Tech Tools For Event Planners

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks in the MagCloud offices. Our friends at SmallBiz Technology gave us a great shout out on their blog! In 7 Tech Tools to Help You Organize Your Next Successful Event, Ramon Ray names HP MagCloud as an “awesome service for printing your event program.” Being featured is great kudos in itself, but we’re mostly thrilled that we are considered a go-to, reliable service for printing your event materials.

 

We’re always looking for ways to make MagCloud better for you, and it’s moments like this that make us feel we’re getting the job done. Thanks, SmallBiz Tech!

Are you putting together an event soon? Will you be using MagCloud’s print and digital services? How about the other superb companies mentioned in Ray’s article?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

Let’s Get Creative

While portfolios and business brochures are relatively common publication types on MagCloud these days, there are a number of other unique use cases we see where publishers take advantage of MagCloud’s high quality print and digital distribution to serve their business needs. Today we’d like to share a few of these with you, and hopefully spark your creativity for your own MagCloud publication.

Calendars
As discussed in our post earlier this week, we usually see an uptick in the number of calendars published on the site around this time of year. These calendars show off everything from family portraits to product imagery, and with the MagCloud storefront and print on demand capability we’ve seen some successful calendar fundraising efforts. Plus, now that we have our smaller digest format, MagCloud calendars can be ultra-portable or even expanded into daily planners. If you’ve been looking for a place to get started on your own calendar, check out our 2012 calendar templates.

Annual Reports
Another timely publication type we see on the MagCloud site is the annual report. These run the gamut from smaller startups who just want to print up a handful of copies for investors to larger companies that want an easy way to make their report available online with both print and digital options. Our standard-sized perfect bound publication is particularly well-suited to this use case, since its heavier cover stock and square binding offers a more professional look and feel.

Holiday Greetings
MagCloud also offers a great way to get in the holiday spirit with a pro-quality print and digital family newsletter that gets published and distributed just in time for the holidays. Combine your Holiday Newsletter publication with our Ship to Group feature making it easy to send one copy of your publication to a group of addresses. If you’re looking for tips to make your own holiday greetings through MagCloud, check our blog post from last year for templates and instructions.

Cookbooks
Recipe collections are another popular MagCloud publication type, serving the purpose of business promotions, community fundraisers, and wedding favors. With options for ordering print copies and downloading onto mobile devices like the iPad, MagCloud cookbooks are easy to keep close at hand in the kitchen. To help you get started on your own cookbook, check out our prior blog posts with templates and instructions for Adobe InDesign, iWork Pages, and Microsoft Word.

Workbooks, Manuals, and Guides
A number of publishers have used MagCloud to print field guides, camp workbooks, how-to guides, training manuals, educational workbooks, and operations manuals to complement a variety of business needs. In some cases these are printed ahead of time for use during a workshop or class, while other times they are simply made available online for attendees to purchase as supplementary or stand-alone training materials.

Programs
We see programs of all kinds published on the MagCloud site for events like weddings, plays, memorial services, conferences and music festivals. Our new digest product is particularly well-suited for this use case, since its smaller size is less obtrusive and fits more easily into bags and purses.

Menus
Another great business use case for MagCloud is a menu. Our full color printing helps show off vibrant food photography, while the on-demand printing makes it easy to order copies in small batches as they are needed and make changes between print runs.

Knitting Patterns
There are a number of publishers on MagCloud creating knitting pattern publications. We’ve seen patterns for hats, mittens, scarves, leg warmers, sweaters, and even a wine bottle cozy.  Get a first hand account from MagCloud publisher Alexandra Tinsley.

Real Estate Materials
We’ve also had real estate brokers printing 4-page factsheets for their listed homes through MagCloud, as well as more extensive photo pamphlets for both homes and yachts.  We also included a more extensive listing catalog as one of our templates for Microsoft Publisher.

Blog-Based Publications
A number of publishers on MagCloud are bloggers who use MagCloud to publish their content in an alternate way. Sometimes these are published as collections of posts that might fit a theme, or were voted on by the community, or are simply from a period of time. In other instances, these publications contain additional information that expands upon what was originally posted on the blog, such as fresh content about a profiled individual or the backstory of an image.

These are just a sampling of the diverse publication types that we’ve seen published to the site, with more being uploaded everyday. What have you created through MagCloud? Have you been inspired to create any of the publications types listed above? Tell us in the comments below!

To Serif or Sans Serif? Typefaces Make A Difference

Typography is the cornerstone of graphic design. It’s what brings character to your magazine, catalog, brochure or newsletter. It should never be overlooked or left to the end of your project. Typography should be considered during initial design phases and should be allowed to impact your layout and image choices. Why is it so important? Because the typography you choose sets the tone for your readers. It helps you tell your story in a way that an image (or even your copy) can’t.

Being fans of infographics, we came across this little gem recently which has generated quite a bit of conversation in the office. It’s sort of an ABC guide to typography which has also sparked interest on our Facebook and Twitter channels. The MagCloud community is clamoring for typography tips so we thought we reiterate these 4 professional tips from the Noodlor infographic:

1. Limit yourself to a maximum of 3 well contrasting typefaces.

2. 95% of graphic design is typography. Treat it well!

3. First, start off on paper, then move on to your computer!

4. When you’re stuck…discard old ideas and start fresh!

Still need convincing? Check out this video from typographer and graphic designer Erik Spiekermann. He breaks down the elements of typography and explains what makes it such a key part of any design.

Erik Spiekermann – Putting Back the Face into Typeface from Gestalten on Vimeo.

Also check out our recent blog post on Typeface Do’s and Don’ts for additional insight in how best to use typefaces in your next portfolio, magazine, brochure or other print project.

Share your thoughts on the art of typography as a comment below. Is it something you spend a lot of time on when designing your MagCloud publication?

Marketing Your Nonprofit on a Nonprofit Budget

As a nonprofit executive, you have a lot on your mind. From creating more awareness about your efforts to preparing for your next big fundraising event, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the pressure to survive in today’s profit-centric business climate.

Here are a few suggestions to help you  stay in-the-know with nonprofit business trends and help you get the most out of your marketing and publishing budget.

One important trend in the nonprofit sector is the use of publications in your marketing plan. Publications can be used to bring attention to a specific cause, disclose the latest research in your field or to market your organization to a new audience. MagCloud provides a way for you to tell your story in your own words and pictures without breaking your budget.

How do we do it? Our self-service publishing platform and pricing structure is designed with you in mind. If you need assistance designing your first brochure or revamping an existing program, be sure to check out some of the tips and resources on our site.

How-To Guide

Layouts and Templates

Design Blog Series

Can’t afford the upfront cost or huge print run commitments? Get ready to breathe a sigh of relief. At MagCloud, you can print on demand. That’s right, you order an issue for print only when you need an issue. That means no more over-ordering and potentially wasting money and paper. You also have the option to link to your MagCloud Storefront to your website, blog, Twitter account, etc., and have users place their orders direct.

We are proud to offer the highest quality print options at an affordable price. Prints are 4-color with full bleed and you can choose between saddle stitch and perfect binding. We take pride in the quality of our print work. After all, we are part of the HP family. And who knows print better than HP?

Now, we wouldn’t be giving you the full picture of what MagCloud can offer your nonprofit business without mentioning our digital publishing option. If print doesn’t fit into your business plan or your audience simply prefers an online option, we have an excellent digital publishing service. Just like print, you set your price and can optimize your publications for mobile devices.

We hope you’ll explore what we have to offer. If you have any questions about how to get started, feel free to contact us or leave your question in the comments section below.

Design Blog Series Recap

For the past six weeks we’ve been offering a series of design tips and tricks to help MagCloud users create publications that will capture the attention and imagination of their readers.

From dealing with trim and bleeds, to color selection and typeface dos and don’ts, we’ve tried to offer up ideas on how to deal with the most challenging design elements.

The complete list of design topics included:

Trim, Bleed and All That Jazz

The Importance of Layouts and Templates

Get The Most Out Of Your Images

The Space Between

Working With Color

6 Typeface dos and don’ts

Designing For Perfect Binding

Trends and Resources For Great Looking Business Collateral

PDF 101: Ten Common PDF Problems

We know that great design and great content are the all-star combination that can make your publication standout above the fray and keep your audience coming back for more.

Great design is also one of the things we look for when selecting publications to feature on our home page and our Put MagCloud to Work page.  Those selections are what some sites would call “staff picks” and are chosen by the MagCloud team based on rich content that spans our diverse set of categories, will appeal to the broadest segment of MagCloud’s eclectic reader base and of course adhere to all the design principals we’ve referenced in our recent blogs posts. So yeah we take this design stuff pretty serious :).

We also try and share design inspiration examples and other best practices as we find them, such as this post on magazine cover design.

Let us know what you thought of the design blog series, if there are other topics you would like us to cover or if you have design tips and inspirations you would like to share in the comments section below.

Trends and Resources For Great Looking Business Collateral

How you tell your business story can be the difference between turning a lead into a new customer or just a lost opportunity.

Eye catching and compelling business collateral plays an important role in buying decisions.  According to Eccolo Media’s “2010 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report,” 83% of B2B technology purchasers say they had used brochures within the previous six months to evaluate a prospective purchase, 76% referred to white papers, followed by 67% who used case studies.

And great collateral isn’t just for big business, heavy investment in marketing collateral is also a key 2011 trend for Small Business as well.

So how do you create business collateral that stands out and gets your audience engaged?

1. Tell A Story.  Stories intrigue, keep our interest and help us convey information in an engaging way.  Conveying your brand promise or promoting your new product or service as a narrative helps your audience understand the possibility and gives them a call to action to learn more.  Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works, offers some great insight into storytelling for business.

2. Bring Your Story To Life.  A story is more than words. You can use pictures, graphs, tables, screen shots, pull quotes from customers etc. − anything that will help visually convey your story, and underscore your viewpoint and competitive advantage.  There is a plethora of free tools to make creating charts and diagrams super easy.  If you want to push your story to a new visual level consider designing and incorporating infographics.  Infographics have been heavily used by B2C and B2B companies in the past few years to help convey complex information and trends.  Check out the Cool Infographics Blog, Weloveinfographics or Datavis for some infographic inspiration.

3. Invest in Design.  You don’t have to break your business piggy bank to design great looking collateral.  There are lots of desktop publishing applications that make brochure, newsletter, program and catalog design easy. Depending on your skill level and budget there is a spectrum of solutions including Microsoft Publisher, QuarkXPress, Apple Pages and Adobe InDesign.  Most of these programs also include templates or you can check out some of MagCloud’s free business templates as well.

4. Ask for Help.  If you are having trouble getting started there are lots of tutorials and resources to put you on the right path.  Microsoft for example offers a suite of tutorials for Publisher, there are forums for Adobe InDesign or head on over to Lynda.com for an array of business and software online courses. Or you can always consider outsourcing your business collateral design to a third-party or agency such as MagCloud partners HP Logoworks or Madison Ave. Collective.

5. Leverage the Web.  Printing and updating your business collateral no longer needs to be complex, time-consuming and expensive.  Thanks to new print on demand services like MagCloud you can upload a PDF of your collateral and have it printed and delivered to your customers without ever leaving your desk.  Need to change a product spec in your brochure or add a new offering to your catalog? No problem, simply upload a new version of your PDF.  The web also offers you the flexibility to take the same PDF you use for print and make it available digitally for reading on a PC or mobile device giving your audience choice.  Once you have your printed or digital publication ready, it’s easy to build an online marketing plan around it.  Make your content readily accessible and easy to share not only via your website but wherever your audience would be most receptive to your message–social networks, forums, blogs etc.  You spent all that time and effort creating it so don’t forget to make it easy to find.

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great looking brochures, newsletters, event programs and catalogs published on MagCloud, so we thought we would share a few of our favorites to help inspire you.

Axses Travel Platform

Cubic Machinery

High Points Promotional

Natural Homes

Overland Sourcebook

Toobydoo

Share any great resources or tips you’ve found useful in creating your business collateral in the comments section below.

Put MagCloud to Work

You heard that right. MagCloud can help bring your professional projects to life in print and digital. Our service is a great way to showcase your work to customers, clients, colleagues, partners etc.

Besides magazines, we’ve seen a variety of creative ways that MagCloud customers have used our service for their most demanding business needs.  So whether you are creating a portfolio for client meetings, company brochure, customer newsletter or product catalog, MagCloud will take your publication from PDF to printed magazine and digital download with just a few clicks of the mouse. Planning an event? We’ve got you covered there too. Our event planners and marketing customers have utilized MagCloud to print event souvenir programs, meeting programs, handouts and brochures. You can even publish your workshop manuals with us too.

Whatever the purpose – fun, commemorative, professional or informational – there are no boundaries to the way people are using MagCloud. Let us bring your story to life. MagCloud can help promote your company, products and services in both professional quality print format or digitally for viewing on a PC or mobile device. Whether you are ordering 1 or 1000 copies, MagCloud will ship your business documents to customers and colleagues all over the world. Visit magcloud.com/work and learn about the many ways we can help you make your next gallery exhibit, client meeting, workshop, convention and fundraising event that much better.

What other ways do you use MagCloud? Share your past, current projects and future ideas in the comment section below.