It’s been more than three years since I started ArtsyCraftsyMom.com, and in that time, I ate blogging for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If someone wrote about best practices for marketing, blogging, or even fiction writing, I read it and applied it to my own work. The books links & resources I am sharing with you is the culmination of the absolute best of what I’ve loved over the years.
Resources we love and recommend
Below are tools, books, plugins, craft resources – everything that I totally love using & recommend.
5 Essentials in my Camera Kit
Canon EOS 7D Mark 2I recently upgraded to the Canon EOS 7D Mark after using a Canon 550D for thre years. Not only does the 7D shoot incredible pictures, but it also shoots really incredible HD video. It is an expensive camera, so if you are just getting started look first at purchasing something like the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 or even using the camera on your phone. Remember the best camera is the one that you have with you.
Canon 270EX II Speedlite Flash for Canon SLR CamerasI tend to shoot indoors a lot and with inadequate sunlight, this flash is my new best friend. It isUltra-compact, ultra-lightweight, high-performance flash unit that has Vertical bounce capability up to 90 degrees. This provides a wide range of picture-taking options. Its light bounces off the ceiling, filling the room with a warm glow that gives amazing effect.
Portable Table Top Product Photography Lighting Tent Kit My cousin bought this for me from the US and I love using this for my craft pics. It gives a clean white background and without shadows.
5 Books for Bloggers
I grew my own blog from having two visitors a week (my husband and my mom) into hosting more than two hundred thousandof visitors a month. Now clearly, these books will not be able to work blogging miracles. But maybe you feel like you are doing all the right things, and your blog just is not growing as fast as you would like. You are getting traffic, but those readers are not converting to fans. Grab the books mentioned below and you won’t regret it.
Do you want to earn an income doing what you love?
Social media update is an art that work on various networks and honestly, and if you are like me, juggling so many tasks that learning about what works and what doesn’t is just way to time-consuming and overwhelming. Right? I took the 1: 1 consultation with Prerna and then purchased her book – The Social Spread. It has massive content that can be easily customized. Never have to worry about what to update on facebook anymore – She has quotes, questions, engaging topics, Everything! That’s 120$ well spent.
Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community
With a blog, you have the opportunity to create a supportive and interactive community, and this book shares advice about how to go about building this community and reaching out to others. With Joy’s book, Blog Inc, I found the interviews of established bloggers to be the most inspirational aspect of the book. It gives a nice overview of blogging from the perspective of other bloggers. However, if you want to get more technical, I would recommend checking out Blogging Heroes and Clear Blogging. If you’re a beginner, you might also want to check out Blogging for Creatives. If you’re into changing your mindset, you can try Click Millionaires.
Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job
I quit my job of 13 years to become a Full-time blogger this month. HUGE decision for us considering that we still have big loans to pay off. But reading this book made me realize that this is my calling and passion 🙂
If you are a SAHM planning to take your blog to the next level or a part-time working- part time blogger, this book will help you take the right decision. As someone who never felt my day job was where I was supposed to be, this book affirmed that it is possible to have a job you love. Jon did a great job give steps and suggestions to help bridge the gap between the job you have now to the dream you love. Definitely a great read for anyone interested in a career/life change. Plus he is damn funny!! Go read 🙂
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
How many of us have struggled to come up with new ideas? It’s like every craft that I can think of, someone has already done it. That’s where the book Steal Like an Artist, comes in. It’s filled with new truths about creativity: Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring, the creative YOU will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination.
My 5 Absolute Favorite Plugins to use on your blog
Once you know how to install plugins, you will want to find some good ones. Everyone should install Yoast, Akismet, WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache& iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)
I also have the following
Social Warfare (referral link) is a premium plugin that puts social sharing icons at the end of posts and pages. It has a built in click-to-tweet feature and makes providing your Pinterest image and description super simple. It is worth the small cost. You can see this as scrolling share buttons on every post of mine.
Simple Social Icons allows you to add social media icons to your widgets in WordPress. It works great with Genesis. This is how I get the light gray social media icons in my sidebar. These are the cute little social icons you see in my header.
For the backend
WordPress SEO by Yoast makes it easy to enhance your SEO as you write your posts.
W3 Total Cache makes your site run faster and smoother by caching. Caching is basically keeping a copy of images and content that has already been seen so those things don’t have to be fetched from the server every time, which slows things down.
BJ Lazy Load helps speed up your site too by only loading images as the reader scrolls to see them instead of loading them all at once.
I started with blogger like everyone else back in 2009. It has been just a memoir of all the daily activities that I enjoyed doing with my daughter. In 2009, I decided to go pro and get serious about blogging. Moving from Blogger to WP was the best decision that I made. But I messed up the permalinks big time. I also realized that the old blog post titles were not really SEO friendly and it all became one big mess. I have the Redirection plugin that handles all my redirections without touching any code (htaccess)
5 Tools for Bloggers
E-junkie If you have written an e-book or produced some other digital product you want to make available to your readers, E-junkie makes it easy to sell online. It integrates easily with PayPal. Our book – Learn with Play: 150+ Ideas for Year-round Fun and Learning is on eJunkie
Shopify If you have a tangible product you would like to sell, Shopify is the service I would try first. It is an out-of-the-box solution to ecommerce. They do offer a free trial. (Please note, Shopify is not a service I have used personally, however, if I do delve into tangible products, it will be my first choice.)
Mad Mimi This is the email service provider I use to send our Newsletter and I highly recommend them. Their customer service is exceptional and Mad Mimi easy to use. If you have a question about anything, simply Live Chat or email them and they are happy to help. (They have a free account for those just getting started.)
Gimp Free image-editing software similar to Photoshop. It has an excellent choice if you want something a little more robust than online editors like PicMonkey or Canva. I also use Adobe Lightroom a lot.
Zoho Invoicing Zoho Invoice is an easy invoice software meant for small businesses and freelancers. It allows me to track payments online, generate invoices, automate payment reminders and track expenses. I love it. They have a free version & paid [2400rs per year]
5 Books for Handmade Sellers
So you want to start making money with the crafts that you make. These books are a great resource – whether its an online Etsy store, or a Facebook page or you want to sell items on your own blog, these books will help. From taking better photos, to A-Z of Etsy, I’ve listed them all.
1. The Crafters Guide to Taking Great Photos: The Best Techniques for Showcasing Your Handmade Creations by Heidi Adnum
2. Grow Your Handmade Business: How to Envision, Develop, and Sustain a Successful Creative Business by Kari Chapin
3. How to Show & Sell Your Crafts: How to Build Your Craft Business at Home, Online, and in the Marketplace by Torie Jayne
4.Etsy-preneurship: Everything You Need to Know to Turn Your Handmade Hobby into a Thriving Business by Jason Malinak
5. The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success by Jennifer Lee
5 Books for Crafting with Kids
I love being surrounded by books they help spark my creativity and give me fabulous new ideas to try. I have listed only the ones that I have purchased, loved & would want to buy for yourself. These books are what we refer to when I’m stuck for ideas or when I dream about creating my own craft book.
Make and Takes for Kids: 50 Crafts Throughout the Year
Highlighting the best of each month of the year, Make and Takes for Kids offers 50 projects to make with kids, each centered around an upcoming holiday or season.
Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors
55 playful experiments that encourage tinkering, curiosity, and creative thinking from the creator of Tinkerlab.com hands-on activities that explore art, science, and more. Ideal for children two and up
150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: Dive into a Bubbling Swamp World. Drum on an Outdoor Sound Wall. Explore the gooeyness of Glowing Slime.With the one-of-a-kind projects in 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids, your family will rediscover the spirit of imaginative play! These fun activities help develop your child’s creativity and skills–all without a screen in sight. Featuring step-by-step instructions and beautiful photographs, each budget-friendly project will keep your child entertained, engaged, and learning all day long
101 Kids Activities That Are the Bestest, Funnest Ever!: The Entertainment Solution for Parents, Relatives & Babysitters!
If you have small kids you’re going to want this book! It’s filled with many wonderful ideas that are easy to do and a lot of fun! Its from one of the most popular craft blogs and a big part of our Kid Blogger network.
Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids 175 Projects for Kids of All Ages to Create, Build, Design, Explore, and Share
Fun crafts for kids of all ages by the queen of crafts. I love the pictures & crafts. Makes for a great gift. TIP – Pick up your copy from a local second hand bookstore. I picked my copy from Blossoms.
5 Craft & Activity E-Books
Our new book Learn with Play: 150+ Ideas for Year-round Fun and Learning was launched this year and is jam packed with inspiration for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergartners. It’s a huge resource for parents, educators, and caregivers! Buy the eBook PDF Version
DISCOVER + PLAY + ENGAGE + LEARN Weekly Activity Plans. Includes 20 printable weeks of fun activities planned out for all the early years. The weekly plans are made to be printed off to hang on your fridge for a daily reminder. There are four eBooks of 5 weekly plans of activities each that are perfect for ages one through preschoolers. Fun ways to get the kids moving, work on fine motor, do arts and craft projects and have fun as a family! Each weekly plan includes a handy supply list and activities broken down to know exactly what to do in a simple sentence or two.Get your weekly activity plans here.
Sensory bins are a simple and inexpensive learning tool that can benefit all children. Whether you are interested in incorporating sensory bins into your home, classroom, preschool, Day Care, or homeschool, this guide will provide you the necessary knowledge and ideas to get started.
It includes idea lists, storage and money saving tips, information on using sensory bins with Sensory Processing Disorder, and helpful recipes.
Click here to view more details
This color rice ebook is an amazing resource with over 25 activity and craft ideas for toddlers featuring great photos, easy to follow instructions, a NO-FAIL color rice recipe PLUS each idea can easily be done at home!
35 Awesome Kinetic Sand Activities for Kids will show you just how versatile and fun kinetic sand can be to play with. This book focuses on simple, low preparation activities that encourage pretend play, creativity, fine motor skills, and finally, math and literacy learning.
Blog Planner that I use
2015/2016 MID-YEAR All-Inclusive Blogger, Calendar, & Menu Planner (full package)
79 page downloadable digital pdf file that includes the following:
My favorite Blog planner at absolutely affordable rates.
My favorite Craft Supplies to buy from the USA
Chalk Markers – HUGE MEGA 18 Color Pack Create Eye Catching Designs With These Premium Chalk Markers in This HUGE 18 COLOR Mega Pack. The Best Liquid Chalk Marker Money Can Buy!
Crayola Construction Paper, Assorted Colors, 240 Sheet (99-3200) Lots of great colors of quality construction paper for many different kinds of school & craft projects!
Sakura 24-Piece Koi Water Colors I love the vibrancy of the colors on this one and it’s an Amazon best seller.
Perler Fused Bead Tray 4000/Pkg-Fun Color 16 bright colors to make Perler fused bead projects.
Fibre Craft 300-Pack Sm’ART Parts, AssortedPoms/Chenille Stems/Googly Eyes
Pom poms, googly eyes and chenille stems, Assorted colors, Assorted sizes. We love the jumbo pack.
Infact I love all the jumbo packs – I have picked up Foam cutouts , sticker backing foam sheets, quality felt from the US. I have not found good quality ones in India still
Assorted Rainbow cupcake liners For unlimited fun.
Washi Tapes Washi Rainbow Sticky Paper Masking Adhesive tapes are so versatile and my daughter loves to craft with them. Comes in really handy for any quicky craft project 🙂
We have rainbow colors, spotted, chevron prints, back to school designs, oh! so many patterns and designs.
I am drooling over this one right now. Check out the amazing video
The 22-Pen Deluxe Set is the feature pack of the Chameleon Color Tones Product Line, giving you the full range of markers, plus a Detail and Toning pen.
Sharpie Paint Marker Medium Point Oil Based All 15 Color Set
These are not your ordinary sharpies. These are oil based ones . Use them on metals, leather, canvas, ceramic mugs.. LOVE them!
Wilton 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set
101 colorful plastic cookie cutters; deep blade for ease of use
Shapes for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, Christmas, even Super Bowl Sunday; complete alphabet for fun cookie messages. Great for cutting out cookies, sandwiches, all kinds of foods, into different shapes; fun for crafting too.