Season’s Greetings Printed by MagCloud

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

Holiday Newsletters and Cards for Your Business

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

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

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

Holiday Newsletters and Cards for Your Family

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

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

Templates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Product Spotlight: Flyer for Business

One of the new product types we recently announced is the Flyer. The Flyer product is a single sheet of paper printed on both sides in full color with a full bleed, available in quantities of 10 copies or more. You can create a Flyer by uploading a one or two-page 8.5” x 11” PDF to MagCloud. Keep in mind that all Flyers must be two pages long, to encompass both the front and back sides of the printed sheet, so if you do upload a 1 page PDF we will automatically add a second blank page to the end of the PDF for you. Like our Standard product, the cost for a printed Flyer is 20 cents per MagCloud page, or $0.40 for each double-sided piece. As always, orders of 20 copies or more receive a bulk discount of 25%, dropping the price to just $0.30 per Flyer.

We feel like this shorter page limit opens up a number of new options for our publishers, and have listed a few ideas below for how you might be able to use the Flyer product for your business:

< Inserts
Update previously printed collateral to be more timely and customized by adding a single sheet insert. Adding a single sheet insert to a previously printed piece like this can provide more relevant information targeted to a specific recipient, or offer an update to existing collateral. For example, if you’re passing out a catalog, you might include an insert about your upcoming product line or summer sale. Similarly, if you are sending previous donors a copy of your non-profit’s annual prospectus, you might include a more personal thank you letter as an insert.

Conference and Tradeshow Handouts >
Whether they are included in the conference materials or handed out at a tradeshow booth, providing printed handouts to attendees to highlight the features of your product or service will help potential customers remember who you are when they get home.

< Datasheets
The Flyer product is a great option for creating single sheets of technical specs on your product or service. The high quality of the digital printing provides a more professional appearance than desktop printing, while the single letter-sized sheet is a format that can easily be included in a packet with other materials, or left behind at a sales meeting.

Real Estate Sales Sheets >
If you’re an Australian real estate agent, why not use the Flyer product to create sales sheets for your newly listed homes. The full color printing will allow you to include photos along with background information about the listing, that can be offered up as a way to entice potential buyers. Since MagCloud allows for shorter print runs, you can order fewer copies initially and print more on demand as they are needed, saving on storage and paper waste.

< Headshots and Resumes
Get your job interview or audition off on the right foot with a professionally printed resume or double-sided headshot.

Newsletters >
Use the Flyer product type to communicate with your clients or members by creating a single-sheet newsletter. With MagCloud’s digital options, you can offer your audience the same newsletter in both print and digital with a single PDF upload.

< Menus
A single 8.5″ x 11″ sheet is the great size for menus, and MagCloud’s print-on-demand model provides a cost-effective and easy way to order additional copies or make updates to the menu as needed. If you’re a caterer, you can take advantage of MagCloud’s shorter print runs to create Flyer-sized menus tailored to each event you cater, whether it’s an intimate dinner party or a large buffet.

Price Sheets >
Are you a photographer offering senior portrait packages? How about a sporting goods store offering bikes, kayaks, and skis for rent? Or a spa owner with a list of services you need to publicize? Whether you are a makeup artist, landscaper, tutor, or dog walker, let your potential customers know the rates for your services with a professionally printed price sheet that can incorporate full-color images of your prior work and personal branding.

< Flyers for Sales and Events
Use the Flyer product for what it was named after: flyers! Print and pass out single sheet flyers for your next retail sale, store opening, or company event. Whether you are hosting a signing in your book store, a concert in your coffee shop, or a spring sale in your clothing boutique, make sure your potential attendees and customers not only know about it but remember it with a printed flyer.

Looking for more inspiration, or wondering where to get started with your Flyer design? Templates that fit the 8.5″ x 11″ Flyer product type can be found around the internet, and even on your own computer. The Microsoft Office Suite, as well as Apple’s iWorks Pages come preloaded with a number of letter-sized templates that can be used for creating Flyer publications. In addition, sites like Inkd and Stock Layouts offer a range of different letter-sized templates in their Datasheet and Flyer sections that you can download for a price and edit to fit your needs before uploading to the MagCloud site for printing and distribution.

Have you already created something for your business with the new Flyer product? Let us know in the comments below!

Member Communication Made Easy (Well, Easier…)

Whether you have a non-profit, church group, student association, small business, or sports team, getting your message out to your members, supporters, and investors can be a large task. Staying on schedule and under budget can be tough, and creating a print newsletter that looks good is only a fraction of the challenge. Then you have to worry about mailing lists, postage and distribution… and you have to do this annually? Quarterly? Monthly?! Yikes. My head hurts just thinking about it…

Well, now you can worry less, because you have MagCloud–and we’re working to make it easier for you. With Ship to Group functionality we can take on the heavy-lifting of drop-shipping to your mailing list and you won’t have to deal with pesky paper-cuts or trips to the post office. Digital distribution gives you the option to share a PDF with your users who prefer to stay up-to-date with their iPad or other digital device. And you can get it all done without having to leave your desk or get out of your PJs (no judgement here).

So since it’s the start of a new year, what better way to turn over a new leaf with your organization, than to turn a glossy page? Your publication can look professional and still be affordable if you publish through MagCloud and we’re going to help you get started right now.

To make the process easier, we created a classic newsletter template designed for printing as a 4-page MagCloud publication (which comes to just 60¢/copy if you order 20 or more copies). It’s easy to edit and available in three software formats. Check out the original and a variation of the template on the left, and then get started creating your own in Adobe InDesign (CS3 or newer), Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. *Please note, you may have to “right-click” or “ctrl+click” to start the download.

Starting with a template is a great trick for speeding up the design process (don’t tell anyone I told you, but a lot of professional designers do it themselves) and many well-designed templates have style sheets built in that make it easy to change fonts and styles with just a few clicks of the mouse. So with a few simple typeface changes, tweaks to color, and some new imagery, you can easily transform this basic template into a newsletter that fits your organization’s image. We used Neutra typefaces and swapped in orange for our example, but how you customize it is up to you.

Want to try a different design?
Depending on your software of choice, you can also find great resources built into some applications or as free downloads in their online resources.

Apple Pages has built-in templates that can be great starting points, just be sure to check your margins and settings because these layouts may need a bit of adjusting so that they are properly centered on the page after printing/trimming. For more detailed help with this task check out the “Add guides to pages and adjust layout for trim” section of last year’s blog post.

Microsoft also has free templates available for Word and Publisher online at office.microsoft.com.

If you’re willing to splurge and buy a template, from an online source like stocklayouts.com, be aware that most of these templates are not designed to MagCloud specs and will need to be adjusted to 8.5″ x 11″ pages in order to output a properly-sized, MagCloud-ready PDF. So before you spend the money, be sure you select a file format for software you are comfortable with, and that you are prepared to make the necessary changes to set the file up to match our PDF specifications.

More Resources
Still needing more inspiration? Check out some of our past blog posts for newsletter content and design tips, or great sample publications. And as always you can find all of MagCloud’s design Tips and Tricks and all of our free templates in our Design Resources section of the blog.

Have you found other great templates or resources to use when creating your MagCloud publications? Then please share them below in the comments section.

Getting Your Members on the Same Page

Community organizations, non-profits and student groups all work hard to build a strong member base that understands and spreads their mission. From new member materials to monthly newsletters, a clear, well-designed member communications strategy is an important step towards that goal. Thankfully, MagCloud is here to help you achieve that goal. Many groups already publish their materials with MagCloud and we’re excited to show you the high quality work they’re producing. These examples should give you a few ideas about where to focus your materials:

Orange County Orchid Society publishes this monthly newsletter filled with images of the group’s beautiful orchids and to update the group on its members, the latest meeting notes, tips and a few local ads.

American Glass Guild newsletter features a message from the president of the AGG, the latest news on awards and recognition for members and a recap of a recent AGG workshop.

Fort Collins Alumnae Chapter of Delta Delta Delta has several important updates for members such as key upcoming dates, a note from the chapter’s PanHellenic rep, an update on Fall recruitment and plans for several events in the next year.

Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity quarterly publication is a good publication for other Greek organizations to get content tips for. It features a spotlight on outgoing seniors and new members and several editorial pieces from members looking to stretch their writing muscles.

The Pulse is a publication by the Korean American Students of Yale that packs a concise update into six pages including a message from the outgoing board, notes from the most recent board meeting, a look at the top 9 KASY moments of the year and, of course, some funny KASY superlatives. It’s worth noting that each KASY publication is similar in length but the content varies by issue.

Let us know what member communications materials you use to share updates with your members. We want to hear about it

Design Tips to Help You Get Your Message Out

MagCloud offers a lot of options to help you communicate with members of your organization. Not only can you offer members the choice of a print or digital version through the MagCloud website, but you can also use our Ship to Group feature to mail a print copy to each one of them or use our Guest Pass feature to allow members-only access to unlisted publications via email.

Whether your group is focused on a shared interest or a shared alma mater, keeping members informed is an important part of maintaining any membership organization. At MagCloud we’ve seen membership communications take many forms, including newsletters, annual reports, member directories, and even calendars.

While the content of member communications varies greatly depending on the type of organization and the form of publication being created, here are a couple of design tips that are always good to keep in mind:

1. Keep your message clear. This doesn’t just pertain to what you are writing, but also to how you present your message on the page. Make sure that the information that is most important to your members is placed front and center, and anything additional is cleanly laid out in an organized and easy to follow fashion. Doing so will allow members to easily navigate through the publication and better ensure that they receive the messages you are hoping to deliver. This is particularly important when creating a member directory, which by nature contains a large amount of content. You don’t want to hinder the delivery of this content by having a disorderly layout that is difficult to find your way through.

Moorestown Rowing The Moorestown Rowing Club’s annual publication offers a great example of a large amount of content that has been laid out in an orderly fashion. Using bold titles and a consistent two-spread layout they are able to present their team rosters in a way that is easy to navigate and understand.

2. Use colors, fonts and imagery that are familiar. Although you may not think of it this way, your organization is a brand, and it’s important to take advantage of brand recognition in the communications you send to your members. The easiest way to do this is through the colors, fonts and imagery you use, matching those in your publication with ones that are used elsewhere on your group’s website or blog. By maintaining a consistent look and feel, you’ll help ensure that members make the association with your organization instantly when the printed piece lands on their doorstep.

American Glass GuildThe American Glass Guild does a great job of establishing a brand with their MagCloud-published newsletter. They not only keep a consistent look and feel with each issue but also using colors, fonts and imagery in their publications that is similar to those found on their website.

3. Balance your content. As with the other publication types we’ve discussed in recent weeks, it’s good to keep your readers engaged in your content, regardless of what the intent of the publication is. A big part of this is visual – when a reader encounters a page full of text, they may feel somewhat daunted by the amount of content they are being presented with. Rather than just giving your readers a lot of text to consume, balance the layout of your member communications with supporting images and related infographics. Even just breaking up a page of text with some white space can help make your message easier on the eyes. The easier your message is to consume, the more likely it is that your members will receive it.

Perception MagazineThe Canadian Council on Social Development’s Perception magazine is a great example of a membership publication with a balanced layout. Each of the longer text pieces in the magazine are accompanied by images, call-out quotes, and colored text boxes of related information. Not only does this makes the pages of the publication more visually appealing than they if they were just filled with solid blocks of text, but the added content also makes them more interesting to read.

Has your club or organization used MagCloud to communicate with its members? Tell us how in the comments below.

Let’s Get Creative

While portfolios and business brochures are relatively common publication types on MagCloud these days, there are a number of other unique use cases we see where publishers take advantage of MagCloud’s high quality print and digital distribution to serve their business needs. Today we’d like to share a few of these with you, and hopefully spark your creativity for your own MagCloud publication.

Calendars
As discussed in our post earlier this week, we usually see an uptick in the number of calendars published on the site around this time of year. These calendars show off everything from family portraits to product imagery, and with the MagCloud storefront and print on demand capability we’ve seen some successful calendar fundraising efforts. Plus, now that we have our smaller digest format, MagCloud calendars can be ultra-portable or even expanded into daily planners. If you’ve been looking for a place to get started on your own calendar, check out our 2012 calendar templates.

Annual Reports
Another timely publication type we see on the MagCloud site is the annual report. These run the gamut from smaller startups who just want to print up a handful of copies for investors to larger companies that want an easy way to make their report available online with both print and digital options. Our standard-sized perfect bound publication is particularly well-suited to this use case, since its heavier cover stock and square binding offers a more professional look and feel.

Holiday Greetings
MagCloud also offers a great way to get in the holiday spirit with a pro-quality print and digital family newsletter that gets published and distributed just in time for the holidays. Combine your Holiday Newsletter publication with our Ship to Group feature making it easy to send one copy of your publication to a group of addresses. If you’re looking for tips to make your own holiday greetings through MagCloud, check our blog post from last year for templates and instructions.

Cookbooks
Recipe collections are another popular MagCloud publication type, serving the purpose of business promotions, community fundraisers, and wedding favors. With options for ordering print copies and downloading onto mobile devices like the iPad, MagCloud cookbooks are easy to keep close at hand in the kitchen. To help you get started on your own cookbook, check out our prior blog posts with templates and instructions for Adobe InDesign, iWork Pages, and Microsoft Word.

Workbooks, Manuals, and Guides
A number of publishers have used MagCloud to print field guides, camp workbooks, how-to guides, training manuals, educational workbooks, and operations manuals to complement a variety of business needs. In some cases these are printed ahead of time for use during a workshop or class, while other times they are simply made available online for attendees to purchase as supplementary or stand-alone training materials.

Programs
We see programs of all kinds published on the MagCloud site for events like weddings, plays, memorial services, conferences and music festivals. Our new digest product is particularly well-suited for this use case, since its smaller size is less obtrusive and fits more easily into bags and purses.

Menus
Another great business use case for MagCloud is a menu. Our full color printing helps show off vibrant food photography, while the on-demand printing makes it easy to order copies in small batches as they are needed and make changes between print runs.

Knitting Patterns
There are a number of publishers on MagCloud creating knitting pattern publications. We’ve seen patterns for hats, mittens, scarves, leg warmers, sweaters, and even a wine bottle cozy.  Get a first hand account from MagCloud publisher Alexandra Tinsley.

Real Estate Materials
We’ve also had real estate brokers printing 4-page factsheets for their listed homes through MagCloud, as well as more extensive photo pamphlets for both homes and yachts.  We also included a more extensive listing catalog as one of our templates for Microsoft Publisher.

Blog-Based Publications
A number of publishers on MagCloud are bloggers who use MagCloud to publish their content in an alternate way. Sometimes these are published as collections of posts that might fit a theme, or were voted on by the community, or are simply from a period of time. In other instances, these publications contain additional information that expands upon what was originally posted on the blog, such as fresh content about a profiled individual or the backstory of an image.

These are just a sampling of the diverse publication types that we’ve seen published to the site, with more being uploaded everyday. What have you created through MagCloud? Have you been inspired to create any of the publications types listed above? Tell us in the comments below!

Trends and Resources For Great Looking Business Collateral

How you tell your business story can be the difference between turning a lead into a new customer or just a lost opportunity.

Eye catching and compelling business collateral plays an important role in buying decisions.  According to Eccolo Media’s “2010 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report,” 83% of B2B technology purchasers say they had used brochures within the previous six months to evaluate a prospective purchase, 76% referred to white papers, followed by 67% who used case studies.

And great collateral isn’t just for big business, heavy investment in marketing collateral is also a key 2011 trend for Small Business as well.

So how do you create business collateral that stands out and gets your audience engaged?

1. Tell A Story.  Stories intrigue, keep our interest and help us convey information in an engaging way.  Conveying your brand promise or promoting your new product or service as a narrative helps your audience understand the possibility and gives them a call to action to learn more.  Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works, offers some great insight into storytelling for business.

2. Bring Your Story To Life.  A story is more than words. You can use pictures, graphs, tables, screen shots, pull quotes from customers etc. − anything that will help visually convey your story, and underscore your viewpoint and competitive advantage.  There is a plethora of free tools to make creating charts and diagrams super easy.  If you want to push your story to a new visual level consider designing and incorporating infographics.  Infographics have been heavily used by B2C and B2B companies in the past few years to help convey complex information and trends.  Check out the Cool Infographics Blog, Weloveinfographics or Datavis for some infographic inspiration.

3. Invest in Design.  You don’t have to break your business piggy bank to design great looking collateral.  There are lots of desktop publishing applications that make brochure, newsletter, program and catalog design easy. Depending on your skill level and budget there is a spectrum of solutions including Microsoft Publisher, QuarkXPress, Apple Pages and Adobe InDesign.  Most of these programs also include templates or you can check out some of MagCloud’s free business templates as well.

4. Ask for Help.  If you are having trouble getting started there are lots of tutorials and resources to put you on the right path.  Microsoft for example offers a suite of tutorials for Publisher, there are forums for Adobe InDesign or head on over to Lynda.com for an array of business and software online courses. Or you can always consider outsourcing your business collateral design to a third-party or agency such as MagCloud partners HP Logoworks or Madison Ave. Collective.

5. Leverage the Web.  Printing and updating your business collateral no longer needs to be complex, time-consuming and expensive.  Thanks to new print on demand services like MagCloud you can upload a PDF of your collateral and have it printed and delivered to your customers without ever leaving your desk.  Need to change a product spec in your brochure or add a new offering to your catalog? No problem, simply upload a new version of your PDF.  The web also offers you the flexibility to take the same PDF you use for print and make it available digitally for reading on a PC or mobile device giving your audience choice.  Once you have your printed or digital publication ready, it’s easy to build an online marketing plan around it.  Make your content readily accessible and easy to share not only via your website but wherever your audience would be most receptive to your message–social networks, forums, blogs etc.  You spent all that time and effort creating it so don’t forget to make it easy to find.

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great looking brochures, newsletters, event programs and catalogs published on MagCloud, so we thought we would share a few of our favorites to help inspire you.

Axses Travel Platform

Cubic Machinery

High Points Promotional

Natural Homes

Overland Sourcebook

Toobydoo

Share any great resources or tips you’ve found useful in creating your business collateral in the comments section below.