Setting up a new business is painful! It is a new baby and it needs to be fed with time, money and creativity. I own other businesses and know that it takes a lot of work to get started, but just like childbirth you forget how painful it really is. Also, this is my first ever retail business from scratch. I wish I would have been blogging throughout the entire process, so that I could have shared all the lessons learned, but alas, I was too busy doing all the things you have to do, to take time to write about the process. So I will start today with the nifty thing I learned and then blog about my other experiences in setting up a retail business in later posts. I have titled this series Adventures in Small Business. So follow along and learn from my successes and failures.
As a little background, I did some research when deciding what type of web platform I wanted for my retail website. I was advised that a self-hosted WordPress site was where I should be because of the flexibility of the platform and the ever-expanding plugin options. WordPress allows you to keep your site fresh and modern and to not age out when the next big thing hits. I will write a post later about my WordPress experience.
I found a web-designer named Catherine Haugland from Avalon Rose Design http://www.theavalonrose.com/. Catherine’s sites are feminine and have a very vintage feel. I bought one of her pre-made templates (which are all gorgeous) and pestered her until she agreed how to figure out how to convert it to a WordPress site. She did it masterfully and didn’t even yell at me when I deleted my entire sidebar menu when I was messing around with the Appearance tabs in the WordPress Dashboard.
I asked Catherine to use some pictures I sent her a create a single image for use on my home page. She did a great job, but I have subsequently taken much better photos that I wanted to use, so I started searching for what free tools were available for creating a picture collage and turning it into a single image. Inserting photos one by one into a WordPress page is a little frustrating. I wish there was a drag and drop tool which allowed me to move images around the post. If there is a plugin that does this, I haven’t found it yet. I haven’t yet invested in Adobe Photoshop, but will do so in the future.
But that left me with a need for a free tool to doctor up my mediocre picture taking and the ability to create a single image collage. I searched and found Google Picasa. It requires that you download the software onto your hard drive. It downloaded within a couple of minutes. As soon I opened the program, it asked where I wanted it to gather photos from. I chose folders and files rather that my entire hard drive. It immediately began transporting all my photos into Picasa. This took a couple of minutes because I have a couple thousand photos. Here is what the screen looks like when it is ready for business:
To create a collage you need to highlight the album where you want to take your pictures from for your collage in the Library displayed on the left side of the screen. Then choose Create from the toolbar on the top of the screen and then choose Picture Collage in the drop-down menu. See here:
It immediately transports all the pictures in my album to the screen and builds a collage for me. However, I don’t want to use all the the pictures, so I will hover over the picture I want to remove and click on it once. I will then hit the Remove button located above the Collage. From here, I could also move the picture, rotate the picture or edit the picture. The software is very user-friendly and intuitive. See my instant collage here:
I decided on the three photos I wanted to use for my collage and now I need to move them around, re-size them and tilt them for a little style. By clicking on each photo a circular tool appears which allows me to do all three. I can also move pictures to the bottom or the top of the pile by right-clicking on the image. See here:
Next I wanted a border on my pictures. There are two options for doing this. 1. A plain white border (which was my choice) 2.Or one that looks like a familiar brand of instant camera. And voila – a collage is created!
I hope this tutorial was helpful. Here is the collage I actually did today for my homepage: