Q+A with Merritt Design’s Jennifer Koskinen

No sooner did Jennifer Koskinen begin using MagCloud to showcase her architectural photography work than she found herself designing MagCloud magazines for her clients, too – quickly parlaying her architectural firm into a photography and graphic design boutique. In fact, MagCloud was a source of inspiration for transforming her architectural skills into graphic design skills.

“I love the creativity of designing photographs and then thinking of how to best present them,” Koskinen says. “MagCloud makes it easy and affordable to experiment with design ideas and try new things.”

  How did your architecture work lead to your new career in photography?

Jennifer Koskinen I fell in love with photography when I got my first camera in the eighth grade. But I’d never considered working as a photographer. I pursued a career in architecture, instead.

After a few years of design work, my firm hired me to shoot scouting photos of one of our projects in pursuit of publication. So I submitted my photographs to a magazine, thinking they’d send their own photographer to reshoot them.

The magazine loved what I sent and wanted to publish them. It was just the validation I needed to start shooting more, and soon I realized that I felt more creative photographing architecture than designing it. I absolutely love photography! It’s hard to believe that I get to do this for a living!

  How did MagCloud inspire you in your graphic design business?

JK I started creating my own magazines with MagCloud to give to existing and potential clients. Everyone loved them, right from the start, and wanted me to design magazines for them, too. I’ve created eight MagCloud magazines so far for other architects, builders, chefs, jewelry designers and so forth, with two more in the works. My clients in turn use the magazines to market their work, which makes for fabulous co-marketing for all of us!

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

JK I’d been interested in self-publishing in general, but could find solutions only for books. When I came across MagCloud, I was immediately excited. The first thing I designed was a magazine for my architectural photography. The magazine format was intriguing, so I even wrote stories and included advertisements for some of my clients.

  How has MagCloud made a difference?

JK Next to my website, distributing my MagCloud magazines to potential clients is the most important thing I can do to attract business. I love the reaction that I get from people when I hand them out. People visibly respond to something they can hold in their hands and flip through at their own pace. I see them feel the paper and the weight of it. The pages hold the color so well. It’s one thing to see my images on a computer monitor – it’s nice to see them in print, too.

There’s nothing else out there that beats the quality and the price point better than these magazines. They’re invaluable, and they give my business credibility. There’s no doubt that my sales have dramatically increased because of MagCloud.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

JK Dive in. When I set out to design something, I look at things I love, study graphical trends, fonts, proportions – even white space and how it’s used. It’s really fun to play with, and MagCloud’s templates make everything so easy. I recommend studying what you like and then creating something that’s your own, including things you’ve noticed and like in other people’s designs. Have fun and try things you’ve never done.

  If your publication were a superhero, who would it be?

JK Pixelgirl! She’s a stylish superhero who can fly – cameras in tow – from location to location, harnessing her amazing powers of composition and her ability to capture the most dynamic subjects in the most beautiful light. And she gets home in time to cook dinner for her son!

Q+A with Alyssa Yuhas of WLWL Magazine

Toronto-based graphic designer Alyssa Yuhas specializes in branding and online design for a variety of clients across North America. But she’s never forgotten her longtime love for print magazines and the thought of working for one.

When she discovered MagCloud, she realized right away that she could publish a magazine of her own. So in 2008, after “months of planning, days of designing, hours of procrastinating (sometimes you just have to) and minutes of pacing,” Yuhas excitedly launched We Like We Love.

  Tell us about We Like We Love.

Alyssa Yuhas WLWL is exactly what the title says – we share the things we like and love. We showcase people who are passionate about their contributions to the worlds of lifestyle, fashion, arts and culture. If you’re passionate and excited about what you’re doing, we want to tell your story.

  Why print and not just online?

AY I’ve always been really interested in magazines – I’ve loved them since I was little. I love the physicality of holding a magazine and flipping through the pages. Online is awesome, but I really wanted the physical object. When it’s in print, people are excited to get involved in it.

  How has your MagCloud publication improved your business?

AY It has given me some great exposure, and we’ve been able to participate in several communitywide events because of the magazine. Plus, it adds credibility to my graphic design business. Potential clients see my name on the masthead, and that’s brought a lot of new work and contacts.

  How has publishing a magazine changed for you in the past five years?

AY We watch our Google Analytics and our MagCloud statistics – and we’re excited to see that the magazine keeps growing and growing. In fact, the MagCloud views of our magazine have increased by 158 percent since our first issue.

We hear from people every day, and we’re getting more and more contributors from all over the world. I think our quality is improving, and people see that we publish on a consistent basis. Establishing that longevity has been fantastic – it helps us earn our readers’ trust.

  How did you get started with publishing through MagCloud?

AY I can’t remember how I found MagCloud but I definitely remember thinking, “This is the best thing ever!”

WLWL is really well printed and gorgeously bound. And now we have new size and binding options. It’s so cool that print on demand is now possible for anyone at a very low cost. Anyone can start a magazine now.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

AY Focus on both design and content. It’s important that your magazine be visually appealing and exciting, and also that people will delve into the stories. You need to strike that balance.

  If you were stranded on a desert island, which books would you want with you?

AY The Chronicles of Narnia series. That was my favorite as a kid. The language and visuals are beautiful. I could reread them over and over again.

Q+A with Paul Lips of Toobydoo Childrenswear

You don’t often find an expert in economics spending the day sketching designs for children’s rompers, tiny T-shirts and extra-small sweaters, but for Paul Lips, it’s a dream come true. This Holland-to-New York transplant had worked in the business side of fashion long before taking the leap to the design side – something he’d wanted to do since childhood.

Since launching his New York City-based Toobydoo children’s wear line in 2008, sales have more than doubled each year. Key to that, Lips says, is MagCloud’s ability to quickly print his high-quality catalogs and ship them to garment showrooms around the world. ”For buyers who’ve never seen our clothing up close and in person, MagCloud helps us present our products well,” he says.

  Tell us more about Toobydoo.

Paul Lips We’re a lifestyle design label for children, ages 0 to 8. Our philosophy is “go happy, go lucky” with “to be, do!” attitude. I think you see that in our garments. Children’s clothing should be fun – but it’s also about function. It has to be washable, easy to put on and easy to wear. There are all kinds of criteria to take into account, and I like having to keep that balance in mind.

  As a small business, how has custom publishing fit into your marketing plans?

PL We present our fashion collections through a line sheet that lists our products and specs – for example, age, price and style numbers. And then we produce a lookbook that features models wearing our garments in various lifestyle poses.

In fashion, it’s important to get from an initial idea to a product very quickly. We can do a photo shoot and, two days later, we can upload our line sheets and lookbook to MagCloud and have them instantly available in showrooms. Every day counts. If you don’t have your catalogs in the showroom when buyers are ready to buy, you’ll lose the order. They’ll buy someone else’s line.

  What got you started with publishing through MagCloud?

PL We were pretty early adopters. Our photographer mentioned it to us as an interesting way to produce our catalogs and ship them internationally. From that point on, we have always used it.

Our customers require that we have line sheets and lookbooks. They like the way our pieces are bound – it’s exactly what they want. They look at them, they circle items they like, they write notes on them. They can take the books with them. It makes it easy for them to order our products, and that’s what we want.

The quality is a perfect fit for us. And with MagCloud, we don’t have to order large quantities. If something changes in our line sheet – for example, we discontinue a certain garment – we can easily update the sheet and send it out again.

  What are your tips for someone new to self-publishing?

PL MagCloud is easy. The costs are so low that you can afford to experiment with different approaches. And you don’t have to buy a lot of software. You probably already have what you need on your computer. We use PowerPoint to lay out our pieces. You’ll be amazed with what you can do with the tools you already have.

  What author, artist, photographer or musician would you most like to have over for dinner?

PL Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. I like how he strikes a balance between playful and practical. That’s what I strive for in all of our designs.

Q+A with LIVESTRONG Magazine’s (SPOT ON Media) Margot Sandenbergh

When Tour de France superstar Lance Armstrong’s foundation needed someone to create and publish his LIVESTRONG Quarterly magazine, it turned to magazine publishing expert Margot Sandenbergh. When Sandenbergh needed a way to offer the magazine as an on-demand product, she turned to MagCloud.

“With custom publishing, you control everything – how it looks, what’s in it, who gets it and how often to publish it,” says Sandenbergh, CEO and cofounder of New York City-based SPOT ON media. “Custom media is one of today’s fastest-growing marketing tools, and one of the best ways to strengthen the bond between a company and its customers – or in this case, a cancer advocacy organization and its supporters.”

  Tell us more about SPOT ON media.

Margot Sandenbergh We develop custom marketing tools for business and nonprofits. We create original content, which might take the form of magazines, video and online or mobile applications. As part of our media service we help our clients define and refine their strategies for customer relationship marketing.

Today’s audience is very media savvy. People are now immune to the same old marketing messages – they almost have an inner voice that acts as a gatekeeper. Our job is to tell them something they don’t know, and make it useful, interesting and entertaining while we do it.

  Why magazines?

MS Because they work. We know that 92 percent of readers spend an average of 30 minutes reading a magazine – 45 to 50 percent read it cover to cover. More than half have purchased a product or a service as a direct result of reading a customer magazine. And 39 to 42 percent keep their magazines or pass them on to friends and colleagues.

  What got you started with publishing through MagCloud?

MS MagCloud is an idea whose time has come. We were looking for a print-on-demand solution and saw an article about MagCloud. We started testing it in 2008, and we’ve kept up with all the improvements since then. We love the perfect-bound binding and the iPad solution.

One of the great benefits of print-on-demand is that it removes the high upfront printing costs, which is great news for small publishers or nonprofits. Nonprofits often have a loyal membership base that is willing to buy the publication from the MagCloud “newsstand.”

  How has MagCloud made a difference?

MS We’ve been able to reach a larger audience. We have an international audience of more than 90 million yellow wristband supporters. We couldn’t possibly print that many magazines. The iPad version on MagCloud is perfect for many people in our audience, but those who prefer a print version can also buy it from the MagCloud site and have it shipped to them anywhere in the world.

We’re creating a 15th-anniversary issue for October 2012. This special keepsake issue celebrating the milestones of LIVESTRONG, will have an indefinite shelf-life – thanks to MagCloud.

  What are your tips for someone new to self-publishing?

MS Know your audience and think about what makes your content unique. It’s always advisable to survey your readers about their interests. We try to use writers and editors who represent our audience – health writers, cyclists, cancer survivors and advocates. That allows for a rich editorial base and content.

  If your publication were a superhero, who would it be?

MS Every cancer survivor is our hero.

Q+A with Professional Photographer James Worrell

Simplicity, color and humor. These are the keys to the powerfully graphic images that James Worrell’s clients depend on to tell their stories and sell their products.

When it comes to promoting his work to new clients and keeping connected with previous ones, the New York City-based editorial and advertising photographer uses those same concepts to stand apart from his competitors.

“To have an affordably and beautifully printed version of my portfolio in this day and age when everything is online – it’s extraordinary, and it makes a lasting impression,” Worrell says. “There’s something still wonderful about the printed piece.”

  Tell us more about your work and your “Photography for Thinking” philosophy.

James Worrell I’ve been a still-life photographer for the past 17 years, shooting everything from cosmetics to food. What I love to do the most is conceptualized still life. Clients will call with rough ideas – maybe they’re telling the same story over and over and they need a new way to present it visually.

That’s where “Photography for Thinking” comes in. My wife and I bounce ideas off each other, produce sketches and send them to the client. The back-and-forth process starts from there.

  How does publishing your portfolio fit into your marketing strategy?

JW My clients are inundated with marketing pieces from photographers and other creative types. So if I can do something slightly different and slightly more special, I’ll increase my chances that someone will pick it up, look at it and even save it.

MagCloud is a wonderful tool that allows me to do a substantial piece, in short print runs, and get it out there at a decent price. And, from a visual perspective, it looks really good. A lot of print-on-demand services are expensive and the quality is poor. My brand is my brand – everything I produce is of the highest quality.

I always turn to MagCloud for part of my marketing process. You have to keep working and exploring ideas, and you have to remain excited about your work. MagCloud is one of those platforms that keeps you fresh.

  You did a very special promotional piece this summer.

JW Yes, in July we ordered 70 custom-printed boxes with my logo on them, each with a light bulb jar filled with yellow M&Ms candy – some had a star printed on them; others featured “Think Worrell.” And we included a 40-page printed catalog of my work called “Worrell: Photography for Thinking.” We created the catalog using MagCloud. We hand-delivered about 45 boxes and mailed the rest. Plus, we shot a fun video of how we pulled the whole package together.

That promotion resulted in three strong gigs right away and several nice thank-you emails from clients and potential clients.

  What got you started publishing through MagCloud?

JW I’ve always been an early adopter of technology. I read about MagCloud on a photo blog, right when the service was introduced. I’ve stuck with the service because it works.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

JW My best piece of advice is: Don’t overdo it. MagCloud offers a simple, elegant platform. Just get started. Don’t overthink it. Use it for what it is: a way to show your work.

  If your portfolio was an ice cream flavor, what would it be and why?

JW I see my business as the perfect vanilla ice cream cone – not some crazy Ben and Jerry’s flavor – just a simple, elegant vanilla. Usually, less is more and the simplest idea can be the most effective, if you produce it properly.

Q+A with Rachael Cavallo of Palu Ltd.

Rachael Cavallo refers to her job title as “magician.” She and her coworkers – her fellow “magicians” – run Seattle-based Palu Ltd., specializing in the design and manufacture of affordable home furnishings. It might take a bit of magic, she says, to combine fine craftsmanship, quality materials and contemporary style with the needs of an increasingly green world – yet Palu remains committed to environmental responsibility in all aspects of its business.

And when it comes to publishing catalog that help sell Palu products, Cavallo leaves the magic to MagCloud. “It’s been absolutely wonderful – and we especially appreciate the fast turnaround,” she says. “I can’t recommend MagCloud highly enough.”

  Tell us a little bit about Palu.

Rachael Cavallo We like to imagine things differently. From a broad range of chairs to cabinets, dining tables, mirrors and more, our line offers versatile furniture that is elegant, appropriate and approachable.

We recognize that the business of making furniture can have a heavy impact on our environment and our world. We are constantly working to minimize the impact we have and to promote positive change. We actively support sustainable and accountable forest management, fair labor practices, energy conservation, recycling, transparency and innovation in everything we do.

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

RC We used to do a catalog with each item having an individual page, and we assembled all of the pages into binders. It didn’t take long, though, for customers’ binders to become unorganized – especially when we’d add or discontinue items. If we weren’t there to update the customers’ binders personally, it just wasn’t working. Plus, our printer wasn’t doing a very good job. So we needed a new platform.

We found MagCloud and began creating individual booklets by room. So we have a bedroom booklet, a dining room booklet, a living room booklet, one for accessories – and the like. So now when we have revisions, we just alert customers to the revised booklets and they can order them directly from MagCloud.

  How has MagCloud improved your business?

RC I like that we can do very small print runs. We can easily put together a 12-page catalog every few months, print out a few and send those to anyone who’s interested in what we have to offer. We’ll do about 400 or 500 at a time. And if we need, say, three more, then we order just three more. Or 300 more. The quantity is never a problem.

The expense is so small compared with the benefit of always having something for customers to hold on to. That’s always been the challenge for us.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

RC Learn your publishing software. I think that’s the most important tip I can give. We use InDesign, and we had a local designer create 10 styles of a template that we use on a regular basis. InDesign is a wonderful tool. Learn to use it, and it will not fail you.

  If your catalog were an ice cream flavor, what would it be?

RC I’m going with Marionberry Swirl because vanilla is its classic base – you can’t go wrong with that. The marionberry comes from our part of the country – and our pieces definitely have a Seattle/Northwast flair. The marionberry shows that we’re classic, but with a special twist.

Q+A with Kyle Menard of BRINK Magazine

Kyle Menard has loved magazines since he could read. So much so that he once even dreamed of opening a newsstand selling magazines from around the world. “Like the kind you see in New York City,” he says.

Now an adult in the digital age, Menard has directed his passion for print into a magazine of his own. In 2009, he launched BRINK, an Orlando, Fla.-based bimonthly magazine that celebrates entrepreneurs – those already successful and those just starting – and the spirit that makes them all so special. BRINK was voted “Best Magazine in Orlando 2012” by TheDailyCity.com readers.

  How did BRINK come about?

Kyle Menard  I’m just a huge fan of magazines and wanted to create a magazine of my own. So I put all my ideas together and named the magazine BRINK – because it’s always exciting to be on the cusp of something new, whatever that might be.

BRINK celebrates entrepreneurs and shares their stories and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. We feature entrepreneurs in the realm of entertainment, fashion, human interest and pop culture – everyone from indie musicians and actors to designers and artists – people who’ve quit their day jobs to live their dreams. We hope these stories inspire future entrepreneurs to create their own paths to success.

  How has publishing a magazine changed for you in the past five years?

KM My name has definitely become more recognizable in Orlando. And through the years people have become more willing to work with me and participate in BRINK. They want to join in the conversation. There’s something about publishing a print magazine that gives you more credibility.

There’s been a lot of talk about the demise of publishing, but print is not going anywhere. Online is great – everyone loves immediate gratification. But people still want to hold something in their hands. They want the physical magazine that they can hold – they want to experience a deeper connection.

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

KM I did a web search for “publishing magazines” and found MagCloud. I began with a simple eight-page prototype. And after teaching myself Photoshop, going through some MagCloud tutorials and trial and error, I’ve never looked back.

  Why did you choose MagCloud?

KM We’re always evolving, and MagCloud is always evolving. The convenience factor is huge. If we need something printed right away, MagCloud can do that. If we need perfect bound instead of saddle stitched, MagCloud can do that. If we need 10 copies shipped to Spain, again, MagCloud makes all that possible. Plus, MagCloud is always encouraging us to do more with our magazine. They don’t just print your PDFs. They really care about your success.

Publishers in Their Own Words: Mike Lesnick Photography

My name is Mike Lesnick, I am the owner and photographer of Mike Lesnick Photography. I use MagCloud to make my brochure/portfolio available to all past and future clients. It’s a great way for me to have my information readily available to everyone.

I created my brochure so that anyone could see a sample of my work, pricing and little snippets about myself and the weddings I have photographed. With my brochure I have made an impact on brides and grooms with my neatly presented work, pictures and lay out. My latest brochure was updated to include all pictures from this past wedding season (2011) as well as full-page spreads of previous weddings I have photographed.

MagCloud has provided me with the most cost-effective way to  distribute and manage my brochures; as well as providing the print quality that as a wedding photographer I expect and need to present my work in a manner that I feel is professional. Thanks so much MagCloud, keep up the good work!

Mike Lesnick, Owner/Photographer, Mike Lesnick Photography

Visit Mike’s website to learn more about his work or preview his work on MagCloud.

Publishers In Their Own Words: Merritt Design Photo

I love when January comes and I can take a moment to dream up new strategies for my small business in the coming year.  For 2012, I made a decision to crank things up a notch with a new creative marketing strategy for my wedding photography business, which had previously been promoted solely “word of mouth.”  I had used MagCloud before and knew that it offered an excellent solution to get started with a custom-designed, high impact product that I could print affordably enough to leave after meetings with wedding coordinators, and even send to begin a dialogue and make a lasting impression with potential clients.

For my first Weddings issue, MagCloud’s format, quality and great price-point give me ample space to share insights into my personal approach to wedding photography; what clients can expect from the experience of working together; some information about packages; and finally, plenty of space for rich color photographs to jump off the pages. Because I can design the whole issue myself, it is the perfect product to give a sense of my personality and style — hopefully enough to inspire people to want to learn more!

I am proud to share this gorgeous, stand-out marketing piece with potential clients; in the first few showings alone, the response has been overwhelming! I’m so excited to be working with MagCloud and I already can’t wait to create my next magazines!

Jennifer Koskinen, Owner/Photographer, Merritt Design Photo

Visit Jennifer’s website to learn more about here work or preview her work on MagCloud.

Publisher Spotlight: Portfolio Contest Winners Sean McCloskey, Cemal Ekin and Jeremiah Johnson

In this post, we’re excited to highlight the work of the top three winners of the MagCloud Portfolio Contest.

This photo of U2 is Sean's favorite concert photo. It was taken on the final night of their 2001 U.S. tour. (Credit: Sean McCloskey)

Sean McCloskey
Photographer Sean McCloskey, grand prize winner of the MagCloud Portfolio Contest, got his start shooting concerts while in college. His passion for the business led him to publish his first magazine just two months after graduation. He’s now been in the photography business for more than 16 years and as well as a magazine publisher for the past 13 years. Sean’s MagCloud contest entry is a showcase of his first 15 years in the concert photography business.

Thanks to MagCloud, Sean has been able to break out of the local market and get more eyes on his work. He found a way to not only distribute digitally but also easily maintain the high quality print distribution that’s so important to photographers.

He currently has four publications on MagCloud.com: SFL Music, Movie Zone, Streets and his submission for the Portfolio Contest. Check out Sean’s work and join us in congratulating him once again!

Photo of the Hagia Sophia from inside the dome. (Credit: Cemal Ekin)

Cemal Ekin
Cemal Ekin, one of our contest runners-up, is a true MagCloud whiz. He stumbled across the service when looking for a new way to spark innovation in his classroom at Providence College. His students began creating and publishing MagCloud magazines each semester – their publications were a hit and Cemal saw an opportunity to spread the word about his own work.

The portfolio he entered in our contest, along with his other publications, have really made an impact with clients and have helped attract new business opportunities. Whether at an unveiling party for his latest publication or a closed-door meeting with new prospects, it’s the quality of MagCloud’s print and binding that grabs the audiences’ attention. Obtaining shots of the Hagia Sophia from inside the dome is a rarity, and Cemal’s portfolio of this work not only wooed his community into voting for him in our contest but also spread his work to new contacts – notably ARTstor.org (a premiere collection for art and art history research) who accepted his photos of the dome’s detailed mosaics and structure of the dome into their exclusive collection.

Ekin has even written up the process he uses for preparing his photos for printing through MagCloud on his site, KeptLight.com. A big fan of the ease of publishing workflow, he breaks the process down in digestible steps. Have a look!

Don’t forget to view all of Cemal’s MagCloud publications here, including his portfolio submission. Bravo on your win, Cemal!

Entryway and mud-room of the PrairieHouse project. (Credit: Jeremiah Johnson)

Jeremiah Johnson
Designer and amateur photographer Jeremiah Johnson created his MagCloud portfolio to showcase his architectural and graphic design work along with his budding photography skills. Seeking work, he needed a solid portfolio to leave behind at job interviews and cold calls. From the start, Jeremiah knew that MagCloud’s publishing quality and value was tough to beat.

Jeremiah was thrilled to receive job offers from the first three firms he submitted his MagCloud portfolio to and accepted an offer from an architecture firm in Minneapolis. In addition to his design and photography skills, Jeremiah said that “the professional quality of the publication is what caught the eye of potential employers who often receive spiral bound booklets of inkjet printed pages from applicants.”

Congratulations on the win and the new job, Jeremiah! View his portfolio here and catch even more of his great work here.