Category Archives: Printing

How To Create a Self-Promotional Piece

What used to be called shameless self-promotion is no longer a shameful thing, it’s seen as an essential element for creative professionals in today’s world. With so much intangible “content” on the web these days, one way to capture attention and promote yourself is with an old-fashioned tangible object, and by that I mean some kink of printed piece. Who does that anymore? Exactly! Now they’re interested. Here is one case study.

Last summer I had the idea of creating a postcard-style picture booklet of Palm Springs that I could use as a self-promotional piece. I have a background in photography, having had many classes in college, as well as advanced Photoshop skills, so I was confident I could take some excellent photos of the attractions and landmarks of the desert and produce a quality book. I made a list of several dozen images I wanted to capture and set to work.

As photographers all know, the best light is early morning and mornings come very early in the summer in the desert; I would rise at the brutal hour of 5 a.m. to be out “on location” by 6 a.m. to catch the perfect shots. On several occasions I realized my early morning plan was a bust because my subject matter was facing the wrong way, requiring a late afternoon shot, and vice versa. So after several weeks of hit and miss I finally had over a hundred photos from which to choose. Remember, you must always take 5-10 times as many photos as you need to get the one perfect picture. I also purchased one stock photo. Then began the photo retouching, taking out powerlines, color correcting, cloning. No one wants to see trash in the streets.

I wanted to give the booklet the hip, retro, mid-century modern feel of the 1960s so I began designing many graphic elements and background patterns in the color palettes of the day that would set the tone of the time. After some research I wrote some positioning copy and captions for each photo.

I sketched out my ideas for the booklet layout, its design and pagination, early on and, once I had my final designs refined to tight sketches, had my photos chosen and retouched, created all my 60s graphics and had my copy written, I finally sat down to do the actual booklet design. I created the piece in InDesign as it’s truly the best program for books and catalogues such as this. It was ironic how so small and bite-sized the booklet was compared to the amount of work involved in producing it.

With the advent of online digital printing a graphic designer now has the ability to control the entire printing process. Many jobs require a local printing company and every designer should have a relationship with a local printer or two. Local printers can produce many things that online printers cannot offer; however, for jobs that fall within the scope of online printing, nothing beats the price of these great resources. You should have a broad knowledge of the printing process so you can offer this expertise to your clients or prospective employers. GotPrint and PrintPelican are two excellent online printers I’ve used for many projects. They offer so many options and even provide downloadable templates for you to use if you aren’t quite sure about your layouts.

I costed out my booklet by size, number of pages, binding and paper weight, uploaded my file (after checking, rechecking and double rechecking for errors) and placed my order with PrintPelican. It arrived in about 10 days. I was delighted with the results.

Now I’ll grant you that this was an ambitious project that took, off and on, about 3 months to complete, and your self-promo piece can be more modest in its goals, but I had the time and wanted to create something more substantial than a postcard or brochure “leave-behind.” I wanted something I could use as a promotional giveaway that people might want to keep or something people might want to buy.

I donated 150 booklets to a local charity fundraising event for their swag bags and received a face-value charitable contribution tax write-off, plus it gave me the opportunity to promote myself to prospective clients. I was contacted after the event by several people who wanted to know how they could buy additional copies. I also used my booklet to pitch a similar idea to local resorts.

A self-promotional piece can be a great entrée and can also generate revenue. No longer considered a shameful thing, my self-promo piece is now available here.

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