Guest Blogger: Two Bright Lights

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There is nothing better than seeing your work in print. And we love how HP – MagCloud makes this possible and painless! At Two Bright Lights we focus on connecting magazines and blogs with great images from photographers and other creative businesses, so we understand the importance of beautiful magazines and business collateral. Many of our members use and love MagCloud. Whether they are photographers using it publish a portfolio or pricing guide, or editors using it to publish a print and digital magazine, HP MagCloud makes displaying and distributing their content a breeze.

Photographers, publishers, brides, and vendors have created thousands of beautiful publications using MagCloud, but we wanted to pass on what a few Two Bright Lights editors have to say about MagCloud and share details about the beautiful magazines and publications they create.

Meet Kym Stelmachers of DIY Weddings Magazine and Erika Pitera of Zest Digital Magazine.

tbl  Shalyn Kettering: Could you tell us a bit about your publication and editorial style?

DIYopenKym Stelmachers: DIY Weddings® Magazine is a wedding publication that is written and created by brides for brides.  We cater to the bride with a budget of $15,000 and under with our main focus on the DIY.  We provide DIY projects from brides, wedding planners, wedding vendors and crafters.  I designed the publication to be a “visually pleasing” experience for our readers.  We also decided to change the way we do advertising in our publications by developing a new innovative way to get the same content to our readers without the headache of having to thumb through endless ads to find the real content.  We were the first wedding publication to offer its readers a better reading experience.

Erika Pitera: ZEST Digital Magazine is a seasonally focused mix of recipes, entertaining menus and easy, do-it-yourself home and holiday decor projects. Our goal is to inspire our readers with recipes, DIY projects and entertaining ideas that are approachable for both new and experienced home cooks.

tbl  SK: How does MagCloud fit into your publication process and what have you found most helpful about it as an publishing platform?

KS: Because we are primarily a digital magazine, we wanted to be able to offer our brides, vendors and photographers the option to purchase a hard copy.  When we found MagCloud, we knew they would be a great fit for what we were looking for.  It really became clear to us that we made an excellent choice when we received our first proof.  The quality of their product is first rate! I hear it time and time again how beautiful our print publication is.  MagCloud uses quality paper; the color is vibrant; their delivery and customer service is exceptional.

ZESTprintdigEP: In all honesty, it didn’t at first! When we first started ZEST, we only envisioned it as a digital publication. However, in exploring all of the publishing options out there, we were thrilled to find MagCloud because it allowed us to print our magazine with ease! Its accessibility and quality encouraged us to start designing our publication for both digital and print readers. MagCloud is great because it’s user-friendly. My reasons for that are two-fold: from a reader/consumer standpoint, it’s very easy to discover publications based on your interests or hobbies; from a publisher’s standpoint, MagCloud makes it easy for small publications to print small runs of awesome quality at an affordable price.

tbl  SK: What are your top 3 tips for first time MagCloud users?

KS: Really they makes it so easy to upload, setup, price and manage – anyone can use it.  My only tip is to always order a proof so you know what you are offering your customers.

EP: 1. Be sure to follow MagCloud’s formatting instructions to get perfect results every time. You can get specific instructions customized for your publishing software that make it really easy to export your PDF properly.
2. Take advantage of the document preview to make sure all of your text and important elements are in the safe zone so that nothing gets cut off when it’s printed!
3. Get the most out of the your experience by offering both print and digital versions.

tbl  SK: Kym, We love all of your creative DIY tips in your magazine! Your sea shell bouquet in the last issue was fantastic! Where can people purchase it on MagCloud?

KS: Our Winter 2012 issue just arrived on December 1st and it’s our biggest issue ever.  We have more inspirational ideas, do-it-yourself projects and 12 experts in the wedding industry giving our readers some great tips, advice and budget saving ideas.  In each issue FiftyFlowers.com creates 3 DIY Flower Bouquet projects. What I love about it is they include an inspiration board and they provide the reader with a materials list and step-by-step instruction.  We have gotten so much great feedback that we are going to continue these projects through 2013. You can purchase all of our issues on MagCloud under DIY Weddings® Magazine.

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tbl  SK: Erika, The pear on the cover of your current issue looks delicious! Where can we get the recipe?

EP: Those are our Port Wine Poached Pears – they’re yummy and pretty easy to make. You’ll find the recipe on page 28 of our Holiday 2012 issue.

tbl  SK: What sort of submissions are you looking for from TBL members?

KS: I am glad you asked! We have a very special issue coming in 2013 and we are looking for anything that has a “red theme” about it.  We will consider any of the following using a red theme:  Photo style shoots, weddings, candy buffet tables, cake or sweet displays and engagements.  Style shoots and weddings with themes around the circus, boardwalk, carnival, Valentines, Christmas, Fourth of July – keeping in mind that we are focusing on “red”.  We look forward to working with all the talented photographers at Two Bright Lights!

zestopenEP: Your number one priority should always be to make the food or drinks look real and absolutely delicious! Natural light is a very powerful tool. I love food photos that are bright and appetizing rather than dark or dramatic. Props can be great, but make sure they don’t detract from the star of the show! Also, shallow depth of field can really help the food take center stage.

A big thanks for Kym and Erika for the interviews! Don’t forget to check out their magazines on MagCloud and if you are interested in having your photography featured in these and other great magazines check out the Two Bright Lights’ submission software!

Delicious Ideas for Your Wedding Catering Business

No matter how professional a staff you may have hired or how special the foods you prepare may be, your catering business will always need appealing promotional pieces to attract new customers. In most cases your menu or brochure is a customer’s first opportunity to meet you. MagCloud makes it easy to publish a variety of publications for your catering business, and with low-minimum print runs (in most cases as few as 1), digital distribution options and direct mailing features, it doesn’t matter if you’ve catered 2 events or 200, you’ll wow your clients with beautiful publications that leave their mouths watering.

So why not try some of these delicious ideas to promote your business:

Flyers to Promote Your Brand

Our double-sided, single sheet Flyer product is ideal for brief messages or content that changes often such as sales promotions, or seasonal offerings. It’s available in four size options: 8 x 8”, 5.5 x 8.5”, 8.5 x 5.5″ or 8.5 x 11” so you can be sure to pick something that really makes your brand shine.

Glossy Brochures to Highlight Your Services, Team & Experience

A brochure will help you showcase your catering business and help the customer get a detailed account of your company. Our 4-page Pamphlet product is the perfect way to quickly capture your audience’s attention and whether you use a standard 8.5 x 11″, a unique square 8 x 8″ size or a pocket-sized 5.5 x 8.5″ you can rest assured that it will be affordable and beautifully-printed. With an easy one-click option to opt-in for digital distribution, you can also offer your brochure as a free digital-download for potential clients to peruse on their PC or mobile device and in the Free MagCloud iPad App.

Print and Digital Price Sheets

Once a client is interested in booking you, you’ll want to make it as easy for them as possible. Price sheets that double as order forms make for a tidy way to create a menu together. With MagCloud’s combo of high-quality print-on-demand and easy-to-use digital distribution options, you can make your price sheets available as print copies that you keep on hand as well as digital versions so potential clients can view them on any PC or mobile device.

Sample Menus

MagCloud’s new flyer sizes are perfect for reprinting menus from past events to give your customers an idea of how a beautifully planned menu comes together. You could even go so far as to create a proposed menu for their event and present it to them at their tasting.

Wine Lists

With distributor prices and product availability constantly changing, MagCloud makes it easy to have an up-to-date wine list and still look professional. Whenever you need to change a price or add a new wine to your list, simply upload a new PDF and order as few or as many copies as you need.

Special & Seasonal Menus

If you offer a variety of cuisines, or even if you want to break up your menus by season or meal-type, you can easily create a standard menu template that you can change up to create more specialized menus.

Full-Service Catalogs

Many catering businesses are full service, and can provide chairs, tables, china, glassware, silverware, tents and umbrellas, and even arrange centerpieces, place cards, and party favors. If your business offers a wide range of services like this, be sure to present them to your client in your brochure, and offer more in-depth information through a specialized catalog.

Partner Publications

Partnering with venue coordinators, event planners and other service professionals like wedding photographers is a great way to get your brand out there to more clients. Try collaborating with the other pros working with you on events and see if you can work out a way to help promote one another with unique pieces that highlight both of your services. For example a collaboration with a photographer could result in mouth-watering photos of your food and presentation that you can use to promote your business, and referrals for future events.

A One-Stop Shop for Your Business

With publisher pages that can be personalized, and the ability to group similar publications into tidy categories, MagCloud is a great platform to keep all of your business materials in one place and make them easily accessible in both print and digital formats. It’s easy to direct your customers to your personalized and branded page where they can find your menus, catalogs and wine lists all in one place, making them handy to select and download, or access in MagCloud’s free Ipad App.

Have you used MagCloud to promote your catering or event business? Have another great idea that we missed? Share it below in the comments section!