Travel Jewelry Clutch Tutorial

Today’s contributor is Crystal from Stitched By Crystal. All posts written by Crystal for Make It and Love It can be found HERE.

. . . . .

Hi there! It is Crystal, here from Stitched by Crystal, with a fun tutorial to share!  I have some travel planned for this summer and I want to bring some of my jewelry along with ending up with lost earrings or tangled necklaces.  So, I came up with this simple travel jewelry clutch that will store everything I want to take on the trips and fold up neatly in my suitcase!

Travel Jewelry Clutch more tangled or lost jewelry! | via


This little travel jewelry clutch has room for all your jewelry for your vacation getaway, and it wraps up to a 9″ x 6″ clutch that ties shut to keep all your bling safely inside during travel while still being small enough to throw in your carry on!

Travel Jewelry Clutch more tangled or lost jewelry! | via


Up on top, there is room for 4 pairs of stud earrings on a leather strap and a padded ring strap that both snap in place.

Travel Jewelry Clutch more tangled or lost jewelry! | via


Then there is room for some necklaces, clasp them around the strap on top and tuck them in the pockets below…No more knotted necklaces!

Travel Jewelry Clutch more tangled or lost jewelry! | via


At the bottom, tuck your bracelets, dangle earrings, or larger jewelry pieces into the big clear pocket and zip it shut so they don’t go missing in your suitcase!

Travel Jewelry Clutch more tangled or lost jewelry! | via


Want to make a travel jewelry clutch?  Great! Let me show you how….

Travel Jewelry Clutch more tangled or lost jewelry! | via


You will need…

  • 1/4 yard or a fat quarter of your main fabric
  • 1/4 yard or a fat quarter of the lining fabric
  • 1/4 yard of fusible fleece
  • One 9″ zipper
  • 1/2 yard of single fold bias tape
  • 2.5 yards of double fold bias tape (1.5 yards for to finish the edge of your case and 1 yard for your tie closure)
  • A small scrap of leather
  • A small leather hole punch
  • 1/4 yard of clear vinyl (you can find this in the home decor fabric section at your craft store)
  • 2 snaps
  • A small bit of batting
  • Basic sewing supplies


Start by cutting your fabric.  You will need…

  • One 9″ x 17″ piece of each of your main fabric, lining fabric, and fusible fleece.
  • One 3″ x 7.5″ piece of the main fabric for the ring holder
  • Three 3.5″ x 9″ pieces for the necklace holder
  • One 1″ x 6.5″ piece of leather for the earring holder
  • One 9″ x 5″ piece of the vinyl


Using a cup as a guide, round the corners of all three of your 9″ x 17″ pieces as well as the 2 bottom corners of your vinyl.


Lay the vinyl on top of the zipper and baste it in place.  Then sew 9″ of single fold bias tape over top of the seam for a clean finish.  (**tip** When working with the vinyl, don’t use pins, they will leave holes.  Use small clips or clothes pins to keep everything in place instead)

Travel Jewelry Clutch more tangled or lost jewelry! | via

Position the vinyl on top of the lining piece, lining up the curves at the bottom corners.  Baste the vinyl on place 1/4″ from the edge and also along the top of the zipper.  Add the remaining 9″ of bias tape over the top edge of the zipper. Try to avoid having the little metal stopper on your zipper within 1/2″ of the edge of your case (you can see mine is right where I want to sew my bias tape on in a bit…oops!).  BUT, if it ends up too close to the edge, you can pull it off with a pair of pliers so you don’t break your needle on it later.  Position the zipper pull somewhere in the middle and trim off any extra zipper on the ends.


Next, the necklace holder.  Fold one of the 3.5″ x 9″ pieces in half, right side together, lining up the 9″ sides and sew along the edge with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Place the other two 3.5″ x 9″ pieces right sides together and sew along both 9″ sides with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Position the larger rectangle 1/2″ above the zipper pocket.  Sew along the sides and bottom edge to create a pocket, then stitch two lines to divide the pocket onto three smaller pockets as shown below.

Position the other piece 2″ above the pocket.  Sew it down on both sides, then sew two lines directly above the ones you made in the pocket as shown below.


With the leather punch, make 8 holes in the middle of your leather strip, leave room on the ends to sew the strip in place and add the snap later.


Create the padded ring strap by folding the 3″ x 7.5″ piece in half, right sides together, and sewing along the edge with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Press the seam open and center it on the strip.  Sew one end shut with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Turn the strip right side out.  Sew 1″ from the closed end, this is where you will add your snap.  Then lightly stuff the tube.  Stitch the tube shut 1.5″ from the open end.


Fold the raw edge of the ring holder in 1/2″.  Position the earring and ring holders at the top of the clutch, above the necklace holder.  Sew one end down with a box stitch as shown below.

Mark the placement of the snaps on and add those.  You may want to add a small piece of interfacing to the back where you place the snap for added stability.


Iron the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the main outer piece.  Place the main piece with the fleece and the lining piece wrong sides together and baste around the outside 1/4″ from the edge.  Stitch in between the bottom pocket and the necklace pockets and also between the ring and necklace holder as shown below.


Sew 1 yard of double fold bias tape shut along the open edge to create a tie for the clutch.  Find the center of the tie and line it up at the center of the middle panel on the outside of the clutch.  Stitch the tie in place along the lines you just stitched in the clutch on the previous step.


Add double fold bias tape to the outside edge of the clutch.  (Check out this post for tips on making and using bias tape!)


Fold up the case and tie it shut.  Trim the tie to your desired length and knot the ends.


The clutch is done! Now fill it up with jewelry for your next vacation!



Thanks for reading!




Check out Crystal’s blog here.  Her darling shop here.  Follow her on Instagram here.  And her Pinterest page here.


. . . . .

Now you’ll want some new jewelry pieces to carry in your fabulous jewelry clutch! Check out some of our favorite jewelry tutorials, get your craft on, and then get packing!

Easy Turquoise Earring Tutorial

Easy Turquoise Earring Tutorial | via Make It and Love It

Altering Used/New Jewelry……and making it your very own.

DIY Leather Cuffs from Old Belts

DIY Leather Cuffs...from old belts! | via Make It and Love It

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DIY Digital Piano Stand plus Bench (…a $25 project!!)

DIY Digital Piano Stand plus Bench

Growing up, we always had a piano in our house.  We all took turns taking lessons…..even though mine only lasted about 6 months because my teacher moved away (but I played other instruments, so it worked out).  I remember sitting down to the piano when I was bored and making up random melodies and singing dramatic lyrics along with the nonsensical plunking of each key.  I also remember trying to figure out sheet music on my own (since my teacher moved away) and then having pretend recitals, where I would curtsy at the end and relish in my pretend applause.  I mean, you guys, I was an incredible pianist in my own little dream world….haha!! 😉

Anyway — for the longest time, I have wanted to have a piano for my kids to begin plunking around on and possibly gaining an interest in taking lessons.  But every time I asked them, they always seemed very disinterested… I decided it wasn’t worth forcing them to do, and that we would just wait.  A few months ago, we started talking about playing musical instruments and I told them I played the trumpet from 4th-8th grade and sometimes I played the tuba, sousaphone, and was even the majorette in our little middle school band.  They thought that was so cool and started telling me all the instruments they wanted to play.  I told them that all sounded great…..but if they wanted to play an instrument, they had to take piano first.  So, FINALLY——–they told me they wanted to give piano a try. 🙂

I started looking around online for a used upright piano but just didn’t see anything that would work.  Plus, I wasn’t sure I wanted to move a huge old piano from someone else’s house into ours.  We’d have to rent a truck, hire a tuner, and then hopefully it would play well after all that effort.  So, instead, I started looking at full sized keyboards with weighted keys.  That way, it would feel and mostly sound like a regular piano and then transitioning to a piano wouldn’t be so awkward in the future.  And—–headphones!!!   But the thing is……the only space in our house for a keyboard is out in the main living room (which is also open to the kitchen/dining room and where we spend plenty of time), and I didn’t want to just plunk it in the middle of my furniture as is.  A standard upright piano is like a piece of pretty furniture, so when not in use, it’s still pleasant to look at.  But a keyboard is a little different.  Even though it’s totally fine sitting out, I really wanted to create something that was more like a pretty piece of furniture!

So we created this all wood Digital Piano Stand…..complete with a little bench!

DIY Digital Piano Stand and Bench (...a $25 project!!) | via


The stand is made from inexpensive pieces of pine and was put together in only a few hours.  It’s a quick project that makes me very happy to see sitting in our front Living Room.

DIY Digital Piano Stand and Bench (...a $25 project!!) | via


The design is more farm-style and was stained to look like old distressed wood.  The top of the table and the bench both have planks of wood across the top….and I love how that turned out!

DIY Digital Piano Stand and Bench (...a $25 project!!) | via


Oh, and that little bench was so fast to put together and could be used for so many things.  And actually, the stand could be heightened and used as a console table or even a sofa table…….if you don’t actually need a piano stand.

DIY Digital Piano Stand and Bench (...a $25 project!!) | via


The stand puts the keyboard at a nice piano height that is perfect for adults to sit and play comfortably…..but also works great for budding little musicians who want to learn to play! (P.S. Elli and Connor both love taking lessons so far, and have become obsessed with learning notes, finger placement, rhythm, etc! And I love that they can put headphones on and not only keep the noise level down for the rest of us, they also help them to stay focused and not get distracted by what’s going on around them.  And then every once in a while, I have them unplug and let me listen for accuracy.  LOVE those headphones! Oh, and THIS is the keyboard we have, which has weighted keys that feel more like a real piano.)

DIY Digital Piano Stand and Bench (...a $25 project!!) | via


Our stand and keyboard now sit along one wall, behind some chairs and it blends right in with what we have going on in this front room…….and I love it!

DIY Digital Piano Stand and Bench (...a $25 project!!) | via


And really, for about $25 IN LUMBER, this Digital Piano Stand really didn’t cost much to make!  But just think——you could paint this all one color, or make the stand and bench two different colors.  You could even use this in a bedroom as a homework desk, a makeup station, or even a project table.  So many reasons to love this little thing!

DIY Digital Piano Stand and Bench (...a $25 project!!) | via


Want to make one too??

FIRST OF ALL, we purchased our keyboard HERE, and love it!  So the dimensions below accommodate our Digital Piano, that has an overall measurement of 51 3/4 inches wide, 13 inches deep, and 3 3/4 inches tall (to the top of the keys).  If your keyboard is slightly different in size, make adjustments as needed.



Finish & Misc:

***The finished STAND measures approximately 26 3/4 inches tall, 54 1/2 inches wide, and 15 inches deep.

***The finished BENCH measures approximately 18 1/4 inches tall, 30 inches wide, and 14 1/2 inches deep.


Okay, let’s start with the piano stand.  To do so, you will make the two end sections first and then connect them together with 2 long pieces…’s a pretty basic construction.

So, to make each end piece, you need to cut 2 of your 2×4’s into 2 longer pieces that are 23 1/8 inches long and 2 shorter pieces that are 10 inches long.  Then you need one 2×2 piece that is 17 inches long and two 2×2 pieces that are 8 1/2 inches long each. (I’m only showing two 2×2 pieces in the image below, sorry for the confusion….I just hadn’t cut them down to size yet).



Then you need to to use your 2×4 pieces to create the main frame of this end section by laying the two longer pieces on their side and the shorter piece at the top to lay flat and then the bottom shorter piece to lay on its side, just like shown below.  The top horizontal piece is flush with the top of the side pieces, the lower horizontal piece is 2 1/8 inches from the bottom of the two side pieces.



But let me back up for a second…  To connect these pieces together, the easiest way to connect them is to drill holes with a Kreg Jig (which is such an amazing tool and now that we have one, we use it ALL THE TIME!!  It’s a great investment, that really doesn’t cost much at all!  You can find one at your local hardware store…..or you can find it HERE.)  The Kreg Jig gives you a PERFECT angle and drilled hole for combing wood together in so many scenarios….and will save you a whole lot of grief with getting things straight and secure.  GET ONE!



This is what you want on your two shorter 2×4’s……..on one side you want the holes drilled in far apart (to provide room for attaching some screws later on) and the other end, the holes can be closer together.



Now, go ahead and attach these pieces together (placing a thin layer of wood glue between), making sure that the 2×4’s are all laying flush on a flat surface and that the drill holes are facing upward on the upper piece…



….and that the drill holes on the lower piece or on the bottom side.



Drill your screws in place and then once you flip it over… holes will be seen!

Now, it’s time to add the “X” to the inside of this rectangle piece, with your 2×2’s.  Cut one piece down to 17 inches and then the other 2 pieces down to 8 1/2 inches.  Reference the image below for all the angles you’ll need to cut the ends of each piece to create the “X”.



Repeat the above steps to create another side piece that looks exactly the same, EXCEPT the top drill holes in the horizontal 2×4 mirror each other.  (Remember, it’s helpful to add a thin layer of wood glue between all joining wood pieces.)



Now, cut 2 more 2×4 pieces that are both 44 1/2 inches long.  Then place the two end pieces on their sides and attach the two long pieces along the inner edges, adding holes with your Kreg Jig, just like above (reference the arrows below).  The bottom 44 1/2 inch long piece piece is attached 5 1/2 inches from the bottom edge of the side pieces.



Then from this view, the holes are hidden.



Now, to create feet for the base, cut two 2×6’s down to 16 inches long and 4 1/2 inches wide.  Then, this is optional, but we decided to angle the top edge, to make it look a little more polished.



To attach the feet, turn the base upside down and then add another piece of wood as a support and then clamp the whole thing together, with the foot hanging over about 2 1/2 inches in the front and about 1/2 inch in the back.  Screw in place.



Next, I’m not sure how I didn’t get a picture of screwing the table top pieces together……but the top of the bench was created almost identically.  In fact, if I didn’t tell you that….you probably wouldn’t have noticed.  But the table top consists of two 2×6’s (54 1/2 inches long each) and then a 2×6 ripped down to 4 inches wide (that’s also 54 1/2 inches long)…..lined up together with the more narrow piece in the middle.  Use the Kreg Jig to drill holes and attach each of the pieces together…..creating one single table top piece.  The finished table top is 15 x 54 1/2 inches.



Then, place the table top right on top of the base, hanging over about 1 1/2 inches on the sides and about 1 inch along the front and back.  Then secure it in place by installing several screws from the top in several locations.


Okay, now onto the bench, which can be made for so many uses.

These are the wood pieces that you’ll be needing.  Screw into place….using the Kreg Jig when needed.



Then create the seat of the bench, just like the table top up above….but this time use a 2×4 down the middle…..making the finished width 14 1/2 inches.  And each piece needs to be cut down to 30 inches long.



Then, center the seat top onto the bench base and center it all the way around.  Screw in place from the top, right down into the base.

Okay, now that it’s all done…’s time to either paint or stain your stand and bench.  We chose to stain it with a combination of Minwax “Weathered Oak” and Provincial oil based stains…just like the Octagon Dining Room Table that we made a few months ago.

Once I got the color I wanted, I added 2 layers of this General Finishes, High Performance, Water Based, Satin finish……which works SO MUCH BETTER than the Minwax brand!

DIY Digital Piano Stand and Bench (...a $25 project!!) | via


And that’s it!!!

Hope it works well for you too!



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Free 3D PRINTABLE Summer Banner

Today’s contributor is Emma from Crafting{E}! All posts written by Emma for Make It and Love It, can be found HERE.

. . . . .

Hi everyone, it’s Emma from Crafting{E}! I am so excited to be sharing this adorable SUMMER banner today! Oh, and did I mention… this banner is printable… and it’s 3D? If you read my blog at all, you know I am a HUGE fan of banners and I especially love to design printable banners because they basically cost pennies.

Free 3D PRINTABLE Summer Banner | via Make It and Love It


I don’t know about you, but I am SO ready for school to be out for the summer. I am currently a sophomore in high school and this time of year is full of finals, AP tests and STRESS.
Free 3D PRINTABLE Summer Banner | via Make It and Love It


I originally made this banner for me to put in my room to give me motivation to finish strong in this last quarter of school. After having it in my room for a couple days I decided I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with you.

Free 3D PRINTABLE Summer Banner | via Make It and Love It


The colors are just so bright and happy and make me so pumped the long-anticipated summer vacation. The great thing about this banner is that you basically only need a printer to make it, they are SO cost effective.

Free 3D PRINTABLE Summer Banner | via Make It and Love It


It’s a little hard to see in the pictures, but the letters in the word “summer” are actually raised higher than the striped background to create a 3D effect. Do you guys love that as much as I do?

printable 3d summer banner (8)


I am so in love with it! What do you guys think? If you are interested in more FREE printable banners make sure to check out my blog… I even have an entire page on my site dedicated to banners. 

Okay, now on to the assembly process.


  • FREE printable banner sheets (a link can be found at the end of the materials list)
  • bakers twine or and other type of string
  • tape
  • hole puncher
  • 3D foam dimensional stickers or glue dots.


banner_3 copy



  • First print out the FREE printable banner sheets on white card stock.

printable 3d summer banner (1)


  • Next cut out the flags along the thin yellow line.

printable 3d summer banner (2)


  • Now, carefully cut out the letters from the printable banner sheet.

printable 3d summer banner (3)


  • Next, take each flag and place foam dimensional stickers on the letter part of the flag as shown in the picture.

printable 3d summer banner (4)


  • Then peel off the paper on the foam stickers and place the corresponding letter on top of the foam.

printable 3d summer banner (5)


  • Next, punch a hole in the upper corners of each flag and use bakers twine to string each flag together.

printable 3d summer banner (6)


  • Secure each flag with a piece of tape on the backside of the flag.

printable 3d summer banner (7)


Well, that’s it for today.

printable 3d summer banner (featured)


I hope you guys love this banner as much as I do! Make sure to check out my blog and also follow me on pinterest for more creative inspiration!


blog contributor Emma


. . . . .

I don’t know very many people who don’t LOVE summer, and we are no different here at Make It & Love It! Check out these fabulous ideas for making the most out of summer this year:

12 Ice Cream Crafts to keep your little ones busy.

Ice Cream Craft

25 Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids

25 Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids | via Make It and Love It

9 Refreshing Recipes to Keep You COOL this Summer!

Refreshing Recipes

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Announcing Keyword Explorer: Moz’s New Keyword Research Tool

Posted by randfish

A year ago, in April of 2015, I pitched a project internally at Moz to design and launch a keyword research tool, one of the few areas of SEO we’ve never comprehensively tried to serve. The pitch took effort and cajoling (the actual, internal pitch deck is available here), but eventually received approval, with one big challenge… We had to do it with a team already dedicated to the maintenance and development of our rankings collections and research tools. This project wouldn’t get additional staffing — we had to find a way to build it with only the spare bandwidth of this crew.

Sure, we didn’t have the biggest team, or the ability to work on the project free from our other obligations, but we had grit. We had passion. We wanted to prove ourselves to our fellow Mozzers and to our customers. We had pride. And we desperately wanted to build something that wasn’t just “good enough,” but was truly great. Today, I think we’ve done that.

Meet our new keyword research tool, Keyword Explorer:

If you want to skip hearing about it and just try it out, head on over. You can run 2 free searches/day without even logging in, another 5 with a free community account, and if you’re a Pro subscriber, you’ve already got access. For those who want to learn more, read on!

The 5 big, unique features of Keyword Explorer

Keyword Explorer (which we’ve taken to calling “KWE” for short) has lots of unique features, metrics, and functionality, but the biggest ones are pretty obvious and, we believe, highly useful:

  1. KWE takes you all the way through the keyword research process — from discovering keyword ideas to getting metrics to building a list, filtering the keywords on it, and prioritizing which ones to target based on the numbers that matter.
  2. KWE features metrics essential to the SEO process — two you’re familiar with — Volume and Difficulty — and three that are less familiar: Opportunity, Importance, and Potential. Opportunity estimates the relative CTR of the organic web results on a SERP. Importance is a metric you can modify to indicate a keyword that’s more or less critical to your campaign/project. And Potential is a combination of all the metrics built to help you prioritize a keyword list.
  3. Our volume score is the first volume estimation metric we know of that goes beyond what AdWords reports. We do that using Russ Jones’ volume bucket methodology and adding in anonymized clickstream data from ~1 million real searchers in the US. From there, Russ has built a model that predicts the search volume range a keyword is likely to have with ~95% accuracy.
  4. Keyword suggestions inside KWE come from almost all the sources we saw SEOs accessing manually in their research processes — Keyword Planner data, Google Suggest, Related Searches, other keywords that the ranking pages also ranked for, topic-modeling ideas, and keywords found from our clickstream data. All of these are available in KWE’s suggestions.
  5. Import and export functionality are strongly supported. If you’ve already got a list of keywords and just want KWE’s metrics, you can easily upload that to us and we’ll fetch them for you. If you like the KWE process and metrics, but have more you want to do in Excel, we support easy, powerful, fast exports. KWE is built with power users in mind, so go ahead and take advantage of the tool’s functionality however works best with your processes.

These five are only some of the time-saving, value-adding features in the tool, but they are, I think, enough to make it worthwhile to give Keyword Explorer a serious look.

A visual walkthrough

As an experiment, I’ve created a visual, slide-by-slide walkthrough of the tool. If you’d rather *see* vs. read the details, this format might be for you:

The Power of Moz’s Keyword Explorer from Rand Fishkin

And, for those of you who prefer video, we made a short, 2 minute demo of the tool in that format, too:

Of course, there’s a ton of nuance and complexity in a product like this, and given Moz’s dedication to transparency, you can find all of that detail in the more thorough explanation below.

Keyword Explorer’s metrics

KWE’s metrics are among the biggest data-driven advances we’ve made here at Moz, and a ton of credit for that goes to Dr. Pete Meyers and Mr. Russ Jones. Together, these two have crafted something extraordinary — unique metrics that we’ve always needed for SEO-based keyword research, but never had before. Those include:

Keyword volume ranges

Nearly every keyword research tool available uses a single source for volume data: Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner. We all know from studying it that the number AdWords provides is considerably off from reality, and last year, Moz’s Russ Jones was able to quantify those discrepancies in his blog post: Keyword Planner’s Dirty Secrets.

Since we know that Google’s numbers don’t actually have precision, but do indicate a bucket, we realized we could create ranges for volume and be significantly more accurate, more of the time. But, that’s not all… We also have access to anonymized clickstream data here at Moz, purchased through a third-party (we do NOT collect or use any of our own user data via, for example, the MozBar), that we were able to employ in our new volume ranges.

Using sampling, trend data, and the number of searchers and searches for a given keyword from the clickstream, combined with AdWords’ volume data, we produced a volume range that, in our research, showed ~95% accuracy with the true impression counts Google AdWords would report for a keyword whose ad showed during a full month.

We’re pretty excited about this model and the data it produces, but we know it’s not perfect yet. As our clickstream data grows, and our algorithm for volume improves, you should see more and more accurate ranges in the tool for a growing number of keywords. Today, we have volume data on ~500mm (half a billion) English-language search queries. But, you’ll still see plenty of “no data” volume scores in the tool as we can access considerably more terms and phrases for keyword suggestions (more on suggestion sources below).

NOTE: KWE uses volume data modeled on the quantity of searches in the US for a given term/phrase (global English is usually 1.5-3X those numbers). Thus, while the tool can search any Google domain in any country, the volume numbers will always be for US-volume. In the future, we hope to add volume data for other geos as well.

An upgraded, more accurate Keyword Difficulty score

The old Keyword Difficulty tool was one of Moz’s most popular (it’s still around for another month or so, but will be retired soon in favor of Keyword Explorer). But, we knew it had a lot of flaws in its scoring system. For Keyword Explorer, we invested a lot of energy in upgrading the model. Dr. Pete, Dr. Matt Peters, myself, and Russ had 50+ reply email threads back and forth analyzing graphs, suggesting tweaks, and tuning the new score. Eventually, we came up with a Keyword Difficulty metric that:

  • Has far more variation than the old model — you’ll see way more scores in the 20s and 30s as well as the 80s and 90s than the prior model, which put almost every keyword between 50–80.
  • Accounts for pages that haven’t yet been assigned a PA score by using the DA of the domain.
  • Employs a smarter, CTR-curve model to show when weaker pages are ranking higher and a page/site may not need as much link equity to rank.
  • Adjusts for a few domains (like Blogspot and WordPress) where DA is extremely high, but PA is often low and the inherited domain authority shouldn’t pass on as much weight to difficulty.
  • Concentrates on however many results appear on page 1, rather than the top 20 results.

This new scoring model matches better with my own intuition, and I think you’ll find it vastly more useful than the old model.

As you can see from one of my lists above (for Haiku Deck, whose board I joined this year), the difficulty ranges are considerably higher than in the past, and more representative of how relatively hard it would be to rank in the organic results for each of the queries.

A true Click-Through Rate Opportunity score

When you look at Google’s results, it’s pretty clear that some keywords are worthy of pursuit in the organic web results, and some are not. To date, no keyword research tool we know of has attempted to accurately quantify that, but it’s a huge part of determining the right terms and phrases to target.

Once we had access to clickstream data, we realized we could accurately estimate the percent of clicks on a given search result based on the SERP features that appeared. For example, a classic, “ten-blue-links” style search result had 100% of click traffic going to organic results. Put a block of 4 AdWords ads above it, though, and that dropped by ~15%. Add a knowledge graph to the right-hand side and another ~10% of clicks are drawn away.

It would be crazy to treat the prioritization of keywords with loads of SERP features and little CTR on the organic results the same as a keyword with few SERP features and tons of organic CTR, so we created a metric that accurately estimates Click-Through-Rate (CTR), called “Opportunity.”

The search above for “Keanu” has an instant answer, knowledge graph, news results, and images (further down). Hence, its Opportunity Score is a measly 37/100, which means our model estimates ~37% of clicks go to the organic results.

But, this search, for “best free powerpoint software” is one of those rare times Google is showing nothing but the classic 10 blue links. Hence, its Opportunity Score is 100/100.

If you’re prioritizing keywords to target, you need this data. Choosing keywords without it is like throwing darts with a blindfold on — someone’s gonna get hurt.

Importance scores you can modify

We asked a lot of SEOs about their keyword research process early in the design phases of Keyword Explorer and discovered pretty fast that almost everyone does the same thing. We put keyword suggestions from various sources into Excel, get metrics for all of them, and then assign some type of numeric representation to each keyword based on our intuition about how important it is to this particular campaign, or how well it will convert, or how much we know our client/boss/team desperately wants to rank for it.

That self-created score was then used to help weight the final decision for prioritizing which terms and phrases to target first. It makes sense. You have knowledge about keywords both subjective and objective that should influence the process. But it needs to do so in a consistent, numeric fashion that flows with the weighting of prioritization.

Hence, we’ve created a toggle-able “Importance” score in Keyword Explorer:

After you add keywords to a list, you’ll see the Importance score is, by default, set to 3/10. We chose this number to make it easy to increase a keyword’s importance by 3X and easy to bring it down to 1/3rd. As you modify the importance value, overall Keyword Potential (below) will change, and you can re-sort your list based on the inputs you’ve given.

For example, in my list above, I set “free slideshow software” to 2/10, because I know it won’t convert particularly well (the word “free” often does not). But, I also know that churches and religious organizations love Haiku Deck and find it hugely valuable, so I’ve bumped up the importance of “worship presentation software” to 9/10.

Keyword Potential

In order to prioritize keywords, you need a metric that combines all the others — volume, difficulty, opportunity, and importance — with a consistent, sensible algorithm that lets the best keywords rise to the top. In Keyword Explorer, that metric is “Potential.”

Sorting by Potential shows me keywords that have lots of search volume, relatively low difficulty, relatively high CTR opportunity, and uses my custom importance score to push the best keywords to the top. When you build a list in Keyword Explorer, this metric is invaluable for sorting the wheat from the chaff and identifying the terms and phrases with the most promise.

Keyword research & the list building process

Keyword Explorer is built around the idea that, starting from a single keyword search, you can identify suggestions that match your campaign’s goals and include them in your list until you’ve got a robust, comprehensive set of queries to target.

List building is easy — just select the keywords you like from the suggestions page and use the list selector in the top right corner (it scrolls down as you do) to add your chosen keywords to a list, or create a new list:

Once you’ve added keywords to a list, you can go to the lists page to see and compare your sets of keywords:

Each individual list will show you the distribution of metrics and data about the keywords in it via these helpful graphs:

The graphs show distributions of each metric, as well as a chart of SERP features to help illustrate which types of results are most common in the SERPs for the keywords on your list:

For example, you can see in my Rock & Grunge band keywords, there’s a lot of news results, videos, tweets, and a few star reviews, but no maps/local results, shopping ads, or sitelinks, which makes sense. Keyword Explorer is using country-level, non-personalized, non-geo-biased results, and so some SERPs won’t match perfectly to what you see in your local/logged-in results. In the future, we hope to enable even more granular location-based searches in the tool.

The lists themselves have a huge amount of flexibility. You can sort by any column, add, move, or delete in bulk, filter based on any metric, and export to CSV.

If your list gets stale, and you need to update the metrics and SERP features, it’s just a single click to re-gather all the data for every keyword on your list. I was particularly impressed with that feature; to me it’s one of the biggest time-savers in the application.

Keyword Explorer’s unique database of search terms & phrases

No keyword research tool would be complete without a massive database of search terms and phrases, and Keyword Explorer has just that. We started with a raw index of over 2 billion English keywords, then whittled that down to the ~500 million highest-quality ones (we collapsed lots of odd suggestions we found via iterative crawls of AdWords, autosuggest, related searches, Wikipedia titles, topic modeling extractions, SERPscape — via our acquisition last year — and more) into those we felt relatively confident had real volume).

Keyword Explorer’s suggestions corpus features six unique filters to get back ideas. We wanted to include all the types of keyword sources that SEOs normally have to visit many different tools to get, all in one place, to save time and frustration. You can see those filters at the top of the suggestions page:

The six filters are:

  1. Include a Mix of Sources
    • This is the default filter and will mix together results from all the others, as well as ideas crawled from Google Suggest (autocomplete) and Google’s Related Searches.
  2. Only Include Keywords With All of the Keyword Terms
    • This filter will show only suggestions that include all of the terms you’ve entered in the query. For example, if you entered “mustache wax” this filter would only show suggestions that contain both the word “mustache” and the word “wax.”
  3. Exclude Your Query Terms to Get Broader Ideas
    • This filter will show only suggestions that do not include your query terms. For example, if you entered “mustache wax,” suggestions might include “facial grooming products” or “beard oil” but nothing with either “mustache” or “wax.”
  4. Based on Closely Related Topics
    • This filter uses Moz’s topic modeling algorithm to extract terms and phrases we found on many web pages that also contained the query terms. For example, keywords like “hair gel” and “pomade” were found on many of the pages that had the words “mustache wax” and thus will appear in these suggestions.
  5. Based on Broadly Related Topics and Synonyms
    • This filter expands upon the topic modeling system above to include synonyms and more broadly related keywords for a more iterative extraction process and a wider set of keyword suggestions. If “Closely Related Topics” suggestions are too far afield for what you’re seeking, this filter often provides better results.
  6. Related to Keywords with Similar Results Pages
    • This filter looks at the pages that ranked highly for the query entered and then finds other search terms/phrases that also contained those pages. For example, many pages that ranked well for “mustache wax” also ranked well for searches like “beard care products” and “beard conditioner” and thus, those keywords would appear in this filter. We’re big fans of SEMRush here at Moz, and this filter type shows suggestions very similar to what you’d find using their competitive dataset.

Some of my favorite, unique suggestions come from the “closely related topics” filter, which uses that topic modeling algorithm and process. Until now, extracting topically related keywords required using something like Alchemy API or Stanford’s topic modeling software combined with a large content corpus, aka a royal pain in the butt. The KWE team, mostly thanks to Erin, built a suitably powerful English-language corpus, and you can see how well it works:

NOTE: Different filters will work better and worse on different types of keywords. For newly trending searches, topic modeling results are unlikely to be very good, and on longer tail searches, they’re not great either. But for head-of-demand-curve and single word concepts, topic modeling often shows really creative lexical relationships you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

SERPs Analysis

The final feature of Keyword Explorer I’ll cover here (there are lots of cool nooks and crannies I’ve left for you to find on your own) is the SERPs Analysis. We’ve broadened the ability of our SERP data to include all the features that often show up in Google’s results, so you’ll see a page much more representative of what’s actually in the keyword SERP:

Holy smack! There’s only 3 — yes, THREE — organic results on page one for the query “Disneyland.” The rest is sitelinks, tweets, a knowledge graph, news listings, images — it’s madness. But, it’s also well-represented in our SERPs Analysis. And, as you can see, the Opportunity score of “7” effectively represents just how little room there is for organic CTR.

Over time, we’ll be adding and supporting even more features on this page, and trying to grab more of the metrics that matter, too (for example, after Twitter pulled their tweet counts, we had to remove those from the product and are working on a way to get them back).

Yes, you can buy KWE separately (or get it as part of Moz Pro)

Keyword Explorer is the first product in Moz Pro to be available sold separately. It’s part of the efforts we’ve been making with tools like Moz Local, Followerwonk, and Moz Content to offer our software independently rather than forcing you to bundle if you’re only using one piece.

If you’re already a Moz Pro subscriber, you have access to Keyword Explorer right now! If you’re not a subscriber and want to try it out, you can run a few free queries per day (without list building functionality though). And, if you want to use Keyword Explorer on its own, you can buy it for $600/year or $1,800/year depending on your use.

The best part of Keyword Explorer — we’re going to build what you want

There’s lots to like in the new Keyword Explorer, but we also know it’s not complete. This is the first version, and it will certainly need upgrades and additions to reach its full potential. That’s why, in my opinion, the best part of Keyword Explorer is that, for the next 3–6 months, the team that built this product is keeping a big part of their bandwidth open to do nothing but make feature additions and upgrades that YOU need.

It was pretty amazing to have the team’s schedule for Q2 and Q3 of 2016 make the top priority “Keyword Explorer Upgrades & Iterations.” And, in order to take advantage of that bandwidth, we’d love to hear from you. We have dozens (maybe hundreds) of ideas internally of what we want to add next, but your feedback will be a huge part of that. Let us know through the comments below, by tweeting at me, or by sending an email to Rand at

A final note: I want to say a massive thanks to the Keyword Explorer team, who volunteered to take on much more than they bargained for when they agreed to work with me 🙂 Our fearless, overtime-investing, never-complaining engineers — Evan, Kenny, David, Erin, Tony, Jason, and Jim. One of the best designers I’ve ever worked with — Christine. Our amazingly on-top-of-everything product manager — Kiki. Our superhero-of-an-engineering-manager — Shawn. Our bug-catching SDETs — Uma and Gary. Our product marketing liaison — Brittani. And Russ & Dr. Pete, who helped with so many aspects of the product, metrics, and flow. You folks all took time away from your other projects and responsibilities to make this product a reality. Thank you.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Hacking Your Way to 5x Higher Organic Click-Through Rates (and Better Conversion Rates & Rankings, too)

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[Estimated read time: 13 minutes]

Last month we discussed why organic CTR is kind of a big deal. I believe that click-through rate is tremendously valuable and that achieving above-average CTRs can lead to better rankings, particularly on long tail queries.Hacking Your Way to 5x Higher Organic Click-Through Rates

But even if you don’t believe click-through rate can impact rankings, optimizing for a higher CTR still means you’re optimizing toward the goal of attracting more clicks. More clicks means more traffic and higher conversion rates — because if you can make people more worked up about your product/solution, that carries through to conversions, leads, and sales.

All great, important things!

So what the heck — why isn’t every SEO obsessed with raising organic click-through rates like myself and many other PPC marketers are?

Image of a unicorn on a purple background. "Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then be a unicorn."

Why isn’t CTR optimization a bigger deal in organic search today?

For starters, it’s ridiculously hard to tell what your organic CTR is for a keyword. Thanks, Google.

In the Search Analytics section of the Search Console, Google only gives you a sampling of 1,000 queries. Because you only have access to a sample of keywords, you can’t arbitrarily find out a CTR for any individual keywords.

It’s much easier to find our your CTR in paid search with AdWords. You can type in any word and find out what your CTR is for that word.

Another challenge preventing CTR from being a bigger deal today is Google Analytics, which hasn’t provided keywords to us for years. You can figure out the number of impressions and clicks for your top 1,000 pages, but the limited query data (1 percent of total) is a killer. It might be easy to see your CTR data, but it’s hard to know whether what you can see is good or not.

Also, many people just don’t realize how much leverage there is in increasing CTR. Donkey headlines (bottom 10%) tend to do around 3x worse than average, whereas unicorn headlines (top 10%) tend to do around 2x better than average. By converting donkeys to unicorns, you might not realize that by boosting your CTR could increase clicks to your site by 5x.

And one final important point (and yet another reason to kill your donkeys!): low CTRs typically also lead to low conversion rates — this is true for both organic and paid search. You can easily test this out yourself by analyzing your own website data.

Search Query Data for Organic SEO

Conversion Rate vs. CTR for one of my customers.

Introducing Larry’s High CTR Pyramid Scheme

Let’s look at a graph that shows the click-through rate by rank for my 1,000 keywords obtained through Google Search Console:

CTR vs. Ranking

The blue curve shows the CTRs on average for any given spot for all keywords. But that’s an average. An average includes all the top performers (unicorns) as well as the worst performers (donkeys).

There is considerable variance here.

  • The top 10 percent (the unicorns) have CTRs that are more than double the average (~55 percent vs. ~27 percent in first position).
  • The bottom 10 percent (the donkeys) have organic CTRs that are three times lower than average (~27 percent vs. ~8 percent in first position).

This is such a great opportunity. But it’s hard to realize just how great your CTR can be.

You can increase clicks by as much as 5x or even 6x by identifying your crappiest keyword donkeys and making them into high CTR headline unicorns, rather than stupid “optimized” title tag formulas — like:

Main Keyword, Long-Tail Keyword Variation 1, Long-Tail Keyword Variation 2.

This is a title tag optimization formula from ancient times — we’re talking B.H. (Before Hummingbird). This is no longer necessary because Google is now much better at inferring query intent.

Welcome to the new world. To help you adapt, I’ve developed a repeatable SEO workflow to turn your donkeys into unicorns.

Behold! It’s Larry’s High CTR Pyramid Scheme! Here’s how it works.

Detecting your donkeys

Donkeys versus Unicorns: Image of a donkey and a unicorn.

This whole process starts by finding your underperforming content donkeys using another of my hacks — Larry’s Donkey Detection Algorithm. Download all of your query data from the Search Console or Google Analytics. Next, graph CTR vs. Average Position for the queries you rank for organically and add a trend line, like this:

Organic Search Query Data - CTR vs. Ranking

The red line here is your average click through rate.

You want to focus ONLY on the keywords at very bottom of your curve. You don’t want to turn any of your unicorns into donkeys. You only want to turn your donkeys into unicorns!

Now you can sort by secondary metrics, such as conversion rates, if that’s what you care most about. Which of those donkeys have the highest conversion rates? Focus on these first because when you’re able to turn that page into a traffic unicorn, it will also convert more!

If you care most about engagement, then you can filter by that metric. If you can improve the CTR of this page, then you can be reasonably confident that more people will engage with your content.

Your content is a diamond in the rough — or a great book with a terrible cover. Now is the time to polish your diamond and help it become exceptional.

Warning: Don’t go crazy reoptimizing your title

"I'm a unicorn": Screenshot of Ralph with an ice cream cone on his forehead from The Simpsons TV show.

Image courtesy of Fox

This is important. You shouldn’t change the title tag over and over every week because this will cause problems in your quest for a magical cure to your donkey blues.

For one, Google will think your title is being dynamically populated. For another, you’re just guessing, which is probably why you have this CTR issue.

Also, multiple changes will make it hard to get a good reading on why the CTR changed. Is it due to the title tag change or is it something else entirely (a SERP change, a competitor change, seasonality, etc.)? If you keep changing it, you won’t have enough statistically significant data to make a data-driven decision.

Additionally, your ranking position could change, which would also further screw up things.

Bottom line: Don’t just go and change titles willy-nilly.

We can make a unicorn — we have the technology!

"Be a unicorn in a sea of donkeys!" A pink unicorn among dozens of gray donkeys.

To improve your organic click-through rate, you’ll need to collect some data. You can do this by creating ads on Google AdWords for no more than $50.

You’re going to create an ad pointing to the page you’re reoptimizing using 10 different headlines. The reason you need 10 headlines is so you can discover your statistical unicorn, the headline with a CTR that stands above the rest in the top 10 percent.

Think of it like a lottery where the odds of winning are 1 in 10. Your odds of winning are much greater if you buy 10 lottery tickets instead of just one, right?

You can absolutely create more headlines; 10 is just the minimum. If you really want to do this well, writing 12, 13, or 14 headlines dramatically increases the odds that you’ll find a unicorn.

Don’t half-ass your new headlines

"Old Man Yells At Cloud" newspaper headline; clip from The Simpsons TV show.

Image courtesy of Fox

I can’t stress this enough: You really have to try out different headlines. It can’t be the same headline, just with insignificant little changes (e.g., commas in different places, different punctuation, upper case vs. lower case).

Pop quiz: How many headlines do you count here?

  • 1. How to Write a Book Fast
  • 2. How to Write a Book FAST
  • 3. How to Write a Book…FAST
  • 4. How To Write A Book…Fast!
  • 5. How to write a book, fast.

Did you say 5?


No, the answer is 1.

These aren’t different headlines. They’re just different punctuations and capitalizations.

You have to REALLY change the headlines.

Write your headlines using different personas. Who is the person speaking to the reader? Is it the bearer of bad news? The hero? The villain? The comedian? The feel-good friend?

Also change emotional trigger in your headlines. You can use emotional drivers like amusement, surprise, happiness, hope, or excitement:

Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions: The top 10 emotional drivers.

Source: Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions

Other emotions include anger, disgust, affirmation, and fear. All four of these can become huge winners.

Vary your headlines. Get super creative!

What keywords should you choose?

Add the keywords that you were hoping to appear for when you created the content, along with keywords you’re currently ranking for using query data from Google Analytics. Set those keywords to the broad match keyword match type.

Broad match is the default keyword match type and reaches the widest audience. It makes your ad eligible to appear whenever a user’s search query includes any word in your key phrase, in any order, and any syllables.

For example, if you use broad match on “luxury car,” your ad might be displayed if a user types “luxury cars,” “fast cars,” “luxury apartments,” or even “expensive vehicles,” which doesn’t include any of the terms in your keyword. Broad match will, in a way, act like RankBrain does — testing your headlines against a diverse set of queries, including related terms.

It’s a perfect keyword sample set.

10 awesome tips to help you write outstanding headlines

Ultimately, you want to think about three things when writing your ads: your target customer; the persona you want to use to speak to them; and what emotionally-charged words you can use to incite action.

Steve Rayson of BuzzSumo recently shared some great research on the five elements of viral headlines. Here’s what your headlines need to have:

  • Emotional Hook: This could be a certain emotional word or superlative — words like: amazing, unbelievable, shocking, disgusting, or inspiring.
  • Content Type: This tells the reader exactly what your content is — is your content images, quotes, pictures, or facts?
  • Topic: Think of this as your keyword — it could be something evergreen like “content marketing” or more news-oriented like a Google algorithm update or SERP test.
  • Format: This sets the expectation of the format your content will be in, whether it’s a listicle, quiz, ebook, or something else.
  • Promise Element: The reader benefit — tell the reader why your content will solve a problem, make them smarter or better at something, or that it provides vital information they need to know.

Here are five additional tips:

  • Choose your words wisely: Go either extremely positive (e.g., best, greatest, biggest) or negative (e.g., stop, avoid, don’t) with your headline word choices.
  • Be specific: Make it clear to the reader what your content is about.
  • Be unique: Show some personality. Create content that nobody else is doing (or improve on what others have already done). Dare to be different from your competitors.
  • Create a sense of urgency: What will the reader learn, lose, fail at, or miss out on it they don’t click right now?
  • Be useful: How does clicking on your content benefit the reader?

So let’s go back to our earlier headline example, How to Write a Book Fast. Based on this advice, what are some new headlines you could test? How about:

  • Write Your Book Fast: X Trusted Time-Saving Tips
  • X Surprising Tricks Nobody Told You About Writing Books Fast
  • How to Finish Writing Your Book 5x Faster
  • Write Fast Right Now: What Published Authors Don’t Want You to Know
  • X Ridiculously Easy Steps to Write Your Book Faster
  • What’s the Secret of Writing Great Books Fast?
  • X Inspiring Tips That Will Help You Write Your Book Faster
  • This Unusual Book Writing Technique Will Make You Write Faster
  • Your Book is Doomed: How I Write Way Faster Than You

Which one of these do you think would win our ad test? The answer may just surprise all of us.

How would you reoptimize this headline based on this advice? I’d love to see your ideas in the comments.

Where to run your ad

By now you may be saying, “Larry this is great, but I’m a little worried about how much this all will cost. Any suggestions to keep costs down?”


We’re just targeting English speakers. So you can save money by taking advantage of countries with lower CPCs.

Heat map of average cost per click around the world.

Rather than running ads in New York City, where CPCs would likely be very expensive, maybe you could set up your ads to appear only in Canada (which has 29 percent lower CPCs on average than the U.S.) or in Ireland (which has 40 percent lower CPCs on average).

Prepare your Unicorn Detector

Make sure to set your ads to rotate evenly. You want to ensure that all 10–14 of your ads have a chance to run.

Before analyzing your results, you’ll want at least 200 impressions per ad. This is actually the number of impressions Google AdWords uses before ascertaining a quality score, but more is better.

Also, you should bid to a specific position (e.g., bid to position 3, 4, or 5) using flexible bid strategies. That way you don’t have to compare CTRs where one ad had a CTR of 20% in position 1 but a 2% CTR in position 8.

Now you can analyze your results and see which headline had the best CTR. Pretty easy, huh?

Usually one of your 10 ads will be a unicorn. However, if all the CTRs turn out the same (e.g., 2% vs. 2.1%) throw them all out and try out more headlines.

"Looks like our unicorn is just a donkey with a plunger stuck to its face." Quote from Dr. Gregory House, House MD.

Your goal is to find an outlier, a headline that generates 2x, 3x, or 4x higher CTR than the rest.

Did it work?

Now we’ve reached the end. We’ve identified the donkeys. We have a workflow for auditioning new possible headlines. And we’ve identified the winning headlines. Now what?

You just swap them out. Replace your donkey title with the winning unicorn headline from your PPC ad test, and put it live.

To determine whether you’ve succeeded, track the number of clicks to the page to ensure that your CTR has indeed increased.

This is a ridiculously easy, low-risk, high-return strategy with a high probability of success because the new headline is battl- tested and should do just as well organically.

Conclusion: Say no to low CTR

Abraham Lincoln riding a unicorn through outer space.

Guys, this is crazy. First of all, think about all the SEO tasks you have to do. None of that is easy. It’s all manual work.

Just take link building as one example. You’re hoping for other people to link to you to help you rank better. In the end it’s very much a hit-or-miss approach to SEO because you have no control over whether you actually get the link (or if it will even help).

Also, link building is more of an art, and one that some people just don’t have the skills to do properly. Plus, when done poorly, bad link building can kill your rankings.

Here, the workflow — my High CTR Pyramid Scheme is all within your own control. This is more like on-page SEO, changing titles and text, but this is a more methodical, data-driven way of doing it.

Optimizing for CTR is very leveraged. You can 5x your CTR if you’re successful in turning a donkey into a unicorn. There’s even more bonus points because it should result in ever better rankings, which should result in even more clicks. And your conversion rates will improve.

I personally believe that CTR is calculated both at a query/page and at the domain level (like domain and page authority in link building). Since we can’t have CTR data for every possible page/query, it makes sense to have something to fall back on. So by killing off your CTR donkeys, you’re improving your domain CTR score, which should help rankings of all the other pages on your site.

There’s a famous Abraham Lincoln quote: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Well, if I had one hour to spend on SEO, I would spend that one hour finding and fixing my donkey headlines, turning them into unicorn headlines. Hour for hour, I’m convinced you have a really great return here.

Your odds of winning the organic CTR lottery are 1 in 10. So go buy 10 lottery tickets!

Are you optimizing for CTR? If not, why?

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Learning to Decorate with Melted Chocolate

Something that I’ve always wanted to spend a little more time learning how to do, is cake decorating.  Like, full on flowers, fondant, hand piped designs and the whole nine yards! But I know it takes some time to practice and get good at and I just haven’t had oodles of extra time.  So, instead of decorating an extravagant cake, I decided to start with something small……and fancy up some sweet little cupcakes.  But not just frosting and sprinkles, because I think I’ve got that covered. 😉  I wanted to try something a little more fancy that would be fun to bring to a party or luncheon….but not take tons of time to do!

So when I realized this month’s Michaels Maker challenge was “Back In Class”, I decided to grab a kit from my local Michaels store, and learn how to fancy up some cupcakes!  And let me tell you……I had SO MUCH FUN!



Michaels has classes you can attend in your local stores, to learn everything from knitting and cake decorating to card making and jewelry design……but they also have so many little kits to help you learn new skills at home.  And this kit I found, was a perfect starting point for someone who’s never done much more than frosting and sprinkles. That’s me!!!



The finished candy designs might look tricky —– but let me tell you, if you can trace, you can totally do this!!!!  The kit comes with bags, tips, plenty of templates to trace (and you could even print more off on your printer), and a practice board with a plastic flap to draw on.  They also have so many colors of melting chocolate that you just melt in the microwave, pour into one of the bags, and you’re all set!



You just slide the template under the plastic flap, trace the melted chocolate right onto the design, and then let the chocolate cool off.  Once the chocolate has hardened, just bend back the clear plastic, and peel off your design.



Now you can top anything from cupcakes to full sized cakes, with your little edible chocolate designs.  Didn’t they turn out cute?!!



So many ideas are running through my head, since giving this a try!  And the best part — it was kind of relaxing to sit and trace all these little designs onto my plastic.  Such a fun new skill!



And while I was busy taking a few pictures of my pretty little cupcakes……I somehow missed these sneaky little fingers grabbing one of my extra mini cupcakes.  Hahaha…..little turkey!



I think Oliver was surprised that instead of taking it away, I took pictures instead!  But hey, when you’re the baby of 4, you kind of get away with things like this! Haha! 🙂



These little cupcakes aren’t perfect, but to be honest, they turned out better than when I’ve tried to do something similar in the past.  Love it when that happens!

In fact, when my 9 year old Elli saw these, she asked me where I bought them!!  Ha…..I told her for that comment, she could eat them all up when I was done!



And just think, all it took was a little kit to help me out!

Now tell me, have you ever tried decorating with melted chocolate?  Have you had any luck?  If you’ve never tried using a template, believe me, it works wonders!

Good luck…and let me know how it goes for you!



For more “Back In Class” inspriation, check out these great ideas from other Michaels Makers:

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