Blurb Stories: A Journey into the World of Indie Publishing

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Independent (indəˈpendənt) adj: Not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself

As self-publishers, you are the definition of independent. You believe in what you do, and it shows in the beautiful work, magazines and books you create and produce everyday with MagCloud. We, too, support your independent creations and want you to remain inspired. Our friends at Blurb share this same mentality.

In fact, Blurb launched a blog completely devoted to navigating the world of indie publishing. From marketing tips to authorpreneur profiles, Blurb Stories is an ever-expanding collection of inspiring, informational, and instructional articles exploring the world of self-publishing – everything from ideation to publication to promotion. Each and every week they’ll bring you stories to help you create, publish, and promote your work—so be sure to subscribe!

Here’s a quick peek at some of our recent favorites:

  • Food photography, elevated: An interview with Paul Lowe of Sweet Paul magazine and photographer Colin Cooke: Sweet Paulis a gorgeous magazine full of inspiration, creativity, and, very importantly, incredible food photography. Read on to get the inside scoop from Paul and his friend, professional food photographer Colin Cooke on how to create beautiful food photos…READ MORE
  • Why you need to think about marketing now: While you will certainly spend a lot of time marketing your book after it’s released, if you haven’t done the initial groundwork, it will be harder than it needs to be. If you’ve just started a project, or better yet, have a seed of a book idea, now’s the time to start thinking about your marketing. Here are five ways you can get started… READ MORE
  • Taking ebooks to town (or the country): An interview with Jeff Front: Celebrating the digital book in all its most wonderful forms, we bring you our one-on-one with artist Jeff Frost. A few things to know about Jeff: His camera bag contains as many motors as it does lenses, he has an impish sense of humor, and his mohawk looks like it could inflict some serious harm… READ MORE
  • Singing the Magazine Eclectic: An interview with Anniina Mäkelä: Eclectic Magazine caught our eye for exactly the reasons its creators undoubtedly wanted it to—sharp imagery, incredible styling, and diversity of look. We were lucky enough to have a chance to speak with Digital Content Editor Anniina Mäkelä about the magazine, what it’s like working with a truly international fashion team, and what’s next for print magazines, fashion, and art… READ MORE

Enjoy and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss anything!

Embrace Your Summer Wanderlust

Whether you’re planning a scenic vacation, a wild outdoor expedition or a weekend staycation this summer, the travel bug seems to always bite us during the warmer months of the year. If you’re at a loss for inspiration, look no further. You can find plenty of great magazines to awaken your travel desires, plan your itinerary, or inspire you to create a lasting remembrance of that epic adventure once returning home. If you aren’t embarking on a trek across different countries throughout the world, or if you’re just new to camping and the outdoor lifestyle, you can always kick back and appreciate these destinations from afar.

In an homage to our own summer travel desires, enjoy a few of our favorite camping and nature-inspired publications:

  • Overland Sourcebook (2013) – Created by the Overland Expo team as a 60-page listing for all things adventure – vehicles, motorcycles, accessories, camping equipment, services, information, trip planning, business consultants, fabricators, and much more.
  • A Camp on Plum Lake – Early to middle 20th century photography, this book is a history of one of the nation’s oldest summer camps in North Wisconsin, curated by Tim Bachmann.
  • Outdoor Solitude – Adventures into the mountains of British Columbia, Canada chronicles trips from the trailhead to the tranquility of relatively untouched areas of nature.

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Image via Fab and Frugal

Tour de France: Ride along with Niche Publications

Yesterday marked the finale for the 100th Tour de France. Chris Froome raced by throngs of cheering fans along the Champs-Elysees to finish first. The race has gained a lot of attention and fans in its 100 year tenure, and every year it continues to gain more advocates. While the Tour drives dialogue and content on cycling in the media during the 23-day span, but what about the rest of the year?

With the advent of self-publishing services, niche publications have continued to grow as people discover publications that focus on their specialized interests. Self-publishing with MagCloud has made it easier for creators to kick it up a few gears and distribute in-depth content easily, and for readers to read it on any device, at any time. Specialized publications allow readers to access their favorite topics without having to filter through other content while also connecting with a community of like-minded enthusiasts.

Are you spinning for more cycling publications? Take a look at these magazines published with MagCloud.

  1. XXC Magazine has been publishing on MagCloud since 2009. The mountain biking magazine features race coverage, dynamic pictures and key interviews. Since MagCloud doesn’t have minimum print runs, XXC is able to publish content on their schedule and provide readers with print copies on demand.
  2. Ryan Hosler published his book, “Bay Area Bike Rides,” in 1990. Since then, Hosler has created some great biking content with MagCloud. One of his touring magazines, Mount Hamilton by Bike, provides a road history, memorable trails and other great content for tourists looking to cycle in the San Jose area.  He has also published calendars of photos from his rides and a collection of short stories for children.
  3. Last June, Photo Synthesis came out with a special edition of their magazine about the Metropolis, IL Superman Bicycle ride. The edition highlights some participants and activities associated with the ride through pictures.

The Tour de France is a great opportunity to watch a community celebrate a shared passion. Whatever your niche may be, hit the road to success by tapping into your target market and providing high-quality material. Great content will increase your brand recognition and grow your business, while allowing you to share what you love with others who love it too!

Now that you’re geared up to share your unique content, here are some suggestions to get you started on publishing for your niche:

Summer Wanderlust

summertimewanderlustWhether you’re planning a big family vacation, or a small weekend staycation during the summer break, wanderlust seems to be an epidemic during warm summer months. In the Travel and Vacation Category of the MagCloud storefront, you can find all sorts of great publications to help inspire your travel whims, help you plan your trip, or inspire you to document your family adventure when you come home. And if you don’t get to travel anywhere this summer, you can always enjoy a good read on your lunch break and take a mental vacation.

So in honor of our own summer wanderlust, today we’re featuring some of our favorite travel-inspired publications on MagCloud.


LittleIndianalittle Indiana Quarterly Magazine

little Indiana: Where to Stay, Play, and Eat in Small Indiana Towns (population 15,000 and less). Just like littleIndiana.com, the magazine takes things to a whole new level! Find information about Indiana’s restaurants with outdoor seating, mom and pop ice cream shops, a young couple that renovated a building and restored a downtown, memories of summer from a town that no longer exists, a business on the brink of closure, and plenty more! Don’t miss regular features like “From the Hoosier bookshelf” and the Indiana trivia crossword puzzle.


toandfromTo & From: The Paris Issue

To & From Magazine merges travel and lifestyle.
The newest issue features Paris, “the City of lights.”


Tourism TattlerTourism Tattler: Kenya

The July edition of Africa’s premier Travel Trade Journal features Kenya, plus articles on Business, Conservation, Events, Hospitality, Legal and Marketing issues.


BVI NewbieBVI Newbie

A quirky and colourful guide to the BVI for residents and visitors. This books uses tongue-in-cheek commentary and bubbly design elements which keep the reader entertained and at ease when the time comes to move to Nature’s Little Secrets. This handy guide book also provides step by step instruction for several unfamilliar practices and/or procedures visitors often face while in the Virgin Islands.


Don’t just read about others’ adventures, publish your own.

Rather than let those sunny summer memories fade with your suntan at the end of the summer, start planning now to chronicle your summer adventures and photos into a cool summer recap magazine, or travel photo book printed through MagCloud. You can create a personal memento in magazine format to easily share your memories with family and friends in print and digitally.

Save and scan ticket stubs, itineraries and after your trip, compile all of your pictures and memories into a Square photo book or scrapbook using Apple Aperture  or Photoshop to share with your friends and family! If you’re not a big designer or super savvy with software–not to worry–you can try out our partner Poyomi’s on-line tool for photo book design.

Need some inspiration? Check out some of these great examples published on MagCloud:


DisneylandDisney Vacation 2013

To & From Magazine merges travel and lifestyle.
The newest issue features Paris, “the City of lights.”


 Hawaii Trip 2012Hawaii Trip 2012

A 8″ x 8″ book of photos from the Splonskowski family 2012 trip to Hawaii

5 Ways to Boost Your Small Business this Summer

Business growth red graphic relaunched with a trampolineIt’s National Small Business week! While summer can be seen as a time to unwind, take vacation and spend more time with family, it’s also prime time for businesses to re-focus and refresh their company’s strategy and/or marketing plan. Here are 5 ways you can give your small business a little boost this summer.

Refresh your marketing collateral

Need marketing collateral but don’t have budget to hire a designer? With the wealth of free templates for flyers and brochures today, small business owners can create marketing material without having to enlist the help of agencies and freelancers.

Get creative with your summer sales

As many businesses hold sales throughout the summer, stand out by trying new things with your sales promotions. Get creative and think of how you can take giveaways and discounts to the next level (without breaking the bank). Instead of holding a typical giveaway or discount, you can surprise potential customers on social media with freebies or discounts. You never know, they may turn into loyal customers and big brand advocates!

Monitor trends

When was the last time you monitored current trends? With a smaller bandwidth, small businesses often focus more on day-to-day operations during the year, that typically makes following trends and issues that impact overall business strategies a second priority. Take advantage of longer summer days to catch up on current events and industry trends that may impact your business. It may transform or inform your business goals and strategy.

Network, network, network

With a high number of conferences, webinars, speaking and network events, summer is prime time to take advantage of networking opportunities. Meet with potential business partners and people who can provide new information to help you improve your business. Keep your company at the forefront of peoples’ minds by giving them engaging company brochures or eye-catching one-pagers.

Plan ahead, re-evaluate, set forth

Take advantage of summer business lulls to work on long-term business planning including re-evaluating your company’s strategy, goals and objectives. Are they still in-line with current trends and customer needs? Identify what’s working and what’s not to re-focus your business strategy so that you can gain an edge in your industry. After you have an idea of what your small business needs to stay ahead, set forth! Summer is the best time to make sure your company is on track to meet its goals for the rest of the year.

What else can SMB’s do to boost business this summer? Share your ideas with us in the comments section below!

March Madness Bracket Poster

bracket_imageMarch Madness is in full swing with tip-off just hours away for this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

So whether you are a tourney stats master, like to pick based on your favorite mascots or simply want to show support for your alma mater, show-off your picks with a cool Bracket Poster.

To get started you can either order a print copy of our blank 18″ x 12″ Bracket Poster and  fill it out with your lucky picks when it arrives.  Or if you already feel confident in your picks download a Microsoft Word template and create your custom poster bracket. Once you’ve finished filling in your picks in the tempate, be sure to follow our software-specific instructions to export your MagCloud-ready PDF:

Click here to download instructions for Microsoft Word for Mac  |   Click here to download instructions for Microsoft Word for PC

Once you’ve exported your PDF, upload your completed bracket to MagCloud and order a copy of your custom poster, picks and all.

MagCloud Posters are just $2.00 for a full color front and back professionally printed poster that will look great in your office cube, dorm room or on the fridge, so you can track your team’s road to the Final Four.

Share who you are pulling for in this year’s tournament or other ideas you have for MagCloud posters in the comment’s section below.

Why Small Businesses Need to Adapt to Social Media’s Teenage Years

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Let’s be honest with ourselves, when you hear somebody say “I’ve never heard of Twitter,” or “I don’t tweet” you might double take – at least on the inside. The inner marketer in you can’t believe there’s someone out there who hasn’t heard of Twitter. Twitter has been around for …

That’s where you get sidetracked. You know Twitter’s old, but it can’t be that old. As it so happens, Twitter changed everything with its inception in 2006. And although it’s not even 10-years old in human years, being seven years old in fast moving social media years makes it an adolescent, roughly speaking.

Twitter, and Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. are no longer a new-borns. You’ve been talking about them the same way you talk about your 16-year-old nephew – you hold your palm to your knee and say, “I remember when you were this big.” Similarly, the same incentives that worked for your nephew when he was “yay tall” no longer work on the teenage version. It’s the same with social media.

It’s time we really examined why – not how – today’s users are communicating across social networks, and why we as marketers cannot afford to limit our business efforts to just strategic silos. As Twitter and Facebook grow-up, the SMBs who approach their customers on common ground will enjoy the most success.

Here’s how SMBs can use Teenage Twitter and Teenage Facebook to enhance their brand:

Twitter

TWITTER AS A YOUNGSTER: The “mentions” landscape was fractured, directionless and often low-value. SMBs participated because the consumers were there, but they didn’t know why they were there or what they necessarily wanted to talk about.

TWITTER NOW: Twitter, as an adolescent, is a self-sustaining marketplace. Consumers engage the businesses they love because the nature of communication on social media is “out of the norm.” The veil of Internet anonymity mixed with the wonton desire for greater personal gain creates an environment through which consumers are entitled. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for small businesses.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: The communication marketplace on Twitter is fluid and has a very short shelf life. The number of users on Twitter is far larger than you may imagine. Not all your customers engage on Twitter, but many listen. The best SMBs understand this and play with it. Here’s how you can present a better image to all: Follow your customers on Twitter. Read their posts (yes this takes time, but there’s a direct relationship between time invested and trust gained). Engage with them on their interests. Because it’s your customer, they need to know that your business is using Twitter to make them feel special. Do this for a few customers, and more will recognize the “special” value they can gain by meeting you there. Take Oreo for instance, they regularly meet consumers on the consumer level. This tweet provided only slim brand association, yet was still highly engaged upon due to the brand sponsoring its community’s interests. For some of the best small business engagement, follow @UnMarketing, @RamonRay and Anita Campbell of @SmallBizTrends and see how they conduct conversations.

Facebook

FACEBOOK AS A YOUNGSTER: The introduction of ads and privacy concerns initially put Facebook users and business at odds. Facebook took some time to fine tune its platform: traditional display ads made way for sponsored stories, sponsored accounts and higher values on visual content (more on that soon), Facebook has certainly been an up-and-down in its youth. Brands and businesses were in an arms race to gain more likes, without having a real-world understanding for what a “like” meant.

FACEBOOK AS A TEENAGER: Everybody uses Facebook (Moms, Kids, Teenagers, even cats and dogs). Your content may only be delivered to a certain percentage of your already-gained audience. BUT, your beacon of branding still exists as a landing page, and now it’s mobile. And as any parent will tell you, a mobile phone is a teenagers third hand.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: Teenage Facebook tells us exactly what it wants. It wants fresh, visual content that looks great on that $600 smartphone. The emphasis is less about using it to post posts, and more about creating an environment where your consumers’ interests are sponsored and hosted on your Facebook page. Tactically speaking, this means SMBs should be focused on creating and posting more pictures, graphics, videos, videos of cats…For a good cue, go to MagCloud publisher BRINK Mag’s Facebook page. There’s tight integration with photo sharing, leading to more relevant and inspiring content. The key with strong visuals is allowing for a breadth of creativity, especially for SMBs. Create something memorable, and your consumers will be more inclined to participate, associate and share. For a great example of memorable visuals, visit the How to Market Your Horse Business Facebook page.

Have some ideas of your own? Agree/Disagree with how to treat Twitter and Facebook as they grow up? Let us know in the comments!