Package Your Creations and Gifts in Custom Boxes

Thanks to on-demand digital printing, you have the power to convert your art, photographs, and designs into all types of  marketable gifts, decor items, apparel, and fashion accessories. Plus, you can sell or ship your creations in custom boxes that are just as distinctive as your merchandise.

Custom boxes from buyboxes.com

One of the newest custom box printing services is Buyboxes.com. Operating as an independent company, Buyboxes.com has the full support and resources of its parent company Rand-Whitney. Based in Worcester, Massachusetts, Rand-Whitney is the largest independent packaging company in the Northeast. They offer more than 75 years of knowledge and expertise from the world of high-volume packaging.

Some of the benefits of ordering from Buyboxes.com include: zero set-up costs, no minimum order, and quick turnaround.

You can start with a single customized shipping box, mailing box, or gift box. As demand for your products grow, you can order quantities of tens, hundreds, or thousands of boxes as needed.

You can use the online design tool to create your own designs or enlist the support of an experienced team of packaging designers and structural engineers.

Buyboxes.com logo

With the online design tool, you choose a box style, decorate it with your logo, text, custom colors, and artwork. The experts at Buyboxes.com will check your final design, make sure everything looks good, and send you a proof for approval.

Boxes are printed on kraft or white corrugated or white paperboard.

For quality color reproduction on a variety of substrates, the company’s state-of-the-art digital printing system uses 6 colors of UV-curable inks (CMYK plus Light Cyan, Light Magenta, and White) and prints images with a resolution of up to 1000 dpi on media up to 126-inches wide.

An on-site team of skilled packaging engineers and designers can help you with any questions or unique package designs you might need.

“We do way more than just basic box styles,” says Stephanie Shamy of BuyBoxes.com “Our dedicated team of graphic designers can help create eye-catching artwork. We want to help you showcase what makes your products so special.”

Other services include structural design, packaging audits and consults, and kitting and fulfillment. Buyboxes.com can assemble your packaging and pack it with your product to be delivered to distribution centers or directly to your customers.

Project managers with years of retail packaging and marketing experience can provide one-on-one consults when you are ready to take your packaging to the next level.

“We are a group of creative-minded packaging professionals looking to change the way you package what matters to you,” said Shamy. “We have a passion for driving the new, the innovative, and the unexpected into the hands of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and everyday people who want a unique way to package their creations.”

Custom packaging isn’t just for products. You can create attractive, memorable packaging for events and award programs, product prototypes, promotional mailings, weddings, birthdays, and holiday gifts.

Augmented Reality Is Coming to Printed Books and Magazines

With augmented reality technologies in digitally printed books and magazines, readers will be able to use their smartphones to access explanatory videos, supplementary websites, and online discussion groups. Authors, designers, and publishers may have to change the way they plan their content if readers begin to expect “connected books,”

At the PRINT 17 show, I picked up two books and a magazine that demonstrated augmented reality technologies that publishers could use to make printed publications more interactive.

Book: Introduction to Graphic Communication

Two leading experts in printing and publishing technologies showed a prototype of an updated edition of the popular textbook, “Introduction to Graphic Communication.” The goal is to show designers and publishers how they can combine the permanence of print with the vitality of interactive communications.

The key to making the hybrid print/digital book possible is a new Clickable Paper technology from Ricoh. Unlike scannable QR codes that only connect readers to a single website, Ricoh’s Clickable Paper Technology makes it possible to connect with multiple online experiences, including video, social networks, audio content, and live chat.

As you read through the book, you can use the free Clickar app on your tablet or smartphone to access video and other media that helps clarify the content. You can also connect and chat with other people who are reading the book.

This updated version of “Introduction to Graphic Communication”  is being coauthored by Dr. Harvey Levenson, former Head of Graphic Communication at California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, and John Parsons of the Intu Ideas non-fiction writing and publishing consultancy firm. The prototype book distributed at PRINT 17 contained two chapters: Chapter 2 covers the History of Printed Communications. Chapter 8 discusses various types of Printing Processes.

The authors said the ability to marge print and online media changed they way they wrote. Parsons said, “Adding multimedia has made me a more visual writer.” The ability to include links to external media meant they could put less on each page.

“We found no shortage of ways to use the printed book as a ‘platform’ for directing the reader to curated digital content,” said Parsons. For some content, they captured webcam video (using several takes) and edited the results. For other content, they sought permission from creators of YouTube videos and collaborated with Viddler, a developer of video-based training technology.

“We’re not publishing an e-book,” Parsons emphasizes. “This is about a new way to demonstrate the inherent strengths of print.” The authors note that print is a stable medium that can point the way to selected content or interactive connections. They believes digital media isn’t an replacement for printed books, but as a potential extension of a a centuries-long history of innovation.

Book: The Third Wave

The book “The Third Wave” by Joseph W. Webb and Richard M. Romano uses HP Link technology to help owners of printing businesses understand how smarter mobile phones, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things will affect printing businesses.

Readers who download the HP LinkReader can scan hyperlinked text and images to get more information, watch a video, or listen to a song. At the end of each chapter, the authors include a short series of survey questions. The answers enable the authors to learn more about the types of business owners who are reading the book.

In addition to engaging book readers, HP Link Technology can be used on packages and other printed products. The HP Link technology delivers serialized marks that enable creators of printed products to securely track individual products throughout its entire lifecycle. These marks can help prevent thefts and diversion of products, reduce counterfeiting, and assist with product recalls,

The pages of the book were  printed on an HP PageWide WebPress T240HD and the cover was output on an HP Indigo digital press. “The Third Wave” interactive book was published by King Printing Co., a Lowell, Massachusetts-based company that provides short-run book-printing services for more than 10,000 authors and publishers.

Magazine: Out of Chaos

“Out of Chaos” is a digitally printed version of the online magazine published by the color-management experts at Rods and Cones.  The printed articles are enhanced with Stampatech “Print Infinity” technology.

Stampatech augmented-reality technology recognizes photographs and logos on printed books, labels, marketing literature, or packaging and triggers interactive content. Users of the app can learn more about the product, give feedback, or even make purchases.

An article in “Out of Chaos” magazine features excerpts from the white paper “Has Augmented Reality Really Gone Mainstream?” by Cindy Walas and Kevin Keane.

The Spring 2017 issue of the magazine was printed, bound, and trimmed on the Canon imagePRESS C10000VP digital press.

Tiny Original Paintings from UGallery Make Unique Holiday Gifts

UGallery, the curated online gallery that delivers original art to your doorstep, is offering a collection of miniature paintings this holiday season. The Ornamental Artwork Collection offers gift givers the opportunity to buy thoughtful, unique, and affordable gifts with the convenience of shopping online.

Tiny paintings in UGallery Ornamental Artwork Collection
Ornamental Artwork Collection – UGallery

The Ornamental Artwork Collections features 350 paintings created by 35 artists. UGallery commissioned the artists to create series of 10 small-scale paintings that exemplify their individual styles. Ready to be mixed-and-matched, each painting is on an identical 4-inch x 4-inch canvas and comes with a small easel for display. The paintings sell for a fixed price of $75.

“In dreaming up this collection, our goal was to offer a very personal, one-of-a-kind holiday gift,” explains Gallery Director Alex Farkas. “We worked closely with each artist to create a series of paintings that are intimate, thoughtful, and long-lasting. It is my hope these charming pieces will become little family heirlooms that remind us of good times and loved ones for years to come.”

The collection furthers UGallery’s mission of opening up access to the art world through its online platform. With its affordable price point, the Ornamental Artwork Collection allows art lovers to begin, share, or expand their collections and purchase artwork by artists whose work may sell for thousands.

“At UGallery, we’ve always believed original art should be universally accessible. This collection offers art buyers the opportunity to take home or gift paintings from artists that typically sell their work at much higher prices,” says Farkas.

Founded in 2006, UGallery represents 500 emerging artists from around the world. With free shipping and free returns, UGallery makes it easier than ever to experience to joys of owning original art.

 

Guide Advises Photographers How to License Their Images for Social Media

To help photographers get fair compensation for photos used across social media platforms, PhotoShelter has released an educational guide, Licensing Your Photos For Social Media. The free guide was produced in partnership with the portrait photography community, Pursuit of Portraits.

cover of PhotoShelter guide on licensing social media

The guide can be downloaded free here: http://bit.ly/2ysZG3A

In the guide, you’ll get a firsthand look at the ever-evolving business side of social media, with insights from influential photographers, photographer representatives, design agencies and brands.

“Photos are the cornerstone of social media success and photographers must be nimble, understand the opportunity each platform provides, and know how to push for the fees they deserve,” says PhotoShelter CEO Andrew Fingerman. “This guide is meant to get photographers thinking about just that.”

The guide includes
– Examples of how creative influencers are leveraging large followings to make money
– Contract-negotiation tips from a photographer representative
– Social media-specific licensing language to consider including in contracts
– Insights into what design agencies and brands look for when hiring photographers for social media content

Comments throughout the guide make it clear that photographers must continue to adapt to the ever-evolving social-media landscape. Social-media platforms are continuing to develop features for monetization and photographers can offer but ancillary services in addition to photography.

Licensing Your Photos For Social Media is the latest in PhotoShelter’s ongoing series of free business guides for photographers and marketing professionals. PhotoShelter’s e-book library includes more than 60 educational guides on topics such as photo contests, email marketing, publishing photo books, and mapping out a photo business plan.

The PhotoShelter platform gives professional photographers an easy way to store images, create beautiful websites, deliver work, and sell or license photos.

Pursuit of Portraits is a global creative community that unites portrait photographers and enthusiasts of all skill levels and backgrounds, facilitates collaboration, and fosters supportive relationships within this creative community.

Brand Storytelling Agency Opens Creative Studio for Visuals

Pace, a large, independently owned brand storytelling agency, has opened a 2,900 sq. ft. studio space for video, photography, editing, collaboration, and creative innovation. Adjacent to the agency’s office in Greensboro, North Carolina, the studio space is called “The Outskirts.”

The expansive, airy studio is an inspiring environment for all types of teams to collaborate and create compelling work for the national and global brands Pace serves. The studio includes:

–Ideation and innovation labs to explore virtual and augmented reality, 360-degree video, and multi-dimensional animation
–a client collaboration lounge and social bar
–Edit bays and stop-motion and retouching labs
–a 25-foot cyclorama (cyc) wall for photo and video shoots

With the new studio, Pace is prepared to meet the growing demand for new forms of digital media.  In addition to custom photography services, Pace can support live-stream interviews and presentations, cinemagraphs and loop videos, broadcast-quality video finishing and editing, stop-motion videos, 360-degree video capture and editing, set design, newsroom editing and publishing, social content, and more.

“The Outskirts is a resource for any and all clients,” said Jason Whiting, president of Pace. “Pace can develop visual storytelling with amazing quality that delivers on a diverse set of creative needs, channels, and price points across digital, broadcast, social media, and events.”

Visual storytelling is becoming an increasingly important element of brand communications. According to a 2017 study published by Google, one in three adults between the ages of 18 and 54 view video from mobile devices and that number is growing. AdWeek reported that 47 percent of brands publish four branded videos each month.

According to Pace executives , the name The Outskirts is an “invitation for thinkers and dreamers to mine great ideas from the furthest reaches of their imagination.”

“Creative ideas are born and nurtured in space like this,” said Cinnamon Pritchard, VP Executive Creative Director.”The Outskirts is going to be a garden for great ideas —to shape them, grow them, and send them out into the world.”

The Pace creative agency develops integrated experiences for a diverse client base that includes some of the world’s most iconic brands. It has more than 370 employees and offices in: Dallas and San Antonio, Texas; Greensboro, North Carolina; New York City; and Bentonville, Arkansas.

Salary Guide for Creative Pros Shows 2018 Ranges for More than 80 Jobs

Whether you are looking for a job or recruiting creative employees for your firm, you will find useful information about starting salary ranges in the 2018 Salary Guide for creative pros published by The Creative Group, a Robert Half Company.

The Creative Group 2018 Salary GuideSalaries grouped into 5 categories, including Digital Design and Production, Content Development and Management, Advertising and Marketing, Agency or Corporate, and Public Relations.

Specific jobs include: graphic designers, creative services managers, studio managers, 3D animators, 3D modelers, multimedia designers, package designers, illustrator/infographics designers, photographers, video editors, instructional systems designers, copywriters, technical writers, web content managers, MarCom managers, SEO/SEM specialists, social media managers, event/trade show managers, and public relations specialists.

Salaries are presented in percentiles (25th, 50th, 75th, and 95th). These low, mid-point, and upper salary ranges reflect factors such as the candidate’s experience level and skills and the complexity of the job duties.

You can use an online salary calculator to customize the salary ranges in the guide for nearly 135 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

The 2018 Salary Guide guide also includes data on benefits, incentives, and perks.

Hiring Trends

Here are a few of the trends identified in the guide:

Demand remains strong for skilled professionals in creative fields. Companies must work harder to attract and retain the best people. Companies the want to hire employees who can perform multiple types of jobs must be ready to offer more if they identify candidates who bring a lot to the table.

Many hiring managers are taking a closer look at “soft skills” such as communication, collaboration, and flexibility. While hard skills can be taught, soft skills are more difficult to develop and may play a greater role in determining who might be the best fir for the work environment.

Companies should speed up the recruitment process. Nearly seven in 10 job seekers surveyed by Robert Half said they lose interest in a firm if they don’t hear back within two weeks after an initial interview.

Hot Jobs

According to guide, companies are increasingly using data to drive business decisions and marketing strategy. They are seeking individuals who can help develop and run campaigns, analyze performance, and identify growth opportunities. Some of the hot jobs in the United States include:

  • Content strategist
  • Digital marketing manager
  • Digital project manager
  • Digital strategist
  • Marketing analytics manager
  • Marketing automation manager
  • Product designer
  • User experience design
  • User experience researcher

According to research by The Creative Group, more than two-thirds of advertising and marketing teams said their teams collaborate closely with IT professionals.

Consider More Than Compensation

“Salary is still king, but professionals are paying more attention to other factors that can affect their quality of life,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. He said job seekers are taking an increasingly holistic view when assessing whether to accept a job offer.

“Highly skilled professionals want assurance that the company will invest in their careers and help them keep their skills current,” McDonald added. “This is especially true in industries that are changing rapidly, like technology and finance.”

Robert Half advises employers to highlight five key elements when recruiting:

  • Compensation, including benefits, incentives, and perks
  • Corporate culture
  • Career path
  • Cost of living
  • Commute

Hiring managers should expect recruits to ask questions such as:

  • How often do employees refer their friends to open jobs within the company?
  • Is promoting from within the exception or the rule?
  • Are there several potential career paths or is there just one traditional ladder?
  • Does the company offer flexible work schedules, telecommuting options, or commuting benefits?

About The Creative Group

The Creative Group, a division of Robert Half, is a resource for creative and marketing talent on a freelance, direct-placement, consulting, and project basis. The information in the 2018 Salary Guide is based on average starting salaries from thousands of actual job placements from the previous year.

Contena Can Help You Build Your Freelance Writing Business

It is possible to earn a decent living as an independent writer. But only if you approach it more like a freelance writing business than a sideline gig.

It’s not enough to simply enjoy writing. You also need to know what type of writing is currently in demand and have expertise in topics other than writing.

Then, of course, you need connections to clients who will pay good money for above-average content from writers who don’t need much training to get started.

Without a business-like approach to finding a few good, steady clients, you can quickly find yourself doing nothing but low-paying jobs for difficult clients. Or, you could spend more time seeking work than working for pay.

 

illustration of freelance writer at keyboard
Copyright: greyjj / 123RF Stock Photo

One company that can help you get up to speed on the business of freelance writing  is Contena. This subscription-based platform offers online training and coaching plus a steady stream of inks to job openings for independent writers.

Contena Academy

The six modules in Contena’s online academy explain strategies for building a steady income, creating writing samples, building a portfolio, crafting article pitches, and landing  the best clients. Many freelance writers spend months learning these skills the hard way — through a lot of painful trial and error.

Contena Scout

The Scout service helps you find the best available writing jobs by category, pay, and other criteria. Listings include part-time, full-time, and temporary writing assignments in fields such as education, real estate, business, health, and marketing.  Recent job postings included health news writers, web copywriters, science content editors, social studies curriculum writers, and tech and gadget reviewers.

Contena Scout screen grab

Contena Submissions

If you prefer coming up with your own ideas for articles, you can pitch story ideas to publishers listed on Contena’s Submissions section. This section lists companies that pay for submitted articles.

Contena Alerts

Contena Alerts will notify you about jobs that arise in your area of expertise. If you apply quickly and provide writing samples that reflect your knowledge, you can increased your odds of winning that job.

Contena Coaching

One challenge of working independently is that you don’t have supervisors encouraging you to continuously update and improve your skills. If a freelance client is unhappy with the quality of your work, they simply hire someone else. If you subscribe to the Platinum level service, your Contena coach will review your pitches and writing samples and provide constructive feedback for refinement. Your coach can also work with you on effective marketing materials.

Like Online Dating: You’re Seeking Good Matches

Freelance writers build successful businesses by developing lasting relationships with a few wonderful clients who pay them well for a defined amount of work each month. So, subscribing to Contena can be like joining an online dating service.

Contena can help you identify good matches for your specific writing skills. But it’s up to you to build the long-term professional relationships that can help your writing business grow. If you connect with clients that will pay you thousands of dollars each year (and provide word-of-mouth referrals), you won’t need to subscribe to Contena for long.

And once you build a steady, predictable income from a few good clients, you will feel more comfortable devoting a few hours a week on personal writing projects that might never pay off. If you are just starting out as an independent writer, you will soon learn that time is your most precious resource.

If you squander too much time chasing low-paying jobs, the amount of income you can earn each year will be limited. So be smart. Consider getting some training and coaching before you start pursuing the best prospects for your business.

For more information about Contena, click here.