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Smug Tip: We’re Your Holiday Newsletter’s Best-Kept Secret

November 10, 2014 Leave a comment

This year, skip the stamps and go digital for the family newsletter. Your SmugMug account is the perfect way to share a beautiful, personalized, ever-changing array of memories from the year that’s easily shared with friends, family, and everyone you wish.

Not only do you gain precious extra time to put it together (fab for busy holiday preppers), but you can go way beyond text with a custom SmugMug newsletter page. Think: Video, slideshows, maps, the whole shebang! And it’s interactive, letting your friends and family click through your content, leave comments, share and more.

Our SmugMug family newsletter, digital-style.

How to Build Your Newsletter

First, we’ve built a sample holiday newsletter from SmugMug and put it right here. Take a look and we’ll break each piece down for you below.

Creating a custom holiday newsletter can be done as many ways as there are snowflakes in Siberia, so these tips are just a guideline. Feel free to experiment with different content and layouts until you get something you like. The sky’s the limit! 

  1. Create a Page. If you plan on making your newsletters digital each year going forward, we suggest actually going a step further and creating a whole new Folder called “Family Newsletters.” From there, you can create your Page and name it by year.
  2. Choose a Theme. Since we’re specifically creating a holiday newsletter, try Winter, Flurries, Blizzard, or Snowflake for that seasonal feel.
  3. Plan your content. Think through the highlights of your year and how you want to present those memories. Would you like to add in a block of thumbnails that viewers can click? Or would you prefer to display them in a slideshow? Do you have any videos you’d like to share of school plays, memorable sports wins, or your annual vacation?
  4. Add your content. To do this, you may want to Collect just the photos you want into a special, unlisted “Newsletter” gallery, so you can easily drop it into the page and not have to select lots of photos from many folders around your site. This also keeps fans who click through to see more from getting lost.
  5. Tell your story. Use Title and Text blocks to greet guests and tell them every detail about your year. Remember that you’re never confined to just one block, so you can break up your text and let it flow down the page around the different photos and other content.
  6. Make it shareable. Don’t forget to add a Social Buttons box at the top or bottom of the page so your viewers can share it with other loved ones you may not be able to reach.

Dress up your newsletter page or gallery with a festive holiday theme.

Have a Basic account? While the ability to create custom Pages and use the more advanced Content Blocks are available only with Power accounts and up, there’s plenty you can do. Customize your SmugMug homepage to include all the Content Blocks that tell your story, or create a new gallery and Collect your best photos from around your site to illustrate all the great things you did this year. Your Gallery Description field is the perfect place to greet your guests, and you can use the photo Title and Caption fields to expand on what happened in each and every photo.

Key Smug Features to Use

The Multiple Photos content block is a great option for displaying select photos from your year.

We’ve just barely skimmed the surface of what you can do, so here’s a list of Content Block options you’ve already got to build the best digital newsletter your family has ever seen.

  • Custom Pages. Why stop at one? If an epic story needs to be explained, link out to a second, third, or fourth page so your fans can read all about it. We love photo blogs!
  • Themes. If you’re in Australia, snow may not fit the holiday idea like it would in Canada. Your account comes packed with dozens of beautiful themes, so don’t be afraid to be different.
  • Text and Title blocks. These are key. You could let your photos speak for themselves, but we prefer tradition on this one.
  • Maps. If you’re a globetrotter who loves to geotag, embedding a map is a wonderful, interactive way to show your family where you’ve traveled this year.
  • Slideshow box. A space-saver. For those who don’t prefer the endless scroll, the Slideshow content block is a great way to show off big, beautiful photos one at a time. You can even customize the playback speed, transitions, and much more.
  • Animoto video. Video clips are a fabulous addition to any newsletter, since paper versions can’t do this at all. But if you’re not sure your shaky vacation clips are up to snuff, you can still create an engaging, professional, beautiful video from your content with Animoto. They’ll do all the work so all you have to do is drop it into your page. Find it in any gallery under Buy > Other Products > Create a Video.
  • Galleries box. An easy way to feature your best galleries of the year, all around your site.
  • Comments. Will grandma love this year’s newsletter? Drop in a comment box so you can find out!
  • Social share buttons. Because you may not have the email address of your second cousin twice removed, the one you hit it off with at your niece’s wedding. But somebody in your network will.

Tip: Pair Your Newsletter with a (Real, Paper) Card

Even if you go digital on the newsletter, you can (and should) still turn your best photos into a beautiful holiday card. SmugMug’s got tons of gorgeous, personalizable designs that complement any photo you’ve ever taken (we’re willing to bet on it).

And since you can write your own words in them, a photo card is the perfect opportunity to debut the link to your newsletter. ;)

We just think the digital newsletter idea gives you much greater creativity and flexibility when it comes to your memories since you can add, change, and update the content your family sees.

Happy holiday planning, and we’d love to see your own creative examples of family newsletters this year! Tweet us a link, send it to our Support Heroes, post it to our Facebook wall, or just leave a comment below so we can check it out.

Links to love:

Release Notes: Customize the Buy Button, Stronger Search Box, and more

June 27, 2014 74 comments

We’ve just introduced a few more really great improvements we think you’ll love. More control over your gallery’s Buy buttons, the ability to easily archive and browse your mobile memories, and a super sweet search update for event shooters.

1) Customize Your Buy Button

One of your favorite topics of feedback is about the button that your fans click to make a purchase. To help draw more eyeballs to it, we changed the button text to read “Buy Photos” instead of just “Buy.”

Additionally, you can tweak the skin, style, and size of the button.

To do this, go to any gallery on your site, click Customize > Customize Site, click the Gallery Styles settings, then look for the Buy Button options. You can specify your button’s settings in the Thumbnail, Collage Landscape, and Collage Portrait styles.

2) Easy Mobile Uploads

We recently made it easier to upload your mobile photos to your SmugMug galleries, but we took this one step further by cleaning up the uploader when you’re on your phone. Now you’ll see an easy-to-spot upload button when you’re logged in to your account. Tap that and we’ll let you select as many photos as you wish from your image library.

3) Get Map Happy

We’ve upped the number of available pins on your map from 200 to 1000. Get snapping! You can read more about SmugMug maps and they work right here.

4) Stronger Search Options

We’ve added more functionality to your Search content block so that you can choose to direct your fans’ searches  to your keywords page, not your search page. This helps them stay focused on what they were looking for. You can also optionally inject your own search term to be added to anything your fans enter in the box, like the race name.

For example: If you force “tough mudder” as a search term, their search for a bib number “100″ will search for “100 + tough mudder,” and not pull up other photos around your site with just the keyword “100.”

Take a look at these recent additions by opening up your Search content block settings and viewing the Basic and Advanced tabs. And as always, here’s how search works on SmugMug, and you can get more detailed help about keywords from our help pages.

Enjoy!

Smug Tip: 6 More SmugMug Features You Didn’t Know You Had

June 24, 2014 8 comments

Not too long ago, we wrote a post unearthing some of the great features you’ve already got in your SmugMug account. And since we’re always having new photo-lovers come join our family, we thought we’d share a few more things that you may not have noticed are already living amongst your photos.

Here’s to those sneaky features that may be hiding in plain sight. Enjoy!

1) Custom Video Preview Images

All SmugMug accounts can accept video files of 20 minutes in length and 3 GB in size, which is a great addition to the still photos you capture in your life. But did you know that you can change the preview image that displays on it, so your fans can see something more interesting than a random frame before they hit Play?

First, decide on a JPG image you want to use… or better yet, create one in your favorite image editor and upload it to your SmugMug galleries. Then just navigate to your video in the gallery, click the wrench, and choose Edit > Replace Preview.

2) “Sticky” Cover Photos for Your Folders & Galleries

In the same vein, you can choose a cover photo that appears every time your gallery is shown on your site. We call this your Feature image, and it will “stick” every time your site is reloaded, instead of displaying the first photos in the gallery.

Just open your Gallery Settings and look under the Basic tab. Click the icon next to Feature Image and choose any image you want to represent that gallery.

Tip: You can even do this for passworded galleries, which typically don’t show any thumbnails for privacy reasons. However, you may want to do this for, say, your client galleries, just to be sure they know which gallery is theirs on your site.

3) Stats. Really Great Stats.

We track all kinds of good stuff, like which of your galleries and images have been visited the most, as well as show you where your traffic is coming from. Just check out the Stats tab in your Account Settings and take it from there! You can read more about your SmugMug stats on our help pages.

If you prefer, you can always sign up for a free Google Analytics account and plug in your unique user ID into the same tab of your Account Settings, to double-check our work. Here’s how.

4) Search (and Filter by EXIF)

Any time you (or your guests) search for things on your site via the Search content block or from SmugMug.com/search, you’ll see lots of beautiful photos that you can scroll through to your heart’s content. But did you know that you can hit the “Refine Results” button at the top and open up dozens of additional checkboxes? This will help you narrow down your choices and find pictures taken using just the criteria you specify.

Watch out! It’s strangely addictive, so you may end up spending a lot more time discovering photos than you expect.

5) PicMonkey: Free Photo Tweaks

If our in-gallery Photo Tools aren’t quite enough for you, check out our friends at PicMonkey. You can find them right under every photo, under the Wrench icon. Open it up and you’ll see all the great tweaks and mods you can add to your photos!

Tip: We even have a quick video tutorial all about PicMonkey.

6) Discounts Just for Being Smug 

That’s right. You’re in great company when you’re with us. You can browse and view the discount details simply by logging in and visiting our ClubSmug page. Shop, have fun, and tell them we sent you!

Link roundup:

The All-New, In-SmugMug Photo Editor

May 21, 2014 44 comments

If you’ve used our photo editing tools since we launched the New SmugMug you’ve probably noticed that our new look didn’t stretch beyond the surface. Many of our owner-only features still displayed the old legacy look and feel.

We’ve been working on it! So today, in addition to giving your photo tools a makeover, we’ve gone one step further and combined a few of the best owner-only features into one easy-to-use screen.

What Does It Do?

Our new Photo Editor lets you edit photos (and videos) that you’ve already uploaded into your galleries:

Where To Find It

You’ll find your new photo editor under any single uploaded photo or video, right in your gallery. You’ll see “Open in Editor” as the first option under the wrench icon.

Or, edit multiple photos at once: Open up your site-wide Organizer and select the photos you want to tweak in the preview pane on the right. Then click the wrench icon. Any of the photo editing options you’ll see there will automatically take you to the new Photo Editor. Presto!

“What About Video Files?”

You’ll still be able to open the Photo Editor for your video files to edit your Titles, Captions, Keywords, as well as geographical info.

However, the other options you’ll usually see for photos aren’t available for videos.

About Your Originals…

Since keeping your original files archived is (and always has been) super important to us, we’ll display a confirmation window any time changes you’re making here will affect your originals, such as cropping and the application of color effects.

Tip: If you’re unsure, we always suggest that you make a copy of the image first, then work on that. You can always delete it if you change your mind.

“Is It Available On My Account?”

Yes! All accounts from Basic to Business get this feature, with the exception of the Watermarking tools, which are only available at the Portfolio and Business levels.

You can read all the nitty-gritty details about the Photo Editor in our updated help pages.

Enjoy quicker, easier editing for everything you shoot!

Link roundup:

Release Notes: Watermark Improvements, Gallery Privacy Tweaks and In-Line Info Editing

March 25, 2014 35 comments

Wondering what’s new at SmugMug? Here’s the latest on the most important and noticeable changes you’ll see around your site.

The Privacy Name Tweak

We’ve made a small change to the names of your various gallery privacy options. Instead of “Public,” “Unlisted,” and “Private,” you’ll now see the following, designed to remind you who gets to see your gallery at each setting:

  • Public
  • Unlisted (Anyone with the link)
  • Private (Only Me)

Remember: This doesn’t affect the functionality of these privacy settings, so there’s no action needed on your part. We just wanted each setting to be crystal clear to everyone in one glance.

Limit Watermarks to Larger Sizes

If you’ve ever wanted your big, beautiful photos watermarked but don’t want your gallery’s photo tiles showing it, this one’s for you! You’ll now find a new option in your custom watermarks manager that lets you set a minimum display size onto which they will be applied.

For example: Suppose your homepage displays your photos in grid format with “Medium” sized thumbnails. If you don’t want your custom watermarks showing on them, you can set the “Smallest Size” setting for your watermark for Large and up.  Clean thumbs, FTW!

Plus, the SmugMug default “Proof” watermark will now only apply to “Large” display sizes and up.

As always, changes you make to your custom watermarks don’t automatically show up across your site. So if you want to begin using this feature, be sure to re-apply watermarks to your photos in bulk. (Hint: Your site-wide organizer can help you with this.)

Add or Change Titles, Captions, and Keywords On the Fly

You can now quickly add or edit your photo details (title, caption, and keywords) in the new SmugMug while you’re browsing your galleries, all without opening a gallery menu or the site-wide organizer. Click on the little pencil icon that appears when you mouse over the area under your pics to open a quick editor. Then type in your text.

Find it here:

When clicked, you’ll see this:

This simple text editor will appear in galleries of SmugMug and Journal styles, as well as in any Lightbox in all gallery styles.

Hot tip: This also works on mobile, so you can tidy up your site without being tied to your desk.

Other fixes and improvements:

  • Maps  now allow you to use your mouse scroll to zoom in and out.
  • We’ve combined your photo map and your photo info (EXIF) panels for a single, clean info panel.
  • We’ve dramatically sped up the amount of time it takes for us to generate custom image sizes that you request.

That’s all for now. More soon!

Viva Las Vegas!

May 9, 2006 Leave a comment

We updated some maps features yesterday, and Google has added two more levels of zoom to a lot of their maps (in addition to lots of details in Europe that were missing before). One of the places that got a great level of detail is Las Vegas, which makes this gallery a lot of fun to browse on maps. The pictures were taken by Wally Argus

Click here to see the map.

(My favorite is the satellite imagery of the Luxor, which is the second image in the gallery. Click the second photo on the right when you are on the map page to zoom right to it)

Categories: Galleries, Maps

Leipzig to Bamberg

November 13, 2005 4 comments

Today we have yet another awesome map. (I just can’t get enough of these travel maps… so awesome). This one is from smugmug user Sebastian Hosche as he travels from Leipzig to Bamberg.

Here is a link to the map.

And as usual, a sample!

signs

Enjoy!

Categories: Galleries, Maps, Travel
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