Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Top Graphic Design Books - some for a penny!

I have 2 other posts that are of interest if you are a logo designer or graphic designer, or if you are simply interested in some very cool coffee table books:
I'd act quick on those 6 books if you are interested in any of them. There is a very limited quantity from the used booksellers. Some are classics!


Top Fonts for Graphic Designers

Don't miss a couple of new articles over at BonFX.com about fonts that I just published.
If you are looking for a logo designer or other graphic designer for any other service please contact me over at BonFX.com. You can also reach Mary at marybonneville.com.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

BonFX relaunches with freelance graphic design blog focus

I just relaunched BonFX at http://www.bonfx.com with a focus on freelance graphic design. I won't be using this venerable old blogger area anymore. It's been a fun ride, but I get to leave the kiddie park and go on the big coaster now.

The new site features a custom child theme I developed using the WordPress theme framework called Theme Hybrid. Hybrid provides a "skeleton" child theme which is essentially raw XHTML output, and a blank CSS filled with all the class names but no values. This has been extremely helpful, to understate it. Check out Theme Hybrid if you have a chance. You'll be glad you did.

I'm focusing the content on graphic design topics, which will include everything from objective resources to subjective evaluations and everything in between. Please stop by and subscribe to the RSS feed and leave some comments! The new site is still get spit polished as of this writing, but it's mostly done. Have a look!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

SEO Conclusions - Humorous to say the least!

I don't have time to elaborate much...perhaps sometime in the future! But here are the basics, backed up by several months of data starting from scratch.

1) Niches without a lot of competition work. For instance, I have handily cornered the market on "how to stretch pizza dough" with ONE article with ONE blog on blogspot. Do a search and be jealous of my results.

2) SEO is a lot of work if you are trying to the move the needle by means other than hard work.

3) Post real content about something you love in a niche that is not heavily competed in and you will be king.

4) Content, content, content. The more competition in your niche, the more content you need and the busier you will have to be on other blogs and sites and whatnot to get good inbound links.

5) When competition is thin, just a little bit of good content goes a LONG way. Again, weep at my "pizza" success.

6) Niche niche niche.

There it is. Use the Google external keyword tool, don't go after "ipod" or "lcd screens" and you should be on your way.

Oh, one more:

7) If your niche isn't a money maker like my example, forget making money from it. Theoretically, if you had the time and smarts and patience to find say 100 niches like my example, you could make several hundred a month.

One more more:

8) If you worked 80 hours a week for 6-9 months, I factor, you could make a couple grand a month.

The final last one more:

9) If you *really* want to make money, do#8 for a year, and then start selling information on how to do what you did. Then you can work from the beach sipping drinks that have little umbrellas in them.

Question for you now that you have 9 points to ponder:

Q) What is more fun than SEO?
a) sorting paper clips and detangling them
b) cleaning your junk drawer
c) painting a spiral oak bannister
d) walking 20 miles barefoot on pavement
e) all of the above

Hint: "e" is the correct answer. How did you do?

Question for you now that you passed the quiz with a 100%:

Q) Should you mess with SEO beyond the basics and focus on awesome content or should you read up on secret SEO techniques and copy content from random places and try to game the system in your favor?

I will leave you to figure that one out. However, for a limited time, I'm offering "the answer" for a special, today-only, limited-access, secret, private, amazing, one-time-only price of $495, woops $295, woops $34.95, woops I meant $9.95. But act now because once I take this offer down in 5 minutes, it will never be offered again....

(Note to self - take down this add in the year 2036, put in calendar)


Friday, April 17, 2009

SEO Experiments: Some conclusions

Some very clear conclusions can now be drawn from the various experiments we've run in the last few months. I'll be posting an article shortly that summarizes what I found out to be true. Very interesting, but not surprising...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Capital Good Group logos

Andy Posner of andyposner.org has highlighted some of our latest freelance graphic design work on his blog. He is getting ready to launch a community micro-finance endeavor, and we are doing branding and websites for him. We are targetting March 1.

Read about the logos and the ideas behind them.

We handled the logo, web design, and development, for andyposner.org as well, which is a multiblog website running on Expression Engine. If you haven't checked out Expression Engine for doing highly customized websites or blogs with a super easy backend UI and utterly easy and powerful develpment method, you need to check them out. Andy's site is a testament to how powerful and customizable Expression Engine is. As an HTML/CSS nut, it can't any easier to integrate your code the way you want into a template system. It simply doesn't change anything whatsoever, and you can work locally on the code and upload as a file to make development very easy.

Big Blog Discovery, relatively speaking

I just came across WordPress MU, or multiple users. It's pronounced "Em Yew" and not "mooo" like a cow. This is dangerous :)

We are moving ahead with the foundational concepts and tech work on a few "deep" blogs we'll be running longterm. I was looking for something in WordPress to mimic the native functionality in Expression Engine, where setting up multiples blogs with distinct feeds and templates was possible. I just discovered MU, which makes this very easy.

WordPress MU is the same basic platform used on WordPress.com. If you have a main site and would like to host "sub blogs" on your sub domains or other folders that feed into the pertinent info on your main domain, this could be extremely powerful.

In addition to the main blog which will feature important links and freshly written articles, I wanted to bring highly selective niche auto feeds to the overall value of the new blog(s). Auto feeds can of course be abused. But used correctly, they are a huge time saver and a great boon to anyone with a legitimate use for them. Legitimate, in my opinion, is simply anything other than spam blogs that create useless sites. But if you are in a niche, and nothing in that niche is optimized for SEO, and people in that niche are struggling to find information in that niche, well, auto blogging in the right context is very powerful.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

SEO Experiments: How to stretch pizza dough

Keep laughing. But man are we learning. We are in the SEO school of Trial By Inundation.

Our next experiment is about how to stretch pizza dough. The searches are less than a thousand a month, and very little specific results. It's funny to see what people type in Google. I like this one "pizza dough won't stretch" with a whoping 12 searches a month. I can almost see the frustrated pizza maker saying "Man, my dough won't stretch" and then a benevolent voice whispers, "Go ask Google" and the compliant chef pensively sits down and tells Google his pizza troubles...

Well, no optimized results for such an obscure search term, for sure. But I have been making pizza for 25 years or so, and can speak to the subject. If you are really bored, read on:

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Migrating to Wordpress

We are in the process of moving our Catholic News website, Bon Report to Wordpress from another CMS platform. Same goes for E-Ink Report, our e-ink news and blog review website. We follow up with a big explanation later...

New: Grain Mill Blog

One more I forgot to mention. This experiment is a deliberate attempt to be somewhere between a shallow or long tail blog and a deep blog. Snippets of articles, full articles, photos, etc.

More on why we chose this term for this experiment later. The other experiments, if you bother to look at them, aren't going to make a lot of sense. I can't help but chuckle if someone visits the "frog" blog mentioned earlier and scratches there head. I'll just kind of delight in that for the time being...

SEO Experiments continue...

We are currently trying about a dozen different strategies we've culled from some high-quality SEO sites and blog. Here are some of the latest experiments. Don't laugh. Well, don't laugh yet. It's difficult to weed through all the bad information on SEO. We have found, through copious amounts of surfing and reading, that there are no secrets to SEO, and that everything you need to know, to at the least get started and get started very well, is already out there. But, you have to know how to search and how to avoid reading useless articles and sales pitches. This is really the hard part - knowing what NOT to bother reading.

For sure, you don't need to buy anything. You don't need to join forums and ask questions and wait for answers. You just need to search around and be clever. Get your Sherlock hat out, find good SEO blogs (try for 10 minutes - not too hard), and start experimenting.

I have found that trial and error is the best way to learn this. It's diffuse and complex at first, to get your head around what SEO is and how it needs to be done "white hat", but it's not harder, but maybe just as hard, as your average college level class. Yeah, I think that's a good analogy.

So here are our new experiments. After this list, I have a homework assignment for you:

  • The Richest Americans
  • Frog Stuffed - I said, don't laugh, OK? If you laugh, it's only because you don't know why we chose this. No, I don't want stuffed frogs. But some numbers said I might want some, so maybe I will!
These are "shallow" or "long tail" experiments. We have a few ongoing "deep" blogs that we are in the process of redesigning, moving from Expression Engine to WordPress. That will be the subject of another post for sure!

New trend: One page web design

 There is a tad of ground swell around the idea of having a one page web design. One page web designs take advantage of the oft-misunderstood user behavior of scrolling. Let's face it now squarely: users scroll. They know what the mouse is. In the drive for "less mouse clicks", why not just GET RID of them? A one page web design does this.

We recently redesigned our freelance graphic design site, www.bonfx.com, into a one page web design. Everything you need to know is right there. There is absolutely no navigation. The user gets there and can see quite clearly that the only thing to do is...scroll down. In three gentle, single-finger mouse wheel movements, or slider bar grabs, the user has read all they need to know about BonFX. Shortly, we'll have the link to the new blogs hooked up, but that is not what people are initially landing on our site for.

We got started on this idea recently. We found two articles on the same day regarding one page website designs, and how successful they had been for their respective objectives:

...and also...

We've gotten quite a bit of curious traffic back to www.bonfx.com after commenting on both articles. There is definitely an interest. I say the less clicks the better. The less mouse and hand movement the better. It allows users to focus all their intention on your message, not on where your message might be.

It doesn't solve the problem for every type of website of course, but I think for many, many websites, including your standard brochure style website, this might be a good idea. We'll see - but for now I'm going to have fun working on one page web design projects! I have a few lined up already!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Very high rank for "Freelance Graphic Design" at bonfx.com

I just learned something interesting today. My main domain, bonfx.com, is listed in Google around 50 or so for "freelance graphic design" and "freelance graphic designer" and very highly in a few others. What's interesting is that I have never done anything whatsoever to accomplish this. The site for the last 4 years was 4 pages with very little copy, but it did have the term "freelance graphic designer" on the top of each page. 

So, as I go collecting info about SEO lately, and pondering this fact of where I'm listed through no intentional effort of mine, I discover page rank. I installed the Google Toolbar and went to bonfx.com and discovered it is a 4. I think that's pretty high for a static website, no blog, very little if any content. But, again, the key words are on top. My recent site redesign was SEO friendly, but still no optimized towards the keyword in question.

Well, the answer seems to be that the domain is 8yrs and 3mths old at this writing, and for that whole time, has been a "freelance graphic design" site.

My guess is that if I make any effort whatsoever to "rank up" on these terms, I could get in the top 10, maybe 20. I could probably easily run a blog for freelancers off of bonfx, of which their are many, but leap towards the head of the pack in short order...

Thoughts - anyone?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

SEO again

(NOTE: Great...tried to put some code examples in here and Blogger translates them all to actual working links and not examples that you can read. I'll have to read up on how to get Blogger to not "help" me format my posts!)

A new blog with 20+ articles, with analytics, adsense, and some Amazon product placements, took an hour to put together. The new blog is on white nose sleep machine products and info...but maybe I shouldn't be calling these blogs exactly. They are mini sites using a "shallow" technique to try and capture a search term that does not have a lot competition for it's specific phrase.

Now if I'm not mistaken, a high-quality link back to a blog has a good "A" tag name. The "A" tag is the "A" in the code:

So a quality link to, say, a freelance graphic designer might like this, in code:

That code, when in a live site, looks like the "white noise" link above. It references the keywords of the destination site. Therefore, a high quality link to a Freelance Graphic Designer would look just like the link in this sentence. The search engines like this because it validates, from another domain, that the site being linked to has something to do with those terms.

Well, before we take the plunge and start paying for SEOBook service, we are determined to learn some stuff ourselves. So we are going to keep at it and learn the "old school" way of trial and error. At least for a while.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Yet another SEO experiment

We are probably going to post 100 of these in the next few months! We have become completely intrigued. There are LOTS of books and programs and whatnots that say they will teach you how to optimize your site for search engines. But, the fact that there are SO many of them available has me thinking that this can't be that hard to figure out. The basic methods are all very straightforward, but implementing strategies really depends on site goal and the nature of your material. Therefore, it seems the only right way to do this, if we are going to do it all, is to jump in and try ourselves. 

Our newest experiment is about...the humble cast iron skillet. Again, we don't have time to explain why we are choosing this term. The term itself is kind of arbitrary, but the numbers behind the term, as revealed by Google Analytics, is what is more interesting. It's a niche, for sure. In fact, more of the posts we make in the next few weeks or months regarding SEO will likely be about niches. Our clients are usually smaller businesses with a need for niche marketing. In fact, WE need niche marketing! 

So, if you are interested what a "cast iron skillet" blog might look like, click away!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A few more SEO experiments...

We are trying a few more SEO experiments to see how the difference between "wide" and "deep" plays out in Google Analytics...

The three new contenders are:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SEO Experiment: "Warriors Book"

While our code for all our websites is standards compliant and very SEO friendly, having all that in place is only half the battle. The other half is having good content, keywords, and position in the marketplace. Now, there is a lot, I mean a LOT of information out there regarding how to increase search rankings for websites. The only way to really truly understand the difference between what works and what is hype, we are launching a series of SEO experiments to learn for ourselves.

Our first experimental blog is called "Warriors Book Review", a blog dedicated to the children's fiction series "Warriors" about cat clans and their lives. We'll post back results over time. Hopefully we'll learn something usefull!

The blog lives at warriors-book-review.blogspot.com.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Graphic Design Poetry, con't again...

From one happy customer...

"Doug Bonneville, as recently shown
into quite a designer, has grown.
making sites for the others,
(and even their brothers)
has finally fixed one of his own."

Check out www.watkinscabinet.com to visit the happy customer!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Watkins Cabinet website launched...

Well, it launched in December but I forgot to post it! Watkins Cabinet, at www.watkinscabinet.com, was an excercise in design restraint, use of grid, use of ajax, sifr, and a few other design processes to boring to post about. The result is a very clean, minimalist design. We are trending towards all things Swiss these days, having grown very bored with drop shadows, rounded corners, gratuitous CSS, grunge textures, and Photoshop filters.

On that note, we even find a strange appreciation for the ugliness (if you can call it that) of www.drudgereport.com, which has never really changed it's "design" since getting on the web 10 years ago. It's an eminently readable and usable site, according to many experts, but it's backed up by the fact that, love him or leave him, drudgereport.com has over 500 million hits a month. 

I think of drudgreport.com like a jeep with no doors, top, or maybe even muffler. Just raw news-moving power. The main content of the page is only 11k for HTML, and one graphic header of a few K. Other images are slurped in but they don't affect the HTML load time. We have two SEO and design experiments live, which will be filling up with content over the next few days. Bon Report, at www.bonreport.com, and E-Ink Report, at www.einkreport.com. Both are "drudge clones" in a very strong sense. We'll see how the experiment goes!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New BonFX website in the works

It's just a matter of days...Phase 1 of our new website will be up. What's interesting is our "all-in-one" homepage. Everything you really need will be right there on the front page! The only secondary page will be the new "Bon Blog" which is Phase 2. The new site will incorporate a list of services, portfolio, brief "about us". There really isn't much to say, so why make extra page clicks? We'll toss in a tad of JQuery for good measure to handle some eye-candy.

In the meantime, take a gander at the Bon Report, a new site for Catholic headlines.