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.

Get With the Program

Planning for an event can sometimes be, well, eventful. There are always changing schedules to deal with, speakers canceling at the last minute, and 11th hour edits to the program. Making it to press in time (sometimes weeks before the event) with all of these adjustments can be nearly impossible. So, why not lighten your load and use MagCloud?

With fast print turn-around times (as fast as 3-business days for some orders) and great digital options, you could have your next event’s program done quickly, printed beautifully and even offer a digital option to attendees who would rather have their program on their mobile device.

Whether you are planning an internal training day for 10, a corporate meeting for 100 or a conference for 1,000+, MagCloud makes it easy to publish a program with just a few clicks of the mouse and have prints delivered straight to the event location. How easy is that?!

Need shipping that fits your budget? Use the MagCloud pricing calculator to figure out what level of shipping option works best for you.

To help you get started, we have 3 basic templates for Adobe InDesign (CS3 and later) Microsoft Word, and Apple iWork Pages. You can also find templates for sale online from many sites, but be cautious that many of them will require some tweaking to output for print through MagCloud. Please see our How to Guides for details on MagCloud-ready settings.

Ready to design on your own? Get inspired by other publishers’ event and sports programs and agendas on MagCloud:

  

 

It’s that time of year again…

Every year around this time, we see a bevy of calendars popping up on MagCloud. But surprisingly, they are not all what you would think… Sure, there are plenty of family calendars published, undoubtedly intended for distribution to cousins, aunts and grandma, but we think the more interesting use-case are the those being put together by professionals to promote their businesses. And what better way to stay top of mind with your clients, than to be pinned to their wall, where they will see you everyday?

Whether you’re an event planner wanting to showcase your aesthetic, a photographer promoting your work, a non-profit raising awareness or a small business trying to keep your team top of mind with your audience–calendars are a great way to keep your name in front of your client all year long.

Assembling a calendar can be time consuming, so this week we did the heavy lifting for you. Below you will find calendar templates for 3 of the most-frequently used software programs on MagCloud:

Adobe InDesign (CS3 and newer) (zipped version is HERE)

Apple’s iWork Pages

Microsoft Word

You can use these as a starting point for creating your own professional or personal calendar. We won’t spend a ton of time going into the technicalities of how to use these templates because we’ve covered that for Word and Pages last year.

BONUS: if you are using InDesign, there are 3 styles of calendar hidden within the master pages that you can easily apply by changing the master pages for each spread.

Get inspired by some of the great 2011 and 2012 calendars already on MagCloud:

        

Have you created or found a great calendar on MagCloud? Share the link below in the comments section!

Put MagCloud to Work: Publish a Business Brochure

A wise person once said ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’. In fact, it just takes a few seconds or a cursory glance for a person to make a judgment about us. Our subsequent actions, behavior and professionalism may change that perception slightly, but not to a great extent.

So it stands to reason that how you portray your business to prospective clients is almost as important as how you do business.

Whether you are a fashion designer, a multi-media training company, an industry consultant, a yoga studio, or a niche photographer, putting your brand out there in a professional manner is extremely important.

One could argue that a brochure is just as important as your business card. It is an important marketing and sales tool, one in which you can do a little bragging and shamelessly present your business in the most positive light. It is your opportunity to create a lasting impression, so be sure that it is a good one.

Whether you are a company with a staff of 2, 20 or 20,000, MagCloud is a great tool for affordably publishing and distributing your brochures in a professional format. Our full-color, full-bleed print options in both standard and digest trim sizes give you the choice to create a robust brochure of multiple pages, or something simple and portable, like a four-paged digest handout. Digital distribution options also make it easy to share your brochure digitally to a desktop, laptop, the iPad, or other mobile device.

MagCloud’s ship-to-group feature makes it easy to drop-ship seasonal information or annual brochures to your clients around the world. Or, if you are a small business, its on-demand functionality means that you can distribute individual copies as needed to interested clients, allowing you to maintain a professional appearance without exceeding a limited budget.

Once you have these great logistics and beautiful print quality, the only thing holding you back is content, and design. Here are a few tips for gathering the content you should include in your brochures, and how to effectively assemble it into a professional-looking publication.

Getting Started:

Who are you talking to?

The first thing you need to know is what you want your brochure to accomplish. That ties directly into the target audience and what the message of the brochure will be. Identify your target audience and speak directly to them. Never try to address everyone. Once you know who your audience is, it will be easier to target your messaging and articulate that your product or service is a solution to their needs.

What is your message?

Always include a meaningful headline. Your headline should clearly communicate your main point so that even if the reader reads nothing else, they will understand what you are about.

Tell the whole story in your writing. Be concise, but remember to write your body copy in plain English. Don’t use jargon or industry lingo, instead pretend you’re explaining your message to a friend.

It’s helpful to use succinct, pithy copy. Avoid long sentences. Keep your message to the point. Use subheadings liberally, as they break up long copy and help draw a reader through the text. Ideally, a reader should be able to get a good grasp of your message by reading only the headings and subheadings.

Designing Your Brochure: 

When all of your information is gathered and your writing is done, you can finally get down to the business of designing. You’ll want take into account the basic elements of good design – organization, consistent styling, balance, color, and so on.

Lay out your brochure cleanly and professionally. The design should draw the reader in and ease the process of reading. Remember that erring on the simple side will be easier for your consumer than an over-designed, distracting or hard-to-read brochure.

It’s great to use graphics to provide balance with text, but be sure they are relevant to your content. Use graphics that grab your reader’s attention and underline your message. Whether it’s a picture, logo, or stock image, just be sure it relates to your message and brand.

As with any design there are some things you’ll want to avoid. These include:

  • Avoid over-used typefaces, such as Arial and Helvetica. Read more in our recent blog post.
  • For content type, keep the point size under 12.
  • Don’t use more than three type faces in a brochure.
  • Generally don’t use more than one alignment.

If you feel lost…

Starting from scratch on a brochure can be challenging. Some great resources for design inspiration can come from other designs. Try searching the web for brochures in your industry and see how your design stacks up against the competition. You don’t want to copy someone else’s design, but it’s a great way to get inspired.

Also check out the stock templates available within most design and word-processing software. If you aren’t a super-savvy designer using InDesign or Quark, you’ll be amazed what you can do with Apple iWork Pages, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Publisher. For those who are confident in their skills with the software, but looking to get a more professional look, you can also investigate altering templates from Stocklayouts or Inkd, just be sure you are ready to tweak these designs as they are not all perfectly sized for output through MagCloud.

Have you published your company’s brochure through MagCloud, or found other great resources for inspiration and design? Please share them in the comments below.

The Importance of Layouts and Templates

Whether you’re a design newbie, or a seasoned veteran, sitting down to create a new publication can be a daunting task. There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at a blank page, feeling stuck, and unsure of where to begin. It’s often easier to change things that don’t work for you, than to completely start from scratch, which is why we suggest starting with an existing document. It can be the design of a similar publication, or a simple template that has preloaded margins, column guides and style sheets, that you can quickly adjust for a head start. The advantage of dong this, it that the basics of the page are already in place so you can focus on your content and styling.

Why use a template?

Whether you are creating a 12-page or 120-page publication, if you plan to create a series with the same style, you’ll definitely want to invest the time to develop style sheets, and come up with a few layouts that you can repurpose each time you publish. This will help you keep a visual consistency not only throughout each publication, but also from publication to publication over time.

Some of our publishers have done a great job of this, and you can see how it helps reinforce their brand to have consistent styling throughout each publication.  Check out a few issues of Hacker Monthly or Livestrong, or portfolios by professional photographer David Livingston and you will see what we mean. Each of these publishers have developed a consistent style using templates that is unmistakably and identifiably their own.

Not an expert at design? No problem. Using a professional-looking template can increase your credibility, and make any publisher look like a pro. Find a template that has a style that resonates with you and use it as a springboard to get yourself started. You can see some great examples of this in our blog post Easy Design with Templates in Apple’s [iWork] Pages, where we turned a basic Symphony Program into a business services guide for an event planning company, a sports team yearbook, and a fashion magazine, with just a few changes in font, colors and photography.

Finding Templates
Where to look and what to look for…

Some software comes equipped with built-in templates, and you can also find great free and paid templates online at the companies’ websites, like Microsoft has for Word and Publisher here, or Adobe has for InDesign at Adobe.com

Still can’t find what you need? Other resources exist where you can buy specific designs for your needs and many of these sites make their templates available for a variety of design programs like Inkd and Stocklayouts.com.

When picking your templates, there are a number of things to consider for your publication:

1. Is this template for an 8.5″ x 11″ document? If it’s designed as a 17″ x 11″ spread, do I know how to adjust it to the right size?

2. What sort of page-layouts are included in the template?

3. Does the template have the right ratio of graphics to text for my needs?

4. Are there hidden layouts that I don’t see? * Hint: if you are using iWorks Pages, there probably are!

5. Does the style suit the audience I am trying to reach? If not, is it easily changed with a few font/color tweaks?

6. Don’t feel restricted by the stock photography or color palette used in a template. Keep in mind our example of the Symphony Program being transformed into a fashion magazine or an event planner’s business collateral

7. Ask yourself, “This template isn’t designed for my specific use-case, but does the overall layout and feel fit my purpose? Could I transform it into something that works?”

Ready to customize your template?
A few tips for making any template fit your needs.

– Unless you get a template directly from our blog, you will likely have to alter some of their settings to accommodate MagCloud’s printing requirements. Before you start making any edits to your template, be sure the document settings match those in the MagCloud Help Section.

– When you make changes to fonts and colors, always do this by editing the font or paragraph style sheets. This way, if you don’t like a change that you have made, it will be easy to adjust and will change that style use on all of the pages of the template.

– Always start with the original file and make 2 or 3 versions, each with different fonts or colors. Then save each as it’s own template so that you can compare them and easily decide which one you like best.

Ready, Set, Start Publishing!

Now that you have your template selected, it’s up to you to make it your own. Need a bit of extra help? Check out our other Tips & Tricks blog posts, or visit the help sections of your software’s site. Many of them have great how-to resources and videos to help you on your way.

Adobe InDesign

Microsoft Office

iWorks Pages

Vacationing with MagCloud

Memorial Day is a welcome beacon that summer is around the corner. As you finalize your plans for summer, MagCloud wants to provide you with a way to capture all of those special memories and experiences – whether it’s a staycation near home, a road trip to the national park or a getaway to an exotic locale.

How are you chronicling this precious time? Some of us may remember those family gatherings in front of the carousel slide projector or the bulky albums our parents put together after every trip. Now with MagCloud, you can create a personal memento in magazine format to easily share your memories with family and friends in print and digitally.

Here are a few tips and tools to assist you through the process:

  • If you’re creating a simple photo magazine, below are a few tips and resources to “prep” your images before publishing.
    • To produce a quality publication, make sure all images have a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch.
    • If you’re looking for photo editing tools but don’t have access to Photoshop, check out GIMP (free software that features most of the capabilities that Photoshop offers) or any of these additional photo editing tools.
    • Short on time or not comfortable with design tools? Give Poyomi and turn the photo sets into a magazine without using a design program.
    • Need inspiration? Browse through some of our travel and vacation magazines.

Have you ever used MagCloud to create a magazine of memories? It’s even a great way to commemorate a school year, a birth, a wedding and more. With MagCloud’s digital publishing and print-on-demand capabilities, it’s never been easier or more budget-friendly to capture the special moments in life.

Have a Question? We Have Answers!

We’ve expanded our Help section adding more detailed instructions and FAQs to make publishing on MagCloud a little easier.

Our new How to Publish page offers diagrams and PDF specs to guide you through each stage of the MagCloud Publish process. In our new PDF Guides section you can select step-by step instructions for a variety of design and publishing applications such as Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Publisher and Apple Pages to help you create and export a MagCloud-ready PDF. You can also download a PDF of those instructions directly from the PDF Guides page, or order a print copy as a way to see MagCloud’s print and digital quality and have the information at hand while you create your PDF.

If you run into any questions, search for answers on the new Ask MagCloud page. We’ve expanded our frequently asked questions and made them searchable to help you find the answers you need as quickly as possible. If the answer you’re looking for can’t be found on the site, you can use our new Contact Us page to send the MagCloud support team all the necessary information up front so they can get you back on the path to publishing even faster.

We are also making it easier to keep up-to-date with new features and promotions via our About section. This is where you can find out about the latest website enhancements, printing options, calculate what it will cost to print and ship your order, or find out more about MagCloud’s digital distribution options.

We hope these new resources will make publishing through MagCloud even easier.

Let us know what you think!