Cooking-up a Recipe Book with MagCloud

It’s that time of the year, which means it’s time to start thinking about gifts…

I used to spend 3 days making dozens of batches of home-made biscotti to give to the neighbors and friends who unexpectedly drop by during the holiday season.

But this year? Well, let’s face it–I’m too busy to spend 3 days baking, packaging and crafting these little masterpieces.

Instead, I have decided (Sorry friends, your surprise is ruined!) to give my loved ones and neighbors a custom cookbook, filled with our family favorites, printed by MagCloud.

Today I will share with you a template that I have made in InDesign and a few tricks for customizing it for your own use.

GETTING STARTED:

You can start with my custom-designed template that is already formatted for MagCloud settings, or create one of your own. MagCloud’s InDesign document settings and a blank template are available at magcloud.com/help/indesign

Download my InDesign Template.
Preview my cookbook on MagCloud.

CUSTOMIZING YOUR TEMPLATE:
Transforming this template into something of your own is pretty simple using style sheets. Before you start entering your own information, I suggest your go through the template and adjust the colors and fonts to your choosing.

Change your Spot Color
1. Open the Swatches Panel
In CS6 or higher click Window > Color > Swatches
2. Double Click on the color named “sweet red”
3. Adjusting the C,M,Y and K values will change the “pop of color” on all of the pages where it is used in the template.

Adjusting Paragraph Style Sheets
Open the Paragraph Style Panel.
In CS6 or higher click Window > Styles > Paragraph Styles.

Once you have the Paragraph Styles Panel open, you can then go through the document and change your fonts and colors. You will notice that the style sheets are divided into subcategories based on where they are in the document.  (Tip: by opening up all of these sub-tabs you can easily see what style affects each block of text you select on the page)

To adjust the settings of your paragraph styles:
1. Select the text you want to change
2. Identify which Paragraph Style you are selecting within the Paragraph Styles Panel
3. “Right Click” or “Ctrl + Click” on the highlighted style in the Paragraph Styles Panel
4. Using the Paragraph Style Options Dialog box, adjust the font details

Add Your Own Photos and Personal Touches
Change the title, insert photos, recipes and update the intro letter to reflect your own personal style. You can even include a photo of the person who gave you the recipe or a special quote from them.

(Tip: to include more recipes select a “spread”–2 side-by-side pages–within the Pages Panel, and [ctrl + “click”] or [“Right Click”] on the highlighted pages within the panel. Select “Duplicate Spread,” this will insert a set of identical pages in your document.)

**Note that you will want to have a page count that is an increment of 4 pages to print with MagCloud… such as 16… 20… 24… 28… You get the idea!

SAVE AND EXPORT A PDF:
Want a quick easy way to be sure your export settings are correct?

DOWNLOAD the MagCloud PDF Export Job Options file

*If you are on a Mac: double click on the file, it will open in an Adobe application and add it to your presets. You can then close that application and return to InDesign.

*If you are on a PC, within InDesign go to File > Adobe PDF Presets > Define > Load
Find and Select the file you downloaded called “MagCloud_PDF_Export” > Click Done

To use these imported settings, with your file open in InDesign,
Select File > PDF Presets > “Adobe PDF Preset for MagCloud”

Name and Save your PDF and you are ready to publish!

Other Fun Ideas for Your Cookbook:
– make your cookbook themed with all family classics or recipes from a particular family member like “Granny’s Favorite Recipes”
– make a genre themed cookbook, like “Sweets,” “Holiday Dishes,” or “Brunch”
– make a cookbook for a school fundraiser and call it “Bake Sale”
– Ask friends to contribute recipes and do a collaborative cookbook

Season’s Greetings Printed by MagCloud

hangingcards_crop

‘Tis the season holiday cards and newsletters, and MagCloud is here to help! As we’ve discussed before, MagCloud’s print-on-demand capabilities offer a great way to produce personalized holiday communications on an affordable budget. With the premium 80# cover stock we use on all sizes of our Flyer and Pamphlet products, combined with the commercial quality of our full-color digital printing, you can rest assured that your message will look professional and polished whether you are keeping in touch with business clients or corresponding with family and friends.

Holiday Newsletters and Cards for Your Business

BizNewsWe have a number of businesses and organizations that use MagCloud for their newsletters year-round, and the holidays are no exception. As we near the end of the year, it’s a great time to connect with clients and members to update them on the prior year and get them thinking about the year to come. If you own a photography business, for example, you can use this as an opportunity to highlight some of your best work from the past year and remind previous customers about the other services you offer. Or if you are in charge of member communications for a nonprofit organization, now is a great time to highlight the work you’ve done in 2012, and encourage member participation in the new year.

No matter what business you are in, MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet product is the perfect format for your holiday newsletter with four pages for full color images and text, a clean half-fold binding, and a professional-weight paper stock, all for as low as $0.60 per piece when you order 20 or more. Simply create your PDF in the software of your choice, upload it to MagCloud, and order as few or as many copies as you’d like. We can even take care of the distribution of your newsletter for you, and drop-ship copies of your newsletter to an address list at no additional cost.

Business CardsIf you don’t feel like a long-form newsletter is the right fit for your business, you could also create and send a custom greeting card instead. MagCloud’s 5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet format fits perfectly into A9 envelopes, which can be found at any paper or office supply store, and the 80# cover stock that these products are printed on gives them a great professional feel. For only $0.48 per piece when you order 20 or more, this Pamphlet format offers an affordable way to incorporate your products, employees, or the work that you’ve done into your holiday greetings, along with your own branding and a more personalized message, rather than sending a generic card to your clients or organization members.

Holiday Newsletters and Cards for Your Family

NewslettersOf course, businesses aren’t the only ones that send cards and newsletters during the holiday season. Holiday newsletters from families have become the norm in recent years as a way to update friends and relatives on the family’s activities over the prior year. Combining these updates with family photos into a single printed piece is a great way to streamline your holiday communications, either as a double-sided Flyer or using one of MagCloud’s four-page Pamphlet products for additional space.

Cards FamilyIf a newsletter isn’t your style, how about a custom greeting card. MagCloud’s 5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet product makes great half-fold cards while the 5.5″ x 8.25″ or 8.25″ x 5.25″ Flyer works well as an oversized postcard. Both fit perfectly into A9 envelopes, and at only $0.24 per piece for 20 or more of the Flyers, or $0.48 per piece for 20 or more of the Pamphlets, both offer a blank slate to create affordable holiday greetings that are unique to you and your family. Whether you create a collage of family photos or scan some of your children’s artwork for the cover of your card, you can be sure that it will be met with a smile upon arriving at its destination.

Templates

TemplatesTo help you design your holiday newsletter or greeting card for printing through MagCloud, below are links to templates in a variety of formats and software programs. Each link below will take you to a preview of a publication created with that template on the MagCloud site, where you’ll find links in the description to download the corresponding template for a variety of software programs. You can also find a number of letter-sized newsletter templates in programs like Apple Pages, or online at office.microsoft.com for Microsoft Word and Microsoft Publisher. These work well with MagCloud’s 8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet and Flyer products. After you’ve designed your file, be sure to follow the instructions on our Getting Started page to export your PDF.

4-page Business Newsletter (8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet)

4-page Holiday Newsletter (8.25″ x 10.75″ Pamphlet): Adobe InDesign (CS4 or newer) | Microsoft Word | Apple Pages

2-page Holiday Newsletter (8.25″ x 10.75″ Flyer): Red Design | Blue Design

Left-Folded Holiday Card with One Image (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Left-Folded Holiday Card with Three Images (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Top-Folded* Holiday Card with One Image (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Top-Folded* Holiday Card with Three Images (5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet)

Portrait Flat Holiday Card (5.25″ x 8.25″ Flyer)

Landscape Flat Holiday Card (8.25″ x 5.25″ Flyer)

*Keep in mind that if you are using the 5.25″ x 8.25″ Pamphlet for your greeting card and want a top-fold, you will need to upload a PDF with the design rotated, in the same way you would if you were creating a calendar.

PDF 101: Ten Common PDF Problems

We see a lot of PDFs come through the MagCloud site, and while most of them look great, there are some avoidable issues that pop up every so often. Below are ten common PDF problems that can stand in the way of a great looking print publication.

1. Content is too close to the outside edges.
We see a number of great PDFs that have text placed dangerously close to the trim line.   As we discussed in our design series blog post on trim and bleed, it’s important to keep your content within a safe distance of the trim line to avoid having it cut off in your final print publication. Remember that the trim line is 8.25″ x 10.75″ so you need to design to those dimensions NOT the PDF size of 8.5″ by 11″ that you upload to MagCloud. This 8.5″ x 11″ PDF includes a bleed area that will be trimmed off: 0.125″ on the top, 0.125″ on the bottom and 0.25″ on the outside. Since this trim can vary slightly in either direction, we recommend leaving 1/4 inch of extra space between the 8.25″ x 10.75″ trim line and your content, particularly any text content. This will ensure that even if the trim is slightly off, your content will not get cut off, nor will it appear to have been placed too close to the edge of the page.

2. Images are not extending into the bleed area.
Similarly, we see a lot of PDFs where images that the publisher wanted to extend to the edge of the page stop at the trim line. If the trim is even slightly off in the opposite direction in this case, there will appear to be a thin white edge on the image, as shown in our trim and bleed blog post and below. With that in mind, be sure that any images you want to extend to the edge of the printed page, go all the way to the edge of your 8.5″ x 11″ PDF, filling the bleed area (again, 0.125″ top and bottom, 0.25″ on the outside edge).

3. Content is too close to the spine.
Another “edge” to keep in mind is the inside edge of your PDF, where the spine will be on your printed publication. We often see PDFs with text that starts right next to the spine, and becomes lost when printed with a perfect binding. As we described in our design series blog post on designing for perfect binding, up to 1/4 inch of the inside edge of your page may be lost into the spine on a perfect bound publication. It is important to keep this in mind when designing your PDF, and ensure that none of your content is placed close enough to the inside edge that it is in danger of being lost in the final print.

4. Images are distorted across perfect bound spines (especially faces).
In addition to text disappearing into a perfect bound spine, we also see PDFs that have images going across the center spine such that the resulting print appears to be missing up to a half inch in the center of the image due to the perfect binding. As described in our perfect binding blog post, as well as on our Getting Started page, this can be avoided by making the two halves of one image into two separate images within the document, then moving them both out from the spine slightly and duplicating the opposing image within the resulting gutter space. Another trick is to avoid placing the focus of an image on the spine, which will draw attention to this disappearing act and make it more obvious to the viewer. If the focus is moved away from the center spine, any loss of content into the spine area will be less noticeable.

5. PDF uses low resolution images.
While the placement of images is one thing that can cause problems in a print copy, the image itself can be the problem. We often see are PDFs that use lower resolution images, and although they look good on screen, they end up looking pixelated in print. As we describe in our design series blog post about getting the most out of your images, screen resolution is 72 pixels- or dots-per-inch (dpi) but print resolution is 300 dpi. Therefore, when selecting images for your publication, they should be at least 300 dpi to ensure a quality print out. As a test to see if your images will look good in print, open your PDF on your computer screen and zoom in to 300%. If the images still look crisp then, they will look good in your printed copy. On the other hand, if they look pixelated (like they are made up of little blocks of color) then your image is too low res, and will end up looking fuzzy in your final printed copy.

300 dpi vs 72 dpi at 350% zoom

6. Color profiles are not embedded.
Another common image problem we see in PDFs deals with the color of the resulting print copy. As we explained in our design series blog post on working with color, HP Indigo presses print MagCloud publications in a 4-color CMYK process, but most images that get used in the PDF have an RGB colorspace. To help guide this conversion from RGB to CMYK, it is important that the color profiles for these images are embedded in the PDF. Without them, the color of the printed images may appear to be slightly off. To make sure that you are using the best color settings possible when creating your PDF, we encourage you to follow the program-specific instructions that are available for download from the bottom of our Getting Started page.

7. Fonts are not embedded.
Of course, color profiles aren’t the only things that need to be embedded in your PDF – any fonts you use also should be included. A common error that occurs in our PDF upload validation is non-embeddded fonts. This can again be avoided by following the downloadable instructions on our Getting Started page for the software you are using to design your PDF. Each of these guides provides settings that will ensure your fonts are properly embedded in your final PDF, and help you avoid this upload error.

8. Fonts are too small or illegible.
In addition to the technical issue of non-embedded fonts, in some cases the problem with a PDF stems from the fonts themselves being too small or illegible, making the text difficult to read in the final print. For body copy we recommend 9-12 point type and for headlines 18 points or higher.  As we discussed in our design series blog post on typeface dos and don’ts, you also want to avoid hard-to-read fonts, particularly for large blocks of text. Decorative fonts are great as headers, but can detract from your message when they become difficult to read.

9. Dark text is used on a dark background, or light text is used on a light background.
Even in cases where the font is legible, we’ve seen PDFs where the color of the text doesn’t provide enough contrast with the background. Placing navy blue text on a black background or light yellow text on a white background, as shown below, becomes very difficult to read. When there is not enough contrast between the text and the background like this, the text seems to blend in and disappear from view, taking the message it was intended to convey with it.

10. A light spine is used with a dark cover, or a dark spine is used with a light cover.
Finally, while you want your text to stand out, it’s a whole other story when it comes to your spine. We occasionally see PDFs that have dark covers and light spines, or vice versa, which makes the slightest shift in the spine placement become glaringly obvious. As we discussed in our perfect binding design blog post, we encourage you to pick a spine color that is close to the color of your front and back covers. Doing so will give a more seamless appearance to your final print publication, and ensure a more polished look with every print.

To help avoid these problems in your PDF, be sure to follow the program-specific instructions available for download on our Getting Started page when designing your publication. For some more resources to help design your PDF, check out our design series blog post on layouts and templates, or browse through some of our featured publications on the MagCloud website for inspiration.

Does your publication successfully avoid these ten common problems? Share a link to it in the comments below!

Publishing Poetry

Established by the Academy of American Poets, the United States celebrates National Poetry Month throughout the month of April. Ultimately, the purpose of the dedication is to draw individual and media attention to the art of poetry.

Image Courtesy of Parnassus Review
Image Courtesy of Parnassus Review

As artists, we know that poetry takes on many forms. While some keep free verse journals, others compile intricate sonnets and visual poems. Regardless of where on the spectrum your collection lies, though, there is a publication designed to make it shine. There is no time like to present to celebrate your own poetry, so read on for publishing pointers.

Maximize your medium.

Since the layout of a poem can be as important as the words themselves, the first step to publishing it determining the best place for your poetry to call home. Composing poetry on glass or wood and then uploading photos can completely change the perspective in your book.

Think outside the lines.

Tell a visual tale with your story by writing in different shapes. Graphic layouts are ideal for acrostics and outlining the silhouette of a character, or tracing the landscape of your setting, can significantly increase the visual appeal of text without imagery.

Face the font.
Create a language of your own by changing the fonts throughout your text. Don’t stop at style though, increase the size, change the color, and indicate significance with bolding, italics and CAPS. Each aspect of your font can add emphasis to your words and your tone.

Image Courtesy of Great Lakes Writers Festival
Image Courtesy of Great Lakes Writers Festival

Structure your space.

Like with lines, spacing can increase the drama on a page without any images. You can control the chaos with specific kerning or create a world of context by increasing the length of your lines. Sometimes the white space between the words introduces a meaning more powerful than the poem.

Don’t stop with words.

Each picture you include brings 1,000 words of its own, complimenting the existing artwork with even more context. Ebooks can deliver a digital space where the possibilities are endless; complete your composition with videos and sound recordings for a visceral experience.

Have any tips of your own? Share them below!

Recommended Reading:

Passion: Poetry – Inaugural Edition

Anthology of Mad Dog Poetry

The Inquisition of Poetry: Volume 1

DIY Wedding Ideas using MagCloud

Maybe its a side effect of Pinterest, and all of the beautiful weddings we keep seeing pop up, but with June being one of the busiest months of wedding season, we couldn’t help but get into the spirit and explore some DIY wedding ideas using MagCloud products.

invites

Custom Party Invites

It all started last month when I created some fun custom bachelorette invitations for a getaway weekend for my friend who is a bride-to-be. Using MagCloud’s digest pamphlet product I designed a fun little invitation that fit into the top 5.25″ of the template. When the prints arrived (each cost just $0.64) I took a quick snip with my scissors and popped them into coordinating 5.75″ x 5.75″ square envelopes that I found at Paper Source.

Then the idea of creating custom stationary using our digest product got me thinking:

How else could you use MagCloud products for wedding DIYs?

programs

Wedding Programs

Whether you have 12 bridesmaids or 2, having a nice wedding program helps keep guests informed of the order of the ceremony, and who you’ve cast in the important roles for you big day. The four-page digest pamphlet–or if you have a lot going on and want to include songs, readings and hymns–a digest-sized 8-page booklet are classically styled and beautiful printed. We also tried using the square pamphlet for a more modern feel. Depending on the form factor you choose, and the quantity you need, a 4-page digest or square pamphlet could cost somewhere between $0.48 and $0.80 a piece, perfect for the bride on a budget.

Like our modern design? You can download the template for Adobe InDesign below:

Wedding Menus

menus

Using our flyer product to create a sleek menu was really simple too. By dividing the page lengthwise (basically creating a 0.5″ gutter right down the middle of the page) we were able to print two menus per flyer and simply cut them in half with a paper cutter when they arrive.

Because our flyers cost just $0.40 print (or buy at least 20 and the price drops to $0.30/print), printing two per page makes them$0.15-0.20 per menu. That means you could print 200 menus for just $30.00 + shipping.

*Note: Flyer publication orders are subject to an 8 quantity minimum in multiples of 4.

Wedding Poster

posterscompared

The wedding poster seems to have surpassed traditional guestbooks in recent years as the popular way to commemorate one’s wedding day. Rather than being stuffed into a box and never looked at again, the wedding poster allows newly-wed couples to enjoy the love notes and encouragement given to them by family and friends for years to come.

MagCloud’s 12″ x 18″ poster costs just $2, leaving you plenty to spare for a fancy frame. We recommend having your loved ones sign a mat (like this one available from Amazon) rather than directly onto the poster (UV coating which protects the poster, also makes some inks smudge). But if you really want to let folks sign right onto your print, we found that you can do so with Sharpie Metallic Fine Point Permanent Markers.

Get started creating your own! For more design guidelines for our poster product, visit our Getting Started page.

Banners and Pennants

With the “Rustic Chic” style of weddings still ever-popular– pennant or flag signs have become a wedding or shower must-have. We’ve seen every variation from “she said yes” to the classic “Bride” and “Groom” signs on the backs of chairs, and found that the MagCloud standard pamphlet is a great tool for creating your own. With two letters per pamphlet we were able to create this sign for just $6.40. Using fishing line, twine or a narrow strip of ribbon and a glue stick, we simply cut out the pennants, lined the ribbon up in the fold of the paper, and glued the two sides together around it. The 100# cover stock used in our pamphlet product helped the banner hold up in a nice afternoon breeze.

banner

pennant-guideTo create your own banner, each pair of letters will need to be designed as it’s own 4-page pamphlet. We used the standard size, 8.25 x 10.75 publication so that we could get 4″ x 8″ pennants. In order to be sure the pennants look great from all sides, we set the full inside “spread” of the document to be a matching color to the outsides (this hides trimming/gluing errors) and to add a little bit of fun, we added a pattern, like stripes or polka dots, to the back sides for when the banner is blowing in a breeze. For the space between words, we used a heart symbol, so the banner would read “FROM❤MS.❤TO❤MRS.” or “SHE♥SAID♥YES.”

Try it and Save

Interested in creating your own event DIY with MagCloud?
Use promo code MCDIY when you publish and save 15%. Valid through June 30, 2013

More Wedding Reading on MagCloud

Now that you’re in the wedding mood, check out some of our favorite publications in the Brides & Weddings Section of the MagCloud Shop.

SmittenSD Wedding StyleDIY Weddings

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! ;)

How MagCloud Publishers Leverage Instagram

Instagram on iPhoneVisual storytelling is nothing new in the realm of business. Content consumers love the power of an image portraying “1,000” words that leaves enough to the imagination while alluding to a larger point. To that end, MagCloud is running a #MagCloudHearts themed poster giveaway through Instagram.

But what makes Instagram an improvement over the time-tested and standardized visual element? To answer these questions, we continue our chat with Cory Ann Ellis and Trey Hill. This time, we’re shifting our focus from Pinterest to Instagram, and the best practices for leveraging the platform for publications and small business.

MagCloud: Are your businesses using Instagram for business purposes?

Cory Ann Ellis: Yes we are on Instagram (@coryannellis), and like Instagram for private use, it’s immediate and visual nature. It is free and clear of long posts, soapboxes and other negatives that can fill other social media platforms.

Trey Hill: My agency (@squarerootof9) specializes in image driven storytelling, and for most people, I am the agency. I’m an avid Instagrammer & use it to tell my story, which spans the professional, experimental and personal.

MagCloud: What’s your favorite element of Instagram, and why do you think it can help your publication?

Cory Ann Ellis: Instagram has the ability to show a steady stream of interesting content that can keep the reader’s attention between publication dates. With behind-the-scenes and feature teasers, viewers can get excited to pick up or download the next issue.

Trey Hill: It’s a craft that’s always been about contextualizing and sharing our world. Instagram, for me, has made it so the time between seeing and sharing is almost zero. In that way, I think it’s perfect. Used well, Instagram can help anyone craft an ongoing story that reveals who you are and what you’re about. Just because you’re on a mobile device doesn’t mean that you can’t take time to learn the craft of photography. The tools have changed, but the aesthetic that draws people to a photo – good composition, proper exposure and a unique point of view – will never change.

MagCloud: What are your top Instagram tips for publishers?

Cory Ann Ellis: Show images that are graphically interesting and fun. Go easy on the filters. Focus instead on the framing and lighting so that you don’t need to use filters to distort from poor photography. Yes it’s just a camera phone, but you can use it wisely. Try hinting at an upcoming article by showing a tiny detail or abstract from the set without showing full setups.

#panogramtastic
#panogramtastic

Trey Hill: I don’t think my tips for publishers would be any different than the tips I’d share with an individual. I am three-quarters of the way through a four-part series on my blog about mobile-photography. I think, more than anything, I’d point people there as a great place to start:

In Part Three, I talk about how to push the medium of Instagram by highlighting something I created called #panogramtastic. Basically, Instagram is all about the single square image. For a while, people have been using apps to add white to the background of their images so they can post circles, or more traditional photo crops. I thought, “What if you could take the constraints of the app and use them to create something interesting?” I began by using my profile’s grid view to merge a single panoramic image across three frames. They come out like what you see on the left.

MagCloud: How best can publishers promote their publication using Instagram?

Cory Ann Ellis: I think one of the best ways is to use the hashtags to create contests or followings for a specific feature or event. For example, if you create a hashtag and promote the most recent publication by saying, “Where do you read your xyz magazine? – show us through Instagram. Hashtag your photo #xyzmagread.” Then you have a steady stream of everyone reading your magazine in different places and parts of the world. These can be fed into your websites, blogs and even shared on Facebook. This is a great way to show that others are enjoying your publication and they might also.

Trey Hill: One of my clients is the Dallas Stars, an NHL hockey team. One of the initiatives we’ve done for the past five seasons is inviting the fans behind the curtain. I think Instagram is perfectly suited to show people the raw, unpolished parts of who you are. Fans love it because they feel like they are part of the team. For a publication, I would say, use Instagram to show people things they wouldn’t otherwise see – an image that didn’t make the final edit, but is still evocative – a layout sketch or anything from the process. Just because it’s not “for real” don’t let that mean you don’t treat it with respect. Make sure you take time to art direct the frame or fuss over the treatment you put on the image. It may not be part of the publication, but every Instagram becomes part of your story.

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We’d like to give both Cory and Trey a special shout-out and thank you for showing us some of the magician’s tricks, so to speak.

Do you too have insight into how Instagram improves the story-telling strategies for your business? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to join the #MagCloudHearts Instagram poster giveaway!