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).

Holiday Newsletter Templates

Templates_featured

Whether it’s for your business or your family, the holidays are a great time to send an update to friends, family, and colleagues. Here at MagCloud we think the best way to do that is with a beautifully designed print piece, so we’ve created a few holiday newsletter templates to help you get started. Once you’ve personalized your template of choice by adding your own photos and text in Adobe InDesign, Apple Pages, or Microsoft Word, follow our instructions to export a MagCloud-ready PDF file and then upload it to the MagCloud website to place your print order. We can even help you ship a copy of your newsletter to everyone on your address list with our Ship to Group feature. You can also opt to make your newsletter available as a digital version to share virtually if you don’t have someone’s shipping address.

Click the links below to download one of these new templates, or visit the MagCloud website to find more downloadable templates. Just be sure to check out our holiday shipping schedule to make sure you place your order in time. If you are using one of the templates below, you will also need to download the following free fonts:

Bebas Neue Regular
Langdon
Ostrich Sans
Linden Hill
Marcelle Script
Nexa Light

note: all templates will download as .zip files and will need to be unzipped before they can be opened in Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Word or Apple Pages

Holiday Newsletter for Your Business

Business NewslettersSend your customers an overview of what you did in 2013 and let them know what they can look forward to in 2014 with our holiday business newsletter template. This two-page template was designed for MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 10.75″ Flyer, a double-sided single-sheet product with optional UV coating, and you’ll be able to print this newsletter for as little as $0.30 per piece when you purchase 20 or more copies. When you download this template you’ll be able to choose from three layout options: no logo, a rectangular logo, or a circular/square logo. When you are ready to export your file, be sure to follow the PDF export instructions in our Software Specific Instruction Package for your software of choice, available to download on our PDF Design Resources page.

Download this template for Adobe InDesign (CS5 and newer): No Logo | Rectangle Logo | Square or Circle Logo

Download this template for Apple Pages: No Logo | Rectangle Logo | Square or Circle Logo

Download this template for Microsoft Word: No Logo | Rectangle Logo | Square or Circle Logo

Holiday Flyer Newsletter for Your Family

Flyer NewsletterLet your family and friends know what you’ve been up to the past year with our holiday flyer newsletter template. This short and sweet two-page template is available in three color combinations and was designed for MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 10.75″ Flyer, a double-sided single-sheet product with optional UV coating, and you’ll be able to print this newsletter for as little as $0.30 per piece when you purchase 20 or more copies. After you’ve personalized the template with your family’s photos and text content, export your MagCloud-ready PDF using the instructions in our Software Specific Instruction Package for your software of choice, available to download on our PDF Design Resources page.

Download this template for Adobe InDesign (CS5 and newer): Silver | Red | Gold

Download this template for Apple Pages: Silver | Red | Gold

Download this template for Microsoft Word: Silver | Red | Gold

Holiday Pamphlet Newsletters for Your Family

Pamphlet NewsletterIf you’re looking for a little more space in your holiday newsletter, check out our pamphlet templates. These four-page templates were designed for MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 10.75″ and 8″ x 8″ Pamphlet products, which have a half-fold binding and can be printed for as little as $0.60 per piece when you purchase 20 or more copies. The 8″ x 8″ version is available in the same three color combinations as the Flyer template. After you’ve personalized the template with your family’s photos and text content, export your MagCloud-ready PDF using the instructions in our Software Specific Instruction Package for your software of choice, available to download on our PDF Design Resources page. Be sure to select your chosen pamphlet size from the top of the page (8″ x 8″ or 8.25″ x 10.75″) before downloading the Instruction Package.

Click here to download the 8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet template for Adobe InDesign (CS5 and newer)
Download the 8″ x 8″ Pamphlet template for Adobe InDesign (CS5 and newer): Silver | Red | Gold

Click here to download the 8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet template for Apple Pages
Download the 8″ x 8″ Pamphlet template for Apple Pages: Silver | Red | Gold

Click here to download the 8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet template for Microsoft Word
Download the 8″ x 8″ Pamphlet template for Microsoft Word: Silver | Red | Gold

Holiday Photobook Newsletter for Your Family

PhotobookIf you want to send even more photos to your family and friends this holiday season, we’ve created a longer photobook newsletter template. This template was designed for MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 5.25″ Digest product, and includes 16 pages to place your photo and text content. If you want to fill up all 16 pages, a print copy of this photobook will cost you just $2.56. You can also choose to delete pages in the template for a shorter 12 or 8 page booklet, or duplicate pages to make an even longer photobook and take advantage of our perfect binding option. When you are ready to export your file, be sure to follow the PDF export instructions in our Software Specific Instruction Package for your software of choice, available to download on our PDF Design Resources page.

Click here to download this template for Adobe InDesign (CS5 and newer)

Click here to download this template for Apple Pages

Click here to download this template for Microsoft Word

Q&A with Erika Pitera and Lynne Webb of ZEST Magazine

Q-and-A-Series-header-ZESTBack in 2008, when mother-daughter duo Lynne Webb and Erika Pitera launched their recipe and food blog MyGourmetConnection.com, becoming magazine publishers was not on their radar.   The blog offered a wide variety of recipes with a particular focus on creating simple and delicious everyday meals – the kind you can easily make on a weeknight after coming home from work. As the website grew in size and popularity, and as the digital magazine trend gained momentum, they began looking for a way to highlight their special holiday and celebration recipes and menus. A seasonal magazine with a focus on entertaining would be the perfect companion to MyGourmetConnection.   Both Erika and Lynne have graphic design backgrounds, and it seemed like a terrific way to bring specialized content to their audience in a new, accessible and aesthetic format. And so ZEST was born in the early part of 2011.   We asked Erika and Lynne to share their insights and lessons learned in the world of print and digital publishing.

Zest Past Issues

What got you started publishing through MagCloud?

Erika & Lynne When we started ZEST in summer of 2011, we were publishing in digital format only. The service we were using worked well enough, but we’re always looking to improve and expand our options. When we found the MagCloud platform, we were attracted by the high-resolution capabilities it offered. Erika’s husband Tom is a professional photographer, and he works with us on all the shoots for ZEST. Between the amount of work we put into styling the food and table decor, and the professional quality of Tom’s photos, we want our work to be displayed at its absolute best, and we love the way ZEST looks on MagCloud.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you made the transition from bloggers to magazine publishers?

E&L First, finding a platform with an interface that worked smoothly and easily for our readers required some trial and error, and we ended up experimenting with a few before settling on MagCloud. The bigger challenge, however, was determining how to present this new format to our existing audience in a way that was simple and appealing. We’ve found that showcasing snippets of content from each new issue on both the magazine website and MyGourmetConnection is an effective way of introducing people to the format and attracting new readers.

Why print and not just digital?zest-and-ipad

E&L We were thrilled to be able to order printed copies of ZEST through MagCloud. Printing wasn’t on our minds when we first started ZEST, but now that we’ve gotten a few issues printed, we plan to utilize the service more in order to help our audience on MyGourmetConnection discover the magazine. It’s amazing how with just a few tweaks you can create a single publication that looks great in both digital and print formats.

What’s your favorite feature on MagCloud?

E&L From the publisher standpoint, we really like the upload tool on MagCloud. It works flawlessly and makes it easy for you to spot any errors in your layout that could result in a less-than-satisfactory printed copy. Armed with this information you can correct the problem, upload again and be certain that your publication will print the way you want it to. From the consumer standpoint, we like the shop. It’s well organized, the search works well and it gives us an opportunity to discover some great reading from other small, independent publishers like ourselves.

What tips do you have for someone new to self-publishing?

E&L It’s important to have a plan laid out for your publication – whatever type it is. You should have a good idea how many photos you’ll need, a logical order in mind for the various features and a relatively uniform look throughout the publication. Keep your goals within reason and if you’re working within a time frame, allow yourself enough time to complete the job without rushing.

If you could invite anyone (living or dead) over for a casual dinner who would it be and what would you serve them?

Zest-open

E&L Julia Child, of course! She was and always will be a wonderful inspiration – not just from a culinary standpoint, but as a symbol of what women are capable of achieving. We share her love of good food and the process of creating it, and that approach makes what we do seem a lot less like work. As far as what we’d serve for dinner – it would have to be a few of the Hungarian recipes that have been handed down in our family for several generations. Family recipes are part of who you are and probably some of the best in any home cook’s repertoire.

MagCloud iPad App 4.0 Giveaway Week 3– Winner Announcement

For last week’s $40 iTunes gift card giveaway, we asked if you could have dinner with any business leader, who would it be and why? We loved everyone’s answers! From tech leaders to music moguls to photographers, it looks like everyone was inspired by business leaders across a range of industries.

Here were some great answers from Twitter and the comment section of our blog post:

@blakekaplanIf I could have dinner with any biz leader, it would be H. Schultz of Starbucks because he’s got such good biz sense

@sugarpopx143If I could have dinner w/ a business leader, it would be Bill Gates because I want to ask him the future of computing

Matthew Haynes…Blake Mycoskie because I want to learn about his methods for creating a market product while being a humanitarian at the same time. I want to discuss that balance.

DristerrrJay Z because he’d have a lot of insight on how to move to the top while not allowing money and the fame to distract you from making good decisions.

The winner of the $40 iTunes gift card, however, goes to photographer Jana Long, who said:

If I could sit down and have dinner with anyone in the world, I would love to chat with Amanda K Photography. I know there are super famous photographers that I could choose from, but she is the one photographer who truly inspired me from the beginning, and still does today. I would love to just pick her brain on all things wedding/portrait photography, including balancing ‘life’. :-)

Congratulations, Jana! And thank you to everyone who participated!

Stay tuned for more promotions coming in the near future!

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!

Q&A with Holli True of Holli True Photography

Q-and-A-Series-header-HolliTrue2The words Young & Free come to mind when you mention the name Holli True, and it’s not just because that’s her business’ tagline. The Oregon-based high school senior portrait photographer manages to keep a free spirit and a young attitude finding inspiration in the teen-world around her. In 2010 the savvy businesswoman decided to specialize her business from general photography to a very specific market: high school senior girls. While it may seem like a small niche, Holli has made a name for herself in the region amongst high school girls and in the photography community worldwide. Over the past two years, she’s begun hosting workshops across the US and has spoken at a number of photography conferences and events. Now she’s furthering her reach with a new magazine, set to launch in May of this year.

How did you get started publishing?

FieldNotes

Holli True When I was planning my first workshop, I decided to create books for each of my attendees. I didn’t want them to have to scribble notes, so I provided each of them with all of the workshop content in a book. Following the first workshop, I received a dozen emails from other photographers that had heard about my workshop book. While they weren’t able to attend my workshop, they wanted to buy my book. I decided to revamp the workshop book and offer it to the public for purchase, calling it Field Notes: Workshop in a Book. Since then, I have also released Body Language: The Pose Book.

What exactly are your Young & Free publications?

HT Traditional studios offer proof books with printed images in a leather album, but I am not a traditional photographer. The Young & Free Look Book is my version of a proof book, in magazine format. Needless to say, it was a huge hit with my clients and got everyone buzzing about my business. While albums tend to be more of an heirloom product, our Young & Free look books are intended to be toted around and shared with their friends.

Q&A-Products

How did Young & Free come about? What inspired you?

HT In 2012, while planning for my senior photography season (which peaks in late summer and fall), I looked at my assortment of products and decided to simplify. I stripped down my products, which used to consist of photo boxes, signature books, mounted prints, gallery prints and more. Having too many options for clients can be overwhelming, so I decided I wanted to focus on a small handful of items–keeping my brand in mind–I ended up with Albums & Metal Gallery Prints. I quickly realized that I was missing one thing: a key product that my clients would love, that would do constant advertising for me. My solution: a Look Book.

I absolutely love looking at designer look books, they are different from magazines, as they are filled with just pictures. I adopted the same format and dedicate the entire look book to my clients, filling all of the pages with their beautiful pictures. It is a unique product that other photographers in my area aren’t offering, which allows us to stand out, while remaining true to our brand.

Tell us about your newest publishing adventure.

HT Earlier this year I joined forces with Heather Dunnigan, of TheaCreative, to create a new magazine publication for photographers called Denim+Grace. As a workshop instructor and business mentor, I am very passionate about teaching and sharing. I was craving a creative outlet and new platform to connect with other photographers in the industry and create something beautiful–a magazine was the natural choice. We are so excited about our premiere issue launching on May 1st, 2013!

BodyLanguage

Why did you choose MagCloud?

HT I have been a dedicated MagCloud user for over a year now. I turn to MagCloud for all of my printing needs in terms of magazines & books, it was a no-brainer for us when it came to Denim+Grace. We absolutely love the print quality, quick turnaround time and impeccable customer service that MagCloud offers. Thank you so much for creating a product that makes our hard work look gorgeous!

How has MagCloud made a difference in your business?

HT I think the biggest difference I have seen in my business because of MagCloud is with my look books. Our Young & Free look books sell themselves, we always have them on hand when we are out and about, which has been a huge marketing piece for us this year.

What software do you use to design your publication? Do you have any special tricks to make it easier or well designed?

HT I am a Photoshop girl, so it’s my go-to for design. Due to the number of look books I had to create, I wanted to make it as simple as possible to get them designed, so I made an assortment of templates that I can mix and match easily. Due to the popularity of the look books, I recently wrote a blog post about how I created them and now offer templates for purchase to anyone looking to create similar publications.

What tips do you have for someone new to self-publishing?

HT Do it! MagCloud makes the entire process a breeze, just commit and go for it! Oh, and before you order a large number of copies, make sure to do a test run, just in case! When you start designing, it’s easy to forget to leave enough cushion on some pages, a simple test can give you peace of mind!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one book would you want with you?

HT Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer. I am obsessed with the Twilight Saga- Eclipse was my absolute favorite! I could read it and reread it time and time again. I’m not even ashamed to admit it! ;)

SMB Business Tips from Guest Blogger Merritt Design

Today’s post is from designer and MagCloud publisher Jennifer Koskinen, owner of Merritt Design.

smbtipsWith a desire to start the year with a positive outlook, Sandy Puc just began a great discussion thread on LinkedIn asking people to think about the Top 10 things they believe contribute to a successful photography studio.

I love taking the first week of January to revisit goals for my photography business, and so was inspired to take a moment to reflect on my overall strategies for success. In no particular order, here are my Top 10 (ok 12) things I have observed over the years which motivate me every day.  Some I live with confidence.  Others I am still working to make wholly mine. What would YOU add?

1. THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE

Make booking, scheduling, delivering, and of course, shooting the photo session a memorable and fun experience. Inspire referral business through existing clients.

2. SMILE

Yes, you. Genuinely. Smile!! On the job … and at the proverbial coffee shop (can’t even count how many clients I’ve earned with this philosophy).

3. INSPIRATION / EDUCATION

Keep reading, networking, attending seminars and workshops, stay abreast of current trends, and try new things based on what inspires you.

4. GOALS / LISTS

Keep business and personal deadlines, and self-impose deadlines for non client driven ones. If you keep pushing back a deadline, ask yourself if the item should really be on the list (if so: do it! If not, remove it or put it on a separate back-burner list).

5. MARKETING

Schedule regular activity and think outside the box to market yourself creatively (in print, in person and via social media) Your website should reflect your personality. And especially when you’re starting out, don’t show every photo, show only your BEST photos!

6. COMFORT ZONE

Push it! Often! Shoot new material.  I love to use my phone camera to shoot personal projects even on days when I’m not shooting for clients.

7. PRICING

Review cost of business and package pricing annually and always communicate clearly and confidently with clients (unless you happen to love negotiating — which I decidedly do NOT — printed materials with pricing menus help tremendously).

8. MONEY

Fall in love with the business side of what you do. This is still my biggest challenge. I had to finally design myself a beautiful system of spreadsheets because the available software systems were all too dry for me. May sound silly, but it works for me. Find what works for you.

9. CONTRACTS

Know and continually update your contracts to stay on top of constantly changing on-line world (especially if you work with digital files and licensing). Educate your clients about copyright laws, and gently educate clients that they are investing in your talent, creativity, instinct and vision, NOT paper and ink.

10. GRATITUDE

Be grateful for the fact that you get to do what you love for a living! Remind yourself of this simple and amazing fact when times are tough.

11. ACCEPT CHANGE

Don’t attach to old ways of doing things and don’t be afraid of learning new tricks. Let go of fear, take chances, dive in…

12. TAKE DANCE BREAKS

Often. Crazy ones. They are immeasurably good for the spirit. Not to mention sore, over-worked eyeballs.

And as part of my “outside the box marketing” I like to use MagCloud to show off my work in print and digital, as well as providing my clients with new ways to market their own businesses.

 

Learn more about Jennifer’s work on her website and see her collection of MagCloud publications on her publisher page.

Do you have your own Small Business tips?  Share them in the comments section below.