DIY Gift Ideas

From cookbooks, to calendars, to a poster of your favorite Instagram photos, use MagCloud to get a jump-start on your holiday gift giving by creating your own masterpiece.

cookbook_templateCookbooks

Recipe collections are a popular MagCloud publication type, serving the purpose of business promotionscommunity 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 InDesigniWork Pages, and Microsoft Word.

Calendars

calendar_templateCalendars are a great way to relive the special moments of the past year, memorialize a one-of-a-kind summer vacation, highlight business accomplishments, serve as a collectible fundraising idea, or show-off your dog Kai’s greatest moments. Whatever your inspiration is, we’ve made it easy to get started. Select from one of our pre-designed templates or read our recent calendar blog post to design one yourself. And with a 28-page Standard format calendar costing only $5.60, it’s an affordable gift idea as well.

Posters

poster_templatesGive your child’s artwork, favorite New Year’s resolutions, new product offerings or your best-of wedding photos the rock star treatment with our Poster format. MagCloud’s full-color Posters are printed to order so there are no minimum order requirements – you can order copies of your poster as you need them, and come back to order more when you run out.  And if you want to make your poster gift extra special, read our blog post and watch our video for tips on framing MagCloud posters.

Share your DIY printed gift ideas in our comments section below.

It’s Calendar Season!

CalendarSeason

The holiday season is almost upon us! If you’re thinking of ways to cherish memories, gift your friends, family or clients, consider creating customized calendars!  Every year, we share new ideas or templates for calendars and this year is no different.

You can easily create calendars to send to loved-ones or to have clients remember you year-round by dropping our monthly grids into one of our standard templates in your favorite software. Simply put your own personal images on the cover, left-side pages and back (remember to rotate them on their side like the image below) and insert the grids on the right hand pages in order. We’ve included 13 months (December 2013-December 2014) so that you can easily create a 28-page saddle-stitched calendar.

Your final PDF should be on it's side, like this.
Your final PDF should be on it’s side, like this.

Get started with a Blank Standard Template for your favorite software HERE.

Download the monthly grids as images HERE.

Bonus! Download monthly grids as images for an 8×8 Square calendar HERE.

Need some inspiration on what kind of calendar to create? Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Great memories from 2013
  • Summer photos to keep the memories going year-round
  • Pet photos to keep at your desk or share with friends and family
  • Fundraiser calendar to raise money for your cause
  • Photos of the family and kids to send to grandma and grandpa
  • Branded calendar with motivational quotes to keep your clients remembering you year-round
  • Calendar to promote your art work

What type of calendars will you create? Tag us in a Tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram  with a picture of a 2014 MagCloud calendar you created for a chance to win 5  free copies! Calendar must be received by 10/30/2013 12 a.m. PDT. U.S. residents only.

#MagCloudPets Instagram Contest

MagCloudPets blog image ONLY

Love your pets? We do too! Which is why we’re dedicating August to your pets. Starting today through the end of the month, we invite you to Instagram pictures of your pets using the #MagCloudPets hashtag (and tag @HPMagCloud too!). We’ll be selecting Instagrams of your pets to be featured in our first-ever MagCloud Pets Calendar! Participants who submit pet photos will automatically be entered to win a copy of the MagCloud Pets Calendar.

To enter, just be sure to:

– Follow MagCloud on Instagram (@HPMagCloud).

– Take an Instagram of your pet(s).

– Include the hashtag #MagCloudPets to participate, and tag @HPMagCloud too!

Questions? Post in the comments below.

Feeling inspired? Learn how to create your own personalized calendar here!

 The contest is open from August 1-31, 2013. Entries must be submitted by 11:59pm on Sunday, August 31. The randomly selected winners will be announced early September, be sure to check our social channels for updates. The prize will be a complimentary copy of the 8×8 saddle stitch MagCloud Pets 2014 calendar. All entrants agree to be contacted by Hewlett Packard for prize fulfillment. By using the #MagCloudPets hashtag with your pet’s photo, you are officially releasing rights to the image and allowing MagCloud to use it for the MagCloud Pets calendar and any marketing activities related to this contest. The contest is open to MagCloud blog readers, Twitter followers and Facebook fans that reside in the United States and are at least 18 years of age at time of entry. No purchase necessary to enter or win.

MagCloud Pet Love

MagCloud Team PetsHere at MagCloud, we love pets, so it’s no surprise that some of our team members have published “Puppy’s First Year” photo books, created wall calendars or even made custom placemats for their furry friends.

Whether you have a goldfish, a Peterbald cat, a purebred Great Dane or a rescued mutt, there’s bound to be a product that will help you pay tribute to your furry (and sometimes fur-less) companions.

petphotobook

Create a Photobook

Using cool action shots, fun Instagram photos or ‘selfies’ of you and your pet, you can create beautiful square photobooks to commemorate your pet’s first year, or as a gift for your favorite animal-lover.

Blank templates to get you started with MagCloud’s square product are available in the Getting Started section of the site. Or if you want a little more help with design, you can use our partner Poyomi. Poyomi is a web service that lets you take your desktop or online photos and easily lay them out as a calendar or photo book of many sizes and have them printed and shipped on-demand via MagCloud.

MagCloud_flyer_paws_stackMagCloud’s Flyer Product to Promote your Pet Cause

If you’re involved with a pet service, cause, or adoption agency, MagCloud’s glossy flyer product is perfect for pet adoption flyers or event promotions. We personally love a good ‘yappy hour,’ or ASPCA fundraiser. You can spread the word for your cause or event for as little as $0.24 a copy when you order 20 or more digest-sized flyers.

Posters Turned into Personalized Placemats

montyplacematMonty, MagCloud’s unofficial mascot and Canine Consultant even has his very own personalized placemat for a water bowl in his office. Using the poster product in a landscape format we created a custom graphic that looks like a sketch of a place setting on chalkboard. While the poster isn’t 100% waterproof, it does hold up well, and at $2 for a new one, it can be changed out seasonally, or swapped for holiday and sports-themed versions.

You can download this image to create your own–just place it in any MagCloud 18 x 12″ poster template in your favorite software and add your pet’s name in white text.

Enjoy Pet Photos Year-Round with a Custom Calendar

SATO Fundraiser CalendarCalendars aren’t only for a new year, you can still create a custom photo calendar to enjoy through the end of 2014. We’ve modified our 2013 calendar templates to go from July 2013 to December 2014 in our Standard (8.25″ x 10.75″) and Small Square (8″ x 8″) formats for InDesign CS4 and newer, and Apple Pages. Just download the template for the size of calendar you want to create in your software of choice, add your photos and use the included instructions to export a PDF for uploading to the MagCloud website.

InDesign CS4 and newer: Standard template  |  Small Square template

Apple Pages: Standard template  |  Small Square template

If creating your own calendar file in InDesign or Pages isn’t for you, then this could also be a great time to check out our partner Poyomi. In addition to photo books, Poyomi lets you create a calendar just by uploading your photos from your computer, SmugMug, Picasa, or Facebook, and then you can have it uploaded automatically to your MagCloud account.

Discover and Enjoy other Pet-Centric Publications

If that’s not enough pet-mania for you, Monty has picked out some of his favorite publications available in the Pets Category of the MagCloud Shop.


Pup Culture May / June 2013Pup Culture

Everything Pet in the Northwest–We cover pet health, welfare, events, and just about everything else for our readers in the upper-left-hand-corner of the map.

Spot MagazineSpot Magazine

Everything Pet in the Northwest–We cover pet health, welfare, events, and just about everything else for our readers in the upper-left-hand-corner of the map.

Animals VoiceAnimals Voice

Features articles about the history and plight of pit bulls. Also: Wild Horses, Factory Farming, Whales and Dolphins, Endangered Wildlife, Horse Slaughter, and other news and information regarding the rights of animals


Pony PalsPony Pals

July’s issue is full of great pony stories, summer tales, art, horse themed crafting projects, and a great tale about Equitarian Initiative in Haiti.


Shelter Pet MagazineShelter Pet Magazine

Everything Pet in the Northwest–We cover pet health, welfare, events, and just about everything else for our readers in the upper-left-hand-corner of the map.

InstagramAnimal lovers: be sure to stay tuned for a MagCloud Instagram pet contest coming your way soon!

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:

Celebrating Dads and Grads

With Father’s Day this Sunday and the school year coming to a close, today we’re going to highlight some ways to use MagCloud to do some last minute shopping for Dad, and also how recent graduates can use MagCloud as they commemorate the past and look toward their future.

MagCloud Gifts for Dad

18 Month Photo Calendar

DadCalendarThe mid-year timing of Father’s Day is a perfect opportunity to create a custom photo calendar that your dad can enjoy through the end of 2014. We’ve modified our 2013 calendar templates to go from July 2013 to December 2014 in our Standard (8.25″ x 10.75″) and Small Square (8″ x 8″) formats for InDesign CS4 and newer, and Apple Pages. Just download the template for the size of calendar you want to create in your software of choice, add your photos and use the included instructions to export a PDF for uploading to the MagCloud website. With MagCloud you can order just a single print copy for your dad, or order additional copies for other family members.

InDesign CS4 and newer: Standard template  |  Small Square template

Apple Pages: Standard template  |  Small Square template

If creating your own calendar file in InDesign or Pages isn’t for you, check out our partner PoyomiPoyomi lets you create a calendar just by uploading your photos from your computer, SmugMug, Picasa, or Facebook, and then you can have it uploaded automatically to your MagCloud account.

Custom BBQ Recipe Book

If your dad loves to grill, pull together his go-to recipes into a custom recipe book. Click here to check out our recent post on National Barbecue Month for templates and tips.

Print and Digital MagCloud Publications

No matter what your dad is into, from cars or technology, to sports, cooking, or travel, chances are good you can find a MagCloud publication about it. Print copies always make a great gift for reading on the beach this summer, or if he has an iPad, get Dad an iTunes gift card that he can use to purchase digital versions of the publications he likes right inside the latest version of the MagCloud iPad app.

CarHeader

MagCloud Uses for Grads

Photobooks for Friends

PhotobookBefore you and your friends head off in various directions after graduation, commemorate the fun times you had together in a photobook. MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 5.25″ Digest product is a great size for displaying full color photographs in a nice compact format, and only costs $0.16 per page to print. Check out our blog posts about creating photobooks with Adobe Photoshop or Apple Aperture, or see our Getting Started page for instructions in a variety of other programs. You can also use our partner Poyomi to quickly turn your photos from Facebook or Instagram into a photobook without having to lay them out yourself.

Custom Thank You Notes

ThankYouNow that you’ve received all those generous graduation gifts, show your appreciation with customized thank you notes. MagCloud’s single sheet Flyers in our smaller Digest size are printed on a heavier cover stock that make them ideal for using as flat notecards, and the size fits perfectly into A9 envelopes. All you have to do is use the program of your choice to create a PDF that is either 8.5″ x 5.5″ for portrait notecards or 5.5″ x 8.5″ for landscape notecards, and upload that PDF to MagCloud. Then you can order as few or as many thank you cards as you need, for just $0.32 each (or $0.24 each if you order 20 or more). For instructions to create your PDF, check out the Software-Specific Instruction Packages on our Getting Started page.

Print and Digital Portfolio

Children's Sports Photography PortfolioFor those of you heading into the work world as artists, photographers, designers, architects, or writers, MagCloud is a great option for publishing your portfolio. MagCloud’s print-on-demand features allow you to order commercial-quality printed portfolios at an affordable price, across a range of sizes and binding options, in as few or as many copies as you need. You can even have copies of your portfolio shipped directly to an address list of potential employers using our Ship to Group feature. In addition to having high quality print versions of your portfolio available on demand, you can also make your portfolio available digitally for viewing in the MagCloud Web Viewer, iPad app, and as a downloadable PDF, using the same PDF you upload for printing.

MagCloud wishes a hearty congratulations to all the graduates out there, and a happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

Creating Conversions: How to Maximize Instagram for SMBs & Publishers

Instagram Icon
Instagram Icon

So you’ve survived the holiday season, but now your smartphone is filled with a veritable art gallery of filtered Instagram photos. Those Amaro- or Kelvin-tinted shots don’t need to sit there collecting dust in your phone, however, and this is especially true for small businesses and publishers. The question is: How can those Instagram pictures lead to more paying customers for your small business or publication?

Instagram’s core idea is less about cool filters and more about creating strong visual narratives. We hear all the time about how visual content draws the most eyeballs on social media pages. For you the business owner, this key insight can change the way you tell your brand’s story.

For instance, let’s say your publication holds a launch party. You can use Instagram to highlight portions of the party that make your brand stand out amongst your competitors. You can use Instagram to create a visual narrative that will draw new eyeballs, and thus new potential customers. This process is called conversion. Check out our Instagram profile to see an example.

Instagram_Logo_Large

Here are five tips to create business conversions on Instagram:

  1. Create clear branding on your Instagram Profile Page. When Facebook bought Instagram recently, social media users started noticing small but important changes in how the platform behaved. One of those changes was Profile Pages. Profile Pages are no different than a Facebook page. They house all the photos you’ve uploaded to Instagram, and allow you to browse your feed. To maximize this for your brand, make sure you have a link driving back to your business’ home page, write a short and catchy bio and display your logo prominently.
  2. Upload your Instagram photos to as many other social platforms as possible. This sounds counter-intuitive, but keep in mind Instagram’s core idea. Instagram tells visual stories. In order to tell that story to as many people as possible, post your Instagram shots to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc. Spread the #love.
  3. Use hashtags. For those of you unfamiliar with a hashtag (#), it’s no different than your average pound key. But, when used in a caption of an Instagram photo as a theme, your photo has the potential to be introduced to a much wide audience. This is because whenever the hashtag is used, it’s picked up by Instagram’s search tool. For instance, if your publication centers on classic cars, and you’ve just uploaded an Instagram shot of your favorite ’67 Chevy, don’t forget to put #musclecar or #Chevy in the caption of your photo to introduce it to more potential readers.
  4. Use location tagging. But do it wisely. Many folks are afraid to tag a location to their photos, but it’s a great feature aimed at growing your exposure. When you tag locations, your image is grouped with all the others taken at that location, which again adds to the potential for your image to be seen by a wide audience.
  5. Be a consumer. Most brands and publishers use Instagram as a one-way street. They upload the pictures, with the appropriate hashtags, and then leave it alone. Make sure you add new followers with similar interests to your business or publication. Follow your readers. Like photos that relate to your own. This is called building a community, and doing so will reap large rewards in future conversions.

We here at MagCloud have talked about Instagram and seo services a few times in the past for businesses and consumers. Highlighting ways to use your Instagram photos to create business collateral whether that be a client calendar, trade-show or event poster or portfolio or photo collectible.  There are lots of ways to extend your Instagram conversations from the phone through other marketing and sales channels.

Do you guys use Instagram for your business? How do you use it differently from your own private Instagram account? What other tips do you have? Make sure to share in the comments!