yearbook organization

On Your Mark! Get Set! SELL!

Think it's too early to start selling yearbooks? WRONG! Knowing early in the year what kind of response you're getting from the student body helps you to plan how many pages and what kind of add ons your budget can afford for this year's book. There are some early-in-the-school year events that can help you sell your book. Take advantage! Get together with student council, school administration, or the activities director and see what kind of "bundles" you can create for students. For example:

Back to School Bundle - a sports pass/punch card (whatever your school currently uses), an official school t-shirt, and a yearbook for $XX.

Spirit Week/Homecoming Bundle - homecoming/mascot t-shirt, homecoming dance ticket, and a yearbook for $XX.

* Make sure you cover the expense of all the products, but the discount for purchasing together is substantial enough that they feel like they're getting a bargain!

Back to school gets expensive for families. Give people the option of ordering their book and putting a down payment on it at the beginning of the year and making two more payments throughout the school year.

Does your yearbook publisher have an online ordering option? Do parents know about it? It's handy to be able to hop on the internet and purchase a yearbook when it's at YOUR convenience, not just when someone sends home a flyer. Make sure parents are informed of their purchasing options!

Start doing some research on what has worked or not worked at your school in the past. Compare total sales from one year to another and try to figure out what the magic sales equation is!

Happy Selling!

The Idea Garden Team

It's Crunch Time!

For those of you that have a "spring delivery" book, it's officially crunch time. It's time to proof pages, make finishing touches and proof some more. Many publishing companies require early cover submission when you've chosen to design your own cover, commonly called a "custom cover". Check your submission dates and make sure you're design staff is on track with your cover design, final files and any other custom options you may have chosen. Often times, custom printed endsheets also require extra production time, and should be submitted with a custom cover. Once again, make sure you're sending all the necessary paperwork, digital files, and printouts your publisher needs to ensure that once your info is received, it's all smooth sailing for your project! Handing any part of your yearbook over to someone else for production can be nerve wracking...making doubly sure that all things are proofed thoroughly, filled out completely and submitted on time will save questions or miscommunications between you and your publisher.

Even though we're over halfway through January, we figured a checklist would still be helpful for those of you rushing around making sure everything is checked off your list!

Printable version here.

See that light over there? It's the end of the yearbook creation tunnel...you're almost there!

Happy Yearbooking!

The Idea Garden Team

Selling More Yearbooks 101

If you're one of the many school that use yearbook sales as a way to raise money for your student body, you know how important it is to SELL MORE BOOKS. The only way to sell more books than you did last year is to advertise and market this year's book! Depending on your publishing company, you have around two or three months at the beginning of each school year to sell books...make them count! Create a sales and marketing plan with a new event each week that is out of the ordinary...something that will make people WANT a yearbook! Some of our favorite marketing tactics:

Creating a PRESENCE as the yearbook staff makes people curious about the yearbook. Design matching t-shirts to be worn on a certain day each week or when "on assignment" for the entire yearbook staff.

Set up a sales table at every school function parents will be at. Parents are the ones writing the check...you should market to them and make sure they know the books are for sale!

Set up a Yearbook Facebook page so people can ask questions and get their answers. Use this as a place to run contests (who WOULDN'T try to win a free yearbook?) and show sneak peeks of what's going to be in the yearbook!

Offer a payment plan! Many families use "no money for that right now" as a reason for not purchasing a yearbook. What if it could be broken into half down and two payments before delivery?

Create a form to be printed on brightly colored paper that announces to a student, "you're in the yearbook on page ____ !" to hang on locker doors. When a student knows they're in the yearbook, they're much more likely to want one!

Posters in the hallways and cafeteria only go so far. What about hanging posters in the bathroom stalls? Why not put a sign by the clock in each classroom? (yes, students look at the clock...a LOT!) Make sure you switch out all posters with different designs and/or colors. Once signage has been seen in the same spot for a long time, it just becomes part of the landscape...surprise their eyes! Keep it fresh and keep it clever!

Everyone has to walk into school...why not do some advertising on the sidewalk? Use sidewalk chalk to reiterate dates, prices and where kids can order their books!

When you know the parking lot is going to be PACKED (the big game, a concert, orientation night) place flyers on windshields.

Create a yearbook "commercial". Every school has a creative group of kids that would enjoy a creative project that will be seen school-wide. If your school doesn't have a "news channel" or website to play the commercial on, post it to a video hosting site (i.e. youtube) and send out the link so everyone knows where it is!

QR codes are an easy way to play to the "media" side of marketing. You can create a QR code for anything you have on the internet. Add QR codes to posters and flyers to get people to your yearbook facebook page, ordering page, or even the school web page that contains information about yearbook ordering.

Keeping people on their toes when advertising your yearbook is going to keep them interested and enthusiastic about their purchase. Now, get out there and start selling some yearbooks!

Happy Yearbooking!

The Idea Garden Team

The Yearbook Index Needs Love, Too

Surprisingly, the most frequently read/viewed section of your yearbook is typically the one that gets the least amount of attention from your yearbook staff. Students will flip through a yearbook numerous times, but will study an index to find their own picture, friends' pictures, and, in the future, to find the answer to important questions like, "who was that blonde, crazy guy in marching band and show choir with us?". It's easy, after working so diligently for so long on the actual pages of your masterpiece to let the index be a black and white list of names. Sure, this serves its purpose, but wouldn't it be nice if it was as pleasing to look at as the rest of your yearbook? Why not continue the look of your yearbook into the final section? Or use the index pages to add info: school-specific trends, current events and milestones that didn't find a home anywhere else in the yearbook.

Take a look at the same index, three ways.

The usual. Black. White. Columns.

Use a font, background and some clipart that matches with the theme of your book to continue the "flow" of your yearbook.

Add candids and you have an index that's completely unique to your school year and to your yearbook!

A few things to consider when laying out your yearbook index:

• Assign the task of "proofing" the index to one staff member. This should be their only job for a period of time and allow them enough time to do a good job. This person should be detail-oriented and a perfectionist!

• Decide early on in your book layout process if you want only students listed or if you'd like staff, clubs, and organizations included as well. Adding clubs and organizations will give people more than one option when navigating the yearbook.

• If your yearbook publisher provides you with software that will help flow an index, USE IT! Manually putting together an index can be a daunting and time consuming task. The examples above were created in software marketed specifically for yearbook publishing and made it easy to flow, change and customize the index we used as a sample!

There is no question as to whether or not your yearbook needs an index. How creative you want to be with the task at hand is entirely up to you!

Happy Indexing!

The Idea Garden Team

New Season, New Challenges

Winter sports season is upon us, which means most yearbook photographers are finding just how tricky this season can be. Indoor sports photography is, even for professional photographers, a challenge. Gymnasium lighting is almost NEVER 'good' lighting for photography, and if you don't have a high power flash to work with your camera, stop-action shots with good color are difficult to capture. Let's go through a few tips to help you get the most out of your indoor sports photography assignments: 1 - Watch for action! Position yourself somewhere the shots are going to SHOW how action packed the game was. Don't be afraid! You aren't going to get the shots you want by sitting up in the bleachers, half a gymnasium away from the winning serve/basket/throw. Get down on those sidelines and shoot, shoot, shoot! If you're using a digital SLR, shoot even more! Without having to worry about the cost of film, you have nothing holding you back on that trigger!

2 - Set your camera to a high ISO. Almost all digital SLRs allow you to choose your ISO or "film speed". Setting this to a higher number (1000 or above) makes your camera more sensitive to the light available...however, remember that the higher your ISO, the more 'noise' or 'grain' you will see in your images. Keep in mind, you are not typically going to enlarge these images, so a little grain is okay.

3 - Shoot with a faster shutter speed. When trying to capture action, your shutter needs to be QUICK! The sharper your photo from the beginning, the easier it is to adjust later in post production. When dealing with a blurry image, there isn't much you can do to sharpen it up. We recommend trying to get your shutter speed to 150 or above for action shots.

4 - Use a lens with a low aperture. When dealing with limited available light, a wide aperture (low f-stop number) is going to help you out quite a bit. It's important to make sure your camera is focusing on the player or details you want sharp, because the lower the f-stop, the more shallow the depth of field will be for your camera. That's how images like the following one can show the action in the foreground without being distracted by the writing on the banner in the background.

5 - Shoot in RAW setting if you can. The likelihood that you will achieve great coloring in a gymnasium is slim. Gym lighting is notorious for tinting things green. If your camera has the capability to shoot in RAW, the files WILL be larger, but it will be easier to address color issues as well as some noise and lighting issues post production as opppsed to shooting a straight jpeg.

We hope that these tips are helpful and if some of the photography terms sound foreign, maybe this is a good time to get out there and learn a little more about your camera settings! Your yearbook photos will thank you for it!

Speaking of being thankful, it IS November...and you know what that means! Your next checklist for keeping your project on schedule!

Print friendly version here.

Stay organized and be inspired!

The Idea Garden Team