Essential Keystrokes is…

where I share my favorite tips, tools, reviews and commentary on web design, marketing, blogging, new media and related topics. For more about this site and the voice behind it, check out my About page.


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Archive for Graphic Design


StockXpert Closing Its Doors

Posted by: Char | Comments (5)

StockXpert, one of my favorite resources for inexpensive yet high quality graphics for just about any design need you might have, is closing its doors this week. You can no longer purchase credits and any unused credits you may have need to be spent or transferred to iStockPhoto this week. According to the email – all StockXpert credits will be transferred on February 11. If you miss that date, you will still be able to transfer your credits anytime over the next 6 months, until August 11, 2010.

I am really sorry to see this great resource go.

Categories : Graphic Design
Comments (5)

Whether you are a web designer, print designer or web publisher (i.e. blogger), there is always a need for good quality eye candy to help convey your message, bring together your brand or just liven things up.

Many people are still under the impression that you can just google a term, look at the corresponding images and copy and paste the image you want (or worse yet,  hotlink the image) or that if you find an image on someone else’s site, you can just use it. But you really shouldn’t.

If you want to do things the RIGHT way, you need to do one of the following:

  1. take your own photos (be sure to get a model release if taking the photo of anyone other than yourself)
  2. use someone else’s image but link to your source giving them credit for the image
  3. download your image from a free image source (below) following their terms of use guidelines
  4. purchase your image from a royalty-free or rights managed image source (below)

There is no way the following list is comprehensive, however, these 27 sites are sources for free or inexpensive royalty free photos and illustrations that I have used and/or recommend. Read More→

Categories : Graphic Design
Comments (15)

Moo-velous Business Cards from

Posted by: Char | Comments (3)

Not one of my strongest post titles, but you will forgive me.

One of my goals this year is to help my website gain more popularity via online and offline methods. I am constantly mentioning the site to teachers, librarians, homeschooling parents, and friends who have young kids and needed a card I could give out that would give them a reason to visit the site. After hearing so many people singing the praises of, I checked them out. Since one of the things I wanted to do with the card is highlight activities on the website, I needed a double-sided card. With, no problem!

Moo allows you to pick up to 100 DIFFERENT designs for one side of the card for no additional cost. You can grab the images from your Flickr account, your own collection and a variety of other sources. This was the perfect solution. I chose 5 different printable activities from my site that would reduce well and set them up on the site. Then I designed a very simple card front using their interactive design interface.

The result:


One front design and 5 different backs all for a really reasonable price! For 100 cards (20 of each design), I only spent $20. You can’t beat that – especially for small businesses or for marketing your blog offline!

Last week I had to mail something to fellow designer, Randa Clay, and I decided to include one of my new business cards for (one of my other sites). After receiving her package, she sent me a tweet via Twitter that went like this:

Coming from Randa, the compliment means so much, but it also reinforces that putting the activities on the back created my desired result. Everyone I have given them to has also loved them – thanks to Moo!

If you have had fun making moo-velous cards with Moo, I’d love to see them! Leave me a link so I can check them out.

Unique Business Stationary

Comments (3)


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