Have you set up your Facebook Page

How to use Facebook to promote your writing

We just completed the first round of this month’s Ycademy webinar, which focused on the background and creation of professional Facebook pages. This is different from our usual profile page, meaning the one we all start with when we join this immensely popular social media platform. And which author hasn’t heard – or been told – and this regardless of whether he or she are traditionally published or brave indie authors, that it is imperative to “…build a large and forever growing social media following”?

Bianca Gubalke Facebook Author Page

Well, I’m guilty, too . . . I simply didn’t take the time to do it, relying on my profile page, where I could easily communicate with my family and friends. There is just sooo much you can accomplish within 24 hours if you also want to write!

But it’s true, we shouldn’t ignore what Facebook offers us as authors – or any other business oriented person for that matter. There’s a wide range of possibilities to choose from – be it for a local business, to sell products, for artists, authors and photographers etc to present themselves and their work, for entertainment – including books – as well as an option to build communities around certain topics and themes. Depending on our goals and target markets or intentions, it makes a lot of sense to take the time and set up a new Facebook page (it’s like a satellite to our already existing Facebook Profile page), to go through the settings, step-by-step, and implement some really cool publishing tools.

Ask yourself: Is my audience local? Who do I target? The whole world? Only the English speaking world? What is the age group that might be interested in my work, product or service? Male or female? And where do they live?

My new Facebook Author Page

What matters most – even before starting out – is to have a clear vision of what this Facebook Page is all about. What it means to us and to our readers, audience, following.  In this case, my focus is on my work as a writer of visionary fiction and magical realism – hence the choice was a logical one: an author page.

Then you want to create an attractive design, starting with the header image. What do your readers see when they come to your page? What do you want them to see, understand, read or be drawn to? For this we need a header image of 851 x 315 px (desktop version) and in 640 x 360 px  for the mobile version – I show my first example below:

Bianca Gubalke Facebook Author Page

As I love to do digital photography, and I recently captured this dramatic sunset picture during a violent thunderstorm here in Noordhoek, South Africa, this is what I chose. It relates directly to my free downloadable book: “The Magical Garden and my visionary fiction novel The Immortal Life of Piu Piu“. 

Do you like it? Please comment . . . and if you like visionary fiction with a mystery edge that touches your soul and makes you feel real good, go grab a copy!

But back to Facebook: it also allows us to change the header from time to time – or whenever we want – say when we’ve written a new book, hence keeping things fresh and snazzy and giving our visitors and fans always an attractive reading experience. Both on their desktops and on their mobile phones.

Bianca Gubalke Facebook Author Page

Last note: The Ycademy Seminar continues in form of workshops over the following weeks. Once all students have completed the setup, we will dive into Facebook Marketing strategies!

Stay tuned!

#facebookpages #wegotop #howto #sellmorebooks

 

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The First Day of 2017

New Year Magic

On the last day of 2016, I wish to thank YOU, my friends and loyal readers, for your friendship, comments and unwavering support over the course of  an extraordinary year that saw ‘The Immortal Life of Piu Piu’ take first baby steps on the publishing highway of the Internet – all ready to spread its wings in what promises to be a magical new year 2017! And to be accompanied by Book 2 in the trilogy ‘Dance Between Worlds’!

Actually, as I’m publishing this post, we’re just back from an early morning walk on the beach and saw the first day of 2017 start in a breathtakingly beautiful way! May it be a good omen for 2017!

New Year in Noordhoek, South Afric a

 

The Magical Garden - A photographic journeyShowering you with heaps of sweet flower petals, forever sunshine and positive vibrations from Noordhoek, South Africa – and looking forward to meeting you again in an exciting New Year 2017!

Be safe, be blessed and lots of love!

Bianca

PS: And don’t forget to download my FREE PHOTO BOOK GIVEAWAY HERE! 

The Magical Garden is a photographic journey through 150 pages of gorgeous colour photos – landscapes, flowers, birds, cats, insects, butterflies and bees and much more to introduce you to the so-called ‘richest floral kingdom in the world‘ and, tugged within it, that magic place called Noordhoek, South Africa.

Ycademy Seminar February 2016

Android Studio Apps

As more and more mobile users are accessing the web, website designers have to learn how to create apps. The idea is the same as with websites: to occupy space. Not only obviously, but also! Following the App Development in our Ycademy Seminar in January 2016, this month’s webinar focused on building the framework for a City Guide App or a Directory, using online and offline content.

App Development with Android Studio

Points of Interest

When diving into mobile app development, it’s a little like learning a new language: the app terminology! Just look up the acronym POI on Google and it’s quite hilarious what comes up – from POI recipes… to Amazon’s ‘…lovely poi made from a padded weight and a colourful nylon scarf tail’ . . . to ‘all your POI, Fire and Juggling needs‘ – and that’s by far not all – but in app lingo, and especially when thinking ‘City Guide’, the correct definition of POI is “Point(s) Of Interest”. Voilà!

That’s not where it stops! One’s got to know how to

  • Share POI
  • POI detail screen (info, map, decription)
  • Current distance to the POI
  • Open web link of the POI
  • List of POI
  • Sort POI by distance or by alphabeth if location is unknown
  • Search POI with suggestion . . .

And besides, following the Marshmallow version in January, we’re now with Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0.3). But we stay with Android and Gradle – which is quite comforting – and I’m pleased that even on apps we can have cool:

  • Animated action bars
  • Parallax scrolling effects
  • Ripple effects and
  • Favorite spots and more.

For now, by favorite spot will be in the Village Sushi just now – all Wi-Fi by the way, even down here in the boonies – with my main POI’s on the menu and the culinary art of a true Japanese sushi chef. That’s 7 years of training . . . so I won’t say another word about the hardship of learning app development on an Ice Cream Sandwich.

This ain’t the last word about apps!

 

 

 

 

Ycademy Seminar November 2015

The Ycademy Webinar November 2015

The upcoming Ycademy Seminar will introduce its students to App Development with Android Studio, the new standard replacing Eclipse – the topic of another Ycademy Seminar on ‘How to build an App’, in January 2013.

App Development with Android Studio

Despite the fact that we find apps about everywhere in the digital world, many still wonder what an ‘app’ actually is? Or is it an ‘application’? So let’s look at the official explanation from Computer Basics:

An app is a type of software that allows you to perform specific tasks.Applications for desktop or laptop computers are sometimes called desktop applications, and those for mobile devices are called mobileapps. When you open an application, it runs inside the operating system until you close it.

Difference between Applications and Apps

Do some research on the term ‘app’, and you soon come across some controversy and hidden misunderstanding in connection with the term: ‘application’. So what the heck is the difference – and does it matter?

Gartner, a good source to learn from and have difficult questions answered in an easily understandable way – and I like the way he described the difference:

Applications are baggy monsters prized for their long lists of capabilities, while apps are valued for doing a few things well — their purposefulness.

Quote: “Apps, says Gartner, are not applications: “The defining characteristic of an app is its reduced functional presence. Apps do less than applications. That is their goal.”1 In other words, what began as mere shorthand for most of us (“The $#!@% app is down again!”) has come to represent a different design paradigm altogether.

How do we separate the usage of the terms? The distinction is driven primarily by the device. Big screen, full keyboard, unlimited power, etc.? That’s the playground for applications. Small touch screen, small keyboard, limited battery, limited bandwidth? That’s where apps thrive.”

If you want to dig deeper – and I strongly suggest you do, and even get access to a free e-booklet on the three keys for becoming a mobile enterprise – go directly to the Appcelerator Website HERE.

 

How to Create your first App

While Ycademy students had their first appexperience by creating their first App about two years ago, this month’s December Seminar 2015 will focus on:

  • Integrated Development Environment;
  • Elements – text, images and buttons (share, editable text fields…);
  • How to create your first App using third party libraries;
  • Understanding JSON and more.

App development is to be taken seriously – VERY seriously! It continues to change the way we operate on the Internet and it has revolutionized the mobile world. And if you’re a web designer or website developer, be prepared for how it will influence and change the Web Design of the future!

 

 

Online Ycademy Seminar October 2015

How to design a professional book

Web Design South Africa also specializes on professional book design, including brochures, calendars and anything our customers need to present themselves, or to enhance their brand recognition – not only on the web but also offline in printed format. Any professional will agree that the best program to do that is ADOBE InDesign.

Book Design Seminar

We all know that Adobe programs are not cheap and you may ask yourself, whether you really need a professional book design program – especially if you already have Adobe Photoshop?

Well, here’s the scoop: As the latest Adobe developments clearly zoom in on the mobile market – think mobile synchronisation – and also target the explosive wave of productions by authors and self-publishers who want to publish across all digital platforms (Amazon, Kindle, Nook, B&N, Apple… etc) without going the time-consuming traditional publishing route, it was time for us to focus again on this fabulous program at this month’s Ycademy Seminar. Back to basics it was . . . for a continued learning curve.

It included a lot of information on . . .:

Good Publishing Programs

We published photo books and wedding albums in book form and as wedding websites quite successfully in the past; not to speak of the joy of creating them! Based on our research at the time – end 2011 to be exact – one of the best possibilities to do this in terms of time-efficiency and value for money was BLURB. Blurb was far ahead of their time in making a plugin available on Adobe InDesign, which connected the designer directly with the Blurb cockpit so to speak. Once the book was ready in In Design, meaning all (clearly defined) errors corrected, it was converted into a (then relatively tricky…) PDF following Blurb guidelines (esp. important the colour conversion), from which Blurb then printed the finished product. A good way to go – a good experience for all of us who went that path.

As we have noticed that Blurb has consistently improved its performance and user-friendliness, and now not only offers us the possibility to turn our ideas into professional print books and brochures or magazines, but also into ebooks for Kindle and iPads – it was time to look at it closer again.

Where to print your book

As an author and book designer myself – even before digital times – I know very well how cost is adding up, and how carefully our print projects have to be planned. I will certainly write about this topic in the near future when my lengthy research into the many possibilities we have today will have allowed me to draw some conclusions, however, depending on where you live, publishing with Blurb is definitely a way to consider, especially if you use high-quality photos and format your book in Adobe InDesign yourself (or pay a designer to do so for you).

However, if you live in a country like South Africa, I have a clear answer for you already now: unfortunately, these days one has to think twice. Within just 2 – 3 years, the situation has drastically changed for us:

  1. The exchange rate of around 1 : 14 makes it almost impossible for us to print overseas, especially when calculating transport cost – which may well add up to more than the printing costs, and this just for a small amount of books. If we plan to sell the book at a reasonable price that is.
  2. Our printers down here are working hard to catch up with market demands, and – especially when bearing my point above in mind – the better option today is to find a good printer here. Now that’s easier said than done, and some ‘insiders’ seem to be reluctant to pass on their tips. But as I’m going through the printing process right now, I may have more information for those of you who are interested, soon. Please write to me if you’re concerned; I’m happy to pass on good advice. It’s the way of the self-publisher – in the spirit of ubuntu.
    But there was still more at the Seminar . . . :

 

How to create a calendar for 2016

With Christmas already around the corner, it’s the ideal time to learn how to design a beautiful calendar for 2016. Calendars with high quality photos are always very welcome as personal gifts for family and friends, as a corporate gift, or as a free give-away on a theme-related website.

Topics are easily found: photos of a toddler growing up, a trip to the South Pole, sports events, my favourite recipes, my cat, my horse… my pink hamster! Or any given topic – you know what I mean. We all have them, especially as everyone runs around taking pictures all day long on iphones, smart phones and ipads.

So why not create something that ‘lasts’?

If you think about it: everything ‘digital’ is somehow lost, and I don’t mean in the Cloud. No – think back: those of us who have a family album can go back in time. . . even generations later. If we don’t create something ‘lasting’ – meaning in print – all memories will be lost. Forever. Whether that’s appropriate or not is a philosophical question we don’t want to even start discussing here, but the fact is: if you print your most cherished photos and memorable moments, they aren’t lost. You can go back to them like on a timeline. It may just mean something special to you one day. . . a day when even social media won’t exist anymore. Who knows; time moves so fast, new developments explode, and this may happen sooner than we think.

Although you may not have attended the Ycademy Seminar, I hope this inspired your creative muscle and gave you some ideas . . .

 

 

 

Ycademy Webinars

Ycademy Seminar September 2015

Today, high quality images and photos are even more important than ever before when it comes to website development and web design, this month’s Ycademy Seminar September 2015 will focus on the new features of one of the most brilliant programmes ever created in my view: Photoshop!

Workshop on Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

Mind you, even if you have an older version – if you’re a skilled graphic artist who has an inner image of what the final product you create should look like – that’s fine, too. We’re talking of a tool, like a brush. It’s always a human being behind the tool who decides on the outcome. However, the more sophisticated the tool, the more we may be able to achieve within a shorter period of time. Don’t forget, resolutions are being pushed higher and higher, and streaming gets faster and faster – that’s the future market we serve. And that’s why we look at the latest version of Adobe Photoshop – CC 2015.

Workshop on Camera Raw

If time permits, we’ll also look into Camera Raw – my personal favourite when it comes to improving a picture with a few quick tweaks. I hardly need anything else. If a picture isn’t up to standard, it lands in my waste bin anyway. But since I really started using my Fuji X E1 – especially during my time in Namibia – I’m just amazed at the difference in data compared to my good old Nikon Coolpix P90. In those days, my Coolpix was just perfect for what I needed on the Internet. With a very handy zoom, it allowed me to operate quickly and almost automatically, giving me in most cases the results I wanted (excluding low-light… duhhh!). But since I started to create printed books – with my first English novel “The Immortal Life of Piu Piu” coming out very soon – please join my Newsletter on my Author Website Here for updates and freebies – I quickly discovered my limitations. What I need now – besides much more experience, much more knowledge – is a 200 mm lens! Oh, they have even a better one, a killer lens I absolutely need for my next photo trip… back to Namibia! There’s nothing like home! By the way, the above photo was shot near Sossusvlei in Namibia in May 2015.

Where would we be today?

It’s hard to imagine where we would be today without a programme like ADOBE Photoshop . . . and how we would cope without using layers! I still worked extensively with pencils, pens and airbrush in pre-digital times – and if for some reason the illustration was messed up – sometimes by a simple stupid thing like a sudden difference in pressure in my airbrush so that it would spit ink all over the design – well, that was game over and you didn’t want to have any dead lines in that moment!

Yes, there’s progress! We’re living in a blessed time where we are able to explore, experiment and create at our heart’s desire – until we are satisfied with the result, the product – and our clients are happy, too!

On a personal note: you may not have seen me blogging for a while… but this will change soon. This website will change as well… Just that the publishing of my book has priority right now and – believe me – I’ve been writing all the time :)  Time for Google to remember that I exist!

 

Web Design for Artists

Every Artist needs a Website

Having the very best website one can afford as an artist is by no means a luxury but an absolute necessity. If you want to be the master of your own destiny and live the freedom and independence a true artist cherishes and stands for, you must get used to seeing yourself as an enterprise that needs to brand itself and control its online presence, direction and reputation – and this despite your participation in group exhibitions, despite your contracts with galleries, and despite showing your art on multiple online art malls. Chances are that if you don’t do it, someone else will – and you may not like it. I’ll explain in a moment… The fact, however, is that the only way to avoid this is to take responsibility for yourself and direct the way you want to be seen and understood in the virtual world – meaning by other people, your fans, galleries and your potential buyers. It’s a matter of taking care of yourself and your own name.

Artist Website designed by Bianca Gubalke

Artists need websites that reflect the standard of their Artwork

If you are an artist and you want to sell your paintings, sculptures, music or other artwork – ask yourself: who do you want to attract?

Think about it: art collectors and buyers of art are usually pretty educated and informed as far as the art market is concerned. And they have money or know where to get it – otherwise they wouldn’t invest in Art. If you are a sculptor and you want to sell for instance a bronze animal sculpture – which comes with a certain price tag because the casting process itself is pretty costly already – you cannot afford to look cheap. Always visualize the message you’re sending out: does your image match your market? If not, you may well lose visitors and potential buyers because they expected something more sophisticated than that. Forget ‘free’ on the Internet; cheap is too expensive!

Conclusion: If you want to brand yourself as an artist you need a website that reflects the standard of your artwork.

 

Web Design by Bianca Gubalke

Any Artist wants his Art to be seen

While artists are keen on having as many people as possible visit their Art Exhibition in a gallery, they may not be familiar with search engine traffic (SEO) in the virtual world – but it’s essentially the same. We agree that a gallery needs a good location – meaning a place that is easily accessible, where there is safe parking close-by, or that is well positioned in an elegant shopping mall. And it has to have a good reach via its mailing list – meaning a list of people like collectors, journalists, critics, celebrities etc, who know and trust them in terms of the type of art they represent.

Well, the same applies for a good website: it needs to be easily found on Google, because Google is where people look for what they want to buy – one can easily regard it as the biggest shopping mall in the world. And if you are as most people are, you want to quickly and easily find what you’re looking for on page one on Google. . . you’d rarely take the time to look further – especially, if you find what you’re looking for. Your answers have to be on page one. Here and now! Pronto!

And guess what?

This is exactly where your oeuvre must be!

 

Artist Website designed by Bianca Gubalke

 

Leopard Hunting Guinea Fowls

Let me give you a simple example:

Imagine… you’re a sculptor as in this website we just completed for Richard J. Gunston. You’ve created a stunning sculpture in clay, and now you want to attract a buyer who’s looking for exactly that item, meaning that’s what he searches in Google. So he types “Leopard Hunting Guinea Fowls”. What you have to do is ensure that the article with your sculpture comes up on Google page one! How? Through original quality content in form of posts, articles with pictures, or a video you loaded on YouTube. Exactly this topic – meaning that same keyword string.

The bad news is: there are only 10 spots for such articles per page – the rest are paid Google Ads: top, right side and bottom. Meaning they cost you. Actually, they can cost you an arm and a leg. So yes – there’s a continuous race for those 10 hot spots. Companies pay literally thousands of U$ per month – yes, per month – to reach those positions in their niches and leave their competition behind. Think about it: if you sell 10 times more cars or shoes or books per month simply by being found – is it worth the price? Is it? It sure is! The fact is, everyone wants to be found… and most have something to sell – be it a product, a service or an ad – so you’re in fierce company… and it’s fun!

So how do you achieve this?

First, have a good and professionally designed website under your own name, and invest in good hosting. Based on your keywords, your website designer integrates hooks as part of the whole framework and setup that you normally don’t ‘see’. It’s an art. A science. For some, it’s even a passion…

Second – and this is important and helps you understand that it’s not enough to have your website designed and then think ‘…that’s it for the next five years!‘ No, no.

Besides the fact that a website has to be updated following latest technologies – normally every 2 to 3 years – a website has to be kept dynamic and alive by a blog on which good original content is regularly posted. Content in this case means articles and media (photos, audios, videos) about your work, exhibitions, concerts – whatever it may be. The big search engines like Google love fresh content and will help your website to come up through the ranks and move towards the real hot spot where you want your article to be found, namely where people would search for it on Google: Google Top 10.

Frankly, would you go any further if you were looking for something? Probably not!

Your successful competition probably not only runs a professional website but also places Google Ads. They might not have started out doing both as they may not have had the funds. But if you’re serious about your career as an artist and you want to keep control, then investing in having your own domain name, good hosting and a professionally designed website will pay off big time. It’s a process… it’s work… and it’s not happening overnight. However, not only are you building your own brand, name and reputation on the web – instead that of anyone else who invites you to host your content on their site (remember: it’s content that brings you up in Google.. so you want it to be your’s) – but by means of your Newletter you also build your own list of interested parties and potential customers who like your work, want to be invited to your exhibitions, and are interested in your development. THIS is your online business – take care of it in the very best way.

 

Artist Website designed by Bianca Gubalke

 

What does an Artist need for a professional online presence?

Let me give you the essentials as a short and sweet list:

  • Buy your own domain name. Preferably a .com.
  • Get good hosting.
  • Get a professional web designer to design your website based on your keywords and needs.
  • If you’ve got no time to write your own articles and learn how to edit and publish them in a Google efficient way, outsource this task to someone who has the knowledge and the skill.

TIP: A good web designer can help you with all of the above. For more information read my post Web Design for Authors – CLICK HERE.

If you are an artist, and you are ready to invest in a professional website created with the background knowledge of an artist – please get in touch with us.

© 2015 by Bianca Gubalke Design