MagCloud’s Favorite SMB Pinterest Boards

Pinterest

In addition to being a great tool to market your publication, Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration for your business. From infographics to marketing tips, the following are some of our favorite SMB focused Pinterest boards to follow:

Do you follow any SMB focused boards on Pinterest? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Use Pinterest for MagCloud Publishers

We’re quite fond of photos and videos much like the online community on Pinterest. It’s no wonder that we heart the pinboard-style visual sharing site (we made our own Pinterest account too!) and are always inspired by what people are pinning.

MagCloud_Pinterest2

Our publishers are also including Pinterest as part of their marketing strategy and we’re seeing a lot of readers using our new social sharing capabilities. Remember that readers can like, tweet, pin, and share their favorite print and digital publications from our website or within the web-based viewer.

For those of you starting a Pinterest account, here are a few tips we’ve found to be helpful on how to use the visual platform to market your publication and engage with your readers.

  • Pin photos from your publication or website – The pinned images will include a link back to your site, which will help drive traffic there.
  • Pin videos – Go beyond just pinning pictures and share videos especially ones that are highly relevant to the theme of your Pinterest boards.
  • Introduce the members of your team – Let your readers and customers know who’s behind the genius.
  • Follow other Pinterest users in your local area and/or field of expertise – You can see how other pinners are getting likes and re-pins and help build upon your presence in your community. Remember to follow us on Pinterest, too!
  • Ask fans to pin photos of themselves with your publication – This is a great way to build engagement with your readers and learn which issues are their favorites.
  • Test different captions – Be sure to include keyword phrases and hashtags, and remember to have fun with your captions.
  • Find out which pictures have been pinned from your site – Simply type the following URL: “http://pinterest.com/source/ADD YOUR URL HERE” and you can see which photos or content are most popular. Find out what people are pinning now, from MagCloud.com!

As a publisher, are you using Pinterest to market your publication? Share your tips on how to use Pinterest with us in the comments section below.

Ask MagCloud: Can I Write on a MagCloud Publication with Pen or Pencil?

We receive a lot of great questions from our MagCloud community, but this particular one really sparked our curiosity—so we decided to investigate! A new MagClouder, Patricia, submitted the following question on our Facebook Page:

“I just discovered you guys and want to know if the paper you publish in would be suitable to write on with either pen or pencil. I’m interested in uploading a student planner, much like a ‘day minder’ so I want to make sure the paper is not coated in any way. Some such paper can make it hard to write with pencil or makes some ink smudge. Thanks for your help!!!”

MagCloud publications are printed on an uncoated satin paper stock that is both FSC-certified and acid-free (for more information on our paper, check out this FAQ ). To answer Patricia’s question, we decided to test it out first-hand. Check out the video to see what we found out.

Passing the smudge-proof test is especially great for those of you who use MagCloud to create personal planners, calendars, to-do lists and beyond!

Do you have a question for MagCloud? Check out magcloud.com/help, or ask us directly via Facebook or Twitter.  We’d love to hear from you.

MagCloud Project: Framed Poster

Last month, we introduced a handful of new product types, including a new Poster format. Posters are available in 18″ x 12″ landscape and 12″ x 18″ portrait sizes, and use the same high quality print output as all of MagCloud’s products, for only $2 per printed Poster. In addition to being a great way to advertise an event or new product for your business, these new Posters are also a great opportunity to get large format prints of your photos at an affordable price. With that in mind, today I am going to show you how easy it is to make framed art for your home using MagCloud’s new Poster format, and a photo taken with the popular photo app Instagram.

http://vimeo.com/48024577

The first step is to create a PDF file that you can upload to the MagCloud website. You’ll want to export your square Instagram photo from your phone’s Camera Roll/Gallery and put it on your computer for editing. Using the photo that Instagram saves to your iPhone or Android device will be of higher quality than using the photo that gets posted to your Instagram account. Once you have your photo on your computer, you have a few options for creating your PDF. I’ve listed some steps specific to this project below, but check out the Getting Started page on the MagCloud website for more general instructions in other software programs.

Create Your PDF in Adobe Photoshop:

  1. Open your original image
  2. Go to Image > Image Size and set size to 3675 pixels by 3675 pixels at 300 pixels/inch resolution. Select “Bicubic Smoother (best for enlargement)” from the Resample Image drop down menu and click OK.
  3. Go to Image > Canvas size and set width to 18.25 inches, leaving height at 12.25 inches, and click OK.
  4. Go to File > Save As and select “Photoshop PDF” from the Format drop down menu. Make sure the box to embed color profile is checked and click Save. In the PDF Export window, select “Press Quality” from the Adobe PDF Preset dropdown menu, and uncheck the box for “Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities.”
  5. Upload your PDF to MagCloud as usual*

Create Your PDF in Adobe Lightroom:

  1. Import your original image
  2. Go to the Print module and select “Single Image/Contact Sheet” as the Layout Style.
  3. Click the Page Setup button and choose “Manage Custom Sizes” from the Paper Size dropdown menu. Create a new custom page that is 18.25 inches wide and 12.25 inches tall, with a User-Defined Non-Printable Area that equals 0.00 inches on all sides. Click OK twice to return to Lightroom.
  4. Make sure all the boxes under Image Settings are unchecked. Under Layout, set all of your Margins to 0.00 inches and set the cell size: Height = 12.25 inches | Width = 18.25 inches. Under Print Job, select “Printer” next to Print to and make sure the Print resolution is 300 ppi.
  5. Click Print, then select “Save as PDF” from the PDF dropdown menu. Pick a name for your PDF and click Save.
  6. Upload your PDF to MagCloud as usual.*

Create Your PDF in Apple Aperture:

  1. Import your original image
  2. Go to File > Print Image and select Custom from the Paper Size dropdown menu. Enter 18.25 inches x 12.25 inches as the Paper Size, with a Landscape Orientation, and select Maximum to Fit from the Image Size dropdown menu. Make sure the box next to Crop Image to Fill is NOT checked so the whole image appears on the page.
  3. Click Print, then select “Save as PDF” from the PDF dropdown menu. Pick a name for your PDF and click Save.
  4. Upload your PDF to MagCloud as usual.*

*After uploading, you will be told that your PDF is not long enough. Select “Proceed with this PDF” to have an extra page added automatically.

After you’ve uploaded your PDF to MagCloud, simply order a print copy and select your desired shipping method. When your print arrives, trim off the 3” white edges on either side so that you have a 12” x 12” copy of your photo, which can then be placed into the frame of your choice. The square VIRSERUM frame from IKEA is a great option – it’s available in both white and dark brown to match a variety of décor, and includes a mat with an 11 ½ inch square opening for only $19.99. Using the VIRSERUM frame, you can get your photos off your phone and turn them into a framed piece of custom art to display in your home for less than $25.

Eternalize Summer Memories With Your Own Magazine

Though Summer’s heat lingers on, Labor day is just around the corner marking the unofficial end of Summer.  Whether your family took a big trip or just used the lazy afternoons to hang out together, you are sure to have plenty of memories – and pictures – you want to save.

For many, vacation photographs wind up unorganized and spread amongst their hard drives, cell phones, Instagram and Facebook–doomed to be lost in the shuffle. With that in mind, why not take an afternoon and organize your family’s vacation experience, photographs, and mementos into a summer memory magazine?

With MagCloud’s beautiful print quality and direct mail options, you can even order copies to be sent directly to grandparents, cousins and friends to enjoy.

Getting Started: Where will you create your PDF?

First, you’ll want to select a platform to design/assemble your MagCloud-ready PDF­. You can use web-based Poyomi, or software like Adobe InDesign, Quark, Apple iWork Pages, or Microsoft Word.

As you get started, you can choose to start with a pre-designed template from the software (if available), or with a plain MagCloud template available here. You may even remember a post from awhile back, when we used Apple Pages’ built-in Templates to create magazines.

Organize Your Images and Treasures

Next, gather together your vacation photographs and organize them into a single folder. Then select the images that most effectively represent your vacation experience.

Collect any small items that you may have picked up along the way (i.e., a drink coaster with a resort’s logo, maps, airline ticket stubs, brochures from attractions, etc.). Such items can be scanned and added throughout your magazine and provide a more personal touch to the project. For example, you can use your ticket stubs from the theme park to give a different look to your family’s latest roller coaster adventure.

Order and Details

Although you have complete creative control over how you assemble your summer memory magazine, the easiest way is to assemble things is in chronological order so those enjoying your magazine can experience your vacation from start to finish. Throughout the publication you can include  quotes from your family members, or funny anecdotes – like when the duck bit the zoo keeper during his presentation.

Be sure to take the time to caption your photographs, indicating the “who, what, when, and where” of each picture. This will be helpful for others viewing your memory magazine and for you in later years when small details slip from memory.

Write a short paragraph for each of your summer highlights. Ask your children for input and have them answer questions about their favorite parts of the summer. You’ll be amazed by what they come up with and it’s always fun to look back and remember what was happening in pop culture at the time.

Some details you may want to include:

  • Favorite Summer Memory
  • Places and people you visited
  • Friends made
  • Activities and Games played
  • Movies watched
  • Books read
  • Song that was on repeat in the car
  • The silliest moment of the summer

Design Can be Daunting

When it comes to assembling your summer memory magazine, don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of design skills or experience. You can look at magazines for inspiration, simply use photos and captions for a basic layout, or even re-purpose templates that have nothing to do with this purpose. You can find inspiration anywhere, you just have to look past the content and look at the design. For example, the magazine pictured above used our Microsoft Publisher Brochure Template as a starting point for the layout. The design was a perfect way to include ample text to tell the story that went along with the photos. A few tweaks to colors and typefaces and we were able to completely transform the look of the original design..

As an additional example below, we used the layout from an Apple Pages design template for a school yearbook. With a few changes (and by deleting the extra clip art that made the layout look  “education-centric” we were able to create a casual scrapbook-style. Adding a scanned scrap of paper with Sara’s favorite memory from the water park gave the page a personalized feel.

Microsoft Word also has some great “Newsletter Templates” that are built-in to the software (Mac) or available online. Below are some samples that could be easily tweaked and used as the interior pages of your memory magazine.

No matter what software or platform you choose to create your magazine in, there are lots of sources for inspiration. So start designing and have some fun with it!

Have you created a photo magazine or book with MagCloud to commemorate and event, trip or season in your life? Tell us about it, or share your publication in the comments below!

Turn Your Summer Pics into a Photo Book with Apple Aperture

Looking for something to do with all those great photos you’ve taken this summer of trips, pool parties, nature hikes and more?  Why not create a photo book keepsake to share with friends and family so you can relive the great memories for years to come.

Apple Aperture is a great tool for keeping photos organized, polishing them up and even creating MagCloud-ready photo books.  We’ve added new Software-Specific Instruction Packets for Aperture to our Getting Started page for all of our product sizes. These downloadable folders contain MagCloud-specific templates and instructions for Aperture 3.0 and newer.

Below are a few tips to get you started.

Organize Your Photos

The first step is selecting the photos you want to use for your book.  Aperture makes it easy to weed through the large volume of photos you’ve taken this past summer with the Smart Album feature.  Create a new smart album using ratings (i.e. all your fave photos who you gave 3 or more stars too), and/or keywords (i.e. summer, Hawaii trip, beach) to select your favorite photos for inclusion in your book.

Tip for Instagram Users:

While Instagram doesn’t allow you to send directly to Aperture the smart folks over at ApertureExpert.com have outlined a simple way to use Flickr as a go between to bring your Instagram photos directly Aperture.  One thing to note for MagCloud-ready publications is that the photos Instagram sends to Flickr are low resolution and may not print well so we recommend after you’ve created your Instagram album in Aperture to transfer the pictures from your mobile device to your Mac via iCloud or cable sync, and replace one by one the Flickr pictures with your higher resolution images from your Camera Roll.

Oh and if the whole Instagram importing and resolution workarounds seem like too much check out the Aperture Instagram Presets created by photographer Casey Mac and create your own Instagram like photos directly in Aperture.

Create Your Book with a MagCloud Photo Book Theme

Once you’ve organized your photos it’s time to select what size book you want to create.  We’ve created Aperture themes and instructions for each MagCloud product from Digest to Tabloid; simply download the files from our Getting Started page.

Installing the Aperture Book Theme

  1. Open a new Finder window and select “Go to Folder…” from the Go menu
  2. In the text field that appears, type: ~/Library/Application Support/Aperture/Book Themes
  3. Click Go
  4. Drag the “8 x 8 Square or Pamphlet” folder from the unzipped folder into this new Book Themes window

Creating a MagCloud-Ready Book

Now the fun part…creating your book!

Select Your Theme

  1. Open Aperture (if not already opened)
  2. Click the New icon in the upper left corner, then select Book from the drop-down menu
  3. Enter a Book Name for your book
  4. Select “Custom” from the Book Type drop-down menu
  5. Select the MagCloud theme you loaded (i.e. “8 x 8 Square or Pamphlet”)
  6. Click Choose Theme to create your book
Build Your Book

Aperture makes it easy to layout your book simply by organizing your photos in the book editor by date, rating, label, file name etc. and then selecting “Autoflow Unplaced Images”.  Of course your can reorder and move images from one page to the next at any time.

You can also customize your book by changing layout (i.e. 2 Up to 4 Up), adding text, selecting background colors etc.

Tips for Creating An Awesome MagCloud Book
  • Perfect bound publications can be anywhere from 8 to 384 pages long, but the total page count needs to be a multiple of 2.
  • Saddle stitch bound publications can be anywhere from 8 to 100 pages long, but the total page count needs to be a multiple of 4.
  • You can add and delete pages using the + and – buttons under the page display.
  • When adding text, don’t go beyond the theme margins (the edge of the image in the 1-up layout). The margins are set to the edge of the safe zone, and any text placed outside this area is in danger of being trimmed off in the print version.
  • If you have a lot of large photos in your publication, or if it is a lot of pages, it’s possible that your final PDF will be over MagCloud’s 300MB upload limit. If this happens, there are a few things you can do to reduce the file size after you export the PDF from Aperture. See the instructions you downloaded with your Aperture theme for how to reduce image size with Apple Preview or Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Export Your Book as a PDF

Once you’ve got your book looking exactly how you want it, its time to export it as a MagCloud-ready PDF file.

  1. After you have finished designing your book, click Print Book in the upper right-hand corner
  2. Select your “Color Profile” from the drop-down menu. In this case I’ve selected sRGB as my color profile to embed.
  3. Click the “PDF” button and select “Save as PDF…” from the drop-down menu
  4. Enter a name for your PDF and select where you want it to be saved on your computer
  5. Click Save

The PDF of your book is now ready to be uploaded to magcloud.com.

What types of MagCloud publications will you use Aperture to create?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Using Photoshop to Create a Vacation Photobook

Following up on last week’s blog post about using the new Book Module in Adobe Lightroom 4 to create Square MagCloud publications, today we are looking at an easy way you can use Adobe Photoshop to create a vacation photobook with MagCloud’s landscape-oriented Standard and Digest products. We’ve also added new Software-Specific Instruction Packets for Photoshop to our Getting Started page for all of our product sizes. These downloadable folders contain MagCloud-specific templates and instructions for Photoshop CS4 and newer, as well as step-by-step instructions to help you create your publication from scratch using any version of Photoshop.

1. Pick Your Photos

To get started with your photobook, the first thing you need are photos. For the photobook we’ll be creating today, all the images will be full-bleed and extend to the edge of the landscape-oriented pages. As a result, landscape-oriented images will work best for this type of book. If you wanted to use both portrait and landscape-oriented photos, then one of our Square products might be a better fit. You can find instructions for using Photoshop to create an 8″ x 8″ or 12″ x 12″ Square publication on the Getting Started page on the MagCloud website.

In addition to the orientation of your photos, the resolution is also important. We recommend using images that are 300 pixels per inch. Therefore, if you want to create a small Digest size photobook, you should use images that are at least 2550 pixels wide by 1650 pixels tall, or roughly the largest image size available from a 4 megapixel digital camera. If you want to create a larger Standard size photobook, your images will need to be higher resolution – at least 3300 pixels wide by 2550 pixels tall, or roughly the largest image size available from an 8 megapixel digital camera. If you are using high quality images from at least an 8 megapixel digital camera then your images should be fine for either size, however you can check the manual for your camera to be sure, or check the dimensions of your images in the file information on your computer.

2. Create Pages in Photoshop

To create each page in your photobook, including the front and back covers, open the image you want to use in Photoshop and go to Image > Image Size. Make sure that the boxes are checked next to “Constrain Proportions” and “Resample Image”, select “Bicubic Sharper” from the dropdown menu, and set the Resolution to 300 pixels/inch. If you are creating a Digest size publication, set the width to 8.5 inches. If this causes the height to drop to less than 5.5 inches, then set the height to be 5.5 inches. Note that this will cause the width to be greater than 8.5 inches, but the image will be cropped to compensate for this in the next step. Similarly, if you are creating a Standard size publication, set the width to 11 inches. If doing so causes the height to drop to less than 8.5 inches, then set the height to 8.5 inches and allow the width to go above 11 inches. When you are finished, click OK.

Next, go to Image > Canvas Size. Select “inches” from the dropdown menu, if it’s not selected already. If you are creating a Digest size publication, set the Width to 8.5 inches and the Height to 5.5 inches. If you are creating a Standard size publication, set the Width to 11 inches and the Height to 8.5 inches. Click OK, and when you are warned that some clipping will occur, click the button to Proceed.

If you would like to add any text over your full-page image, like a title on the cover page, you can do so now using the text tool. Keep in mind that Digest publications will have 0.125″ trimmed off the top and bottom edges, and 0.25″ trimmed off the outside edge (the right, in the case of the cover), and since the trim can vary slightly in either direction, it’s best to keep any text at least 0.25″ inside of this trim line. Similarly, landscape-oriented Standard publications are trimmed 0.125″ on all sides, and also have holes punched on the inside edge for the Wire-O binding (the left, in the case of the cover). Therefore, if you are creating a Standard size photobook, it’s a good idea to keep text 0.25″ inside the trim line on the top, bottom and outside edge and 0.5″ inside the trim line on the inside edge for this size of publication. If you will be adding a lot of content, it may be helpful to add guides to remind yourself where the trim will occur.

When you are happy with the look of your page, go to File > Save As. Select “JPEG” from the Format dropdown menu and make sure that the box next to “Embed Color Profile” is checked. Your color profile may be something other than the sRGB profile shown in the screenshot at right, but embedding your color profile will help ensure that our Indigo presses are able to reproduce your images with the best color possible no matter what color profile they use. Select a name for your file and choose where you want it to be saved on your computer, then click Save. I recommend saving all your page files to a new folder and naming your files numerically, with the cover as Page001.jpg, the inside front cover Page002.jpg, and so on, as this will make it easier to create your final PDF. In the JPEG Options window that appears next, select “Maximum” from the Quality dropdown menu and select the radio button next to “Baseline (Standard)” under Format Options, then click OK.

Repeat these steps for each of the pages in your photobook, resizing and cropping one image for each page. If you want to include pages in your book that don’t include an image, as I did on the inside front and back covers in my publications, take a look at the templates and instructions in the downloadable Instruction Packets on the our Getting Started page. These instructions and templates start with a blank document in Photoshop, rather than modifying an existing image file.

3. Combine Pages into a MagCloud-Ready PDF

Once you’ve created all of the pages for your photobook, it’s time to combine these pages into a single multipage PDF using Adobe Acrobat Pro. Open Acrobat and go to File > Create File > Merge Files into a Single PDF. Click the button to Add Files and select all the page JPEGs you just created. Sort the files alphabetically by name to put the pages in numerical order, or use the Move Up/Move Down buttons to rearrange the order of the files. When you are happy with the order, select the largest file icon on the far right where it says File Size and click Combine Files. When prompted, choose a name for your final PDF and click Save. Your PDF is now ready to upload to MagCloud!

If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat Pro, an alternative method is to use Adobe’s subscription-based CreatePDF service either online or within Adobe Reader to convert your JPEG files to PDFs and combine them. The other option is to save your pages as PDF files out of Photoshop instead of JPEGs, and then combine these single page PDFs into one multipage PDF using a PDF viewer like Apple’s Preview. You can find instructions to do this in the Instruction Packets on the Getting Started page. The downside to this method is that it will result in a PDF that is much larger than the method using JPEG files, and you may be in danger of going over MagCloud’s 300MB file upload limit.

[UPDATE 1: Adobe Bridge is also another good option for combining your Photoshop files into a single multipage PDF. After you’ve created your pages, open Bridge and select all the page files. Click on the Adobe Bridge “Output” workspace and choose the PDF output option and the relevant page size for the product you are creating. Set the Layout to 1 column and 1 row, and make all margins 0″, then click Save. This will export a PDF that is ready to upload to MagCloud. Thanks to our reader Chane for this tip!]

[UPDATE 2: CreatePDF converts JPEG files to 72 dpi PDF files, which results in PDFs that are roughly 4x the dimensions they should be. Therefore, if you will be using CreatePDF to create your multipage PDF, it would be best to export your page files from Photoshop as PDF files. Note that CreatePDF only allows you to combine 10 files at a time, so you will need to combine your PDFs in groups of 10 and then recombine those. Thanks to our reader Jeffrey for these tips!]

You can see the photobooks I created in Photoshop and Acrobat Pro using these instructions on the MagCloud website: Digest and Standard