♥ COOL UTILITIES

I thought I'd give you all a peek into my proverbial blog closet of Cool Tools & Utilities I use to put together a cohesive blog post. Some of these tools I just couldn't live without, others are totally fun and add style and panache to both your sidebar and blog posts. Still others are terrific if you have a business or are trying to sell your wares. If you have any Cool Tool suggestions I sure would love it if you left me a comment and a link to your great tool! I'd love this to be a growing list of the best tools on the web.

So, here we go!

1) Mr.Linky Follower Tool Since I've blogged about this tool many a time it must be obvious to all who read me that I LOVE it. I'm so thrilled to use a Follower Tool that I have confidence in. Now, if only everyone who comes to my blog would add themselves, hint, hint, lol. I recommend everyone adding this to their blogs to replace Google Friend Connect, which is being discontinued even for Blogger blogs! A FANTASTIC tool, better than any other replacement like Facebook or Twitter. Tell your followers the good news, THIS tool won't use your info or sell it to advertizers like the others! You can feel confident in it's integrity.

2) Photo/Picture Resizer A spectacular tool that nearly automatically resizes your pictures for the web, making them smaller in Megabits but not necessarily in actual dimensions. One can add borders & correct lighting mistakes and coloration problems too! This tool is my goto resizer for adding all my pictures to Etsy and the networks I've got my blog link in. Obviously it also works great for making your blog pictures the right size too, although I use the next tool for just that purpose...

3) Skitch This is an AMAZING tool for grabbing anything off the web you want. It allows you to take a picture of anything then change it's size, add font, erase things, add a border and add or change colors too, then upload it to get a URL for use in your blog posts. Unfortunately at the moment it's only for Mac users but on the website one can sign up to be notified when the Windows version will be coming out. This tool I just totally couldn't live without, for serious. I use it multiple times a day and for nearly every picture I put in my blog posts.

4) Pixlr Editing Tool I just found this wonderful tool! It's a great photo editing tool, like an easy to use PaintShopPro. It lets you pick whether you want to make a new image, upload an image from your computer or from a URL. Then you can change the background, add text etc. It's great for making buttons because unlike Skitch, with Pixir you can add layers of things and there's an erase tool to get rid of edges to show the layer underneath. There's even a smudge tool, just like PaintShop to eliminate those pesky mistakes in a photo! It's an online tool so you don't even have to download anything.

5) Picture Frame Maker This neat tool allows you to add a pretty frame around any picture. All you do is upload the picture you want to frame, pick the frame color, matting color and whether you want shadows or bevels in your frame and the width of your frame and matting then push GO! It spits out a new framed photo and you download it to your computer! Easy Peasy.

6) Mosaic Maker Would you like to make quadrated pictures using your own photos or search for appropriate photos from your Flickr account? You would? Well then THIS tool is for you! It makes beautiful mosaics with different number of quadrants, depending on your choices. I used it weekly when I was participating in Artmind's Flickr Favorites. She did a blog hop for a bunch of years and I found that making a mosaic weekly about how I was feeling artistically really helped center me and winnow out where I wanted to go that week with my art. If you'd like to see my mosaics just scroll down to my tag cloud and click here and you'll be able to see a bunch of my mosaics. (I used P.F.M. above to put a frame around my mosaic, btw.)

7) Color Picker This tool is indispensable when you need to see the possible colors that are available to use. It helps pick the color you need. It will give you the RGB numbers for the exact color you want or the 6 diget/letter # code that many blogs use for color coding stuff. A really basic and helpful tool.

8) My Live Signature Now THIS is so darn cool! I originally used this to make my signature that you see at the end of every post. You get to make your own signature for your blog and email, then you can use Pixir above to add any embellishments like the paintbrush I added or for a friend I added a quill pen with the ink bottle beside her name and the feather swooshing over her name. I don't know another tool that allows you to write on an angle in any font you like. If anyone knows of a tool to write angled I'd LOVE to add it to my tools, I've looked and looked!

9) Tagxedo Turns words -- famous speeches, news articles, slogans and themes, even your love letters into a visually stunning word cloud. I blogged about this tool just a week or so ago, obviously I am impressed with it. I love the idea of making a piece of word art for someone you love with just some serious thought and time put in to come up with the words to describe them. The rest is easy and FREE! All you then have to do is print it out in whatever size you choose and frame it for your loved one. What a great gift that costs very little money but shows your love so well.

10) Photo Fun This online tool adds any pictures you upload to interesting vignettes. For instance, I can put a piece of my art over a couch or chair, giving my visitors an idea of how my artwork will look in their house. But it's not just for artists. You can put your picture on billboards, New York Square's huge TV screen or even on money! The possibilities are endless.

11) Stopwatch This online tool measures the time it takes your blog to load. The site allows you to compare your load time with another blog too, almost like a race, lol. The site then gives you suggestions on how to improve your load time, like making pictures smaller, where to put certain code widgets in your sidebar so everything loads faster and it tells you if your blog's code is written correctly or has some mistakes, slowing down load time.

12) TinyPic Upload your pictures and get them resized plus get different HTML codes you can use in your blog posts. It's a free image and video hosting site and it's really easy to use.

13) My Free Copyright Free copyrighting site for your blog. This is so simple to use, you don't need to understand anything about copyrighting, just add your email address and your blog and every time you publish a new blog post they email you a copyright for that post. You also get a blog badge warning all who might steal that you are in fact copyrighted as the author of this blog and all it's contents thereof. Cool, huh?

14) Copyscape Similar to above, in that you can get a badge to advertise that you are copyrighted but this also allows you to search the web for your copyrighted products being illegally used! Isn't that just the coolest? Oh, and the little copyright banner comes in LOTS of colors and it's really thin, easily placed anywhere, not marring the look of your pretty blog. Defend your site with a free plagiarism warning banner! 

15) Anobii Add a bookshelf to your blog to show either what you read, or the books you recommend on your blog theme. I like this site for the pretty wooden bookshelf widget it offers. Good Reads below has other amazing widgets but it's bookshelf leaves something to be desired compared to Anobii. I use both sites' widgets.

16) GoodReads Similar to Anobii, you can add a widget to your blog, showing all your readers what you're reading etc. You can also get a widget from this site that allows you to show a badge of your reading goal for the year and how far you've gotten! You can add reviews and a mosaic of your favorite book covers and G.R. even has a quote-a-day widget where you get to choose your favorite quotes from their very long list (or add your own). I chose all art centered quotes!

17) HyperDictionary This dictionary helps you with definitions and there's a thesaurus to help pick synonyms and similar words. I love the thesaurus, it helps me sound smarter then I really am, lol. When I just cannot come up with another word for something this is my goto tool, it's easy to use and many a time I've found a synonym then clicked to find a synonym for that word and so on, until I have exactly the word I want to convey my meaning.

18) Random Number Generator (Use this to pick the winner in a giveaway, just number each participant, then go to the Generator, add the number from 1 to # of participants, press ENTER. Use Skitch to take a picture of the Random Number Generator with the numbers and winning number. Upload the image and put it in your blog post announcing the Giveaway Winner.)

19) Moo This is my goto place for ordering business cards, greeting cards and mini thank you tags, all for use in my art business. Moo.com allows you to put YOUR artwork or image choice on one side of your business card and then your particulars on the other! I also had mini card tags done so with each painting I sell I send a mini tag with "Thank You For Your Purchase" on one side and the title, artist and date of creation for each painting. You can use a different picture for each card for no extra cost! For serious!! They'll even send you a free trial set (with moo logo in the corner) designed in your own style so you can test them out. The quality of the business and other cards are extraordinary, VERY thick and satin finished paper. Go Here to see my own moo.com business cards (I have to order new ones, since I moved and have a new email etc.)

20) Original Fundraising Widget This is a neat tool for those of you who love to raise money for causes. (we have in Inspiration Avenue) It can be totally customized to make your fundraising widget look exactly the way you'd like it, like with a picture of the person/thing you're raising money for. It also allows you to manually add offline donations, unlike it's competitors. You can even use it to ask for donations for yourself or your blog, it doesn't have to be a charity. Oh, did I mention that it's free?

21) Aviary This is a great suite of photo editing tools. Once you sign up you get a choice of which app you want to use. I haven't explored this much but it's the only place I've found that could put text all the way around a square, on each side. Aviary has an Image Editor, Music Creator, Screen Capture, Audio Editor, Vector Editor, Image Markup, Effects Editor and a Swatch Editor! (I used the image editor Aviary calls Phoenix)

22) RaffleCopter This is a great app for when you do a giveaway, I hear others say that there's nothing better. I haven't used it personally since I haven't done a giveaway since learning recently about it. But, a giveaway is on the horizon and I totally intend to use it, it'll make collecting info so much easier.

23) Pic Monkey Once again, a photo editor. The great thing is you can try each of the editors I've mentioned here and choose your favorite! My friend who turned me onto PicMonkey says it's fabulous, I've gotta play a little. They each have their own great features and I find I use each of them for different things.

24) FotoJet This is a photo editor, collage maker and graphic design online creation tool.

So there you go! Those are the twenty-three tools I've come across in my two and a half years of blogging and trolling the web. If anyone has any more very cool tools they can't live without I REALLY want to hear from you! Come on... share with me, I showed you mine, you show me yours, Hehehe. 

See you all later.
Soon, K? Yes? GOOD!








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