Why use WordPress?

It is Free for use

WordPress is Open source software.  This means can use it for free no strings attached. WordPress is built with Mysql and Php and these are both free as well. For all you that don’t know what you are doing you can hire someone like me to take care of this for you and with a word-press site I can give you a price that you can afford.

Quick to set up

With simple instructions you can have word-press up and running in no time. There are thousands of templates to choose from and a lot of designers now work with word-press. As long as you have hosting you can get a word-press theme up and running on your site in a matter of 15 minutes. If you do not have hosting they offer a WordPress option with hosting included http://wordpress.com/.

SEO Friendly

One thing that is great about word-press is the search engine optimization. Unlike flash built sites there is a great benefit to how your site will be ranked in search engines. They have worked in things like pings, track backs, comments and others to help also. I use word-press my self a lot and I feel that it is very strong for SEO and now they have plug-ins to help make it even easier to add key words to your content pages and site.

So Many Options

Between the thousands of templates you can pick from and thousands of plug-ins all your needs will be fulfilled one way or another. Whether you have a blog and an E-commerce site Word-press has something for you to help your online experience. The options are endless and it only keeps getting better with time. It is compliant with Web standards and kept up to date to ensure that your website is running and displaying the way it should.

Easy for a CMS set up

Another great thing about word-press is the option for users to update their content and links and menus without knowing any web design knowledge or having to learn a lot of software. Designers can set these sites up to fit your needs and then you can have a site that you can actually update and change on a daily basis.  A lot of templates now are built with CMS options also to ensure that you can edit your site after it is up and running.

What are you Waiting for?

Go out and start your WordPress experience blogging, selling or informing. It will basically sell it self and if you do it right it can be free… What else needs to be said? For custom WordPress sites and updates to existing sites or templates contact me and I will be glad to help you out.

Find the Right Web Designer.

Where to Look?

There are always new sites to find designers. First you need to decide if you want to work with a large web company or a freelance designer. If you have a big budget and are ready for a big commitment then a large web company may just be for you. If you are looking for a more personable designer and a more affordable price I would go with a freelance designer. There are always new sites to find designers. Google is a great way to find large design firms and web companies. Places like Craigslist and Freelancer.com are the best for finding freelance designer. Also keep in mind location of the designer. If they across the country and the world you will not be able to meet face to face if needed. These days everything can be done remotely but sometimes getting to know some in person is the best way decide if you can trust them or not.

Browse Through Your Potential Web Designer’s Portfolios

Take a look around before you make a decision about who you are going to choose. Remember this is an investment and a commitment. You want it to be as useful and appealing as it can be. If you are looking for a designer and they don’t have some sort of portfolio or at least an organized way of showing you their work chances are they are unreliable and unorganized. Don’t jump on the first site you see there are a lot to choose from I am sure you have realized this already. It really isn’t as overwhelming as it seems.

Get in Touch With the Ones you Like

Look around for a solid style and someone you feel you can trust and make sure to contact and ask any questions you have. See what kind of communication the designers have.. How quick they email, how they address you and also just their general attitude. You can get a great feel for who someone is just by how the write an email. If someone contacts you and doesn’t take the time to use capitol letters then chances are he is not your guy!! Make sure they have a kind attitude and speak professional no ones wants to work with a bitter designer. Also when contacting them be specific let them know what you need and when you need it so they can be more accurate with their quote and time frame. Designers are here to help you but we also need our time to be creative so every detail helps. Make sure to contact more then one designer too to get different quotes and ideas.

Look Over Their Services and References

When looking for a niche designer make sure that they have solid experience in that type of web design. Say you are looking for a flash designer find a portfolio that has solid flash sites or at least a decent amount of flash experience. Designers that do things more then other usually have more affordable prices and quicker turn around times. This isn’t always true because top designs who have mastered these trades could be more expensive then someone with close to the same skills just because of their name and reputation. References and testimonials are a good way to see how the designer’s past work has gone. References are not there to ask a million questions but more like ” Would you recommend this designer and/or use them again. ” Some designers just starting out may have the skills you require but not the portfolio. If you feel that they have the skills go with them you will get a better price and maybe give them a chance to break out and show their skills. Use your gut and intuition and always ask for contracts.

A Reasonable Cost

Remember you usually get what you pay for. If you find a solid design firm and you give them a nice big budget they can work with you are going to get a top of the line website. If you ask for the cheapest solutions possible and offer them 100$ you are probably going to get more of a headache then a functional website. You could always hire a high school student or a recent grad looking to build a portfolio but they might not know all the ins and outs of the industry. Experience is key in making solid websites. Think about what you really can afford with your budget then look for quotes that are within your limit. Designers are here to help you if you let them. Not everyone is here just for the money some designers like my self are more into this for the love of the work and the joy of helping people.

Your Goal is Important

After all these emails and different ideas and sites you have looked at remember at the end of the day your goal and idea is what is important. Do your research on website similar to the one you want created and think about what are the best parts of those websites. Keep in mind the end result and try to keep your mind on track. Changing your mind in the middle of a project is only going to cost you money and stress so be prepared when you are ready to purchase a website. Think of this website as a semi temporary tattoo. It will be with you for a while and it is an investment. Be creative but also be functional and to the point. Good luck to you in your search and remember I am always here to help so feel free to email me anytime and contact me about a web project you have in mind.

Danielle and Terry at Diamondview Tower

The diamondview tower is so called because it has a view right down into the Petco ballpark! Large windows with breathtaking views of downtown San Diego painted a beautiful backdrop for this reception. The classic look of the calla lily centerpieces and satin linens dressed up the room without taking too much from the rich wood floors.

Erin and Matt at Thursday Club

Beautiful green and ivory reception on a sunny day at the Thursday club. The menu consisted of delicious heavy hors d’ oeuvres and a carving station with savory tri tip and turkey breast. Homemade fruity sangria was served as a signature drink. Another delectable cake by Shirley Resnick, the Cake Lady, and garden fresh centerpieces from Blush Botanicals.

Ashley and John at Thursday Club

Here is a gorgeous Thursday Club reception with upgraded Desert Blue Lamour Linens and Chocolate napkins. They mixed it up by decorating the head table in opposite colors. The manzanita tree centerpieces were handmade by Leigh Johnston. Erin Melton of Behind the Bride made sure everything went smoothly and Earl from My DJs kept the group dancing all night!

Samantha and Chris at Ocean View Villas

30% chance of rain all week turned into 100% for this reception! But we all pulled it off with a beautiful clear tent that kept the guests warm and dry while preserving the ocean view. Navy pintuck linens with a little shimmer were accented by the pink flowers and favors. Flowers are from Tessilk and cake is from Sumi’s Oven.

7 Steps to start Freelancing.

Step 1 – Find a Mentor

Networking is probably one of the most important things in starting off freelance web designing. Forum’s, Question communities and blogs  are a great way to start. The thing that really helped me was finding someone I could trust with more experience then me willing to help. I am sure if you look hard enough you could find a tutorial out there for just about everything you could think of. These tutorials are not going to answer your questions though unless you post a comment and wait. The best thing about finding design friends online is if you have enough people who are willing to help, you always have an answer when you need it. Sites like Yahoo answers and Answer.com are also great sites when learning.

Social networking is now a standard for web design. Twitter, digg, linkedin, facebook, blogs etc…   have taken over the web. For designers these have become a great way to get your name out there and even learn some things from the pro’s. Start a blog join some forums do what ever it takes to get used the the scene. This will help you gain traffic down the road too. You can’t expect to get traffic for nothing but if you start with networking options like these you will begin to see some results by the time you are ready to take things serious. Whenever you have free time post comments, read tutorials and blogs. The best blog and tutorial resources have great twitter posts like free tutorials, source codes and plug-ins. Take advantage of these things early on and I guarantee that you won’t regret it later on.

 

Step 2– Know your Stuff

Every new designer or aspiring designer obviously wants two things, creative freedom and money. Just make sure you know what you are doing before you think you deserve either of these. Whether you are a recent grad or a design cowboy learning the ropes as you go, you have to know your stuff. Good thing you picked a job that works with the worlds greatest resource..

The world wide web. You can just about find any piece of information that your heart desires. Tutorials, online schools, designer blogs are all great resources for info. You will learn that most designers are adding blogs or tutorials to their site to gain traffic and networking. Take advantage of these and read as many of them as you can. W3schools, Net tuts, Web designers wall, A  list apart etc.. are all full of valuable info. Google is also a great tool so learn how to use it!!  I would recommend books too, Amazon is a great resource for this or even e-bay.. Used books are still useful books. Look around at reviews and peoples comments about these before you just go and buy one and make sure they are up-to-date, the internet is out dating things all the time.

Step 3 – Understand the Industry

I will let you know right now being a web designer is overwhelming in many ways. You are always going to find new software, better designers and more ways for us to lose out jobs. To keep in touch with the new design trends and software you gotta do your research and keep up-to-date once a week. Keeping up with the newest deigns and trends are very important in helping you gain clients. Do you think that a new clients wants his designer to be out dated? Of course not. Great sites for this are A list apart, A web designers wall and sites like this. These are top designers so take the time to listen what they have to say.

Why is everyone trying to make web designing so easy? Well money is the answer to this of course. I always wondered myself why web designers are trying to find ways to make designing quick and very affordable. Quickest way to make a million dollars is to maker a lazy man lazier. I still sleep good at night knowing that no matter what there will always be valuable information that we will know and be able to incorporate that our clients now and upcoming will never know. Keep up-to-date and always learn the best and most solid ways to do things and you will never have a problem.

 

Step 4 – Find Your Niche

Don’t try to do it all. The best web designers work in teams and so should you. I would recommend finding your strongest skill and sticking with it. Early on you should notice that you pick up somethings quicker then others. Front end work, back end work, graphic design etc.. Pick what you do best and excel. Later down the road it will help you in not feeling so overwhelmed you will be strong in what you do and there will always be work for someone dedicated to that skill. If you try and do it all yourself you will lose out on creativity, time and trying to keep up-to-date. I am not saying that there isn’t any one out there that successfully has done this or is doing it. If you can though find designers to at least work with when you need a hand. This will help you get more clients and put out a better quality of design.

 

Step 5 – Put Yourself out There

When you are ready to start getting clients you are going to learn that it isn’t that easy. Some good ways to start are get your first couple clients through family or friends. These people already trust you and it will be a good learning experience. If you still are having troubles then there are places like Freelancer and Craigslist.

Another good way to get your first customer is to go to local businesses. Advertise your self as a new and local designer willing to give a price break or free work for customers willing to act as a reference and be displayed in your portfolio or resume. As you begin to get clients and build your name things will get easier. One of the best ways to get clients is word to mouth from happy existing clients. Again blogs and social networks will also help. These ways are not as safe or solid as other methods but I can still say I found some clients through them.

 

Step 6 – Protect Yourself

In the beginning stages of freelance designing you are going to learn that people are going to try and take advantage of you. I highly recommend using a contract for all clients and meeting face to face is another great way to gain trust and a good sense of who you are working with. People will ask for slave labor from you, tell you your work is bad, keep asking for revisions or even try and not pay you. No matter what happens be professional and try and keep these relationships for they may end up being another great line in your portfolio or resume whether it works out or not. Sometimes you have to suck up your pride and work for barely anything these days to get your name out there but make sure you have leverage.

Contracts are the best way just make sure to state things clear and get it out of the way. Make sure to try and get payments in advance from customers you may not trust ask for 50% down and then the remaining payment on completion of the site. If it is a big business or at least an established business you can give them a little more slack. Some designers use hidden FTP programs to make sure if the client dose not pay then you can at least delete the work you have done. I am not recommending this but it is a method people use. Once you have gone through these processes you will learn what to do and not to do. Creating a solid process is a good way to do this to ensure quick delivery on sites and payments on time. I will go over thi
s in the next step on details.

 

Step 7 – Create a Process

When you freelance web design it is easy to get unorganized. If you stay organized from the beginning then you will get a good understanding on how to stay organized when work starts to pile in. I use a external hard drive to back up all my work and store clients info and things. Make sure you back up work if you lose it all that time will go to waste and trust me it happens. Folders are a big key to keeping organized. I have folders on my desk top that have names like, New Clients, Old clients, Resources, web design etc.  I also use folders in my bookmarks because I have over a hundred of them. These folders I named like Friends of the web, Resources, Tutorials etc. Get used to doing things like this and it will save you hours off time looking for things.

Another good way to stay organized is to create a step process for each client. Start with a list of questions to ask your clients when they are interested in your work. This will help you come up with a quote quicker and give you a better understanding of what you will have to do. Then work in the contract and make sure all details are clear. Next steps will be design steps. I use a whiteboard for this and then I use flow charts to show my clients and idea of what will be made. There are many different ways to do this and I recommend finding one that suites you the best.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!!

Guess what Sunday is? The Bridal Bazaar! From 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the San Diego Convention Center, Halls G and H. Come say hi! Click the logo below for more information and directions.

Craigslist Find!

So the wedding is over and you have leftover vases, chargers, baskets, ribbon, etc. all stuff that you bought for the ceremony and reception that you have no place for. What to do? Get your money back! There are a ton of online resources to sell your leftover wedding goods.

This is where the current brides benefit. Wedding items that were previously not in the budget can now be included because you are getting them at 1/2 price! It is a win/win situation.

Here is a great find from craigslist: 200 Gold Chargers for $150 – these normally rent for about $5 each so this is a real steal.

A beautiful photo of chargers in action, depending on the feel you are going for they can really dress up a table. These are generally used for seated dinners since the plates aren’t pre-set on the tables, but can be used if your guests are retrieving their plates from the buffet.

Now to keep my eyes and ears open and hopefully update more often with steals I find that can make your reception beautiful!!

Jennifer and Morgan at Bernardo Winery

Take in a beautiful chocolate reception at the Bernardo Winery! This couple mixed it up by presenting a plated salad before the buffet opened up. An unexpected touch for your guests. The menus tucked into the napkins were hand made by the bride and mother of the bride with a little diamond accent.

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Other vendors that made it happen:
Flowers: Splendid Sentiments
DJ: DJ Guy
Cake: Bon Bon Bakery (858) 592-0570