Caroline teaches a wide range of classes from branding to lettering and almost every class is less than $50! Her fun and friendly approach to teaching makes it feel like a friend is sitting down and showing you all her secret tricks and tips to all her creative magic. If you follow along on Instagram, she loves to share new tricks to use in painting, drawing and lettering!

Highlight: In five hours, with the Your First E-Course, Caroline teaches you everything you need to know about how to teach your own online course! 

Alisa Burke

The details: Alisa has over 70 classes that range from $15 to $125 and you can learn to paint, journal, blog and so much more! The amount of content Alisa has shared for free over the years is so valuable and she continues to share what she's learned and knows in more detail in each of her courses. 

Highlight: Alisa is always adding classes so you'll never run out of new art to learn!

Skillshare

The details: Skillshare has a lot of classes that are free to take without signing up for a plan, but for $15 a month, you get access to every class! The classes are taught by people who really know their stuff in every category. You can learn just about every software program out there, including many art interests like photography, drawing and lettering.

Highlight: You can learn to make gelato!

Creative Bug

The details: For just under $5 a month, you get access to so many crafting classes! If you've been wanting to learn how to knit, make jewelry or sew quilts, Creative Bug has you covered! You can cancel your membership at any time, but there's a free trial for you to check out a few classes if you want before committing that $5.

Highlight: Lisa Congdon has some really great drawing and journaling classes!

Brit + Co

The details: Learn to embroider, crochet or screen print with affordable classes under $30 from the always fun Brit + Co team! There are pages and pages of other classes teaching you how to use Adobe software or manage money for your small business and so much more! The classes range from free (!) to around $80 - really affordable and really fun!

Highlight: There's some really great free classes in the mix there too!

 
 

24 Instagram Accounts That Will Inspire Your Creativity

 
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I LOVE Instagram. It's one of my favorite ways to spend time online, browsing through one photo after another. Sometimes it's not just the photos, but the captions written are so meaningful. The images and the messages can be so encouraging and fuel my own creativity and I'm always so grateful they share these small peeks into their life and thoughts with the rest of us.

Instagram has become an incredible tool for marketing and business. Which is great! But sometimes a little play, daydreaming, creativity and fun is just as important as learning a new business tip. I thought I'd share a few of my favorite accounts that encourage me, make me feel inspired to be creative or dream, or just connects me with other people living completely different, beautiful lives because maybe you need some refreshing encouragement for your creativity too! 

Farms

Farming (and gardening) has always been one of those things that looked incredibly ideal as far as life goals goes. I'm pretty sure I'm fairly planted as a city girl, but these accounts always have me dreaming of farm life and maybe I should go start a little garden on my city apartment patio. 

terricajoy  / katgoldin / hand_to_ground_emily

Art

I used to think creativity was for other people. As a Type A personality, one more comfortable with spreadsheets than paintbrushes, I didn't think art was for me. I don't know when that idea snuck in and corrupted my creative soul but artists like these sharing their work and their encouragement for us to do the same changed me completely in the past few years.

 ckelso / paperedthoughts / sticksandink

Color

For someone who wears an "unhealthy" amount of black and white (or so said my therapist a few years ago), I LOVE this big colorful world. There's an ice cream shop in Scottsdale that's all pink inside and it makes me so happy. Instagram is filled with accounts posting color all day, every day and these are some of my favorites.

 thesaltycanary / cakeandconfetti / kailochic

Adventurers

These accounts make my inner homebody fight with my inner wanderlust spirit and my wanderlust often wins my daydreams as I live vicariously through these adventurers. (Side note: Jedidiah's captions are life changing and Andrew's fun and gorgeous photos will make you want to take pictures of your dog all day long. You've been warned.)

jedidiahjenkins / andrewknapp / wallyfound

Joy

Sometimes it's easy to forget what we're for. We're busy protecting what we're for every day, in small and big ways, but sometimes, especially lately, especially for me, it can get framed in a way that sees everything as what we're against. The world can be cruel and devastating and with social media, it can connect us instantly with tragedy that happens all over the place, all the time. Knowing every detail of every terrible thing can be really hard on our hearts to take in so often. To protect my heart from apathy or compassion-fatigue and not turn away from it all completely, I recharge my joy with these hearts. They make me smile and give me hope that we can all play a bigger part in making things better for so many others.

bradmontague / brandenharvey / ruthielindsey

Photography

I'm mesmerized by the work of photography. I don't always grasp the idea of telling a story through photography until I see work from artists like I've linked below. I especially love unexpected angles and the very simple, every day kind of shots that show small things that can go by unnoticed if we're not careful. These talented artists are my absolute favorites.

leantimms / olaiyaland / laurenkeim

Flowers

I'm not a shoe girl, I don't like glitter (gasp!) and diamonds aren't terribly distracting as shiny things. But if I'm girly in any way, it's with flowers. Every movie where someone fills someone else's office or home or whatever with flowers, I'm swooning. Which is hilarious because if my husband reads this, he'll be terribly confused. Years ago, back when we were dating I told him I didn't like flowers. I'm pretty sure the context was "flowers aren't my favorite kind of apology because it's so cliche" as some sort of young and unprompted rant (because it wasn't even about him), but he took it to heart because he's convinced I'm not big on flowers and here I am professing my love of them. He brings me plenty of cherry coke on his way home from work though, so he still gets all of the brownie points.

farmgirlflowers / floretflower / field0froses

RX: Laugh

I'm pretty sure everyone follows one of these accounts but I'm putting it in here anyway just in case you haven't been introduced to it yet. The Popcast with Knox and Jamie is my favorite pop culture podcast and it's hilarious, irrevreant and NSFJM (not safe for Jamie's mom). Following Jamie's IG stories on her personal account is also one of my favorite things on Instagram right now. Laughter is such a big part of self compassion and whatever it is that makes you laugh, you should be indulging in liberally!

the popcast / jamie golden / weratedogs

What are your favorite IG accounts that remind you of beauty or hope or to laugh for a few minutes? Which ones inspire the creativity to come pouring out of you? I'd love to hear in the comments more good ones to discover!

 
 

Organizing Creative Workspaces for Small Spaces

 
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We've all seen the glorious art studios and creative spaces on Pinterest and Instagram and drooled at the thought of all the sunlight and room to move around and make a big, creative mess, right? I love those pictures so, so much. For a lot of us though, we might live in smaller spaces or share space with several other people, including kids maybe, and keeping a small space organized for creating and working can be a challenge.

Here are a few ways I've kept my sanity over the years living in small places with my big ideas, projects and supplies:

1. Simplify

First, pull out everything from drawers, shelves, boxes and tabletops that relate to your working space. Paperclips, hot glue guns, craft books and client files - get it all out where you can see it. 

Next, you're going to sort everything into three piles or boxes or rooms of the house - just depends on how much stuff you have. You're going to have a "Keep" group of things, a "Give Away / Sell" group and a "Trash" group. 

The Keep group gets all the things you want to keep. It seems simple enough, but trying to decide if you really need 18 lined (and very pretty) notebooks can be harder than you'd think. Don't ask me how I know. I don't know anything about that at all. Nope.

Do you need 3 boxes of paper clips (maybe you do!), or 10 boxes of jewelry beads for a hobby you've pretty much abandoned? There are a lot of reasons deciding to keep or get rid of something weighs on some of us. Sentimental attachment or money already spent can make us think something has more value than it actually does. It's time to get honest about what we have in our home office space and why we have it. If it no longer serves the purpose it might have once done, it's time to let it go.

The Give Away / Sell group gets all the things you've decided you don't need any more but is in great shape still so someone else could use it. I usually sort this group even further by the things I want to sell on a site like Craigslist or a yard sale, books I can donate to the library and what I'll donate to our local Goodwill.

The Trash group is for broken pencils, dried up paintbrushes, pens and markers, crumpled paper, etc. Depending on what you're sorting through, you might also have a Shred group here for papers you no longer need but should be shredded due to the information on them instead of just throwing them away. A lot of cities have semi-regular shred days where you can bring papers that need shredding for a small fee so look and see if that's an option for you!

Ok. So now you have all your supplies, tools and materials sorted into groups and it's time to clean up. Box up the Give Aways, bag up the Trash and the Shred groups and set aside anything you plan to sell for listing online or a yard sale later.

Next, (and this might seem silly, but these bags and boxes should not sit around your house a minute longer) take out the trash. Put the give away boxes or bags in your car and make a note on your to do list to drive them to your local charity collecting items like these. Put the shred box somewhere out of the way if you don't have a shredder and want to wait for a bigger stack to take to a local city shred day.

Hooray! You did it! Now all you should have left in front of you is your Keep group and it's time to make some plans for your space! This is where it starts to get really fun!

2. Make a Plan

Now that you have everything sorted through and all you need to focus on is what you want to keep, it's time to make a plan for how to store it all in a way that will be useful for you on a regular basis.

First, think about what you want to do in your small (and totally cute and adorable!) space. What do you have in front of you that needs to be organized and put away? Sewing supplies? Paint? Client and personal files? Baking tools and supplies?

Next, do you have what you need to put things away so you can access them easily? Here are some of my favorite things to use to keep everything organized:

 
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Filing Cabinet / Cart on Wheels / Drawer Organizers / Storage Boxes with Lids / Bookshelves 1 /

Bookshelves 2 / Desktop Organizer / Wire Baskets / File Box / Plastic Bins

3. Organize

Now that you have everything you need to easily store and access the supplies you need to work and be creative, it's time to put it all away! Get all your Keeps into piles by type (paper with paper, paints with paints, etc. 

Consider what supplies you reach for regularly and make sure however you decide to store these things makes it easy and quick for you to get to and put back away without much effort. Working in a small space means our work and creativity can be interrupted or just easily procrastinated if our supplies are hard to get to, are a pain to get it all out or are really difficult to put away. Having the things we use most often close at hand makes staying motivated so much easier!

As you put things away, first put away the supplies you don't use very often so they go at the back or the bottom of a drawer or shelf, then put away the things you use regularly. Make sure to keep things together in categories (for example: keep your stash of post-its together except for the few you're using right now, put your big pile of pens and pencils away and only keep out a few you're using right now.) When our things are stored haphazardly, especially in small spaces, it can make it difficult to feel and think creatively. Having just what we need at our fingertips and not having to go track it all down in different boxes or parts of the house makes creating so much more fun!

4. Decorate

If organizing all the Keep piles wasn't your idea of fun, here's where it gets fun! It's time to pretty up this sweet little working space! Here are some of my favorite ways to add some color and personality to my small, creative "workshop:"

 
 

Folk Art Letter Board / Bulletin Board / Calendar / Flowers / Art 1 / Art 2 / Art 3

Working and creating in a small space definitely poses a number of functional challenges, but with a little planning and organization, you can make your workspace a place you love to be! Do you have a specific space challenge that we didn't talk about here? Let's talk about it in the comments or send me an email and we'll brainstorm how we can make your challenge work for you!

 
 

How To Spark Your Creativity

 
 

Sometimes we look up and realize we're just checking off tasks, going through the motions and getting through our days with little to no creative expression. Ugh. When we decide we will be intentional about expressing our creative side and set out to create something, there's a big, fat silence in the muse department. Where is the inspiration? How do we get it to come back? A lot has been said about creating anyway and the inspiration will come (which is true!), but make sure you've ticked off some of these basics too or when inspiration comes looking for you, you won't even notice she's there.

If you're looking for ways to spark your creativity, see if making sure these things are in order doesn't do the trick!

Get Plenty of Sleep

After going a few rounds with kiddos who think 2 a.m. is party time and naps are for nobody, I quickly learned how much sleep deprivation can zap creativity from you. If you're studying into the early morning hours for final exams or learning how to survive the newborn days, don't expect creativity & productivity to be pouring out of you. Be gentle with yourself and know "this too shall pass." There will be days ahead full of opportunity to express yourself creatively so get the sleep you can and brainstorm all the things you can do right now as a creative outlet and all the things you want to do in the months ahead.

If you're staying out late every few nights because of a full and fun social life, or you're like me and tend to get defensive when Netflix asks for the third time if you're still watching, you probably won't be seeing your creative best on a regular basis.

Do you know how much sleep you need each night to feel well rested?

Do you get anywhere near that consistently?

Can you make any changes to your night or morning routines that would let you squeeze in some extra Zzzz's?

For the best creative bursts of energy, you need to have energy and brain space to carry out all those amazing ideas of yours. Sleep is one of the top ways you'll either gain that energy or lose it. If you're looking to spark your creativity, check in with your sleep habits and see where you can make some positive changes.

Get Plenty of (Good-For-You) Food

Drink more water, eat more vegetables. It's pretty simple, but sometimes it's not. Eating well isn't always convenient in our busy lives, chronic illness, allergies and intolerances can make just thinking of getting ingredients together exhausting. If you have the budget, look into those meal delivery services. If you don't have that kind of budget, set aside an afternoon to make a list of the foods you can (or want to) eat. From that list, think of ways you can put together some quick and easy meals you can pack or grab when your day is full. Plan an afternoon of preparing snacks and ingredients that are quick and easy for you to eat throughout the week. 

Having meals and snacks planned and even some prepared make the week easier to manage, take some stress off your schedule and mind and helps you fill your body with what it needs to keep those creative vibes going strong.

Get Offline

Instagram is my favorite place to hang out in the social media world because my feed is filled with beautiful, encouraging and fun photos. So often I am inspired by the images I see to live a fuller life packed with creative experiences. Every now and then though, the comparison trap gets me and I find myself questioning my creativity, my skills and whether I belong in this group of amazing and talented people. Or maybe comparison isn't a problem, but scrolling endlessly keeps me distracted enough consuming the creativity of others that I never get to creating anything myself.

If you find yourself in one of these mindsets, it's time to log out. Go spend time doing something with your creative energy to dispel the Am I Enough? doubts or the problem of never getting around to creating your own art.

Get Curious

Sometimes what helps to shake some creative inspiration loose is to do something different from whatever your current creative efforts are. If you're an artist who paints, learn about hand embroidery. If you're a hand-letterer, learn how to create simple illustrations. What other creative activities interest you? Between YouTube, Skillshare, Brit + Co, A Beautiful Mess, Creative Bug and so many other online sources, there are countless ways to learn something new. Check out classes from artists like Alisa Burke and Caroline Kelso Zook.

Brainstorm a list of things you're curious about - maybe it's not a specific activity but a topic. Maybe you love star gazing. Meet up with a group that gets together to look at the stars or read about star patterns. Maybe it's family ancestry that interests you. Create an account at Ancestry.com, plug in a few details and discover a whole world of people you didn't know who brought you to where you are today.

Think about a new activity or interest you're curious about and follow that around for a while. The inspiration sparked by what you learn will last well into your next creative project and may just spark a new one!

Get Lost

We tend to be creatures of routine. We drive the same way to work or the grocery store, we walk the dog the same route each day. We don't often purposely veer off our Point A to Point B plans and that can hurt our creative spirit because we can grow numb to what is around us. It's all so familiar that we tune out the most amazing details. One day leave for work early and get there on different roads. If you take a dog on a daily walk, switch up the direction you usually go or go somewhere new altogether. Find a way to mix up the usual sights around you so you can take notice of the little things that can pass us by when we're not paying attention.

Get Outside

If you work from home or spend your days working as a stay-at-home mom, it's possible you don't leave the house for reasons that aren't obligations. Errands and meetings can sometimes be the only way we get any fresh air. To get some of that creative mojo going, take a walk, go to a museum, sit on the patio or go to the pool. Get some sunlight or fresh air at least and you'll find a renewed energy sitting back down to put yourself into a creative project!

Get Inspired

While social media can get overwhelming, find the people online who make you feel encouraged in your creativity. Listen to their voices and seek them out when you're feeling like your creativity took a vacation. Look through magazines at a book store - be sure to find one that sells a wide variety from a bunch of different countries. Go to the library and look through the section that covers topics you're interested in relating to your creative projects or other interests. Take a nature walk, watch a documentary, join a local group of people doing something interesting and get inspired to go make something out of your experiences.

Get Started

This last bit can seem the hardest sometimes. Even with our ideas, we face self-doubt, insecurity, the infamous imposter syndrome, time restraints, distractions, other obligations...the list goes on, right? If we want to live a creative life and make something out of the life we're living, we have to show up. We have to put pen to paper, paintbrush to canvas, fingers to keyboard, chalk to sidewalk...you get the picture. We can't just wait for creativity to send us the inspiration. We have to sit down (or get outside - wherever your interests, skills and opportunities take you) and do the work.

If you feel like creativity has been hit and miss lately, go through this list and check to see if you're getting enough sleep, eating well and finding inspiration in new places!