Photography in Print: An Interview with Frank Jackson

Frank Jackson is a self-taught photographer, natural poet, and the artist behind these beautiful MagCloud books. In the run-up to his latest photography exhibition at the University of Groningen, we caught up with him to find out how he takes moments of inspiration from the camera to the page.

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01. Tell us about your creative process. Where does your inspiration come from? How do you decide what to photograph?

I take pictures because I can’t draw. I’m completely self-taught and I don’t believe you need a degree on a piece of paper to know what good photography or art is.

I don’t have a clear cut process or end goal when it comes to creative projects. Sometimes I happen to photography, sometimes photography happens to me. Sometimes I’ll go for weeks without taking a picture. Photography is all about understanding and mastering the light. How it falls, how it moves. You need to be ready to capture those moments of light when they happen.

I like to take photos that represent humanity, community, connection, or that remind us that someone was here. That’s why I first started taking photos of the elements that are left behind on the tables of coffee shops. These are always unposed images, taken just as they are. My books, double shot and triple shot combine these images with the deliberately posed photos I take with a specific coffee cup, which I’ve kept with me since I picked it up from a coffee shop in Berlin. The cup reminds me of me. It has cracks. It’s been through something. I carry it everywhere with me.

02. So many people are fearful or unsure of starting their own creative projects. What advice would you give them to help them take that first step?

Fear is an excellent motivator if you use it in the right way. And look at it this way. I feel fear about my upcoming exhibition. I don’t know who will show up or how it will go. But, I’d rather feel fear because I’m having an exhibition than not. And remember perfection doesn’t exist. So there’s no point aiming for it. Mistakes and imperfections are often what makes work interesting, even good. The trick is to like what you do, and to not be unhappy if other people don’t like it.

Words, yet no deeds
A poem by Frank Jackson, 1999

Fear
we spend most of our lives
trying to be
something else
somebody else.
then…(hopefully)in a clear moment(some clarity) you find yourself(?) somebody(YOU!) must learn to love even when it seems no one
else does.
in a small way everything is a collection of gestures toward REALITY.(is there a real world?)
FEAR/reality=REALITY/fear.
to believe the truth is understanding true fear.
BECAUSE to believe the truth is to admit we can no longer be strangers to reality……….
and that is the most frightening THING in the world.
WHAT! are you afraid of?
who you are
who you want to be
who you will never be
who you have become.
LOVE and MONEY don’t make the world go ’round
fear does.
(faith is common sense management of fear)
who do you love
what do you love
DO you love….you(?)

 

03. What is your go-to photography gear?

I always travel with at least two cameras on me.

I use a Sony A7r III because its small yet full frame and gets me wonderful detail in the digital files…but wait there is MORE!

I’m still also shooting with a number of film cameras:
Hasselblad 503cw medium format
Hasselblad Xpan panoramic
Leica M6 35mm
Baby Crown Graphic 2×3

Linhof 4×5

If I’m taking a shot that involves plenty of highlights, I will under-expose and then work on the shadows in post-processing to bring out the look and feel of a film photo.

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04. What would you say the role of photography is? Why is it important?

People today have a very short attention span. We are so visual. We want all the lights and the action… Only people who like to read will take the time to sit and pore over a publication. So a single image can be powerful. There’s a reason why the front cover of a magazine is so important.

Words illustrate the world and make you feel. Photos show you the world as it really is.

05. How has the industry changed over the course of your career as a photographer?

One of the biggest changes has been the rise of what I call social mediocrity. People post photos on social media just for followers and likes. They don’t know if the work they’re putting out is any good, they just rely on social feedback from their followers. People also seem to take more pictures of themselves or their food, which I don’t understand. I eat my food.

It used to be that you had a darkroom in which you processed your photos. You would have to wait. And film was very unforgiving, there was nowhere to hide.

06. What is your relationship to print? What role do you think print has in a digital world?

For me, photography isn’t alive until it’s in print. There’s nothing like having something to hold, something tangible. Printing your images means you don’t just love what you do, you like your work too. You want to share and celebrate it. Printing is the final act of photography.

Printing makes you a better photographer. It makes you examine your work in ways that you can’t on a screen.

Photography isn’t alive until it’s in print.

07. How do you approach the making of a photo book? Do you think photo books need to have a narrative or can they be a loose collection of images?

When I was making double shot, I scattered images all over the floor, stood back, and looked at them. Any images that didn’t stand out and catch my eye, I turned them over; they weren’t going in the book.

When I’m making a book I usually start with the cover. Once I have that, I know I’ve got a book in the making. For example, I already know what the cover of my new project ‘Twist of Fate’ will be.

There’s a difference between a portfolio and an Art Photography book. A portfolio is open-ended; images can be swapped in and out, it’s never really finished. An Art Photography book is a finished piece of work. Interestingly paid work is often won on the basis of these finished, curated pieces of art work, rather than your portfolio. In fact, that’s exactly how I ended up photographing Stevie Wonder!

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08. Why choose self-publishing as opposed to a more traditional route through a publishing company?

Look, I’m not Lenny Kravitz. No one is asking me to make a photography book, and make 500 copies knowing that it’s going to sell out before the exhibition. So if you don’t have that pull, self-publishing is the route you go down.

09. As an artist who self-publishes your own books, how do you market and promote your work?

I’m terrible at this aspect of self-promoting. But to be honest I want people who are drawn to me to find me. I do exhibitions and interviews with people in the industry, and I have prints, books, and postcards for sale. But I don’t push it.

10. Why Magcloud? What drew you to the platform?

Mainly it was the quality of the black and white printing. It’s something that people comment on whenever they look through my books. They think it must have been really expensive to print. But it wasn’t.

I also enjoy the Digest book because it’s not too big and not too small. It’s easy to look through. I’ve been in situations where I’m pitching for work, draw out the Digest book and the potential client is so happy to see something small and accessible rather than an oversized, cumbersome book.

11. What software do you use to design your books? Do you use the MagCloud templates or upload PDFs?

I use the Adobe InDesign templates for MagCloud projects. Outside of that I also use Affinity, which I can use on an iPad. I’d like to see some MagCloud templates for Affinity as it’s a popular tool amongst photographers.

12. How much does profit factor into your book-making process and decisions?

Money doesn’t mean anything to me. My advice to people looking to make a living off their creative work would be to keep doing your day job, so that money doesn’t have to factor into your creative process at all.

13. What project would you love to work on next?

I’m working on a book called Twist of Fate which will be a combination of photography and poetry.

Find out more about Frank’s projects. 

GO
A poem by Frank Jackson, 2010

go: here, see there…wander wide no corners cut. 

go: to be gone…make your past a face in the crowd. 

go: because it’s all behind you now. 

go: and take the long way home.

Alex Ogle and Kickstarter Success

Alex Ogle is one of our favorite artists, comic book makers, and illustrators, and he recently financed an art book through Kickstarter. We were lucky enough to catch up with him and chat about his success.

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First things first, why do a Kickstarter for a print-on-demand comic book project?

Depending on your success level, print-on-demand can be a great resource. Comics are traditionally printed in the largest numbers possible to lower the cost of each book. With my first successful Kickstarter, I had 214 backers and my lowest level to include books was $18. That is many times higher than the current comic book cover price. This helps cover costs on a quick-turnaround, small run that can be shipped out immediately to your backers. Traditional printing minimums are often around 500 copies and take much longer to get the books in-hand.

The nice thing about on-demand is I can get extremely small runs like 50 copies before my next convention within days, not weeks. I feel like now is a great time to be making indie comics this way.

How did you determine your reward levels?

You should always take into account shipping the books to yourself, printing costs, packaging, and shipping to your backers. This can give you a real cost-of-production per book. But the best way to start is to write out your levels with what feels right to you as a consumer and what would appeal to you. Then, run the numbers and make sure you are covered on all your levels. The most important thing is to make an interesting and fun product.

How much overall planning and number crunching did you do?

I go over the numbers until I feel comfortable. I think it is important to make sure there is enough profit (above cost) to cover the unexpected. If you are prepared, then your project has the greatest chance to be an amazing experience.

Getting backers is key, of course, to success. The big question is: How do you get them?

Do something interesting and tell everyone! I made postcard-sized announcements and gave them out at several comic conventions. I posted on message boards about my art and included info about the campaign. I shared images on social media and even tried some paid social media ads. (I’ve never had much return on any paid ads, so it’s probably not the way to go from my experience.)

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You’ve done four Kickstarter campaigns, and three were successful—which is a pretty good success rate since the overall Kickstarter success rate is reported to be about 40%. What did you learn from that first one that didn’t get fully funded?

One thing you should know about Kickstarter is that you can’t delete the campaign if it fails. My first campaign was about getting back into creating comics. I made a simple campaign about that only. The problem is I didn’t focus at all on the produced product of the campaign. It’s pretty much a perfect example of what not to do.

It seems like you’ve used practically the whole MagCloud arsenal. How many formats have you used, and which is your favorite?

So far, I’ve used Standard, Digest, Tabloid, and Poster. My favorite is Tabloid. I love showing off the 11×17 version of “The Changing Tales” at conventions. It really looks like something special in that scale.

Did you use our Group Ship option for any of your backer levels? (This is the ability to send out books to multiple addresses through a single order)

In the past, I have preferred to hand-sign all the books which have held me back from using the service. Possibly in the future, I’ll give an option for an unsigned, directly-shipped version.

Any parting tips for others looking to Kickstart their projects?

Be entertaining and you will do well!

How to Publish a Bestselling Magazine

This month we bring you an interview with Colored Pencil, one of the bestselling publications on MagCloud. We asked them about the keys to their success, their favorite formats, and what keeps them going. And they really impressed us with their use of adwords, Facebook, MagCloud’s messaging platform, and the MagCloud app. But it’s not just their business acumen that we like; Colored Pencil is a beautiful and high-quality monthly publication that offers readers exactly what they’re looking for: Expert drawing instruction and inspiration.

Q: First, congratulations on being a MagCloud bestseller! Can you briefly describe COLORED PENCIL Magazine?

A: The mission statement for COLORED PENCIL Magazine is “inspiration for the passionate colored pencil artist” and I think that sums it up best. Our goal is to produce a monthly magazine that will excite artists enough to pick up their pencils and create!

Q: How many people are involved in each issue? What’s your production schedule like?

A: We include on average about 12 contributors per issue. We have a 20 day turn around to design, edit, proof, and print.

Q: How do you market your magazine?

A: Most of our audience has found us through word-of-mouth but we also do a lot of contests and giveaways each month—partnering with other companies to cross-promote brands. We also try to optimize our ranking in the search engines in part by using Google Ad Words and taking advantage of Facebook’s target marketing by using their advertising tools and insights to track our progress. Social Media plays a big part in customer acquisition so we try to stay active and involved where we think our artists are.

Our goal is to produce a monthly magazine that will excite artists enough to pick up their pencils and create!

Q: How many different MagCloud products do you use, and is there one that’s more successful for you?

A: We basically order the Standard 8.25×10.75 Saddle Stitch binding magazines. We love that we can have our readers buy direct, link, and even pin our products to their social media pages like Pinterest! Not only are we available in the MagCloud store but also on the MagCloud iOS app. It is great to be able to view all our Sales Statistics to see exactly how much our profit is and where our revenue is coming from.

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Q: Do you keep in contact with your customer base? Any tips you have for others?

A: One of the first things we do when we publish is send a notification to our MagCloud followers so they are among the very first to know when the issue is out. We also produce bi-weekly newsletters to promote our magazine and let our readers keep up with all our news, contests, and updates.

Social Media plays a big part in customer acquisition so we try to stay active and involved where we think our artists are.

Q: How do you decide on pricing?

A: Comparative pricing at first was difficult as many magazines at the newsstands were being offered at lower prices then we could but in recent years, as digital has become increasingly popular, not only does it give us a competitive level playing field when it comes to digital sales, but we have seen other print publication prices rise allowing us to compete in print as well. Being a niche magazine also gives you the advantage of having limited competition and being able to pack our pages with content that is highly desirable, giving it a higher value all around. I must note also that the high quality of MagCloud print on their thick 80# paper also makes each of our long lasting issues a collectable!

Q: What do you do besides publishing COLORED PENCIL Magazine?

A: Our Editor-in-Chief, Sally Robertson, started off as a BlurbNation book designer, then turned publisher. Currently we have all of our focus on our successful monthly COLORED PENCIL Magazine.

Q: Any parting words for other publishers?

A: We have heard all the statistics of failed magazines and the difficulty facing the publishing field but with companies like MagCloud assisting you, you can really compete in ways never before possible and take lower costs risks then you ever dared to dream. If you start with a good idea and a passion to pursue it, anything is possible!

Q&A with Erika Pitera and Lynne Webb of ZEST Magazine

Q-and-A-Series-header-ZESTBack in 2008, when mother-daughter duo Lynne Webb and Erika Pitera launched their recipe and food blog MyGourmetConnection.com, becoming magazine publishers was not on their radar.   The blog offered a wide variety of recipes with a particular focus on creating simple and delicious everyday meals – the kind you can easily make on a weeknight after coming home from work. As the website grew in size and popularity, and as the digital magazine trend gained momentum, they began looking for a way to highlight their special holiday and celebration recipes and menus. A seasonal magazine with a focus on entertaining would be the perfect companion to MyGourmetConnection.   Both Erika and Lynne have graphic design backgrounds, and it seemed like a terrific way to bring specialized content to their audience in a new, accessible and aesthetic format. And so ZEST was born in the early part of 2011.   We asked Erika and Lynne to share their insights and lessons learned in the world of print and digital publishing.

Zest Past Issues

What got you started publishing through MagCloud?

Erika & Lynne When we started ZEST in summer of 2011, we were publishing in digital format only. The service we were using worked well enough, but we’re always looking to improve and expand our options. When we found the MagCloud platform, we were attracted by the high-resolution capabilities it offered. Erika’s husband Tom is a professional photographer, and he works with us on all the shoots for ZEST. Between the amount of work we put into styling the food and table decor, and the professional quality of Tom’s photos, we want our work to be displayed at its absolute best, and we love the way ZEST looks on MagCloud.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you made the transition from bloggers to magazine publishers?

E&L First, finding a platform with an interface that worked smoothly and easily for our readers required some trial and error, and we ended up experimenting with a few before settling on MagCloud. The bigger challenge, however, was determining how to present this new format to our existing audience in a way that was simple and appealing. We’ve found that showcasing snippets of content from each new issue on both the magazine website and MyGourmetConnection is an effective way of introducing people to the format and attracting new readers.

Why print and not just digital?zest-and-ipad

E&L We were thrilled to be able to order printed copies of ZEST through MagCloud. Printing wasn’t on our minds when we first started ZEST, but now that we’ve gotten a few issues printed, we plan to utilize the service more in order to help our audience on MyGourmetConnection discover the magazine. It’s amazing how with just a few tweaks you can create a single publication that looks great in both digital and print formats.

What’s your favorite feature on MagCloud?

E&L From the publisher standpoint, we really like the upload tool on MagCloud. It works flawlessly and makes it easy for you to spot any errors in your layout that could result in a less-than-satisfactory printed copy. Armed with this information you can correct the problem, upload again and be certain that your publication will print the way you want it to. From the consumer standpoint, we like the shop. It’s well organized, the search works well and it gives us an opportunity to discover some great reading from other small, independent publishers like ourselves.

What tips do you have for someone new to self-publishing?

E&L It’s important to have a plan laid out for your publication – whatever type it is. You should have a good idea how many photos you’ll need, a logical order in mind for the various features and a relatively uniform look throughout the publication. Keep your goals within reason and if you’re working within a time frame, allow yourself enough time to complete the job without rushing.

If you could invite anyone (living or dead) over for a casual dinner who would it be and what would you serve them?

Zest-open

E&L Julia Child, of course! She was and always will be a wonderful inspiration – not just from a culinary standpoint, but as a symbol of what women are capable of achieving. We share her love of good food and the process of creating it, and that approach makes what we do seem a lot less like work. As far as what we’d serve for dinner – it would have to be a few of the Hungarian recipes that have been handed down in our family for several generations. Family recipes are part of who you are and probably some of the best in any home cook’s repertoire.

Hot Reads for Car Enthusiasts

In honor of this weekend’s Indianapolis 500, we’re highlighting a few of the publications on MagCloud dedicated to cars of all shapes, sizes and speeds. Whether your interest is electric vehicles or race cars, vintage collectibles or kit cars, you’re sure to find a publication in the Autos & Cycles category that fits your interest. And if you don’t, you can always create one yourself!

Speed News May 2013NASA Speed News Magazine

Speed News is the official publication of the National Auto Sport Association. The May 2013 issue presents a primer on racing driver fitness, with exercises designed specifically for racers, as well as tips for eating right on and before race day. The issue also details the ins and outs of aerodynamic devices and what they do on a racecar, highlights the art and science of passing, and describes a step-by-step installation of a halon fire system.


FJC Magazine April 2013FJC Magazine

FJC Magazine is dedicated to Toyota FJ Cruisers. Their quarterly issues cover performance, modifications, product reviews, trip reports, and FJ Cruiser related events. In the April 2013 issue, they test drive their new Manley Explore Off Road Trailer, Paul from Last Great Road Trip tells his Baja Story, a Maya Rally FJ Cruiser, and a few new installs.


Performance TunerPerformance Tuner Magazine

Performance Tuner Magazine is a magazine written by import enthusiasts for import enthusiasts. They cover all makes and models of import cars, import shops, import culture and import events.


True Grip March 2013True Grip

True Grip is the quarterly magazine of the Subaru Impreza Drivers Club (SIDC). Each issue is packed with the latest club news, members articles, event features, product reviews, reader’s rides, technical advice & reports on all things Subaru – particularly the Impreza! The March 2013 issue looks at Subaru UK’s announcement in December that they had imported their final Impreza. The internet has been abuzz with rumors and speculation ever since so in this issue True Grip asks, is this the result of market pressures or has the death chime tolled – is now the time to say ‘sayonara’ to Subaru in the UK?


Muscle Car MilestonesMuscle Car Milestones

AutoTrader Classics continues the MileStones tradition with a focus on the most American of automotive traditions…the muscle car! This publication celebrates a time when automakers were busy finding new ways to shoehorn big horsepower into normal cars, all while keeping ahead of each other. These were the machines that powered a generation of gearheads and launched the horsepower wars!


Custom Vanner Issue 6Custom Vanner Magazine

Custom Vanner Magazine is a magazine about custom vans, published by a member of the Bluegrass Vanners Of Louisville. The most recent issue features DIY builds, including two in-depth how to articles on fiberglass and collision repair, an article on Deez crew van shop in Japan, and more.


Tacoma Magazine March 2013Tacoma Magazine

From the publishers of FJC Magazine, Tacoma Magazine is dedicated to all things related to the Toyota Tacoma. In the March 2013 issue Kurt Williams from Cruiser Outfitters begins his retrospective on his first gen Taco build, Jim installed an iPad Mini in his truck, the long-awaited hidden winch mount article is here, Bob finished his snorkel install, Wyatt concludes his 2WD to 4WD Tacoma Conversion. In addition, there’s something new from Stay the Trail, a couple of great New & Noteworthy items and Jim has an update on his Discount Tire wheels & tires.


Rallycross WorldRallycross World

Rallycross World is a monthly publication that reviews the news and events of the month past and offers in-depth reporting and analysis as well as top class photography covering current issues in the sport of Rallycross. Their most recent issue covers the launch of the 2013 FIA Rallycross Championship and has the first part of their unrivaled review of the 2012 European season.


Chevrolet DriverChevrolet Driver

Chevrolet Driver is a new enthusiast publication for Chevy lovers. Their premiere issue features a cover story on the return of the Chevy Stingray, and has a retrospective of 95 years of Chevy trucks.


Automotive TravelerAutomotive Traveler

Automotive Traveler includes anthologies of automotive and travel features. Their most recent issue focused on the 2013 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.


KustomKustom & Hot Rod Models

Kustom & Hot Rod Models magazine has been called the best model car magazine by some in the scale model industry and Kustom Kulture world. In the most recent issue, they cover of some of the world’s best scale model car builders.


Prieta Post May 2013Prieta Post

Prieta Post is the monthly newsletter for the Loma Prieta Region of the Porsche Club of America, highlighting upcoming events and member stories.

What’s your favorite automotive publication on MagCloud? Share it with us in the comments!

Q&A with Holli True of Holli True Photography

Q-and-A-Series-header-HolliTrue2The words Young & Free come to mind when you mention the name Holli True, and it’s not just because that’s her business’ tagline. The Oregon-based high school senior portrait photographer manages to keep a free spirit and a young attitude finding inspiration in the teen-world around her. In 2010 the savvy businesswoman decided to specialize her business from general photography to a very specific market: high school senior girls. While it may seem like a small niche, Holli has made a name for herself in the region amongst high school girls and in the photography community worldwide. Over the past two years, she’s begun hosting workshops across the US and has spoken at a number of photography conferences and events. Now she’s furthering her reach with a new magazine, set to launch in May of this year.

How did you get started publishing?

FieldNotes

Holli True When I was planning my first workshop, I decided to create books for each of my attendees. I didn’t want them to have to scribble notes, so I provided each of them with all of the workshop content in a book. Following the first workshop, I received a dozen emails from other photographers that had heard about my workshop book. While they weren’t able to attend my workshop, they wanted to buy my book. I decided to revamp the workshop book and offer it to the public for purchase, calling it Field Notes: Workshop in a Book. Since then, I have also released Body Language: The Pose Book.

What exactly are your Young & Free publications?

HT Traditional studios offer proof books with printed images in a leather album, but I am not a traditional photographer. The Young & Free Look Book is my version of a proof book, in magazine format. Needless to say, it was a huge hit with my clients and got everyone buzzing about my business. While albums tend to be more of an heirloom product, our Young & Free look books are intended to be toted around and shared with their friends.

Q&A-Products

How did Young & Free come about? What inspired you?

HT In 2012, while planning for my senior photography season (which peaks in late summer and fall), I looked at my assortment of products and decided to simplify. I stripped down my products, which used to consist of photo boxes, signature books, mounted prints, gallery prints and more. Having too many options for clients can be overwhelming, so I decided I wanted to focus on a small handful of items–keeping my brand in mind–I ended up with Albums & Metal Gallery Prints. I quickly realized that I was missing one thing: a key product that my clients would love, that would do constant advertising for me. My solution: a Look Book.

I absolutely love looking at designer look books, they are different from magazines, as they are filled with just pictures. I adopted the same format and dedicate the entire look book to my clients, filling all of the pages with their beautiful pictures. It is a unique product that other photographers in my area aren’t offering, which allows us to stand out, while remaining true to our brand.

Tell us about your newest publishing adventure.

HT Earlier this year I joined forces with Heather Dunnigan, of TheaCreative, to create a new magazine publication for photographers called Denim+Grace. As a workshop instructor and business mentor, I am very passionate about teaching and sharing. I was craving a creative outlet and new platform to connect with other photographers in the industry and create something beautiful–a magazine was the natural choice. We are so excited about our premiere issue launching on May 1st, 2013!

BodyLanguage

Why did you choose MagCloud?

HT I have been a dedicated MagCloud user for over a year now. I turn to MagCloud for all of my printing needs in terms of magazines & books, it was a no-brainer for us when it came to Denim+Grace. We absolutely love the print quality, quick turnaround time and impeccable customer service that MagCloud offers. Thank you so much for creating a product that makes our hard work look gorgeous!

How has MagCloud made a difference in your business?

HT I think the biggest difference I have seen in my business because of MagCloud is with my look books. Our Young & Free look books sell themselves, we always have them on hand when we are out and about, which has been a huge marketing piece for us this year.

What software do you use to design your publication? Do you have any special tricks to make it easier or well designed?

HT I am a Photoshop girl, so it’s my go-to for design. Due to the number of look books I had to create, I wanted to make it as simple as possible to get them designed, so I made an assortment of templates that I can mix and match easily. Due to the popularity of the look books, I recently wrote a blog post about how I created them and now offer templates for purchase to anyone looking to create similar publications.

What tips do you have for someone new to self-publishing?

HT Do it! MagCloud makes the entire process a breeze, just commit and go for it! Oh, and before you order a large number of copies, make sure to do a test run, just in case! When you start designing, it’s easy to forget to leave enough cushion on some pages, a simple test can give you peace of mind!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one book would you want with you?

HT Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer. I am obsessed with the Twilight Saga- Eclipse was my absolute favorite! I could read it and reread it time and time again. I’m not even ashamed to admit it! ;)

Q&A with Cory Ann Ellis of SD Wedding Style

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When Cory Ann Ellis moved from California to the Midwest to study Physical Education in college, she never imagined that she’d one day have a booming photography business in South Dakota and her name on the masthead of two magazines.

Her first headlong dive into publishing, SD Wedding Style, is focused on wedding information and ideas for couples with both an annual print publication and a regular blog-site.

  What lead you from photography to publishing?

Cory Ann Ellis It was really a natural progression. While I love magazines, I am a horrible writer but I found my images are a wonderful visual compliment writing and so it just made sense to create a publication where there wasn’t one previously. The on-demand printing made it possible for us to bring SD Wedding Style to life without looking for financial backers to help with the cost of printing.

There are many magazines to choose from for wedding inspiration–the greats like Martha Stewart and Real Simple–but my partner Leah (a graphic designer and wedding coordinator) and I had never seen a single South Dakota wedding or vendor featured. Therefore it was time to create one and showcase all of the great options couples have right here.

My partner on Wholesome Magazine came to me to pick my brain on launching her idea of a South Dakota-based food magazine. Shayla is a wonderful journalist, talented graphic design and amazing cook. It made sense to join her in the endeavor and now our first issue is due out in Sept 2013 and it will be a bimonthly publication. I’m excited for it’s release, although my waistline is a little less excited–you know I have to try all the foods I photograph…

  What sorts of publications do you publish?

CA With MagCloud I print for AC Ellis, SD Wedding Style, Wholesome Magazine and The Cake Lady. I use MagCloud to print magazine publications as well as collateral material and lookbooks for multiple businesses. SDWS uses MagCloud for both our print and digital distribution and media materials. Wholesome uses MagCloud for our collateral materials. With AC Ellis I use MagCloud for everything I can. My product catalog, proof magazines, client handbook, rate guide, vendor magazines, lookbooks and more. For home projects I like to use it for image catalogs of all the images I want to reference without going to the computer.

The many publications of ACEllis

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

CA A friend originally told me about MagCloud and I immediately was excited about the idea of short run magazines.

  How has your business evolved with on-demand publishing?

CA In my photography business MagCloud has allowed me a new means to put my images in print. In the age of digital too often images do not leave the computer. Heirloom quality albums and many lab produced products are incredibly expensive and aren’t ideal for quick distribution and lots of handling/updating. My images are in more hands thanks to MagCloud and that means more exposure, bookings, and income. The number of my referrals turned to bookings has increased since I’ve used MagCloud to print materials specific to the venues and coordinators I wanted to work with. This year about 42% of my weddings are based on these referrals versus about 10% the previous year.

  What software do you use to design your publications? Do you have any special tricks to make it easier or well designed?

CA I use Adobe InDesign® for all of my design work. When I found layers it opened up a whole new world.

  What tips do you have for someone new to self-publishing?

AC ELLIS Photography Product Catalog

CA For someone new to self-publishing I have three main tips.

1. Research.

In order to produce a great product you need to research all aspects of the business. While this may be a creative outlet or a small project there are certain legal steps to take for your business. For example if you are going to sell advertising or the publication itself, things like obtaining sales tax licensing and filing, business registration, EIN number, etc.

2. Protect.

Your work is worth something and you should protect it. Either submit the entire publication or all of your images and text to the copyright office. While your work is copyrighted the moment you create it, registration allows for the recovery of damages in the event it is illegally copied. You can also trademark your name and logo. Not only federally, but in your state. Business names can also typically be registered in your state. Get your ISSN number so that your publication is searchable and citable. Lastly, put a copyright disclosure in your masthead or somewhere in your publication.

3. Partner.

You may be good at one skill like writing, but not design, editing, photography, or business operations. Find other professionals to round out your team. Either as partners in an LLC/Corp or as paid professionals and sub-contractors. A great team will make for a great publication.

  What are your business resolutions for 2013?Farmer's Market Calendar

CA I’m not a resolution gal, but I am a huge goal and list maker. And since I’m also into SMART goals I typically have a list of about 70-100 items designed to help me achieve about 10 main goals. This year’s largest undertaking is a complete business re-branding. Lots of fun and work.

  Are there any blogs or publications that you use for business advice or guidance? Which ones?

CA Surprisingly I do not read many business blogs, but I do follow some great people on twitter and love to read their posts and links. A few are Whitney Johnson @johnsonwhitney, Lucas Marcus @lucymarcus, and Oliver Blanchard @thebrandbuilder. I do always recommend small business owners read the book E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber.

How MagCloud Publishers Leverage Instagram

Instagram on iPhoneVisual storytelling is nothing new in the realm of business. Content consumers love the power of an image portraying “1,000” words that leaves enough to the imagination while alluding to a larger point. To that end, MagCloud is running a #MagCloudHearts themed poster giveaway through Instagram.

But what makes Instagram an improvement over the time-tested and standardized visual element? To answer these questions, we continue our chat with Cory Ann Ellis and Trey Hill. This time, we’re shifting our focus from Pinterest to Instagram, and the best practices for leveraging the platform for publications and small business.

MagCloud: Are your businesses using Instagram for business purposes?

Cory Ann Ellis: Yes we are on Instagram (@coryannellis), and like Instagram for private use, it’s immediate and visual nature. It is free and clear of long posts, soapboxes and other negatives that can fill other social media platforms.

Trey Hill: My agency (@squarerootof9) specializes in image driven storytelling, and for most people, I am the agency. I’m an avid Instagrammer & use it to tell my story, which spans the professional, experimental and personal.

MagCloud: What’s your favorite element of Instagram, and why do you think it can help your publication?

Cory Ann Ellis: Instagram has the ability to show a steady stream of interesting content that can keep the reader’s attention between publication dates. With behind-the-scenes and feature teasers, viewers can get excited to pick up or download the next issue.

Trey Hill: It’s a craft that’s always been about contextualizing and sharing our world. Instagram, for me, has made it so the time between seeing and sharing is almost zero. In that way, I think it’s perfect. Used well, Instagram can help anyone craft an ongoing story that reveals who you are and what you’re about. Just because you’re on a mobile device doesn’t mean that you can’t take time to learn the craft of photography. The tools have changed, but the aesthetic that draws people to a photo – good composition, proper exposure and a unique point of view – will never change.

MagCloud: What are your top Instagram tips for publishers?

Cory Ann Ellis: Show images that are graphically interesting and fun. Go easy on the filters. Focus instead on the framing and lighting so that you don’t need to use filters to distort from poor photography. Yes it’s just a camera phone, but you can use it wisely. Try hinting at an upcoming article by showing a tiny detail or abstract from the set without showing full setups.

#panogramtastic
#panogramtastic

Trey Hill: I don’t think my tips for publishers would be any different than the tips I’d share with an individual. I am three-quarters of the way through a four-part series on my blog about mobile-photography. I think, more than anything, I’d point people there as a great place to start:

In Part Three, I talk about how to push the medium of Instagram by highlighting something I created called #panogramtastic. Basically, Instagram is all about the single square image. For a while, people have been using apps to add white to the background of their images so they can post circles, or more traditional photo crops. I thought, “What if you could take the constraints of the app and use them to create something interesting?” I began by using my profile’s grid view to merge a single panoramic image across three frames. They come out like what you see on the left.

MagCloud: How best can publishers promote their publication using Instagram?

Cory Ann Ellis: I think one of the best ways is to use the hashtags to create contests or followings for a specific feature or event. For example, if you create a hashtag and promote the most recent publication by saying, “Where do you read your xyz magazine? – show us through Instagram. Hashtag your photo #xyzmagread.” Then you have a steady stream of everyone reading your magazine in different places and parts of the world. These can be fed into your websites, blogs and even shared on Facebook. This is a great way to show that others are enjoying your publication and they might also.

Trey Hill: One of my clients is the Dallas Stars, an NHL hockey team. One of the initiatives we’ve done for the past five seasons is inviting the fans behind the curtain. I think Instagram is perfectly suited to show people the raw, unpolished parts of who you are. Fans love it because they feel like they are part of the team. For a publication, I would say, use Instagram to show people things they wouldn’t otherwise see – an image that didn’t make the final edit, but is still evocative – a layout sketch or anything from the process. Just because it’s not “for real” don’t let that mean you don’t treat it with respect. Make sure you take time to art direct the frame or fuss over the treatment you put on the image. It may not be part of the publication, but every Instagram becomes part of your story.

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We’d like to give both Cory and Trey a special shout-out and thank you for showing us some of the magician’s tricks, so to speak.

Do you too have insight into how Instagram improves the story-telling strategies for your business? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to join the #MagCloudHearts Instagram poster giveaway!

Guest Blogger: Two Bright Lights

TBL-guestpost4

There is nothing better than seeing your work in print. And we love how HP – MagCloud makes this possible and painless! At Two Bright Lights we focus on connecting magazines and blogs with great images from photographers and other creative businesses, so we understand the importance of beautiful magazines and business collateral. Many of our members use and love MagCloud. Whether they are photographers using it publish a portfolio or pricing guide, or editors using it to publish a print and digital magazine, HP MagCloud makes displaying and distributing their content a breeze.

Photographers, publishers, brides, and vendors have created thousands of beautiful publications using MagCloud, but we wanted to pass on what a few Two Bright Lights editors have to say about MagCloud and share details about the beautiful magazines and publications they create.

Meet Kym Stelmachers of DIY Weddings Magazine and Erika Pitera of Zest Digital Magazine.

tbl  Shalyn Kettering: Could you tell us a bit about your publication and editorial style?

DIYopenKym Stelmachers: DIY Weddings® Magazine is a wedding publication that is written and created by brides for brides.  We cater to the bride with a budget of $15,000 and under with our main focus on the DIY.  We provide DIY projects from brides, wedding planners, wedding vendors and crafters.  I designed the publication to be a “visually pleasing” experience for our readers.  We also decided to change the way we do advertising in our publications by developing a new innovative way to get the same content to our readers without the headache of having to thumb through endless ads to find the real content.  We were the first wedding publication to offer its readers a better reading experience.

Erika Pitera: ZEST Digital Magazine is a seasonally focused mix of recipes, entertaining menus and easy, do-it-yourself home and holiday decor projects. Our goal is to inspire our readers with recipes, DIY projects and entertaining ideas that are approachable for both new and experienced home cooks.

tbl  SK: How does MagCloud fit into your publication process and what have you found most helpful about it as an publishing platform?

KS: Because we are primarily a digital magazine, we wanted to be able to offer our brides, vendors and photographers the option to purchase a hard copy.  When we found MagCloud, we knew they would be a great fit for what we were looking for.  It really became clear to us that we made an excellent choice when we received our first proof.  The quality of their product is first rate! I hear it time and time again how beautiful our print publication is.  MagCloud uses quality paper; the color is vibrant; their delivery and customer service is exceptional.

ZESTprintdigEP: In all honesty, it didn’t at first! When we first started ZEST, we only envisioned it as a digital publication. However, in exploring all of the publishing options out there, we were thrilled to find MagCloud because it allowed us to print our magazine with ease! Its accessibility and quality encouraged us to start designing our publication for both digital and print readers. MagCloud is great because it’s user-friendly. My reasons for that are two-fold: from a reader/consumer standpoint, it’s very easy to discover publications based on your interests or hobbies; from a publisher’s standpoint, MagCloud makes it easy for small publications to print small runs of awesome quality at an affordable price.

tbl  SK: What are your top 3 tips for first time MagCloud users?

KS: Really they makes it so easy to upload, setup, price and manage – anyone can use it.  My only tip is to always order a proof so you know what you are offering your customers.

EP: 1. Be sure to follow MagCloud’s formatting instructions to get perfect results every time. You can get specific instructions customized for your publishing software that make it really easy to export your PDF properly.
2. Take advantage of the document preview to make sure all of your text and important elements are in the safe zone so that nothing gets cut off when it’s printed!
3. Get the most out of the your experience by offering both print and digital versions.

tbl  SK: Kym, We love all of your creative DIY tips in your magazine! Your sea shell bouquet in the last issue was fantastic! Where can people purchase it on MagCloud?

KS: Our Winter 2012 issue just arrived on December 1st and it’s our biggest issue ever.  We have more inspirational ideas, do-it-yourself projects and 12 experts in the wedding industry giving our readers some great tips, advice and budget saving ideas.  In each issue FiftyFlowers.com creates 3 DIY Flower Bouquet projects. What I love about it is they include an inspiration board and they provide the reader with a materials list and step-by-step instruction.  We have gotten so much great feedback that we are going to continue these projects through 2013. You can purchase all of our issues on MagCloud under DIY Weddings® Magazine.

DIY-Weddings

tbl  SK: Erika, The pear on the cover of your current issue looks delicious! Where can we get the recipe?

EP: Those are our Port Wine Poached Pears – they’re yummy and pretty easy to make. You’ll find the recipe on page 28 of our Holiday 2012 issue.

tbl  SK: What sort of submissions are you looking for from TBL members?

KS: I am glad you asked! We have a very special issue coming in 2013 and we are looking for anything that has a “red theme” about it.  We will consider any of the following using a red theme:  Photo style shoots, weddings, candy buffet tables, cake or sweet displays and engagements.  Style shoots and weddings with themes around the circus, boardwalk, carnival, Valentines, Christmas, Fourth of July – keeping in mind that we are focusing on “red”.  We look forward to working with all the talented photographers at Two Bright Lights!

zestopenEP: Your number one priority should always be to make the food or drinks look real and absolutely delicious! Natural light is a very powerful tool. I love food photos that are bright and appetizing rather than dark or dramatic. Props can be great, but make sure they don’t detract from the star of the show! Also, shallow depth of field can really help the food take center stage.

A big thanks for Kym and Erika for the interviews! Don’t forget to check out their magazines on MagCloud and if you are interested in having your photography featured in these and other great magazines check out the Two Bright Lights’ submission software!

A Pinterest Q&A With MagCloud Publishers

Pinterest LogoBy now, you’ve seen some of the investments the social media community has made in Pinterest. The visual inspiration engine resonates with communities in such a natural way it’s no wonder that the little network that could is on a meteoric growth trajectory. But as Pinterest usage and prevalence increases, marketers are beginning to ask themselves how best to leverage the platform to get its message out.

MagCloud publishers have been using Pinterest for some time, with good success thus far. We’ve reached out to some “Pinteresting” publications to understand more about Pinterest’s benefits: Cory Ann Ellis (Pinterest page here)– of AC Ellis Photography, SD Wedding Style and The Cake Lady Bakery – and Trey Hill – who uses both MagCloud and Pinterest for Square Root of Nine, a story telling agency.

Have some thoughts, tips or ideas of your own? Let us know in the comments! And as always, if you’d like to respond to us or the authors, the comments section is the place to be.

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MagCloud: Have your publications used Pinterest for promotion recently? What have you seen from the platform that made the promotion unique?

Cory Ann: “We actively use Pinterest to promote our print and web publications. Pinterest is the fastest growing social media platform, and the viral exposure a company can receive through pinning is an important component of our marketing strategy.”

Trey Hill:  “As the owner of a storytelling agency, sometimes it’s hard to distinguish what I do for myself and what I do to further our story. At some point, I just embraced that the line is blurry. I do use Pinterest regularly to bookmark images, stories and styles that I find appealing. I try to temper promoting my business, but do have a few boards that highlight my work.”

MagCloud: What do you think Pinterest might offer publishers that is unique to publishing (as opposed to the advantages for other small businesses)?

Cory Ann: “I think Pinterest offers publishers an opportunity to generate continued support and readership of past publications. When your publication is long off the shelf or not at the top of your promotional efforts, you have the ability through Pinterest to promote past issue sales, articles and advertisers. What a great way to stretch your reach and create a good use of past content rather than collecting dust in a lost folder on your hard drive.”

Trey Hill:  “I’m certainly no publishing expert, but I think whether you’re a publication, small business, non-profit or sports team, Pinterest offers you the ability to curate tangible expressions of your brand’s story. You can craft a character and associate yourself, powerfully, with ideas, imagery and products you admire. However, most brands I interact with on Twitter aren’t taking advantage of this aspect of Pinterest.”

MagCloud: What are some tips that may help other publishers to get started on Pinterest?

Cory Ann: “Try not to only pin promotional pieces for your own business, but also images, services and products that supplement your business or life. For small businesses, Pinterest offers an easy method to allow your customers and readers to get to know the owners and employees by creating personal style boards. A personal connection is so important to brand and business loyalty, and this is a great easy way to reach out to your customers and share in a subtle way, without taking up vital print space. Pin images directly from your site or blog. Be sure the link back on Pinterest leads to a specific post and not just your home page. Use simple clear descriptions and hashtags on the images you pin. Make it easy for viewers to find your pins when they search.”

Trey Hill:  “Don’t be scared to pin things that might not end up in a click back to your website. People respect organizations that are secure enough in their own identity that they are free to applaud the efforts of others. And, when you begin to point people to the things you admire, more often than not, the favor is returned.”

MagCloud:  Pinterest is a highly visual social media platform, how can you use that style to promote your publication? 

Cory Ann: “We are visual people and the use of good images and design can draw a viewer in and entice them to read a full article or publication. We like to post images of our publication that link back to our sale page on Pinterest. Also a board can be created for each article or issue to supplement the publication and drive traffic back for a full purchase or download. Behind the scenes and extra images that don’t make the article are great to draw the viewer in without compromising the distribution of the original content. Most publications are driven by advertisers. By pinning the ads, websites and products of your advertisers, you create an increased value to your ad sales.”

Trey Hill:  “First, let me start with a warning. Self-promotion in social media of any kind needs to be tempered. Heavily. Make sure you’re pinning 15-20 items that have nothing to do with you directly for everyone that points back to you. If you can make that ration even larger, do it. As Brian Regan so appropriately warned, ‘Beware the Me Monster.’ I am continually impressed with Warby Parker’s strategy for pinning. This past summer they launched a Blue Mirror sunglass lens & created a board that featured pins with that shade of blue. Of the 39 pins on the board, only one featured the glasses themselves. That was an interesting idea and could apply to publications as well. Does your current issue have a theme that you could pin from? What about doing boards inspired by the various stories? That kind of thinking gets people excited and generates repins and conversation, which in-turn builds loyalty to your brand and the larger story you’re trying to tell.”