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Posts Tagged ‘holiday cards’

6 Essential SmugMug Tools for Celebrating a Sane, Organized (and Profitable) Holiday

December 3, 2012 28 comments

Hectic holiday? It doesn’t have to be if you plan on uploading your photos (and videos) to your SmugMug galleries! You’ve already got your hands tied with hot chocolate, ribbons and last-minute gift planning, so here’s a few tips that will help make the picture sharing part of it refreshingly easy.

1) Show Off: Badges and Slideshows

This handy feature lets you build your own mini slideshow or photo mosaic to any size you wish, and gives you easy copy-and-paste code to embed it. You don’t have to know any nerd magic to get this going, and it automatically refreshes with new photos when you add more stuff to your gallery.

You’ll find this little feature a godsend for blogs, forums and websites. Anywhere that allows you to embed Flash objects. Here’s how to do it.

2) Guest Uploading for Party People

With all those folks at your house snapping away, you need a hub where guests can pool their photos and relive the glory of your massive decorating skills. SmugMug to the rescue!

Create a new gallery for your event and then open up the gallery settings. Set any word you wish into the “Upload key” box, like this:

The next time you fire up the uploader in that gallery, you’ll see a secret link at the bottom that you can copy and share. Your friends can visit that link and we’ll automagically pop up an uploader so they can easily drag and drop in their photos from the night.

Just remember that anyone who gets ahold of the link can upload to that gallery, so be aware when you share. More about guest uploads.

3) Make and Sell Photo Cards

We’ve been talking a lot about our holiday cards this year, but they’re so beautiful we just have to tell you again. And there is truly no better, easier way to take the best photos you’ve taken (or the best photos someone’s taken of you) and pair them up with custom, heartfelt season’s greetings.

Our catalog is bursting with new designs for everyone, whether your style is vintage, contemporary, minimalist or traditional. Or all of the above. Just look for the Buy button > Create a Card option in your favorite gallery and start building your 4×8 or 5×7 masterpiece!

Read all about cards, including how to price and sell them.

4) Custom Categories for Easy Navigation

Did you know that when our pre-loaded list of Categories (and sub-categories) don’t work for you, you can create your own? And that you can edit the URL that shows in the browser bar when you’re viewing your categories?

We make it breathtakingly easy to efficiently organize your site, share the URL verbally, and even get better Google juice. It’s like Christmas came early!

Take a closer look and bone up on the basics of Categories, then take it a step further and learn how to use Categories to your best advantage. This year, you’ll have your “I will be more tidy” New Year’s resolutions totally beat.

5) Picmonkey: Funky Photo Editing

Picmonkey may be our (unintentionally) best-kept secret. But if you haven’t already tried this smart, sassy tool to edit your SmugMug photos, run – don’t walk – to your nearest Tools button and find it now.

It’s built right into every SmugMug gallery and you can do everything from basic exposure correction and redeye fix to adding graphics, words, textures, frames and filters. And more. Tons, tons  more.

It’s totally free to use — even their premium features, since they’re still the new kid on the block.

Check it out now and don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your photos. :)

6) Camera Awesome for iPhone and iPad

If you’ve got an iPhone or an iPad, you’ve got the perfect excuse to leave the DSLR in your office. You can shoot up to 9 fps with our free camera app, meaning you never miss a moment. And apply gorgeous effects and filters to make them shine.

Best of all, your shots won’t stay locked on your phone where no one will see them. Share direct to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Instagram and back them up safely to your SmugMug account so you can visit them year after year. Download it free right now.

Bonus! Business features for Pros

Since there’s a lot of pros out there, here are three additional features we snuck in to remind you Business SmugMuggers that there’s a lot more to your website than just photos.

A) Coupons - A no-brainer for getting your customers a little extra nudge this holiday season! With a Business account, you can choose from 5 different types and create as many coupons as you wish.. which means you can tailor your discount codes to every client. Be sure to set an expiry date so they don’t sit on a good deal forever.

B) Events and Favorites - Intimidated? Don’t be. Events let you corral galleries into groups, so your customers can easily view only the photos that matter to them most. Best of all, they can tag and save their Favorite photos to a special gallery only they can see. All which makes browsing and buying a breeze.

C) Order Branding -This feature actually consists of three separate (and awesome) tools: Cart Branding, Stickers and Thank You Prints. All of them ensure that you and your brand stay connected to your customers until the prints are sitting in their hands. And you can easily switch up your Order Branding designs from season to season, so you look super organized…  even if you’re not.

GIVEAWAY! What’s Your Lifesaver?

In the spirit of giving, we’re digging through Smuggy’s workshop and rounding up some of our best swag items.

To enter this giveaway, simply comment below and tell us which SmugMug feature you find helps most during your holiday rush.

We’ll pick a random winner and announce it in this space on Friday, December 7th, 2012.

From all of us at SmugMug, we wish you a picture-perfect holiday! And we can’t wait to hear what you can’t live without.

**UPDATE** The Magic SmugMug 8-ball chose Melissa Ponder as our winner. Congrats Melissa and we’ll be contacting you directly. Thanks to everyone and have a great weekend!

Link roundup:

Four Festive Families of Photo-Friendly Cards

November 29, 2012 4 comments

You’ve probably taken a spin through our catalog of 2012 holiday cards and seen how easy it is to build, buy and sell photo cards through your galleries. But if you’re still trying to decide on what to send, here’s a few tips that may help you narrow it down based on what’s important to you.

Holiday shipping deadlines! If you’re shopping for someone this season, be sure that you get your orders in no later than the following dates for December 24th delivery. (For domestic US and UK orders only)

  • 6-10 Business days: December 5th, 2012
  • 3-5 Business days: December 12th, 2012
  • 2 Business days: December 17th, 2012
  • 1 Business day: December 18th, 2012

1) Cards For Word Nerds.

Had a busy year? You can tell your friends and family all about it in these templates that give you tons of space to say anything you wish. Fill it with your family newsletter, your favorite recipe or a festive poem.

Inside you’ll see plenty of space to write whatever you wish, perfect for inviting your readers to curl up with a mug of hot cocoa and read what’s new with you:

2) Cards For Studios

We get asked a lot if any of our cards include a text box on the back panel to add a business name. The answer is: Yes! If you want to type in your studio name, website URL or even a surprise message on the back of your card, look no further. These designs rock a little text field so you can have the last word.

Find them in the “Back of Card Text” category in the card builder.

Here are two fabulous examples:

3) Cards For Multi-taskers

Christmas comes but once a year, but there are so  many more occasions worthy of great photo cards. We offer several designs that let you simply change the text and photos, so you can take your favorite card from “New Year” to “New Baby!”

These designs boast clean layouts or multiple color options, so you can dress them up for any event.

4) Cards For Happy Snappers

For those of you who love to share lots of photos and can’t pick out just one or two, try these. We offer lots of designs that give you space to drag and drop in up to 8 different images.

You can easily find all the photo-heavy card designs in our catalog. Simply look at the top and click the “Sort by: Number of Photos” link you see there.

We hope that you’ll find the perfect card in our catalog to suit any photo and any holiday greeting you’re dreaming up.

Happy holiday planning from SmugMug!

Tips, info and inspiration with cards:

Categories: business, Sales, SmugMug

5 Tips for Making Scandalously Good Holiday Cards

November 5, 2012 2 comments

As the holidays creep ever closer, we thought we’d ask for (and share!) some sage advice from someone who seriously knows beautiful cards, beautiful photos, and how to put them together into beautiful designs. Today, we’re going to share what we learned from Meghan of The Shoppe Designs, who gave us 5 great tips that will help take your holiday cards from “yaaawn” to “YEOWSA!”

In short: Start with a beautiful design, then follow through with smart and effective personal touches so that your holiday greetings become the talk of the town.

1) Match the mood between your photos and the design.

Sure, you can always pick a bunch of your favorite photos from the year and slap them into a card, but your friends and family will really notice when your photos and your card design match in color and style. For example, if you pair a formal portrait with a playful design, the presentation will look way less harmonious than it would when you match the mood and colors. Like music, find the chord that resonates best.

Here are some pairings that work well:

  • If your family session is outdoors and the family is wearing neutral colors, try them against cards with organic and vintage designs.
  • If your session included your family wearing brightly-colored clothes, a more playful and bright design would work well. Or better yet, try a simple, white card with little text so the colors in the photos really pop!
  • If your photo has a lot going on it it (lots of props, colors, several family members, etc) try dropping them into a simple design like a 5×7 folded card with the photo on the front and some simple text inside. Sometimes less is way more.

Thankfully, no matter what you do, the SmugMug card builder lets you preview them together before ordering so you can be sure your design and photo work together well!

2) Use photos from a single photo session.

There’s certainly an art to arranging multiple photos together on a card, but it’s still easy. The hot tip is to use photos from the same session and even the same part of your photo session for continuity’s sake. For instance, if your photographer shot different locations for your family shoot (some in front of the barn, some in the field, etc) try filling the multiple photo layout using various photos from the field. Then spice it up with a photo or two from a different location on the inside or back of the card. This way, your card keeps a unified sense of colors and style and will visually blend together.

Another fun option is to fill in the wells of your card with a photo sequence of different poses. For example, a series of shots at the same focal length of the subject(s) doing different things from the same sitting. It’s a fun, easy way to add a little motion and storytelling to your card. As always, try to pick ones that have colors that work well with your design!

3) Edit your photos.

A well-edited photo can really make the finished card sing, so processing your photos before putting them into your cards is a very important step.

Tip: If you’re using photos from your pro photographer, they’ve most likely already done this step for you. Whew!

You can push and pull the colors to go with your design and make everything even more perfect. The Shoppe Designs offers unique Photoshop Actions that can help you do this very easily. With just a few clicks, you can give your outdoor family shoot a warm, vintage feel and then it will match perfectly with a vintage-style card. On the flip side, you can brighten up the colors of an engagement session shoot even more to make them really pop on a simple white backdrop. And of course there’s the classic black and white option, which lets your images’ emotion speak for itself.

Not all actions work with all photos, but a great action can really bring a great photo to a whole new level!

Did you know? Post-processing is usually best for photos that you haven’t uploaded yet, but you can still polish up your images even if you’ve already added them into your SmugMug account. Try Picmonkey, a great in-browser editing tool built right in to your galleries, where you can fix redeye, exposure, add filters, textures and lots more. Look for it under your gallery’s Tools button > This Photo > Edit with Picmonkey.

4) Find inspiration for your text.

Writing your holiday message can be intimidating, and it’s hard to come up with greetings that aren’t generic or clichéd. It sounds silly, but try thinking about different holiday songs and lyrics to get in the mood and those festive juices flowing! You can take just a part of a song, like “All is calm, all is bright” (from Silent Night) which makes a beautiful and yet unexpected greeting.

What songs or poems tug at your heartstrings for the holidays? Get nostalgic. Get personal.

5) Use Caution With Fonts.

Fonts can be tricky. It’s generally best to keep the default fonts in the card you pick, as many designs are based around the font. But SmugMug does give you the option to change the font on many of the cards, so just be sure to proceed with caution.

Unless you have a lot of experience in design it is generally a good idea to not use too many different fonts together. It takes a fair amount of experience to determine which fonts work together and which… don’t.

Some basic font guidelines to follow:

  • If your photo is more formal or serious, usually a serif font (that’s the one with the little feet) tends to work best.
  • If you’re using fun shots of kids, a handwritten font can really play up the cuteness.
  • If you want a modern look, most of the simple sans-serif (no feet) fonts will complement the style well. For instance, with an engagement session of a young couple in very stylish clothes in the city, try a thin sans serif font in all caps.
  • If you’re using a more formal wedding portrait, a serif font would works best. Remember to keep it simple and think about how it works with the image stye.

We hope these tips get you excited and inspired to start making your cards and filling them with your year’s best memories. More tips and inspiration coming soon!

Link roundup:

Categories: photography

SmugMug Success Stories: iSmile Studios, Inc.

October 22, 2012 6 comments

The Card Shark: Maximizing Profits With More Than Just Seasons’ Greetings

  • Name: Stephanie McCauley
  • Position/Title: CEO
  • Name of Company: iSmile Studios, Inc.
  • Location: Albany, New York
  • Market: Portraiture (Child/Family)
  • Website: www.ismilestudios.com
  • Bragworthy Factoid: A community VIP at a Chamber of Commerce function assumed iSmile was a national chain with hundreds of locations, based on its marketing and strong brand presence.
  • SmugMugger since: 2008

Career Highlights…

  • Opening iSmile just three months after her husband planted the idea in her head.
  • Developing diverse revenue streams, including on-location shooting, an in-schools arm and digital print sales.

Favorite Features…

Sell it again, Sam

Like a lot of photographers, Stephanie McCauley’s interest in portraiture snowballed after she had kids. Trapped in a near-empty mall during a winter storm and finding the portrait studio unexpectedly hopping, her husband suggested she launch her own business. Three months later, her in-mall studio’s doors opened. By the time she launched her SmugMug site in 2008, she had learned that single sessions and a mall presence would not be enough to break out. “Being in a large shopping mall, we are busy year-round,” she concedes. “But we learned long ago that just opening a studio in a mall wasn’t going to bring in enough customers to survive.” Her solution? Make iSmile shoppers’ go-to place for repeat photographic orders—the place that goes beyond the portrait greeting card and makes it easy to buy canvases, mugs, mouse pads, shirts and, yes, all the holiday paraphernalia, too. “We always offer the full line of novelty and card products and keep our prices as competitive as possible,” McCauley adds. “So customers are not lured away by less expensive online card sites where they have to use their own images.”

Moving beyond the mall

In addition to generating repeat business, McCauley’s business model rests on two other pillars: anytime/anywhere customer access to galleries and service that goes beyond that of the typical mall-based studio. “We [take full] advantage of portrait opportunities during all the holidays throughout the year. We began a grassroots community outreach program, offering to photograph all kinds of different events, just to get our name out. SmugMug allows us to sell those prints at a very reasonable cost, and we apply a print mark to each image to build our brand. We also have a baby program that [turns] new parents into lifelong customers.” McCauley remains vigilant about staying “ten steps ahead” of her mall competition. Among other innovations, she launched a boutique branch of iSmile that goes on-location, so customers can get “gorgeous natural-light portraiture” as well as studio shots, and an in-schools program serving rural communities. McCauley’s ace in the hole? Offering evergreen access to customers’ photo archive, anytime, anyplace. “We literally couldn’t survive without SmugMug. SmugMug makes it easy and affordable for us to [offer anytime access] and our customers love it.” The anytime/anyplace model is what makes the first pillar—generating repeat business by essentially selling the same images again and again—possible.

Making card design fun

McCauley doesn’t just promote card-making—she positions it as a fun pastime. “Last year, to encourage customers to make and order their cards online, I made a really simple how-to video and uploaded it to Facebook and YouTube,” she says. “They could see the entire process in about 60 seconds.” iSmile has made it a point to know its customers’ habits inside and out. “We keep our card mark-up reasonable to encourage customers to poke around in their galleries—it often results in additional print orders on top of the cards,” she points out, noting that she moves many 5×7 and 4×8 flat and folded styles locally, but relies on SmugMug’s broader range to generate additional sales. McCauley is also attentive to her clients’ shopping preferences. “Many customers prefer to go home and view their session online, since they may have kids or pets that are getting restless after their sitting. We upload our edited images immediately, so they are ready to view before the customer has even returned home.” Spreading the word about enhancements like SmugMug’s latest card designs is a good way to keep customers coming back for more.

No kidding—one sitting

SmugMug’s “forever” gallery archiving allows McCauley to maximize resale opportunities following a sitting. “We don’t give customers a time limit in which they can view or order their pictures,” she says. “This really helps when it comes time to make Christmas cards. Most of the time, the card design is ‘Christmassy’ enough and our customers can get away with using a portrait they had done sometime earlier in the year.” iSmile leverages the original portrait yet again during her annual January reprint sale, which she promotes with SmugMug coupon codes, Facebook and email blasts.

SmugMug tips ‘n tricks

Once the revenue was streaming, McCauley focused on maximizing the SmugMug features that deliver the most ROI. From proof delay and customization to social media marketing and price lists, iSmile evolves its practices to take advantage of new features. “Our customers’ efforts to crop sometimes fall short. We proof delay every gallery for two days to give me time to personally review each order, making sure every image is cropped perfectly for whatever size print our customer chose,” she says. “It’s an amazing way to keep watch on quality control.” McCauley pays equally close attention to her price lists and offerings. Some features, like digital file sales, have proved to have additional marketing benefits beyond the sale itself. “We love this [feature],” McCauley says, explaining that, on a tip from SmugMug Support Hero, iSmile began speculatively photographing events and selling the print-marked images at a low cost online. “People are now paying us to put the iSmile name in front of them,” she grins. “It’s awesome.” It’s tips like that that have led to a long-term partnership. “iSmile would not exist today without SmugMug,” McCauley says. “In this world of very tough competition, SmugMug gives us an economical way to add tremendous value to our customers through the use of galleries. Our customers’ out-of-town families can see baby pictures the same day they’re taken, and order as many prints as they want online. SmugMug is a household name for an iSmile family, and we couldn’t be more grateful we have them for a partner.”

See more of our SmugMug Success Stories right here.

Categories: Users

Create, Edit and Sell Custom Photo Cards

December 1, 2011 92 comments

Big news today for people who love to make photo cards: We’ve brought you a more powerful, more flexible card builder that lets you edit designs before you buy.

Build Your Cards

Try it now right from your galleries. Find the first photo you want to use, then click Buy > Create a Card.

It’s so simple to pick a design, then click and drag in the photos you want. You can even edit the images by zooming, aligning, or even doing a quick conversion to black and white:

Next, type in whatever text you want. In many cases you can even edit the font, which you couldn’t do before.

When you’re done, you can hit Save to stash your progress, or just choose how many you want and add it to your cart.

Edit Your Cards

One of the most-requested requests we’ve gotten about cards was for you to be able to edit them. Now you can.

When you clicked “Save” in the card builder, we stashed your project in your “Cards” gallery. Simply find it and click Tools > This Photo > Edit to open up the card creator:

Make as many edits as you wish and when you’re ready, add it to your cart. Voila!

Check out our help page here to guide you through the new process. Remember that Pros can still set a custom price for all of our 4×8 and 5×7 card options, so their customers can design and order their own holiday greetings and make you money.

Enjoy! Got any feedback, ideas, or just have a question? Let us know.

More ways to spice up your holiday with SmugMug:

 

Fresh Holiday Cards, New SMUGs and Fixed Bugs

December 3, 2010 2 comments

New Cards. Yule Love Them.

Face it: A lot of us don’t get the holiday stuff done until the eleventh hour. It’s already December but tonight we’re showing you that it sometimes pays to procrastinate:

We’ve released a slew of new Winter Holiday and Christmas cards, so dive in and get your greetings going now! They’re available in both 4×8 and 5×7 sizes. More info.

SMUGs: Growing Up Mighty Swiftly

From Philly to Fairbanks, our SmugMug User Groups have grown from a sprinkling of cities to a nationwide wave of happy SMUGgers. We’ve updated our info site so that photographers of all shapes, skills and sizes can find where to geek and gab.

Check out our new, intuitive map and locate your closest meeting. Click a pin to get details on when and where:

If you’re dying to charter a meeting in your town and want to know how, we’ve got good info for you, too. Look right under the new Leaders tab, or click here.

Remember that our User Groups are open to everyone, so whether you’re a veteran Smugger or if you just love photography, there’s a seat waiting for you. See you there!

Bug Fixes

  • You can now change the case in your SmugMug nickname (example: “smugmug” to “SmugMug”) in one easy go. That option is always found in your Control Panel’s Settings tab.
  • HTML entered in your gallery description fields no longer cover thumbnails in Pros’ “Set Prices” screens.
  • Pros can once again buy their own photos in bulk even when they’ve custom priced their items at $0.

Here’s to sharing great photos together,

The SmugMug Family

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