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Anyone who has maintained a blog for even a few months or more knows that there are frustrating times in the life of a blogger where growth seems to come to a complete standstill. The nature of blogging involves adding new content to the site and continually picking up new readers through that content. However, there are times when common measurements like visitors, pageviews, subscribers, and even income are extremely difficult to improve upon.

These blogging plateaus typically lead to frustration. In this post we'll look at some things that you can do when you're on one of those p
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lateaus to help make that push and get things moving forward again.
1. Focus on Actions Instead of Results
A lot of bloggers incorporate goals into their daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly routines. Goals can be highly effective because most bloggers are working on their own, and there's no boss or anyone else to keep them motivated. In this type of situation, goals can help by encouraging the blogger despite that lack of accountability to others.

Typical goals for a blogger might include:

Draw X,000 visitors in a month

Attract X,000 search engine visitors in a month

Make $X,000 in a month

While these goals can serve as motivation they don't show you what you need to do in order to achieve them. If you've hit a plateau one of the best things you can do is forget about statistics and results and focus instead on actions. Actions will be more relevant to you in this situation because if you set up good action goals they can show you exactly what you need to do in order to get better results, removing the mystery of where to focus your efforts.

For example, here is a set of action goals that you could use:

Create a list of 100 possible post topics, and then chose the top 10 ideas.

Write and publish 2 news posts each week.

Write guest posts for 2 different blogs in the niche.

Introduce yourself to 10 other bloggers in the niche.

Submit 1 post per week to 5 different social media sites.

While it may be things like number of visitors and number of subscribers that you are having trouble improving, by focusing on these specific actions you're likely to improve your blog, which will result in better numbers that help to get you off of that plateau.
Our friends at IconShock and WordPressThemeShock have designed a beautiful set of 10 icons especially for our blog readers. The icons can be download for free from Vandelay Premier. Please visit this page and use the promo code "iconshock" to get the icons for free. Each icon comes in PNG format, plus the original source Illustrator files are included.

Free Set of Web Designer's Icons
Email newsletters are an important marketing and communication tool for many businesses. The appearance of your newsletter can be enhanced with an attractive design, but having a custom design isn't the only option. Templates are available for newsletters, and many of them are provided by companies that manage mailing lists like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor. Those two providers market towards designers more than competitors like AWeber, so as a result they tend to have bette
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r quality and quantity of templates available.

Here is a look at some of the templates available.
MailChimp Templates:
These templates are free for use on paid accounts. Free accounts are limited to more basic templates.

newsletter templates
Restaurants that use their websites effectively are able to have a significant impact on their business. Whether it is allowing customers to view menus and specials, find a location, make reservations, sign up for a mailing list, or place an order online, there are a lot of ways that restaurants can benefit from a website.

National chains and small, local restaurants both have the potential for impact with their website, and in this post we'll showcase 25 well-designed websites for your inspiration. You'll see a lot of sites that make use of vibrant colors, and of course photos of t
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emping food. At the end of the post we'll also list a few options for creating a restaurant website, including some of the best templates and themes.

Mellow Mushroom

With so much competition out there, freelance designers are always looking for new ways to stand out from the crowd. Some designers have used free resources to build their reputation. While it may seem counterproductive to give away resources that you have created, there can be significant benefits that make it worth your time. In this post we'll take a look at 7 examples where giving away freebies has been beneficial to the business and career of designers.

Free resources like Photoshop brushes, textures, vectors, icons, and PSD files are in high demand because they can help
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designers to save time and create impressive results. Those who provide the free resources can also benefit from this interest even though they are not charging anything for the resources. The designer can benefit from added exposure and name recognition, from traffic to their site or blog (and possibly increased ad sales), and from the opportunity to promote their other products and services to these new visitors.

Let's take a look at some specific examples of designers who have helped the design community, and themselves, by distributing free resources.
Jay Hilgert
Jay Hilgert is a designer and blogger that has used freebies to boost his profile within the industry. Jay's blog Bittbox is one of the best resources for design freebies. Over the last several years Jay has distributed freebies such as Photoshop brushes, textures, vectors and fonts. Each week a new free texture pack is released, and the Bittbox Photoshop brushes are some of the most popular brush sets found anywhere (the watercolor brushes have been downloaded more than 1 million times). Currently, Bittbox release freebies from other designers as well, but Jay's freebies are what established the site's reputation.

As a result of the Bittbox freebies, Jay has a successful blog and is recognized as a creator of high-quality graphic design resources.

Designers love free icon sets. Having quality icons can help to make a site's design look complete, and can also help with the usability of the site. Social media icons are some of the most commonly used icons, especially in blog design.

Fortunately, there are a number of free sets of quality social media icons. In this post we'll feature 40 social media icon sets from various designers. Click on the links to be led to the source where the icons can be downloaded. As always when you are dealing with freebies, check the terms and conditions to be sure that you're using them in a way
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that is allowed by the designer.

ElegantThemes Social Media Icons

The web/graphic design community includes a huge number of active blogs that post articles, tutorials, inspiration, and other types of content. Design blogs are a part of the daily routine for many designers, but there are also several quality email newsletters that cover topics related to design and development.

In this post we'll highlight some of the best newsletters out there for designers. If you enjoy getting helpful information and news in your inbox, take a look at the newsletters on this list and see if there are any that are of interest to you.

Smashing Magazine
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Smashing Magazine not only runs the most popular blog for web designers, they also have an email newsletter that is published every two weeks. Their newsletter issues include industry news, inspiration, and links to useful websites and apps.

The things that can be accomplished with Photoshop are quite amazing. Designers who are skilled at photo manipulation can use their creativity to produce stunning results. In this post we'll feature 35 pieces of work from various designers, for your inspiration.

If you want to learn more about how to create your own photo manipulations please see:

30 Photo Manipulation Tutorials for Photoshop
30 Outstanding Tutorials for Photo Manipulation in Photoshop
25 Photoshop Tutorials for Photo Manipulations

Credit: Roberto Gamito
Buttons are an extremely common design element that are used by almost every website. Web buttons are critical for usability and navigation, and they can also be used to help direct the action of the user as you encourage them to add a product to a shopping cart, take a tour, get more information, or contact you.

Creating new buttons while keeping the same style can be very simple by using Photoshop's layer styles. In this post we'll take a quick look at how you can create your own button layer styles to save yourself some time.

You may have had situations in the pa
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st where you found yourself creating multiple buttons for a mockup and adding the same layer styles over and over again. Or you may have wanted to create a new button that matches the style of an existing button, but you can't remember the details of the layer effects that were used. Both of these situations could be made much easier if the button effects were saved as a layer style that could be re-used at any time.

Layer styles are a preset in Photoshop, like brushes, patterns, and custom shapes. Layer styles can be saved as an .asl file and then can be loaded at any time, or distributed with others working on the project.
Creating Button Styles
Let's start by creating a basic button in Photoshop.

Set the foreground color to #166ecc and the background color to #4495ee. Select the rounded rectangle tool with a radius of 10 pixels and draw a rectangle that is 250 pixels wide and 40 pixels high.

Every website needs quality, affordable hosting. We're happy to announce that our host, Eleven2, is offering a 20% discount for the first twelve months on new plans with the promo code "vandelay" (please continue reading for details)!

Several months ago we posted a few coupon codes that would save you some money on the first month of a hosting account with Eleven2, and a number of readers took advantage of that promo. That offer drew enough response that we thought that this deal is certainly worth mentioning. We use Eleven2 ourselves and we frequently recommend them to our c
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lients as well (we've written a more detailed review of Eleven2 if you are interested).

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Design Buzz is a community for all those involved in designing, developing and running websites, web mastering, etc. Here are featured new design trends, news and events, design articles, design software, webmaster tips and tricks, creative tutorials and hand-picked design stuff from all over the world.

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