I recently created a printed brochure featuring some of my images from Venice.
Why got to the trouble and expense of producing and distributing a printed brochure when websites are so good looking, often cost next to nothing and are available to anyone with an internet enabled device?
Well, I think that very ubiquity is the reason why a printed product can differentiate your work. There are so many good looking professional photography websites around that many potential customers have become very blasé, and it’s maybe difficult to catch their attention in the crowd. “Oh, yeah, so you’ve got a stunning, professional and slick website – what’s new?”. I think this can even mask the quality of your images to some extent, although it shouldn’t, of course. A well produced physical product might just stand out.
Although your target audience will have to be carefully researched and necessarily limited in scope, at least you know there’s a good chance they will see your work. No more SEO angst and poring over Google analytics. Of course I’m not suggesting that your website is a waste of time. The internet is crucial once you have a customer base, and you still need to pursue your online promotion and search engine strategies.
This costs money, naturally, but I think it’s well worth it, and nowadays such a venture is much easier than it would have been in the past. I’d estimate the entire cost of producing and mailing 100 copies was around $500. This is Switzerland of course – so price comparisons are awkward.
Ok, here’s how I went about creating my first printed brochure.
I found a print provider to satisfy my requirements. I think it’s important that you do this, rather than create the digital product and then hunt around for a printer. It’s possible that the most suitable printer might not support the format you’ve chosen. I suggest picking the printer, and then designing to the specifications of the products they support. Having said this, most good printers will be able to handle anything reasonable you throw at them. However, to take my own case, it’s fair to say that it was prompted by discovering the products of a local printer, and realising that, hey, I could do something with this.
The printer I’m using is printzessin.ch – they’re Swiss-based so won’t suit everyone, but I can heartily recommend them both for their product and their support. I like the fact that they concentrate on quite a limited set of options on the website making it really easy to zero in on a product that suits you. The website is only in German and French at the moment, but support comes in perfect English as well.
I created the brochure with Adobe INDesign, and began with a brochure template that I purchased for a modest fee ($9). In the end I changed the template a lot, but it provided me with good ideas and a starting point. That totally white canvas is often a barrier to getting started. I matched the template dimensions to suit the size and format of one my printers brochure offerings.
Creating a photographic portfolio brochure with INDesign
How difficult is this? Well it depends on your skills with software products. INDesign is a high-end layout program and can perhaps be daunting if your are totally new to this sort of thing, but I’m not an expert by any means, and I found it relatively easy. I made a few mistakes, I learned a few important things for next time, but from start to finish I had produced the brochure in less than a day. There are many books and online resources of course, and as I’ve suggested ready-made templates can speed things up considerably. You could always employ a professional to do it for you, of course. I may do a follow-up post explaining how I produced the brochure in detail.
I exported the INDesign file as a PDF according to my printer’s instructions. This was made easy as they provided a custom options file to apply during the export process.
Supplied PDF export options from printzessin.ch
I uploaded the file to the printer via their website, picked media and quantity options, and paid my money. Four working days later I received a nice packet in the post with a couple of hundred brochures, which I have to say impressed even me. After this all that’s required is to distribute them. That’s probably another story.
As a further step in preparing this post, I uploaded the finished PDF to issuu.com - a really neat way to showcase your output - where I was able to create the preview you can see at the top of the page.