Super Mario Bros. Birthday!

My nephew’s Super Mario Bros. birthday party turned out great! Luckily my sister gave me a ton of creative freedom to do basically whatever I wanted. So, I made the cake (my first fondant cake EVER) and I designed the party favors (candy bars)! It was SO much fun, especially because I LOVE Super Mario Bros.!

The cake was such a hit. We had the party at Monkey Joe’s (one of those places with big blow-up jungle gyms for kids to climb around on) and there were even people from OTHER parties coming in to ours to check out the cake!

I had so much fun making the party favors too. My sister and I were looking around for party favors and we realized that they are so expensive! She saw some Mario candy bar wrappers for sale on Ebay, and I was like “I can do SO much better than that!” and of course immediately my head was racing with ideas. The final products were amazing. I had so much fun with them!

And the painting turned out pretty cool too. My sister already hung it up in my nephew’s room. The whole time I was visiting, whenever we were in his room, he’d look at the painting and get distracted and be like “Look, there’s goomba!” or “There’s the spikey guy. I wonder what he’s doing?” It was so cute!

Mario painting complete!

I finally finished my Mario painting for my nephew! I just did the final touches today – some coins, Bowser’s head on the castle, the bridge, the pink tree. Here are some pictures!

(Above) The final painting
(Above) World 1
Featuring Piranha plant, mushrooms, arrow sign, coins, and Goomba.
(Above) World 2 and World 3
World 2 (Desert world) featuring pyramid, palm trees, and spikeys.
World 3 (Ice world) featuring trees, penguin (I hate those guys!), coins, and a star coin.
(Above) World 8 – Bowser’s Castle
Featuring volcano, lava, and Bowser’s castle with Bowser’s head on it!

Mario painting – progress picture

Here’s what I have so far the Mario painting. I added all of the big things, like the tube, pyramid, trees, volcano, castle, etc.

I’m sooo tired… I think I’m done painting for the day. Wow this painting is taking a really long time! I hope I can get it done in time for my nephew’s birthday :-/ I’ll definitely have to work on it after work this week.

Mario painting – new concept

Okay, I changed my mind. I started to play the game because I wanted to see if it inspired any new ideas for the painting, and it did! I started thinking that it would be cool if I could include some of the desert world and ice world in the painting. Then I realized – I can make each hill be a different world! So I went and played through worlds 1 through 3, and I picked out all my favorite things from those worlds and incorporated them into my sketch. Then for the castle at the top, I copied a few things from world 8 (like lava, volcanoes, etc.). So it’s basically going to be composed of worlds 1-3 and 8.

Then I realized my canvas is really too small to fit everything I want to include (it’s only 10″ wide by 20″ high). At the art store, they were out of 12x24s, but they did have 15x30s. I thought that would be too expensive to ship, but I went to the UPS website and calculated it, and it turns out it’s like the same price as a 24″ painting! So, I went back to the art store and got a bunch of 15x30s. So this painting is going to be 15″ wide by 30″ high.

Anyways, here is my new sketch. There are so many details though – definitely different from most of my paintings. So, I hope I can make it look good. I do worry that it will look too cluttered. I guess I’ll see what happens.

Mario painting

My nephew’s 5th birthday is coming up, and he LOVES Mario so I’m going to attempt to paint him a Mario picture! I tried to get really creative with the layout… I was going to do a long horizontal one, but I felt like I didn’t have enough height. So then I thought about rotating the canvas so that it’s tall, and I came up with a pretty cool layout! Here’s the initial sketch.

The little man running is going to be Mario (I’ll make it actually look like him when I paint it). I want it to look cartoony, but I also want to use lots of shading and texture.

Hopefully I can get it done this weekend so I can send it in time for his birthday! I’m traveling to visit him but I don’t want to take it when I travel, I’m afraid I’ll damage it.

New painting – Finally Found Our Place

I got a burst of inspiration tonight… I wasn’t even planning on painting, was just going to veg out on the couch and read or something. But then I got an idea and I just had to go with it while it was fresh in my head.

I’m going to call this “Finally Found Our Place”. It’s about two owls who have been wandering around the dark black forest for so long together. Then they finally found a beautiful black tree with bright, colorful leaves. Now that they’ve found their place, they’ll stay there forever, because it makes them happy.

Started some new paintings

I usually just paint on the weekends, but lately my weekends have been so busy I haven’t been able to paint anything new for my etsy site! So I decided to do a little bit of painting tonight after work. I started by painting some yellow-orange backgrounds on 4 canvases. I had no idea what I was going to paint on them. Well I ended up doing a forest on one, and a pretty design on another, and the other two I haven’t worked on yet. I’m still thinking about becoming a tattoo artist, so these painting have been a great opportunity to practice. It’s not exactly like the real thing, but you have to be good at drawing, first and foremost. At least that is the way this makes more sense to me of course.

I also learned many different styles for me to paint with a Thailand tattoo guide, because it’s very complete and easy to understand for a beginner like me, although I’m still not sure if I’m more comfortable expressing my art and feelings with paint or ink.

However if I end up getting a tattoo I’m going to get the best tattoo removal cream that works amazing. My cousin used it when he got this first tattoo and didn’t liked it anymore.

I’m not completely sure about the pretty design one – it feels weird to me that it doesn’t have a focal point. It’s just a pattern. But, maybe I’m just not used to that. It’s probably good for me to do something a little different and uncomfortable every once in awhile!

Content marketing for SEO professionals

Content crucial for quality websites

Content informs, teaches, and builds relationships with an audience; it is crucial for a good website.  This SEO Reseller professional at the SEMNE event on Sept. 15, 2010, listened as Dianna Huff of DHCommunications spoke on how quality content increases a website’s search engine popularity.

Content marketing primer for SEO professionals

To enhance your online user base and give your customers what they want, you must be intimately engaged with your audience. Use these tips to improve your content, enhance its delivery, and strengthen your returns.

1. Budget Wisely
Content marketing isn’t cheap – whether you’re investing your own time and energy in its development, or you’re outsourcing the work, it has a very real cost of time and money. Throwing cash at the creation of new infographics or hiring videographers to put together YouTube clips that no one watches makes no sense, you better invest in generic or naked url SEO marketing.

Take a hard look at your analytics and put your money, time, and effort toward the strategies that are working. For a long time, I was investing too much time into Facebook and Twitter, assuming that because they were the largest social platforms, they were where I needed to be. It wasn’t until I looked carefully at my analytics that I realized most of my social media marketing traffic was coming from Pinterest – a platform I barely paid attention to.

Since switching more of my energy over to sharing content through Pinterest, my Pinterest followers have quadrupled (from 1,000 to 4,000), and the traffic visiting my site from Pinterest is now second only to Google search – that’s just in a matter of four months.

Investing my time and effort into Pinterest makes sense because there’s a clear payoff and the growth is significant. You’ll improve your marketing strategy if you can identify one or two angles that are currently working and focus on those, go read MyVenturePad to learn about Affiliate Institute from one of the better reviews.

2. Provide Clear Guidelines
Content shared through your blog and social channels is a direct reflection of your business. Whether you’re in charge of putting together your own content, or you have a team of people helping you out, you need to provide clear guidelines and expectations about the look, feel, and tone of the content you share.

Not only does this provide your customers with a strong understanding of who your business is and what you stand for, but it also helps your contractors deliver better content without as much back-and-forth.

13988087843. Set Goals
If you don’t know what you hope to achieve from content marketing, you’re never going to achieve it. After narrowing your focus to a few channels (for instance, your blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram), look at your current stats and analytics, and set goals. Come up with a vision for where you want those channels to be in a year – how many followers, how much traffic, and how much interaction. Then, break down your annual goal by coming up with monthly milestones.

Finally, determine what action items need to be completed daily and weekly to help you achieve your monthly and yearly goals. You can always adjust your goal-setting as needed, but vocalizing and writing down your goals is a sure step toward eventual success.

4. Stick to a Schedule
Customers appreciate consistency. Just like they like knowing who you are and what you stand for, they want to know when they can expect to see new content from you. Create a content schedule, and stick to it. This schedule might vary from channel to channel, and that’s okay. For instance, you might put out a new blog every Monday to send through your weekly customer newsletter. Then you might post Instagram images Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and new YouTube videos once a month on the 15th of the month.

If your content is high-quality, and if your customers are engaged, they’ll start looking forward to and counting on your new pieces. Just make sure your content is always geared to your audience and fulfilling a need they have – if you’re giving them something they can find everywhere else, they’ll go somewhere else to find it.

5. Adopt the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” Methodology
Constant self-promotion of paid products or services is tiresome. Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World,” emphasizes the importance of planning for the knock-out “right hook” – the content designed to result in sales – by placing it between a series of “jabs” – the content designed to build relationships with customers.

The idea is to create and share free, high-quality, customer-focused content that leaves your audience wanting more, and then to build anticipation for the release of a paid program or service that gives them what they’re looking for. It’s a methodology that requires customization and fine-tuning for your business, but if you adopt the strategy, it will pay off down the line.

Follow along with Dianna Huff’s slideshow.

“We are all publishers now”

  • DIY PR
  • WordPress
  • Social Media
  • User reviews

What drives content?

  • Social Media
  • Recommendations
  • Universal search
  • People looking for products/services

Website visitors have questions

  • Does this company offer what I’m looking for?
  • Can it solve my problem?
  • Who else has the company done business with?
  • Is there something I can show my team/boos?
  • What should I do next?

How do you help clients come up with content?

  • Think like a reporter; develop a beat.
  • Where do I get story ideas
  • Ask customers what they want and cater to them.
  • Create FAQs, How-to guides, product comparisons, blog posts
  • Look for themes that could be built from one-off variations on keywords
  • Study web analytics
  • Survey people
  • Study social media trends

Create reports, comparison charts, articles, how-to guides to convert people to your products and services.