MagCloud: More than just magazine

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I first heard about Magcloud in a hotel lobby in Atlanta during a photography conference. A young photographer created a serial portfolio of sorts using the Magcloud magazine, and when he placed the publication on the table in front of me my first thought was “That is a real magazine.” I was instantly hooked, flew home and built my own Magcloud series. For those of you who don’t know, or those who didn’t grow up thinking about photography, the magazine holds a special place in the heart of most image-makers. As young photographers we dreamt of seeing our images on the pages of the big magazines. A cover was beyond comprehension.

Over the years I’ve made many different Magcloud magazines. I’ve created issues to sell, others to promote and others for fun, but Magcloud is far more than magazine. The platform offers a diverse range of publication from the flyer and pamphlet size piece to a wire-bound, 11×14 tabloid style publication and even a poster if I find the need. They also make two of my all time favorite trim sizes. The digest, a 5.25×8.25 in portrait or landscape, as well as an 8×8 square. As a storyteller, retired journalist and residual photographer these two pieces, combined with magazine, keep me very, very happy.

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Digest is the perfect size for a mailer or promotional piece, but also plenty nice enough for a small run, art publication or something to sell as a compliment to a larger book or magazine. The one you see here details my website and the range of work you would find if you visited the site. I buy stacks of these then hand them out to people I find inspiring or those I want to collaborate with.

The 8×8 square is a perfect, modern format. I don’t know about you, but the vast majority of images I make with my mobile phone are in the square format. Plus, I’m still a diehard Hasselblad user, so all my portrait work is square format, which lends itself perfectly to the 8×8.

Both of these formats offer saddle stich or perfect bind, discounts for volume and both domestic and international shipping. And remember, with print-on-demand you only need to order one at a time, so experiment, test, tinker and see what format fits you best.

-Dan Milnor

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Why I like Magazine

Not that you were asking but I’m going to share my magazine thoughts with you…again. Why? First, I’m amazed at how many people don’t know we make a magazine. Second, this format is SO unique in how it looks, how it can be designed and what it means to those who receive it. And third, there are SO MANY people who have the drive and talent to be publishing their own. How do I know? Because I did it. On a small scale mind you. I shot, edited, sequenced and designed a short run magazine, back in like 2009, and sold my allotted number.(100) And I’m pretty sure I could have sold a lot more.

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Now, am I going to support myself on magazine sales? Probably not, but I will tell you within a week of “announcing” I was going to do this I was getting calls from people who wanted to advertise. I ended up not doing any advertising, didn’t really need it, but had I chosen to go down that route I think I could have managed it. The magazine has ALWAYS been one of the Holy Grails to documentary style photographers, going back to the days of Look and Life. HOWEVER, all of this died back in the mid 1990’s, and yet many of us are still pretending like these magazines are the keys to “getting work out.” Please. They aren’t, and they haven’t been for a long, long while, but the magazine is still very alluring because of what it means.

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First, it’s designed to be discarded, in most cases that is. We all have friends who have every copy of National Geographic or Rolling Stone or Off-Road Buckshot Mudder….come on people I grew up country. To some the magazine is SACRED ground. Most people get a magazine, read it, leave it around until they look at it and ask “Why am I keeping these?” then toss them out. But why? BECAUSE THEY KNOW ANOTHER ISSUE IS ON THE WAY. People this is so fantastic. Ever thought about a subscription list? A simple email database of those who want in? How easy is that to compile? Wait for it….I’m doing this precise thing. Stay tuned for a subsequent post.

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Also, magazines are informal in comparison to books. They are treated differently, taken poolside, used to mop up the puke of sick kids and probably still read, but I would need independent verification from you parents out there. Magazines travel. They are given away. My wife gives her’s away on airplanes. “Hey, wanna read this?” she asks and they are ALWAYS taken. Try giving a book away on a plane. It might work but people might think you are creepy too. And for all I know you ARE creepy. You’re here aren’t you?

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These last two spreads are from a new project, Whistleblower, which is a look at the modern surveillance culture and the changing terminology of modern warfare. The images were made in various places around the world.

In a way this was a trial run. Just another test in a long, long line of tests. I made mistakes, even after proofing so many times I almost threw up. It happens. To everyone. Don’t sweat it. Correct and move on. Live and learn. Enjoy. When I see this magazine I think to myself, “What are the limits here, the possibilities?” and what comes back at me is…..there aren’t any. What are we waiting for? Permission? An editor to assign something then embargo the work after running ONE image? If you are a wedding photographer why not run a quarterly run of your best images which then goes out to your top vendors, planners and former clients, via print or “E?” If you are a editorial photographer why not run an issue on what didn’t run via mainstream channels? If you are an amateur who shoots for fun why not do a run for your family to keep them up on what is turning you on in the visual world?

We all need to get hip and get hip NOW. This isn’t 1975, or 1985 or 1995 or even 2005. This is a blank slate. A playing field where everyone gets in the game.

Cooking-up a Recipe Book with MagCloud

It’s that time of the year, which means it’s time to start thinking about gifts…

I used to spend 3 days making dozens of batches of home-made biscotti to give to the neighbors and friends who unexpectedly drop by during the holiday season.

But this year? Well, let’s face it–I’m too busy to spend 3 days baking, packaging and crafting these little masterpieces.

Instead, I have decided (Sorry friends, your surprise is ruined!) to give my loved ones and neighbors a custom cookbook, filled with our family favorites, printed by MagCloud.

Today I will share with you a template that I have made in InDesign and a few tricks for customizing it for your own use.

GETTING STARTED:

You can start with my custom-designed template that is already formatted for MagCloud settings, or create one of your own. MagCloud’s InDesign document settings and a blank template are available at magcloud.com/help/indesign

Download my InDesign Template.
Preview my cookbook on MagCloud.

CUSTOMIZING YOUR TEMPLATE:
Transforming this template into something of your own is pretty simple using style sheets. Before you start entering your own information, I suggest your go through the template and adjust the colors and fonts to your choosing.

Change your Spot Color
1. Open the Swatches Panel
In CS6 or higher click Window > Color > Swatches
2. Double Click on the color named “sweet red”
3. Adjusting the C,M,Y and K values will change the “pop of color” on all of the pages where it is used in the template.

Adjusting Paragraph Style Sheets
Open the Paragraph Style Panel.
In CS6 or higher click Window > Styles > Paragraph Styles.

Once you have the Paragraph Styles Panel open, you can then go through the document and change your fonts and colors. You will notice that the style sheets are divided into subcategories based on where they are in the document.  (Tip: by opening up all of these sub-tabs you can easily see what style affects each block of text you select on the page)

To adjust the settings of your paragraph styles:
1. Select the text you want to change
2. Identify which Paragraph Style you are selecting within the Paragraph Styles Panel
3. “Right Click” or “Ctrl + Click” on the highlighted style in the Paragraph Styles Panel
4. Using the Paragraph Style Options Dialog box, adjust the font details

Add Your Own Photos and Personal Touches
Change the title, insert photos, recipes and update the intro letter to reflect your own personal style. You can even include a photo of the person who gave you the recipe or a special quote from them.

(Tip: to include more recipes select a “spread”–2 side-by-side pages–within the Pages Panel, and [ctrl + “click”] or [“Right Click”] on the highlighted pages within the panel. Select “Duplicate Spread,” this will insert a set of identical pages in your document.)

**Note that you will want to have a page count that is an increment of 4 pages to print with MagCloud… such as 16… 20… 24… 28… You get the idea!

SAVE AND EXPORT A PDF:
Want a quick easy way to be sure your export settings are correct?

DOWNLOAD the MagCloud PDF Export Job Options file

*If you are on a Mac: double click on the file, it will open in an Adobe application and add it to your presets. You can then close that application and return to InDesign.

*If you are on a PC, within InDesign go to File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define > Load
Find and Select the file you downloaded called “MagCloud_PDF_Export” > Click Done

To use these imported settings, with your file open in InDesign,
Select File > PDF Presets > “Adobe PDF Preset for MagCloud”

Name and Save your PDF and you are ready to publish!

Other Fun Ideas for Your Cookbook:
– make your cookbook themed with all family classics or recipes from a particular family member like “Granny’s Favorite Recipes”
– make a genre themed cookbook, like “Sweets,” “Holiday Dishes,” or “Brunch”
– make a cookbook for a school fundraiser and call it “Bake Sale”
– Ask friends to contribute recipes and do a collaborative cookbook

Season’s Greetings Printed by MagCloud

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‘Tis the season holiday cards and newsletters, and MagCloud is here to help! As we’ve discussed before, MagCloud’s print-on-demand capabilities offer a great way to produce personalized holiday communications on an affordable budget. With the premium 80# cover stock we use on all sizes of our Flyer and Pamphlet products, combined with the commercial quality of our full-color digital printing, you can rest assured that your message will look professional and polished whether you are keeping in touch with business clients or corresponding with family and friends.

Holiday Newsletters and Cards for Your Business

BizNewsWe have a number of businesses and organizations that use MagCloud for their newsletters year-round, and the holidays are no exception. As we near the end of the year, it’s a great time to connect with clients and members to update them on the prior year and get them thinking about the year to come. If you own a photography business, for example, you can use this as an opportunity to highlight some of your best work from the past year and remind previous customers about the other services you offer. Or if you are in charge of member communications for a nonprofit organization, now is a great time to highlight the work you’ve done in 2012, and encourage member participation in the new year.

No matter what business you are in, MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet product is the perfect format for your holiday newsletter with four pages for full color images and text, a clean half-fold binding, and a professional-weight paper stock, all for as low as $0.60 per piece when you order 20 or more. Simply create your PDF in the software of your choice, upload it to MagCloud, and order as few or as many copies as you’d like. We can even take care of the distribution of your newsletter for you, and drop-ship copies of your newsletter to an address list at no additional cost.

Business CardsIf you don’t feel like a long-form newsletter is the right fit for your business, you could also create and send a custom greeting card instead. MagCloud’s 5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet format fits perfectly into A9 envelopes, which can be found at any paper or office supply store, and the 80# cover stock that these products are printed on gives them a great professional feel. For only $0.48 per piece when you order 20 or more, this Pamphlet format offers an affordable way to incorporate your products, employees, or the work that you’ve done into your holiday greetings, along with your own branding and a more personalized message, rather than sending a generic card to your clients or organization members.

Holiday Newsletters and Cards for Your Family

NewslettersOf course, businesses aren’t the only ones that send cards and newsletters during the holiday season. Holiday newsletters from families have become the norm in recent years as a way to update friends and relatives on the family’s activities over the prior year. Combining these updates with family photos into a single printed piece is a great way to streamline your holiday communications, either as a double-sided Flyer or using one of MagCloud’s four-page Pamphlet products for additional space.

Cards FamilyIf a newsletter isn’t your style, how about a custom greeting card. MagCloud’s 5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet product makes great half-fold cards while the 5.5″ x 8.25″ or 8.25″ x 5.25″ Flyer works well as an oversized postcard. Both fit perfectly into A9 envelopes, and at only $0.24 per piece for 20 or more of the Flyers, or $0.48 per piece for 20 or more of the Pamphlets, both offer a blank slate to create affordable holiday greetings that are unique to you and your family. Whether you create a collage of family photos or scan some of your children’s artwork for the cover of your card, you can be sure that it will be met with a smile upon arriving at its destination.

Templates

TemplatesTo help you design your holiday newsletter or greeting card for printing through MagCloud, below are links to templates in a variety of formats and software programs. Each link below will take you to a preview of a publication created with that template on the MagCloud site, where you’ll find links in the description to download the corresponding template for a variety of software programs. You can also find a number of letter-sized newsletter templates in programs like Apple Pages, or online at office.microsoft.com for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher. These work well with MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet and Flyer products. After you’ve designed your file, be sure to follow the instructions on our Getting Started page to export your PDF.

4-page Business Newsletter (8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet)

4-page Holiday Newsletter (8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet): Adobe InDesign (CS4 or newer) | Microsoft Word | Apple Pages

2-page Holiday Newsletter (8.25″ x 10.75″ Flyer): Red Design | Blue Design

Left-Folded Holiday Card with One Image (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Left-Folded Holiday Card with Three Images (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Top-Folded* Holiday Card with One Image (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Top-Folded* Holiday Card with Three Images (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Portrait Flat Holiday Card (5.25″ x 8.25″ Flyer)

Landscape Flat Holiday Card (8.25″ x 5.25″ Flyer)

*Keep in mind that if you are using the 5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet for your greeting card and want a top-fold, you will need to upload a PDF with the design rotated, in the same way you would if you were creating a calendar.

PDF 101: Ten Common PDF Problems

We see a lot of PDFs come through the MagCloud site, and while most of them look great, there are some avoidable issues that pop up every so often. Below are ten common PDF problems that can stand in the way of a great looking print publication.

1. Content is too close to the outside edges.
We see a number of great PDFs that have text placed dangerously close to the trim line.   As we discussed in our design series blog post on trim and bleed, it’s important to keep your content within a safe distance of the trim line to avoid having it cut off in your final print publication. Remember that the trim line is 8.25″ x 10.75″ so you need to design to those dimensions NOT the PDF size of 8.5″ by 11″ that you upload to MagCloud. This 8.5″ x 11″ PDF includes a bleed area that will be trimmed off: 0.125″ on the top, 0.125″ on the bottom and 0.25″ on the outside. Since this trim can vary slightly in either direction, we recommend leaving 1/4 inch of extra space between the 8.25″ x 10.75″ trim line and your content, particularly any text content. This will ensure that even if the trim is slightly off, your content will not get cut off, nor will it appear to have been placed too close to the edge of the page.

2. Images are not extending into the bleed area.
Similarly, we see a lot of PDFs where images that the publisher wanted to extend to the edge of the page stop at the trim line. If the trim is even slightly off in the opposite direction in this case, there will appear to be a thin white edge on the image, as shown in our trim and bleed blog post and below. With that in mind, be sure that any images you want to extend to the edge of the printed page, go all the way to the edge of your 8.5″ x 11″ PDF, filling the bleed area (again, 0.125″ top and bottom, 0.25″ on the outside edge).

3. Content is too close to the spine.
Another “edge” to keep in mind is the inside edge of your PDF, where the spine will be on your printed publication. We often see PDFs with text that starts right next to the spine, and becomes lost when printed with a perfect binding. As we described in our design series blog post on designing for perfect binding, up to 1/4 inch of the inside edge of your page may be lost into the spine on a perfect bound publication. It is important to keep this in mind when designing your PDF, and ensure that none of your content is placed close enough to the inside edge that it is in danger of being lost in the final print.

4. Images are distorted across perfect bound spines (especially faces).
In addition to text disappearing into a perfect bound spine, we also see PDFs that have images going across the center spine such that the resulting print appears to be missing up to a half inch in the center of the image due to the perfect binding. As described in our perfect binding blog post, as well as on our Getting Started page, this can be avoided by making the two halves of one image into two separate images within the document, then moving them both out from the spine slightly and duplicating the opposing image within the resulting gutter space. Another trick is to avoid placing the focus of an image on the spine, which will draw attention to this disappearing act and make it more obvious to the viewer. If the focus is moved away from the center spine, any loss of content into the spine area will be less noticeable.

5. PDF uses low resolution images.
While the placement of images is one thing that can cause problems in a print copy, the image itself can be the problem. We often see are PDFs that use lower resolution images, and although they look good on screen, they end up looking pixelated in print. As we describe in our design series blog post about getting the most out of your images, screen resolution is 72 pixels- or dots-per-inch (dpi) but print resolution is 300 dpi. Therefore, when selecting images for your publication, they should be at least 300 dpi to ensure a quality print out. As a test to see if your images will look good in print, open your PDF on your computer screen and zoom in to 300%. If the images still look crisp then, they will look good in your printed copy. On the other hand, if they look pixelated (like they are made up of little blocks of color) then your image is too low res, and will end up looking fuzzy in your final printed copy.

300 dpi vs 72 dpi at 350% zoom

6. Color profiles are not embedded.
Another common image problem we see in PDFs deals with the color of the resulting print copy. As we explained in our design series blog post on working with color, HP Indigo presses print MagCloud publications in a 4-color CMYK process, but most images that get used in the PDF have an RGB colorspace. To help guide this conversion from RGB to CMYK, it is important that the color profiles for these images are embedded in the PDF. Without them, the color of the printed images may appear to be slightly off. To make sure that you are using the best color settings possible when creating your PDF, we encourage you to follow the program-specific instructions that are available for download from the bottom of our Getting Started page.

7. Fonts are not embedded.
Of course, color profiles aren’t the only things that need to be embedded in your PDF – any fonts you use also should be included. A common error that occurs in our PDF upload validation is non-embeddded fonts. This can again be avoided by following the downloadable instructions on our Getting Started page for the software you are using to design your PDF. Each of these guides provides settings that will ensure your fonts are properly embedded in your final PDF, and help you avoid this upload error.

8. Fonts are too small or illegible.
In addition to the technical issue of non-embedded fonts, in some cases the problem with a PDF stems from the fonts themselves being too small or illegible, making the text difficult to read in the final print. For body copy we recommend 9-12 point type and for headlines 18 points or higher.  As we discussed in our design series blog post on typeface dos and don’ts, you also want to avoid hard-to-read fonts, particularly for large blocks of text. Decorative fonts are great as headers, but can detract from your message when they become difficult to read.

9. Dark text is used on a dark background, or light text is used on a light background.
Even in cases where the font is legible, we’ve seen PDFs where the color of the text doesn’t provide enough contrast with the background. Placing navy blue text on a black background or light yellow text on a white background, as shown below, becomes very difficult to read. When there is not enough contrast between the text and the background like this, the text seems to blend in and disappear from view, taking the message it was intended to convey with it.

10. A light spine is used with a dark cover, or a dark spine is used with a light cover.
Finally, while you want your text to stand out, it’s a whole other story when it comes to your spine. We occasionally see PDFs that have dark covers and light spines, or vice versa, which makes the slightest shift in the spine placement become glaringly obvious. As we discussed in our perfect binding design blog post, we encourage you to pick a spine color that is close to the color of your front and back covers. Doing so will give a more seamless appearance to your final print publication, and ensure a more polished look with every print.

To help avoid these problems in your PDF, be sure to follow the program-specific instructions available for download on our Getting Started page when designing your publication. For some more resources to help design your PDF, check out our design series blog post on layouts and templates, or browse through some of our featured publications on the MagCloud website for inspiration.

Does your publication successfully avoid these ten common problems? Share a link to it in the comments below!

Like a Rocket in the Sky: Propel Your Business to New Heights Using MagCloud

Let’s face it, being successful takes work. Today’s world is dramatically different from the one fifteen years ago–it’s a noisy place full of fierce competition. The stakes are high and greatness is always on the line. If you’re anything like us, you know the challenge to be seen and heard is one of the most difficult. So how do you set yourself apart? In the spirit of entrepreneurship, we suggest trying some of these creative ideas to promote your brand—and ensure you remain in the know for your industry:

Establish yourself as THE expert: Your brand collateral is the most important opportunity to talk about your product or service. That’s why so many businesses (The Costco Connection, USAA Magazine) and owners have found that branded magazines are a unique way to pique audience interest with relevant content and information. It keeps you top of mind in a format that gets to your customers or target audience more frequently—be it annually, quarterly or monthly. How does it work? Well, by presenting your business in an editorial format you can:

  • develop prospective customers and foster increased loyalty
  • establish your organization or company as current on issues and trends
  • be a resource for information that is relevant to your audience
  • give depth and relevance to your brand in an environment you can control

Don’t be shy, tell your story: A custom magazine (e.g. This Workplace) or brochure (e.g. HP 360°) is the perfect way to chronicle the history of your company, a new product’s road to market, and much more. Consider the story you want to tell, and record or detail aspects that support your narrative. And don’t forget to employ social media either! Use Pinterest to crowd source ideas from fans and customers, leverage Instagram to showcase behind-the-scenes elements, and engage in conversation with your target audience on Twitter.

Showcase your amazing career: Showcase your career accomplishments and accolades in a magazine (e.g. Subject Matter, Trendi Creative) including media coverage, photos of your work, testimonials and anything else you’d be proud to display. Present it to prospective clients and include a link to it in your resume.

Keep pace with industry news and trends: Sometimes it seems as if the world—and the people in it—are changing faster than anyone can keep track. Start by putting your finger on the pulse of the industry. Draw insights and inspiration easily, and stay abreast of current and expected trends that are relevant to your business by reviewing what others are doing in and around you (e.g. Spinr Magazine, XXC Magazine).

Say ‘I Do’ in DIY Style

Most couples will tell you the secret to a perfect wedding day lies in the details. Those personalized moments that make the occasion truly unique—especially DIY touches—are sure to create an intimate experience. Whether you’re planning a traditional soirée, or an affair that will color outside the lines of convention, consider these approaches to create lasting memories:

Wedding Guest Book

The wedding guest book is a perfect time capsule. Showcase your favorite photos and memories from over the years, capture guests’ well-wishes and preserve the occasion forever. It’s not only something you’ll cherish forever, it also makes for a beautiful addition to your ceremony and reception. MagCloud’s photo book format is perfect for the occasion. We also recommend checking out Blurb’s photo book options!

DIY Guest Gift

Share your love story with friends and loved ones in a beautifully unique, one-of-a-kind scrapbook using Flickr, and distribute it as part of the wedding gift. Simply gather your photos into an online photo album (take a peek at this post for tips!), then choose the photo set. Your photos will automatically be organized into a beautiful magazine format.

Unique Photo Album

Make your wedding photo album as unique as your wedding. A beautiful album will last a lifetime and ensure those endearing moments documented on film (or Instagram!) are around for generations to see. Regardless of whether you’re on a budget, or merely prefer a more hands-on approach, you have easy-to-use options at your fingertips. From MagCloud’s photo book format to Blurb’s BookSmart tool, you’ll get high quality prints that will last a lifetime.

As the wedding season heats up, we’d love to hear your creative planning ideas and how you’ve used MagCloud in aspects of your special day. Share in the comments below, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Recommended Reading

How to make a DIY Wedding Photo Guest Book

DIY Wedding Ideas using MagCloud

Adding MagCloud Touches to Your Wedding

Beyond the format—making a wedding book for them (and one just for you)