Monthly Archives

March 2016


Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too)

Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too) • Little Gold Pixel

I deleted 1,500 email addresses off my list this week. AND IT FELT GOOD.

What? Am I crazy? Maybe. But maybe I’m crazy like a fox. Here’s why.

The Numbers Game

A lot of being an online business is numbers.

How many pageviews. How many social media followers. How many sales. How many people on your email list.

Generally, the more the better, right?

I used to subscribe to this mentality. It was a race to see how many people I could get to subscribe to my newsletter, which by the way is filled with curated links, a behind-the-scenes look from my perspective, awesome deals on items in my store and always — always — an exclusive free printable available for a limited time.

The number game isn’t as much of a challenge for me anymore. Last week I had nearly 7,000 subscribers. So why did my email only reach half of those people?

It became abundantly clear that my list was lugging around some dead weight.

Here are 3 reasons I decided to cut 1,500 people loose, and why you should, too, if your email list isn’t up to your standards.

Clicks Speak Volumes

At this point, I want people on my list who enjoy being there. Who look forward to opening up my emails and being part of the conversation.

The best part about sending out my newsletter is sifting through the responses afterward. It’s literally all worth it to know my words/art resonated with my readers.

A few examples from emails I received after my last broadcast:

“Thank you so much for taking the time to lift us all up.”
“Today it was as if you were speaking to me about my life.”

Having brag rights to thousands of email subscribers isn’t worth it if only a fraction are actually opening your hard-worked missives and clicking around.

But they all signed up! Surely they want my emails!

Maybe they just wanted your opt-in. Maybe they send newsletters to their spam folder to die. You won’t always know the reason your email went unopened, and it doesn’t really matter because they are not your audience.

Fans Over Followers

Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too) • Little Gold Pixel

I want to know who I’m talking to. Are you here because you’re a fan of my work? Because you want to keep up on the latest project I’m working on? Because you want design tips and tricks? Because you want to be the first in line for my next freebie or coupon?

Yes? Well, hi! I’m so excited to have fans like you.

Now I know what we can talk about.

See how that works? People unsubscribe or disengage if they aren’t interested in what you’re saying. Don’t try to win these people back. Cut these people loose! They are not your audience.

It’s Expensive to Be Vain

I do not know about you, but this is a small side business for me. I do not have a ton of extra money to invest in things that do not make sense.

I use ConvertKit (highly recommend, and that’s an affiliate link because I love them). The plans are super reasonable, but like all email services, the bigger your list, the bigger the price tag for your plan.

If you’re sending emails to people who aren’t opening them, you are wasting not only time but money. Cold hard cash.

I like to invest my money in things like design tools and fonts and watercolor paper so I can create pretty things for you. Not in ridiculous vanity numbers that do not mean anything.

If you need another analogy, think of it like this: For every deadweight subscriber you leave on your list, you are throwing coins in an empty well. You’ll never see that money again, and your wishes will NOT come true.

What Are You Waiting For? Cull That List!

In ConvertKit, it is as simple as setting up segments. You can send another email blast (I do, just in case) to allow your “cold subscribers” to opt back in to your newsletter if they’re still interested.  Here’s a ConvertKit step-by-step in how to do this. By doing this, I reconnected with about 300 people, some of whom said they didn’t realize that my newsletters were going into their spam folders by accident.

MailChimp recommends a similar process.

Another thing to consider, in addition to deleting inactive subscribers, is reworking your opt-ins to really grab your target audience. I plan to experiment with this next, and I’ll relay my findings next month.

One Last Thing

Finally, before you go, I’d love to get your thoughts on email lists: What keeps you engaged in a newsletter? Why do you sign up to begin with? How many newsletters do you actually read, and whose are your favorites? Could be small businesses, bloggers, large corporations, politicians, all of the above! Share in the comments.

Why I Deleted 1,500 Email Addresses (And Why You Should, Too) • Little Gold Pixel

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns • Little Gold Pixel

One of my favorite things about Easter is having hard-boiled eggs at my disposal for the foreseeable future.

You think I’m joking, but seriously, I love that. If I could eat one thing over and over again I’d pick eggs. Cadbury chocolate eggs first. Real eggs second. I’m just not the same if I do not eat an egg for breakfast. Talk to me on a day when I’ve instead eaten cereal and it’s like “Where is Vanessa? And who is this staggering, drooling zombie in her place?”

This is all to say that I’m giddy with excitement to boil those eggs tomorrow and decorate them with my family.

I plan to engage my Sharpie collection to draw some designs this year. Pinterest is teeming with ideas for Sharpie patterns, like so:

Here are eight patterns I’ve decided to try, keeping in mind that less is often more. I made PDFs of my patterns so I could print them out and use them as guides. As my Easter gift to you, I’ve included these PDFs at the bottom of this point. Feel free to print them out and wow your family with your made Easter egg marker skillz (yes, with a “z”).

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns

    At first I thought it needed to be uniform, but now I’m thinking the wilder the better!

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns • Little Gold Pixel

    Because hello! Easy, peasy. The challenge would be to attempt equidistance.

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns • Little Gold Pixel

    Some circles, some ovals.

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns • Little Gold Pixel

    Playing off the circle vibe above, only with trapezoids this time.

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns • Little Gold Pixel

    Because everything I do has to relate back to the ocean in some way.

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns • Little Gold Pixel

    I like the look of slightly askew lines in an otherwise perfect grid.

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns • Little Gold Pixel

    Or crosses, what have you.

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns • Little Gold Pixel

    Haha, I just like the inside joke of this pattern.

8 Free Easter Egg Sharpie Patterns • Little Gold Pixel



P.S. More Easter ideas: Other ways to decorate your eggs + Plan the Perfect Easter + Easter treat recipes + What to do with those hard-boiled eggs


Why BUY a Printable?

Why BUY a Printable When There Are So Many Freebies? & other FAQ • Little Gold Pixel

Why BUY a printable?

I’ve heard this question in various forms. Usually it’s not as blatant as all that. But the underlying supposition is the same: Why would I buy a printable when you give them away for free?

Oh boy, have I have been hesitant to write this post.

Why? Because I’m in the middle of launching my very own amazing shop. Because I’m worried that it’s an uphill battle to get people to see value in things. Because I know why, but maybe you don’t want to hear why. (Maybe this is my Jerry Maguire “memo” moment?)

But the questions keep coming up, so I think it’s time to address these concerns and hopefully put an end to them.

THE THINGS WE THINK AND DO NOT SAY (ahem, you complete me.)

Why BUY a Printable When There Are So Many Freebies? & other FAQ • Little Gold Pixel

FAQ: There are so many freebies online. Why would I buy a printable?

There are a lot of freebies in life, but that doesn’t mean that freebies should be the only thing in your life. Consider samples. In particular, shampoo samples. Shampoo companies don’t give away free samples out of the kindness of their hearts. They don’t expect that you’ll bathe yourself solely with free samples of shampoo for the rest of your life (although more power to you if that’s your path). No, they are simply giving you a sample of a product that they hope you’ll enjoy enough to pay for at full size.

I’m sure there are better analogies out there.

The point is: Yes, I give away some of my work on this site. Is it my best work? Ha! Not even close. Is it work I think most people would enjoy? Sure! Is it a way to get my name out there so that more people will know what I do and hire me for commissions/freelance and/or buy my premium work? Bingo, mister.

Why BUY a Printable When There Are So Many Freebies? & other FAQ • Little Gold Pixel

FAQ: OK, but buying a digital file is like buying air. What am I really paying for?

1. Artist’s Time/Effort

When you buy premium printables, you are paying for a combination of expertise, viewpoint and time. If you are looking at something and scoffing because you think you can do it better yourself, by all means — try.

“Modern art = I could do that + Yeah, but you didn’t.”
Craig Damrauer

I personally have paid a pretty penny for artwork that I could probably replicate if given enough time, but nah. It wasn’t my idea. Another artist thought of it first and/or more beautifully than I did, and I’m happy to compensate them for their creativity.

2. Flexibility

This file belongs to you now to use for your personal projects.

Which means you can print it out at various sizes. Typically the file is created at a certain size for optimal printing, but there’s nothing to stop you from blowing it up enormous if you want.

You could even print it out, cut it into little pieces and make a crazy collage.

You could color on it with metallic markers and experiment to your heart’s delight.

You could mount it on wood and give it as a gift to a friend.

Why? Because you can print it more than once.

How fun is that? You could even print it out, place it in a frame and hang it on your wall. If you’re traditional like that.

3. Customization Options

Most designers will change colors or add personal touches (like names, dates) for a small fee.

4. Freedom of Print Quality

I love buying giclee prints. I love high-quality paper. I will even pay a large sum of money to get a limited edition of an art print that really speaks to me.

But you know what? Sometimes regular old printer paper will do the trick for a piece of art you are going to change out after one season, and you have that freedom if you buy (for a relatively smaller price tag) a digital printable.

5. Love of the Art

And, finally, you should buy a digital printable because you love it.

Plain and simple.

The art speaks to you. It’s visceral. It’s illogical. It makes you laugh. It motivates you. It fills that perfect void along your staircase. Whatever the reason, it’s MEANT FOR YOU. So buy it already.

Why BUY a Printable When There Are So Many Freebies? & other FAQ • Little Gold Pixel

FAQ: I don’t have the money for a custom/premium printable. Will you create XXXXX for me for free?

No. My premium printables cost you a couple lattes from Starbucks. And my custom design services start at less than a meal for two at California Pizza Kitchen. In other words, totally doable for any wallet.

Questions, comments? Contact me here.

Free Geometric Line Art Printable

Free Geometric Line Art Printable • Little Gold Pixel

It just now occurred to me that tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m not sure whether I have a thread of green in my closet.

So, instead of green clothing, I present to you my geometric line art printable … in green!

I have been working on this design for a while now, so it kinda shocked me to notice that, even though abstract, the overall shape kinda-sorta resembles a shamrock. Squint realllllly hard. See?

Try not to get pinched.

Free Geometric Line Art Printable • Little Gold Pixel

Free Geometric Line Art Printable

Art is 8.5×11 high-res PDF. For personal use only. Contact me to purchase a commercial license. Play nice, yadda yadda yadda.

Free Geometric Line Art Printable • Little Gold Pixel

P.S. Plan the perfect St. Patrick’s Day!

Aloha Floral Hawaiian Art Printable / Freebie Fridays

Freebie Fridays • Little Gold Pixel

YES! Thank goodness it’s Freebie Friday!

Scroll down to download my new freebie, and scroll even further down to join in on the link party below. Here’s what I’m sharing today:

Aloha Floral Hawaiian Art Printable

Aloha Floral Hawaiian Art Printable / Freebie Fridays • Little Gold Pixel

This Friday’s piece is a companion to the free Hawaiian printable roundup I published the other day. Just can’t get that aloha spirit off my mind this week, it seems.

Did you know that planning a vacation is more beneficial to your well-being than actually going on vacation?

Clearly those researchers have never been to Hawaii.

Aloha Floral Hawaiian Art Printable / Freebie Fridays • Little Gold Pixel

Note: More color variations are available for purchase. Scroll down for details!

File is 8.5″x11″ PDF in horizontal. For personal use only. Do not sell or claim as your own. Give credit where it’s due. In other words, play nice.

Aloha Floral Hawaiian Art Printable / Freebie Fridays • Little Gold Pixel


Shop Little Gold Pixel

These color options are available in the store now!

Aloha Hawaii Floral Art Printable (cream & floral) • Little Gold Pixel •

Aloha Hawaii Floral Art Printable (blue) • Little Gold Pixel •

Aloha Hawaii Floral Art Printable (peach) • Little Gold Pixel •

P.S. Past Freebie Fridays here.

Aloha Hawaii Floral Art Printable • Little Gold Pixel • | With premium variations at

16 Free Hawaii Printables

Free Travel Art: Hawaii • Little Gold Pixel

Free Travel Art: Hawaii

When people tell you to go to your happy place, where do you go? For me, it’s Hawaii.

That island vibe, the gorgeous water, the idea of “aloha time,” aka “we’ll get there when we get there.”

The gallery wall above my desk is 99% Hawaii vibes, mostly personal photos from our trips. Want a Hawaiian-themed gallery wall but haven’t been to Hawaii? Well, I’ve got you covered.

This is the first in a new occasional series that will highlight free printables with a destination vibe. Want a New York themed wall? How about ________? Tell me your fave travel destination in the comments.

Hawaii Gallery Wall #1: Hangin’ at the Beach

I found a few of these gems at the New York Public Library digital collections site, where you can download smaller sizes directly. These aren’t going to be super great quality very large; I’d limit them to 3×5, 4×6 or 5×7 printouts. The good news is you can buy an art print directly from the library if you want it larger.

The Aloha ‘Oe sheet music cover reminds me of Hawaii, of course, but also of a certain scene from the film Lilo & Stitch. Fans of the movie will remember the tender/sad rendition Nani sings to Lilo when she thinks they’re going to be separated.

Free Travel Art: Hawaii • Little Gold Pixel

Hawaii Gallery Wall #1: Vacation Destination

Free Vintage Posters never disappoints with large files of retro travel posters. These are my two favorite. There are at least two more Hawaii posters; just search “hawaii” on the site to find them.

Free Travel Art: Hawaii • Little Gold Pixel

Hawaii Gallery Wall #1: Pineapples

And it wouldn’t be a Hawaii post without pineapples, tons and tons of pineapples.

If you’ve never had a DoleWhip from the pineapple farm on Oahu, you simply must try a copycat recipe now.

The middle image is from a stock image site that is all-pineapple-all-the-time. No joke! Go check it out!

Free Travel Art: Hawaii • Little Gold Pixel

P.S. Beach Movies I Could Live In & 12 Island I’m Dreaming About

P.P.S. I have lots of premium beach-themed art printables (starting at $4.99) at my store.

Open Book: What I’ve Been Reading

Book Reviews March 2016

This is an occasional series that chronicles my quest to read 80 books in 2016. Check out past reviews here. Let’s see how it went, shall we?

Book Reviews March 2016

How is it March already? I can’t believe that this is my first check-in.

Something interesting happened last month: I randomly read three memoirs in a row. Memoirs are not my usual cup of tea, so this is a big thing for me. Here’s to reading outside your comfort zone.

So far I’ve read 13 books. I’m one book behind schedule, according to Goodreads. Better get cracking.

(Do you follow me on Goodreads? You should!)

Gold Fame Citrus / Claire Vay Watkins

File under: Dystopian, California, hippies, environmentalism, creepy desert cults
Plot: In a water-deprived future, Luz and Ray squat in abandoned celebrity homes in L.A. and live a meager existence until they come across a baby and suddenly strive to find greener pastures.
Review: Beautifully written and thoroughly engaging. The last quarter left me a little high and dry. And thirsty, oh so thirsty. Still thinking about this one.
Rating: ★★★★☆

Summer Secrets / Jane Green

File under: Familial secrets, alcoholics, snoozefest
Plot: Completely uninteresting woman discovers family secrets.
Review: Honestly I couldn’t give you a fully informed review of this one because I was too busy drooling in my sleep while reading it.
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Dismantled / Jennifer McMahon

File under: Murder mystery, ghost stories, misguided art club
Plot: College friends do a bunch of stupid things and one of them ends up dead. A decade later eerie events bring the remaining friends together once more.
Review: I love Jennifer McMahon, but at first this wasn’t my favorite. As I read further, though, she hooked me. The ending couldn’t be creepier/more sad.
Rating: ★★★★☆

The Grownup / Gillian Flynn

File under: Short stories, hauntings, con artists
Plot: Con artist finds out she’s the mark.
Review: I really enjoy everything Gillian writes, and the amount of suspense is just right.
Rating: ★★★★☆

Almost Interesting / David Spade

File under: Memoir, SNL, childhood tales, only in Hollywood
Plot: David Spade’s life.
Review: It’s a rare book that makes me LOL when I’m listening to it on the 405. This one did just that. The in-depth behind-the-scenes stories from SNL were well drawn, as was Spade’s friendship with Chris Farley.
Rating: ★★★★☆

Wildflower / Drew Barrymore

File under: Memoir, childhood tales, comeback, only in Hollywood
Plot: Drew saps out about the moments in her life that were a big deal to her, taking great care not to dwell on the past.
Review: I love Drew. Who doesn’t? Hearing her tell these stories in her familiar Valley Girl accent was endearing, though I have a feeling I would’ve cringed if I had read some of these overly sappy stories on the page.
Rating: ★★★★☆

I Regret Nothing / Jen Lancaster

File under: Woes of a fortysomething
Plot: Jen makes a bucket list and sets out to accomplish it, often with silly results.
Review: Silly is the right word here because I didn’t find her hilarious in this book. I mean, the woman buys a tricycle and actually rides it in public.
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda / Becky Albertalli

File under: Coming of age, teen angst, LGBT
Plot: Gay teens have anonymous, hilarious and endearing email relationship while dealing with the ups and downs of high school.
Review: I loved everything about this. Everything rings true, from the characters to the situations to the high school play. One quibble: What a crappy title.
Rating: ★★★★★

Mislaid / Nell Zink

File under: Bizarre situations, dysfunctional families, LGBT, Southern
Plot: Gay man and lesbian marry, have children, split and all hell breaks loose.
Review: A good percentage of this is batshit crazy, and I love it. Even though it is a teensy bit hard to suspend your disbelief that two white people could pass themselves off as deceased black people (told you this was crazy).
Rating: ★★★★☆

The Girl With All the Gifts / M.R. Carey

File under: Post-apocalyptic, monster stories, feral children, run for your life
Plot: Melanie is a very special girl.
Review: Beautiful, sad, horrific and hopeful — it’s all here, in one extremely powerful story. Read it and weep.
Rating: ★★★★★

The 48 Laws of Power / Robert Greene

File under: Nonfiction, strategy, history, psychology
Plot: How to exert power over people, plus historical examples.
Review: I am ready to rule the world now.
Rating: ★★★★★

Days of Awe / Lauren Fox

File under: Midlife crisis, WTF
Plot: Woman apparently unravels after her friend’s accidental death and after her husband decides to leave her.
Review: I was rooting for the main character, for her to find her way. But hello! No character growth! What does the title of this book even mean!?
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dear Daughter / Elizabeth Little

File under: Murder mystery, familial secrets, celebutantes
Plot: Notorious celebutante convicted of killing her mother is released from jail because evidence was mishandled. She sets about finding the real killer.
Review: On the edge of my seat the whole time. Unfortunately, I fell off my seat and face-planted in the last few pages, much like the author did with the ending.
Rating: ★★★★☆

In a Nutshell

Three to read: The Girl With All the Gifts, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, The 48 Laws of Power

Three to pass: Summer Secrets, Days of Awe, I Regret Nothing

So there you have it. 13 down! 87 to go!

What have you been reading lately? I’m always on the lookout for a good book … do share recommendations in the comments. Have you read any of these books? Do you agree/disagree with my assessment?