Q&A with Erika Pitera and Lynne Webb of ZEST Magazine

Q-and-A-Series-header-ZESTBack in 2008, when mother-daughter duo Lynne Webb and Erika Pitera launched their recipe and food blog MyGourmetConnection.com, becoming magazine publishers was not on their radar.   The blog offered a wide variety of recipes with a particular focus on creating simple and delicious everyday meals – the kind you can easily make on a weeknight after coming home from work. As the website grew in size and popularity, and as the digital magazine trend gained momentum, they began looking for a way to highlight their special holiday and celebration recipes and menus. A seasonal magazine with a focus on entertaining would be the perfect companion to MyGourmetConnection.   Both Erika and Lynne have graphic design backgrounds, and it seemed like a terrific way to bring specialized content to their audience in a new, accessible and aesthetic format. And so ZEST was born in the early part of 2011.   We asked Erika and Lynne to share their insights and lessons learned in the world of print and digital publishing.

Zest Past Issues

What got you started publishing through MagCloud?

Erika & Lynne When we started ZEST in summer of 2011, we were publishing in digital format only. The service we were using worked well enough, but we’re always looking to improve and expand our options. When we found the MagCloud platform, we were attracted by the high-resolution capabilities it offered. Erika’s husband Tom is a professional photographer, and he works with us on all the shoots for ZEST. Between the amount of work we put into styling the food and table decor, and the professional quality of Tom’s photos, we want our work to be displayed at its absolute best, and we love the way ZEST looks on MagCloud.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you made the transition from bloggers to magazine publishers?

E&L First, finding a platform with an interface that worked smoothly and easily for our readers required some trial and error, and we ended up experimenting with a few before settling on MagCloud. The bigger challenge, however, was determining how to present this new format to our existing audience in a way that was simple and appealing. We’ve found that showcasing snippets of content from each new issue on both the magazine website and MyGourmetConnection is an effective way of introducing people to the format and attracting new readers.

Why print and not just digital?zest-and-ipad

E&L We were thrilled to be able to order printed copies of ZEST through MagCloud. Printing wasn’t on our minds when we first started ZEST, but now that we’ve gotten a few issues printed, we plan to utilize the service more in order to help our audience on MyGourmetConnection discover the magazine. It’s amazing how with just a few tweaks you can create a single publication that looks great in both digital and print formats.

What’s your favorite feature on MagCloud?

E&L From the publisher standpoint, we really like the upload tool on MagCloud. It works flawlessly and makes it easy for you to spot any errors in your layout that could result in a less-than-satisfactory printed copy. Armed with this information you can correct the problem, upload again and be certain that your publication will print the way you want it to. From the consumer standpoint, we like the shop. It’s well organized, the search works well and it gives us an opportunity to discover some great reading from other small, independent publishers like ourselves.

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

E&L It’s important to have a plan laid out for your publication – whatever type it is. You should have a good idea how many photos you’ll need, a logical order in mind for the various features and a relatively uniform look throughout the publication. Keep your goals within reason and if you’re working within a time frame, allow yourself enough time to complete the job without rushing.

If you could invite anyone (living or dead) over for a casual dinner who would it be and what would you serve them?

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E&L Julia Child, of course! She was and always will be a wonderful inspiration – not just from a culinary standpoint, but as a symbol of what women are capable of achieving. We share her love of good food and the process of creating it, and that approach makes what we do seem a lot less like work. As far as what we’d serve for dinner – it would have to be a few of the Hungarian recipes that have been handed down in our family for several generations. Family recipes are part of who you are and probably some of the best in any home cook’s repertoire.

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.

MagCloud’s Favorite Instagram Users and Hashtags

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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.

Favorites to follow:

Us, of course – @hpmagcloud

Andrew Shinn – @shinnphoto

BRINK Magazine – @brinkmag

Cory Ann Ellis/AC Ellis – @coryannellis

CycleEXIF – @cycleexif

James Worrell – @worrellphoto

Jennifer Koskinen/Merritt Photo – @merrittphoto

Julian Bialowas (16 Hours Mag) – @julianbialowas

Rob Shore/I Carry the Bag – @shorespeak

Sian Richardson Tax Attorney (16 Hours Mag) – @sian_richardson

Standard Magazine – @standard_mag

Toobydoo – @toobydoo

We Like We Love – @welikewelove

#tags to remember:

#MagCloud

#MagCloudinthewild

#MagCloudLove

#printisnotdead

#graphicdesign

How to Use Pinterest for MagCloud Publishers

We’re quite fond of photos and videos much like the online community on Pinterest. It’s no wonder that we heart the pinboard-style visual sharing site (we made our own Pinterest account too!) and are always inspired by what people are pinning.

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Our publishers are also including Pinterest as part of their marketing strategy and we’re seeing a lot of readers using our new social sharing capabilities. Remember that readers can like, tweet, pin, and share their favorite print and digital publications from our website or within the web-based viewer.

For those of you starting a Pinterest account, here are a few tips we’ve found to be helpful on how to use the visual platform to market your publication and engage with your readers.

  • Pin photos from your publication or website – The pinned images will include a link back to your site, which will help drive traffic there.
  • Pin videos – Go beyond just pinning pictures and share videos especially ones that are highly relevant to the theme of your Pinterest boards.
  • Introduce the members of your team – Let your readers and customers know who’s behind the genius.
  • Follow other Pinterest users in your local area and/or field of expertise – You can see how other pinners are getting likes and re-pins and help build upon your presence in your community. Remember to follow us on Pinterest, too!
  • Ask fans to pin photos of themselves with your publication – This is a great way to build engagement with your readers and learn which issues are their favorites.
  • Test different captions – Be sure to include keyword phrases and hashtags, and remember to have fun with your captions.
  • Find out which pictures have been pinned from your site – Simply type the following URL: “http://pinterest.com/source/ADD YOUR URL HERE” and you can see which photos or content are most popular. Find out what people are pinning now, from MagCloud.com!

As a publisher, are you using Pinterest to market your publication? Share your tips on how to use Pinterest with us in the comments section below.

Q+A with Alyssa Yuhas of WLWL Magazine

Toronto-based graphic designer Alyssa Yuhas specializes in branding and online design for a variety of clients across North America. But she’s never forgotten her longtime love for print magazines and the thought of working for one.

When she discovered MagCloud, she realized right away that she could publish a magazine of her own. So in 2008, after “months of planning, days of designing, hours of procrastinating (sometimes you just have to) and minutes of pacing,” Yuhas excitedly launched We Like We Love.

  Tell us about We Like We Love.

Alyssa Yuhas WLWL is exactly what the title says – we share the things we like and love. We showcase people who are passionate about their contributions to the worlds of lifestyle, fashion, arts and culture. If you’re passionate and excited about what you’re doing, we want to tell your story.

  Why print and not just online?

AY I’ve always been really interested in magazines – I’ve loved them since I was little. I love the physicality of holding a magazine and flipping through the pages. Online is awesome, but I really wanted the physical object. When it’s in print, people are excited to get involved in it.

  How has your MagCloud publication improved your business?

AY It has given me some great exposure, and we’ve been able to participate in several communitywide events because of the magazine. Plus, it adds credibility to my graphic design business. Potential clients see my name on the masthead, and that’s brought a lot of new work and contacts.

  How has publishing a magazine changed for you in the past five years?

AY We watch our Google Analytics and our MagCloud statistics – and we’re excited to see that the magazine keeps growing and growing. In fact, the MagCloud views of our magazine have increased by 158 percent since our first issue.

We hear from people every day, and we’re getting more and more contributors from all over the world. I think our quality is improving, and people see that we publish on a consistent basis. Establishing that longevity has been fantastic – it helps us earn our readers’ trust.

  How did you get started with publishing through MagCloud?

AY I can’t remember how I found MagCloud but I definitely remember thinking, “This is the best thing ever!”

WLWL is really well printed and gorgeously bound. And now we have new size and binding options. It’s so cool that print on demand is now possible for anyone at a very low cost. Anyone can start a magazine now.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

AY Focus on both design and content. It’s important that your magazine be visually appealing and exciting, and also that people will delve into the stories. You need to strike that balance.

  If you were stranded on a desert island, which books would you want with you?

AY The Chronicles of Narnia series. That was my favorite as a kid. The language and visuals are beautiful. I could reread them over and over again.

Q+A with Rachael Cavallo of Palu Ltd.

Rachael Cavallo refers to her job title as “magician.” She and her coworkers – her fellow “magicians” – run Seattle-based Palu Ltd., specializing in the design and manufacture of affordable home furnishings. It might take a bit of magic, she says, to combine fine craftsmanship, quality materials and contemporary style with the needs of an increasingly green world – yet Palu remains committed to environmental responsibility in all aspects of its business.

And when it comes to publishing catalog that help sell Palu products, Cavallo leaves the magic to MagCloud. “It’s been absolutely wonderful – and we especially appreciate the fast turnaround,” she says. “I can’t recommend MagCloud highly enough.”

  Tell us a little bit about Palu.

Rachael Cavallo We like to imagine things differently. From a broad range of chairs to cabinets, dining tables, mirrors and more, our line offers versatile furniture that is elegant, appropriate and approachable.

We recognize that the business of making furniture can have a heavy impact on our environment and our world. We are constantly working to minimize the impact we have and to promote positive change. We actively support sustainable and accountable forest management, fair labor practices, energy conservation, recycling, transparency and innovation in everything we do.

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

RC We used to do a catalog with each item having an individual page, and we assembled all of the pages into binders. It didn’t take long, though, for customers’ binders to become unorganized – especially when we’d add or discontinue items. If we weren’t there to update the customers’ binders personally, it just wasn’t working. Plus, our printer wasn’t doing a very good job. So we needed a new platform.

We found MagCloud and began creating individual booklets by room. So we have a bedroom booklet, a dining room booklet, a living room booklet, one for accessories – and the like. So now when we have revisions, we just alert customers to the revised booklets and they can order them directly from MagCloud.

  How has MagCloud improved your business?

RC I like that we can do very small print runs. We can easily put together a 12-page catalog every few months, print out a few and send those to anyone who’s interested in what we have to offer. We’ll do about 400 or 500 at a time. And if we need, say, three more, then we order just three more. Or 300 more. The quantity is never a problem.

The expense is so small compared with the benefit of always having something for customers to hold on to. That’s always been the challenge for us.

  What tips would you give to someone new to self-publishing?

RC Learn your publishing software. I think that’s the most important tip I can give. We use InDesign, and we had a local designer create 10 styles of a template that we use on a regular basis. InDesign is a wonderful tool. Learn to use it, and it will not fail you.

  If your catalog were an ice cream flavor, what would it be?

RC I’m going with Marionberry Swirl because vanilla is its classic base – you can’t go wrong with that. The marionberry comes from our part of the country – and our pieces definitely have a Seattle/Northwast flair. The marionberry shows that we’re classic, but with a special twist.

Q+A with Kyle Menard of BRINK Magazine

Kyle Menard has loved magazines since he could read. So much so that he once even dreamed of opening a newsstand selling magazines from around the world. “Like the kind you see in New York City,” he says.

Now an adult in the digital age, Menard has directed his passion for print into a magazine of his own. In 2009, he launched BRINK, an Orlando, Fla.-based bimonthly magazine that celebrates entrepreneurs – those already successful and those just starting – and the spirit that makes them all so special. BRINK was voted “Best Magazine in Orlando 2012” by TheDailyCity.com readers.

  How did BRINK come about?

Kyle Menard  I’m just a huge fan of magazines and wanted to create a magazine of my own. So I put all my ideas together and named the magazine BRINK – because it’s always exciting to be on the cusp of something new, whatever that might be.

BRINK celebrates entrepreneurs and shares their stories and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. We feature entrepreneurs in the realm of entertainment, fashion, human interest and pop culture – everyone from indie musicians and actors to designers and artists – people who’ve quit their day jobs to live their dreams. We hope these stories inspire future entrepreneurs to create their own paths to success.

  How has publishing a magazine changed for you in the past five years?

KM My name has definitely become more recognizable in Orlando. And through the years people have become more willing to work with me and participate in BRINK. They want to join in the conversation. There’s something about publishing a print magazine that gives you more credibility.

There’s been a lot of talk about the demise of publishing, but print is not going anywhere. Online is great – everyone loves immediate gratification. But people still want to hold something in their hands. They want the physical magazine that they can hold – they want to experience a deeper connection.

  How did you get started publishing through MagCloud?

KM I did a web search for “publishing magazines” and found MagCloud. I began with a simple eight-page prototype. And after teaching myself Photoshop, going through some MagCloud tutorials and trial and error, I’ve never looked back.

  Why did you choose MagCloud?

KM We’re always evolving, and MagCloud is always evolving. The convenience factor is huge. If we need something printed right away, MagCloud can do that. If we need perfect bound instead of saddle stitched, MagCloud can do that. If we need 10 copies shipped to Spain, again, MagCloud makes all that possible. Plus, MagCloud is always encouraging us to do more with our magazine. They don’t just print your PDFs. They really care about your success.