Let’s face it, being successful takes work. Today’s world is dramatically different from the one fifteen years ago–it’s a noisy place full of fierce competition. The stakes are high and greatness is always on the line. If you’re anything like us, you know the challenge to be seen and heard is one of the most difficult. So how do you set yourself apart? In the spirit of entrepreneurship, we suggest trying some of these creative ideas to promote your brand—and ensure you remain in the know for your industry:
Establish yourself as THE expert: Your brand collateral is the most important opportunity to talk about your product or service. That’s why so many businesses (The Costco Connection, USAA Magazine) and owners have found that branded magazines are a unique way to pique audience interest with relevant content and information. It keeps you top of mind in a format that gets to your customers or target audience more frequently—be it annually, quarterly or monthly. How does it work? Well, by presenting your business in an editorial format you can:
develop prospective customers and foster increased loyalty
establish your organization or company as current on issues and trends
be a resource for information that is relevant to your audience
give depth and relevance to your brand in an environment you can control
Don’t be shy, tell your story: A custom magazine (e.g. This Workplace) or brochure (e.g. HP 360°) is the perfect way to chronicle the history of your company, a new product’s road to market, and much more. Consider the story you want to tell, and record or detail aspects that support your narrative. And don’t forget to employ social media either! Use Pinterest to crowd source ideas from fans and customers, leverage Instagram to showcase behind-the-scenes elements, and engage in conversation with your target audience on Twitter.
Showcase your amazing career: Showcase your career accomplishments and accolades in a magazine (e.g. Subject Matter, Trendi Creative) including media coverage, photos of your work, testimonials and anything else you’d be proud to display. Present it to prospective clients and include a link to it in your resume.
Keep pace with industry news and trends: Sometimes it seems as if the world—and the people in it—are changing faster than anyone can keep track. Start by putting your finger on the pulse of the industry. Draw insights and inspiration easily, and stay abreast of current and expected trends that are relevant to your business by reviewing what others are doing in and around you (e.g. Spinr Magazine, XXC Magazine).
As the old adage goes, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” Today, these words have never been truer. Digital technology has long made an impression on our imagery, and while the tools are changing, the rules for aesthetics remain.
With the rise of micro-publishing platforms like Instagram, there has been an increase in the widespread sharing of traditionally outstanding photos in an innovative space. Photographers, individuals and brands everywhere have become publishers in their own right and have given new life to visual storytelling.
Since publishers are known for their storytelling, Instagram enables them to extend the reach of their already compelling work. It offers a new perspective, and, if done right, can increase audience loyalty and readership. How, you ask? Read on!
Continue your Content
For starters, you can leverage Instagram for posting between publishing. It’s a quick, easy way to give your readers a sneak peek at what’s coming up in the next edition, or to solicit feedback on what they might like to see more, or less, of.
Keep it Simple
Your posts should be unique to you, so don’t overanalyze it. Share images that are easy and fun, and that speak to you specifically. Fill your frame with photos that matter to you and focus on the framing. The right crop can make all the difference.
Share your Story
Take advantage of Instagram’s hashtag feature. Beyond using common themes to create a steady stream of conversation about your channel or publication, you can also include popular hashtags to insert yourself into broader discussions about #travel, #photography or even #throwbackthursday.
Every time you post, you become more readily visible to audiences all over the world, exposing your publication to viewers with similar interests, and ultimately attracting new readers.
Here at MagCloud, we love pets, so it’s no surprise that some of our team members have published “Puppy’s First Year” photo books, created wall calendars or even made custom placemats for their furry friends.
Whether you have a goldfish, a Peterbald cat, a purebred Great Dane or a rescued mutt, there’s bound to be a product that will help you pay tribute to your furry (and sometimes fur-less) companions.
Create a Photobook
Using cool action shots, fun Instagram photos or ‘selfies’ of you and your pet, you can create beautiful square photobooks to commemorate your pet’s first year, or as a gift for your favorite animal-lover.
Blank templates to get you started with MagCloud’s square product are available in the Getting Started section of the site. Or if you want a little more help with design, you can use our partner Poyomi. Poyomi is a web service that lets you take your desktop or online photos and easily lay them out as a calendar or photo book of many sizes and have them printed and shipped on-demand via MagCloud.
MagCloud’s Flyer Product to Promote your Pet Cause
If you’re involved with a pet service, cause, or adoption agency, MagCloud’s glossy flyer product is perfect for pet adoption flyers or event promotions. We personally love a good ‘yappy hour,’ or ASPCA fundraiser. You can spread the word for your cause or event for as little as $0.24 a copy when you order 20 or more digest-sized flyers.
Posters Turned into Personalized Placemats
Monty, MagCloud’s unofficial mascot and Canine Consultant even has his very own personalized placemat for a water bowl in his office. Using the poster product in a landscape format we created a custom graphic that looks like a sketch of a place setting on chalkboard. While the poster isn’t 100% waterproof, it does hold up well, and at $2 for a new one, it can be changed out seasonally, or swapped for holiday and sports-themed versions.
You can download this image to create your own–just place it in any MagCloud 18 x 12″ poster template in your favorite software and add your pet’s name in white text.
Enjoy Pet Photos Year-Round with a Custom Calendar
Calendars aren’t only for a new year, you can still create a custom photo calendar to enjoy through the end of 2014. We’ve modified our 2013 calendar templates to go from July 2013 to December 2014 in our Standard (8.25″ x 10.75″) and Small Square (8″ x 8″) formats for InDesign CS4 and newer, and Apple Pages. Just download the template for the size of calendar you want to create in your software of choice, add your photos and use the included instructions to export a PDF for uploading to the MagCloud website.
If creating your own calendar file in InDesign or Pages isn’t for you, then this could also be a great time to check out our partner Poyomi. In addition to photo books, Poyomi lets you create a calendar just by uploading your photos from your computer, SmugMug, Picasa, or Facebook, and then you can have it uploaded automatically to your MagCloud account.
Discover and Enjoy other Pet-Centric Publications
If that’s not enough pet-mania for you, Monty has picked out some of his favorite publications available in the Pets Category of the MagCloud Shop.
Features articles about the history and plight of pit bulls. Also: Wild Horses, Factory Farming, Whales and Dolphins, Endangered Wildlife, Horse Slaughter, and other news and information regarding the rights of animals
Happy Camera Day! There’s no better time than the present to get inspired to publish your own photography creation or cruise over to the MagCloud Shop and check out some amazing photography magazines.
In honor of National Camera Day, we’re highlighting a few of our favorite photography-centric blog posts and some great publications on MagCloud dedicated to photography in all of its forms. Whether you’re a mommy-tog, a professional wedding or portrait photographer, a hobbyist or just a fan of beautiful imagery, you’re sure to find cool ways to use MagCloud or a publication in the Photography category that fits your interest.
Turn your photos into something amazing
Don’t let those photos just sit on your hard drive–they deserve to be in print. To help get you inspired check out some of our past blog posts about using your photographs for unique MagCloud projects:
Denim+Grace is a Photography Magazine created for Photographers. The encore issue contains 94 pages of marketing, branding, posing and inspiration. With artists working in genres ranging from weddings to boudoir, children to seniors, and even iPhoneography- there’s sure to be something inspiring and enlightening for even the seasoned artist. Beyond our featured photographer articles and artist pictorials, the June 2013 issue includes an inside look at a new studio, a first-hand experience from an NYC Workshop with Sue Bryce, the highs & lows of being a business owner and so much more!
Now available, Mozi Magazine’s Wedding Issue! This beautiful new issue is loaded with astounding imagery and inspirational content from some of the industry’s most admired artists, including Simply Bloom, Ben Sasso, Bobbi+Mike, Julie Paisley, Zach and Jody Gray, Totally Rad Actions, Design Aglow, Fotofafa, and more.
Visual 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.
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.
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!
It’s February, which means it’s officially time to start thinking about gifts for your friends and loved-ones for Valentine’s Day. But rather than buying an impersonal card at the store, why not make the holiday more meaningful with a DIY Recipe Book, Instagram-style poster or custom card? We’ve designed templates to help you get started and we can’t wait to see what you’re inspired to create!
Around the holidays, we’re a big fan of the K.I.S.S method (Keep it simple, Silly!), so with that in mind we’ve created a template that makes for a great little gift, but doesn’t take a whole lot of time to create.
You can choose how little or how much to customize of this 12-page Digest Landscape recipe booklet. Make it personal by including photos, love notes and your favorite recipes, or you can use ours (don’t worry we won’t tell).
We’re offering the same template in some of your favorite software applications, so click on the links below to download the template of your choosing and get started!
***InDesign users: There are multiple layers in your file for you to get instructions and customize the design. Please note the “Example” layer is currently set to not print, so if you want to use our recipes and just edit the design directly, select the “Example” layer in the Layers palette and right-click to edit the “layer options” (just check the box that says “Print Layer”)
If the recipe booklet seems like too much, or you’d rather make a big impression without too much work, then the Instagram Poster or greeting card templates will be perfect for you. Swap in some personal photos of you and your loved one, or artistic shots they might enjoy and add a personalized message and you’re good to go!
Just be sure to use images that are high-enough resolution:
Poster – the squares require images that are at least 900 x 900 pixels and the rectangular images need to be a minimum of 1900 x 900 pixels.
Card – the square images need to be a minimum of 600×600 pixels and the rectangular images need to be a minimum of 1200×600 pixels.
If you’re not already following @HPMagCloud on Instagram, you should be! We love to engage with our publishers and see MagCloud publications and products out in the wild–how you use them, where you enjoy them and cool pictures of your work coming together… So when you decide to show off your MagCloud product, be sure to tag us (@hpmagcloud) or use the #magcloud hashtag.
In the meantime, we have a few favorite Instagram users we’re following, and some suggested hashtags for when you share the MagCloud love on Instagram.
So you’ve survived the holiday season, but now your smartphone is filled with a veritable art gallery of filtered Instagram photos. Those Amaro- or Kelvin-tinted shots don’t need to sit there collecting dust in your phone, however, and this is especially true for small businesses and publishers. The question is: How can those Instagram pictures lead to more paying customers for your small business or publication?
For instance, let’s say your publication holds a launch party. You can use Instagram to highlight portions of the party that make your brand stand out amongst your competitors. You can use Instagram to create a visual narrative that will draw new eyeballs, and thus new potential customers. This process is called conversion. Check out our Instagram profile to see an example.
Here are five tips to create business conversions on Instagram:
Create clear branding on your Instagram Profile Page. When Facebook bought Instagram recently, social media users started noticing small but important changes in how the platform behaved. One of those changes was Profile Pages. Profile Pages are no different than a Facebook page. They house all the photos you’ve uploaded to Instagram, and allow you to browse your feed. To maximize this for your brand, make sure you have a link driving back to your business’ home page, write a short and catchy bio and display your logo prominently.
Upload your Instagram photos to as many other social platforms as possible. This sounds counter-intuitive, but keep in mind Instagram’s core idea. Instagram tells visual stories. In order to tell that story to as many people as possible, post your Instagram shots to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc. Spread the #love.
Use hashtags. For those of you unfamiliar with a hashtag (#), it’s no different than your average pound key. But, when used in a caption of an Instagram photo as a theme, your photo has the potential to be introduced to a much wide audience. This is because whenever the hashtag is used, it’s picked up by Instagram’s search tool. For instance, if your publication centers on classic cars, and you’ve just uploaded an Instagram shot of your favorite ’67 Chevy, don’t forget to put #musclecar or #Chevy in the caption of your photo to introduce it to more potential readers.
Use location tagging. But do it wisely. Many folks are afraid to tag a location to their photos, but it’s a great feature aimed at growing your exposure. When you tag locations, your image is grouped with all the others taken at that location, which again adds to the potential for your image to be seen by a wide audience.
Be a consumer. Most brands and publishers use Instagram as a one-way street. They upload the pictures, with the appropriate hashtags, and then leave it alone. Make sure you add new followers with similar interests to your business or publication. Follow your readers. Like photos that relate to your own. This is called building a community, and doing so will reap large rewards in future conversions.
For your viewing pleasure, below are a few shots from our recent holiday meet-up at the Press Club in San Francisco. Be sure to follow MagCloud on Instagram to see the latest and greatest from our team. We look forward to seeing you at our next meet-up in the new year!
MagCloud’s Chief MagClouder Andrew Bolwell and
Marketing Mixologist Patty Tulloch at the MagCloud Meetup.
All the awesome MagCloud publications at our meetup!
Hooray for new MagCloud fans and friends!
Delicious food and wine from the Press Club
at the MagCloud Holiday Meet-up.
We also had a memorable Twitter Chat last week with Kyle Menard, editor of BRINK Magazine. There were quite a few inspirational tweets that we wanted to share with you. Below is a brief excerpt from the Twitter Chat – feel free to read our entire Twitter Chat via Storify.
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.
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!
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.