Q+A with Merritt Design’s Jennifer Koskinen

No sooner did Jennifer Koskinen begin using MagCloud to showcase her architectural photography work than she found herself designing MagCloud magazines for her clients, too – quickly parlaying her architectural firm into a photography and graphic design boutique. In fact, MagCloud was a source of inspiration for transforming her architectural skills into graphic design skills.

“I love the creativity of designing photographs and then thinking of how to best present them,” Koskinen says. “MagCloud makes it easy and affordable to experiment with design ideas and try new things.”

  How did your architecture work lead to your new career in photography?

Jennifer Koskinen I fell in love with photography when I got my first camera in the eighth grade. But I’d never considered working as a photographer. I pursued a career in architecture, instead.

After a few years of design work, my firm hired me to shoot scouting photos of one of our projects in pursuit of publication. So I submitted my photographs to a magazine, thinking they’d send their own photographer to reshoot them.

The magazine loved what I sent and wanted to publish them. It was just the validation I needed to start shooting more, and soon I realized that I felt more creative photographing architecture than designing it. I absolutely love photography! It’s hard to believe that I get to do this for a living!

  How did MagCloud inspire you in your graphic design business?

JK I started creating my own magazines with MagCloud to give to existing and potential clients. Everyone loved them, right from the start, and wanted me to design magazines for them, too. I’ve created eight MagCloud magazines so far for other architects, builders, chefs, jewelry designers and so forth, with two more in the works. My clients in turn use the magazines to market their work, which makes for fabulous co-marketing for all of us!

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

JK I’d been interested in self-publishing in general, but could find solutions only for books. When I came across MagCloud, I was immediately excited. The first thing I designed was a magazine for my architectural photography. The magazine format was intriguing, so I even wrote stories and included advertisements for some of my clients.

  How has MagCloud made a difference?

JK Next to my website, distributing my MagCloud magazines to potential clients is the most important thing I can do to attract business. I love the reaction that I get from people when I hand them out. People visibly respond to something they can hold in their hands and flip through at their own pace. I see them feel the paper and the weight of it. The pages hold the color so well. It’s one thing to see my images on a computer monitor – it’s nice to see them in print, too.

There’s nothing else out there that beats the quality and the price point better than these magazines. They’re invaluable, and they give my business credibility. There’s no doubt that my sales have dramatically increased because of MagCloud.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

JK Dive in. When I set out to design something, I look at things I love, study graphical trends, fonts, proportions – even white space and how it’s used. It’s really fun to play with, and MagCloud’s templates make everything so easy. I recommend studying what you like and then creating something that’s your own, including things you’ve noticed and like in other people’s designs. Have fun and try things you’ve never done.

  If your publication were a superhero, who would it be?

JK Pixelgirl! She’s a stylish superhero who can fly – cameras in tow – from location to location, harnessing her amazing powers of composition and her ability to capture the most dynamic subjects in the most beautiful light. And she gets home in time to cook dinner for her son!

Q+A with Alyssa Yuhas of WLWL Magazine

Toronto-based graphic designer Alyssa Yuhas specializes in branding and online design for a variety of clients across North America. But she’s never forgotten her longtime love for print magazines and the thought of working for one.

When she discovered MagCloud, she realized right away that she could publish a magazine of her own. So in 2008, after “months of planning, days of designing, hours of procrastinating (sometimes you just have to) and minutes of pacing,” Yuhas excitedly launched We Like We Love.

  Tell us about We Like We Love.

Alyssa Yuhas WLWL is exactly what the title says – we share the things we like and love. We showcase people who are passionate about their contributions to the worlds of lifestyle, fashion, arts and culture. If you’re passionate and excited about what you’re doing, we want to tell your story.

  Why print and not just online?

AY I’ve always been really interested in magazines – I’ve loved them since I was little. I love the physicality of holding a magazine and flipping through the pages. Online is awesome, but I really wanted the physical object. When it’s in print, people are excited to get involved in it.

  How has your MagCloud publication improved your business?

AY It has given me some great exposure, and we’ve been able to participate in several communitywide events because of the magazine. Plus, it adds credibility to my graphic design business. Potential clients see my name on the masthead, and that’s brought a lot of new work and contacts.

  How has publishing a magazine changed for you in the past five years?

AY We watch our Google Analytics and our MagCloud statistics – and we’re excited to see that the magazine keeps growing and growing. In fact, the MagCloud views of our magazine have increased by 158 percent since our first issue.

We hear from people every day, and we’re getting more and more contributors from all over the world. I think our quality is improving, and people see that we publish on a consistent basis. Establishing that longevity has been fantastic – it helps us earn our readers’ trust.

  How did you get started with publishing through MagCloud?

AY I can’t remember how I found MagCloud but I definitely remember thinking, “This is the best thing ever!”

WLWL is really well printed and gorgeously bound. And now we have new size and binding options. It’s so cool that print on demand is now possible for anyone at a very low cost. Anyone can start a magazine now.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

AY Focus on both design and content. It’s important that your magazine be visually appealing and exciting, and also that people will delve into the stories. You need to strike that balance.

  If you were stranded on a desert island, which books would you want with you?

AY The Chronicles of Narnia series. That was my favorite as a kid. The language and visuals are beautiful. I could reread them over and over again.

Make Summer Last All Year – Turn Your Photos into a Calendar

In the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about ways to turn your photos into something special with MagCloud. Whether that’s creating a photo book with Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture, or creating a Summer Memory Magazine, MagCloud makes it easy to enjoy your photos in beautiful print and digital formats. So why not enjoy Summer all year-round by creating a calendar with your photographs?

To help you get started, we’ve created 6 templates for you to use with Adobe InDesign and Apple Pages. Simply add your own photos, special dates and details, upload your PDF to MagCloud and you’re set! You can sell your calendar online in the MagCloud Storefront or use our Direct Mail feature to send a copy to all of your friends with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Let’s get started!

Select the Format/Size of Calendar

Our templates are available in 3 sizes:

  • Small Square (8″ x8″) calendars (ideal for square photos like those from Instagram) with Saddle  Stitch Binding (28 pages – $5.60/each + Shipping)
  • Standard (10.75″ x 8.25″) calendars with Saddle Stitch Binding (28 pages – $5.60/each + Shipping)
  • Large Square (12″ x 12″) calendars with Wire-O Binding (28 pages – $12.08/each + Shipping)

*Remember that prices drop 25% off when you order 20 copies or more. So if you’re looking to order gifts for friends and family, or a great way to promote your business–a MagCloud-published calendar may be the perfect solution.

Select Your Software

InDesign CS5 & Newer

InDesign CS4

Pages

Script (handwriting) Typeface used in templates: Jenna Sue

Calendars for Business

You may also remember that last year we talked about using a MagCloud-printed calendar to promote your business. In exchange for you summer vacation photos, you can easily add images of your products, team members, or local scenery. Add your logo to the back cover along with a bit about your business and contact information and voila–you’ll keep your brand top-of-mind and in front of your customers all-year-round.

Since last year’s calendar template was so popular we also decided to revamp it for 2013. Enjoy!

That sounds too complicated for me.

Don’t want to use either of the above applications? MagCloud Partner Poyomi has an easy-to-use web-based platform that helps you create 14″ x 11″ calendars that are printed by MagCloud. With their service you can easily upload photos from your computer or connect to your accounts on photo-sharing services like Flickr, Smugmug, Picasa and Facebook.

*Please note that using the Poyomi tool and templates to create a calendar or photo book will affect the pricing. For Poyomi pricing, visit poyomi.com/pricing

To get started with the Poyomi calendar tool click here.

How to Create a MagCloud-Ready PDF in Lightroom 4

Adobe’s recent update to Lightroom added a Book module. Currently, the module is limited to a set selection of sizes, however it does allow users to export the books they create as a PDF. Until Lightroom allows you to create books in custom sizes, books created with the Small Square and Large Square sizes can be exported as PDFs and used to create 8″ x 8″ Square, 8″ x 8″ Pamphlet, 8″ x 8″ Flyer, and the new 12″ x 12″ Square MagCloud publications. In today’s post we’ll be sharing the settings you can use to do this along with some design tips, and we’re also launching Information Packets for Lightroom 4 that can be downloaded on our Getting Started page for all of our 8″ x 8″ and 12″x 12″ products.

Creating Your Book

To get started, the first thing we suggest is that you create a collection in Lightroom of the photos you will want to include in your book. Once you’ve created your collection, select the “Book” module from the menu in the top right-hand corner of your screen.

For an 8″ x 8″ MagCloud publication, select your Book Settings to match those shown to the right. Specifically:

  • Select “PDF” next to Book
  • Select “Small Square” as the Size
  • Select “Softcover” as the Cover
  • Set the JPEG Quality to 80
  • Select “sRGB” as the Color Profile
  • Set the File Resolution to 360 ppi
  • Check the box next to Sharpening and set to “Standard”
  • Select “Glossy” as the Media Type

For a 12″ x 12″ MagCloud publication, select your settings to match those shown to the right. Specifically:

  • Select “PDF” next to Book
  • Select “Large Square” as the Size
  • Select “Hardcover Image Wrap” as the Cover
  • Set the JPEG Quality to 80
  • Select “sRGB” as the Color Profile
  • Set the File Resolution to 310 ppi
  • Check the box next to Sharpening and set to “Standard”
  • Select “Glossy” as the Media Type

Once your settings are taken care of, the next step is to lay out the pages of your book. When designing for MagCloud, you can disregard the Front and Back Covers in the Lightroom layout. Instead, treat page 1 as the cover of your publication, page 2 as the inside front cover, and so on. Keep in mind that if you are creating an 8″ x 8″ Flyer, your publication will only be 2 pages long: page 1 will be the front of your Flyer and page 2 will be the back of your Flyer. If you are creating an 8″ x 8″ Pamphlet, your publication will only be 4 pages long: page 1 will be the front of your Pamphlet, page 2 will be your left inside page, page 3 will be your right inside page, and page 4 will be the back of your Pamphlet.

One option for adding pages is to choose a Preset under the Auto Layout section, and click the Auto Layout button. This will automatically add pages to your book and layout all the photos from the collection you have selected based on the Preset you specified. This is a great way to get a book laid out very quickly, but all of your page layouts will be the same. If you want to change any of your page layouts after using the Auto Layout function, you can always do so by selecting the page and choosing a different layout from the Page section.

Your other option is to add pages one at a time, specifying unique layouts and picking photos as you go. To do this, pick a layout in the Page section, then click the Add Page button. Once the page has been added, you can drag images from the Filmstrip at the bottom of the window and drop them on the gray image placeholders to add them to the layout. If the layout you selected includes text, you can also click on the text box and start typing. This is convenient if you want a more custom book, but it will take longer than using the Auto Layout option.

When you have finished laying out your content, click the Export Book to PDF button in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Select a name for your PDF, and choose where you want it to be saved on your computer. After you click the Save button, you can track the progress of your PDF in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Lightroom will export two PDFs: one that is a single page and has “Cover” added to the filename and another that is a multi-page PDF. For creating a MagCloud publication, you can disregard the cover PDF, and just upload the multi-page PDF to the MagCloud website.

After your file finishes uploading, you’ll see a message that the PDF is the wrong size. This is because Lightroom exports files that are 6.875″ x 6.875″ and 11.875″ x 12″, while MagCloud uses PDFs that are 8.25″ x 8.25″ and 12.25″ x 12.25″, respectively. By clicking “Proceed with this PDF” MagCloud will automatically resize the PDF to fit our specifications, resulting in a PDF where all the images are the MagCloud-recommended resolution of 300 dpi. From there, you can continue with the rest of the MagCloud Publish process as usual, previewing your publication and setting your binding, pricing and distribution options.

Picking Layouts for MagCloud Publications

When selecting your layouts and choosing images, it’s good to keep in mind how your PDF will be trimmed by MagCloud. The Lightroom layouts all have a pretty good margin around them, so there shouldn’t be an issue with keeping content inside the MagCloud-recommended safe zone. 12″ x 12″ Square publications and 8″ x 8″ Flyers are trimmed equally on all sides by MagCloud, so the only thing you need to consider is that the outside 1/8 inch or so of any full-page images will be trimmed off. On the other hand, 8″ x 8″ Square and 8″ x 8″ Pamphlet publications are trimmed more on the outside than the inside, so layouts with centered content may appear off-center in your final MagCloud publication. In print, perfect bound publications won’t be as noticeable, because the binding will take up some of the extra space on the inside edge, but saddle stitch bound publications and Pamphlets will be more obvious. For these publications, asymmetrical layouts and layouts with full-page images will generally look better.

Cover Design Tricks in Lightroom

Since the first and last numerical pages of your publication will be the covers, rather than the Front and Back Covers specified by Lightroom, you won’t be able to use the specific cover layouts that Lightroom provides. One of the benefits of this is that you can mix and match your front and back covers, as compared with the Lightroom options where the front and back cover layouts are paired together. Many of the cover templates are also available as page templates, but one layout that is used frequently in the cover templates and is not available in the page templates is text on top of a full-page image. Even though there isn’t a specific page template for this layout, you can get the same effect by using the full page text layout, and then adding a background image to the page.

If you are searching for a layout to use on your cover that includes both text and images, don’t limit your searching just to the “Text Pages” layout menu. There are a number of layouts hidden within the photo-centric layout menus that also include text. Many of these will likely be better for creating an interesting cover, since the images are given at least equal, if not more, focus than the text. Another way to expand your options for both your cover and interior pages is to use a different program to design a layout, and then import it as an image into Lightroom and place it on a page using one of the preset layouts. For example, you could design your cover and place it in the 1 photo full-page image layout on page 1. Doing so offers you more creative freedom in designing your layout than Lightroom allows.

Overall, Lightroom is a great option if you want to create a simple, photo-centric 8″ x 8″ or 12″ x 12″ MagCloud publication. Whether you are creating a proof book, portfolio, or even a catalog, the preset layouts and easy interface help simplify the process of creating your PDF. We hope to be able to provide instructions in the future for creating our other product sizes through the Lightroom Book Module, but in the meantime, check back here on the blog over the next few weeks as we highlight other photo tools you can use to create your MagCloud product, no matter what size you want it to be.

For more general information about using Lightroom 4, please see the Adobe website.

Creating a PDF? We’ll Help You Get Started

As we continue to add new product sizes to the MagCloud service, we’ve made it easier to find the requirements for the product you want to create with our Getting Started page. This new page in the Create section on the MagCloud site lets you select the product, trim size, and binding type for the publication you want to create, and then provides you with the appropriate PDF specifications, things to keep in mind when designing your publication, and step-by-step information packets to help you get started.

In the PDF specifications section, we not only provide the correct PDF size, trim size, safe zone, and bleeds for creating a MagCloud-ready PDF but we also make it easier to understand what these concepts are and how they relate to one another. As you hover over each of these values on the right, you’ll notice that the corresponding area gets highlighted in red in the diagram on the left. At the same time, a text description of what the specification is appears next to your cursor, letting you know, for example, that the PDF Size is the page size of the PDF you will upload to MagCloud. Below the PDF specifications, there is a section for Additional Information that is specific to the publication you are hoping to create. This area lists things that are important to keep in mind while designing your PDF, from embedding fonts to allowing space for the 2D barcode that goes on the back page of your publication.

Finally, at the bottom of the Getting Started page are links to download Information Packets for a variety of software programs. Clicking on one of the icons will download a .zip file, which unzips to become a folder specific to that program and the product, trim size and binding you initially selected. Each folder contains a PDF with step-by-step instructions to help you design a MagCloud-ready PDF from scratch, or modify an existing document for use with MagCloud. In addition, many of these folders also include templates or presets that can be used in conjunction with the step-by-step instructions to help jump-start your creation process.

At the moment we offer Instruction Packets for Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Microsoft Word for Mac and PC, Apple iWork Pages, and Microsoft Publisher. We are planning to add instructions for additional software in the near future though, so keep an eye on the blog for news about those additions. And if there’s a type of software that you would like to see MagCloud-specific instructions for, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

MagCloud for Students

Earlier this week, we touched on ways that teachers can use MagCloud for everything from class assignments to printing coursework, but MagCloud can be a great resource for students too. Today we’ll look at a few ways that students can use MagCloud for both schoolwork and extracurricular activities.

Thesis and Final Projects

As we are nearing the end of the school year, many students are likely working to complete a thesis or final project. MagCloud offers a great option for publishing these works, whether you are writing a text-heavy dissertation or putting together a more visual project culminating a study in design or photography.

For text-based works, the MagCloud Standard product can be used for printing and binding up to 384 letter-sized pages, with printing in full color to accommodate both text and any corresponding images and graphics, and a perfect binding that gives your publication a professional look and feel. At the same time, you can make your publication available in a digital format, for viewing as a PDF download.

For students completing projects in an area of art or design, our Square and 8.5” x 5.5” Digest products are both great options for showing off graphic works that are anywhere from 2 to 384 pages long. With a single PDF upload, you’ll be able to create a high quality printed piece that does justice to the work you’ve put into your project, and also have the option for a digital version that can be viewed on any computer or mobile device.

Example Publications:
Photography Series
MFA Thesis
High School Senior Project
BFA Thesis Process Documentation
Graduate Thesis Process Book

Portfolios

For students studying architecture or design, as well as those with a more literary or journalistic focus, having a portfolio of work is of great importance, particularly looking beyond the school year. Whether you’re interviewing for an internship, applying to schools, or looking for a job, having a strong portfolio of your past work will likely be an important factor in achieving your goal. As we’ve discussed before, using MagCloud to publish your portfolio offers a number of convenient options, both during school and beyond.

While you are in school, you can easily update your portfolio on the MagCloud site as you complete new work, simply by uploading a new PDF to your MagCloud account. You’ll also have the option to keep your portfolio private, so only you can see it, or make it public for others to browse on the MagCloud website. When it comes time to apply for the position or program you want, you can order as few or as many print copies of your portfolio as you need, or even direct mail copies to a list of addresses. You can also offer a digital version of your portfolio and direct people to the URL for your publication in the MagCloud storefront, where they can download it as a PDF.

Example Publications:

Yearbook/Photography Student Portfolios
Architecture Design Portfolio
Interior Design Portfolio
Fashion Design Portfolio
Architecture Portfolio for Graduate School Admissions

Resource for Student Groups

During the school year, MagCloud is a great resource for students outside the classroom. At all levels of education, students active in clubs, sports and other extracurricular activities can use MagCloud for printing flyers, newsletters, and even full-length magazines. For example, when a club or sport is looking to attract new members or publicize an event, the MagCloud Flyer and Pamphlet products can be a great way to get the word out and offer additional information, without requiring a large volume of prints.

For groups that are more established, particularly at the college level, MagCloud’s Standard, Square and Digest product types offer a great opportunity for creating newsletters to stay in touch with both current members and alumni alike. Groups can take advantage of MagCloud’s direct mailing service for recipients who prefer receiving something in print, and simultaneously offer the same publication in digital formats for downloading as a PDF.

A number of middle school, high school and college-aged students have already used MagCloud to publish student-run magazines on topics ranging from art and literature to fashion and lifestyle. Regardless of the topic, MagCloud lowers the barrier to entry for creating these types of magazines, with no upfront costs and no minimum print runs. Students can offer their publication through the MagCloud storefront for customers around the world to purchase and read in both print on demand and digital versions. Printed copies can also be ordered for local distribution as they are needed instead of all at once as a large bulk order, cutting down on the cost of storage and potential waste.

Example Publications:
BYU Editing Students’ Travel Magazine

UF Asian American Students’ Magazine
Emerson College Lifestyle Magazine
AIGA Colorado Design Magazine
Journalism Students’ Fashion Magazine
High School Literary and Art Journal

Are you a student who has used MagCloud, either in or outside the classroom? Let us know in the comments below!

MagCloud for the Wedding Photographer

Whether you are a professional wedding photographer with a studio space and a team of five, or you’re flying solo, it’s important to present your business in the most professional and appealing way possible to your clients. MagCloud is an easy and affordable way to publish lookbooks, promotional tools and affordable products that that you can sell as a part of your business’s offerings. With easy publisher settings you can offer any, or all of your publications in both print and digital formats.

A number of photographers have already discovered the value of MagCloud for their business. They are using the service to promote themselves at trade events with a brochure or glossy catalog, provide lookbooks to potential clients, print proof books for existing clients; and even as a sales tool intended to up-sell clients to an entire gallery of prints rather than just one or two.

Let’s explore some of the options available for your wedding photography business:

Portfolio and Catalog:

At just 20¢ a page for Standard size or 16¢ for Digest size, MagCloud offers full-color, full-bleed printing on HP’s beautiful Indigo presses–a true advantage for today’s professional photographers.

For example, if you want to create a full-color soft-bound book to highlight your photography and present your services, you could do so in a 28-page Standard-sized perfect-bound publication for just $6.60 a copy. Yep, you read that right, $6.60 a copy. And you don’t have to buy 100 to get that pricing, you could order them one at a time if you like, or drop-ship them to an address list of potential clients who have seen your work online and are interested in learning more.

**Want to create one of your own? If you use Microsoft Publisher, we’ve already got a great basic 4-page catalog template to get you started. Don’t use Publisher? Feel free to use the design as inspiration for your own services catalog.

Lookbook:

If you’d prefer to woo your customers before revealing all of your pricing, or would just prefer to have something less time-sensitive for showing off your work, we suggest creating a lookbook. Lookbooks are a great way to express your style, showcase your best work, and really tell your potential customers who you are.

Some publishers have started to use our ultra-portable Digest Landscape format to create a marketing piece that shows off their best work in a portable format that doesn’t break the bank.

What’s great about this idea is that the Digest Landscape’s compact 8.25″ x 5.25″ size makes it easy to keep on hand. Should you meet someone who is interested in hiring you, you can easily hand off the book to a potential client and not cringe at what it costs to replace. And with a max page count of 384, you could create a lookbook that includes hundreds of images, worthy of your coffee table. At just 16¢ a page for our Digest Landscape publications (plus $1 for perfect binding), you can create an impressive 60-page lookbook for just $10.60.

Album for family and friends:

Waiting for that big beautiful album can sometimes take weeks, or months, so while your bride is still excited about the wedding and singing your praises, why not surprise her with a mini photobook, or cool glossy magazine of photos from her big day? She’ll be thrilled to show off your work to her friends and family, and with our 3-day print turn around time, you could surprise the happy couple before they get home from their honeymoon.

You could also create a similar album as a product for your newlyweds to give as a thank you gift to extended family, bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Sales tool:

If you sell more than just digital packages, you know how hard it can be to sell prints–especially large prints (like the elusive 20″ x 30″ canvas) or collections of images, intended to be displayed as galleries. Most clients can’t envision what a gallery of their images could look like–”How would they arrange them? Where would it go?” That’s why some photographers have created booklets to help their clients place their orders. Diagrams and examples can help customers to envision a gallery in their home so they can select prints that work well together. If you went so far as to create this publication and save it as a template, you could drop a few of the customer’s images into the gallery diagrams creating a customized booklet to really seal the deal.

Proof Book:

It seems just about everyone has made the switch to online galleries for proofing, but there is something to be said about proofing photos in print, especially when you are planning to buy them in print.

So why not put together a proof book for your client to accompany that online gallery? This way your bride can have something in hand when she talks to her parents or grandparents about that 20”x 30” canvas. You could even go so far as to include your print pricing, packages or gallery inspiration guide into a custom publication to help encourage larger sales.

Showcase for Vendors:

If you’ve been in the business for awhile, you probably have already had a number of referrals come not just from happy brides, but also from vendors. You know that impressing a location rep means your images might get highlighted when they tour brides-to-be around their venue. Event planners love to show off your beautiful photos of their meticulously-planned soirées, so why not give them access to your photos in a way that not only highlights their work, but at the same time shows you off? We’ve seen photographers partner with venues and service professionals to create custom showcase publications for their specific businesses, but imagine how popular you’d be with everyone down to the makeup artist if you created a showcase book for each wedding and shared it them for their own promotional uses? Every time they show off that booklet, their client will see your brand.

Annual Retrospective for past clients:

If you do more than wedding photography, it makes sense to remind your clients of this. Then, as your wedding clients become growing families, they can make you their photographer for life – there to document their pregnancy, baby photos, family portraits and even high-school seniors.

Creating an annual retrospective photography magazine to highlight favorite sessions from the previous year is a great way to remind customers that you do other types of photography. Similar to a portfolio, this sort of publication can really highlight events, press-opportunities and sessions that occurred during the past year. Clients highlighted in the publication would surely love a copy to show off to their friends, and it keeps you top-of-mind for their next photo-worthy occasion.

Client Gifts:

A number of wedding photographers send gifts to their couples at their anniversary, or around the holidays, so why not create a calendar template that you can customize for each couple?

Swap in photos from their big day, add their anniversary to the calendar, and voilà! You’ll have a product that costs you $5.60 + shipping (a 28-page Standard publication) and reminds your bride how fabulous you are every day of the year.

Print or Digital? Why Choose?

There is a constant debate about print vs. digital, arguing why one is better than the other. Here at MagCloud, our motto is “Why choose?” What’s great about all of these ideas is that if you like, any one of them could also be enjoyed and shown off on the iPad or as a digital download to any PC or tablet device. With just a few clicks you can use one PDF for both print and digital purposes, just opt-in for digital distribution when you select your print pricing and finishing options.

More:

Along with all of these great ideas, you can also use MagCloud to print professionally bound Contracts, Employee Handbooks, Style Guides, Posing Guides, Workbooks, and Lighting How-to’s for workshops. Want more inspiration? Browse more wedding photography publications on the MagCloud website.

Have you used MagCloud as a promotional piece or product for your wedding photography business, or have you been inspired to create something from this post? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Publisher Spotlight: Portfolio Contest Winners Sean McCloskey, Cemal Ekin and Jeremiah Johnson

In this post, we’re excited to highlight the work of the top three winners of the MagCloud Portfolio Contest.

This photo of U2 is Sean's favorite concert photo. It was taken on the final night of their 2001 U.S. tour. (Credit: Sean McCloskey)

Sean McCloskey
Photographer Sean McCloskey, grand prize winner of the MagCloud Portfolio Contest, got his start shooting concerts while in college. His passion for the business led him to publish his first magazine just two months after graduation. He’s now been in the photography business for more than 16 years and as well as a magazine publisher for the past 13 years. Sean’s MagCloud contest entry is a showcase of his first 15 years in the concert photography business.

Thanks to MagCloud, Sean has been able to break out of the local market and get more eyes on his work. He found a way to not only distribute digitally but also easily maintain the high quality print distribution that’s so important to photographers.

He currently has four publications on MagCloud.com: SFL Music, Movie Zone, Streets and his submission for the Portfolio Contest. Check out Sean’s work and join us in congratulating him once again!

Photo of the Hagia Sophia from inside the dome. (Credit: Cemal Ekin)

Cemal Ekin
Cemal Ekin, one of our contest runners-up, is a true MagCloud whiz. He stumbled across the service when looking for a new way to spark innovation in his classroom at Providence College. His students began creating and publishing MagCloud magazines each semester – their publications were a hit and Cemal saw an opportunity to spread the word about his own work.

The portfolio he entered in our contest, along with his other publications, have really made an impact with clients and have helped attract new business opportunities. Whether at an unveiling party for his latest publication or a closed-door meeting with new prospects, it’s the quality of MagCloud’s print and binding that grabs the audiences’ attention. Obtaining shots of the Hagia Sophia from inside the dome is a rarity, and Cemal’s portfolio of this work not only wooed his community into voting for him in our contest but also spread his work to new contacts – notably ARTstor.org (a premiere collection for art and art history research) who accepted his photos of the dome’s detailed mosaics and structure of the dome into their exclusive collection.

Ekin has even written up the process he uses for preparing his photos for printing through MagCloud on his site, KeptLight.com. A big fan of the ease of publishing workflow, he breaks the process down in digestible steps. Have a look!

Don’t forget to view all of Cemal’s MagCloud publications here, including his portfolio submission. Bravo on your win, Cemal!

Entryway and mud-room of the PrairieHouse project. (Credit: Jeremiah Johnson)

Jeremiah Johnson
Designer and amateur photographer Jeremiah Johnson created his MagCloud portfolio to showcase his architectural and graphic design work along with his budding photography skills. Seeking work, he needed a solid portfolio to leave behind at job interviews and cold calls. From the start, Jeremiah knew that MagCloud’s publishing quality and value was tough to beat.

Jeremiah was thrilled to receive job offers from the first three firms he submitted his MagCloud portfolio to and accepted an offer from an architecture firm in Minneapolis. In addition to his design and photography skills, Jeremiah said that “the professional quality of the publication is what caught the eye of potential employers who often receive spiral bound booklets of inkjet printed pages from applicants.”

Congratulations on the win and the new job, Jeremiah! View his portfolio here and catch even more of his great work here.

How to Personalize Your MagCloud Page

If you’re using MagCloud to create collateral for your business, portfolios for photography, catalogs for your retail store, a unique magazine, or other content to promote your brand, then shouldn’t your MagCloud page reinforce your brand too?

It’s easy to make your MagCloud profile and publication pages work for you by taking a few minutes to flesh out your publisher profile and create header images that reinforce your brand throughout your pages.

Your Publisher Page

No matter what sort of business you’re into, when customers discover your content on MagCloud, you want them to be able to connect with you directly. Your profile page includes an option to link directly to a website of your choosing, and with some simple html you can also include hyperlinks, images and emphasize text within your profile description.

To get started, you’ll need to log into your account and go to your publisher profile editor.


Link to a website: <a href=”URL”>link</a>

In our Jane Doe example, we used some of MagCloud’s allowed HTML tags to include more links in Jane’s profile. To add a link to your website without having to include the whole website URL, you can simply insert a block of text like below:

Curious about more recent work, or what I’m up to?
Check out my <a href=”http://yourwebaddress.com”>blog</a&gt;.

It will show up in your profile like this:

Bold Text: <b>text</b>

To create bold text, you just need to add <b> before your selection and </b> after. We did this with our Jane example like this:

Hi! I’m Jane, and here on MagCloud you can find all of my portfolios, pricing guides, photography workbooks and collateral for my photography business <b>NotYourAverageJane</b>.

Which then looks like this:

Emphasize/italicize Text: <em>emphasis</em>

To add the title of Jane’s autobiography in italics we used the code for emphasis. Simply put <em> before the text you want italicized and </em> after the text to close the emphasis:

Want to find out more about me, and my life behind the lens? Be sure to check out my 200-page autobiography <em>Don’t Call Me Jane</em> available for purchase here on MagCloud.

Which will appear like this:

Image Link: <img src=”URL”>

You can also insert images or logos into your profile by linking to the image within the text using <img src=”URL”>. This requires that the image is the size you want it to appear in the profile, and that it already has an associated URL. It’s best if this image is pulled from your own website (like your logo) or if you have loaded a special sized image onto your own flickr or other photo host that allows linking directly to the image. If you link to a resource that you don’t control, you might run into broken links if the image is ever moved. For Jane’s example we linked the social media icons that she already had on her blog. This example actually includes two pieces of html, one for the icon image, and then the following text which links to the associated LinkedIn URL:

You can also find me on
<img src=”http://notyouraveragejane/images/LinkedIn_IN_Icon_25px.jpg&#8221; />
<a href=”http://linkedin.com”>LinkedIn</a&gt;

Which will appear like this:

Your Collection Page

For every group of documents you create, you get to have a “collection page” which can have it’s own branded banner and unique URL. This is great if you have a selection of related documents that you want to be able to promote as a group. A great example of this is MagCloud publisher, Golfweek, which has created collections of Souvenir Golf Programs and Golfweek Special Editions. Each collection reinforces the Golfweek brand and furthers their messaging but keeps relevant content together. Check out their banners below:

Customizing with Banners

Want to create your own branded banners? To setup the custom banner for a collection, you must first create the graphic that you plan to use. The banner specs require an image with a maximum size of 790 x 90px, in either JPG, GIF, or PNG formats. You can create this image in any software application of your choosing that can output to one of these formats. You can also upload a smaller image–it’s up to you.

Uploading Your Banner

Once you have your image ready to go, you’ll want to navigate to your collection page. You can get here by visiting your profile page (yourusername.magcloud.com) or by going to one of your publications via magcloud.com/publish. On the right-hand side of the page, you will see an “Add a Custom Banner Image” button.

Once you have clicked the button, you will be prompted to find the image file on your harddrive, and upload it to MagCloud.

The image you upload will be visible on the associated collection page,

and on each of the individual publication pages within that collection.

Have you used custom banners or any of these HTML tricks in your publisher/publication descriptions?
If so, please share them below in the comments section to inspire others.

Extending Your Brand With a Magazine

Your brand collateral is the most important opportunity to talk about your product or service. But getting your target audience to read your brochure, or catalog cover-to-cover isn’t always easy.

That’s why so many businesses have found that branded magazines are a unique way to pique audiences interest with relevant content and information, while reinforcing their brand message. It keeps them top of mind in a format that gets to their customers or target audience more frequently—be it annually, quarterly or monthly. What’s better—it’s in a form-factor that is both familiar and comfortable for the reader.

Many businesses have found that they can better engage with potential customers and increase brand loyalty by publishing a magazine of their own. According to a study conducted by the Association of Publishing Agencies (APA Advantage Study, 2007) on branded magazines (or as they call them, “customer magazines,”) – customers spend 25 minutes on average with such a publication, compared with a TV ad (30 seconds) and an internet ad (0.5 seconds). That’s 25 minutes immersed with a brand.  And while in-house magazines were once considered glorified advertorials, today the use of subtle branding and genuine editorial content helps many successful businesses tactfully promote themselves. *Want to read more about the study? You can download the executive summary as a PDF here.

How does it work? Well, by presenting your business in a more editorial format you can:

  • develop prospective customers and foster increased loyalty
  • establish your organization or company as current on issues and trends
  • position yourself as an expert in your field
  • be a resource for information that is relevant to your audience
  • reinforce your style and voice
  • give depth and relevance to your brand in an environment you can control

Finding Inspiration

Take for example a few major brands that publish their own magazines: British fashion label Asos’ self-titled magazine includes advertising for products that appeal to their demographic, such as cosmetics, high-end watches and perfumes. They also balance the promotion of their own products by pairing them with complimentary pieces and accessories that work with their customer’s style.

Coscto has it’s very own The Costco Connection, which combines information about what’s new at Costco with a mix of lifestyle and small business articles.

USAA’s USAA Magazine focuses on advice for becoming financially secure, with articles that appeal to it’s wide audience–young and old.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation’s LIVESTRONG Quarterly—delivers compelling profiles and medically stoked articles in a publication that hopes to bolster the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s efforts to ‘make cancer a global priority.’

Each of these do a great job of combining editorial content with promotional content for their products, services, mission or cause. One great thing you will notice about all of them too? They each reinforce their brand through styling and voice, but without seeming like pushy sales collateral.

Getting Started

So how do you even get started creating a brand magazine? Well there are a number of things to consider, the first of which is the actual branding. Much like traditional collateral, a brand magazine should be in line with your  brand’s style and voice, but it where it differs is that a branded magazine needs to be subtle and controlled in how and when you promote your brand. A branded magazine should be designed with the customer’s tastes, interests, style and wants at the forefront; and weave in brand, product or service messaging where it actually enhances editorial and design.

Brand magazines can help you achieve your desired positioning in the minds of your stakeholders and customers. Whether your brand is edgy, luxurious, down to earth, straight to the point, or fun and whimsical, you want that same feeling to come across through your magazine. For most businesses, when you established your branding, you probably came up with words to describe your mission, voice, style and audience.

Put it Down on Paper

Now is the time to grab a piece of paper and start defining the sort of message you want to give to your customer. How do you want to establish your brand? What sort of content will you include, and how should you style it to be in line with your voice, mission and style? Use words to describe your brand and you customer– are they fashion-forward, politically-minded, edgy, traditional, mostly men or women, older, youthful etc?

These are your design principles and the list should be short and sweet. In as few words as possible, make clear the vision for the publication and any keywords people should keep in mind while designing.

Keep this list. Pin it to your wall. It will make for a great litmus test as you move forward and start creating. Every once and awhile go back to the list and be sure you are appealing to your audience and staying true to your brand.

Deciding on Color

This seems like a no-brainer, but coming up with colors that are true to your brand, that you use consistently throughout your magazine, is tougher that it seems. You may find sites like COLOURlovers helpful for exploring colors that work well with your logo or brand colors. Create a palette and save it. Then as you publish new issues, the consistent use of color will also reinforce your brand.

Typography

Now it’s time to define the typefaces to use: sizes, line height, spacing before and after, colors, headline versus body font, etc. With editorial content there is some flexibility in this, but defining a consistent style sheet will maintain the integrity of your publication and brand throughout the publication. Use fancy fonts sparingly, so that they maintain their impact and legibility on the page.

Create a Mock-up Magazine

This will eventually be your style guide, but at first it is a way to flesh out all of the style choices that you will want to make so that you can stay true to your brand. This will also help you keep a visual consistency not only throughout each publication, but also from publication to publication over time. Save this file and use it to start creating your magazine, then keep that original as a starting point for each subsequent issue–it will save you a lot of time!

Now Get Your Brand Out There

Now, you’re ready to publish. If you’re looking for more advice for designing your file, or templates to get you started, remember you can always check out our other Tips & Tricks!

How do you get your brand out there? Have you come up with other unique ways to keep you brand top-of-mind with your customers? Does your organization or company have a branded magazine? Tell us about it below in the comments section!