Improve Your Writing Skills

Want to know a secret? I have terrible grammar! I misspell words all the time, and I type so fast that sometimes I skip words altogether. And there is nothing more unprofessional than sending an email to a client and realizing a little too late that it’s filled with typos. So, for today’s tip, I’d like to tell you about a great tool I use every day to help improve my writing skills: Grammarly!

Grammarly is a top-rated writing software that you can use online through their web editor, as an extension on your browser, and through an app on your computer or your phone. I personally love the browser extension because it checks anything I’m doing online in real time. It helps me when I write emails, compose blog articles or post comments on social media.

Grammarly offers a free version, but the best features are only available through their Premium option. Here is a list of other benefits the Premium level offers:

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It not only corrects grammar and spelling, but it also checks for context and sentence structure.

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It explains grammar rules and provides you with examples to better understand them.

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It can help enhance your writing by suggesting replacements for overused, redundant or repetitive words.

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You can tell it what type of intent, audience, style, and emotion you want your writing to follow so it can make better suggestions.

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It has a plagiarism detector that checks your writing against 16 billion web pages.

Let’s face it, in any professional business excellent writing skills are essential so their Premium version would be worth the investment. If you want to learn more about this great tool, visit their site at grammarly.com

(Advertisement: BlackStone Studio is an affiliate partner for Grammarly.)

How to add an email signature to your Gmail Account

One of the most overlooked, yet easiest ways, to get your brand and contact information in front of customers is an email signature. Today’s tip will show you how to quickly add an email signature to your Gmail account.

1 Click on the Gear icon

It’s located at the top right side of the Gmail interface. Then click on the Settings tab.

2 Find the Signature Section

Under General, scroll down, and you’ll find the Signature section near the bottom of the page. 

3 Enter Your Information

Type in your contact information using the provided text editor. You can also format the text size, color, and style. 

4 Add your logo.

If BlackStone Studio designed your logo, then you already have the perfect logo image for this! I provide all my customers with a small signature-sized JPG of their logo.

5 Add Links

Don’t forget to add links to your text. Link to your email, website and social media accounts.

That’s it! When you are done, just click Save Changes at the bottom of the page. Now, if you really want to get creative with your signature, you can use an email signature template generator to help you.

Adding Text Over Photos

Are you familiar with the Preview app? Preview is the default application on Mac computers to view image files and most people don’t know that it comes with a few practical editing tools. You can use these tools to add text over your photos… here’s how:

1 Open the App

Open your photo in Preview.

2 Bring up the Toolbar

Go to the View menu, and select “Show Markup Toolbar”

3 Use the Text Tool

Click on the text tool (at the end of the toolbar) and then click on the photo to create your text! You can also adjust the font, color, and size. 

4 Save

Once you are satisfied with how your text looks, go to the File menu and click Save. However, if you don’t want to save over your original image, then click Duplicate instead and that will create a new file.

It’s that easy! And there’s more… you can add shapes in any color. You can change the opacity of a shape to make it see-through. You can also crop or resize your image! If you’re interested in learning how to do any of those things, just let me know with a comment below and I’ll post about them soon! 

Google Fonts

Have you ever heard of Google Fonts? If you are in the design world, I’m 100% sure you’ve known about them for a very long time, so today’s tip is not for you… It’s for solopreneurs who are not designers, but who sometimes have to take that role in their own business because that’s what solopreneures do—everything!

So here’s the thing, Google has a huge collection of fonts that you can preview online, use on your website or download to use on print projects…. wait for it…. for FREE!!! So how does it work? 

1 Go the Google Fonts Website

Go to fonts.google.com and start searching!

2 Select Fonts

Click the red plus sign of the font(s) you like.

3 Use Fonts On Your Projects

Click on the black selection bar on the bottom of the screen to use.

For Website Use: Copy the embed and CSS codes you’ll need for your website. Don’t know how to use these? Click on the Getting Started Guide link at the bottom and Google will give you some examples.

For Print Use: Click on the top right download icon (arrow pointing down) and the font file will save to your computer. Install the font, and you’ll be able to use it to create any type of print project!

Productivity… how do you find it?

Productivity… how do you find it? We live in a world full of distractions. Whether you work from home or at an office, there are days where it’s hard staying focused. Today’s tip is all about being more productive. Here are a few ways that work for me:

1 To-do Lists:

I’m a firm believer in lists. Breaking big goals into small tasks and putting them in writing (or typing them out) makes it easier to accomplish them.

2 Ambience:

Make your office a place that you love to work in. Clean up, organize, decorate, and play some awesome upbeat music. Your environment affects your mindset, and it can either distract or motivate you.

3 Take Breaks:

This is the hardest one for me to do. Sometimes you need to detach from what you are doing to refresh your mind. Things, like taking a quick walk, a short nap or even reading a book can boost your productivity when you go back to work.

So, how do you stay productive? Share your tips and experience in the comments below!

Google Color Picker Tool

So here’s a quick tip that is incredibly useful when trying to pick out a color for your website. Search “color picker tool” on Google, and you’ll get an excellent little tool right there on the browser!

Move the slider left to right and drag the white circle around until you find the exact color you want. This free tool gives you the Hex color code, the RGB values, the CMYK values and more! Easy peasy!!!

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