Exclusive Freebie: Infographic Icon Set

I’m headed to Brooklyn for Nearly Impossible, where I’ll be doing one-on-one sessions as part of the conference’s Expert Lab. It should be a great time, and I’m sure I’ll learn lots of stuff that will be helpful for my clients ongoing.

Since I’m giving away something (consultation time) to some of the conference attendees, I thought it’d be a good day to also give away something to everyone who reads this blog. I’ve never done a freebie that I didn’t create, but there’s a first time for everything (as they say).

I was recently approached by Vecteezy, which is a sort of an exchange for vector art and graphics, with the opportunity to give away an exclusive icon set. I’m pretty into vectors, especially for icons, since they scale so cleanly across various device resolutions. I’ve been advising all the designers I work with to make sure to use vectors for icons and other similar graphics, so this seemed like a great fit. I picked an infographic set:

infographic vector icon set

I love the color-block styling, and feel like these icons would be useful on business sites or to spice up informational blog posts (or to build a really sweet annual report-style document). Some of them are so graphically interesting that they could just be used decoratively as well (the pinwheel and the gear in the second to last row are calling to me).

This is an exclusive download, it’s distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, and the download file includes .ai, .eps, and .psd file formats.

You can download the files here, and also check out all the other free infographic vector sets available at Vecteezy (among lots of other great icon sets and vector graphics). Enjoy!

PS: I was not compensated for this post, just provided with the files.

Interview on Matt Report About the Business Side of WordPress

That's me!

That’s me!

In case you aren’t familiar with it, Matt Report is a podcast hosted by Matt Medeiros with a focus on the business side of working with WordPress. A lot of people I admire have been interviewed in previous episodes, from Jake Goldman (head of 10up) to Ethan Marcotte, so I was pretty excited to be invited to record an interview.

It was a lot of fun to record and were able to cover quite a bit of ground on topics you’ll hopefully find interesting and useful, including how I developed my business model, what my business growth plans are (or aren’t), and some thoughts on e-commerce options.

CHECK IT OUT

Blogging Tip: iCal Post Feeds

If you’re a calendar person like I am (I use both a paper calendar and synced online calendars), you may find it helpful to have your blog posts show up across whatever digital calendar system you use.

Here’s how mine looks in Apple’s Calendar app, with only the blog calendar feed visible:

blog ical feed month view

Click to enlarge

It’s easy to set this up by generating an iCal feed from your WordPress site, then adding that to your calendar software.

Generating Your iCal Feed

There’s a great plugin that generates iCal feeds. I’ve used it for awhile now and found it to be stable, and the developer is responsive to feature requests (always nice).

Setup

It’s basically plug-and-play – install and activate the plugin, and then head to the settings page to grab your iCal feed URL.

As you can see in the (partially redacted) screenshot below, the plugin provides you with a bunch of different feeds to choose from:

ical feed plugin settings

The public URL contains all posts that are already published, but if you want to also include future (scheduled) posts you can do that by setting a secret parameter value. Your new secret feed URL is then provided for you lower on the page. That’s what I use, since I want to see my upcoming scheduled posts on my calendar.

There’s a setting for how long each calendar “event” should be, which is something I asked the developer to add. I like to have posts on my calendar but I don’t want them taking up a huge chunk of my calendar space so I’ve got mine set to 5 minutes. The time on the calendar matches the publication time for the post (and the calendar item includes the post URL):

ical post detail

You can also grab individual iCal feeds for each category, or for a custom selection of categories:

ical feed multiple categories

I am not really sure why you’d want to separate out your categories like that, unless you are really insane about your color coding, but it’s an option.

Using the Feeds

Most digital calendar apps make it pretty easy to add an iCal/ .ics feed.

Apple Calendar

In Calendar, you go File > New Calendar Subscription, then enter the URL:

add feed to Calendar app

Google Calendar

In a Google Calendar, you go to Other Calendars in the sidebar, then click the dropdown icon and select “Add by URL” then enter the calendar URL:

Google calendar add feed

But why?

Having your blog posts show up on your calendar is definitely not a necessity by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s one of those nice little things that may make your life a little easier.

For me, I find it helpful to mentally plan social media efforts out if I can see my whole week in one view, from client work and launches to holidays, to days I’m particularly busy, to my upcoming posts on the calendar (they’re in yellow in this weekly view, which is what I usually look at):

Calendar weekly view

Click to enlarge

Conversely, I also find it help it helpful to have my whole calendar in view as I plan out and schedule future posts. It helps me post things relevant to upcoming holidays, for example (as a hazard of self-employment, I tend to forget many federal holidays).

And, to tell you the truth, I also just kind of enjoy seeing my posts on there. Enjoyment matters!

It’s Okay to Just Do a Part of the Project

There’s kind of a weird idea floating around in the freelance/ small business world that it’s “better” to land big projects and to own the entirety of each project. That it’s the big brands and big project scopes that “make” you.

While there’s some truth to that (my projects with big names in my niche have certainly helped me out in terms of exposure), I’ve also found that taking on projects where my role is just one piece of the puzzle can be satisfying and can open up a lot of opportunities I might not get if I were trying to do the whole thing every time.

Some of the biggest brands that have approached me have been looking for internal sites, or for “just a blog” to add onto an existing infrastructure.

Minted's blog

Minted’s blog Julep was one of those projects, where I came on board to build just the blog (designed by Bri Emery of designlovefest).

Another is the blog portion of the redesigned and relaunched Makeshift Society website:

Makeshift Society's blog

In both of these cases, the main site is a complex build on a custom or enterprise-level CMS, which is not really my thing. Blogs, however, are something I do quite a lot. That specialty keeps me in the running for a lot of companies that have their own systems for the bulk of their web presence but don’t have the in-house skills or interest for that specialty area.

The Honey Bee blog from Burt’s Bees Baby™ (a project I took on with Aeolidia) is another example where I was only responsible for the blog coding:

Burt's Bees Baby blog

It does take some mental adjustment, though. It can be kind of humbling to not work on a brand’s “main site” and just take on a segment of the project, and even more humbling to work on something that will only ever be seen internally. For me, it’s always been worth it.

This idea that it’s ok to just take on a part of a project isn’t anything groundbreaking, but I still believe it’s worth putting out there in writing.

Whether you’re a designer who is making spot graphics while another team redesigns the whole website, or a developer with a specific area of expertise that relegates you to working only on a subset of features, you should work towards whatever kind of project makes you happy and makes your work rewarding. But I also think that it’s okay if sometimes those projects are the smaller, less flashy pieces of the overall puzzle.

Neatly Polished Update, with Sample Lesson

Neatly Polished is clear, friendly, in-depth online front-end web development classes

It has been a long time coming (my goodness, those lessons took a lot longer to write than I expected), but I’m happy to say that all 26+ lessons in my Neatly Polished course on WordPress Theme Development are finally live.

In case you aren’t familiar with this project, Neatly Polished is a subscription-model site I created for more in-depth tutorials and lessons than are really reasonable to provide for free via this blog. There are the lessons, plus a support forum where I answer questions and discuss the lessons (and other stuff, sometimes) with participants.

The first full “course” is on WordPress Theme Development, and basically walks through all the files you’d use in a WordPress theme, along with the various theme components and some workflow tips throughout. You can check out the entire course outline, along with a single full sample lesson, on page templates.

Subscriptions run $29 for a monthly membership and $79 for a quarterly membership, and include all current and future content for the life of the membership.

Future plans for the site include a similar course on Shopify theme development, as well as mini-courses on things like PHP basics, HTML/ CSS layout modules, and other TBD topics. You can keep up to date with what’s going on over there (since I don’t post here about everything) via Twitter and/or by signing up for the Neatly Polished email list.

I’m pretty excited about this project, in part because of the fabulous feedback I’ve gotten that has both helped me keep improving the lessons over time, and also has just made me feel even more sure that sharing what I know like this is the right thing to be doing.

I’ll leave you with some of the awesome things members have said about the lessons and program:

“Awesome lesson! I have used many fabulous tutorials (free and paid) on WordPress theme development, but find that even though the information is valuable , it is not “streamlined” as well as yours.”

Very specific. The checklist was clutch. I was missing 3 things (due to my horrible skimming skills and my antsy pants that are so excited to be learning this stuff). With the checklist, I was able to make sure that I didn’t miss a beat!”

“Great! Can’t believe I picked this up so quickly. Really appreciate your simple and easy to follow instructions.”

If you’d like to register, you can do so here.