Instagram Inspiration

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.

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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.

 

Recommended reading:

How MagCloud Publishers Leverage Instagram

How to create a big Instagram following

Creating Conversions: How to Maximize Instagram for SMBs & Publishers

MagCloud’s Favorite Instagram Users and Hashtags

It’s Calendar Season!

CalendarSeason

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

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

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

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

Download the monthly grids as images HERE.

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

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

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

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

#MagCloudPets Instagram Contest

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

To enter, just be sure to:

– Follow MagCloud on Instagram (@HPMagCloud).

– Take an Instagram of your pet(s).

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

Questions? Post in the comments below.

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

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

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! ;)

Why Small Businesses Need to Adapt to Social Media’s Teenage Years

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Let’s be honest with ourselves, when you hear somebody say “I’ve never heard of Twitter,” or “I don’t tweet” you might double take – at least on the inside. The inner marketer in you can’t believe there’s someone out there who hasn’t heard of Twitter. Twitter has been around for …

That’s where you get sidetracked. You know Twitter’s old, but it can’t be that old. As it so happens, Twitter changed everything with its inception in 2006. And although it’s not even 10-years old in human years, being seven years old in fast moving social media years makes it an adolescent, roughly speaking.

Twitter, and Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. are no longer a new-borns. You’ve been talking about them the same way you talk about your 16-year-old nephew – you hold your palm to your knee and say, “I remember when you were this big.” Similarly, the same incentives that worked for your nephew when he was “yay tall” no longer work on the teenage version. It’s the same with social media.

It’s time we really examined why – not how – today’s users are communicating across social networks, and why we as marketers cannot afford to limit our business efforts to just strategic silos. As Twitter and Facebook grow-up, the SMBs who approach their customers on common ground will enjoy the most success.

Here’s how SMBs can use Teenage Twitter and Teenage Facebook to enhance their brand:

Twitter

TWITTER AS A YOUNGSTER: The “mentions” landscape was fractured, directionless and often low-value. SMBs participated because the consumers were there, but they didn’t know why they were there or what they necessarily wanted to talk about.

TWITTER NOW: Twitter, as an adolescent, is a self-sustaining marketplace. Consumers engage the businesses they love because the nature of communication on social media is “out of the norm.” The veil of Internet anonymity mixed with the wonton desire for greater personal gain creates an environment through which consumers are entitled. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for small businesses.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: The communication marketplace on Twitter is fluid and has a very short shelf life. The number of users on Twitter is far larger than you may imagine. Not all your customers engage on Twitter, but many listen. The best SMBs understand this and play with it. Here’s how you can present a better image to all: Follow your customers on Twitter. Read their posts (yes this takes time, but there’s a direct relationship between time invested and trust gained). Engage with them on their interests. Because it’s your customer, they need to know that your business is using Twitter to make them feel special. Do this for a few customers, and more will recognize the “special” value they can gain by meeting you there. Take Oreo for instance, they regularly meet consumers on the consumer level. This tweet provided only slim brand association, yet was still highly engaged upon due to the brand sponsoring its community’s interests. For some of the best small business engagement, follow @UnMarketing, @RamonRay and Anita Campbell of @SmallBizTrends and see how they conduct conversations.

Facebook

FACEBOOK AS A YOUNGSTER: The introduction of ads and privacy concerns initially put Facebook users and business at odds. Facebook took some time to fine tune its platform: traditional display ads made way for sponsored stories, sponsored accounts and higher values on visual content (more on that soon), Facebook has certainly been an up-and-down in its youth. Brands and businesses were in an arms race to gain more likes, without having a real-world understanding for what a “like” meant.

FACEBOOK AS A TEENAGER: Everybody uses Facebook (Moms, Kids, Teenagers, even cats and dogs). Your content may only be delivered to a certain percentage of your already-gained audience. BUT, your beacon of branding still exists as a landing page, and now it’s mobile. And as any parent will tell you, a mobile phone is a teenagers third hand.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: Teenage Facebook tells us exactly what it wants. It wants fresh, visual content that looks great on that $600 smartphone. The emphasis is less about using it to post posts, and more about creating an environment where your consumers’ interests are sponsored and hosted on your Facebook page. Tactically speaking, this means SMBs should be focused on creating and posting more pictures, graphics, videos, videos of cats…For a good cue, go to MagCloud publisher BRINK Mag’s Facebook page. There’s tight integration with photo sharing, leading to more relevant and inspiring content. The key with strong visuals is allowing for a breadth of creativity, especially for SMBs. Create something memorable, and your consumers will be more inclined to participate, associate and share. For a great example of memorable visuals, visit the How to Market Your Horse Business Facebook page.

Have some ideas of your own? Agree/Disagree with how to treat Twitter and Facebook as they grow up? Let us know in the comments!

Q&A with Cory Ann Ellis of SD Wedding Style

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When Cory Ann Ellis moved from California to the Midwest to study Physical Education in college, she never imagined that she’d one day have a booming photography business in South Dakota and her name on the masthead of two magazines.

Her first headlong dive into publishing, SD Wedding Style, is focused on wedding information and ideas for couples with both an annual print publication and a regular blog-site.

  What lead you from photography to publishing?

Cory Ann Ellis It was really a natural progression. While I love magazines, I am a horrible writer but I found my images are a wonderful visual compliment writing and so it just made sense to create a publication where there wasn’t one previously. The on-demand printing made it possible for us to bring SD Wedding Style to life without looking for financial backers to help with the cost of printing.

There are many magazines to choose from for wedding inspiration–the greats like Martha Stewart and Real Simple–but my partner Leah (a graphic designer and wedding coordinator) and I had never seen a single South Dakota wedding or vendor featured. Therefore it was time to create one and showcase all of the great options couples have right here.

My partner on Wholesome Magazine came to me to pick my brain on launching her idea of a South Dakota-based food magazine. Shayla is a wonderful journalist, talented graphic design and amazing cook. It made sense to join her in the endeavor and now our first issue is due out in Sept 2013 and it will be a bimonthly publication. I’m excited for it’s release, although my waistline is a little less excited–you know I have to try all the foods I photograph…

  What sorts of publications do you publish?

CA With MagCloud I print for AC Ellis, SD Wedding Style, Wholesome Magazine and The Cake Lady. I use MagCloud to print magazine publications as well as collateral material and lookbooks for multiple businesses. SDWS uses MagCloud for both our print and digital distribution and media materials. Wholesome uses MagCloud for our collateral materials. With AC Ellis I use MagCloud for everything I can. My product catalog, proof magazines, client handbook, rate guide, vendor magazines, lookbooks and more. For home projects I like to use it for image catalogs of all the images I want to reference without going to the computer.

The many publications of ACEllis

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

CA A friend originally told me about MagCloud and I immediately was excited about the idea of short run magazines.

  How has your business evolved with on-demand publishing?

CA In my photography business MagCloud has allowed me a new means to put my images in print. In the age of digital too often images do not leave the computer. Heirloom quality albums and many lab produced products are incredibly expensive and aren’t ideal for quick distribution and lots of handling/updating. My images are in more hands thanks to MagCloud and that means more exposure, bookings, and income. The number of my referrals turned to bookings has increased since I’ve used MagCloud to print materials specific to the venues and coordinators I wanted to work with. This year about 42% of my weddings are based on these referrals versus about 10% the previous year.

  What software do you use to design your publications? Do you have any special tricks to make it easier or well designed?

CA I use Adobe InDesign® for all of my design work. When I found layers it opened up a whole new world.

  What tips do you have for someone new to self-publishing?

AC ELLIS Photography Product Catalog

CA For someone new to self-publishing I have three main tips.

1. Research.

In order to produce a great product you need to research all aspects of the business. While this may be a creative outlet or a small project there are certain legal steps to take for your business. For example if you are going to sell advertising or the publication itself, things like obtaining sales tax licensing and filing, business registration, EIN number, etc.

2. Protect.

Your work is worth something and you should protect it. Either submit the entire publication or all of your images and text to the copyright office. While your work is copyrighted the moment you create it, registration allows for the recovery of damages in the event it is illegally copied. You can also trademark your name and logo. Not only federally, but in your state. Business names can also typically be registered in your state. Get your ISSN number so that your publication is searchable and citable. Lastly, put a copyright disclosure in your masthead or somewhere in your publication.

3. Partner.

You may be good at one skill like writing, but not design, editing, photography, or business operations. Find other professionals to round out your team. Either as partners in an LLC/Corp or as paid professionals and sub-contractors. A great team will make for a great publication.

  What are your business resolutions for 2013?Farmer's Market Calendar

CA I’m not a resolution gal, but I am a huge goal and list maker. And since I’m also into SMART goals I typically have a list of about 70-100 items designed to help me achieve about 10 main goals. This year’s largest undertaking is a complete business re-branding. Lots of fun and work.

  Are there any blogs or publications that you use for business advice or guidance? Which ones?

CA Surprisingly I do not read many business blogs, but I do follow some great people on twitter and love to read their posts and links. A few are Whitney Johnson @johnsonwhitney, Lucas Marcus @lucymarcus, and Oliver Blanchard @thebrandbuilder. I do always recommend small business owners read the book E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber.

SMB Business Tips from Guest Blogger Merritt Design

Today’s post is from designer and MagCloud publisher Jennifer Koskinen, owner of Merritt Design.

smbtipsWith a desire to start the year with a positive outlook, Sandy Puc just began a great discussion thread on LinkedIn asking people to think about the Top 10 things they believe contribute to a successful photography studio.

I love taking the first week of January to revisit goals for my photography business, and so was inspired to take a moment to reflect on my overall strategies for success. In no particular order, here are my Top 10 (ok 12) things I have observed over the years which motivate me every day.  Some I live with confidence.  Others I am still working to make wholly mine. What would YOU add?

1. THE CLIENT EXPERIENCE

Make booking, scheduling, delivering, and of course, shooting the photo session a memorable and fun experience. Inspire referral business through existing clients.

2. SMILE

Yes, you. Genuinely. Smile!! On the job … and at the proverbial coffee shop (can’t even count how many clients I’ve earned with this philosophy).

3. INSPIRATION / EDUCATION

Keep reading, networking, attending seminars and workshops, stay abreast of current trends, and try new things based on what inspires you.

4. GOALS / LISTS

Keep business and personal deadlines, and self-impose deadlines for non client driven ones. If you keep pushing back a deadline, ask yourself if the item should really be on the list (if so: do it! If not, remove it or put it on a separate back-burner list).

5. MARKETING

Schedule regular activity and think outside the box to market yourself creatively (in print, in person and via social media) Your website should reflect your personality. And especially when you’re starting out, don’t show every photo, show only your BEST photos!

6. COMFORT ZONE

Push it! Often! Shoot new material.  I love to use my phone camera to shoot personal projects even on days when I’m not shooting for clients.

7. PRICING

Review cost of business and package pricing annually and always communicate clearly and confidently with clients (unless you happen to love negotiating — which I decidedly do NOT — printed materials with pricing menus help tremendously).

8. MONEY

Fall in love with the business side of what you do. This is still my biggest challenge. I had to finally design myself a beautiful system of spreadsheets because the available software systems were all too dry for me. May sound silly, but it works for me. Find what works for you.

9. CONTRACTS

Know and continually update your contracts to stay on top of constantly changing on-line world (especially if you work with digital files and licensing). Educate your clients about copyright laws, and gently educate clients that they are investing in your talent, creativity, instinct and vision, NOT paper and ink.

10. GRATITUDE

Be grateful for the fact that you get to do what you love for a living! Remind yourself of this simple and amazing fact when times are tough.

11. ACCEPT CHANGE

Don’t attach to old ways of doing things and don’t be afraid of learning new tricks. Let go of fear, take chances, dive in…

12. TAKE DANCE BREAKS

Often. Crazy ones. They are immeasurably good for the spirit. Not to mention sore, over-worked eyeballs.

And as part of my “outside the box marketing” I like to use MagCloud to show off my work in print and digital, as well as providing my clients with new ways to market their own businesses.

 

Learn more about Jennifer’s work on her website and see her collection of MagCloud publications on her publisher page.

Do you have your own Small Business tips?  Share them in the comments section below.